Breaking News: “Top Nine” Doesn’t Capture Most Important Moments

I use Instagram fairly regularly, probably with more regularity now that I have opted out of Facebook. I know, I know, Instagram is owned by Facebook blah blah blah.

Everyone’s been posting their “Top Nine” recently – the most liked photos in their feeds. Once again, social media panders and quite frankly takes advantage of our desire to be liked and seen and celebrated.

I share my Top Nine, because why not? But I have to add that my top moments most were not shared on Instagram for the world to see.

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I can make quite a few assumptions about 2018 from these pictures. I traveled a lot, spent some time in the hospital, exercised a bunch, and am apparently still in love with my spouse. These are all true, but there’s so much more that happened in 2018 not pictured here, like that kid who was absent on picture day.

I will spare the weary reader nine things that happened in 2018. But I will share that one of the best memories is sitting with my sister on my parents’ porch late at night pondering the recent death of our grandmother and watching an amazing Midwestern thunderstorm. I will share that the reconciliation of a friendship was culminated in lovely time spent with her and her family. I will share that the financial and childless freedom to travel to new places has really helped me settle into my unforeseen reality. I will share that my husband and I are indeed more in love than ever. I will share that modern medicine is amazing and I am forever grateful to the surgeon who listened to me and finally was able to diagnose me with endometriosis.

All those moments and more made up a painful, wondrous, family-filled year. They say that one’s formative years usually happen before age 25, but I argue that all years can be formative, some more than others. I’m thankful I have the maturity and wherewithal to really appreciate the important work that time and openness can do for our souls.

Here’s to a blessed, wonderful, hard 2018. And let’s welcome 2019 with open arms.

 

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A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

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I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

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Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and we crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Welcome to Colorful Colorado

Guys. If you haven’t been to this state, YOU MUST GO. I had been back in 2007 when my family took a vacation and we went to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak. This time I went to Ouray, which is in southwestern Colorado, about 100 miles from the CO/NM border. One of my dearest friends who I’ve known since we were 4 moved there, so I went to visit her and her family. It was so great; it’s like no time had passed at all. Don’t you love having a friend (and friend’s family) like that?!

I set out at 7am, and got to her house a little after 4pm. Missy, our pit mix, is a champ in the car, and during the whole trip she was like a new dog, playing with the other dogs in harmony and making herself right at home.  Anyway, if you ever want to drive a road that will work on your nerves, drive the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray. I knew there were mountain passes, but MAN. Gorgeous drive but you could not pay me enough money to get on the back of a bike.

Every morning it was cool and lovely, and I got two of my runs in there. The elevation was around 7800 feet, so a bit higher than El Paso, but I had no problems. Between my Friday run and Saturday long run, I did 15 miles in Colorado, which was definitely not enough.

One day we went to Telluride, which if you’re not familiar with it, is where all the rich peeps live. Haha. We took the gondola from Mountain View into town and had lunch and walked around. That same evening we had dinner at Ouray Brewery, which was delicious. We spent a couple evenings relaxing in the hot tub on the patio under the stars. Seriously, it was a lovely vacation…

…but there were even more nervewracking mountain passes. We went on a Jeep tour up to the summit of Red Mountain. The pass along the highway is at 11,000 feet, but we still had 2,000 feet to climb on a single track rocky off-road trail. Whew, talk about nerves!! I was definitely the scaredy cat of the tour, but coming down wasn’t bad at all. The views were magnificent from the top, with 360 degree views of 13- and 14-ers everywhere you looked.

We hiked and went out for breakfast yesterday and then I headed home. I had to stop and get new front brakes and rotors… and of course, who else did I call when I heard an awful sound but my dad? He thought it could have been something worse, so I’m thankful it didn’t set me back more than a couple hours. I made it home before midnight.

