Thursday, October 06, 2016

Murphy's Law

It's been one week since we got word we're headed for Japan. It took me a little over half of that to stop freaking out and feeling sorry for myself. My biggest issue has been wrapping my mind around giving up my house. I love my house, but it's just a house. I've had to tell myself that a lot this's just a house.

Yesterday, we signed up to rent it out through a management company. By Tuesday it will also go on the market for sale. I'm hoping the perfect renter comes along and loves it as much as we do. I sure would feel better knowing we get to come back.

The management lady kept saying, "Oh wow. Oh wow..." as she walked through.

In the week that we've been scrambling, I painted both stairwells, requiring a ladder on stairs. It was a little scary and my kids kept saying, "Please don't die." Sean told me not to put the ladder on stairs, so I waited until he was on call to paint. :)
I've taken 90% of the pictures off the wall. I had a loooooot of pictures on the wall. I like pictures.

We've cleared out the largest part of our garage. Some young beefcake friends lifted our 300lb fireplace insert and carted it off as if it was nothing. They carted off a deep freezer and two pick up truck loads worth of kid stuff. I wasn't ready to let go of my baby's Cozy Coupe,'s just a toy.

I've painted our ginormous master bath. I'd been putting off painting because our plans were to gut the bathroom. We wanted to get rid of the garden tub and extend our walk in closet by building into half the space of the massive tub. With the remainder of the space we were going to put a shower that all spas would envy. Instead, I painted it gray. I had coffee for dinner and painted all night long. Well, until 4 am. Then Jude woke up having wet the bed the one time I forgot to put the mattress pad under his sheets. Murphy's Law.
(These flowers have been on my hit list since the day we moved in.)
Now that the painting is done, I feel like I've been able to finally release some of the breath I've been holding. There's still a bit more decorating and packing away of extras and clothes sorting and runs to Goodwill and Sean hasn't even begun his first check list. I don't know how we're going to do it, but we're doing it anyway!

During this week of stress and chaos, our car that has never had a single problem ever decided to start bucking like a bronco. Murphy's Law.

This week that we really needed to re-finish the deck that we stripped bare, a hurricane is coming. We need 72 hours of sunshine. Murphy's Law.

The dog woke up this morning with her eye swollen shut. She went to bed whole and woke up broken. Murphy's Law.

There are so many more examples of Murphy's visit to our home, but my brain is too fried to think of them. A funny story about this, though. When Sean called to tell me about Japan, I was shopping with my mom. After the news had settled, she said flippantly, "Well, y'know, Murphy's Law."

I was thinking, "Does she know Murphy's Law is not a good thing?"

On the ride home, she clarified.

When my dad was stationed at Langley himself over thirty years ago, he got orders to move to England. Unexpected and without enthusiasm, he went kicking and screaming. They had bought versus renting, as we have. They needed to sell quickly, as we do. They listed their home for sale through the local newspaper. The newspaper misprinted their ad and put the wrong phone number with their listing. They had no time to fix the problem and my mom said, "Well, y'know, Murphy's Law!" They didn't get any calls on their ad, obviously.

As a last ditch effort to get their house sold, they called the number that the newspaper had listed as theirs. They explained to the person that answered, "Look. We have to sell our house and now. Please, please, if anyone calls give them this, the correct, number."

That person, that perfect stranger that was a huge hinge upon which this whole thing held, did as was asked. He gave their number to one person. That one person called the correct number. That person bought their house. And the person's last name that bought my parent's house, drumroll please, was Murphy.

Isn't that the best story ever? 

When my brother was inprocessing when he moved here a few years ago, he had to go to some random military office. When they called his last name, another person waiting said, "I bought a house from a Rutan thirty-some years ago." And so my brother got to meet Mr. Murphy. :)

It's hard not to smile when Murphy's Law comes trolling after a story like that. He's been heavy in our house this week. We have chilled out mostly, stopped the pity party, but there have been some intense moments of stress. I won't lie, I've gone from having super spiritual moments of trust to stark raving, make-a-sailor-blush moments. Sean and I have gone from high-fiving each other on the good fortune of getting to have an adventure to almost committing a crime against one another. I have gone from praising my kids for their hard work to ripping their heads off for recycling clean laundry in with dirty and thereby forcing me to do laundry twice. I don't have time to rewash clean clothes!

