Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our love story - how we met

10 years.  Wow.  I met the love of my life exactly 10 years ago this month.  And you know what?  I knew, I just knew right away that there was something completely different about Brian than what I had ever known before.

Every love story is different.  Some start in high school.  Others later in life. Some take years to grow.  Others happen the first time two people meet.  Love stories are just that - all about the love that two people have for each other & how it all starts.

Speaking of "starts," there are actually not too many people that really know our story and how it all began.  Which is why I thought, after a decade of knowing and loving Brian, I will share so that Thomas, Abbigail and Marilyn know exactly how their Mommy & Daddy met one July day in 2003.

So, let's go back 10 years...

Brian was a SSgt in the Air Force stationed at Hurlburt Field, FL.  There were two things that consumed Brian at that point in time - 1) offshore fishing and 2) work... deployments, PT, & jumping out of perfectly safe aircrafts as an airborne engineer.  He was a swingin' bachelor who spent anywhere from 190-230 days a year deployed 1/2 way across the world.  He was gone so much that he decided to sell his house to his parents & just store his stuff with them.  Brian will be the first to tell you that he wasn't really focused on finding the "right" girl.

I was well planted in my teaching & coaching career at a high school in the same area.  There were two things that consumed me at that point in time - 1) Booker, my lab and 2) teaching history and coaching my girls soccer program.  I really wasn't dating anyone very seriously because of several reasons: I didn't go to church enough to meet anyone nice; and I told my friends at work to stop trying to set me up on blind-dates.

Coincidentally, we both heeded the advise of people close to us and decided to try our luck with online dating.  Yes, online dating.  A little more than a decade ago, the common assumption was that anyone who'd turn to their computer for love had to be a geeky, pathetic lose who couldn't get a date.  By the time we had decided to give it a try, the era was changing.  The dating culture was also changing.  And frankly, we each didn't think we had much to lose; and we had much to gain... maybe even finding true love.

It all happened very quickly once Brian answered my post - and yes, he pursued me. 

Our email conversation was so natural, sharing with each other seemed so easy. I'll spare the details of our conversations, but what I will share is they went to the heart of who we both are as individuals.  Our history, our passions, our values, and our hopes & dreams.   It started with one email each on the first day; then it jumped to three and four emails each by the next day.  We've each confessed that we woke up extra early each morning to check for messages from each other; we hurried home & even bypassed scheduled happenings to check our email from one another; and even stayed up much later than we should anxiously awaiting more conversation that just felt so right from the beginning.

By the week's end, we couldn't deny the connection we knew we already had.  We finally spoke on the phone and decided to enjoy an evening of "face-to-face" conversation over dinner.  It was magical and to this day, still one of my favorite memories that Brian & I with each other.

From the moment he arrived at my house, rang my doorbell, and then said hello to me when I opened the door... he had me.  And shortly thereafter... my heart.

And for lasting memories of how we first met and what was at the foundation of our relationship, I copied each of our corresponding emails on color coded paper (yellow = me, blue = Brian) and then bound it into a book.  A book that we have for the rest of our lives.  A book that is at the heart of our love story.

My job... according to Thomas

Obviously, we have had a major, major change of routine in the last few weeks or so.  Although it has been about 2 years since I've been teaching, Thomas & Abby still vividly remember Choctaw and my classroom there.  Additionally, now that Thomas is in school, he has his own perspective as to what teachers and other school personnel do.  So with me now in a new school as an Assistant Principal, I thought I would ask Thomas what he thought I do at my new job.  Let's review what my job involves... according to Thomas:
  1. being bossy.
  2. helping whoever needs help - especially the lost kids in the halls.
  3. having your own office now.
  4. saying "hi" to everyone in the hallway.
  5. gets to eat whatever I want at lunch in the cafeteria.
  6. makes all the loud announcements on the speaker.
  7. helps clean up trash both inside and outside.
  8. has to shovel the sidewalks when it snows so all the kids can be safe.
  9. goes to meetings.
  10. probably talks a lot at those meetings.
  11. gets to check out more than one book at a time from the library.
  12. has to put the bad kids in time out or send them home.
And there you have it in a nut shell - what I do as an Assistant Principal according to Thomas.  My personal favorites are #4 and #11.  I love what my kids think, real or not.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Abbigail's interview

