Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sunless in Seattle

There were a few times while we were enjoying our vacation in Philly that it was overcast and drizzly outside. It was that kind of weather that makes you want sip some tea and cocoon yourself in blankets the whole day. But I kept wondering what was different about the Philly cloudy days from the famous Seattle cloudy days we so often get. I couldn't put my finger on it. The dreary days set in here while we were gone for our three-week trip, so I hadn't seen the rainy weather that looms in the area for nine to ten months out of the year for quite a while. Well, now that we've returned I've figured it out. In Philly you step outside, look up at the sky and say "Man, it's cloudy". In Silverdale you literally step outside into a cloud. The cloud lives in your front yard. It's usually not really raining, just misting enough to get you irritatingly wet and cold - kind of like those mist machines they put up at amusement parks on hot days that make you look like you have snow in your hair after you walk under them. There's a beauty to the dreariness when you drive up on a hill and see the fog and mist settled deep in the evergreens below, but I rarely drive up on hills so I rarely see the beauty of it.

Our trip to Philly was just what we wanted it to be. It was our longest visit since we moved out here, so we had plenty of time to see family and a few friends. That said, I was amazed by how quickly it went. There were so many people we both wanted to spend more time with and weren't able to. I was grateful for my best friend's wedding, not only because it was beautiful and lots of fun, but I was able to see quite a few people that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. It served as a mini reunion for many of us. Andrew was also able to enjoy some much-needed time away from work and a break from being constantly reachable. We both get tired of the 3 AM phone calls for him to unexpectedly come into work or our plans for the day ruined because they need him to come wait for hours to pee in a cup. Personally, I loved having him to myself for a few weeks and knowing the Navy couldn't steal him at a moment's notice.

Baby Girl Matthews is kicking just as much, if not more, than her big brother did and seems to be growing beautifully. I have a pre-natal appointment tomorrow, so I'll have more details then, but there is no question that my stomach has popped more in the past month. I'm finally out of the awkward phase where people aren't sure whether I'm pregnant or still trying to get rid of the baby weight from Will. I haven't gotten many unwelcome belly rubs quite yet (although a random man in the Costco parking lot rubbed Will's head as we passed by the other day, which freaked me out way more). I have a long list of things I'd like to accomplish before the baby is born that I know I won't come close to finishing, so I'm trying to prioritize. Towards the top of the list is my first sewing project with my new sewing machine. I'm going to attempt to make cushion covers for cushions we have in Will's room that will eventually be a little reading nook. I'm not as confident in my skills as I'd like to be, but I'll get there (with help from my wonderful sister-in-law sewing master). I also have all kinds of Pinterest projects I'd love to do for the new nursery, but we'll see how many of those I get to before January.

It's shocking how much faster this pregnancy is going than my pregnancy with Will, mainly because I'm busier, but also because I'm not so paranoid about every little twinge of pain. I feel a little more at ease since I know what to expect and what is cause for concern. Even the fact that I know what labor contractions feel like makes me much less anxious. I was terrified with Will that I wasn't going to realize I was in labor until we were rushing to the hospital at the last second. It turned out my water broke at four in the morning, so I knew what was up. Plus, I now know that labor pains are pretty hard to ignore.

I guess the only other news is we're currently fostering two little kittens that are roughly two weeks old. The shelter said when we took them that we were in charge of naming them, so their names are Cindy and Peggy (sound familiar?). Cindy's a bully and Peggy's a whiner - the kittens, that is. While I'm grateful I agreed to only take a litter of two instead of six, it's really been fun taking care of them. They are still bottle-fed, so I'm remembering what it's like to get up in the middle of the night for feedings. I'm thinking of it as a good way to ease back into the hourly nursing sessions coming my way in a couple months. It's remarkable how quickly you forget... Thankfully, they'll be off bottles in a couple of weeks and we'll probably give them back to the shelter to be put up for adoption at the end of December. It's been surprisingly education, too. Did you know that kittens can't pee or poop on their own until they're a few weeks old and until then the mother cat eats it for them? Welp, I didn't. I'll leave you with that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A note for my husband

Since I have no other decent outlet to publicly thank and praise my husband, I'd like to do it here.

We just celebrated our second anniversary yesterday and this is a perfect excuse to thank him, which is something I don't do nearly enough. I have a terrible problem with criticism - not only with him, but with everyone. I'm often a female Scrooge who is able to pick out the worst parts of anyone or anything. You can imagine that he receives the worst of it. He, on the other hand, sees the good in almost everything. He's realistic about the evil and rotten aspects of the world, but he tries whenever he can to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, including me. He gives me breaks I don't deserve. He gives me hugs when I'm rude to him. He encourages me when I'm pouting like a child. He never lets me turn out the light until I've given him a kiss goodnight. He rushes home from work to spend time with me when he could go out with friends. He notices the second I seem sad or upset and is never content until he makes me smile again.

