Sometimes, you just need a kick in the Kiester.

Garage, before.

 

The last two months have been tough ones.  (If you need a reason to be depressed, just take another look at that garage in the picture above…)

Now, keep in mind that I know how fortunate I am. I’ve had a lot of help (thanks to our parents, who have come and stayed and watched Skye), that’s for sure – but these days have still been difficult.  We faced a possible year-long deployment in June (hence the months of silence around here while I negotiated that and thankfully, have been spared that assignment in the end) and we have each found ourselves stretched by a new job (J) and long-dormant academia (H) as well as single-parenting (H).  It’s been hard on us, and Skye doesn’t understand why Daddy has to leave here after his visits to go live somewhere else.  I’m not gonna lie – I really hate living apart, and it’s not good for a family.  I keep telling myself that starting in June, the 2-year countdown begins.  At 25 years of service, I hope to be sipping a cold Arnold Palmer on my front porch, watching our girl and our dog play together with nothing on the agenda but heading to the barn.

Part of the eye-opening we experienced was facing our fast-approaching “rest-of-our-lives” future for post-retirement from the Army.  We had to face how much stuff we have.  I’ve recently discovered this woman (I wish I’d known about her when we lived in Tampa!) and I read one of her recent posts about how she and her husband just looked at each other as they were wading through their Christmas stuff in their 2200 square foot home, with plans to decorate this year temporarily shelved because they had been faced with the amount of stuff they had.  The word she used at that moment of realization was that their situation was just “absurd.”  Her use of that word truly resonated with me.  I never hear it anymore, but it is so appropriate for this glut we have in America.  I mean, really!  What other country on the planet would have a show called “Hoarders”???

I rest my case.

So – John and I, about six weeks ago, decided we were going to pare down and re-focus.  We even hired a Professional Organizer (I went through the National Association of Professional Organizers and plugged in my needs (I was able to use my borderline-ADHD personality as one of my qualifiers) and found Colleen, who has proven to be kind, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, and worth every penny we paid her…an unbeatable combination during this ugly process.  Since Colleen came into our lives, we have taken 11 loads (car loads, that is) of stuff to Good Will, put countless bags of stuff in the trash (remember, if you wouldn’t pass it on to a friend, then Good Will doesn’t need it, either…) and made hard decisions (my hardest – and yes, this is embarrassing – was to divest myself of boxes and boxes (and boxes!) of Martha Stewart Living magazines.  I have had a subscription since 1992, People.

I know.  For the life of me, I don’t know why I was keeping them. Colleen had this very nonjudgmental way of staring at us until we came up with a reason that didn’t sound stupid.

Let’s just say I couldn’t think of any, but I still was getting all sweaty-palmed as I watched her haul them away. A few hours later, I get this text message:

Colleen's humor

 

I told you she had a great sense of humor.

And you know what? I haven’t missed them, or anything we gave away/recycled/pitched. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

So, here’s to a new sense of calm, a simplifying of the new year – a new beginning.  I intend to jump in with both feet on this Twitter and Instagram deal, #Simplify2014, that Emily is starting. Even though she’s heaps younger than I am, she inspires me!  I’m going to start with this post as my “before” and use it as the impetus to finish.

Here’s another look at what I’m not going to miss:

Panorama, as if you want it.

 

Join in, if you dare! ;) And stay tuned *here* for the “After” shot.

Hello, Giraffe.

We’ve really liked giraffes for about the last two years around here.  :)

I never really thought about them until Skye came…but Skye’s Becky put a little yellow blanket with a fuzzy caramel-colored giraffe appliquéd on it in Skye’s things from the hospital, and the motif just “stuck.”  I think it’s kind of neat the way it worked out; I mean, giraffes are intelligent, tall and beautiful – just like our girl.

giraffe in the corner

“…now imagine he’s White.” *

The verdict of acquittal in the Zimmerman – Martin case is incomprehensible to me.  I get it that the jury said there was not enough evidence to support a guilty verdict, but on the face of it, that is the only thing I understand.

I don’t understand how a grown man could truly feel threatened by an unarmed teenager.

I don’t understand how a grown man thought it was ok to shoot a teenager at close range, in the heart, and think that this action was justified.

I don’t understand how people can say that our justice system “worked” and that this was a case of justifiable homicide.

I tell you what else I know to be true:  that we have a long way to go with race relations in this country.  As long as there is truth to the statement that it is easier to live in America if you’re born White and not Black, we have a problem.

 

* from the movie “A Time To Kill” – Jake Brigance’s closing argument actually ended with “…now imagine she’s white.”

One Week

Joy x 2

In one week, we will leave Germany again – bound for the U.S.

We are happy we’ll be able to see family more easily. Most importantly, we have a new niece we have yet to meet, and one set of parents has their 50th Wedding Anniversary coming up next spring.

But to be honest, we are sad that we’re leaving such a beautiful place, with easy access to other beautiful places – and the close friends we’ve made here.

Our Bluebird has spent the majority of her life in Europe – and we were so happy for this unique beginning for her. She heard German nearly every day of her life and she was exposed to the absolute best in environments thanks to the blessing of her Tante Jenn’s care.

We also bought a beautiful mare, who will come home with us soon and spend the rest of her life in the U.S. She was an extravagant purchase, but one I’ve waited for my whole life. Every time I think of the expense (!) I remember the Arab proverb: “The wind of Heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” If you don’t have a passion for horses, then it’s impossible to explain why they’re worth every penny.

The last two years have given us so many gifts – and we wanted a picture of this remarkable time in our lives. Thanks to the incomparable Cory Marchand - we got our wish.

Familie Silkman

We’ll be in touch from Terra Firma in a week or so…where we will join up with our beloved Labradog, and our family will be complete. :)

Goodbye, Beautiful Deutschland – you were a great beginning for our greatest treasure.

Bluebird in her Dirndl