Friday, September 19, 2014


photo credit
After slapping the snooze button on the alarm clock for the fourth time this morning, I rolled out of bed, padded to the bathroom, took care of business, and started toward the kitchen/family room when I realized something....the kids weren't up.

It was almost 6:15 by this point and that is unusual in our house. My son is a morning person. My daughter isn't really a morning person, but is the kind of person who doesn't like to feel like she's missing anything, so she'll get up just to make sure.

I usually stay up late because I love the feeling of having the house all to myself while the people I love most in the universe are peacefully, soundly sleeping nearby. To have that in the morning was an unexpected and extremely delightful treat.

I stumbled into the living room and curled up on the couch, listening to the world around us wake up. Well, that and the steady, droning hum of the fans we have running to pull in the cooler air from outside. It was still dark outside and the birds were just starting to make noise.

No one was bickering about how long someone else had been in the bathroom. No one was frantically running around looking for their favorite pencil that they had forgotten they had already put in their book bag the night before. No one was yelling in frustration because wearing a long-sleeved, black sparkly shirt with last year's outgrown, too tight, hot pink biker shorts was vetoed. No one was begging for extra dessert in their lunches, or complaining that brushing their teeth in the morning was pointless because they hadn't eaten anything overnight while sleeping.

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I was thinking just how nice that was, when it hit me that without all those things, I wouldn't know to appreciate this cool, quiet morning. I wouldn't be able to sit on the couch with a cup of steaming chai tea watching the first rays of the sun fight through the mist and fog over the mountain top I see from my living room window.

I wouldn't know.

What's worse? I wouldn't even know that I didn't know.

Small blessings. Big blessings. I guess it really is all what you notice and what you make of it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rejectable me

Hi. My name is Brooke and I have a problem with rejection. 

Well...that's not entirely accurate. Rejection happens to everyone on a pretty regular basis. What I suppose would be a better description would be to say that I am sensitive to certain types of rejection. 

And, really...aren't we all?!?!

Last weekend was going to be our first 'relaxing' weekend in a while. We've been out of town or really busy for the last five or six weekends in a row. 

After a grueling week, we were all looking forward to just staying home. And then I woke up on Saturday morning, filled with energy (of the non-house cleaning variety) because we didn't have to be anywhere. 

Yeah, I know. I'm weird. ::shrugs::

So I proposed a round of errands. I needed to get some ideas on how to make the kids' Halloween Minecraft themed costumes so I wanted to hit the Halloween store that set up its tent in the mall parking lot. That led to going into the mall to look at pre-made Minecraft heads at Hot Topic. That lead to a detour to Game Stop to price a birthday present for Tucker, then it led to lunch, then to two shoe stores when we discovered my 9 year old man child wears a SIZE 9 MEN'S shoe.

From there we headed to U-Haul to pick up a couple sturdy boxes, then we drove by a pet adoption fair at Petsmart. I recently began volunteering with a local rescue organization because it turns out that I'm liking staying at home a little too much. So what better way to get out of the house than to volunteer for a great organization and get to work with innocent animals?

The kids have been asking for a pet pretty consistently for about two years. Robert and I agreed when we  had to find homes for our dogs in Germany that we wouldn't get more pets until we were finished moving at Uncle Sam's command. 

But - I want the kids to be aware of what they are getting into. My plan is to eventually let them help me when I volunteer so they can see what's involved, and more importantly, see what a big deal (for both the animal and our family) it is to adopt a pet. I hope working with these unwanted/abandoned animals gives my kids a more complete picture of the amazing love and responsibility that comes with adding a family member and the knowledge that pets aren't like Happy Meal toys - disposable when you get bored.

So as we walked along the cages of animals on a hot Saturday, I was a little surprised that the animals seemed a bit...apathetic to our presence. I love dogs in general. They usually respond well to me too. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was that fact that I had kids with me, maybe it was that tons of people had been through there and were still coming through there that the majority of the animals we saw simply could not be bothered to show any interest in us.

I mean, when multiple shelter dogs have absolutely no interest in you, it's a little difficult (especially when you have rejection sensitivity) not to take some of that personally.

One of the dogs caught my eye immediately. He reminded me of Snoopy. We made our way over the the crate, tried to pet him through the bars only to be completely ignored. We struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers, then talked to his foster dad. I asked if we could take the dog out for a quick walk and the foster dad got him out of the crate, snapped on a leash, and let us walk him around. 

Only....this poor dog had no interest in being anywhere near us. After a very short walk where the dog determinedly went in the opposite direction that we were going, wound himself around both another lady and her dog, looked positively bored any time any of us tried to interact with him, and barely tolerated it when I picked him up to carry him back, I thought that maybe we should just move on to another dog. We got back to his crate. The dog, whom we were told hated, hated, hated to be crated, balked for about five seconds at going back into the crate. You could see him weighting the decision. Out of the crate but with us, or in the crate without us. Into the crate he went. Voluntarily. "Huh!" said his foster dad. "I've never seen him do that before."