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View from summit of Red Mountain #3, 12,890 feet
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View of the open Jeep on the summit. It’s really a Dodge 😉
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Just one of the many gorgeous views during my long run on County Road 17
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Shameless selfie in Telluride
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Beautiful aspens
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View while running; what more can you ask for?!
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Missy and her new BFF Enzo
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Kai Luna, Missy, and Bandit at the creek
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The ((free!!)) gondola going into Telluride
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Jackie and me on the gondola
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Borrowed boots

Give Life a Hug

That’s right, embrace it. If the logical “me” could tell the emotional whiny “me” some things it’d be these:

-Stop wishing you were in a different place. God put you here in El Paso for a reason. Enjoy the scenery, as drab as the desert can be. Learn something new about your surroundings as often as you can. Don’t take those panoramic views coming over the mountain for granted!

-Stop wishing you had a different/skinnier/more muscular body. God made you with a perfectly healthy, capable body. There is more to worry about in life than the [[shhhhh]] cellulite! on your thighs. Seriously?! Get over it. Your husband loves your curves, for real. He tells you that all the time. Keep eating 80% clean/healthy and stay active. You’ll be fine.

-Stop worrying and fretting over your resume. God has control over this. Everything happens for a reason, and as silly as it sounds, it’s true! A career and workaholism isn’t everything.

-I’m proud of you that you’ve grieved for your grandpa, and that more often you’ve been smiling instead of crying when a memory strikes you. He’s with you still in spirit.. I’m sure you make him proud! Let the Lord continue to heal your heart.

-Enjoy every minute you get with your husband, because you never know when he’ll have to travel again. Enjoy the morning, enjoy random lunch dates, enjoy having dinner and relaxing together in the evenings. Don’t want to sound morbid here, but you never know when the last day with him will be.

-Embrace your role in the ministries you’re involved in! Enjoy those 7th and 8th graders. You’re a role model to them whether you want to be or not. You were made to minister to kids, whether it’s in a classroom or at youth group. Prepare spiritually for each Sunday morning and Monday evening. Ask them about their lives and how you can pray for them, and when they don’t raise their hand for prayer, pray for them anyway.

-Latch on to your new friendships here. It’s okay to make new friends; don’t isolate yourself. I daresay it’s okay to not call your old friends as often. Gasp. Yes, it’ll be hard when you move, as it was last time, but you got through it! Isn’t life better with good friends by your side??

-Lastly, stop worrying about when you’ll have those babies. I know part of you knows you’re not ready yet, although the 13-year-old Elizabeth felt for sure that the 26-year-old Elizabeth would be a mother by now, and as mature as she needed to be. Ha! There is a time for everything. Spoil those nieces and nephews. Someday you’ll wish you had all this free time to knit and sew and read. Someday you’ll wish you’d enjoyed this child-free era more with your husband. God’s got this! Fo. Shizzle.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33

The honeymoon is over

So…. we’ve been here for over a year. I’m pretty sure I’ve rehashed that fact on my blog and Facebook about a million times. It’s been a crazy year. I’m one who gets bored easily; why else do you think I need to have multiple WIPs? (works in progress [knitting/crochet]). I’m always searching for a new experience, and now that we’re good and settled in El Paso, I wonder what else is out there.

On our list for duty stations were Fort Lewis (WA), Fort Carson (CO) and Fort Huachuca (AZ, where Aaron went for job training). Obviously we didn’t get any of those. Not going to lie; I cried when I first heard that he got orders here.

However, we had the attitude that we would enjoy anywhere we’re placed and make the most of it, especially since we’d been apart for two years.

The truth is, I like it here. The summer heat doesn’t feel so hot this summer, not only because we are more used to it, but because our swamp cooler works this time around! It’s nice having things settled in our house instead of an empty house except a sewing machine and a cooler.

I take for granted that we’ve settled into relationships with some great people. I forget how stressful it is not knowing who your “go-to” people are… how awkward first-time meetings can be… if the person will turn out to be a good friend or just an acquaintance. And how about those new running routes? And even just figuring out the right gate to go into on post or which highway to take?

