Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My year....

It is rare that I don't have the words to put a voice to my heart - but this past year has rendered me speechless.

2013 was my least favorite.

I know this blog went much more shallow and away from my heart over the year. It was because my heart couldn't speak.

Music is such a beautiful art form - and there have been songs that perfectly captured moments from this year.

In lieu of baring my soul on this very-public-forum, I'm sharing these songs. They will tell some of the story. My story. Hard things are not what people like to talk about - we like to gloss over things and put the highlight reel up. While this post is most definitely NOT a documentary, it is a peek into something beyond the highlights.

Because I'm messy.
I'm not neat and tidy.
And neither are you.
We are all broken and shattered in some way - sometimes that way is a huge bomb that leaves you hunting through the rumble for any shred of hope....and sometimes that breaking comes in numerous hairline fractures that leave you in pain and hunting for relief.
Either way, we need HOPE. And support. And help.
And LOTS of all of those things.

This song doesn't really need an explanation - but if it resonates deeply with you RIGHT NOW - get help. Don't think the problem will magically fix itself. Don't be quiet. Don't hold your breath. Say SOMETHING.

Speak up. Be brave. Face your worst fears head on and crumple to the ground. You may fall to pieces, but keep breathing. It will hurt - everything - breathing, sleeping, talking, all of it.
But battling imaginary giants hurts worse. 
The healing can only begin when Truth is all you know.

(side note - the video for "Brave" sums up the complete awesomeness that is my Jumping Bean.)

It takes serious amounts of hard work sometimes. And fighting. Fighting for your life. But this song became a bit of an anthem over the Fall and this Spring. Sometimes the healing process has been more painful than I could have imagined - it kinda felt like stitches. The gaping wound would never heal left alone - and even though cleaning it and stitching back together hurt like crazy - it enabled healing.  They say scars fade - I would agree.

It is possible.

Don't give up.

Perhaps I will write again on here - perhaps my heart can speak again - but all I know for sure is that my heart is healing.  And this post is evidence that words are flowing again.

This is where I am now - it's an accurate love song.
Two imperfect, messy people, hanging on tight.

~Whitney Copyright 2014

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Navy Normal

Well, one month down.

A fact I would know even without a calendar.
Because there are normal things that happen with the Beans, when that man of mine leaves....

The first week is some sad (not a lot) because the length of the separation hasn't sunk in. But it is definitely present because they are used to having Daddy in EVERYTHING, and suddenly - he's not. This means a lot of hugs. Extra time spent to hear their hearts. And focusing on the good even in the hard.

The second week is when Bitty Bean starts waking up with nightmares. Screaming and sobbing and wild eyed. And Boy Bean normally starts a hunger strike around the end of week two/beginning of week three.

Week three is when the rest of the Beans (that is THREE humans, if you lost track) get nightmares and start sleepwalking and are fearful of Daddy dying and never coming home. Week three = no sleep for mama.

But Week four? That is the week I get a peek into 10 years down the road when we will have 4 adolescents in the house, all full of emotion and hormones. Week four is crammed full of sobbing and whining and fighting and disobedience and lines-in-the-sand and epic battles and annoying-your-sibling-to-death.

This week has been rough. 

For the past few days, whenever we are home...someone is crying.
At least one person.
Typically 3.
I have sat and had battles of pure will with my 2 year old man-child.
I've sought to comfort and divine why the 4 year old Bitty Bean was sobbing for her 5th straight hour...Bitty Bean said she had no idea but the tears just wouldn't stop.
The Blonde Jumping Bean cries until she laughs maniacally and then cries again - and that has gone on for 3 hours; interrupted by short bursts of energy to hurl a matchbox car at any passer by.
The String Bean (at the mature age of almost-8) could have a PH.D in eye-rolling. And arm-crossing. And basically thinking she's too cool for everything.

But overall?
These kids are awesome. 
They are resilient.
They are a clan.
They are mine.

So while, yes, week four is not really my favorite week....sweet, precious moments have happened anyway....