On top of that, he shows our son what it means to be a godly man who takes care of his family and fears the Lord. His number one priority is providing and caring for us. He never complains when he gets home from working sixteen hours straight through the night. He shows strength and perseverance in a workplace filled with temptations and stress. He admits when he's wrong with a humility I've never had. But the best way he honors and mirrors Christ is that he loves me when I'm completely unloveable. I often have those critical, naggy, unpleasant days where I'm constantly pointing out ways I think he could be helping me more or putting him down when I should be building up. I step back at the end of the day and loathe my actions, but I'm shocked every time I look at him and realize he's still looking at me like he did on our first date when he fell in love with me. That puts me in my place better than any amount of criticizing ever could. I don't know why God decided to bless me with such a wonderful human being as my best friend, but I'm forever thankful that He did and I'm forever thankful for you, Andrew Matthews. Happy Anniversary and I love you.

"I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there, you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."
(Our first dance at our wedding)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"So I'll offer myself and I'll just give until there's nothing else"

I think enough is happening in our lives right now that it calls for a little family update...

Well, my last post was just six days before we found out we are pregnant with our second munchkin! A little female Matthews will be popping out somewhere around January 20th and we are all ecstatic - except Will, who still gives a confused laugh every time I point to my belly and say "baby". Man, is he in for a shock.

In light of the new member of our family, we are moving to a larger house on base this coming Friday. We were happy to be placed in a house with a much nicer, more open layout and right in the area on base we were hoping for. Things have been quite busy and a bit stressful as we prepare for that move, but I'm happy to be dealing with the craziness at five months pregnant rather than nine. Our landlords require a perfectly clean place in order for us to move out, so I've been scrubbing when I can and packing when I'm not scrubbing. It will be a huge relief when that whole process is over!

An enormous blessing we've received recently is friends from our church (who also go way back with my folks) gave us their car for Andrew to drive to work so that I can keep the Elantra during the day. I can't explain how this will change my life and give me such a new sense of freedom. After two years of working around Andrew's unpredictable schedule and turning down opportunities, I can finally leave the house even when Andrew is at work! Wonderful, wonderful thing and we can't thank them enough for their generosity.

On top of moving, we are also gearing up for a three-week trip to Philly in October. It comes at a perfect time for us, especially for Andrew who really needs some time away from work. His opportunities to take leave are so few and far between that we were elated that they granted him such a long period of time to relax and get refreshed. We will also get to celebrate with my best friend, Heidi and her fiance, Eric, at their wedding while we're home. I am honored to be her Matron of Honor (harharhar) and can't wait to spend a day with her that we've talked about since freshman year in high school when we used to giggle incessantly on our beds and wonder what our futures would look like.

Will is growing like a weed, albeit more vertically than horizontally. His almost fourteen-month-old little legs just recently grew out of nine-month sized pants, so he's still teensy. We've discovered a level of defiance in him that I didn't know could exist at such an early age. I thought throwing fits was something that came after a child learns to talk, which is something he shows little interest in apart from his usual "dada" and "mama". Apparently, I was wrong with this one. He still shocks me every time I tell him "no" on something and he bursts into angry tears and starts smacking whatever he's frustrated with - the door, floor, his truck or me. It's mostly so surprising because he's such a sweetheart the rest of the time. He loves to sit on my lap, especially in the evenings, and give me hugs and kisses on the cheek and carry on a one-sided conversation. Sometimes he runs full-speed into my arms, throws his arms around my neck and lays his head on my shoulder like I'm his favorite person in the world. I know his defiance is just a part of growing up and realizing you don't always get what you want. I also know it's better to learn that lesson sooner rather than later, so for now I'll just see it as a good thing and an indication of how advanced he is in his understanding of life - right?

I'm overwhelmed by how blessed I am every day. Of course, I completely take it for granted more often than I ever should and there are times that the smallest thing makes me feel like life is so hard. The coffee maker breaks, I develop a cold while Will is teething, Andrew gets called into work unexpectedly. It sounds especially silly when I type it out. But then something like a conversation with someone at the grocery store or even a commercial on TV reminds me that I have an amazingly wonderful life and the Lord has blessed me with a perfect family. Not perfect, but perfect for me. It's exactly what I need and want and that's more than I could ever ask for. My job is to take care of the people I love and that's what I want to do. God gave me the job I always asked Him for and it's even better than I thought it would be. No job is without challenges and no life is without heartache, but I learn from it every time. And if I haven't learned yet I know I will.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


