I am the Decisive Element.

Jan 30, 2012

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make a life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." 
-- Goethe

I think there's a point in all our lives when we realize just how much power we have. We cannot always choose what happens to us, but our reaction is always ours. I was reminded of this just this morning. 

My husband came home from work at 8am absolutely exhausted. I needed to go to the hospital to get another super-fun test done for my command sponsorship (for non-military friends, that's when they decide that I'm legally allowed to live here in Japan instead of being a visitor) and since I'm not allowed to drive yet, Aaron had to take me. I got up and quickly got ready (I thought) but I wasn't quick enough. In the twenty minutes it had taken me to throw myself together Aaron had already fallen asleep on the couch. I woke him up and asked him to get ready. He was grumpy from being woken up. He snapped at me, I snapped at him, we continued snapping for a few minutes while he grumbled and got ready to go. Then he snapped at me one more time and I thought to myself, "Why are we so mad at each other?" Aaron did not do anything to me. He didn't hurt me, he didn't yell at me, he was just exhausted and even though he knew he needed to take me to the hospital (and he was trying), he was too tired to function properly. 

That's when I took a deep breath, stopped being mad, and simply let it all go. I rescheduled the appointment. I pushed him into bed. I rubbed his back for a few minutes to help him relax (he was very worked up over nothing, the way you get when you're too tired to think straight). I kissed him goodnight and I left him to get some sleep. I knew it didn't have to go that way. Aaron would have taken me to the hospital if I'd let him. He would have sacrificed his sleep to help me. He would have given up what he needed for what I needed. That's just the kind of man he is. 

So instead of being mad that things didn't go the way I'd planned them, I reminded myself that sometimes (or always, with the military) I need to be flexible. I need to let the little things go and figure out another way. And I need to remember how lucky I am to have a husband who will put my needs before his. Instead of spending the day grumpy about our sudden change of plans I spent the day snuggling my puppy, cooking yummy food, and doing a puzzle while my husband got some much needed (and deserved) sleep. I refused to let today be a bad one. 

Today, and always, I am the decisive element.

My Baby Sister's Baby.

Today I have something very exciting to share. This year I am going to be an aunt! My baby sister Shelly (who is actually only a year younger than me but will always be my baby) is preggo and I'm going to have a niece. Every time I think about it I want to jump up and down, I'm so thrilled. Shelly's cute tummy is starting to look like a baby is in there and even though I only get to see her over a webcam I absolutely love it. The minute I found out she's having a girl I started shopping. I couldn't help myself and Aaron only makes it worse by saying, "Oh that's cute, you should get it for Shelly." So really, I only take half the blame. I had this tutu custom made by Lyndsi @Lynderella Stitches. She's fabulous and made the tutu to match the shoes just below it (which I also got from her). Shelly promised me beautiful newborn pictures in exchange for a beautiful tutu. I think I got the better end of the deal and you can bet pictures of my little niece will be wallpapering my house. The bibs below were especially fun for us. Aaron sat down with me at the computer, we found a website that let us custom design bibs, and we got to work making the cutest ones we could think of. But of course, the tutu is still my favorite. 
I cannot wait to see the Little Miss wearing it.

Five Confessions. {a link up}

Jan 28, 2012

My cute friend Abby did a five confessions link up and her very first confession made me laugh and want to join in the fun. 

Confession: I cannot stand the sound of people chewing. There must always be some other noise. My poor husband learned this the hard way but learned quickly. Good man.

Confession: I still love Britney Spears. The episode of Glee she guest stared in is one of my very favorites. She will always be my angsty-teen years girl crush. I hope she keeps making music forever. Although maybe slightly better music than she has made lately. She will also always look like this in my mind.

Confession: I feel a little heartbroken when any TV show I'm attached to comes to an end. I believe that they should all go on forever so I have constant entertainment. Until I'm 105, at which point I plan to pass gracefully into the afterlife. 

Confession: I can't stand to have long nails but I keep them long for Aaron. He really loves when I scratch his back.

