Thursday, March 31, 2011

the newest member of our family

Dear Matty,

After much thought and consideration I have decided that we need a second pet in the house. When Sonny and Sara move to San Francisco Harley will be very lonely. He won't have anyone to play with and he is going to sulk for a long time. I know that we will be trying for a baby, but Harley will have to wait a long time before the baby is a good playmate. So, I think having a second pet, one that doesn't require too much work, and is small, cuddly, and cute will be the perfect solution.

Meet Vladmir:
He is small, no more then 30" tall, eats bonsai trees, loves bubble baths, and loves being indoors. He is Russian (hence the name) and would be happy to drink Vodka with us all day long. I think he would be a perfect addition to our family. Asian Mr Harsley and Russian Mr Vladmir. It could not work out better.

So, Jessica and I have added our name to the waiting list! She wants a girl, and I want a boy! He should be available around the time you return. The cost is minimal, well, no more than Harley, and of course we have to fly him from Russia to San Diego. I am very excited about this and can't wait for all of us to be one big happy family! Who doesn't love a petite lap Giraffe??

Love you sweetie!!

p.s. check out the breeders website when you have time:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

military life wednesday: spouse clubs

I have always heard lots of wonderful things about spouses clubs. Camaraderie, understanding, knowledge, and support. Even though I have been a military wife for a few years, only recently have I had the pleasure of being a part of the spouses' groups. And let me say, I love it!

When Matt and I first met he was on a ship, but it was not for very long. And since I was a girlfriend, not a wife, I didn't get very involved in the support groups the ship had. Then we moved to DC where Matt worked for the Pentagon. This was a Joint Staff position, and there were people from all of the military branches, not just the Navy. It would have been great to be a part of a group there, but it didn't function like a ship and I had no idea if there was a spouses' group. When we found out we were going back to a ship in San Diego I didn't really know what to expect. I read books that talked highly about the spouses' clubs and while I was hoping to make some friends with people on the ship I wasn't counting on it. I had lived in San Diego before and I had friends there already. My sister lived around the corner and we had some other friends that would be moving there a few months after us. Basically, in the friend category, I was covered. I had the attitude that I didn't really "need" any of them. I was fine on my own. Boy was I wrong!

Even if you think you don't "need" them, you do. Finding a group of people in a similar situation will allow you the chance to express your frustrations, concerns and fears with other people who will be sympathetic to those reactions as well. They are the only ones who truly understand what you are going through. Their husbands are underway or deployed at the same time yours is. Or they have been through the situation that you are currently in. The more experienced wives can offer you a lot of great advice. As a new spouse, you don't have all the information to navigate the maze that is the military life, and the other wives are there to provide help and support you. They keep you busy with volunteer activities and evening wine and lunch outings when your hubby is off doing his job. And the people you meet, the friendships you make, can last a lifetime. You may even find yourself planning your relocation road trips around where your friends live. Quality time and a free place to stay! :)

My advice to any new wives: get out and get involved. Make friends with the spouses in your command. Find out if there are other groups out there you can get involved in. (I'm a part of he FRG, the Wardroom, and the Fun Bunch!) It's scary being the new person and not knowing anyone, but that will pass. Don't stay cooped up in your house. Don't secluded yourself from the other wives. We are in this together, we are here to support each other, and we can all use more friends! I'm glad I got over my "I don't need you" attitude and put myself out there. I love hanging out with all the spouses. It keeps my mind off deployment and I have met some really amazing ladies! :)

some of the wonderful fun bunch ladies!

Monday, March 28, 2011

an open letter to Mr H


After spending most of the weekend running errands and doing misc things around the house I was very tired. I wanted to spend the rest of the day just relaxing at home. But I decided to take you and Sonny to the beach. It had been a few weeks since you had been there, and you needed a bath anyways, so I thought why not?! Plus I love you and I know the beach makes you happy.

