Birthday #11

Dear Rebecca,

I think I have started off every one of these letters telling you how much you have grown in the past year but it is true every time.  Funny how kids do that.  This year you officially entered that tween stage though.  Your toys collected a bit more dust as you have started out growing most of them.  I think you spent your last winter wearing footie pajamas to bed which makes me so sad.  Instead you insist upon wearing a bra at all times. Yes, I told the internet that.  A bra that you don’t need quite yet but you think you need to wear, even at night.  We have the same conversation every night over this “They will never grow if you don’t take that thing off!”

There are still times you reach for my hand when we cross a street and you still want to cuddle on my lap in the mornings when you wake up.  I hold my breath in these moments, cherishing the little girl you still are in my heart.

At ten years old you learned how to drive my truck in a pasture.  You have celebrated with two aunts who learned they were pregnant.  You danced with me at my wedding and fell asleep curled up next to me late that night.  You spend hours listening to Taylor Swift in your room while you write your own song lyrics.  You have grown at least 10 feet tall and are over the moon at being able to share shoes with me.  We can no longer talk in code around you about things because you are just completely to smart for it.  You have simply grown up.

This past year you have found your voice a bit more with our family situation.  It has been hard watching you find your footing on all of this and I will continue to worry each day.  All I can do is hope we are giving you the tools to handle it and pray that you will make good choices.  We talk a lot about that, making good choices.  I feel like we are going into this time where we talk more about who you want to grow up to be.  There is a lot more discussion on how your actions affect others and goals to have in life.  Seems like a lot for a girl turning 11 but that is where life has led us.

Today is the last day of your second go around on 4th grade and this time has been much easier.  I am so very proud at how you have prevailed in school and turned it around.  It was a tough road and you came out at the other end such a trooper.  In the long run I think you learned more lessons than you even realize.  You have found a place in your new school that has helped keep you grounded and for that I will forever be grateful to your teachers.

In the past year we saw how time changes and life moves on.  I married a new man and your Dad got engaged to another woman.  Actions that show our lives going on in another direction but the wonderful thing is how great we are at co-parenting you.  On the nights I say how much I miss you or I’m struggling Dad is there to listen and I want you to know that.  I want you to know that when you aren’t with us we still worry together about our little girl.  Time will never change that.  You have merely gained more people who support you in this life and love you.

In a few weeks we will move out of your childhood home, the one we shared with Dad.  You are excited but sad at the same time.  You have begged me to keep your Winnie the Pooh print.  The same one that was in your nursery.  The same one you refuse to give up.  It makes me laugh that you are so attached to it.  I’ve learned there are things that you want to keep for your own memories and things I want to keep for my own memories.  It is funny what each one of us gravitates towards.  You have proudly packed up toys for the next baby and it makes me smile knowing you are okay with where life is taking us.

I am so very proud of the person you are becoming.  You are meant for great things and I know you will continue to prevail.  Here is to another year in the books and to the next one.  We all love you very much. 

Happy Birthday my baby.  I love you.

This was our start to summer

This weekend was the weekend I have been waiting for all winter.  The weekend where I could FINALLY put away the winter clothes and stretch out in the sun.  I live for this, summertime.  I live for the long days and warm nights.  I really have no idea why I continue to live in a place where the winter’s get so long and I’m sure one day that will change.  My whole demeanor changes when the temps hit 80.

I felt like I had more pause to the weekend even though it was  packed full.  I did a joint garage sale with a friend and it was so nice to sit on Friday and chat as people browsed around us.  We don’t always have that chance to sit and catch up without sitting in a bar or driving from one place to another.  There were no husband’s to share the conversation with or kids demanding half of our time.  Just two friends laughing at our own stories.

I watched Rebecca and her friend build a fort in the living room Friday night.  As they stuck tape to things and turned couches on their sides I laughed at how their imaginations run rampant.  I watched them climb dirt hills during the day and come running back with sweat running down their faces mixed with the dirt that looked like it might be stuck permanently.  There is something about the simple fact of kids enjoying summer that makes it that much more magical.  

We celebrated Rebecca’s birthday a few days early and went to her normal restaurant pick.  She also chose to go bowling which is something I normally hate but I couldn’t say no.  So when the Sunday afternoon storms rolled in we played game after game and followed that up with too much money spent at the arcade.  It was a weekend to spoil her and instead of saying no to things at the store we said yes and watched her eyes light up.  

