Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

My two greatest blessings April 28, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Lacrosse,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:48 am

Ten years ago, I never would have imagined the scenes that have been playing out over the past two years.  My boys were 12 and 14 years old and they hardly interacted… at least not voluntarily… it was as if they had nothing in common.  D was in the band and becoming more involved every week, school was “boring”, and he seemed  happier playing video games than going outside to play with ‘the three dimensional people’.  E was starting to play lacrosse (after four years of Association football) and totally rocking the sport, loved being challenged with anything academic, and would bring home friends at the drop of a hat.  They were friendly with each other, but I don’t know that either would have said that they’d go out of their way to spend more time together.  They loved sports and had that in common, but didn’t seem to enjoy one another very much… and they certainly didn’t look for opportunities where they’d spend more time together.  While they didn’t fight, they also didn’t seem to be “friends”… which was our original hope when they were young.

Something started to change when they were both in High School.  D went to our “home” high school, immersed himself in “all things band” (marching, concert, orchestra, pep, stage, and jazz bands), challenged himself academically when absolutely necessary, and did what he needed to do to get into college.  E chose to challenge himself immediately by selecting one of the more difficult (imho) HS opportunities (he chose the Math/Science HS in our county), he tried out for (and MADE) a select lacrosse travel program, and pushed himself academically so he’d be able to have his pick when it came to colleges.  Still… they had their love of sports in common, which proved to be the bond that has drawn them ever closer.

D saw how much lacrosse meant to E… and E saw how much band meant to D.  I’m no psychology major, but I believe that they both started to recognize the same drive in one another… the passion that made their activities so special to them.  While they might have blown off things in the past, they were starting to join us to support one another… it was a great thing to see.

I’m not saying that they became one another’s biggest supporters overnight, but I do believe that they have each learned valuable lessons from the choices made by the other.

When D went away to college, he chose to be a Varsity Athlete (in lacrosse) and then was selected to be a Resident Advisor for three of his four undergrad years.  He dealt with a horrendous coaching situation with more grace than I could possibly muster.  He selected a major that ended up being a mistake but followed through, got his degree, and is now working toward a Masters in Athletic Training.  He’s been assigned to some amazing programs within his Masters program and will be working at USNA this coming fall… to say we are proud of him would be an understatement.  He is creating a life in which he can work and be happy, which is the one thing for which every parent prays.  He’s becoming a man upon whom others rely… he’s becoming his father… which is such a blessing to see.

When E went away to college, he chose a school (6-hours away) that wanted him for his lacrosse skills as well as his academic abilities.  He was initially happy to be one of the “smarter” guys on campus, but he quickly realized that he needed to change his educational direction if he was going to ultimately be successful.  He transferred to a school closer to home and started working on creating that work/life balance by focusing on his academic career while creating his own athletic challenges.  He worked to get accepted into a demanding program and then worked harder to stand out in a sea of qualified applicants to accept an offer for a job after college.  E’s happily taken on roles within his athletic life that have given him consistently greater responsibilities and allowed him to recognize how he wants to live after graduation.  He too, is becoming a man upon others rely… just like his older brother… and just like his father.  How could I feel anything other than blessed?20140428-114800.jpg

My darling husband would argue that *we* are each other’s greatest blessings but, after M, I really must insist that my two greatest blessings are my boys, D and E. Before you delete this post and chalk my message as a simple brag on what a great job M/I did as parents, let me say that I am definitely *not* bragging… I am absolutely astounded at the incredible men we have raised and wanted to share that with you on this post.  They haven’t been “brainwashed” into being each other’s biggest supporters, but they’ve become that on their own.  This past weekend, D drove a round-trip of five+ hours to see his brother play in a two-hour lacrosse game… because it was important to be there to support E.  I can only imagine how E will return the favor when he has graduated from college and has a car of his own.

I started this blog as a way to give credence to the many blessings of my life. I recognize that not everything in my life is seen by others as a blessing, but looking at the young adults pictured here, I cannot help but be reminded of every single reason I have for all the good in the world.