It really amazes me sometimes how little I take advantage of the opportunity to talk to God. Sure, I pray to Him and ask him for things and thank him for my meals, etc. But I don't feel near as honored as I should at the fact that he listens to my words, no matter how self-motivated and arrogant they sometimes are. Comparing it to how infatuated we are by celebrities makes it kind of sick. There are few people in the world who don't have some famous or semi-famous person that they dream of meeting someday. Whether it's a musician, an actor, a writer or a philosopher. I'd give my eye teeth to meet a few celebrities I can think of (Tom Hanks, for one). And I think about if I decided to write Tom Hanks a letter and even if he didn't respond - even if I found out all he did was read it and enjoy it - I would be ecstatic. That Tom Hanks read MY letter and liked it! I'd post it on my Facebook status and obnoxiously rub it in every person's face that I met. Or something like that. And, obviously, you know where I'm going with this. Even though we may not hear God's voice coming right back to us, he listens to every single word we say when we pray to him. It's guaranteed. He promises us in the Bible that if we come to Him He will listen. And He's the Creator of the Universe. He's the biggest celebrity you can possibly think of, as corny as that sounds. I'm just struck with my own stupidity sometimes that I'm not completely humbled and honored every second of every day that my own Lord and Savior listens to my silly worries; that He loves me more than I can imagine that He dries every tear I shed and gently corrects me when I make a mistake. He welcomes me back in His arms even after I've made the same mistake over and over and over again. He even promises me that I can live with Him forever in a sinless, joyful world. As much as I like Forrest Gump and Castaway, not even Tom Hanks can pull all of that off.

So those are my thoughts for today. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dumb Grass

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day. This morning while Will napped I got to read, drink my coffee and watch a cute little bird couple build a nest on our balcony. I hoped we'd have some customers at our new hummingbird feeder, but I'm afraid the little guy that showed up yesterday before the feeder was hung has passed the word to his friends that we're hummingbird haters. Maybe he'll give us another chance.

When the weather is this nice in Seattle it's a crime to not take advantage of it. No, literally the cops will show up at your door and drag you outside to sit in the sun and enjoy yourself. Either that or pay a fine. Anyway, to avoid jail Will and I took a walk to a nearby field on base and spread out a blanket to play and have some snacks. I had visions of him crawling all over the field and the blanket being rather unnecessary, but I was very wrong. It turns out my son has a hatred of grass. It's not just that he would rather stay on the blanket. No, he wants nothing to do with that green garbage and even shivers violently every time his hand comes in contact with it. Being the sweet and sympathetic mother I am, I placed his bag of snacks on the grass just out of his reach and took a video of his attempt to grab it without touching any blades. You can see the extreme shiver of disgust at the end.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Writing this made me realize I use the word "just" too often.

What everyone says is true - babies grow ridiculously fast and change literally by the minute. I'm shocked at how much Will has learned and achieved just over the past couple of months. He took his first steps a couple weeks ago and learned to crawl just yesterday. A little bit out of order, but we were very proud! He hasn't mastered walking more than ten steps on his own yet, so we got him a cute little walker to push around. He practically sprints around the house with a delighted expression on his face every chance he gets. He's also learned how to give kisses and seems to be close to saying "Mama" and "Dada". Andrew and I just melt at the sweet smiles we get from him and the way he grabs our face and looks seriously into our eyes while he babbles. Such a sweetheart.

Andrew had the whole month of March "off"; meaning he didn't have to stand post. He would still go into work on weekdays usually from around 7 AM to 2 PM or so. It was wonderful having him home so much more often and having more freedom to go places as a family.

Will and I took a trip out to Columbus to see Joel and his family at the first of March. Sadly, Kate had to go on a business trip and we weren't able to see much of her, but Mimi and Papo came out for the last couple days and everyone had a blast. Will was fascinated by his silly cousins who kept him fully stocked with baby toys the whole time we were there. It was so sweet to watch the three of them interact. When we returned from Columbus, Andrew's friend, Gerald, visited us for a few days. It was a very happy reunion for the men since, with the exception of a short night at Christmas, Andrew had not seen his best friend since he left for boot camp almost two years ago. 

A couple weeks ago we also had Uncle Jon come to visit. He got a great taste of parenthood when Will got sick with a fever while he was here and cried the majority of the time. Although it may not have been how he was hoping to spend his time here, I was so grateful one night when Andrew had to work until 9:30 and Jon and I took turns walking around and distracting Will while he screamed from a painful sore throat. I think I would have just burst into tears without his help.

