Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poppy's Helicopter

About thirty years ago my Dad transferred from the Army to the Coast Guard. Our family moved from Alabama to Port Angeles, Washington and our life completely changed. That was the beginning of many adventures. I always took pride in my Dad's heroic job. I liked visiting him at the air base and seeing him in uniform. But I only had a vague sense of the dangers and risks he faced as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. 

When we moved to Sitka, Alaska I started to get a clearer picture of my Dad's job. This was where the storms were more frequent and unpredictable, where the Coast Guard pilots marched in the Alaska Day parade, and more than once when my Dad was in uniform a fisherman (usually a complete stranger) would come up to thank my Dad for the job he was doing.   

So while visiting Seattle this holiday it was very special to go to Boeing's Flight Museum and see the very aircraft my Dad flew on display. 

 Dad brought his flight log and showed us how the number on the outside of the aircraft, 1415, matched his log entries. He recounted some of his missions: the medevac of the wife of a lighthouse worker to a hospital when she went into labor, searching for missing fishing boats, and routine flights. 
I hope my kids caught a glimpse of the adventurous and important job their Grandpa did.
 My Dad did his best to convince this next generation to consider becoming a pilot.
Who knows? Maybe there will be another pilot in the family...

Friday, January 17, 2014


Lately, I've been thinking about the idea of "Home." It was soooo wonderful to be back in Mississippi, Washington, and Virginia this holiday season. But it was also a bit strange to see these places and people I love with new eyes. Eyes that have become accustomed to seeing poverty, concrete, traffic, and street vendors on a daily basis.

Home. I re-learned home is not a physical place. It is many physical places.

Home is Virginia.

It is Magen's house filled with people and her homemade pico de gallo. It is driving down ice-strewn Canby Road to visit Jessica with her music room, her new "wall of violins," and her most infectious laughter. It is a Zumba class with the queen of dance, Lisa. It is a tearful hug and fun lunch with Molly Kay and her now-three-year-old daughter. It is a cinnamon roll, still warm from the oven, in Karen's kitchen. It is watching my girls roller skate with friends. It is Costco. It is Target. It is dinner at Olive Garden with Allison, Rob, and Gage (oh the breadsticks!) It is a drive with Holly Davis to discover available land. It is the rolling hills of the countryside. It is the cozy town of Hamilton that brought me to tears while driving on main street.

Home is also Mississippi with canoe rides on the lake, BBC Austen movies, and jigsaw puzzles. It is Truman and Allison's gumbo, and a breakfast of grits and deer sausage. It is multiple trips to Shipley's donuts. It is watching my kids make wooden tops with their Grandad and watching Nana play "Frozen" with Charlotte.

Home is Washington. My mom's blackberry pie and potatoes au gratin. My dad's homemade hot chocolate. Home is running six miles with Katie on Soos Creek and holding my niece in a morning hug. Home is sitting on the green sofa opening Christmas presents while the electric train circled the Christmas tree. Home is family.

But home is also Jakarta.

Sometimes I feel torn. Torn between "homes." But then again, maybe all these separate pieces, these people and places that many never collide except in my own experience, actually make me whole.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Celebration in Mississippi

After 36 hours of traveling (22 in the air and 14 in layovers) we arrived in Mississippi. The kids are seasoned travelers now and fared extremely well. My only complaint was the drugged dude I sat next to for 7 hours. In his sleeping stupor, he drooled and took over not only the armrest but half of my leg space too.

But being here with family and enjoying all the bounty of America was worth every second of travel.

My girls enjoyed entertaining and being entertained by our darling niece, Alyssa, who turns three next month. They also spent hours playing outside with Ducky - Truman and Mary's dog. Charlotte formed such a strong bond with Ducky that she cried when he had to leave to go back to Texas. Truman, Allison, and Nana made incredible food: gumbo, beans and rice, and a true southern breakfast with deer sausage and grits. It was a good thing Owen and I ran with Allison around the lake so we could compensate for the extra calories. 

For the first time in three years, we ate our traditional New Year's Eve dinner: Chinese take out!! Beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, and shrimp fried rice. Delicious!
 We thought Elise got the best fortune in her fortune cookie:
 Bundled in layers of clothes, we sat shivering in the cold air to watch the fireworks. Nana retrieved old towels which we wrapped around our legs. Owen let the kids light the fireworks themselves with the explanation, "They'll have to learn sometime, might as well be now." Minus a singed eyebrow and a spark on Truman's lip, we avoided any injuries.
 After the fireworks we sipped hot chocolate and eggnog and watched "Persuasion" and "Becoming Jane." Elise, Owen, and I were the only ones who made it to midnight. We watched from the windows in the comfort of the toasty warm house as the lake lit up with huge fireworks and welcomed in the new year.

How we love it here. At Grandad and Nana's house. Near the beautiful lake. In America. Surrounded by family.
2014 will be a year of lots of change for our family. Our tour in Jakarta ends this summer, and we will return to Virginia. I feel excited but also very apprehensive. However, my hope for this year is to embrace the change and face any frustrations with courage. I was given a blessing at the end of summer before returning to Jakarta. In the blessing I was told "to look for the beauty" in my experiences. So that is my goal this year, to see the beauty of our experiences. And I'll do my best to help my children do the same.

After all, “Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be" (Abraham Lincoln).