Attitude of Gratitude – Day 15

A few days ago, on Veteran’s Day, I pulled out a picture of my grandfather.  It was taken when he was just 18 or 19 years old.  I’ve always loved it.  He was always so special to me.  He’s been gone 19 years and I still miss him every day.

 
Over the years, people have always said how much Jake looks like Lloyd.  And, he certainly does.  But, there are traits that I’ve often wondered where they came from.  His lips and mouth, for one.  And his eyelids are not like either one of ours either.  Then, the other day, when I was looking at the picture of my grandfather, it hit me..Jake looks like him in many ways
 
William “Franklin” Wallace
William “Jacob” Brown
 
 
Not the best picture of Jake, but I was trying to get one where he’s not smiling huge, like he usually does.  And you can’t see how blue Jake’s eyes are in this picture. I don’t look anything like my grandfather.  Maybe it’s cheesy, but I’m thankful that Jake has Wallace traits.  
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The difference a year makes

One year ago today, we set out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives.  We are no strangers to change.  We have always gone where the wind blew us and in the 18 years we’ve been married, the longest time we’d ever stayed at one address was 5 years.  But, this was a huge change.  We’d been in the Olympia area for almost 9 years – it was the only home that Jake had ever known.  Lloyd had been with the Department of Transportation for that long as well.  We had family nearby, friends that were like family, a fantastic neighborhood and a church that we loved.  We had traditions.  In short, we had a great life and it would have been easy to stay in Olympia forever.  But, when the job opportunity presented itself, Lloyd and I knew that it was something we couldn’t pass up. 

When we were first married Lloyd was a newspaper reporter.  He worked at a group of weekly newspapers in Kitsap County.  He’s a good writer and was a fantastic reporter.  He had what it took to go far and I always pictured him working for a paper like the Washington Post or the New York Times.  We’d been married about 2 years when he was offered job at the daily newspaper in Twin Falls, Idaho.  A daily newspaper.  It was the mother lode for a young reporter.  I loved Twin Falls and thought that it was a no brainer to move there.  We flew out for the interview and got the grand tour.  Then, when we returned…I don’t know what happened, but I got cold feet.  I told him I didn’t want to go and the short version of the story is that we didn’t go.  We ended up selling everything we owned and moving to Phoenix where life certainly took a very different path than it would have if we’d moved to Twin Falls.  Deep in my heart, I knew that Lloyd always regretted not taking that job.  And, I regretted it too because I knew that if I hadn’t said anything, we would have gone.  So, when this job came up — I knew that this was another moment like that.  A once in a lifetime chance.  Our realtor came over and gave us the grim news that there was no way we could sell our house without it costing us tens of thousands of dollars.  But, we decided that we weren’t going to let that be the reason we didn’t go.  We would rent the house.

People would ask me how I knew that we were doing the right thing and the only thing I could say was that there was literally no opposition.  Every time we began to hit a speed bump, solutions just fell into our lap.  Doors flew open right and left.  Everything just fell into place.  And, on July 24, 2010, we set out on our cross country trip — with no idea what to expect. 

One year later — there are certainly things that I miss.  Our friends and family top the list, of course. We miss our neighborhood and our house. I miss the beauty of the Pacific Northwest — the mountains and the water.  I miss the traditions that we had — the comfort of just knowing the area. We’ve lived in the Northwest longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere and it’s home.  But, we are slowly beginning to feel at home here. 

We have family here — Lloyd’s cousin, who he had not seen in 25 years, lives just 15 minutes away.  We have loved building a relationship with her and her husband.  Lloyd loves his job.  Jake has had amazing opportunities — he’s thriving in school and has a wonderful piano teacher. We’ve found a church that we love and are building relationships with people that I know will always be part of our lives.  We’ve been able to do things that I never thought we would do.  We have a wonderful tenant — who happens to be a dear friend of ours — so we hardly worry about our house.  We are probably less stressed than we have been in years.  And life is good.

It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

Thoughts on Father’s Day

I’ve been thinking about a Father’s Day post for a few days.  Several different things have run through my head on how I wanted to present my thoughts.  I have written, erased, edited and walked away from this post for a couple of days now.  In the end, I think it’s just impossible for me to put into words the feelings I have because I don’t think it will do justice or properly honor the men in my life who have been examples of great dads.

Relationships are complicated.  But, I really do believe that in most cases, people do the best they can with what they have to work with.  Sometimes, it’s not much.  Parenthood does not come with a manual.  The only thing we know about being parents is what we learned from our own experiences.  How those experiences inform our own parenting varies from person to person.

