Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It all started when I was dreaming of cheez-its and chili-cheese fries...

BEFORE READING: This story includes such topics as…poop, pee, razors, blood, power cords, nakedness…. What do you expect?

Well, it all started at 4am this morning when I was sound asleep, dreaming of cheez-its and chili-cheese fries. Suddenly, I was woken from DEEP BEAUTY REST (I'm turning 30 in Dec. so I need this type of sleep) by the "sweet" sounds of my Bella. I thought I was dreaming of course... I must be dreaming…it's 4am? Who gets up at that ungodly hour of night? I brought the little bundle of joy into my bed in a desperate attempt to coax her into realizing she (and I) was way too tired to run around and play with power cords, 15lb. weights and deadly sharp things lying around.

After about two hours of trying to get her to sleep, I gave in. Let her run up the stairs (where she fell on her face and was bleeding from the mouth)…!!! This is the part where we woke up the entire neighborhood. Bella reached a pitch that only dogs could hear...

After a half hour of crying from that spill we did the only thing that could heal this wound, watched Madagascar of course. FInally, at 8am it was time for our first nap. I put Bella down, took a shower, and when she woke up I came in to find her leg (which is on the perfectly chunky side) stuck (and purple from lack of blood flow) in the crib bars. I went to pull her out and realized she was stuck….then I realized her butt was bare and that my hand was full of poop. Yep, poop everywhere, leg stuck….baby screaming. I finally got her little sausage leg out, ran up stairs with poop all over my freshly showered body….when, I got peed on…. At this point, I needed to find a happy place. I put a bunch of toys in the tub, but the only one that Bella wanted was the razor she had grabbed when I turned around….

To reward Bella for this amazing feat of wildness, I took her to the Children's Museum… I was actually laughing by the end of it all. You see it's days like this that make me really feel like a legit mom. After all, if I don't clean poop and pee off of my body now and then, I may not really be experiencing motherhood to its fullest capacity.

Now, I'm looking at the clock and thinking, it's only 2:00…are you kidding me? So, this is a little glimpse for you daddy….I know you miss all of this… you would give anything to get peed on (I mean that too). You miss her in every way and I would too if I were you…she's the greatest! She makes me laugh everyday. She makes me love her more in everything she does.
Some days are not as fun as this one. I love my little munchkin, even at 4am, with a razor, a leg stuck in a crib, a bleeding mouth, with poop and pee all over me….. Yes, I love her endlessly. She's my sweetness.

I've included a "happy place" song that I play when I need to find one…..

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins….

I had a dream last night…

…that Josh forgot who I was. Are you serious!? That was the worst ever. I was chasing him around pleading with him that I was his wife and he had no idea who I was:( I woke up sweating and couldn't sleep the rest of the night. Thank goodness dreams aren't real. Of course Josh knows who I am, I know he thinks about Bella and I all of the time and loves us more than any husband could love his girls. I hate dreams:(

On a lighter more savory note…

So, my pumpkin muffins have been a HIT lately. Yes, I'm totally tooting my own horn. I got the recipe from my friend Tracy and have had a love affair with them ever since. Since I've been asked for this recipe so many times, I thought I'd put it online for everyone! It's literally the EASIEST recipe you will ever try and I promise you it will make you so famous. Men, if you make these for a woman, she will melt in your arms (or just use you for your baking skills). It's only three ingredients total!

1-Box of Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix -- DO NOT ADD ANYTHING TO THIS MIX (no eggs ect.)
1-100% Pure Pumpkin can (I used Libby's brand-29OZ size) *pumpkin pie mix will not work
1/2 Bag of Chocolate Chips

Mix the spice cake mix, and the jar of pumpkin until blended with mixer. Add the chocolate chips and stir with spoon until blended. Bake for 30 min. at 350 degrees. ENJOY!

Promise you will love me forever for this recipe. If you love the recipe, feel free to send me gifts, flowers…whatever (just to show your appreciation of course. When I think of fall, I think of these muffins… and you should too! Oh and I've added some music to get you into the fall spirit!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What military wives are made of...

Being a new military wife has been such a learning experience. When I hear stories of other women who have given birth while their husbands are away (only to meet their child 8 months later) I think, that's so hard…. but then I realize, "that could be me". I have never seen such strength as I have seen in some of the military wives I've met. I try to be strong but sometimes the thought of numerous deployments overwhelms me. When I think of marriage, I think of together-ness (if that's even a word). I think of a couple skipping down the beach sands of life, holding hands with their 2.5 children happily following. I think of a home that has been lived in for decades and a community of life long friends. Military life is anything but settled. It's ever moving, and ever changing. It is a calling and I cannot imagine having to do this without God. Josh often laments at the tough counseling he has to do and all I can think is, that person needs a Savior. Then I get excited when I remember, Josh is there to show them Christ and it makes it all worth it to me… After all, what is this life about? Is it about comfort, picket fences, and an easy retirement? Not at all, its about pain, struggle, joy, sorry, and endless opportunities to show Christ to others. Now that I think about it, I don't want to live an easy life….after all, it's through the struggles that God emerges in full glory!

