Monday, September 29, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

First things first, I'm bad at blogging. I got it. Let's move on and be friends. We shall overcome this dark night of my blogging career.

Instead, I'd like to stretch out my sore writing muscles and share some of the happenings around the Werner household the last few months! If you haven't kept up with us, Luke and I are living in colorful Colorado now, and oh-em-gee-like-totally you guys, we love it.

Here are a few of my favorite things -

1. The Rocky Mountains are our playground. 

Now readers, I love me some Illinois cornfields, but there is just something so breath-taking, so adventurous about living near/in the mountains. It's unpredictable and beautiful, wild and yet ageless. We have soaked up every minute we could this summer and fall trying to explore the Rocky Mountains' endless treasures, and we still can't get enough. We haven't even scratched the surface (or peak, shall we say) of all of the places we want to see.
 (View from near the top of Cheyenne Mountain. We live right at its base.) 

 (Estes Park, probably the most beautiful place I've ever been.) 

(Luke and I in Estes Park, contemplating becoming hermit mountain dwellers.) 

2. Hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. 

Now I'm not one for skipping a night sleeping in my wonderful bed. But if it makes my sweet husband happy, I'm willing to try out some of his beloved hobbies. I doesn't hurt that his beloved hobbies give us views like this one. I have slept outside in the mountains (well, in a tent, but that doesn't protect you from bears) for the first time since we've been here, and although I nearly cried tears of joy when I was back with indoor plumbing, it was still a fun experience. We've also done plenty of hiking and driving, and have gotten some awesome views for our work. 

3. Our house. 

I just love our little abode. Alright, not so little. We have more space than we know what to do with right now, but I'm having an excellent time of crafting to fill the walls, nooks, and crannies. We live on post and can't get enough of our fenced-in back yard, short commute to Luke's work, and lots of neighborhood friends.

(Creep-proof picture of our house. Don't be that guy and try to find me for my autograph, okay?)  

(The coffee nook! Right beside our kitchen, it houses my books, Keurig, and keyboard and is my inner-hipster's dream.) 

4. Visitors, near and far! 

We have had so many people we love (and who love us!) come visit us this summer. Since we live so far away, I can't explain how nice it is to have some "normalcy" with our family members, even if it's just for a week or two. I loved getting to host, cook for, and hang out with everyone who has made the trek from IL to visit! 

We also have family in the area too! Luke's brother Jake, in particular, has been such a blessing to have close by. He attends the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs (same town, about 40 minutes away). He and Luke have lived apart for 5 years, so to have him so close is great. A boy can only go so long without his best friend. 
(My parents... my dad loves Colorado but hadn't visited in almost 30 years and it was my mom's first time seeing mountains. I don't get to be selfish with my time with them very often, but I was this trip!) 

(My siblings [+niece or nephew Zimmerman!!!]. Two and a half weeks of adventures, laziness, laughter, and reduced cell phone bills. I can't even begin to describe how much fun we had, so I won't try in this post. It was THE BEST.)  

(Luke's parents + Jake. They got to visit TWICE this summer! It was lovely and well needed! Plus his mom stuck with my craziness and helped me pick out our new couches ;) ) 

5. Army life is like "Beauty and the Beast". 

Some days it's smart and beautiful and so far from provincial. Some days it's unkempt, grouchy, and unreasonably territorial over where you can and can't go. 

Or maybe that last one is just me. 

Nevertheless, it is an endless learning process that pushes both Luke and I to be better people, better servant-leaders, and better partners to each other. Luke absolutely loves his job and his guys, which makes even hard days worth it for both of us. It is always challenging, full of ups and downs, but we are better every day for it. 

(That's Luke commanding his Stryker, a picture featured in the Ft.Carson newspaper about 5 weeks after we moved here. What can I say, he got famous fast.) 

 (Luke's office some days)


(Gettin' fancy... it's a definite perk. On hard days I remember Luke gets to wear a Stetson on Fridays and everything magically melts away.) 

6. Most of all, my favorite thing is that my soul is doing this most of the time. 

I am genuinely happy and joyful to be where I am. I am loving life, along with the monotony and curve balls it throws at me. God is good and I am reaching more for Him on my own personal journey than I ever have before, and I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude to realize how He fulfills his promises. And I'm thankful to be surrounded by the beauty of His creation while He's at it. 