 

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Never a Dull Moment… especially when sleeping? April 27, 2014

We currently reside in a lovely two-bedroom, fully furnished, corporate apartment in MD while we await the sale of our home in VA.  The company set things up and thought of every possible “basic necessity” that we could need while we’re here, but we have had a little trouble adjusting to the sleeping arrangements that are available.  We have a queen-size bed but, even with all the padding included, it’s just sooo hard.  We’ve tried to adjust and adapt, but after sleeping on a hotel bed this past weekend, we decided that enough was enough and asked for suggestions from our Facebook community.BedDiscussion

The responses ranged from the off-the-cuff-quip “sleep on the floor” or “try drugs and alcohol” to some extremely detailed ideas on specific types of foam pads, thickness preferences, product combinations, and the like that just boggled the mind.  I was so grateful for the response… hearing from so many people really helped us as we left for the store.

Keep in mind, we already have an amazing Sleep Number Bed (currently in storage) that we just love, so we weren’t looking for a long-term solution.  We simply needed to add something to this specific bed that will allow us to sleep more comfortably until we can get our things out of storage and have our own bed back.

We also had some criterion that needed to be met:

  • Whatever we purchased would not end up being used on our personal bed, so we didn’t want to spend a great deal of money.
  • We also needed to be able to purchase a product immediately… waiting for something to be delivered just wasn’t going to cut it at this point.
  • M didn’t like the idea of sleeping on foam, so that cut out a large number of options.
  • I wanted something that would fit under the current mattress pad, so it would have a chance at staying in place.

We could have gone to a number of stores, but we decided that Bed, Bath and Beyond was going to be our best bet at finding a workable solution.  After wandering through the store for awhile to understand the layout of the store, we started looking at our options.  With a goal of “a reasonable price” in mind, we got things down to two possible solutions.  The first was a full four inches shorter than the width of the bed itself, which concerned me, and made of foam, which concerned M.  NOTE: When looking for bedding options, measure the exact size of the bed in question so you have a true number with which to work.  When the second was exactly the correct width and length and a good $100 cheaper than its closest competitor,  number two became our obvious choice.

We then had a minor discussion on the merits of FiberFill vs Feather Bed… I honestly didn’t care enough at this point, so we went with the FiberFill.  I’m not a fan of random things poking at me in the middle of the night (ok, get your minds out of the gutter, folks) so when M preferred the FiberFill, I was absolutely on board.   Using the 20% discount card that I had randomly remembered to pack two weeks ago made this item totally within our budget (click the link on “number two” above to see more info) and we went home with our new acquisition.

After stripping the bed down to the bare mattress, we laid the topper on and covered it with the “original” mattress pad… it was feeling softer already!  We finished making the bed and had our first night’s sleep on it last night.  I think it’s going to take a little time to get used to the softer bed, but I am definitely a fan.  Even if it only lasts a few months, this purchase is already worth it to me.  My back isn’t quite as sore this morning and I actually feel a bit more relaxed.  My FitBit feedback tells me that I had a more restful night, which means that I wasn’t flopping back and forth all night.  Anything that can do that, on the first night, gets high marks in my book.

For those of you who are wondering about our Sleep Number Bed… let me say first that we love it.  We bought ours almost 10 years ago and we wouldn’t trade it (as evidenced by the need for a post such as this) for any other bed.  NOTE: We purchased the middle cost option of the queen sleep number bed and got two wired remotes, one for each side.  The remotes have begun to fail, so we’ll replace them when we move, but the bed itself is awesome.  M likes to sleep on a more firm mattress, so his sleep number is somewhere around 50-65, depending on his nightly preference.  I like to sleep in a “valley”, so my sleep number typically ranges between 35 and 45.  I can adapt to sleeping on a more firm mattress, and probably should be sleeping on something closer to M’s number, but the surface of the apartment’s bed was just way too firm for either of us.

That’s the end of our sleeping saga.  Our move has been accented with bursts of challenge here and there, but hopefully we’ll go back to having more dull moments… as long as our cats don’t get into the act anymore!

 

 

 

The Challenge of Being a “Duck” April 21, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Life Balance,Moving,Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:29 pm
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There’s a quote that’s stuck with me over the past few years and the analogy has helped me a lot with this move:

“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath”

— Jacob Morton BraudeDuck analogy

At no point in the past year has that been more true or more important than in the last month.  Moving, traveling, unpacking, continuing to work in a remote capacity, and staying positive throughout it all has truly tested my ability to behave like a duck.  Each turn has thrown things in my path that might have derailed me, had I allowed that to happen.  Staying focused on the positive aspect of each challenge has taken a conscious effort.  My “happy yellow lab” side has been pushed to its teary limits from time to time, but being able to take comfort in the firm belief that this move is our destiny has made all the difference.