Generally I enjoy the things to do around El Paso. It just takes 20+ minutes to get places. We’ve thought about checking out places to live on the west side, because church is over there and we like that area of town better. But, our house is great for the price, we’re close to post (and I go there for the FREE gym, Starbucks dates, etc) and we’re close enough to all parts of town.

It’s safe to say my “honeymoon” with El Paso is over. Life is slowing down a little bit compared to the last year, and that’s totally fine! It’s good to enjoy life day-to-day. Aaron’s really getting into a groove at work.  It’s good to keep building relationships with our friends and church family here. I love the family I work for. It will be painful to move, and who knows how long we’ll be here.

We just shouldn’t force anything. We’ve been placed in El Paso/Ft Bliss for a reason. There’s so much more to explore! I have family only 12 hours away in California. Colorado is only 8 hours away. We’re going to Albuquerque for Columbus Day weekend for the Balloon Fiesta. I’d like to get over to San Antonio sometime. I want to stay in a B&B in Cloudcroft or Ruidoso… maybe we can even SKI?! (For the record, I am IN LOVE with New Mexico.)

And the best part about El Paso? Dunkin Donuts on Dyer is up and running again! 😉 It burned down late last summer and it’s FINALLY back in business. Woohoo!

Tour of Central Illinois, and the end of the Run Streak

I’m back in Texas after a 10-day stay in Illinois. The last time I posted was the day before the visitation. I’ve rehashed the details of the following two days so many times in my mind that I honestly don’t want to talk about it here. There are some things better left unsaid.

I still can’t believe Grandpa’s gone. I get this question a lot, “Was he sick?” I know people are just trying to make conversation or show concern, but he was actually supposed to come home a couple days later. He was only 84. That’s young in our family. The man had been through bypass surgery among other things.

I stayed with Grammie for a couple days. I expected him to walk in the door after going to get mail, or walk up the basement stairs after getting some needlework that he needed to show me. His place at the table was vacant, and no one was fidgeting with a napkin or piece of paper. We still sat out on the patio after supper and visited, but it just wasn’t the same. So many things, even in my house in Texas, are a constant reminder.

I was able to go see my Nana (my great-grandmother will be 96 this month!) and my Mimi (other grandmother), and my in-laws took me out for dinner on Thursday night, and then we headed to Farmington to visit with Aaron’s grandparents.

I had a good time with Amelia last Friday. She took me on a “scavenger hunt” as a late birthday present…. we went to the tea room in Mackinaw, to Hollands in Washington to get candy by the pound, painted pottery in Eureka, went geocaching (for the first time!) by the lake there, ate at Lou’s Drive In in Peoria, and then to Les Miserables in East Peoria. I have never seen such an amazing show by a community cast! It was fantastic. Leave it to besties for planning a perfect day!

Saturday I got to see my nieces and nephew, and then went to my aunt’s house for the afternoon. She made my favorite, tuna and noodles, for lunch, and we drank tea out on the patio and then watched some Judge Judy. Sunday I spent mostly at home except for Tim and Leah taking me to the so-classy establishment of Steak n Shake. It just sounded good. Frisco melt, cheese fries, and a milkshake.

I managed to run every day that I was home. I used it as an opportunity to reflect and get some alone time. There were two days I didn’t run in the Run Streak: one day when Amelia was here, and yesterday. It’s hard to tell whether the run streak aided in my 5K PR or not, since I haven’t run a 5K in over a year.

This morning for the Up and Running 4th of July 5K, it was perfect weather… cooler, cloudy and with some humidity. It was a hilly course, being on the other side of town, and my official time was 27:33 (Garmin time 27:08). That’s a 23-second PR from last year, where the course had a gradual incline for the first mile and then it was downhill into the finish line. I am content with my time this year; I ran at 4,000 feet, up and down hills, and I had a 10-day trip sandwiched in there.