My whirling dervish of a three year old seems to live to undo everything I do. I painted the stairwell at midnight-ish, by noon the next day there were dents all over the wall. As if he'd smacked the wall repeatedly with a toy. I don't know where he finds the markers, but he finds them and uses them. His favorite thing in the world is to pump soap all over countertops. Every room I pronounce, "Done!" becomes undone as soon as I leave it unattended. Basically, he's doing everything he's always done, only now I really need him not to.

One fun thing about staging the house is the actual staging part. I don't tend to spend gobs of money on decorating. To have the freedom to go nuts with pumpkins and mums and scarecrows and hay bales and fresh flowers and candles and fluffy towels. I likes it. This chair met it's demise on a fall from the attic. I almost put it out to pasture, but I think I'll get a few more miles out of it. I need to add a bit more to the set up, but I can't wait to see the mums in bloom.

The list seems to get longer as we cross things off, but we're really starting to look forward to Japan. I'm ready for the stress to get outta my house and the adventures to begin. Soon enough!

Saturday, October 01, 2016


This picture has nothing to do with this post other than that it was the last day everything was normal.
 And Titus is cute.
 And his body language and look of confusion is exactly how I feel.

Thursday, the boys wanted to go bowling with Grandma and Grandpa. We had so much fun. After the two games, the boys begged to go home with Grandpa while my mom and I went outlet shopping. Two stores in, Sean called. 

"Are you having fun?"-Sean
"Want me to ruin that fun or...?"-Sean
"You wrecked your car!"

Moving was so far from my mind. You wouldn't think it would be. You would think given that we're military and moving is our most frequent pastime, it would've been right there in the realm of possibilities. But this was supposed to be it. This was going to be "home." We had plans.

And with one little email, all of that changed. Sean has been "non-vol'd" to Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Japan. That means, no one else volunteered to take the open slot. Sean is the seventh person they tagged. Four people before him took the "7 day option." That means they got the orders and within a week said, "Yeah, I'm done." They didn't owe any time to the military and quit or retired. Two others had a medical reason or someone in their family had a medical reason they can't go to that specific base. 

Sean still has a two and a half year commitment. 

The shock has worn off. We've already made some connections. The Air Force family is a small one and they rally when needs arise. It's one of the things I love most about this lifestyle...we look out for one another. I know that we are going to love it. I know that we have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. I can't wait to show my kids a whole new slice of the world. 

That said, we had plans. We had Ewok Village plans. We had a monster deck planned for us to enjoy for years and years to come. We had plans to enjoy living in the same town as my parents for the first time in a very long time. It was my kids turn to have Grandma and Grandpa. We bought this house because we fell in love with it. The longer we've lived here, the harder we've fallen. With more than just the house, we love this town and the people and the future that we saw coming together. 

If we had known we'd only be in Virginia for two years, we never would've bought a house. As much as I love them, we probably wouldn't have gotten Gus and Ruby. I certainly wouldn't have encouraged my parents to move here. But you live life and you make decisions with what you know. It's funny how priorities change. Thursday morning, I was focused on buying Fall clothes and taking the boys to a pumpkin patch. Now it's all about finding information on Japan and keeping the house spotless and scrambling. The good news is that I still get to buy mums and pumpkins(curb appeal, y'know?). The bad news, well, I don't want to complain because there are bigger problems in this world than the one's I'm having. 

Let me reiterate, we are excited to go to Japan. We know we're going to love it. It's just change(who likes that?) with a ton of stress thrown in. Financial and otherwise. We have no time and endless tasks. But...we've been here many, many times. We've done this many times before, on a slightly smaller scale and with less help. 