Another military wife sent this to me last night and I thought it was so encouraging. I think every wife and mom is to be commended but military wives/moms must be given props. P.S.-- I'm a new military wife so I have only barely scratched the military wife surface:


It was just another harried Wednesday afternoon trip to the commissary (grocery store on military bases). My husband was off teaching young men to fly. My daughters were going about their daily activities knowing I would return to them at the appointed time, bearing, among other things, their favorite fruit snacks, frozen pizza, and all the little extras that never had to be written down on a grocery list. My grocery list, by the way, was in my 16-month-old daughter's mouth, and I was lamenting the fact that the next four aisles of needed items would wait while extracting the last of my list from my daughter's mouth, when I nearly ran over an old man.

This man clearly had no appreciation for the fact that I had 45 minutes left to finish the grocery shopping, pick up my 4-year old from tumbling class, and get to school, where my 12-year-old and her carpool mates would be waiting. I knew men didn't belong in a commissary, and this old guy was no exception. He stood in front of the soap selection staring blankly, as if he'd never had to choose a bar of soap in his life. I was ready to bark an order at him when I realized there was a tear on his face.

Instantly, this grocery aisle roadblock transformed into a human..."Can I help you find something?" I asked. He hesitated, and then told me he was looking for soap.

"Any one in particular?" I continued.

"Well, I'm trying to find my wife's brand of soap." I started to loan him my cell phone to call her when he said, "She died a year ago, and I just want to smell her again." Chills ran down my spine. I don't think the 22,000-pound Mother of all Bombs could have had the same impact. As tears welled up in my eyes, my half-eaten grocery list didn't seem so important. Neither did fruit snacks or frozen pizza.

I spent the remainder of my time in the commissary that day listening to a man tell the story of how important his wife was to him -- how she took care of their children while he served our country. A retired, decorated World War II pilot who flew missions to protect Americans still needed the protection of a woman who served him at home.

My life was forever changed that day. Every time my husband works too late or leaves before the crack of dawn, I try to remember the sense of importance I felt that day in the commissary.

Some times the monotony of laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and taxi driving leaves military wives feeling empty -- the kind of emptiness that is rarely fulfilled when our husbands come home and don't want to or can't talk about work.

We need to be reminded, at times; of the important role we fill for our family and for our country. Over the years, I've talked a lot about military special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing is; most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself…

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms.

Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or a year, or longer. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for having the hose reconnected. Military spouses have to cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "goodbye" to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city...again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events...birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

The television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says, "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card, and the wall is the Vietnam Memorial.

I would NEVER say military spouses are better than other spouses. But I will say there is a difference. I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands and wives.

Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My life at Liberty University!!!

Liberty University…

Well as promised, it is time to talk about "The worlds most exciting university" (that's their slogan by the way, and I'm not going to lie…it was pretty exciting). How did I end up at LU? Well, I fully intended on going to Point Loma Nazarene in southern California but, being the slacker that I was in high school, I didn't apply until late in my senior year. They put me on a waiting list which left me unsure about my status at that school. I wanted to go to Point Loma because both of my older siblings had gone there, and really, because it was located on the ocean. I mean literally you step out of your dorm and there's the water:) Yes, this is a terrible reason for going to school but, I do love the ocean;) So, I was scrambling to figure things out and got even more nervous when everyone at Baptist seemed to had plans already. I had gotten something in the mail from LU (ok like 30 things) and had no idea who they were? They sent me a video about the campus and all I remember thinking was, "Wow, the girl in the video has 80's hair and mom jeans…they need to update this video". Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for 80's hair but…mom jeans? That's where I draw the line! By some miracle, my dad talked me into flying out to visit for "College for a Weekend". It is something LU offers that allows prospective students to visit the campus and see if they like it (you can stay in dorms, eat cafeteria food, go to classes/events). I had nothing better to at the time and it seemed like a long shot but, I went. It ended up that another girl (Sarah Koster) from Baptist was planning to visit as well so that made the trip more fun:)