Turning four in our house seems to be a big deal. 
And because it is the last year "at home" before school starts, it certainly warrants a special interview (click here for Thomas' 4-year old interview).
Here's a glimpse into what my "almost 4-year old" thinks about getting older and what her favorite things are.
  1. What is your favorite color?  pink & blue
  2. What is your favorite food? mac & cheese and applesauce
  3. What is your favorite fruit?   purple grapes
  4. What is your favorite drink? hot chocolate and apple juice
  5. What do you want to be when you grow up? in the Air Force to work with Daddy
  6. How old do you have to be to be "big"?  16 years old
  7. How old is "little"?  3 or 2 or 1-years old
  8. What do you like to play with?  Barbie toys
  9. What do you like to do with Mommy?  play games like Go-Fish and puzzles
  10. What do you like to do with Daddy?  fishing and playing cards
  11. Who is your favorite person? Liz, Cooper, Samantha & Grannie
  12. What will you do now that you're going to be four? play with more Barbies
  13. What's your favorite TV show? Team Ummi Zummi on Nickelodeon
  14. What is your favorite thing to wear? Dresses & tights
  15. What is your favorite song? "Hard to Love" by Lee Bryce and "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum
  16. What's your favorite movie?  Secret of the Wings & Lion King
  17. What's your favorite book? any book about doggies
  18. What sports do you like?  gymnastics & soccer
  19. Where do you want to move next after Alaska? Florida (no surprise there)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Put me in, Coach!

Warning: This is a negative post.  It is written out of sheer frustration and I needed to vent through typed words because what would come out of my mouth would be nothing more than nonsense.  Pure expletive ($^%&) nonsense.

OK, here it goes.
I can't believe that I'm even thinking this, but alas... I'm frustrated.
I told myself just to sit back and watch.  Sit back and just wear the "Mommy hat" and cheer from the sidelines.  More recently, I've had to tell myself just to relax and take a deep breath... or two... or even three.  I do that when I get frustrated.

I'm the first one to admit that you have no right to criticize if you aren't out there volunteering your own time.  I get that.  I completely get that.  And kudos to him for doing it.  He doesn't have a child on the team, doesn't have any personal stake in the future of each of those children and is clearly doing it to support the community & give something back.  I absolutely appreciate that.  Matter of fact, I'm sure to thank him after each practice and game.  However, the fact remains that he has NO. IDEA. WHAT. HE. IS. DOING out on the field.  The kids are learning nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

It's painful to watch.  He doesn't know how to work with kids.  Very little connection.  Wait, who am I kidding... he has no connection with the kids.  The things he says are ridiculous.  The things he does make no sense.  Ask Brian - there are so many times that I just drop my head to my hands, walk away from the field or just stand with my hands/arms draped over my head.  All because I don't get it.  Then again, the kids don't get it either.

From my years, and years, and years, AND years of playing and coaching, Thomas' age group is one of the most fun to be with.  Don't get me wrong, my coaching passion was teenagers at the high school level, but little kids are such a different fun.  Summer after summer of running camps for young kids was an eye opener to what an impact good instruction & coaching and a fun environment can have on the future of an athlete and the love they have for a sport.

I really want that for Thomas (and of course Abbigail & Marilyn) -  the positive impact coaching can have on a young athlete.  I might just have to take some drastic measures in the near future.  Despite the fact that I really just wanted to sit, enjoy and cheer from the sidelines...

