Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning

As I mentioned all sneaky-like in my last post, Drew and I recently closed on our first house and we will be moving in just a few weeks! Thank goodness, because we are busting the seams of this apartment, which has had me in “purge-the-junk” mode for many months now, but I want to feel very small in the new house, so my de-cluttering instincts have jumped into hyper-drive. Oh, my poor husband - just remember that I do love you, Drew!

This intense onset of pre-moving-spring-cleaning led me to do something really difficult the other day. Here’s the thing: I have always loved school, learning, going to class, taking notes, studying, and even taking tests just to see how I would perform on them. I am a super nerd, and proud of it.

One of my weaknesses as a lover of learning is that I have tended to hang on to every piece of paper from the courses I took that I felt would be relevant in the future – namely social studies and education courses. Especially in college, my thought process was, “Someday when I am a teacher, I might need this!” I did refer to many of my old notes during graduate school, and for the record, I used notes from my college American history course (thank goodness for those!), a book from my college course about imperialism, and an excerpt from an article from my high school AP European history course, but little else during the three years I taught US history. Still, I hung on to the notes and syllabi and blue books.

Indeed, it WAS helpful to be able to show my students what a college syllabus looks like or how a typical history test is structured, and I took great pride in making sure they would go into their collegiate careers already knowing what a blue book is, even though the one I showed them was green. "Don't be the freshman who has to ask what a blue book is," I said, "Be the cool kid who already knows. You're welcome." I took advantage of every opportunity to use the materials I had collected during high school and college, even if it was only to shame my students into realizing how spoiled they were, “See! I took notes WITHOUT an outline! I have spoiled you rotten, so don’t even complain to me!”

Although I did utilize these materials as much as possible, there was still far more that sat in boxes shoved under my bed (please note that over the years I had already gotten rid of many things and was not a terrible hoarder– I took great pleasure in discarding my math notes each year). Somewhere in the back of my mind I believe my intention was to someday type up my notes to digitally archive them and then get rid of the notebooks. Looking through the notes, though, I realized that my brain no longer contains the context to help them make sense and I no longer have the desire to spend hours transcribing the notes. If I wanted to remind myself about Brazilian history, I would be better off looking in one of the books my professor assigned or running a Google search; my own notes were pretty pointless without an index or the detail that I would need to make sense of them years later.

I sat down the other day determined to turn my two boxes of schoolwork into one box. There are awards and certificates in those boxes from before I was even in kindergarten that I can’t get rid of, even if they are only for completing a two week swimming class. Someday that stack of achievements will come in handy when I lord it over my children’s heads (Just kidding. Maybe.). I also have many of the essays and stories that I wrote throughout all of grade school. Those from when I was little are adorable and those from high school and college are usually pretty good and I am proud of them. So, I knew I could never get rid of everything; paring it down would be my challenge.

Early on in the process, I had two realizations that made the endeavor a lot easier. 1) the notebooks I used to take notes in college were colorful and pretty and on some days my handwriting was really good. REALITY CHECK: those are not good enough reasons to keep a notebook. 2) the notebooks contained a lot of information, but I treasured them because they reminded me of the experience of going to class, studying for hours with friends, and soaking in the college environment. REALITY CHECK: although the tangible cue for a memory is nice, I don’t need a notebook to trigger those happy recollections of my college years. 

So beautiful!

It was still tough to part with the notebooks, though. Other than my transcripts, they are proof that I did actual work in college! They also reveal a lot about my life at the time; I doodled on the days that I was tired and I wrote myself notes and reminders in the margins. I also loved writing down the silly things my professor would say, so I made sure to type them up and take pictures of a few, so I would still have a small piece of the notebooks. After that, it was rather easy to shrink my pile of course work. I kept essays, papers, and tests, and that was pretty much it. I got rid of study guides that I know are saved electronically somewhere and accepted the fact that I don’t actually need those articles or homework assignments from all those education classes. Granted, it was fun to look back and read some of my work, but it was freeing to say, “I don’t need it no mo’.”

This is probably only funny to me, but I took four classes with my Latin American history professor, and little gems like these were my favorite parts of his classes. His dry and serious delivery of sarcastic humor was right up my alley.

I am now satisfied and content that I have one box of awards, notes, tests, and proof that I worked for my education. It did take many days for me to actually get around to carrying it all to the dumpster (I was just a wee bit distracted by the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse), but I didn’t hesitate to throw it in there. It is too late to retrieve it now anyway, even if I had changed my mind. My next goal is to organize what remains, maybe into a binder or two. I made a small dent in the clutter, but I checked off an item that has been on my to-do list for years, and that makes me feel good!