Confession: I am the klutziest person I know. If there is a dish to break, a shirt to ruin, a crack to trip over, or a wall to run into I will find it.

Thanks & a Silly Tip.

Jan 27, 2012

I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who responded to my post yesterday about divorce. It was a very difficult post for me to write. I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading it to make sure I'd explained myself clearly and said things the way I meant to. I still had a lot of anxiety when I pushed the "publish post" button. It was a big milestone for me to be able to share something so private but I've received so much love and support from my blogging friends that I took a leap of faith and I am so glad I did. I've rarely felt so much love through my blog. So thank you again.

On a lighter note, I feel as though I haven't shared pictures around here lately so I'm going to give you a silly tip. My husband works very long hours and rarely gets a lunch break beyond eating at his desk so I try (and sometimes fail) to remember to pack him a lunch every day. The problem was he'd forget to grab it on his way out the door. The solution was so simple but I felt like a genius. Stick his car keys in the fridge along with his lunch. Some days I am brilliant.

A Dirty Word: Divorce.

Jan 26, 2012

I always thought of divorce as a dirty word. 
Actually, I still do. 
It seems so angry, so painful, so final. The end of it all. And lets be honest here friends, how many of you think to yourself, "I'm going to get married now. This will be fun. In a few years when I'm done with him we'll just get a divorce." I'm pretty sure none of you think that way. No one gets married with the plans to only be together for a few years. And yet it happens so frequently... Statistics put the divorce rate in America anywhere from 40-50%. Is that not scary? 
It made me never want to get married.

Yes, I said again.
As in this is not the first time I've been married.
And yes, I'm only 25.

I've never blogged about my divorce. I've never shared it on Facebook. I didn't go to counseling (although I probably should have and maybe still should). I didn't get any sort of medical help. I've barely even talked to my family and friends about it. To be honest, I'm not really sure why I kept it all so close to myself. Except I hate to share the story. It makes me sound like a stupid little girl. And maybe that's what I was but I don't like thinking of myself that way. 

Here are the basics. We were married. Happily, I thought. I knew something was bothering him for about a week and every time I tried to talk to him about it he would shut down completely. So I just tried harder. And then he came home after work and said, "I don't want to be married anymore. This is too hard." And he walked out the door. Three days later he had divorce papers drawn up and in my hands before I'd even figured out what was going on. I asked him to go to counseling with me. I asked him to talk to me about it. I asked him to try and work things out. But it quickly became apparent that he had made up his mind long before he'd let me know. As I look through my 20/20 hindsight glasses I can see the little signs that he was unhappy and that something was wrong but he was kind of a grumpy/moody person and at the time I didn't pick up on the differences.

The roller coaster of feelings I went through in the following months/years are impossible to describe accurately. I felt shocked, heartbroken, devastated, and completely empty. I felt worthless. And I felt so betrayed. We'd had a life together, a future planned, and then he'd just walked away like none of it mattered at all. I did not (and still fully do not) understand how he could just walk away from our marriage. We'd stood up in front of everyone we knew and promised to be together forever. Forever didn't last as long as I thought it would. I've spent countless hours asking myself what went wrong. What did I do wrong. What could I have done differently. Why did that happen. I never imagined I'd be the girl who got divorced. It was so sad and broken and that was not me. 

Then one day (several months down the road) I woke up and for a minute, it didn't hurt. I never did figure out the answer to my questions but slowly, slowly I put myself back together. I changed my expectations of myself and of my life. I gave myself new goals. I gave myself new things to live for. I found new excitement in my life. I found joy in unexpected places. I made a lot of new friends and strengthened my friendships with old friends. I was reminded through every action that my family is the most amazing family a girl could ask for. I went through something I felt was impossible and came out the other side stronger and better than ever. 

My divorce was horrible and miserable and I would never wish that on anyone. But I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today without that trial in my life. And I like who I've become. I also wouldn't be married to the wonderful man I now call my husband. I learned so much about what I wanted in my life and in my future companion and Aaron exceeds all expectations. He is a wonderful man and even though he had to do a lot of work convincing me that not all men were evil spawns he says it was worth it.

