Thursday, October 16, 2014

between a rock and a better place

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Today is our anniversary. We’ve been married 11 years. I’ll be honest, we aren’t spending the day together like we have in a lot of past anniversaries. We didn’t pick out cards or gifts. And we didn’t make any big plans to go out after work.

Texts of encouragement are enough for today.

Still, today feels momentous. Seems an appropriate time to get real about the changes going on around here. A lot has happened in the past four weeks. At the top of that list is the sudden news that the Army has decided to move us along to another location. Here’s the part where we should be excited and joyful… because promotions are generally considered a good thing. And moving on a regular basis is just a simple fact of military life. Except that during the past 10 years promotions have meant we could remain with the same unit. In fact, we have been with this unit longer than anyone else currently there. 8 years we have lived in the same house. That’s somewhat of a miracle for a military family. Don’t think I didn’t know how blessed we were.

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The new location is only 2 1/2 hours from where we live right now. Too long for a daily commute, too short for us to feel like we absolutely have to move. The irony of the situation is all the options we have… and still feeling completely stuck. In the week after Caleb brought home the news I went through every stage of the grieving process. I dove into a frenzy of activity trying to get the house ready to put on the market. I painted, I cleaned, I removed every personal photo from our walls and I upset the balance of our kids’ routines. I let normal every day things go by the wayside in favor of cleaning out closets and caulking around the baseboards. For several weeks my life was dominated by paintbrushes and cleaning supplies.

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Just when I had reached the point of accepting our forced move, we hit a major curve when it became pretty evident that selling the house would not be a good option for us. The housing market has not recovered enough in our area to indicate we would be anything other than paying someone to buy our house from us.

The home that I had so desperately been clinging to suddenly felt like a ten pound weight around my neck. It’s funny how your perspective changes when the doors start closing. I realized I’d put up a lot of conditions in my head and while I felt like I was doing a good job of accepting and trusting, I really wasn’t. Okay, I’ll move away from here as long as the kids can still go to a good school. I’ll live in a less than perfect house as long as the neighborhood is safe. I’ll give up my country lifestyle and my chickens as long as I’m close to Caleb.

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In all of my bargaining I never reached the point of Okay, I’ll stay here and only see my husband on the weekend and just be grateful that he has a job. You could say I’m learning a lot… maybe learning it the hard way, but at least I recognize that I’m learning it.

For now it looks like we will keep our little house in the woods. We’ll enjoy our chickens and our fire pit a little longer. We’ll finish some of the house projects we’ve started. And we’ll be glad for a home that is quite possibly cleaner than the day we bought it. I don’t know where we’ll be six months from now. I don’t know if we’ll have another house. I don’t know if we’ll still be tied to this one. All I know is that I will choose to let my faith take control of my uncertainty. 

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In the midst of grace is the best place I can hope for so I’m trying to start there.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

duck tales, the finale

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I’ve been putting off writing an update on Wobble because the last few weeks with her have been challenging. Between the blog and the pictures I posted on facebook, there were quite a few people who got involved in her little ducky life. And as she popped all of her adult feathers and started to show more independence, there was growing concern for her future and her chances as a lake duck. It was always our intention to release her into the wild when she was old enough, but it was apparent to us (and others) that she had become too attached to our family.

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It was no longer a case of taking her to a pond and leaving her there. We knew there was no way she would swim away happily and never look back.

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When she neared 10 weeks old and all of her flight feathers came in she surprised us all one day by launching off the grass and flying around the yard. Actually, I think she surprised herself as well because the landing that followed was more like a face plant.

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I had no idea she would be able to fly as I’d read that mallards learn to fly from other ducks and she’d never seen another duck up close. We were so excited that we took her outside every day after that and encouraged her to fly as much as possible.

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She got much better at landing and started flying higher and farther. But the flying thing bit us in the butt when she soon realized she could escape her pen on the back porch whenever she wanted to. Every morning we’d find her perched on the door mat tapping away at the glass. Rounding her up and putting her back in the pen was no small task.

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Despite the myriad of pictures we have that say otherwise, she was constantly toeing the line between wild and domestic. She had the inherited mallard instinct that made her very wary of us. Mostly she hated to be caught and would run anytime she thought you were about to touch her, but then she always wanted to be with us and seemed to love being held. 

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I think her life was pretty confusing, thanks to us.

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It eventually reached the point where we had to make a decision. Either build the fort knox of all duck houses and fully bend her to domestication, or try to give her a chance at a normal mallard life. The clincher for me was the way she behaved when she wasn’t around us much.