Come visit us so I can show you more of my favorite things! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Patient (12) Readers of the Internet!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! Though I hope you have been spending lots of time with your families and taking part in all the fun things that go on this weekend, please remember to take a moment to pray for our fallen heroes that have died protecting our freedom to enjoy such days as these. They and their families are so close to my heart.

I was so honored that Bonnie who blogs at A Knotted Life asked me to write a guest post on my thoughts on Memorial Day as a military wife. I would love it if you followed the link to the post and commented on your thoughts, especially if you have lost a friend or family member who served.

And if Bonnie was the one who sent you here - welcome! Please stick around, and I promise I'll post more often on our crazy adventures. Since I've posted last, we have moved for the SECOND time in 10 months across the beautiful U-S-of-A. I have lots of pictures and some slightly repressed memories to prove it. A post will follow soon, with some other exciting news!

Come back soon for more updates!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Love You Because...

This is going to be a simple post. No list, just short, sweet, and to the point. This project has literally been one of my favorite things Luke and I have done together. It is our "I love you because..." board. I am big on leaving notes for Luke because he gets up wayyy before I do and I don't usually get to see him before he leaves for work around 6 AM. I like to let him know why I love him, appreciate him, and understand that he is getting up early to do uncomfortable and demanding things for BOTH of us. He likes to tell me that he's thinking about me and notices the little things I do to keep our family running at home.

So, we made this "I love you because..." board so that we have a daily opportunity to acknowledge how the other person is so special. We write meaningful and silly things to each other, inside jokes, whatever... and take turns with our day. It's so easy and it's the best thing ever to wake up to something nice and a little butt-shaped heart from my hubs. (But seriously... his hearts are lacking some, uhhh... artistic shapely style).

I hope we continue this tradition with our kids as well. I think it would be sweet to have this board on their bedroom doors, so anyone could write a reminder of why they are loved and appreciated. It would be fun for dorm room doors, too!

Here it is. White board from Wal-mart, permanent marker for the title words, dry erase marker for hundreds of love notes. Well worth the investment.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"What do you DO all day?"

Let me tell ya, friends... I hate this question.

Now, I understand that 99.9% of the time, it is just an easy question to ask this for-the-time-being-stay-at-home-wife to explain how she fills her day without a job and has no malice behind it. I get it, and it's okay if you've asked before! But the other .01% is just irksome, and makes me feel that just because I am not working full time that I sit on my couch, eating ice cream, and catching up on my afternoon stories every day (not that this is bad occasionally ;) ). It gives the sense that my worth is tied up in whatever the source of my paycheck is. It's just not true, folks. That being said, I WILL share with you lovely people what activities I do indeed partake in with my more flexible schedule.

1. I have learned to cook! Not that I didn't know before, I just had about 3 recipes up my sleeve that I repeated over and over for convenience. One of my favorite things that has come along with being married is enjoying spending time in the kitchen with Luke (because yes, he helps me make dinner at least 50% of the time since he is perfect like that) Along with cooking, I have developed meal planning system that basically consists of me sitting down every Sunday night with my cookbooks and Pinterest tab open, and planning out our meals for the next 2 weeks. This relieves so much stress on my part after spending a few months of waiting for Luke to get home, discussing my 3-meal bag of tricks and trying to decide on something, thawing out/searching for ingredients, and so on. This left us eating around 6:30-7:30 most nights, which is not so fun with hard-working, hangry* husband. It also keeps me away from the post Commissary, which is a scary, scary place sometimes.

*HANGRY (han-gree) adj. : a state of anger caused by lack of food and working 10-12 hour days; hunger causing a negative change in emotional state. See also: ARMY HULK MONSTER.

2. I've raised a rascal of a puppy to be a somewhat docile, lady-like creature. She seriously has given Luke and I a run for our money in the patience department. There was about a month after we got her that I really brainstormed reasons to take her back ("She's the lapdog of the devil!") But slowwwwwly and surely she is calming down into a sweet and smart pup.

("This is how I used to sit on Papa Lucifer's lap!")

3. On top of being a new wife and honing in on my domestic skills (which were very lacking by the way), I am also learning the ins and outs of Army wife life. People roll their eyes when I tell them this, but YES, it is sometimes a lot of work. I go to meetings to learn lingo, meet new spouses, learn how to file my taxes in two states, deployment readiness, and even Army etiquette*. Army spouses are some of the most helpful, kind, and genuine people I've ever met. They have great perspective and are always willing to help, since mostly all of them have been in a younger wife's shoes before and understand what it's like to ask the question, "Am I REALLY going to move 17 times in 20-some years?" (Yup, it happens.)