Please allow me to share a few examples with you:

  • We were sent two amazing movers… a Marine (Irvin) and his aide (Billy) who walked with me all four days of our packing/moving.  The challenge came when their “reinforcements” arrived in the form of two guys, one of whom was both allergic to dust and cat hair. Both of these were especially plentiful in our bedroom, which was his only focus for a day and a half, so when the choice came between laughing and crying, I had to choose the former.
  • I had to resign from the most amazing job I’ve ever had and leave coworkers who were some of the most incredible, loving, and wonderful people in my life.  Rather than turning my resignation into a difficult and uncomfortable situation, they have continued to allow me to work from my MD apartment and allowed me the ability to help in the transition for my replacement.  While it’s a challenge to be so far from a business and people that are so dear to me, they’ve given me the gift of time… time to get used to not being on property… time to allow someone else to learn how to respond to event requests… time to cook and write, which I’ve come to love.  How many people can say that about a job?  How many people love their job so much that they’d rather do it for free (or nearly free) than not do it at all?  That, my friends, is how much I loved my job at the winery… yet, I know that it was time for me to move on to other challenges…
  • We chose to bring our two cats along on this journey to MD.  They’ve handled the situation as admirably as we could expect… especially since the only time either had ever been in the car was to go to the vet.  Thankfully, M took our girl-kitty, who voiced her frustrations during the entire trip while our boy-kitty chose to bravely travel without whining (much).  It’s taken a week in the apartment for them to calm down enough to sleep at night and not jump on our heads (apparently to make sure that we were still there) but things seem to be smoothing out for them.
  • Our apartment’s positioning in the building added so many challenges (which I’ve already mentioned in previous blog posts), but even that seems to be falling into some sort of a rhythm.  I’m slowly getting used to grabbing my cane to traverse around the building and the distance is thankfully becoming a little less daunting for me.  It’s the little things…
  • My Little Red Wagon… it rocks.
  • I’m learning to cook on an electric stove!  I’m not at all happy about it, but it’s a challenge and I’m learning how to adjust to make meals for us within the parameters of the items found within the apartment… and I’ll be even more grateful when we finally move into a place that has a gas stove, cuz we’re not going to buy a place that can’t be plumbed for gas.
  • I still have wine in the apartment… and I’m still cooking with wine… this makes me ridiculously happy!
  • After all the problems we experienced with the apartment complex during our check-in, our relocation guy just sent me an Amex gift card… won’t change the past, but certainly will give me something positive and happy to do tomorrow.  It’s all about perspective, people… focus on the positive.

See?  It really is all about how you view the situation.  We’re now deep in the “wait and see” mode with regards to the sale of our home in VA.  There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it but pray… and pray, I will.  It’s how I lived through our move from Michigan to Virginia in 2001 and it’s how I’ll live through this move from Virginia to Maryland.  It’s not my preference, but it’s how things must be done in this  time of uncertainty and chaos.  I’ll strive to face each day in true “duck” fashion, looking calm and collected, while fervently paddling/praying like a madwoman at every opportunity.

Shouldn’t we all strive to act like a duck from time to time?

 

 

Making Way for New Traditions April 20, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Holidays,Life Balance,Moving,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:00 am
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Since our move last week, I’ve been thinking about “The way we’ve always done things” and how this will change in the coming year. As we celebrate Easter in our apartment this year, our tradition of sharing this holiday meal with dear friends is going to become a treasured memory. We had a “traditional menu” of spiral ham, scalloped potatoes, Mimi’s peas (a twist on green bean casserole), some sort of fresh vegetable, homemade rolls, and a special dessert made by my best friend, who happens to be an incredible chef. Easter dinner will definitely not be the same this year and, while I will miss the comfort of those dEasterEggear and special people, I have to take heart in knowing that this is part of our new/next path.

Change isn’t easy… it’s a shedding of the familiar and learning to embrace the different. It’s mourning those things you will miss while learning to enjoy those things you hadn’t yet contemplated. While I recognize the benefits that can come about by giving way to new traditions, it’s still a bumpy road to travel. GIving a simple wink-and-a-nod to all that has come before isn’t enough… but going into a full-on-mourning is too much. Where do we find that happy medium when it comes to change?