But Son, if you behavior does not improve, you will not be going again. You were completely out of control yesterday!! I do not mind you chasing other doggies around, but why must you bite at their faces? Especially the ones that are ball obsessed? They think you are trying to take their toy. And I know you do not care about the ball at all, but they don't know that. They think you are trying to steal it, which always seems to cause a fight. And then I get stressed out. I have to constantly follow you around the beach and make sure you are being nice. And when you get out of hand and I ask you to control yourself, you never listen. You run away down the beach and I know what you're thinking: "I have no idea who that crazy lady is. Harley who?". Not cool buddy. Not cool. Why can't you play with the little dogs? Why always the big ones?

So I am asking begging for you to please behave at the beach from now on. please. If you are a nice boy, who plays well with others, then I would be happy to take you every weekend. And we could stay for an hour or more! It would be so much fun! But if we get there, and you act a fool, we will have to go home. And then you won't be going to the beach again until Daddy gets home. Your behavior stresses me out and sometimes I need a break, and that is where Daddy comes in. Not that you listen to him more then me, but at least I can relax on the sand for a bit.

I want you to take some time, reflect upon how you acted, and hopefully you will be a good boy next time we go. Please don't make me call Cesar on you. I love you buddy!


the face of innocence

Saturday, March 26, 2011

5k goal achieved!

Today I can cross one of my deployment goals off the list: run a 5k in under 30 minutes. I did it! Sara and I ran it together and we finished in 27:10. perfect. We had a blast too! The only bummer was getting up at 630am on a Saturday, but we did, then we ate some breakfast and went out to Balboa park. It was cool and cloudy but it didn't rain. I would say it was perfect running weather because we didn't get too hot and sweaty. We started the race at the front (so the time on the big clock would be accurate) and maintained a solid 9min mile pace. There were a lot of serious runners out there too. They were chugging along at like a 6 minute mile pace! Go them! While I would like to improve my time, pretty sure I will never be that fast. 

We got to run through Balboa park and by some of the museums. It was so nice. And it was all for a good cause: Autism Research. As many of you know Sara works with special needs adults and we were part of their team, The Stein Education Puzzle Solvers. We had close to 50 people too! Go team Stein! It was a great experience and I will definitely be participating in more races in the near future. In fact, I think I should create a couple new goals: 

1. Run a 5k in 25 minutes. 
2. Run a 10k.

Sara and I have signed up for another 5k in May, but it is a little different. It is called the Roc Race. It is more of an obstacle course with walls to scale and mud pits and ropes and all sorts of fun and interesting things. It should be a good messy day! And we are going to get some crazy team outfits too. We can't wait!

Here are a few pictures from today:
at the Stein tent
mid-run pic!
haha for fun

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Friday!

For those that haven't seen this video yet, it is so darn cute!! It always makes me smile. I wish Harley had a guilty face like this. Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 50

Can you believe it's been 50 days since Matt has left? Me either. I guess that's good, it seems like time is flying. Well the weekends are flying by, but those gosh darn work days just seem to drraaaaagggggg. While it seems like I am making some serious progress, I am still not even 25% of the way through deployment. 50 days down, lots more to go. Baby steps.

So how about a little goal update today?

1. Work out and eat healthy. Update: It is going pretty well. I have my good days and my bad days, but overall I am moving forward and making progress. Since Jan 15, when I first started tracking my body fat, I have lost 2%!! Technically I only need to lose 1.4% more, so it looks like I will be able to reach this goal, and maybe even surpass it, by the time Matt returns!

2. Save Money. Update: it's going. This will be an ongoing goal for us throughout deployment. So far, March has been a good "saving" month and we hope it continues.

3. Spring Clean the house. Update: DONE! All the closets have been cleaned out, the garage has been organized, and all the extras have been donated. I have even managed to do a little deep cleaning. I do love a clean house. :)

4. Take a Photography class. Update: we are signing up for one in April. I am very excited to get comfortable using all the settings on our camera. I even bought a new camera bag/backpack which can hold an extra lens. It will be perfect for all our hikes and adventures.

5. Scrapbooking. Update: no progress. I am hoping to start this some time in April. I did finally get my digital photo frame up and running, that was a lot of work. And I am excited to have another little project to keep me busy in my down time. Of course that also means my dining room table will become my art room, but that's ok by me!