That is five and a half inches of work I parted with. Yes, I measure work in inches.

The pile of keepers.
The trash pile on the left is taller than the keeper pile on the right. I'd call that success!

Happy spring-cleaning to you all!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 4: The Power of Prayer

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 4: The Power of Prayer

When the alarms rang Tuesday morning, we popped out of bed, eager to get our truck recovery on. Speaking of truck recovery, Drew mentioned on Monday that since I had already named the whole disaster the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, that we needed a name for our rescue efforts. I thought for a while and tossed around several simple, boring names, and then . . . it hit me. This would be “Operation Brucectomy.” BOOM. Clever, right? Drew loved it, I loved it, Izak loved it. We were ready to roll.

Izak arrived around 8am and I greeted him with coffee (I don’t know what we would have done without his help that day!). After packing up some snacks, gathering water bottles, and picking out some tools, we set out for the Home Depot. Again. This time we were in the market for a wheelbarrow and plywood. We hoped the plywood would serve as a wide track to spread out the weight of the truck over the mud as we guided it out of the pit. Thanks to the brilliant folks at the Home Depot, we were able to rent a truck to bring everything out to the pit. We left our supplies unattended, drove back to the H. D., and drove Ella back out. She did great on the much drier dirt road, which we felt was a great sign of imminent success. There was a brisk breeze, the sun was shining, and there was hardly a cloud in the sky – WE. FELT. GOOD!

The men took the wheelbarrow and headed out to find rocks and gravel that they could use to fill the space underneath Bruce’s wheels. Since I am useless for lifting heavy rocks and dragging a wheelbarrow through the mud, I stayed back at the car. Earlier that morning, in an effort to mentally prepare myself for the day, I had looked through all of my holy cards (imagine baseball cards for Catholic kids, but much cooler) and if there was a prayer on the back of the card, I prayed it. Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony, Saint Michael, Saint Raphael, Saint George, The Immaculate Heart of Mary – I shamelessly solicited the intercession of everyone to pray for the recovery of our stuck truck. Sitting in the car at the top of the pit with the Mudpocalypse just out of view, I decided to top off my pleas for divine intervention with a Rosary.

When I finished up my prayers, I had a photo shoot with some ladybugs I noticed wandering around, and then I decided to check on Drew and Izak. I started carefully making my way down the hill. That should have been my first sign that things weren’t going so well. The literal downhill turned into a realization that the men had not appeared to make much progress other than getting very muddy.

The problem was that, although much of the ground around and in the pit had dried a lot, the truck was in the bottom of it all and the mud and water ran deep. Drew was finding it nearly impossible to create a level, stable base for the high-lift jack. Every time he raised the jack another notch, it pushed the rocks and wood he used as a base down into the mud as well as back and away from the truck. CLICK. SQUSIH. SCOOT. Give up. Try again. CLICK. SQUISH. SCOOT. Sigh. Toss high-lift jack aside. Grab more rocks. CLICK. SQUISH. SCOOT. Rinse. Repeat.

I could see the wheels turning in Izak’s engineering mind; he knew our strategy was not working well, and Drew’s body language clearly broadcast extreme frustration. Daring to speak the truth, I stated the obvious, “Maybe we need to wait for the mud to dry up a little bit more.”

“No. This truck needs to get out today. The longer it stays here, the more likely it is going to get vandalized and the more likely it will stay stuck.” Drew had a point.

Izak pointed out one of the most important things about the situation. That mud literally sucked. The huge rocks that Drew was using to give the jack any sort of leverage had only sunk deeper into the ground. And according to Izak, the watery mud/clay was not showing any signs of bottoming out. Admittedly, it has been kind of fun to type the phrase “stuck truck” over and over again these past few days, but let me tell you that if we were the cursing types, I guarantee that all three of us would have found another word to add to the “stuck truck” poem. At that moment we felt very defeated.

When the going gets tough, the tough take a lunch break.  As we were heading up the hill we saw a Ford Explorer sitting near my car. It was the first sign of human activity we had seen in the area since the day Bruce entrenched himself in mud. Nobody got out of the vehicle and it didn’t drive away. Upon approaching my car I heard the driver say into his cell phone, “No, but he’s walking towards me now.” Great, these guys are talking about us. That could be either fabulous or terrible. Drew went over to the driver’s window and explained himself: The truck down there was his and he hadn’t come out here to mess around like so many local hooligans do. As it turns out, one of the men in the Explorer is the steward of the undeveloped land that will someday become part of the neighborhood that is under construction in the area. His appearance on the scene had, indeed, been a blessing. He told us one of his guys who had access to some equipment might be able to help us and he would come out and take a look at things. It pays to be nice, honest, and friendly when you are desperate for help.