(Excuse Lucas's mustache... it was a troop fundraiser for Mo-vember)

*Not like you'd think a-la-1950's etiquette, but more so how to greet your husband's commanding officer at a Military Ball without saying "I like your hat!" or "Are you the mean man who makes my husband get up so early?", which fork is the dinner fork and which is the dinglehopper, hosting large parties for people you may or may not know, etc. It's actually pretty fun!

4. I have single-handedly taken apart a washing machine, discovered what ailed it, and fixed it. Again, the things I would do to avoid a laundromat are impressive.

(VICTORY!! Viva la laundry!) 

5. I started a part-time job. I am currently a certified Health and Safety Instructor for the American Red Cross. I teach Adult and Pediatric CPR, First Aid, and AED classes, and just got certified to teach Babysitting Clinics yesterday! I love it, and it keeps my teaching skills fresh. Plus, I can save your life if so needed.

6. I craft. I craft to my heart's content and no one stops me! I love investing in the hobbies that were just not very possible in college and during my first year teaching. I have crafted so much in my house that I'm almost embarrassed by it when people come over. I hosted a Bunco party in December for some other Army spouses, and wanted to bury my head under the table as each person exclaimed, "Oh my! Did you MAKE this? And this? And this?" Yes, I'm a craft hermit. It suits my homebody self well.

 (Katie's Christmas present) 

(Birthday board for a friend's daughter)

(Dining room wall with vintage military pictures and wedding pics)

(Dining room "chalkboard" made from black foam board, white paint, and Pinterest stolen-ideas. Looks super complicated, but it's very easy, just time-consuming.) 

(Living room artwork from an old atlas page)

(Luke's desktop, woodburned and stained)

(Christmas chalkboard) 

(Fired Up! plate from my trip home with my sisters!)

(Our dining room table... no, I did not "make it" but I pain-stakingly painted and stained it during our first month here. It took forever and a day, but it's my favorite project yet! More on this one later.) 

7. I have genuinely enjoyed being flexible, relatively low-stress, and giving my "yes" to things whole-heartedly.  I jump in to volunteering without aching for my Saturday afternoon back, I join in on lunch plans with friends, and am generally a much easier person to deal with all around. I know I will probably never have this time of my life to repeat with an undemanding job, no kids, and less than a million things on my to-do list. I'm embracing it while I can, and am thankful for the time I had to do all these great things!! I'm blessed!

What would YOU do all day if you had lots of flexible time?? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Blogs and Other Things I've Failed At

I have failed majorly at blog-writing. I know this, you know this. My sweet husband even knows this, for when I'm being particularly bothersome, he asks nicely, "Hey, why don't you work on your blog?"

So then I don't, just to be more bothersome.

This is my feeble attempt at getting the ball rolling. If I just put up a new, general post, it will take the pressure off of catching up on five months of cyberspace nothingness in one brilliant, star-studded prose... right?

Well, hopefully anyway.

Here are 10 things that have happened since September that I may or may not elaborate on in later posts.

1. My sister Katie came to visit. She put up a lovely play-by-play with pictures about our three day adventure in Georgia here. We made some awesome food, enjoyed the sun, and sat on the couch a lot. It was pure loveliness.

2. I flew back home with Katie and got to see all my friends and family that I'd been missing so much. The air was crisp, the leaves were falling, the crops were being harvested, the humidity was below 99%.... Midwest heaven on earth. Fall doldrums became a thing of the past.

3. We hosted Thanksgiving for some of our Army friends. It was one part stressful, two parts fun, eight parts me obsessing over setting the table with my fancy new dishes. I'm not sure where those "parts" breakdown came from, which is probably why Luke is better at following recipes that I am.

4.  Luke graduated ABOLC (Armor Basic Officer Leader Course) in December and Bradley Leader Course in January, and is now enrolled and half way through ARC (Army Reconnaissance Course). I'm so proud of him! He inspires me every day with his passion and dedication. Way to go, honey!

5. We went home for Christmas. I can't even explain the wonderful feeling of being all together again (since Luke got to come along this time). We tested puppy-drugs on Scout to knock her out during the 13 hour car ride (success!), we crafted (success!), we watched movies on movies on movies (success!), and made up for lots of lost time.

6. I started working for the American Red Cross teaching CPR, First Aid, and AED skills. I'm enjoying it so much so far! It has been fun teaching people who know how to raise their hands when they ask a question and not get all up in my grill when I ask them to put their phone away.