6. Run a 5k. Update: I'm racing this Sat!! I am super excited to do this! Sara and I will be a part of the Stein Education team in the Race for Autism. I am hoping to come in under 30 minutes, which I have been practicing with a lot of success. More about all this later....

7. Take my vitamins and floss. Update: eh. Haha. I am doing both about 4 days a week. It's progress, but not up to par. My goal is to use up all my vitamins by the time Matt gets home. Totally doable. Still wish they tasted better.

Happy Thursday everyone and Happy 50 days down!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

military life wednesday: how do you do it?

I have been asked the question "how do you do it?" by family, friends and strangers. People that have little to no experience with the military life. It is asked out of curiosity because they just can't imagine living this life: being separated for 6 months or more at a time, moving every few years, constantly changing jobs, never really settling, living life with a lot of "what ifs". I will be the first to tell you, it is not easy. Matt and I have to constantly remind each other about the big picture, our plans, and the positives of being in the military.

So, how do I do it?

I do it 2 or 3 weeks at a time, because I can't handle thinking of anything more. I send a package and look forward to its arrival, I wait in anticipation of the next port visit. His next phone call, his next email. 

I do it with a kiss to his picture and a snuggle to his pillow.  I lay in bed and pray every night for God to keep him safe and bring him home to me soon.

I do it with a fake smile and a cheerful voice meant to reassure all those who care about him. I do it because they look to me to determine the amount of worry that is allowed at any given time.

I do it for our future. Our hopes, our dreams, and all the we want out of life. Our future children and grandchildren.

I do it with the help and support of all of the other military families out there. The people who truly know what you are going through. They provide friendship, understanding, and comfort through the good times and the bad.

I do it because I can't imagine loving anyone else. I never thought I would marry a military guy, but I did and do not regret it for a single minute. He is worth the wait, he is worth the lonely nights, he is worth the tears.

I do it for this country and all the other ones that need our help. I do it because the people of Japan need him and his shipmates right now. I do it in spite of all the worry. I do it in spite of the fears.

I do it because I love him. I do it because he needs my support.

the picture was taken by a pilot from Matt's ship who was our delivering aid. very moving.

Monday, March 21, 2011

our sweet angel

This weekend was really hard. Our beloved golden Miss Lucy passed away. She had been fighting a terrible brain tumor which looked like a baseball on her head. She was on 10 pain pills a day, and to top it off she was having a lot of difficulty walking due to previous hip issues. Unfortunately, it was her time. But that did not and will never make it easy.

Lucy was our angel. Our beautiful, lovable, and joyous girl. She ran the show at home and wherever she went. As a pup she was a huge shoe lover. Stealing one of Sara's shoes was a daily event. She would hide them in the yard, or the house and really enjoyed watching the search and rescue efforts. And as she grew, she was more of a clothes hound. Although she didn't like to wear them, she loved to steal and hide Momma's. It seems she was a bit of a comedian too. We enjoyed every minute with her. We feel blessed to have had her in our lives. She taught us to let loose and have a good time, but to never let the boys get out of hand. She will forever be in our hearts.

She has crossed the rainbow bridge and is now playing in Heaven pain free.

Say hello to Barney, Princess and Oreo for us. We love you and miss you! We will all be together again someday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

get your read on

On Wednesday I did something that I haven't done in 10+ years, I set foot in a public library! And let me just say: the downtown one is a little scary. There were quite a few homeless people hanging out front and one lady inside was talking to herself....or yelling at me....not sure. Didn't want to ask. But overall it was a nice place. And the best part: it's free! They give you a card for free (lifetime btw) and you can borrow any book in there....for free! I love it. (side note: I knew all this, but it's just so exciting!) I don't know why I stayed away form the library for so long. For some reason I have always bought the books I wanted to read. And then I got the kindle for my birthday and I had to buy the books to read them. But since Matt has my kindle, and I don't want to buy and store all the books I plan to read while he is gone, I decided the library was the perfect solution. Save money and space at the same time.