Through the anger, the pain, the hurt, and the struggle I came out the other end fighting for my happiness. And I learned the true meaning of the quote, 
"You never know how strong you are 
until being strong is the only choice you have."

Bad Puppy Mom.

Jan 23, 2012

I have to set the stage here, I promise this post is about much more than having a new puppy. For those of you that don't like animal blogging, give this one a chance. 

These past few weeks have been wonderful/maddening/crazy for me. For the new year Aaron and I got a sweet little puppy we call Twink. He's precious and adorable and we love him. He's also a little hell-raiser and likes to make my life extra difficult. He has been very hard to house train and if you know anything about chihuahua's know this: they do not respond at all to negative reinforcement. They don't understand the word no. If they do something naughty in the house and you catch them and say no they look at you like you are crazy. It is maddening. Every time that I feel like I'm making progress with him, he does something extra naughty to remind me that I cannot tell him what to do.

Well, Aaron couldn't figure out why I was so hyper-sensitive about training the puppy. Sure, he wasn't quite getting it. Sure, he was naughty sometimes. Sure, Aaron wasn't reinforcing the rules I was trying to teach Twink. But why would that make me so crazy? Being the emotionally-sensitive, crazy-with-worry-about-things-that-will-99.9%-surely-never-happen person that I am, I felt like everything Twink did wrong was my fault. It was my fault he couldn't learn.

Which leads to my real concern here (which Aaron laughed at and then felt bad for laughing and had to apologize when he realized I was being serious). If I can't even train a puppy not to do his business in my home, what makes me think I could ever one day be fit to take care of a child? That's when Aaron laughed. Then realized I was serious. Which I was. It had been bothering me as long as I'd been trying to train Twink. What makes me think I'll ever be able to take care of a baby if I can't take care of a puppy? Puppies are easier! You can leave them in a kennel when you leave the house and no one calls social services on you! While Aaron calmly pointed out that puppies and babies are two very different things I protested that they weren't different enough. They both require a lot of attention (babies require more), they both keep you up to all hours of the night (again, babies do this more) and they both do naughty/terrible things that make you crazy and they see nothing wrong with it (once again, babies do this more). So if you think about it, puppy equals kinda-fake, kinda-lame training for baby. And I fail at puppy. Or failed. 

During this discussion Aaron pointed out Twink to me. On the floor, playing predator with his toys (I call it playing predator when he growls/barks/tears his toys to pieces, which he can't do very well yet because he's a puppy). When he does this it melts my heart. And Aaron's argument for why it's all worth it was "But look how cute he is." Okay. He scored a point there. Then, as if knowing I needed some help, Twink climbed into my lap, licked my fingers in the way that says "I love you" and curled up to fall asleep. Aaron's second argument was "Look how much Twink loves you." Which he does. That scored him another point. And I love him, too. Which scored him many more positive points than negative ones and made me feel a whole lot better. 

I guess the point of this very long story is this: I felt weighed down with doubt and failure. I had to look at the positive side of things. And the positive far outweighed the negative. I'm still not ready to have kids (this post was in no way an announcement) but I'm a tiny bit less scared of the idea. I know that when we do decide to add children to our family we will be nervous and anxious and probably do a lot of things wrong. But we will do it with the best intentions and all the love in the world. And I'm happy to say Twink is now (pretty close to) house trained. Score one point for the puppy mom.


I've been tagged by Daneilia & I think this one is cute so I'm going to go for it. I'm all about breaking rules though, so forgive me if I don't do it exactly right. You're supposed to post 11 fun things about you, answer 11 questions you've been tagged with, ask 11 questions of your own and tag 11 other people.