As long as we're together, it's going to be just fine. People have asked if Sean could go alone. The short answer is, "Probably." But the stresses on a military marriage are already intense. My goodness, if you could've been a fly on the wall this morning(insert demon emoticons x2). The stress is getting to us and sometimes we forget we're on the same team. Every day service, deployments and TDYs force enough separation into any military marriage. I would never leave my husband's side, if given the choice. 

We have three months. To sell(or rent) our house and our motorhome and our cars(at least one of them). To figure out what to take with us and what to put in storage. To get passports and medical check ups and...Lord only knows what else. I don't know how we only have three months, but I try to focus on the end. I'm trying to focus on the fun parts and adventure and imagining all the things we're going to see. 

The boys are good. Felix is super excited and plans to learn Japanese. Simon was fine once he took a look at the Civil Air Patrol page for Yokota. Their patch has Godzilla on it and their plane has a big dragon painted on the side. Jude is oblivious. Titus says he's "about 50% excited," but he says it with tears in his eyes. He came into our room this morning and said, "Ohayou." That's "good morning" in Japanese. He only remembered it because it sounds like, "Ohio." 

We hit the ground running yesterday and popped into a local realtor's office. I have to think it was a small lesson in God saying, "See? I've got ya."

The realtor is a Navy wife and she gets it. Not everyone gets it. She came today 150% prepared. She gave us a very short list of things we need to do to get our house listed. She was super encouraging and gave us great news. She complimented my style. When she saw the boys' built in bunks, she said, "Did you guys build these? I can see why you love this place." When I started crying at the end of our time together, not only did she get it, she joined me with a sniffle of her own. We both had mascara dribbling down our cheeks and that made me feel like everything is going to be just fine. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Great idea.

I mentioned that we received quite a bit of rain lately. Our lake has gone from looking terrible and muddy and murky and pollen covered to...picturesque once again. 
 As Felix received some kayaks for his birthday and hasn't been able to use them much, we jumped at the chance to put them in the water today. These pictures are not from today. These pictures are from a day last week in which I had a functioning brain cell. 
 On this particular day of playing with my camera, I stayed on the dock. I realized the sun was setting quickly and we didn't have time to drag both kayaks down to the water. I had fun nonetheless and stayed neat and tidy. 
 Today, however, is a different story. My children were being less than desirable to be around. The only time they spoke to one another civilly was when they were playing war. I can't make this stuff up. I have learned over the years that when they're being less than desirable to be around, I can either wear their little butts out or at least get them far enough away that I can't hear them bicker. So we went for a bike ride and I nailed two birds with one stone. Two birds. Trouble is, I have four birds. 
After the bike ride, the biggest bird was tasked with entertaining the two littlest birds and Felix and I got the kayaks down the hill. Our neighbors have a dock. It's hard to get to, it's broken, the first board is mildew laden and slick as freshly zambonied ice, but it's access to the lake. They've offered us use of it any time we want. As an Amport, I just can't do anything the easy way.
 "Let's drag 'em down our hill. We can put in from the bottom of our hill," I said. The Amport child, having also inherited the gene that doesn't allow him to do anything the easy way, agreed. We realized the error we'd made, but we committed ourselves to following through with this plan. Though the days and days of rain we've had lately caused the lake to rise, it gave an illusion of being deeper than it actually is. 
 As we plopped the kayaks into the mud, I thought surely it was just for a foot or two. Um, no, actually. The mud went on for a good...I don't even know. The weight of our bodies in the kayak caused them to push all the water away and sink into mud. There was enough water that there was really no way to get back to dry land easily, but not enough water to paddle in. We stood up on the kayaks like paddle boards and tried it that way. About four unsuccessful paddles and ten minutes later I became aware that neighbors were watching. It may have all been in my head, but I felt judgmental eyes.
 Our lake doesn't allow gas motors. We get an occasional fishing boat(powered by an electric trawler) or a kayak every once in a while. The boaters are infrequent enough that we still find ourselves drawn to the kitchen window to take notice. I imagine all of my neighbors are the same. :/ It's really hard to look like you know what you're doing when you so clearly don't. 
 After about fifteen minutes, we had finally jumped and dragged and pushed and rowed our way through the mud to the open water. I figured out that if we stood as far back as we could and pushed against the mud, we could get through it more easily than the other many, many methods we were trying. 