Back within the wind–free safety of Ella we divvied out sandwiches, MREs, carrots, and water bottles for our lunch. The food served as a good distraction from our predicament and before we even had time to really consider devising a plan B, I saw a truck approaching on the dirt road. We put away our food and got out of the car, hoping this was the guy sent to help us. Lo and behold, it was our Knight in Shining Armor!

As Drew described it, the Knight in Shining Armor, named Cody, moved like a mountain goat down into the pit towards the truck. Upon examining the situation and pondering his options, he decided that our best bet would be a bulldozer. That’s right – A BULLDOZER. The very thing we had joked and dreamed and PRAYED about having available to us! Drew and Izak left to help Cody retrieve the buldozer, and since Drew left his keys to the truck at home, I had to go get them. I was glad to have something to do, since I had felt rather useless so far, and I appreciated the opportunity to use a restroom after a couple of hours in the middle of nowhere.

When I returned to the pit, the only things there were our abandoned supplies and a white SUV (Drew didn’t see it and since I know squat about cars, I can’t tell you exactly what kind it was). I called Drew, who confirmed that they were on their way with the bulldozer (I still didn’t really believe it at this point). The white car drove over to me and I had a conversation with a nice man who may or may not own/run/be high up in one of the companies that is developing the area. He wished us luck and drove off down the dirt road. You know, the amazing thing about all of this is how nice every single person we encountered was. I think their curiosity about the stuck truck partially motivated them to see it get unstuck. Whatever their reasons, they were all true examples of kindness, patience, and graciousness.

I was getting tired of eagerly waiting for Drew and Izak to return when a couple of guys on a cart-like vehicle drove up. They knew what was going on and I think they wanted to see the show. Not long after that, I looked down the dirt road and could see a growing cloud of dirt. Closer to me was Cody’s truck, being driven by Drew and Izak, and behind it was the most beautiful sight I beheld in all the days of the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse. 

I. Love. This. Photo.
It was huge and yellow and dirty and AWESOME. MAGNIFICENT. THE BEST THING EVER. The font sizes in the editor of this blog do not get large enough to illustrate how utterly stupendous that bulldozer was and will always be to me.

So much beautiful, heavy, strong, construction equipment. :)
The bulldozer has to travel on tires in order to not break the concrete. Drew and Izak got to do a lot of manual labor moving the tires around to get it on its way!
And let me tell you, that bulldozer just scooted down into the pit like it was climbing into a child’s sandbox. It dwarfed the sunken truck and we all knew we were about to witness the kind of thing that you only see in YouTube videos but never in real life. Drew and one of the guys from the cart hooked up the bulldozer’s winch to the tow hitch on Bruce’s backside, and then we waited with baited breath, cell phones and cameras in hand like any decent modern-day American, to document what would happen next.
Winch it! Winch it good!
Standing by with recovery straps, just in case, but more worried about the camera and not falling in the mud.
We learned Saturday night that the yank-the-truck-out-of-the-mud-as-harshly-as-possible method is both painfully loud and destructive to the vehicles, so watching the bulldozer work was refreshing. Cody pulled the winch taught and then slowly but surely began to inch forward. Drew was standing closest to Bruce and says that except for one moment right when the truck first moved, there was no sound from Bruce (which, based by Drew's amazement, I assume was a good thing). As the rear tires gradually made their way out of the mud I could not help but cry tears of joy and relief. Something that had been impossible for many men to achieve Saturday night, and would continue to be impossible for us to do on our own, was happening right before my eyes. Bruce was coming free!


That bulldozer cut across the mud like a hot knife through butter, and it brought the truck (along with a lot of mud) with it. The ride was so smooth that a water bottle stayed upright on top of the tailgate for most of the journey out of the pit. Since we were apparently going to be successful and I knew I'd be able to blog about all of this, I raced to the top so that I could take pictures of the bulldozer and Bruce emerging from the mud like butterflies from a cocoon. It was quite a run up the soft mud, and I was breathless at the end of my sprint, but I got the pictures I wanted. You’re welcome.

I walked over to Drew, threw my arms around him, and as you have probably guessed by now – cried. A weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Well, the weight had actually been lifted out of the mud pit, but at least now we could move it around ourselves. Brucectomy success!