Jumping Bean was sobbing today and she would not tell me what was going on.
But String Bean? She just sat next to her sister and said,
"You can cry. Its okay. If you want to talk - I'm here. If you don't - I'm here. I love you. This is what sisters do." 
After continuing to cry (deep, shoulder shaking, bring-on-the-hiccups, sobs) for 5 more minutes...she finally choked out what the problem was. She was sad about a friend moving away - her very good friend from kindergarten - and worried that she would never see her again. And worried about starting first grade in a new school. And scared of riding the bus. And petrified of no one being her friend.
And then, the older sister who had rolled her eyes at the antics of the blondie all day long; the older sister who has been suddenly "too cool" to hang with the younger kids; the older sister who is extremely rational. That one? She just hugged her Jumping Bean tight.
She said,
"Of course you will have friends at school! You have me and you have Jesus! And only crazy people wouldn't like you - because you are awesome."

To which Jumping Bean replied,
"But I'M crazy! I LIKE crazy people!"


Then, tonight before bed, Bitty Bean started crying. Sobbing really...I mean, there was a lot of snot. When I asked what was the problem, she said,
 "It feels like Daddy died. You know, Mommy? I mean, he's gone on the boat but we never see him. I don't want him dead.  I want him home."

And Jumping Bean immediately went over and hugged her. And said,
"We all want him home. But he's doing his job. And taking care of us. He'll come home soon. 
When his job is done."

And THAT is the Navy Normal.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Well, My Love is gone.
While he is not gone for a long time in Navy terms...he's still gonna be gone for about 2 months.
And that is at least 120 baths, 60+ goodnights, countless hugs, thousands of laughs, and some tears.

He'll miss String Bean's birthday, and the first day of school.

He already missed Jumping Bean's first tooth falling out. 
Which she pulled out BY HERSELF, in the car, on the way to swim lessons. 
And then it was dropped and lost forever in the crevices of the Swagger Wagon. 
Her biggest concern?
"I'll still get my dollar, right?!"

And String Bean starting braces. (Last picture before treatment began!)

He missed a visit from the tooth fairy....she only comes when you're awake for the first tooth. 
Sporting wings and dress up clothing and giving dental hygiene advice. 

So I've been pulling double duty. (Triple, if you count the always-2-days-late-tooth-fairy)
Which means Mommy goodnight kisses (soft and gentle), followed by "Daddy kisses" (noisy and silly). It means extra hugs. Dance parties. Story time about what Daddy does and how a Navy Ship works. There have been moments of extreme frustration (every day) from Boy Bean about this mama's pathetic ball-throwing skills. 

But Daddy being gone also means surprise hugs and kisses from my Beans. It means 4 kids conspiring to sneak down to make me breakfast one morning. Children helping with chores - happily - because Mama can't do it all. It means quiet pensive moments. It means we pray a lot.

Being separated is not my very favorite thing. 
But it isn't the end of the world, either.  
It is just a thing. 
He does his job. We do our jobs. 
And we learn to treasure these people we get to call family.

Anchors Aweigh.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Zone 4 - The Laundry Room (Post 2)

Yesterday I posted about my Laundry Room.  (Wildly exciting stuff, I know.) I showed pictures of the layout change and hinted at the organization change.

Now (If you think you can handle the thrill) today is all about the organization. Fun times!

First, I brought IN this cabinet. It has been sitting in the garage since the girl room was overhauled...almost 6 months.  But I couldn't get rid of it. We have used that cabinet as a pantry in 2 houses, and in each child's nursery (4 different houses!)! I knew it was much too versatile and useful to just pass on. So it collected dust and cobwebs in the garage while I tried to figure out its perfect spot. 

Next, I went through every item in the laundry room and decided if that was where it should be located....or just where it was dumped. I was shocked to find only a few items did NOT need to stay. 

(Most of those were just relocated to the garage....i.e. The Final Dumping Ground. That is Zone 6.)  :)

Here's the breakdown of the metal bins in the cabinet:

Top bin - SUN BLOCK, bug spray, and bubbles. Basically, stuff I don't want the kids getting into - but I need on a daily basis. 