... I might have to dust off my coaching whistle and wear the coach's shirt again.  Don't ask me how I will have time, but where there is a will, there's a way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: My irrational passenger


Abby can be so irrational.
Case in point: As we stopped for a water break on our bike ride the other night, she insisted that she be allowed to walk back home... all 3 miles.
The girl is ridiculous.


Monday, July 22, 2013

The left-field questions

Lately, I have found myself playing Dr. Phil to a very curious 6-year old little boy, fielding lots & lots of left-field questions.  Most of the time, I feel put on the spot.  But I've also come to realize that it's OK to stall for a moment and use the go to line, "That's a r-e-a-l-l-y good question, Thomas.  Well...."

Let me give you some of the most recent inquiries:
  • How old do you have to be to get married?
  • How old do you have to be to die?
  • Why is "so&so's" skin so brown and mine is more white?
  • How was God born?  Who is his mom?
  • Why is that woman so fat?
  • Why is water wet?
  • Will we see Booker & Ziggy up in heaven when we die?
  • Are we having any more babies?
See what I mean?  Some of the these have just stopped me in my tracks & gave me reason to pause for a moment.  Lord knows I can't get upset with him for raising such questions - I know he is curious about so much.  And I especially don't want to turn him away; I want him to know he can come to me with anything.  Anything at all.  Especially the more difficult topics that we will eventually have to deal with in the coming years.

For the record, I try to keep the explanations simple.  Despite his abstract questions, I know that he's still a literal, concrete thinker for the most part.  And... he's still my little baby boy.  Well, at least I still want to think so.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Debbie Downer

We have had one of the driest summers on record here in Anchorage.  It has hardly rained and the sun has been shining {almost} non-stop.  Temperatures have been hot warm ... there were several days in a row that it got to be down right toasty.  Of course "toasty" is relative - here in Alaska, where most places do not have AC and pools are a rarity, 85 degrees is really turning up the heat.  I personally was loving it, although at night with all the fans blowing & windows open, things were a tad uncomfortable.

Anyway, with all the complaining going on by some folks up here, here's a Public Service Announcement (PSA)...

Quit your complaining - we are going to look like this in just 90 days:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Soccer has begun!


Friday Night Leftovers (the exhausted version)

  • I'm exhausted - I'm not even gonna try to deny it.
  • The kids are exhausted - it is so apparent each night.
  • My commute is not nearly as bad as I had thought - 18 minutes door to door... without snow. 
  • This week has been extremely bittersweet for me; it's exactly where I want to be in the next step of my career, but not having all of those precious minutes with Thomas, Abbigail and Marilyn any more make me sad. 
  • We are in desperate need to rain here in our part of Alaska... the grass actually looks brown. 
  • We are pressing forward with potty training - some days are hit and miss, other days she stays dry virtually all day.  I'm counting down the days when this is a diaper-less house.
  • I'm gonna have to bring my "A" game this next week - Brian is busy working 12 hour shifts for a base wide exercise, I'm dropping off AND picking up from daycare, Thomas has 2 games & 1 practice and there is even more on my plate at work to consider than before.
  • The kids & us are headed to the movies this weekend to check out "Despicable Me 2" - a special treat to celebrate a successful transition week to say the least!

Throwback Thursday: Disney Dancing 2009

Watching this absolutely tickles me silly to see how much Thomas loves music & loves to dance... even as a little 2-year old spitfire.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dear Abbigail

Dear Abbigail,
I'm not sure what happened to my ever-loving, always smiling and sweet-tempered almost-4-year old little girl... but I'd like her back, please.

The argumentative, defiant and world-class whiner who has been sleeping in your bed and wearing all of your very fashion-forward & spunky clothes is adorable just like you, but ohhhhhhhh is she a handful.  She most certainly has given me a run for my money.  And this little blonde-hair, blue-eyed cutie is trying my very last nerves.

I would really like more smiles, less tears, more laughing, less whining, more hugs, less snatching, more "pleases", less yelling, more sweetness, and less sassiness.

I know that this too shall pass - I was just hoping you would help your old Mama out and do it sometime very soon.  Before I have even more gray hairs.