My son has an amazing dad.  He is teaching Jake how to be a man — that it’s important to work hard and provide for your family — but to never put your work ahead of your family.  He has shown him that it’s okay to take risks.  It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.  He shows him how to treat women in the way that he loves and shows affection for me.  Most importantly, he loves God and is teaching Jake to follow Jesus.  And, the thing is that Jake really has no idea that not all dads are this way.  And, that’s okay.  He will someday — and hopefully it will result in a continuation of the cycle.

I got a call this morning that my own dad was admitted to the hospital last night.  He has a bad heart and has some tests run to figure out what is going on.  My dad and I have not always had the best relationship, but we have come a long way over the years.  I love him with all my heart and he knows it.  I haven’t always been good at telling him, but I have tried to make sure that I do it as often as I can now because you never know when you might not have another chance.

I know most people told their dads they loved and appreciated them today.  Keep telling them.

 Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there.

Milestones

Today was a milestone day. First of all, we went to the movie with friends today. On our way out, Jake said he had to go to the bathroom. I’ve never let him go into the men’s bathroom by himself and today, there were no men to accompany him. He looked at me and said “Mom, I am a third grader now. I will be fine”. So, I let him. And he was fine. I can’t shelter him forever. I can only teach him about “stranger danger”, but he also needs to know that just because somebody is a stranger, it doesn’t mean they are going to hurt him. I need to remember that, too.

Secondly, Lloyd and Jake had their first “man talk” tonight. It wasn’t exactly a birds and the bees talk, but it laid the groundwork…and most importantly showed Jake that there isn’t anything he can’t talk to his dad about. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, but this needed to be a father/son moment.

Finally, we finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows. Lloyd’s actually been reading it to him, but I hung out and listened to the last couple of chapters. I sat here and cried like a baby. Lloyd was choked up too. Jake thought it was sad, too. But, we had a great discussion about why God allows seemingly bad things to happen.

Oops, I did it again!

For the past 2 years now, I have forgotton one of the most significant “anniversaries” in my life.  June 5, 2000.  It was the day of Jake’s open heart surgery.  The day his heart was repaired.  The day he was given a new lease on life.  I remember it so clearly…handing him over to the nurse and just asking Jesus to be there with him and hold him because I couldn’t.  Seven hours went by….tick…tock….tick….tock.  It was probably the longest day of my life.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.  I didn’t know what God had in store for us.  All I knew was that if we didn’t do this surgery, he would die – and I knew I couldn’t face that.  Back then, I never thought the day would come when I didn’t think about his heart….worry about his heart.  And now, 8 years later, there are many days that go by when I don’t think about it – or if I do, it’s not with sadness or despair.  Jake jogged for 30 minutes in the Jog-A-Thon this year!  Would would have thought my little 3 pound “blue” baby would do that? God knew all along the plans he had for Jake.  He has been faithful to gently erase the horrible memories of that time in our lives, while reminding us on a daily basis just how blessed we truly are.   For a moment, when I looked at the calendar today and realized that I had forgotten, I felt a little guilty.  But, that quickly turned to praise – that we don’t have to think about it every day – and that we can just be “normal”.

June 5, 2000

June 5, 2000

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Someday, I’ll be a senior

Sunday night, Jake had his final choir concert of the year.  They spent a good amount of time honoring the seniors, which always makes me weepy.  It’s a combination of realizing that although Jake is only 8 – 10 years goes by fast – and remembering my own senior year.  It’s amazing.  I have very few memories of my childhood and it’s hard for me to remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but those last couple of months before I graduated are permanently etched into my mind.  Not only do I remember the events like they were yesterday, I remember the feeling I had as I was going through them.  Excitement about the future and yet, I really had no idea how much I had to look forward to. 

For the first time ever, the Olympia Youth Chorus had a Men’s Ensemble (for changed voices)  this year and at the concert, the younger boys got to perform a piece with the older boys.  Jake loved singing with them and there really is nothing more precious than seeing the older and younger kids together.  Jake had two things to say after the concert that night:

  1. When is my voice going to change?
  2. Someday I’ll be a senior.

Letting them grow up is probably the hardest part about being a mom. 

 

 

 

 

 

New Life….

We got to meet our new nephew today.  He’s precious and perfect and such a miracle – all babies are.  But, I just love newborn boys……and how you can tell what they are going to look like when they are old men.  🙂

I have been so blessed with wonderful neices and nephews. And I just love being and auntie….especially the crazy, fun auntie who always comes with presents. 

Carson Wesley

Carson Wesley

And, just for good measure, I have to show off the rest of the kiddos.  I know I’m a bit biased, but this is one good looking crew.