7. Luke and I are currently teaching Theology of the Body to our 6th and 7th grade Religious Ed class. We love it. They squirm. We love that they squirm. They learn how to love and respect their body and God's plan for self worth, dignity, and marriage. It's a win-win-win-win.

8. We bought a car! After much back-and-forth discussion about what to do with my old 2-door Saturn Ion that would soon be making the trek to snowy Colorado, we upgraded for a beautiful Chevy Equinox that we got for a God-given (literally... it's quite the story) deal. It's a beaut', and I'm in love.

9. Scout-puppy is not really a puppy anymore. :( She is the bane of my existence and I love her for it. She gets her bothersome abilities from her mama. 

10. I have learned more and more about how to embrace and enjoy Army life. I am really starting to love the lifestyle and the people I meet. Even the acronyms. (Hey, just so you know, when Luke is done with ARC we are going to PCS to Ft. Carson doing a full DITY CONUS move. I still have to go to JAG and ACS to check on my POA and his LES, but we already have our DD-1172. He's hoping to be a PL when we get there, but if not he'll be put in HHQ.) This. Is. Daily. Conversation. Can I put 'Army' as a second language on my resume? 

Alright, that's enough for now. I will catch you up soon on being embarrassed by my hermit-crafting skills, our upcoming second cross-country move in less than a year, and all the other adventures we've had!

PS- THANKS to whoever is loyally checking this blog for updates. Literally, THOUSANDS of hits in the last five months without a single new thing. Where are you coming from?? Kudos to your patience. 

(AKA, here ya go, Mom! Your hard work paid off!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Fall Doldrums

I’ve been in a bit of a funk as of late. Finally settling into my new life, but still feeling displaced at times in this new area. I am very busy most of the time, but when I finally slow down I find myself to be super anxious and unfocused. I like to call this funk my “Artist’s Reverie.” Ever had that before? Where life seems so fast and slow at the same time, the lyrics of ballads suddenly start speaking your language, and you feel like you need to craft/write/read/draw/stare into space all the time?  No? Only me? Alright then, moving on.

I blame the weather. I am SO ready for it to be fall, but it is still hot and humid most days here in Georgia. I am even rebelling and dressing for the weather I want it to be, not for the weather it actually is. One might point out that wearing boots and scarves in mid-80 degree weather is probably what is causing my grouchiness. Perhaps.

And then today it hits me… October is right around the corner! As in next week! Wowzers. How did it get to be that time already? Pumpkins, sweaters, bonfires, fall colors, harvest… all of my favorite things jam packed in a few-week time period of the year.

But I have also realized that this year, just like every October for as long as I can remember, I will probably get the Fall Doldrums. The Fall Doldrums have plagued me ever since high school, always falling (ha, pun) in the last few weeks of October. I get antsy, and start asking myself those ever elusive, “What am I doing with my life?” questions. As the sky gets cloudy and the days become shorter, I always have this feeling of being trapped in boredom and monotony. I find that I am scolding myself often internally: “You will not find the meaning of your life on Pinterest. You will not find the… oh, okay… one more page...” I have a feeling this year will be hard as well, since I am away for the first time ever and missing out on all of the things I loved most about living in rural Illinois.

There are certainly things I am looking forward to in October… Luke has TWO long weekends, my sister Katie is coming to visit, I am going back to Illinois to see family and friends for 8 whole days (yippee!), Luke’s bromantic partner Nick is flying back with me for a week-long visit, and hopefully the pup will start learning to be a civilized creature as she begins her puppy training classes. Lots of great things happening in my favorite month of the year!

Hopefully the Fall Doldrums have just hit early this year, and/or I will figure out the meaning of life in time to FALL in love all over again with the autumn season and thoroughly enjoy my October without all the annual blahs.

Anyone have ideas on things to do to shake off the gloomies? I’m always up for a craft project ;)

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Must've Done Something Good: Part V - Where the Army Sends Us

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not so great at this blog thing.

As I sit here in the living room of my beautiful apartment, alone on a Friday night as Luke has all-night staff duty, I wonder why it's taken me so long to update.

And then I remember in the last 2 months, I've gotten married, moved, made new friends, tried to figure out what being an awesome wife to my endlessly good husband means, signed up to teach Sunday school, started a job, and got a puppy. And blogging is not on my to-do list every day. I will try to change that in the weeks to come. ;)

In this final installment of my summer series, I'm going to tell you what moving 800 miles across the county looks like:

An extended cab truck filled to the brim, both inside and out, a trailer hauling a Saturn with zero oxygen space, crates strapped on all around, a very expensive, VERY beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle perched (at times precariously) on the back, and a conversion van with barely enough room to fit two awesome parents-in-laws in the front. Dats how we roll, people.