Middle bin - Laundry supplies. Bounce sheets, detergent cups (I throw mine in the load to get it clean - so I need a bunch!), and tennis balls for when we wash comforters and large blankets.

Bottom bin - Flashlight and hanging supplies. (PICTURE and CURTAIN hanging; not Friar Tuck.)

The shelves behind the door hold paper towels (we go through them quite slowly - so I don't buy them in bulk), and our shredder. The small box to the right of the shredder holds all papers in need of shredding....when the box gets full, we plug it in and go to town. 
(By "we," I mean My Love. I always forget to do that! And file stuff. My word I hate filing.)

Onward we go....four bins fit on the shelf above the washer and dryer with a perfect amount of space for my detergent. I was entirely too thrilled about that. Have I mentioned how much I love these bins???? They are fantastic! And they were the EXACT sizes I needed. On sale. I'm sure that excitement will wear off eventually....but not today. :)

So, I broke each bin down to a purpose - Light bulbs and other soft/light items....

Rarely used cleaning supplies and large refill containers. (Don't judge me about not using my towel mop often. I have a swiffer mop and I LOVE it. My floors get somewhat clean fairly often.)

This is my most used bin  - my cleaning supplies! I carry that around with me when cleaning, so it has everything I need. I don't store cleaners under the sink because... 1. I have the space to keep it elsewhere, and 2. My kids would totally break into them and I would have called poison control quite a few times if I kept them in reachable locations. I also don't keep tons of different cleaners - I've found exactly what I like and what works for me...and I only keep those items.

Finally - the LARGE Laundry supplies bin. OxiClean (always comes through and is THE BEST stain remover EVER.), bleach, the next detergent, a delicates bag (I have never used this...I think it is a holdover from camp or some deployment or something), and my tissue box with extra bags in it!

The spare paper bags and potty fit perfectly under the sink. Soon (hopefully) that potty will be retired from this house. I am sooooo excited. Although, I hate potty training...so that part is not exciting. But the end result? No more Diapers? I might just have to throw a party.

The sole piece of decorating in the room (at the moment) is this Ikea curtain which I hung by myself. Thankyouverymuch. First time ever! It really made a huge difference in the room feeling pulled together.

On to the other side of the room!

That island/cupboard was actually wedding gift. It has been used in every house we've lived in - 9 and a half years and still going strong! This may be the ONLY thing we registered for that was practical and useful. I was 21 when filling out our registry...it had a LOT of picture frames and pillows and vases and frou frou extras. Pots and pans? Notsomuch. (I think I did eventually end up registering for pots and pans at the wise prodding of people who knew better. Like our Mothers.)

This cabinet holds all of our beach towels and reusable bags. 

The drawer is still full of various odds and ends - measuring tape, batteries, head lamp....the normal stuff.

Finally, a bucket sold to hold drinks (bought on clearance last year) stores all the swimsuits for the kids on top of the island.

And the very BEST thing in the whole room???? 
This organizer! 
It was a Pinterest project I had pinned months ago, and it turned out great. (Thanks to My Love and a good friend!) I took a pegboard, covered it with a .50 thrifted sheet (which I've made 1 dress, 3 skirts, and 4 bean bags from already), and then asked the men to frame it. Which they did. 
Not the way I wanted. 
At all. 
It turned out great and I like it better than my original plan. 
So all's well that ends well - right? :)
Eventually, that big open space in the middle will have a wire basket in it with dusting spray, dusting cloths, and windex so I can grab it for a quick touch up. 

Whew. There you go. More than anyone ever should want to know about my laundry space. 

If you've powered through to this point, you are either desperately trying to organize YOUR life....or bored out of your mind and need a life.
 Either way, thanks for reading. 

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Zone 4 - The Laundry Room

So, I've mentioned a time or two that I must organize, clean, or create something tangible when I feel completely out of control. Something about toys being put away or counters being clean or fresh vacuum marks in the carpet just helps me calm right down.

(Which does not translate to a spotless house, surprisingly enough. It just translates to an orderly spot with less stuff in it....while the rest of the house is being demolished. If you don't understand, please scroll to the right and inspect my beans.)