So here are some {fun} things about me.
  1. I love my husband. This might be kind of an obvious one but it's also the most important thing to me.
  2. My favorite drink is diet cherry coke.
  3. My puppy Twink is adorable and I talk about him too much.
  4. I love books. I have hundreds of them. And a nook. And a kindle. I read every single day.
  5. I collect Monster High dolls.
  6. I'm a big Harry Potter fan. That might be an understatement.
  7. I worry too much.
  8. I love sparkly things and getting all dressed up.
  9. I'm quite short but between high heels and good posture people don't really notice.
  10. I'm not big on movies but I love TV shows. They tell a much better story. Historical dramas are my favorite. They are fantastic.
  11. I love sending and receiving mail. I don't live anywhere near my family and it's my way of showing I care.
  12. I don't like odd numbers. But I do like to cook.
Daneilia's questions to answer.
  1. Where do you want to retire? Somewhere WARM. And pretty.
  2. What is your must have drink or meal or both? Cafe Rio. And I can't have it here in Japan. Boo. I suppose in Japan it's Ramen.
  3. What is your word for the year? I have three. Hope. Joy. Love.
  4. What is one major goal you want to accomplish in your life? Graduate with my bachelor's degree. And I'm working on it!
  5. What is your favorite song or movie? When You're Gone by Avril Lavigne
  6. What is your favorite blog post you've done? A wordless one. The pictures say it all.
  7. What are you most proud of? I am proud of myself for becoming the person that I am today. I've gone down roads that I thought were impossible, only to discover (my favorite of quotes) you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  8. Who is one person you admire the most? My mother. She is a beautiful, strong, wonderful woman.
  9. If you could support any one charity with any type of means what charity would you choose? American Widow Project
  10. What is your ethnicity? As pale and pasty white as they come.
  11. If you could have any job, what would it be? I want to be a writer for reals and not just on my blog. Don't worry, I'm working on that one too.
Now I know I'm supposed to pick people to pass this on to and give them questions too but I'll be honest about it... I've had this monster headache (going on 4 days now) that refuses to leave my brain. It took me almost an hour just to write these few lines and I'm sorry but I don't have it in me to think up new questions or new people. So to my darling friends, please answer the same questions I answered, they really are good questions. And I'm tagging anyone who wants to play because I need to go rest my head a bit. 

A Birthday Celebration.

Jan 21, 2012

Every year on my Grandma's birthday we take a few minutes out of our day to celebrate. We remember her and her beautiful life. She was such an amazing woman (they don't make them like that anymore!) and she devoted her life to others. She was absolutely wonderful. This celebration has become a family tradition (13 years now) and even though Aaron, Twink and I are in Japan we still joined the party. We each take a few minutes to write Grandma a letter. Then we tie them to balloons and send them to her in Heaven. I know she waits for them every year.

PS See that fat little dachshund-looking dog in the middle picture? He's my pups back home, Toby. He's putting on some pounds. Maybe he should go for a run. I miss him.

A Little Bit of Cuteness.

Jan 20, 2012

I've had kind of a rough few days. To make myself feel better (and just cuz I wanted to) I got some new things for the pups. Don't judge me for putting sweaters on my dog (yes, that's him in a hoodie). It averages 28 degrees here every day and there are piles of snow everywhere. He gets cold really fast! Besides, my boys are just too cute.

Hunger Games.

Jan 19, 2012

I don't usually post my feelings about particular books on my blog but today the urge just struck me. I just finished a re-read of a favorite series and it made me think. I started reading the Hunger Games series when the very first book came out. Way back in September of 2008. I've read hundreds of books (probably thousands since last year alone I read over 100) and very few stick with me in the permanent way that this series has. It always surprises me though, the biggest question I'm asked... "Did you like how it ended?" The answer is absolutely yes. The only other scenario I could come up with that made any sense at all was Katniss following in a similar fashion to Tally and that almost would have worked here. But not quite. When people ask if I liked it and proceed to tell me they didn't I want to ask "Well how would you have ended such a story?" I personally enjoyed the ending. It wasn't a happily ever after. It wasn't a complete disappointing fail. It was a conclusion that left me feeling content. And at the end of a series there's nothing I'd rather feel.

An Adventure in Meal Planning.