I love you unconditionally, Abby.
Always will... even through this.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Amateur country star!

If you follow our blog, you know all too well that Thomas loves music - especially country music.  Here he is jamming to "Crash My Party" by Luke Bryan.
He even sings with no music prompts...

This is just one of dozens of Thomas' favorite songs...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Montana Creek Camping - Day 3: Final Day of Fun & Fishing

Our final day of camping involved a little of this and a whole lot of that.
By *that* I'm referring to exploring and fishing wherever the wind took us.
After enjoying some grilled up morning sausage, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit salad, we loaded up the truck again with essentials and headed out.  This time though, our most essential item was The Highway Angler: Fishing Alaska's Road System to help us find some off-the-beaten-path lakes where we could do some fishing & exploring. 
Stop #1 - Benka Lake
Although we didn't land any Rainbow Trout or Arctic Char, the fishing was relaxing & peaceful and the kids loved it.  Or at least kid #1 and #2... #3 was crashed out in the truck catching getting some beauty sleep.

Angler in the making
Exploring, observing, touching and talking about it all
Stop #2 - "XY" Lake
Hidden down a step path from the side turn off road we traveled down, we weren't sure at all if this place was even there.  But after Daddy took a quick jaunt himself to confirm it, we all headed down to check it all out. 
Daddy in front (with his pistol) and me as the caboose (with the bear spray).
And yes, those two things are essential if exploring in Alaska.

And as we made our way down the path, the lake came into view.
And we were immediately surrounded by mosquitoes... everywhere!
Only us... for miles!
Well, and the mosquitoes.  But we put a 2nd layer of spray on, pulled our hoods & collars up and before long... they just seemed to disappear.

This was in deed the most peaceful place all weekend long.
Well, that's not entirely true.  When you have small children who love to talk/scream/argue nonstop, it does ruin nature a bit.  Reality is no bear or moose would probably want to come within 500 yds the Heck Family because of the noise violation that was going on down by the lake. 
Goodness gracious.
I'm surprised we even splurged for the "bear bells" last year when we bought hiking/camping stuff - there really seems to be no need.  My kids are loud enough to scare anything off, including the fish.
Sorry, I digress.
It was absolutely beautiful!

Loved that they all were having such a good time.

Here's what Mama Heck was packin'... yep, bear spray!
With my mosquito spray on, my collar pulled high and my bear spray on the ready -
here's how I felt...
Can you see him?
Camouflaged in the lower right 1/3 of the picture, Brian wished he had his waders on because he would have been even closer down to the water trying to catch some trout. 

There's what Daddy was packin' - one of his pistols. 
Again, with how loud our crew is - I'm pretty certain the bears were more scared of us than we would be of them.  But you can never be too careful.
After a few hours of fishing, we decided to head back into Talkeetna (we were only about 5-6 miles away at this point) to grab a late lunch.  This time we tried out West Rib CafĂ© & Pub.
Speaking of Pub... Brian tried the Moose Drool Brown Ale and said it rocked!
Another fun stop at the playground for the kids on the way out of town burned off some energy!

Once back at camp, we grabbed a late afternoon snack at the General Store and strolled down to the water to see if the Salmon were running yet...

... and just Daddy's luck, they were stacking up to make their run up river/creek.
You would have thought Brian was a kid in a candy store.
And Thomas was all eyes on the action!

Unfortunately, no Salmon this time.
Next time though.  Next time.
12-midnight picture.
Me & Brian just enjoying some cold beverages together...
... and being silly.

 Overall, great trip. 
We can't wait to do it again.
There were most certainly lots and lots of lessons learned (that might have to be another post) and other things that we surprised ourselves with as we were amateurs.
I can't say this enough - getting away from the daily grind with just the kids and disconnecting from phones, internet and blogs was much needed.
It was an excellent reminder of what is most important in life - family.
Even if three of them are loud enough to scare away all the wildlife.