And, I decided I would use 2013 to finally get some order in my life instead of just treading water. I am shocked at how much easier EVERYTHING is without a newborn/pregnancy/child under two. My youngest is 2 and a half - since we started this whole kid-thing, I have always had a new babe-in-arms at this point. In fact, the widest age gap between beans is 25 months.  So this moment in time feels CRAZY. 

This year of organizing has led me to My Kitchen (Zone 1), My Living Room (Zone 2), and the Girl Room (Zone 3.) Moving through each of these spaces has been wonderful. I'm getting rid of all sorts of things we don't use or need, and I'm finally putting items in the best spot for them...instead of just in the room they should belong. 

Which brings me to this month's project....

The Laundry Room. 

First, I always thought it was kind of dumb to make your laundry room all pretty. I mean, it is about as utilitarian a space as it comes, right? It seemed like a complete waste of time. If you could see your washer and dryer and soap and dryer sheets and maybe some Oxiclean and your laundry baskets, you should be good. 

I do a LOT of laundry.  I am in there all. the. time. And I don't even fold it in the laundry room! All I'm in there for is to sort, load, flip, and empty. So I completely thought making the space look pretty in its organization would be just a waste of my time and money. 

Well, world. I was wrong. Again.

Organizing my laundry room hasn't made laundry more fun or exciting....but it has made it easier. Like, LOADS easier. (That is funny. You should be chuckling. Or it is just late and I think I'm extra funny.) Here is what I had to start with....

What you see when you walk in the door....
a bit of a mess. 
I mean, it worked, if you didn't mind moving something every time you needed to do anything.  

 I was really starting to mind moving stuff. The space is plenty big enough to hold all the junk in that room - and then some! So why wasn't it making sense and working smoothly?
Because it was a dumping ground. 

Stuff was just thrown and shoved and precariously perched. 
Not a very good system for efficiency!

(The white cabinet wasn't always right there...I had just brought it in from the garage, when I remembered to take pictures!)

We had tried to get organized in the past - we even bought the cool sunburst hook thingy to hold brooms and mops and stuff....but it didn't work for most of them because the poke-out-parts were too short. 

And behind the door? Unused space. How very, very sad.

However, that sad feeling has gone far away. :) Because after going through every item in the Laundry Room and being sure I needed it, wanted it, and needed it in the space - it looks about 10 million times better!

(I tried to put the same order of camera angles for comparison with the pictures at the top)
Note the super-awesome-curtain. I hung that. By. Myself. :)

Yes, there is a MASSIVE space between the dryer and the wall. Apparently, I'm supposed to have HE machines. But I don't. So, the vent has to go behind the dryer, instead of below it. Minor cosmetic issue. My machines work great - so I don't care!

New bins to corral all gear....thank you Wal-Mart for being awesome.
And having a great sale.
These are exactly what I wanted - but didn't think we could get because of how expensive they were everywhere else. Wal-Mart came through in the clutch!

Below is a picture of the non-laundry stuff in the laundry room. :) The blue bucket holds all dry swimsuits for children, and the cabinet has all of our beach towels in it.

The great PINTEREST project that actually turned out right! woohoo!! (There is going to be a wire basket with some cleaning supplies on the bare double hook....but I haven't been able to find the basket.)

So there is the overall tour of the new, improved, and CLEAN laundry room! (For the record, these pictures were taken on a 4-load laundry day. It just works that much better!)

More on the actual organizing in the space....soon.

Until next time - roll with the TIDE, and keep a BOUNCE in your step!

Stay clean.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

mini catch up....

So, the lack of posting is partly due to excessive amounts of fun being had this summer... (i.e. minor catch up post is below) I know no one cares about all this. But I want to write it down for myself to remember....so, feel free to skip to browsing yahoo.

A family trip to DC over the 4th of July...which was a good time overall, but an epic fail the first day. 