Proud truck owner and Bruce.
Someone needs a b-a-t-h.
We couldn’t say enough “thank yous” to our Knight in Shining Armor, but he insisted that it was no big deal. I mean, in the grand scheme of building houses day in and day out, the Brucectomy HAD to be a lot more fun and exciting, right? To us, Cody was exactly what we had prayed for: someone with a large enough vehicle that had a winch on it who would find our situation a challenge worth tackling. When I had exhausted my prayer cards and said the Rosary that morning, I felt like I was praying for a miracle, and since we literally got what we prayed for, I'd say that we got one. Some people may argue that this was fate, or a set of circumstances that would have happened anyway, but once I pray, coincidence gets thrown out the window. It ceases to exist. God answered our prayers with a resounding “Yes!” that happened to be shaped like a bulldozer and I won't ever be convinced otherwise.

We eventually packed everything into Drew’s truck (Because it was out of the mud! Woot! Woot!), returned some unused supplies to Home Depot, and went home to plan our victory celebration. Drew and I invited Izak and Kris to join us for dinner at P.F. Chang’s to celebrate Bruce’s freedom. It also happened to be our ten month wedding anniversary and we decided, that since two reasons to celebrate weren’t enough, we would treat dinner as a pre-house-closing congratulatory dinner. THAT’S RIGHT - after four days of truck-stuckness, we hardly remembered that we were days away from purchasing our first home! Well, as of this past Friday, it is ours! And, lucky you, I am sure you’ll be hearing about it a lot on here. We move in about six weeks!

Thanks for the photo, Kris! You and Izak are the best. :)
Anyway, we couldn’t have had better company with whom to celebrate than Kris and Izak; they were there to encourage and sympathize with us the whole way through the Mudpocalypse. We are blessed in so many ways – with great friends, a muddy but functional truck, and a house just waiting for us to live in it! Thanks for “sticking” with me through the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse story telling.

If you learned nothing else from these four posts, allow me to leave you with this lesson: As one of the guys said to us Saturday night, “Four wheel drive is good for one thing – getting you stuck.” And if you do decide to get yourself stuck, do make sure you are very nearby a paved road or a construction site being developed by sympathetic people. 

DO NOT go into the mud unless this is your vehicle.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 3: It Is What It Is

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 3: It Is What It Is

Monday morning brought with it, Praise God, a dry, albeit cloudy sky. We woke up with our emotions in check after Sunday’s cry-fest and figured the best thing we could do would be to go inspect the damage and gather some more tools for the hopeful truck rescue.

We donned our mud-appropriate clothing, put on our game faces, and drove out toward the mud pit. We did not trust my car, Ella, to make it through the muddy road, so we parked her in some grass and walked, or more like schlepped, our way through the squishy hundred yards or so of wet ground to the edge of the pit, stopping every now and again to shake off the mud that was accumulating on our boots. Upon arriving at the edge of the pit, we breathed sighs of relief.
There's Bruce! Waaaaaaay down there. And good and stuck.
For the past two days, vandalism had been one of Drew’s biggest concerns. He heard over and over again Saturday night that vehicles left in the mud pit are quickly vandalized – windows bashed in, tires slashed, etc. He had REALLY not wanted to leave the truck out there alone for two days. Thankfully, even from up on the ridge of the pit we could see that Bruce had been completely untouched, even though he was still sitting in some very intense mud. As long as we knew where the truck was located, there was hope for recovering it; potentially having to make major repairs to damages done was a major stress factor for Drew, but we didn’t have to worry about that (yet). We figure that the weather was so bad that no vandals were willing to trek down there to do Bruce harm. And we are also thinking that we have some very hardcore guardian angels.

I took a lot of pictures of the truck and the landscape of the pit while Drew checked out the truck and the mud around it. He felt optimistic that we could figure something out, so we schlepped back to Ella so we could head home and work on our plan. 

Bruce was "sledding," which means that the under carriage was sitting on top of the mud. Not good.

I enjoyed fitting the truck into the background of pictures. The pop of red adds a nice touch.

Oh, hello, raccoon or coyote prints.

I mean, really, crop out the truck and this is beautiful!
This shot pretty much says it all. Does it look a little green-screenish to anyone else?

I got to see my first blue bonnets! They are very lovely.

