>pre-summer in IL and ode to things already missed

>i woke up this morning to a warm breeze sifting through the open windows. while i had the fan on, getting ready this morning i was a little warmer than usual. i got ready for church, walked outside to my car and i had a preview of a hot sticky summer in illinois. i was happy. i love the smells of fresh-cut grass and heat. i love the view of a hazy sky and wispy clouds even at 8 in the morning.

the river even looked warm today. i don’t think i’ve ever been so happy for warm temperatures. i was just daydreaming the other day about relaxing on a patio or porch with iced tea (not sweet up north, haha) and watching the neighbor mow grass and children riding their hannah montana bikes with glittery tassels. now, i don’t have neighbors that do either of those things as i live on the third floor and my view is a parking lot and a fence. but hopefully someday i will.

i will miss the river, yes, the river. how it curves and looks the same from any four bridges that you take. i am quite fond of the mccluggage bride (rt 150). today i spent most of the day in my hometown and i will miss the familiarity of the “back ways” to get to places, or the intersections i know to be cautious of. i will miss driving past the old houses that have always been there.

i haven’t lived in my hometown for two years, since we got married, and if you asked me where i grew up i might state the city i live in now for fear of a strange look or all-too-common comment. i will miss the ice cream places, though (dairy creme and double d’s), and “our inn place” which has the best tenderloins ever.

i am not a farmer’s daughter nor a country girl (in fact, according to my students, quite the opposite) but i will miss the shadow cast by the grain silos and barns late in the evening and the way the crops look as they’re just budding.

i will miss the smell of my grandparents’ houses. i can’t quite describe them in even a few words but it just smells like home. mimi’s house smells like a glade freshener and downy and tide. grammie and grandpa’s house smells like cedar and wildflowers, i think. and also the smell of my aunt’s house. always clean and tidy.

i will miss my nana, who at almost 94 still gets around on her own despite the advice of the family. it is sad to think that i may not see her again but in heaven. but i know i don’t have to worry about her or my grandparents getting there and i am thankful for that.

this day has been more contemplative than i imagined and on my drive home this evening, taking a look and breathing in most of what i’ve mentioned, i smiled to myself. there are no tears, at least not right now. maybe i have already cried them. i have had a year to deal and sometimes wrestle with my conflicting emotions. but after hours of prayer i feel at peace and a calm has just washed over me.

i know i will need it in the coming months.

>Restless.

>I have this thing where I feel like I need to be doing something productive 24/7. It started back in high school when I had Christmas break with a ton of homework to do (mean teachers, lol) and I felt guilty for not doing it. Since then, I’ve just felt this feeling of restlessness when I think there should be something done and it’s not.

This feeling has been amplified if anything in the past couple of months. Here I sit in Illinois, not knowing when I will be moving halfway around the world, and wondering if I can be doing something to get ready. I know I could pack up my winter clothes, I know I could actually unpack some of these boxes (the Army will repack it anyway), I know I could get things together to either sell somehow or give to Goodwill. Sighh.

There’s no way to know when I will be leaving. We know for sure Aaron will be there by the end of June, but my command sponsorship could go through one day and I fly out the next, leaving all our possessions in the hands of a trusted family member with a power of attorney.

It’s all I can do to not pull my hair out in frustration and anticipation. I pray for peace and calm to guide me in the next few months.

>My first 5K!

>

This is a picture of Gabby, me and Tammy shortly after we ran. We all did great and Tammy even had her best time and she had never run outside before! The Lord did an amazing thing because she wasn’t sure she’d be able to race because of her cold. God is good!

I finished #559 out of 824 runners with a final time of 32:17 and a pace of 10:24. Considering that I gave blood a week ago, hadn’t run a whole lot over the past month, and the weather (about 45* and windy!) I think I did well. My goal was to finish in 30:00, but this works for me. I did stop twice to walk and if I hadn’t I probably would have made my time. But I’m glad I did it. A year ago I never would have been able to run three miles!

This is a picture of Tammy, Darla, Susie, Trixie, me and Gabby. Amelia also walked. I think Barb and Terry, did, too. It was a great time. A few of us got Starbucks and then met up with the walkers. Gabby, Amelia and I went out for breakfast and had a nice time of fellowship.

My next goal is to run a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles, by the end of 2010. I’ve already done my research and there are tons of races in South Korea!

Many thanks to all the ladies who responded and joined my team (Faith for the Cure). Thanks also for making my several weeks left in Illinois special. I love you all and I look up to all of you as Proverbs 31 women.

>Arizona spurred my love for travel.

>The year I turned ten was an eventful year. My dad’s brother Blake and his wife Brenda (who happens to be my mom’s sister) and their two boys Bryan and Brad lived in the Phoenix/Mesa area in Arizona. That year my uncle passed away unexpectedly, not that we ever really expect it. That was April 15, 1996, one week before my tenth birthday.

Memories of the events to follow are hazy, but I remember my parents had me and my sisters stay with friends for a night or two while things were worked out. It was a very hard time for both families, and I feel the grief was multiplied because of my dad and my uncle being married to my mom and my aunt. My great-grandmother Leta Little, my dad’s grandmother, passed away less than two years later, the matriarch of our family.

Five years prior, my grandma, my mom’s mom, Mimi, promised me that when I was ten she’d take me to Arizona to visit our family out there. She didn’t fail. We had planned the trip for June 11-25 of 1996, I believe, and we still went even after events transpired in April.