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If given a couple of days without being handfed or spending time indoors, she’d swing way into wild mallard territory, acting scared of us and making catching her a two person job. I could see that keeping her as a pet would mean a constant effort to keep her tame. It just seemed like she wanted to be wild.

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On Monday we took her to the home of one of Caleb’s former Army buddies. He and his family live on a small lake and have raised geese to release there. They have a small flock of water fowl that inhabit their backyard. They graciously agreed to take Wobble and help integrate her into the flock.

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We felt this was the best situation we could give her. Here she will have her freedom but still be fed, protected and allowed interaction with people (if she wants). Also, other ducks! She did not seem too thrilled by the flock at first, but we are hopeful that with time she will realize she is not actually a human.

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Not running away. I’ll take it as a good sign.

Friday, August 22, 2014

salt and sand

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We beached over the weekend. Right in the middle of two school weeks. AND we kept the boys out of school on Monday, just so they could have an extra day of waking up to sunrise glory on the bay. I felt like the best and worst parent all in the same breath. I wonder if I’ve been brainwashed by the school into thinking they own my kids eight hours a day, Monday-Friday. Thank goodness I got away just in time to remember the “perfect attendance” certificate is less important than they’d like you to believe.

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I had some reservations about staying on the bay… which vanished as soon as we pulled up and I saw those adirondack chairs perched above the water. It’s completely possible to forge a friendship with a chair in just three days. We should know. Those chairs were the perfect spot to stay up way too late, watching the salt water taste the sand and talking about our lives before we knew each other. Not the newest subject because Caleb and I were blessed to be childhood sweethearts and therefore most of the stories and secrets have been told. That doesn’t stop us from reminiscing and trying to come up with new “did I ever tell you about…”

Sometimes you know a person so well, you know the story before they start to tell it. And you listen anyway, just to be near them for a little longer.

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Sunrise on the bay? It makes up for the brackish water and the brown sand. Also, the dolphins swim in at night and back out the next morning. And the hermit crabs present themselves for being caught at 6:00 AM, in case you are like us and think catching crabs in a bucket is worth getting up at daybreak.

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We did make it to the “beach beach” as the boys call it. “It” being the Gulf, miles of sugar sand and neon water included at no extra charge. I thought this would be the highlight of the trip, but Jackson completely surprised me by saying he liked walking the bay at sunrise best of all.

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The last few pictures are from our early morning hermit crab hunt on Monday. The sun rose behind the clouds and everything was tinted in pink. The kids held hands and told me precious tidbits that can only come from happy hearts. Jonathan said Caleb and I were “the perfect adults to marry together”, in other words ‘meant for each other’. A little affirmation goes a long way when you are working so hard to model the best possible view of love. Some things are worth cashing in our “perfect attendance” for.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

duck tales, episode 5

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Wobble received a new living arrangement this week, complete with pvc pipe feeder which Caleb has dubbed “the periscope”. Much as I wanted to keep Wobble in the house, the sweater box was just too small to live in anymore and the baby pool wouldn’t fit on the dining room table. Also, one morning Caleb and I returned from dropping the boys off at school to be cheerily greeted at the door by the duck, who had jumped out of the box and gone in search of us. Wobble was moved to the back porch that afternoon. You gotta know when to fold ‘em and all that.

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The new accommodations have not stopped Wobble from spending time indoors with us. Wearing a duck diaper means free reign of the house for a few hours every day.

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Wobble will do almost anything for a pea. Including wearing a diaper without fuss.

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Also, you may be wondering why I haven’t referred to the duck as “he” during this post. That’s because Caleb and I are in a full on battle of “Guess the Gender” and I have NO idea who is winning. I’ve always just thought it was a boy for no discernable reason. Caleb, after studying pictures and other somewhat inconclusive internet research, thinks we have a girl. 

mallards

photo via

I have scrolled through pages and pages of mallard photos and still have not been able to figure it out. This photo (above) had me thinking Caleb might be right about Wobble being female. But then I realized that males can also have the blue wing feathers.

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photo via

So now I’m still uncertain.

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Now’s the time to make your guess. Is it a lady or is it a gent?

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In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that we’ve been calling Wobble “her” a lot more than “he” lately. Not that it makes a difference now, but just so you know which way we’re leaning this week. She does spend an awful lot of time standing in front of the mirror.

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“What’s the big deal? I’m cute in any color.”