First impression of LU? Hmm… well, we stayed in the dorms and slept on the floor in the someone's room. I must say, the girls we stayed with were totally not excited to have us in their room. They barely spoke to us and it was evident that they didn't want us there. We were going to rise above their negativity and have a good time though! The south was beautiful. I loved the mountains, trees, and the gorgeous sunsets most of all. There were things about Liberty that made me nervous, mostly the rules. I was still working through my faith at the time and all of the Christian music, and Christian people overwhelmed me a bit. In a weird way, I think the Lord started opening my eyes that weekend to the fact that I really wasn't living a healthy life in Him. I think the main thing I took from that weekend was that you can be Christian AND be fun/crazy. I know I was really supposed to leave thinking, "Wow, I'm excited about their academic programs" but, I didn't :)

By some divine act of God, I decided to apply to LU and got accepted. When it came time to leave I started to get hesitant. I was comfortable in Michigan, had a long time on again/off again boyfriend that I was leaving, and was really just nervous about the change. Deep down I was excited at the same time because I knew my life was going to change drastically. When I got to LU, it was like one big crazy party! The school is VERY social. I thrive in social settings so for the first few months, I just played. I know I went to classes at some point in there too! I was amazed at the amount of legit Christians there were at LU. I had my moments of missing home, I think I had left a bit of my heart in MI that first semester but slowly, my heart shifted down south.

By second semester (and after moving into a room with my Canadian buddy Renee Peckham, I was LOVING it). We hung out with some of the most amazing people (Kori K included) and I enjoyed my times playing volleyball at Smith Mountain Lake, driving around in Renee's tiny car with like 10 people piled in, dancing to Ricky Martin in our dorm room, and rollerblading at all hours of the night. I met tons of awesome guys that were my "friends"….it was a great way to view how Christian guys should treat a girl. We loved dorm 10 and spent most of our time with all of those crazy guys (to include Amber's future hubby Philip)! In an effort to maintain US diplomacy, I ended up dating a Canadian boy--my Canadian roommate Renee approved of course.

God started really working on my heart in that next year. It was then that I really started living out my Christianity (or trying to at least). I re-dedicated my life to God and tried (and failed many times) to live out my faith perfectly. Realizing it was impossible, I just took baby steps toward Christ. Each person at LU impacted me in that journey, and for that I am thankful.

I cannot mention LU without talking about 118B Watergate. That is the address of the town home I lived in my second year. In my first dorm (21-1) I met a group of girls that I just adored. It's weird how God works because I was in the prayer group of one of their best girlfriends. She passed away in a tragic accident and through that situation, my heart was inclined to each of them in a very special way. Long story short, they asked me to live with them in at Watergate when they lost a roommate.
Amber, Niki, and Kirsten….just saying their names together makes me smile because I love them so much. Our house was a joyful place that everyone wanted to visit (plus it had four hot chicks he, he). We did the craziest stuff there … laughed harder than anyone should … and learned from each other by each of our strengths/weaknesses. I could write a book about each of these girls but I will just say the first words that come to my mind about each of them: Amber-Gorgeous, Strong, Tenacious -- Niki-Gracious, Loving, Nurturing-- Kirsten-Joyful, Creative, Vibrant. I love those girls. Oh, and Kristin Fraga was an honorary member…she moved in after Niki/Kirsten moved out. I love that girl! I also loved our street. There were groups of our friends living up and down the road everywhere. I was like one big community. We would have dinner at each other's houses and steal toilet paper from each other. We had some amazing guys a couple houses down that we adored and even spent some fun spring breaks with. What a great community! *If you were on this street, please recall some of the following: traveling nativity scenes, temptation island, toilet papering, ODAAO!

Wait, so at this point you have not heard the name Josh Earls. Well, I didn't meet that boy until my junior year! Yes, he was a young laddy (totally robbed the cradle). Praise God that I didn't meet him until later in my college life because I wasn't ready for him yet:) I needed to struggle through my faith and relationships some more. God was sharpening me for him I believe. In fact, the week he introduced himself, I had literally told myself that I was NOT going to date ANYONE for a while because I really wanted to work on myself. If you read earlier blogs, you can see how we ended up meeting :) Alas, he captured my heart the second I laid eyes on him and rest is history. It's weird that so much of my college life was not involving Josh but we both were able to grow on our own before meeting one another---that was God plan!

Weird... now I'm married to an amazing man, have a lovely little girl and it has been well over 10 years since my college life! I am an old fart! Oh, and so are you if you are reading this and reminiscing:)

To sum it up: I LOVED LU! I must give that school props for introducing me to my smokin' hot hubby!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I am not afraid, I am anxious...