It was a trip never to forget. My cousin Bryan sat in the seat next to me on our little plane from Peoria to Moline. He held my hand during take-off. That was my first time riding on a plane. We connected in Denver, and landed in our final destination at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.

My aunt had arranged a limo to pick us up and take us to her house in Mesa, not too far away. I remember the seatbelt buckles being so hot that we could barely strap ourselves in. I think we stopped at a place called Water ‘N Ice to get shaved ice. I didn’t even want flavoring for it because it was so hot, probably the hottest weather I’d ever experienced. Aunt Brenda told us how sometimes they’d have to close the stores because of heat.

I remember when we were circling Phoenix, making our final descent, and I saw all these blue dots representing swimming pools. I knew that they didn’t have a pool, but her neighbor did. And it was complete with a diving board, fountain and dark blue tile. That was the first time I dove, and I belly-flopped. I’ve never dove since.

The grass was greener in many places there than it was in Illinois, I remember. When we got to the house, we found that the air conditioning had stopped working for whatever reason. Their house was much bigger and more open than my parents’ house in Illinois. I was fascinated.

The next two weeks were so much fun. We swam, and I burned. Brad, who was eight at the time, was so tan! We have pictures of us (that need to be scanned and saved digitally) of us seated next to each other and the contrast is evident. We made a trip to the Grand Canyon and stopped at Flagstaff and Sedona along the way. In Flagstaff we stayed at a hotel called Little America, which Aaron and I will be staying at in a few weeks. The Grand Canyon was gorgeous, although we didn’t hike or anything. I can’t wait to see it again.

My cousin Brad dominated at Monopoly. I got a new Cabbage Patch Doll. I also got a stuffed horse at the Grand Canyon gift shop that was named Charlie. Brad and I followed along on the atlas and I learned what a mile marker was.

When Mimi and I flew home, I was so sad. I cried for about a week after getting home from the trip. Maybe it was less; I was only ten and I don’t remember emotions very well! All I knew is that I wanted to go back. Illinois and all its cornfields just didn’t do it for me. As I get older I appreciate the Midwestern landscape here. I love the smells, how the growing corn sways in the late summer breeze. I will miss it.

And that, I believe, was the one event that made me love flying and traveling to new places. Arizona will always have a special place in my heart especially since Aaron has been there for a year for training and I’ve made almost four trips out there. Every time I am on a plane and we’re taking off, whether it’s to Bolivia, Spain or even soon-to-be Korea, I remember Bryan holding my ten-year-old nervous sweaty hand and the exhilaration I felt at the strange feeling in my stomach.

It’s so interesting how in life things come full circle. Fourteen years ago I never would have thought I would be back to Arizona, much less visiting all the places I’ve been to before. The world is smaller than we think.

I’m not sure how to wrap up this entry. I guess as I get older I start to remember more about my past and more specifically my childhood. I’m not sure why certain memories stick in our minds. I guess it will always be a mystery.

>Year Two: Third Installment

>January – 

  • Aaron flew back out to AZ the 3rd. That sucked – we knew it’d be three full months until we saw each other again (spring break/Easter)
  • Leah had her accident.. she broke her hip. I believe that the Lord spared her life, and for a really good reason. She slid on the road and hit the only tree in the area, and not only that, but hit it at an angle. If she would have hit it head on she would not be here. God is good.

February – 

  • Aaron and I both got new computers, paid for in full with cold hard cash. I got a laptop and he got a new desktop.
  • Aaron sent me a really cute Willow Tree figurine for Valentine’s Day.

March – 

  • I got my hair cut and colored for the first time in about eight months. 
  • A very long month at school.
  • Aaron had weapons all month so couldn’t really leave post.
  • Got orders for Ft. Sam Houston on the 9th.

April – 

  • Went to AZ and had a lovely five days with my husband. Spent a lot of time hanging out together. Went to Bisbee for the morning one day. Met him and his buddies for lunch when he had class. Ironed his shirts. Got the privilege of washing his Velcro’d ACU’s. Went out for sushi. Went out with his buddies and their girls.
  • My birthday was the best one I’ve had I think. My students really made me feel special, as did my friends. Aaron left for FTX  the morning of my birthday (the 22nd)
  • Got orders for Yongsan, South Korea on the 21st.
  • I went to RI Arsenal on the 29th to get all my paperwork done.
  • Hung out with my aunt on the 30th for her birthday.

>Defining "home".

>For some reason in the past week this apartment has felt more like home. My whole life I’ve had this idyllic idea of what home is.. it’s more of a feeling than a place. You feel comfortable and at peace there. You make a family there. You laugh and sometimes cry there. You can clear your mind there.

Normally I have a hard time relaxing, more at home than at someone else’s house. Why? Because I don’t have to clean or do dishes or vacuum at others’ houses. This week I’ve actually been able to relax more. I’ve been watching TV and movies on my computer, reading, drinking tea, actually sitting in the living room. 

Maybe it’s because I know our location will change.. our home will be with us both under the same roof (and kitties, hopefully). We will be a family again. To me, it doesn’t matter if we’re 6,500 from our birthplace; home is where your heart is, truly.

So much will change in the next few months, even years. Although we are 24 and almost 26, we have a lot of growing up to do. We have been blessed that we’ve been able to grow up together for the past seven years.