As Felix caught up to me in the open water, we engaged in some friendly banter. We were less than five strokes in when I heard it. There wasn't even time to turn around before the sky completely opened up on us. It seriously only poured for about thirty seconds. Juuuuust long enough to drench us. It was very much the icing on the cake of our lil adventure. 
As it turns out, making fools of ourselves and getting mud caked was just what we needed. I have a feeling we'll remember this story for a long, long time. We learned our lesson and exited the lake via our neighbors dock(which is for sale along with their house...SOB...greatest neighbors EVER!). If anyone is looking to move out to our neck of the woods, I can hook you up. I mean, with great neighbors. I can't hook you up with anything other than that.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sean the Builder, part 2

Once upon a time, this hill was covered in trees and shrubs and 20 years worth of decaying leaves. Somehow we missed all that when we decided to buy the house and it became our problem. After several months of ignoring it, we had a group of friends come over and we spent the day clearing the land. A year later, Nature won and the land was once again covered in small trees and greenery. 

We spent last weekend re-taming the land. Sean decided to check a few things off the ole honey-do list and this happened. My dad helped more than he should have to given that he's already rewarded his son-in-law with such a bride as myself. None the less, he was here swinging a tool that was too heavy for me to lift and putting up with a man that is not always known for playing well with others. I think he's since lost our number. :)
Not only did we(mostly the men-that's the deal...we have the babies, they swing the hammers.) have to re-clear the land, he had to dig and dig and dig some more to get a few flat surfaces. We figure if we can't beat Nature, we shall build over the top of it. Roots be damned, we are getting access to this lake.
Sean somehow calculated the slope and figured out how high and deep of a step would fit. He then turned two 2x10x16s into stringers. I don't want anyone thinking these were pre-made stringers. No sirree, that would be too easy and we do nothing the easy way. That man of mine is not just a handsome face. :)
He made this long boardwalk first. You can see how steep the hill is and how much digging had to be done to get this sucker level. It did make putting the stairs in slightly less painful, but there was still much digging and attempting to balance on a steep hill. The hill. Ermagherd, it is ridiculous.
At the end of this boardwalk, we plan to put a deck. From the deck, another set of stairs will conclude at a third landing that will give us access to the lake. We call them decks, the boys call them zipline landing points.

See all the lovely greenery? The biggest bloom of green you see was our burn pile from last year. Nature said, I'll see your burn pile and raise you a birch tree, a persimmon tree, three lovely butterfly bushes, a rhubarb plant, and several lovely weed piles that camouflage as snake dens. Thankfully, we had a very dry Spring that took the water level down several inches and revealed more trees down than we originally thought. Isn't yard work fun?
Most of the green in this picture is now gone thanks to several hours put in by Sean and myself and then another hour put in by some back-talking kids. One funny moment that deserves the spotlight...the aforementioned kids got super mouthy with me. Something to do with complaining about work they weren't even engaged in while dear old dad and mom were sweat-tink on the side of the hill. Sean introduced them both to a set of clippers and said, "Have at it, boys." As we watched them work from a shady spot on the hill, I said, "I can't believe you're letting them get away with talking to me that way. Why aren't you dealing with them?" Sean replied with a smug look, "As far as I'm concerned, I am dealing with it." Well played, Faja, well played. Let me tell you, by the time they'd cleared a small section of the hill, the attitude was gone.