Stats for the Runner’s World Run Streak:

TOTAL DAYS RUN: 36 out of 38

TOTAL MILES: 83

LONGEST RUN: 7

What’s next?

October 14 :: Transmountain Challenge (13.1 miles up and over the mountain)

March 17 :: Bataan Memorial Death March 26.2 (Still haven’t decided if I’m going to try to run this or walk and carry a 35+ lb pack. Either way I’m doing it in honor of Grandpa.)

Fairy tales and four-days

I’m thankful that today, the day after a fantastic weekend, was not a let-down like so many days after holiday weekends are. We had a FABULOUS weekend!

For starters, we’ve been watching the first season of “Once Upon a Time”, a show based on all the fairy tales we learned as children. I admit, I haven’t even seen the full lengths of Snow WhiteAlice in Wonderland or Pinocchio. I was more of a Lion King and Beauty and the Beast kind of girl. And I didn’t even really know other versions besides Disney existed until I took a storytelling class at Bradley. Anyway, the show is good and wholesome. No sex, no gory violence. We finished the first season last night.

So, onto the weekend:

Friday – I had to nanny (work? babysit?) all day. These kids wear a girl out! I haven’t made it to “Queen Babysitter” status (the last babysitter they absolutely LOVED is sitting on her throne in Kansas), but I’m doing fine. 😉 We cleaned out the horse pen, played Army, ate MRE’s in the “valley” and jammed out to CMT. Good times. This city girl has at the very least country music going for her.

I will ride by the end of the summer!!

After “work” (hard to believe I get paid for having FUN!) I met up with Aaron and some leaders and kids from our youth at church to do some paintball. So fitting that I played Army earlier in the day… I was training! Ha!

I didn’t last two minutes.

Saturday – We got up early, picked up Jess, and went to the farmers’ market in Sunland Park. Honestly, it was a bust. Aaron got some jerky and chow chow (new to me!) but there was next to no produce. I really wanted some tomatoes! Hopefully my plant will produce some good ones.

We headed to the church picnic at Veterans Park in our side of town. It was nice to not have to drive across the mountain for a church function… the picnic was specifically for people in the northeast part of town. It was a great time! Aaron got sunburned from playing volleyball. I played for a few minutes and then ended up chilling in the shade. Thankful for great church friends!!

Sunday – We went to Cloudcroft for the day. I’d been looking forward to this trip since we decided to do it a couple weeks ago. It was nice to have a Sunday off of our normal responsibilities. Cloudcroft is a little mountain town (population 750) in the mountains of the Lincoln National Forest.

We got there mid-morning and checked out an arts/crafts fair. We went in and out of all the little shops downtown. We ate lunch at a diner… how I miss diners!! We hiked off our lunch on a short 2-mile trail. We were hoping for a more strenuous hike, but the Osha Trail worked out just fine.

Monday – We got up and ran 5 miles each for wear blue:run to remember around post. It felt good! I really pushed when it came to the last mile. We ran some errands around post and then stayed in for the rest of the day. I made a big breakfast when we got home. We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, packing and finishing up Once Upon a Time”.

Today we were up at 3:45. I took Aaron to the airport (25 days for this TDY and counting!) I decided to go ahead and run before “work” on the west side, since I’m doing the Runner’s World Run Streak (run at least one mile a day between Memorial Day and Independence Day). I. FELT. AWESOME. 3 miles in 27 minutes!!! That’s unheard of for me in El Paso. It was crisp and cool (well, probably 60 degrees), the sun wasn’t up over the mountains yet, and I just clicked them off. I ran with music, which is something I haven’t done in at least a week, and that kept me motivated. I felt joy when running, so much that I think I even smiled. Of course, when you have this ahead of you, how can you not? Trees, panoramic views, fields and JOHN DEERE TRACTORS!

I now have several days before I need to nanny again, so I’m going to get a TON of homework done despite the week extension for one of my classes. I have to get a bunch done before mah BEST FRIEND AMELIA COMES TO VISIT!!! WOOHOO!!!