So we just walked around and sort of looked for a dog that looked like it might be interested in us. When that didn't happen, the kids approached some smaller dogs in crates set on top of larger dog crates. I should mention that Robert is the least excited of all of us about the prospect of getting a new family member. The smaller dogs allowed the kids to stick their fingers in the crates and pet them, but otherwise ignored us. A small, white dog named Pirate caught Robert's attention. Pirate is a small, older dog with only one eye. Pirate refused to make any kind of eye contact or to sniff any of our hands/fingers as a greeting. Pirate did, however. lean just enough so that when you tried to pet him through the bars, your fingers could just graze him. It was so pathetic, it was already funny. Not even the homeless animals were interested in us. That's just sad.

The next day, I had a lunch planned with a friend I used to work with before we left North Carolina. She had contacted me about a month ago and asked if I would be free for lunch on Sunday and/or dinner on Tuesday.  I was really excited. When Robert and I moved away, many of my friends said they would come and visit us where ever we went. With a very few exceptions (which mean the world to me) that didn't happen. Then we got orders to move back to NC about two hours from where I used to live and work. I was hopeful that more people would come and visit us there. Two hours to drive versus 12 or more? Way better! Yet....that's not how it's worked out. 

I really do understand that everyone is busy. But when she messaged and cancelled on me for Sunday, I was really disappointed. I had been looking forward to this more than even I realized. That's okay, I told myself, we still have Tuesday. Only, apparently we didn't, because at 5 pm I finally messaged her and told her I was just going to stay home since I hadn't heard from her. Still haven't heard from her, either. 

I feel: 

I know these feelings are an emotional reaction, and soon the emotions will settle down and I'll see it more logically. I am a firm believer in the whole 'just not that into you' philosophy. And truth be told, I know deep down that I'm better off not chasing friendships that aren't mutual. 

It still stings, though. That will all pass. Except for being rejected by shelter animals. That's a toughie. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A trip down memory lane 82nd Airborne style

My husband and I met when he was still in the Army and stationed at Ft. Bragg.

Over the weekend, Mom offered to keep the kids overnight so they could go to a Wake Forest football game with her and Richard.

Robert and I decided to take this opportunity to head back to Ft. Bragg and take a small trip down memory lane.

Robert had not been back to Bragg since he separated from the Army in late 2000. I had only been to Bragg once since then...when Tucker and I hopped a Space A flight from Germany in 2006. Since we were only there for about 12 minutes in the middle of the night, I'm not sure that trip even counts.

It was amazing how much the area had grown since the last time we had driven away from there, Robert's truck and my car loaded down with all his worldly possessions, ready to begin a new era together.

The base looks really different. There is tons of new construction going on. There are also fences and gates all over the place since Ft. Bragg is now a closed base. In this post 9/11 world, it's really strange to remember a time before NY and DC were attacked when we were all a lot more naive about safety and vulnerability (and how much other parts of the world despised us).

What seemed even more odd than gates and new buildings was the air of neglect near the area where Robert used to live and work. The grass was overgrown, there were weeds throughout the landscaped areas, and the constant hum of activity that surrounded his company was absent. Also absent was the barracks building where he used to live. All that's there now is red clay and memories.

Off post, it was like we never left. Skibo Road looks pretty much the same. We even drove by Robert's favorite restaurant in those days...Hello, Luigi's!

Despite the somber tone this post has taken, we really had a good trip. A bit of much needed closure for both of us that we have managed to make pretty good decisions along the way and a bright future ahead...together as our own unit. And, it was nice to have a weekend to refresh our memories of the early days of our relationship.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It'll probably be okay...

A week or two ago, a friend of mine posted a recipe on her Facebook page for no-bake pumpkin cheesecake.

I love Fall. It's my favorite season hands down. Warm days, cool nights, crisp, non-humid air, all the colors...I love it. The beginning of school always signifies the start of Fall, even if Fall won't truly start for another month..or two..possibly three.

Living in Asheville, Fall is beyond spectacular. I could wax poetic for hours about it, but I'll spare you.

This might be our last Fall here, so I'm fully prepared to squeeze all the life I can out of this Fall.

Starting with this whole no-bake pumpkin cheesecake deliciousness. As I clicked on the link to see the recipe I found myself mental checking the ingredients off:
No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes - A Family Feast
Cream cheese? Check!
Pureed pumpkin? Check!
Sugar-free cheesecake flavored jello instant pudding? Check!
Pumpkin pie spice? Check!
Cool Whip? Check!
Condensed sweetened milk? No...shoot!

My next trip to the grocery store, I picked up the one ingredient I didn't have and tonight...dun dun dun...I made it.

It was super quick and easy to do. The original recipe called for a graham cracker crust, but I skipped it.

As I was assembling everything together, I noticed a pattern. The cream cheese had a use by date of August 10. The pumpkin had a use by date of April. The pudding had a use by date of  March.


It smells divine. It smells...well, like Fall. And being the loving wife I am, I let Robert try it first. When he didn't drop dead or barf or fall to the ground clutching his stomach in the first 10 seconds, I tasted it too.

It tastes divine too.

It'll probably be okay. Right?