I watched my husband finish clearing the land at our new house.  He carried off the last loads of trees and we could finally stand there and have a clear picture of what this is going to be.  We are two months behind on the house but it is slowly getting there.  We have put a lot of our own blood sweat and tears into this and it feels good to see it all happening. 

We didn’t have a free moment to spare but we filled the weekend with memories and laughter.  This is what summer is about.  This is where life feels at its best….and it is only the beginning.

My Husband Doesn’t Drink but I Do

When I first met my Husband he mentioned he didn’t drink.  I didn’t quite understand the terms of this as I enjoy my wine to the fullest.  He explained further that he was an AA.  To me, AA was a place where strung out people went in a church basement late at night.  I know, I was clueless.  I knew my Dad was an alcoholic but I didn’t know much more than that.  Here I was about to be schooled on a subject I didn’t know about.

My Husband was a functioning alcoholic.  One who came home from his last deployment and fixed his PTSD with drinking and blew several hundred dollars a week on beer.  He wasn’t a mean drunk or a crazy drunk.  I’ve heard stories from friends but after a DUI forced him to AA he realized his life would probably be better off without the booze.  A few months after that he met me. 

When we met he went to meetings every day and I would be lying if I told you it didn’t bother me.  Our dates were planned around his meetings and I struggled to understand it.  One night we had an in-depth conversation about where he thought he would be with this 2 years from then, 5 years from then.  Would he still need/want meetings every day? It made a difference to me because I didn’t know what it would be like when we had kids and so forth.

Eventually our life went from dating, to a home, to a life together and we got into a routine.  Slowly he stopped going to as many meetings and found a new sponsor.  This wasn’t something I forced him to do but something that he adjusted for his new life style.  He no longer felt the need to work his life around AA or let his life be only about that. 

He has an addictive personality, that is for sure, but he can go with me and my friends to a bar and it doesn’t bother him.  Every now and then he stops into a meeting but our life no longer revolves around them.  I have gained a new respect for the program and laughed when our wedding reception was full of recovering alcoholics and then my drunks ass friends. 

I’m proud that he will  hit three years of sobriety this Friday because I can tell you that this has changed him.  We both know that we would not be together if he was still drinking.  The best part, I always have a DD.  The bad part, he still remembers every crazy thing we did in bed after a night of me having too much wine. 

Deciding How to Build

If you have ever built a home then you know the crazy amount of options that are available to you.  Before I started I watched several of my friends go through the same process.  It is easy to go over on your limit, adding one more item here and another here and then a few more square feet.  It can get out of control quick.  My Husband and I promised ourselves we weren’t going to do that and we didn’t want to blow our budget.  Our reasons for building a home were simple and we wanted to stick to that mentality without letting Pinterest or a salesman get in the way.  Also, we had a very strict budget and as odd as it sounds, we knew we weren’t building a forever home but a 5-7 year home.  We had to be realistic so some things had to give while others would be required.

I didn’t want Rebecca to have Narnia built into her bedroom closet.  I wanted land that was enough for her to explore with her own imagination, not something created for her.

We went with less square footage because there are only three of us right now. While we don’t want to live on top of one another we do anyways.  It’s called having a kid.

There is no formal dining room or sitting room.  We wouldn’t use it anyways.  Our time is spent sitting around the bar area right now or piled on one couch.

I don’t need the newest windows.  I need windows that keep the bugs, snow and wind out.  Windows have a use and I need them to work.  Simple.  We currently live in a historical building with original windows. I’m quite serious about wanting nature to stay outside where it belongs.

I have a basic guest bath because we dumped the money into the back deck.  We are happiest outside and we wanted a covered porch to sit at when it rains, to grill in the summer and to have late night talks on.  No more just sitting in our apartment parking lot on the tail gate of the truck.  Plus, our guests will only spend 2 minutes in the bathroom and hours on the porch.

My builder suggested this huge laundry room.  I cut it in half.  Currently our washer and dryer are in the hallway, in a closet, and I don’t know any better.

My builder also fought me on a huge walk in pantry.  I’ve had 5 kitchen cabinets for the past nine years.  Again, I don’t know the difference.  I don’t care if everyone has one.  We don’t need it. Standard pantry it is.

We bought a lot no one wanted because of the amount of excavating it would take.  $20,000 saved by my husband doing it all and it has the biggest backyard.  In turn we have more money to replace the trees we had to remove. I want colors exploding every spring and fall.

 We live in a world of who has the biggest and best and who can keep up with the neighbor.  We are trying to stay away from that even though people walk through our half built home now making suggestions that we just can’t do on this house.  Maybe next time around but for this time we are just happy to have a home.