I've already read some good books since Matt has been gone and I wanted to recommend a few of them to all of you:

For the military wife/girlfriend: Married to the Military by Meredith Leyva:
This is a great book that covers how the military works, gives you a lot of great resources and real life stories from military families. This details everything you need to know to manage the day to day issues and get on with the adventure of military life. From relocation to deployment, protocol to finances, and career to kids, it offers a ton of great advice! I read this once when Matt and I first started dating, and then again before we got married. It really helped me navigate the Navy and all that comes with it!

For the Mommy to be: Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy:
I bought this book for two reasons: it was cheaper and not as overwhelming as all the other baby books, and I read a chapter and started laughing in the bookstore. It is a very funny, honest look at pregnancy. In fact, it is so honest that by the time I finished the book I was more worried about all the strange things that might happen to me when I'm pregnant and less excited. Better to be prepared though right? It's a great comic relief from all the big stuffy pregnancy books.

For Everyone: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson:
One of my all time favorite books. I am obsessed with the series. This is the first book of 3. It "combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel". It has a lot of details and a lot of characters but it is so interesting! I could not put it down. I found myself wanting to read it all the time. I finished it in about a week and I just started the second book (which I borrowed from the library!). Highly recommend this to everyone!

What is one of your all time favorite books? I am always looking for good books to read!

Sonny - getting his read on!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

military life wednesday: the military wife

The military wife - a poem

The good Lord was creating a model for military wives and was into His sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared. She said, "Lord, you seem to be having a lot of trouble with this one. What's wrong with the standard model?"
The Lord replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? She has to be completely independent, possess the qualities of both a father and mother, be a perfect hostess to four or forty with an hour's notice, run on black coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to carry on cheerfully, even if she is pregnant and has the flu, and she must be willing to move to a new location ten times in seventeen years. And, oh yes, she must have six pairs of hands!"
The angel shook her head, "Six pairs of hands? No way."

The Lord continued,"Don't worry, I will make other military wives to help her. And I will give her an unusually strong heart so it can swell with pride in her husband's achievements, sustain the pain of separations, beat soundly when it is overworked and tired, and be large enough to say, 'I understand' when she doesn't and say 'I love you', regardless."
"Lord," said the angel, touching his arm gently, "Go to bed and get some rest. You can finish this tomorrow."
"I can't stop now," said the Lord. "I am so close to creating something unique. Already this model heals herself when she is sick, can put up six unexpected guests for the weekend, wave good-bye to her husband from a pier, a runway, or a depot, and understand why it's important that he leave."
The angel circled the model of the military wife, looked at it closely and sighed, "It looks fine, but it's too soft."
"She might look soft," replied the Lord. "But she has the strength of a lion. You would not believe what she can endure."
Finally the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the Lord's creation. "There's a leak," she announced. "Something is wrong with the construction. I am not surprised that it has cracked. You are trying to put too much into this model."
The Lord appeared offended at the angel's lack of confidence."What you see is not a leak," He said. "It's a tear." "A tear?" What is it there for?" asked the angel.
The Lord replied, "It's for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness, pride and a dedication to all the values that she and her husband hold dear."
"You are a genius!" exclaimed the angel.
The Lord looked puzzled and replied, "I didn't put it there."

~author unknown

Monday, March 14, 2011

so blessed

With all that is going on in the world, it makes me grateful for all that I have. My wonderful and brave husband, my loving family, my amazing friends, my precious pup, and more. I thank God every day for everything I have been given.

I want to take this moment to give a special thanks for being blessed with someone who is kind, understanding, patient, loving, non-judgemental and sweet as can be. She has been through tough times and has persevered. She would do anything for her family. She makes me want to be a better person. She makes me want to be more like her. She is my Grandma. 

I know that I would not be the woman I am today without her. As a child I remember camping together, spending every day after school playing games, cuddling under the "magic blanket" at her house when we were sick, and doing homework together. And as an adult we went on cruises and vacationed together. I could not have made it through college without her help. I was able to have the wedding of my dreams because of her. My life is better because she is in it.
My G-ma really is the best! What other Grandma will go out to the bar with you at 2am and starting dancing with your friends? Or get crazy on the dance floor at your wedding?!

My G-ma, that's who.

Grandma, I am so proud of you for learning how to log on the computer just to read my blog!! I was so surprised and happy to hear that!! I am looking forward to building more memories with you when we all go to Puerto Vallarta. I love you so much! <3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

video blog update

Hi Everyone!