Our burn pile is now bigger than ever. Given my last experience with a burn pile, I'm hesitant to light this thing. Long story short, gasoline should never be used as an accelerant and my eyebrows took several months to grow back.  Not even joking, praise the Lord, my life was spared. My eyebrows, top layer of a ponytail, and eyelashes...not so lucky.

The hump. That's what we refer to this pile of earth. I am convinced it's a gnarly network of tree roots. The little boys think it's perhaps pirate treasure. At this point, none are willing to dig to find out which part is correct. As for now, it shall be a base around which we plant another deck.
This is the path that leads from the top of the stairs back around to the house. Isn't the English ivy beautiful? No. The answer is no. It climbs trees like you wouldn't believe. The root system that sustains this amount of ivy is diabolical.
Felix and I stripped our existing deck. We're hoping we can resurface it with some Restore. It hadn't rained for weeks the day we stripped it. It hasn't stopped raining since. Our end vision is to bring another set of stairs down on this side of the deck that will lead to a brick patio. Where the double windows are, I have challenged Sean with putting in some French doors and a set of stairs leading to said brick patio.
Off the back of the deck, we will continue the Ewok village with the boys' Christmas present. Given that we can't hide such a thing, they are well aware that they are getting a pair of tree houses connected by a rope bridge. The crown in the jewel will be a system of zip lines. Helicopter parents need not visit. This place will soon require an insurance release form.

As you can see, we are making a backyard paradise. Given that our country will self implode in a matter of months, we are embracing our own little slice of happy. I sure am glad I married up. I had no idea the Man was so handy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


The top picture was in March of 2013 just a few days before I had Jude. I'm dying a little bit inside seeing how tiny and precious they were as I tend to do when digging through pictures. 

The bottom picture was last week. Jude is not normally willing to stand still for a photo, I was bribing him with candy from the gift shop. 
 Last week was homeschool week in Jamestown and Yorktown. I was really hoping to connect with some locals, but it turned out, we were the only locals present on the days we visited. 
 Jude was pretty much along for the ride as he wasn't old enough for any of the special events. He was such a trooper. He lasted right up until we had fifteen minutes left and finally whisper yelled to me, "THIS IS BORING! I'M READY TO GO!" 
 The fella doing one of the firing demonstrations lined the kids up with fake guns. Jude asked to join in and he let him. He marched through all of Jamestown with the big kids, struggling to hold his gun and struggling to keep up, but I'll be durned if every single person in the whole settlement didn't stop and smile at him. 

 There aren't any pictures of the biggest Mr. from that day. He was at a separate event learning about what it would've been like to be on the ships. 

We picnicked in Jamestown as it was a beautiful, breezy 80 degrees. We couldn't have picked a better day to go on such an adventure. Pulling back into our neighborhood, we spotted this fella noshing on something and felt all, "Rah rah, America!" He was absolutely massive. He was so big we thought he was a vulture until he popped his bald, white head up. Even though we see him fairly regularly, I'm still awestruck by our bald eagles every single time. 
Homeschool friends, I highly recommend the Jamestown/Yorktown Homeschool events. It's a bundle ticket and includes visits to both parks as many times as you want during a two week stretch. You can also sign the kids up for different tours and classes. Williamsburg also has a Homeschool week, but I don't pay for anything in W-burg. There's enough free stuff to do there that I feel like paying for anything is a waste of money. I'm only half joking. Added to that, everyone at Jamestown and Yorktown were incredibly nice and knowledgeable. I can't say honestly say the same about quite a few docents I've met in Williamsburg. But...if you're coming from out of town, ya might as well do the whole shebang.

If you're from out of town, consider this a formal invitation to stay with me! That way you can save on hotel costs so you can buy more plastic crap at the gift shops.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Filthy beauty

Sean has started his doctorate because, well...the short version is that his graduating class from USU was the last that was a masters degree. All the classes since and in the future will graduate with a doctorate. 

So as not to owe more time to Uncle Sam, he's decided to go his own route this time. His own route requires several trips to the school house that is a couple of states away. 

All that to say, ROAD TRIP.