ALTHOUGH - on the drive up we found a FANTASTIC BBQ place! Carter's Pig Pen BBQ, in Mechanicsville, VA.  It was AH-Ma-zing. All of the kids ate like lumberjacks, My Love and I ate our fill, we had fresh made Lemonade (the real deal) and sweet tea (also the real deal)....all for $20.00. People, if you are hungry en route to DC - this is where you need to eat. 

Boy Bean's meltdown in the Museum of Natural History perfectly captures how most of us felt that first day. Between missing breakfast...starting the day with a mile walk to the Metro...choosing lunch at a place that had guacamole on everything (which the Boy made me allergic to) ...

having insane NEEDS for bathrooms immediately (which had long lines, broken a/c, and minimal toilet paper)...dressing incorrectly for the heat (blasted weather forecast!)...and closing out the day with an EXTRA half-mile walk because our gate was closed....we learned quite a few lessons that improved the vacation for Day 2. ;)

 Day 2 - the actual Fourth - was about 10 million times better. We watched the parade downtown - fully decked out in our "Go America!" gear. (As Jumping Bean dubbed the bandanas.) 

The parade was great. The kids loved it - but we didn't stay for the whole thing because it was almost 2 hours long! Instead, we slipped out about half-way (while the happy window was still open) and grabbed lunch before the crowds. Good call all around.

We followed the parade and al fresco lunch with a fun street show by a group of break dancers. Then we let the kids cool off in a fountain. Fantastic urban experience had by all. :)

That evening, we set up camp on this hill, and waited for the fireworks. It was a really great time and some fantastic memories were made. Like Bitty Bean completely ruining her shirt and needing to be clothed with a bandana. We went full redneck.  :)
(This picture was from two nights earlier  - the night of the fourth was very clear)

 The lack of posting has also been due to things going a wee haywire in my corner of the world. My Love is heading out again for a bit, and that always makes me desire control. Which means organizing and clearing out has been happening again. It is my own weird neurosis that helps me feel solid...but more on that later.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cocoa Bean Moment

How has the time flown by so fast?

A refrain common amongst most people...
unless you're imprisoned.
I've heard time really just crawls in that scenario. 

Tonight Jumping Bean and Bitty Bean had their first dance recital. I wasn't nervous for them, or worried, or any of that. I was completely excited about the entire evolution! But something in me changed when they walked out on that stage for each of their songs (they were each in 2 songs AND the grand finale - pretty awesome), because I became sentimental.

Maybe it was seeing my Bitty Bean concentrating so hard to do her very best that it looked like she might forget to breathe.

Or maybe it was watching Jumping Bean get so excited to do the dance that she lost track of where she was in the choreography.

Perhaps it was the high jumps Jumping Bean executed as if she had springs in her ballet shoes.

Or the way Bitty Bean's chipmunk cheeks bounced with every jump.

Or the fact that "Fly to Your Heart" from Tinkerbell was one of the songs. (I don't know why, but that makes me choke up every time)

Whatever "it" was....it caused soggy eyes and a very full heart.

I was working hard to not be that crazy mama - the mama I'm definitely going to be at their high school graduations...all blubbery and embarrassing and telling stories their friends will never let them live down...it is only a ballet recital, after all - and Jumping Bean came to my rescue.

When it was time for awards, they called a child's name and the child would walk across the stage - in front of all the other dancers seated on the stage - to receive their trophy. (You need to picture this, it's important.) When Jumping Bean's name was called, she stood up in the back row, walked to the front and started walking toward the teacher.

But then she saw Bitty Bean sitting in the front.

And Jumping Bean walked right over (swelling with pride in her little sister) and kissed her on the forehead.

Then she went on and accepted her trophy.

On the way back to her seat, she kissed her sister again.

Later, I asked her why she kissed Bitty Bean when she did, and this is what she said

"Mommy, I saw her and I just HAD to kiss her! You know? I mean, she did an amazing job, and she's so little and so brave in front of all those people and I can't believe she did it! So I kissed because I'm so proud of her. And I think she's awesome."

And that is exactly why I'm a sentimental wreck.
Because that moment was sweet.

~Whitney Copyright 2013