Our family has relied a great deal on tradition.  Creating new ones and resurrecting others has been a coping mechanism, especially when my boys were younger.  Some, I pray, will always remain important… primarily our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus… while others will either meld to fit our currently family dynamic or fall by the wayside entirely.  I loved hearing E ask if I was making sloppy joes and homemade rolls for Trick-or-Treating night,  “because that’s what you always make for Trick-or-Treating”.   Is “The way we’ve always done things” enough of a reason to keep a certain tradition alive or is there a deeper, cultural reason for maintaining the status quo?

During this time of transition, I’m doing a great deal of questioning the importance of individual family traditions.  I’m learning about my own expectations and those of my family… and finding where they intersect and where they veer off in totally different directions. It’s both difficult and refreshing.  Is it important to make that same Easter holiday meal for just the two of us or is there something specific that’s important enough to salvage and recreate?  Maybe we don’t need a spiral cut ham dinner to make our holiday complete… maybe I really *do* want some sort of special thing that reminds me of the Easters from my childhood.  I’ve chosen to get a simple pink  hard-boiled egg from the grocery store and make something out of that as my Easter touchstone for this year.  Nothing else will be the same (ok… we *do* have jelly beans in the house and M just brought me a few special Creme Eggs) but that’s going to be where our tradition will end today.

We’re making way for new traditions to become our anchor… stripping down all the old ways of celebrating of holidays and coming up with new things that are more us, more true, and more real.  Simply doing things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t as good an answer as it has been in the past.  It’s not going to be easy, but I believe that the end result will be a more true reflection on us and on our faith.  Traditions, I believe, aren’t meant to be chains that weigh us back to the past… they’re meant to be links that keep us connected to one another, generation to generation, in whatever way seems best to each family.

My hope is that our traditions become ones that my sons will carry into their adult lives… not as stagnant blueprints, but as ways to create traditions of their own, linking the future with the past.

Isn’t that what we all want from traditions?

Wishing you each a most blessed Easter… and in the traditional Episcopalian way, let me greet you with “The Lord is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”

 

My Little Red Wagon April 16, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Life Balance,Moving — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:24 am
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On my husband’s first official day of work, I began my own “day of work”.  After a weekend of trying to traverse the space between where we could park our car and the apartment in which we would be living for the coming weeks, I quickly realized that I needed some help of my own.

The reason?  Our new apartment *does* have an elevator, however there is no way to access it from a “fifth floor parking spot”.  This means that we have to park on the fourth (or any lower) floor, go into the building, take the elevator up a level, and then walk the 1/8 mile corridor (about 100 yards) to our individual apartment.  I watched M as we moved in, carrying items back and forth over the two+ hours it took to bring everything inside.  The weather was gorgeous and the apartment is spacious, but we had packed our cars to the gills (including 11 cases of wine) and we couldn’t figure out an easier or simpler way to move everything without something akin to a bellman’s cart.  NOTE: I found out on Monday that the leasing office has *one* cart for the building, but since we arrived after they had closed for the day, this wasn’t an option.

I also had a bit of a challenge to hurdle when we realized that the apartment had only given us one key fob (the electronic “key” used to enter the building or any of its amenities) and one gate remote (used to re-enter the building, if I drove off the property at any point in our stay).  This was going to have to be handled before I could take care of my “shopping challenge”.

The leasing office was helpful when they opened at 10AM – a key fob was given when asked and they “called to authorize” the gate remote (which took an hour) so I would be able to come and go as needed.  Now all I needed to do was come up with a way to carry things from the car to the apartment since any purchase that might require more than a single trip or anything that is relatively heavy (think a gallon of milk plus a bag of kitty litter) would require multiple trips between the apartment and my car.  I couldn’t go shopping during the day and then expect M to bring in my items on his way home, so I needed to be creative… I needed some sort of portable shopping cart.