We decided to all go for his first intensive. There's not much in the way of vacation destinations between here and the school and we wanted to break the trip up. I used my go-to, Airbnb to book us a lovely mountain lodge in the middle of nowhere. I mean, no-where. This town still had a video store, m'kay? Actually, I think that was the only thing this town had. 
 Imagine my surprise when we drove up to this beautiful setting and it was crawling with people. I thought perhaps we'd come through the rundown part of town. Nope, it was the town, but the campground was having a tough mudder type thing. It was enough of a crowd to make the trek into the campground a nightmare. Dodging running humans on a windy, one lane mountain road only to not be able to find our "cabin" at the end. 
 After dealing with the same crotchety old man three times, he finally understood what "cabin" we were looking for. I should've known. Despite the 5 star reviews, I should've known. What looked like a quaint, glamping type cabin was actually a shed. Had we known how beautiful the campground was, we would've lugged the camping gear with us. Knowing it was only a pit stop, we(Sean) didn't want to do that. In hindsight...
 We thought we were tough enough to hack it. We decided we'd walk around at the campground, see the river, it would be fine. The thing about these tough mudder things is that it's really awkward to be in the middle of one without being involved. We were definitely the odd man out and the campground was absolutely SWARMING with people. We couldn't see the river, much less get to it and enjoy it. 
 We trekked a ways down and found this secluded little nook. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. Half the kids hadn't changed into swim stuff since we were just going to look at the water. Sean took a step in with Jude and the giant drop off beyond the rocks combined with the slick mud took him down. It was hilarious from my end. I don't recall him thinking it was all that funny. 
When we got back to the shed, soaking wet, we decided to dry off on the little porch. The little porch facing the bathrooms. The bathrooms being used by the hundreds and hundreds of tough mudder guests. Yeah. Inside, the shed was really a shed. As in, all that was missing was a lawnmower. Picture a wet Mastiff coming in and soaking your couch. It was like that on every flat surface, but moldier and dank. I imagine the 5 star reviews came from college age males as I can't picture any of my female friends being happy with the accommodations. Even my tough, outdoorsy type female friends.

Sean finally wrapped up our little adventure with, "I've worked too hard in life to be sleeping in a shed."

Thankfully, our next Airbnb adventure worked in our favor and our shed owner even refunded our money when I told him we weren't staying.  The next time we pass through this lovely slice of earth, it'll be with a tent and sleeping bags in the trunk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A birthday whistle

He wanted an Xbox. 
He got a whistle. 
To go with his kayak.

Because he's a sweetheart, he acted like he was happy with just the whistle. 
He has declared the kayak his greatest gift ever. I'm not sure what that says about the present he got last year. Two living beings in the form of furry mutts. Maybe he forgot they were his gift...
Poor guy was so sick, hence the angry birds pants. We had to delay cake because I didn't want him blowing out his candles with contagious spittle. 
This boy is approaching teenage-hood much too quickly. He was an inch taller on his 11th birthday than Simon was on his 12th. He's surpassed the hand-me-downs and is actually a size bigger than Simon. He had to hand back some hand-me-downs. He gets hangry. If he doesn't eat at very regular intervals, he turns into an absolute turd. He will apologize after the fact, but he can be downright mean if his tank it empty.
This boy is my homebody. He loves to read and is going through books faster than I remember to buy them. He is very patient(unless he's hungry). He doesn't freak out when he can't figure something out, he works through it. He is gracious(unless dealing with Titus). His favorite pastime is arguing with Titus about the most meaningless things that one wouldn't think could be argued about. He is the most loyal friend and is struggling a bit with not having anyone close by that is his age. 
He loves animals and is very empathetic towards all creatures. He's the type that rescues ants from being squashed. He does everything thoroughly and with little complaint. He always has a yo mama joke ready to go. 
He compliments my cooking and thanked me for making his cake instead of buying one(be still my heart). He enjoys helping in the kitchen. This one fits his name to a T. 
11 already, geez.