A little update on Matt and what he's up to, as well as an update and hello from Harley and me to Matty! Enjoy

Friday, March 11, 2011

an update on Matt

Let me start off by telling you that Matt is safe and sound. I have received an email from him today and I hope to get a call sometime in the next few days.

As you all know there has been a large earthquake off the coast of Japan which caused a tsunami to hit the island. It has resulted in an unbelievable amount of devastation to that country.  Since Matt's strike group is in that area right now, they have been diverted from their normal operations and have been asked to assist in the humanitarian efforts. I do not know much more than that right now, but if and when I find out any information I will pass it on.

Let me just take this time to also say how very proud I am of him and all that the Navy is doing to help. I know Matt would say "I'm just doing my job", but to me and I'm sure a lot of other people, it is much more than that. Of course I am worried beyond words about him and his fellow sailors, but I am confident they will travel safely and cautiously and provide all the help they can.

Please keep all the sailors as well as all the Japanese people in your thoughts and prayers. Living in California, I know this same thing could happen to us at any time.

the first package has finally arrived!

I have been waiting to write this post for 5 weeks. It took that long for Matt's first package to arrive. It was a long and torturous 5 weeks....

Right after Matt left I wanted to send off a package. I knew the ship would arrive at their first port about 2 weeks after leaving San Diego, and I thought that was the perfect amount of time for a box to get to him! So I gathered up some goodies: his pen he forgot (with refills), some girl scout cookies (a necessity), a lovely card, some pictures of us on deployment day, and a big blanket. I know, a blanket sounds like an odd thing to put in a package for him, but it was much needed. He has always complained that our blankets at home are not long enough for him. He wants to be able to have it go all the way up to his neck and still be able to cover his feet when he is stretching out. And they don't make blankets that long. So my Mom had the brilliant idea to make him one! Only one problem: Shannon doesn't sew. I am a domestic goddess when it comes to cleaning and sometimes baking, but sewing is not my forte. But my amazing Mommy had a solution: a no sew blanket!! Well now that sounds right up my alley! So off we went to Joann's fabric store to select the material. I picked out a lovely navy blue for one side and blue and green plaid for the other. Matty colors. It was super easy to make and it didn't take us very long at all. And it was also good Mommy/daughter bonding time!

Here are some pictures of the process:

making the blanket. Harley is trying to help too!

my handsome boy

the final product!

SO two days ago the package arrived and good news: Matt loves it! He was super surprised I made the blanket (see, even he knows I am not gifted in that area. LOL) and said it made him feel very loved. :)

If anyone is looking for a personalized, inexpensive and easy gift for family or friends I highly recommend the no sew blanket. In fact, I made another one as a baby gift for some friends of ours!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

military life wednesday: doing it all

A couple of weeks ago posted a cute article about Spousonomics. It is a book about how to divide the household chores between spouses. Instead of splitting everything 50/50, I would do what I'm good at (dishes, laundry, cleaning) and Matt would do what he is good at (yard work, cooking, finances). It should help settle the argument of who does what and hopefully give both of us more free time. I think it's a pretty good concept and something that all couples should give a try. However, the military life does not make this so easy.

Seeing as it is just me right now, I get to do all of the above. Total bummer. I don't mind doing a lot of the additional things including cooking, taking out the trash, and handling the finances. What I could live without: yard work. Now, I always knew that I didn't have a green thumb. I have managed to kill the planter box flowers 3 times now. Yep, 3. After I failed miserably the third time I decided it was not meant to be, and the planter boxes got a new home inside the garage. And I have successfully forgotten to water my one and only plant for a few weeks now. I'm pretty sure it is knocking on death's door as I type this. The only plant that is still kicking is the lemon tree. Why? Because I want some lemons!! Oh, and because it rains. hehe. Thank you mother nature! 