By the way, when we got here, we found out the Army would have paid for the biggest U-Haul we could rent. HA!.. Ha... ha. *sobbing quietly*

It was nuts. It was stressful and emotional and nerve wracking. I cried until we were out of Illinois, and went through two boxes of tissues: one for tears and one for a massive head cold that decided to plague me during probably the hardest couple of days of my life (excellent timing).

And then suddenly, it was okay. It was sometime as we were rolling through the gorgeous hills of Alabama that I reached over and took Luke's hand, and I knew it was going to be worth it. Sure, I'd never seen the house we were moving into, never visited the state that I was about to be a citizen of, and never intended on ever leaving my sweet country home prior to meeting this man. But I knew it was going to be fine. It was going to be better than fine. It was going to be great!

And great it is!

We moved into one kick-butt apartment. Seriously, I can run laps. I do, actually. It's beautiful and has such great charm.

(This is me, totes excited. "We get all this!?")

And got to decorate to my heart's content. 

(We're like...adults.)

After searching and church hopping for WEEKS within a two-state radius (no joke), Luke and I finally found a church that we love. Oh yeah, did I mention.... it's a block away? We started attending St. Maurice Catholic Church on Ft. Benning, and have't looked back. We had some misconceptions about attending a church that would obviously be so tied to the military, just because we thought it would be nice to "get away" sometimes and intermix with our civilian brethren (I joke... makes us sound like aliens. "Hello, human. Teach me your ways of not using acronyms for everything."). God had other plans, though, because after attending daily Mass one day on post, I somehow managed to walk away with a Sunday School gig for Luke and I.  We will be teaching 6th and 7th grade, focusing primarily on Theology of the Body Ah! Love. We are excited to share our passion for our faith and Christian sexuality. 

Coming here, I started out with no friends... 

("It's just me and you against the world, buddy!") 
(Yes, that's a HUGE DEAD cockroach in my house. Gross!)

And now we've met some amazing ones! We're meeting new people all the time, and just got back from a Florida vacation with some great new friends. It's very exciting, even for an introvert like me. 

(My first time in Florida! I didn't get eaten by a shark. Whoo hoo!)

Speaking of Florida, I have gotten to see some pretty cool, new, and exciting things while living in the south. Although I miss my mid-western manners* and corn fields, the south is a really unique place to live. (Besides the trees... the trees here are weird. They've got moss and pine-y things and...... never mind. Come visit and see them for yourself.) We've been all around Columbus area, Atlanta once, Destin, FL last weekend, and even threw in some pretty Alabama sunsets for good measure. 

(This is me petting a sting ray at the Atlanta Aquarium... so, so neat!!)

*Sidebar: Midwestern Friends, have you ever noticed how often we say "I'm sorry"? Apparently it's a mid-western thing that I never noticed. If I bump into you, I say, "I'm sorry." If I cut you off in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, I say, "I'm sorry." If you drop something on the floor that was 0% my fault, I say, "I'm sorry."  It's weird now to think about it. I have a friend from Oklahoma that pointed it out, and now we laugh about it every time. Sorry. 

Back to my point... 

I get to hang out with this guy ALL the time. I know, we're married, so that's like a thing now, but I'm still excited about it. 

(He is just so irresistibly good. He has an open mind and a kind heart. And he flosses every day, which I think makes him a saint.) 

After much discussion, I finally convinced Luke that we needed a companion, but not in the baby-shaped-sort just yet. So we got a sweet new puppy! Her name is Scout Francine, named after her Armor Corps roots and St. Francis of Assisi, who we believe is ever praying and interceding for us. He's also the patron saint of animals, which we're hoping will help since little, energetic Scout is quite the rascal sometimes in her puppy-ness.  She's keeping me busy, that's for sure! 

(Look at that face! How do you discipline that face?!)

And I'm sorry (ha!) but I'm going to say it. My hair in the Georgia humidity rocks. And so, I guess, I'll stay. ;) 

Army life has been a whirlwind, but it really has been nothing short of a great experience so far. People here are kind, and I am continually amazed at the genuine character and goodness of the men and women who serve our country, and their families who support them. I'm proud to count our little family among them. 

And so, the adventure continues... wherever the Army sends us next! 

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?