We've recently started going to Anchor of Hope Reformed Church in Silverdale. For about a year we had been "church shopping" and had such a hard time finding a place that seemed like a good fit. Every time we thought we found a church where we could feel at home, something would happen to drive us away or convince us it was not the right place for us. There were a few Sundays where we could have gone to church, but didn't, simply because we didn't know where to go. While that may not have been the best decision, it was an extremely frustrating and lonely time for both of us being without any christian fellowship. It became clear to both of us in January that Anchor of Hope was the place we should be. It was one of those decisions that we were both confident was right, but not positive why. Looking back on it now, I'm so thankful we trusted the Lord's guidance on that. The church is small, which has actually been such a blessing. It has a very tight-knit, family feel and the whole congregation has been so kind to us since we started attending. Andrew and I went to a workshop there a few weeks ago called The Art of Marriage, which I highly recommend. Different churches in the northwest (and maybe nationally) have been hosting this video series and it's incredibly helpful whether you've been married one year or thirty years. Andrew and I both walked out with a greater understanding of what our marriage should look like, the purpose it should serve and what our individual roles are. Our marriage has already benefited from that video series and it has been so encouraging to have such a sweet fellowship of believers to meet with weekly. Just finding a church home has personally made my life much happier and less lonely and I'm so thankful that God brought our family there.

Will and I have been taking "swimming lessons" together, which has been a pretty hilarious experience. It's helped him to get accustomed to the water and I've been pleasantly surprised that he hasn't had one meltdown. There is also a one-year-old and an eighteen-month-old in the class who spend the entire time bawling their eyes out. Will stares at them with a concerned look on his face and last week became somewhat of a role model. Every time he did something, their moms told them to do what he did. "Splash the water like the baby does." "Can you kick like the baby's doing?" You can just call him Will, the swimming instructor. He definitely did not take after Mommy in that area. I have a feeling someday he'll have to save me from a swimming pool. Anyway, I'm hoping this fearlessness of water continues and he won't be the one sobbing in a year. Fingers crossed.

I've been looking to find things to get involved in in the area for both me and Will, on and off base. There is a spouse's network in Andrew's battalion that I've been working to get more involved in and a few "Parents and Tots" groups are going to hopefully start from that soon. Will and I regularly attend story time at the local library and I just discovered an indoor playground nearby that I'd like to take him to soon. There is a toddler's music class I'd like to sign us up for in a couple months when he gets a little older as well. He's getting to such a fun age where he really enjoys being out and meeting new people, especially other kids. Plus, I'm in a constant search for other mommy friends, so once we can get a second car we'll be free to explore all we want!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Italy, dolphins and sewing machines

My folks were nice enough to let us take their nice camera back to Silverdale for a while, so I've been having fun playing with it. I thought the above picture summed up nicely what most of our days look like here - rainy and dreary. Makes it hard to get too enthusiastic about Psalm 118:24.

Our trip to Philadelphia was wonderful. We had much more time than our trip last year to spend time with family and a few friends. I was especially excited about how much Will got to see his grandparents, aunts, uncles and even cousins! It was the highlight of our trip that Andrew and I could watch him interact with his relatives. Will was an amazing traveler both ways, but especially on our way there with just me. He must have sensed that he needed to behave in order for me to keep my sanity because he was as good as gold on every flight we took! He was even able to muster up some smiles for Mimi and Papo when they picked us up in Newark at 2 AM. 

It was definitely difficult returning home. Andrew was off to work the morning after we got back and Will was up at 5 o'clock since he was still on eastern time. Of course that was the day the vacuum had to break right after we moved the christmas tree out to the curb. I also came down with the flu. So, I spent a good portion of that week sitting on our couch, armed with tissues and painkillers, picking pine needles out of my socks and wondering what happened to our wonderful vacation. Thankfully, we all adjusted, healed and got back to our normal routine. My parents are currently in Indonesia where my dad is teaching at a seminary in Jakarta. We've been receiving periodic email updates from my mom and it sounds like an amazing (and unusual) experience. I'm anxious for them to get back on American soil and hear more details.

Will seems like a different baby from a couple months ago. He's learned how to roll over both ways, so that's become his means of getting around. It's strange that I can no longer put him on a blanket and expect to find him in the same spot when I come back five minutes later. I can tell he can hardly wait to crawl. His grunts of frustration every time a toy is just out of reach seem to say his motivation is there, he just needs a little more practice and strength. He's also discovered he can scream. Not a sad scream, but just above a squeal of delight. He finds it hilarious to get his voice as high-pitched as possible and I get a kick out of it too - most of the time. He's sitting up on his own for short periods of itme and started solid foods just a week or so ago. So far the pureed peas produce some shivers and gagging (can you blame him?), but applesauce is a definite favorite. Overall, he's been doing well with that big step. Some days he eats a whole jar and some days he just enjoys biting the spoon. Speaking of which, I'm convinced some bottom teeth may be making an appearance soon. His gums are looking whiter and his increased fussiness and gnawing over the past few days are sending a pretty clear message.

For some reason sewing has been on my mind a lot lately. I've wanted to get a sewing machine and learn how to sew for years now, but I see the benefits of it especially now that I have an apartment to decorate and a little boy to dress. I get frustrated every time I see a cute pattern or neat ideas for curtains and have no means to make them! Anyway, that's definitely on my bucket list along with learning Italian and swimming with dolphins.

I think Italy and the dolphins can wait, though.