And now that Matt is gone I have to do all of the yard work. Ok, not all. We have a gardener. But all he does is mow the lawn and trim some bushes (thank God I don't have to do that as well. I would be living in a jungle!). Matt usually makes everything look nice by spending a few hours each weekend picking up all the leaves, hosing off the patio and the furniture, picking up the dog poo, and clearing out the weeds. Since it has been 5 weeks since the yard has gotten any help, I figured I needed to tidy up a bit (side note: I am nice enough to pick up after the dogs every week). So I cleaned the house and then headed outside. I was motivated and moving along well for about 15 minutes. However, I hate getting dirty. Pulling weeds, raking leaves and hosing the patio all require getting dirty and/or wet. Not my cup of tea. But I hung in and did a decent job. It was definitely not up to Matt Clute standards, but hey, good enough for me. I just hope that the yard is not in total disarray when he returns. Sorry in advance Matty. :) I am definitely missing my Man of the house.

Is there a chore you absolutely hate doing? Do you negotiate it away and do something else instead? Compromise is key and fair doesn't have to mean equal :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

where's daddy?

Matt has been gone for almost 5 weeks now. And the question is, does Harley know who Daddy is? I thought I should ask him and here is what I found out.....

Looks like it still rings a bell. yay!! Harley definitely misses his Daddy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

the happiest day of my life!

Toay I was going through our photos trying to finally gather all my "fav's" for my digital photo frame. As I was going through our wedding photos I found the video of Matt singing to me :)! It made me cry a little but it also made me smile. It was such a special day and this video really makes me re-live it all. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

best surprise ever! I love you baby!!

and a BIG thank you to Jen for taking the video!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

howdy y'all

The creative juices are not really flowing today, but I did want to stop in and say a quick hello. Hello to my wonderful husband, I miss you so much! I can't wait to talk to you again! Hello to my Mama. Hang in there Mommy. This time is hard but you will get through it. I love you lots and Lucy is in my prayers.  Hello to Grandma! Hi G-ma!! I can't believe you learned how to use the computer just so you could read my blog. I am super proud of you! Hello to all the Clutes out there. Can't wait to see you all at the wedding in September. Miss you all a lot!  And hello to any other family or friends that are reading this blog. I appreciate you all following it! I love you all!

Happy Thursday everyone

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

military life wednesday

So I thought I would try something new. Starting today (and every Wednesday until I run out of ideas) I want to do a military advice post, something I have learned from being a military wife. It may be advice I've received, a lesson I've learned, the way of life in the military, or a gripe (we all need to complain sometimes :)).

Today is all about change....or is it about planning ahead...or maybe being open to change...or?! Military life is an ever changing life. We spend a lot of time discussing the future, his career plans, my career plans, our life goals, places we would and would not want to live, and the list goes on. And every 6 months the conversation is different. Last time it was Hawaii, this time its Monterrey, or maybe its Japan. It all depends on this, that and the other. I seriously need a handbook to keep all this straight! And let me tell you, it can drive me crazy! I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen well in advance. I am not a "fly by the seat of your pants" kinda girl. I would say I am adventurous, but not spontaneous. If I have a little notice I can be spontaneous....or does it not count then? I have a calendar on my wall for a reason people! I like to know what's coming up.

Military life is not always something you can plan. You can try to plan, but it doesn't always work out the way you wanted. When we left San Diego I did not think we would be back so soon. We had "planned" on DC for at least 2 years, maybe 3, then possibly overseas or maybe even Virginia Beach. And well, we are back in San Diego. Granted it could be a lot worse. The point: all you can do is prepare mentally for where you could possibly, maybe be going. We talk about all our options and come to terms with all the different scenarios. Although that sometimes leads me to get attached to a certain location and then when it falls through I feel sad and angry. There are a lot of "what ifs" and as an organized planning machine, ooooo that drives me nuts!

I guess the saying "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" is perfect for us military folk. You can try and plan as much as possible, but don't expect it to work out all the time, because let me tell you it doesn't. And even though Matt and I have been blessed to live in some great places I know that at some point it won't be so fabulous. And it will be hard, but I know it won't be forever. You need to find the silver lining at every place you go. Nothing is perfect and nothing will compare to home, but it is what you make of it. I know as long as Matt and I have each other we can get through anything. Any place, any job, anything the military decides to throw at us at the last minute.