I was stricken today with this immense feeling my own fragility… of how delicate and short our human life is…

It may be a morbid thing but I think about death often. It helps me to being reminded of the importance of really living. I feel like lately I have witnessed the best life has to offer as well as and the tragedy of sickness and death. This vast spectrum of joy and sorrow points me directly to God. Yes, God governs this world and the lives of those who live on it. From the bountiful blessings of marriage, childbirth, and every other joyful occasion, to the sadness of sickness and death. It is healthy for us to think of death and struggle through the thoughts it's finality. As a Christian, I have hope when I die. I know that when death's door opens, I will be bounding through it -- running full speed towards God. I am not afraid, I am anxious to be with Christ. This life is a gift and I pray Christ will use me to further His kingdom. I pray that my life, and the life of my family would point directly towards heaven. Do you have hope? If not, I have some good news to share with you. Jesus.

This verse found in John 17 is one of my very favorites. It's Jesus talking to the Father God. When I read it, I feel like I could insert my name anywhere. When I do, I feel so unworthy of Christ's love and compassion towards me. Jesus is praying for all believers (those to come as well)… My favorite part is in vs. 24 -- Jesus asks Father God to allow us to be with him so that we can experience his glory…He loves us so much that he desires us to experience what he loves. I love Him for that!

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


Monday, September 6, 2010

3x5 Glossies

Well the half way point of the deployment is here. I have been out at sea for 3 1/2 months and I have about 3 1/2 to go, but it is all down here from here. (At least that is what we all tell one another out here.)
The truth is it will be 3 1/2 months of hard days away from family, but 3 1/2 months of fruitful, meaningful ministry. I thank God for these next 3 1/2 months.

Ok that was all introduction to what I wanted to blog about. The other day I was reading my bible and a picture of Annie and Bella fell out. (I have pictures of them stashed all throughout my bible that way it is like a little hello surprise). Well as soon as the picture feel out I thought there are my girls, like the 3x5 glossy was my wife and daughter.
I hear Annie on the phone and every once in a while, when we are in port, I get the chance to Skype with them, but for the most part I experience my girls through 3x5 pictures. I wake up in the morning to a picture of Annie and I with Bella just before I left. I often find myself giving the picture a kiss as I go to sleep or wake up. Then when I am at my desk, either emailing or reading, I have two pictures of Bella taped above my computer screen and just like with the other picture I find my self giving Bella a lot of kisses and even asking her how she is doing today.
I can't wait for the day when my wife and daughter cease to be 3x5 glossies. On that day I will hold them and kiss them and feel them in my arms.

God Bless

Friday, September 3, 2010

What do you send a lonely sailor?

First, this is pic from Josh's ship. Gorgeous huh!? Second, this is a song that makes me think of Josh (and it was totally included in the mixed CD I sent him)!

So, Josh finally received our packages. The poor guy had shipmates sending him stuff because he hadn't received anything from home. Now, don't you be thinking I didn't send him something. To Josh's detriment and my chagrin he gave me an address that was missing a few numbers (which apparently make a huge difference). Really though, how many Oscar Austin ships are there in the world!?

What do you send a boy at sea?? Well, here's my short list:
1. Lots of DVD's (lets see, I can't even remember what we sent him…the movie "Once" was in there somewhere)
2. Sour patch kids (Josh's favorite)
3. Love notes (to juicy to discuss)
4. Drawings from Bella
5. Dark chocolate
5. Home made trail mix (his fave is almonds, raisins, and sunflower seeds)
6. I just wanted to note that I put down two number 5's… I do this almost every time I number things. It's a weakness of mine.
7. I made him a mixed CD (that's right folks, read it and weep... I'm cheesy) My musical taste has a wide range. If you can believe it, the CD had some of the following: Classical (Mr. Darcy- Pride and Prejudice), Movie tunes (Last of Mohicans), Cranberries, U2, Radiohead, Beyonce', Miley Cyrus (I know), Rachel Yamagata, Griffin House, Ray LaMontagne…and more...
8. USC memorabilia (to remind him of football season (props to his sissy Jess)

Well, that's my list. Random I know. Before Josh left we also had family and some of his dearest friends write him notes of encouragement, silly stuff…anything to keep him occupied. He was instructed to open them THROUGHOUT the deployment so hopefully he hasn't broken any rules:) (wink). Josh, being the most awesome hubby ever, made me a document called "The bad day box". Whenever I'm having a bad day, I open one of his notes and do whatever it says. Some of the things so far, shop (check), pedicure (check)… I love him.

Well, this is weather woman Annie Earls signing off. Oh, you didn't know, I am now a meteorologist?! Yes, after hurricane Earl (and all of the tracking I did), the news stations are fighting for me. Little did you all know, I actually almost went in the direction of broadcast journalism in college. Only weakness (as I found out when I tried it) I get the "laughs" too much. I still think I could do it!