My first thought was to use Google.  The items that first came up reminded me of an “old lady shopping cart” – the one wireshoppingcartpictured here is apparently available at Staples.  Wal-Mart had something similar, as did Crate and Barrel, so I gamely headed off to the local store to make my purchases and pick up my “old lady cart”.  I wasn’t happy with it, but the cost was reasonable so I headed out and started picking up all the items I needed (previously mentioned milk and kitty litter included).  All was going well until they told me that the wire cart wasn’t available… they had all been sold.  Color me crushed.  I had no idea where to look now.  I hadn’t actually seen that they carried them at Staples until today, so I asked the cashier for some guidance.  Her suggestion of checking at Target proved fruitless, but the idea of checking with the local Kmart was a winner.  After calling Kmart (and remaining on hold for 15 minutes while the guy in electronics waited on a customer in front of him), they located a “shopping cart” and offered to hold it for me until I got there.

I was thrilled.  I had been given a way to get my purchases from my car to my apartment without relying on anyone else.  This may seem like a little thing to others, but when you have difficulty walking, this is a monumental game-changer.  While the cart I found was almost triple the cost of the one I’d been eyeing earlier, the freedom it was going to afford me was worth every penny.   It heavier and bulkier than I’d wanted but it’s sturdy, with big/wide tires, and can carry up to 150 lbs.  It’s my very own Little Red Wagon and I love it.  LIttleRedWagon

As you can see, I was able to carry all my groceries and move-in staples (kitty litter, milk, cleaning supplies, chicken and meats, as well as veggies) in one trip from car to apartment.  What a gift!  It could have been a disastrous day of hauling bags after bags from one place to another, but this simple cart made my day so much brighter.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact.

NOTE: The relocation company with whom we’re working have been extremely responsive and helpful with regards to any and all concerns and frustrations throughout this move.  While the leasing office personnel are kind, they have been much more reactive than proactive, resulting in most of the challenges we’ve faced, IMHO.  It’s a journey… and I’ll continue to do my best to focus on the positive… this really *is* where we’re supposed to be… so I’ll focus on our blessings.  Hope you’ll do the same!

 

 

 

It’s a new day April 14, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:52 am
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As some of you may know, we recently relocated our family from RVA (Richmond, VA) to Maryland.  While I apologize for not blogging about this transition sooner, there were so many other things that needed my attention and my computer simply had to take a back seat to those more urgent requirements.   To go day-by-day from offer to move would be an effort in futility, since nothing can be changed by looking backward at mis-steps, so I will choose to look forward… as soon as I can move through the memories of our life in RVA.  BeltmanMovingTruck

We could not have found a more perfect place to raise our two boys into the men they have become, especially when looking at the people with whom we surrounded ourselves.  In the week of our actual move, we had people stopping by to offer fellowship, food, and best wishes on our upcoming travels.  Each visit, phone call, or email was a reminder that we made a good life for our family in Richmond.  While I’m sure I was remiss in the extent of my appreciation, it’s my fervent wish that each had some idea of just how deeply I was touched by their presence.

As the Beltman Moving truck (pictured) pulled away with all our belongings, headed for storage in Jessup, MD, it hit me… we were leaving the one place where our family had truly been created.  The boys went to Middle and High schools in this area… my husband built the bulk of his career here… my own career of wine, blogging, and sports photography was born here.  To simply toss all that away in a rushed move, and dismiss our life in Virginia, would be to extend an enormous disservice to those who allowed each one of us to grow into the people we are today.  Friends, neighbors, and even simple acquaintances share in the creation of each of us… both as individuals and as a family.  Struggles and triumphs were commiserated and celebrated in turn.  We couldn’t have become the people who stand before you this day without every single positive and negative situation, as they each combined to make us stronger, better, compassionate, and unique.  I will never be able to think on the life we created in Richmond, VA. without smiling and becoming a bit misty.  We have been blessed… and we know it.

But it’s a new day.

We are currently ensconced in a lovely apartment, just a few miles away from M’s new office.  Our house in VA will soon be on the market (with a first floor master bedroom) and we’re beginning our search for our next home somewhere in MD.  It’s a little daunting, but we are so grateful for this opportunity to be closer to family and for M to begin his next career phase.   I’ll do my best to be better about blogging in general – sharing the trials and tribulations of a move such as this will definitely be a challenge, but one to which we are looking forward.

My mantra, throughout the chaos of moving, has been to simply remember to breathe… so I think I’ll sit down and do that for a little while this morning before I try and tackle the world.  Breathe in… and breathe out… So simple, yet sometimes it’s the hardest thing to remember.

It’s a new day… Rejoice and be glad in it!

 

 
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