Jan 16, 2012

I've begun to try out meal planning. I absolutely hate the question "What's for dinner?" Especially when I have to follow it with "I don't know, what do you want?" So I'm putting a stop to it. I got a monthly calendar & planned out meals for a week. And then two. It was so fun to think of new things to eat! I searched Pinterest for all those recipes I've pinned to make one day but never gotten around to, along with all my favorite food blogs and came up with a simple meal plan, fit for two people. So far the result has been a happy wife for Aaron and a happy husband's tummy for me. That's a win-win in my book. 

One of my favorites were these Chicken Roll-ups that were so easy to make and I had leftovers for lunch the next day.

One of Aaron's all time favorites is wings so I took a bunch of frozen ones, poured on the teriyaki sauce and let them marinade for 2 days in the fridge. Then we baked them in the oven and added cheesy scalloped potatoes! It was a delicious meal.

For an added treat Aaron came to help me in the kitchen and we made these incredibly easy & equally delicious donuts. They were perfect!

So far I really like meal planning. We'll see how it lasts.

Music That Touches You.

Jan 10, 2012

It turns out there are some things that are very difficult for me to write about. I had another post planned for today about a Dirty Word that has been on my mind lately. I got halfway through writing that post before I needed to stop. If I'm being honest though, that was farther than I thought I'd get. I used to give myself migraine headaches writing about it so in retrospect I've made some progress. Anyhow, I'll keep adding on until I get to where I'm ready to share it.

Until then here's something else that's been on my mind; Music. Music can soothe. Music can heal. Music has the power to touch your soul. This song in particular, Everything Changes by StainD, moves me deep inside. Until my Dirty Word post is finished my love of this song may not make sense to a lot of you but if you have a few spare minutes today listen to this song for me. And if you have another minute share in the comments a song that touches you. I love to experience the music my friends love too.

Pretty Details.

Jan 7, 2012

These are the last of the wedding pictures for a little while.
The pretty details.

Light and Heavy.

Jan 4, 2012

I've had a lot of heavy things weighing on my mind lately. I'm working on organizing them into coherent thoughts to write on my blog. I believe in writing about real things so I promise, they're coming. But until then I'll share my light, happy things.

*Beware* total cuteness is coming now.

Twink's current favorite toy is this chew rope, mostly because if he tries to chew anything else this is what I stick in his mouth.

Twink loves to sleep in awkward positions in my lap while I'm on the computer.

Twink can go up stairs (sort of) but not down. Today he wanted an adventure so he started climbing the stairs. On step 2 he got scared of the climb and wanted back down but he doesn't know how yet. So this is how I found him, waiting patiently for me to come get him off the stairs. Silly boy.


Jan 3, 2012

Now that I'm back to the real world I wanted to add a few more wedding pictures to my blog. I still haven't gotten them all back yet but I'm hoping to soon. For now, these will have to do. My sisters are among my favorite people in the whole wide world. I'm lucky enough to have 3 sisters and 2 sisters-in-law. And of course I'm the oldest of them all. Aren't they beautiful?

Meet Twink.

Jan 2, 2012

Today Aaron and I expanded our little family...
Meet our precious new baby, Twink! 

A Quick Look Back.

Jan 1, 2012

2011 was a fabulous year...

In January I said goodbye to a bad year and celebrated grandma's birthday.
In February I celebrated love and uncovered a murderer
In March my baby sister got engaged and I celebrated my birthday.
In April I celebrated my best friend's birthday and cooked a LOT.
In May I took a trip to Japan and came home engaged.
In June my baby sister got married and I witnessed a beautiful event.
In July Aaron came to visit and I said goodbye to Harry
In August I shared my wedding ring and our engagement pictures
In September I shared wedding projects and remembered.
In October I created my 101 list and said goodbye.
In November Aaron and I got married and had a fantastic honeymoon.
In December I moved to Japan and celebrated the holidays with my husband.

This year had ups and downs, ins and outs, and was definitely full of surprises. I laughed and cried and tried to always remember that life is short and every minute counts. Here's to a wonderful 2012!