 

kids

Truth is stanger than fiction….

A few days ago, we hooked up with some friends that we haven’t seen in a while.  They have a 3 year old little girl who I always think looks like me when I was her age.  It’s a strange thing to even think – and it’s even stanger to actually say out loud.  But, somehow it managed to come up in conversation without sounding stalkerish.  My friend mentioned that she’d like to see a picture, so I sent her one that I just happened to have scanned into my computer.  I ended up sending it to my dad as well, and he responded that I looked very dismayed.  He followed up with this:

I still remember you in Rangoon taking all the pots out of the cupboard and banging them on the concrete floor. Mong Ni, the cook, looked dismayed. But, he let you do it as long as you wanted. I think he was deaf.

When I was born, my father lived in Rangoon, Burma (also known as Myanmar) working for Hughes Helicopters, who provided the black silent helicopter -Hughes 500P for Air America.  (Incidentally, you can read a fascinating blog about the helicopters here). When I was six weeks old, my mother and I moved over there to be with him.   We had a cook, a nanny, a housekeeper, groundskeeper, etc.  To hear my dad talk about it, we were treated like royalty by the locals – and it’s probably an accurate account given the socio-economics of the region.  

I know I lived there.  There are pictures that prove it and the occasional story that my dad will tell – like the one in the email this morning.  But, I was too young to remember, so it’s as if I am hearing about somebody else’s life.  But, sometimes I think that the experience must have had an impact on who I am.  Perhaps it’s the reason why I have always wanted to travel the world — and why I have always been fascinated by other cultures.  And, maybe my dad’s involvement in Air America has some bearing on why some would characterize me as a bleeding heart liberal.  Maybe.  But, probably not.  It’s more likely that I just romanticize it because I think it is a very cool part of my story. 

My mother and I eventually left Burma and my parents divorced.  There is a story behind why, but if I told you, I’d probably have to kill you.  You can fill that part of the story in yourself……although the truth is probably much stranger than anything you might come up with.  Have fun with it though – and I’d love to hear your theory. 

Anyway, all of that because I met a little girl who I thought looked a little like me when I was a baby. 

 “Dismayed”

 

15 years ago today…

Lloyd and I ran off to Lake Tahoe and got married.  It’s one of those sweet, adventurous stories that make people think we are cooler than we actually are.  I was looking back on what I wrote a year ago today, which pretty much sums it up:

March 13, 2007

14 years ago today a VERY young couple thought that it would be a good idea to run off and get married. I was living in San Francisco and moving back to Seattle. Lloyd had flown down to drive back to Seattle with me. When he got off the plane he said “Let’s go get married”…so we did. We only told my cousin Amy (really more of a safety issue than anything which is ironic given our impetuous nature).  After stopping in Sacramento for clothes (Lloyd only had the clothes on his back), we made our way to South Lake Tahoe where we found a little wedding chapel that fit our miniscule budget.  It wasn’t a dream wedding by most people’s standards, but I wouldn’t change anything.  And, I can’t say that it’s been bliss every single day, but we have lasted a lot longer than the critics said we would (although you can’t blame my parents for being a bit blown away when I called them from a payphone in Medford, Oregon. It was raining so hard, they could barely hear me).

Lloyd gave me the prettiest heart necklace this morning. When I opened it, I just started to laugh. He asked me why and I just said “We thought it was a good idea to get married!” lol  In retrospect, it wasn’t the smartest idea at the time, but it’s turned out to the be best idea we’ve ever had.. God has truly blessed us – as I was made so aware of this morning as our little boy played the Wedding March on the piano for us. 

Life is good.

Today, I can look back on the last year and see that God is constantly reminding me that I have a wonderful, loving, faithful husband who is truly my best friend.  All around me are stories of people who have struggled in their marriage.  The one that rocks my world the most is the recent divorce of my aunt and uncle…who are like parents to me.  Yes, there have been times when we have struggled….and it’s not always been a honeymoon.  But, God is truly the center of our relationship.  He brought us together at the perfect time and the perfect place.  And, it was a complete surprise.  You see, I never dreamed of getting married and having kids.  My dream was to travel the world, meet lots of interesting people but not get too close to anybody. 

Recently, I playfully asked Lloyd if he ever expected to be married the rest of his life.  His response?  “Yes, just not to the same person”.  And, while he said it with a smile in his eyes, it was the truth.  Neither one of us had any examples of marriage working out that well.  But, God has made it abundantly clear that we are meant to be together….to live this life that He planned for us and raise the child that He wanted us to have. 

I still dream of running off to rent bicycles on the beach in Key West….but only with Lloyd by my side.

Current mood: grateful