Drew decided that in addition to the recovery straps we already had, we would be better off getting a high-lift jack so that we could get rocks and gravel underneath the tires in order to get Bruce a more level footing before trying to pull him to safety. We went to an off road shop in Fort Worth for the jack and we solicited the employees for any help they might be able to offer – they gave us advice (and lots of sympathy), attempted to contact anyone who might have a big enough truck with a winch, and wished us luck.

At home, Drew ran his idea past Izak, who would be giving Drew a hand with his plan the next day. Then, Drew spent the evening thoroughly researching how to safely use a high-lift jack and being encouraged by successful stuck-truck recoveries documented on YouTube. It is always nice to realize that many people have gotten themselves into worse trouble than you! Some people out there have done serious damage to their vehicles by getting them stuck and then not being smart about how they recovered them. We kept wishing circumstances were different or that we had access to different equipment and tools, or that the pit was closer to trees and paved roads, but there was nothing we could change, and the phrase , “it is what it is” became our mantra.

As optimistic as Drew was, in my mind I was preparing for the worst. I dreaded the idea of leaving Bruce stuck in the mud, doomed to abuse and vandalism, while we spent two and a half more years paying off a car we couldn’t drive. At the same time, if that was the worst I could imagine, then I figure we weren’t that bad off. Sure, the scenario I envisioned would be ROYALLY AWFUL, but at least we would be safe and healthy and in possession of one not-stuck car. Silver linings, people. SILVER. LININGS. We had optimism, we had hope, and we had a plan. It was time to pray for a rain-free night and attempt to get a good night of sleep in preparation for what was sure to be a long day ahead of us. 

The conclusion to the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse is coming up soon! Get excited!

This is probably my favorite photo from the entire Mudpocalypse. Maybe it'll get framed and hung on the wall. Is that okay, Drew?
We'll get you outta there, Bruce!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 2: Love Wins

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 2: Love Wins

The first day of the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse had been frustrating, tiring, and surreal. Growing up in D.C. suburbia with mini-vans and sedans, I never expected to ever be dealing with a truck stuck in the mud. Welcome to Texas, Angie! Drew and I went to sleep at around 5:15am Sunday morning and planned to wake up around 8:00am to assess the situation and plan our next move. Thunder and rain woke us early, and our spirits were dampened (pun intended) by the knowledge that water was accumulating around our already muddy Bruce.

Drew spent some time researching and watching videos trying to figure out what strategy would provide our best chance for getting Bruce unstuck. It would not be feasible to get another truck down into the pit and risk getting it stuck, so we headed to Home Depot and purchased a pair of Come-Alongs and over 200 feet of recovery straps. Our hope was that when the rain stopped we would be able to get a truck to tow Bruce out of the mud from a safe distance.

I don’t know if I am going to be able to adequately explain to you what happened on Sunday, but I believe it was a direct effect of my choice the night before to be understanding and supportive of Drew. Let me preface it by saying that I do not cry very often. Especially not when other people are around. My friends from college used to call me “the ice queen,” much to my chagrin. I do indeed feel emotion; I just don’t share all of it with everyone.

When we got back from Home Depot, I laid down on the bed, tired from having gotten too little sleep and feeling very helpless. Drew was frustrated, the truck was stuck, the clouds were dumping rain down upon us, and there was nothing I could do about any of it; I was fighting back tears. Drew sensed this and came over to me, asking if I was crying. I told him I was trying not to. He sat down, put my head on his lap, and asked how I was feeling. I replied, “Helpless,” and he told me he was feeling the same way and that he was amazed at how understanding I was being. I sat up and he looked at me and said, “I love you.”

I looked back at him and my mouth formed the words, “I love you,” but I don’t think any sound came out because I burst into tears and fell into Drew’s arms. (I feel teary-eyed just typing this now.) When I regained the use of my vocal chords I tried to smile and said weepily to my husband, “I love you so much it is leaking out of my eyeballs!” I searched my heart to find any sign of resentment, disappointment, or anger, but there was none. Those tears were made of genuine, pure love. I truly believe that when I chose to be patient with my husband, God poured so much love into my heart that there was no room for anything else. This made me feel overwhelmingly blessed, but it did result in a very emotional morning.

We knew it would be pointless to go out to check on Bruce and we doubted we’d be able to get out there through rain soaked dirt roads anyway. We had not heard from any of the guys who had helped the night before, so Drew contemplated taking a nap and then going to evening Mass. I am terrible at taking naps and I knew we’d still be exhausted even if we went to Mass late in the day and so I insisted that we try to make it to church at 1:00 that afternoon. “I need Jesus now,” I had said. I drove us to church through the rain, working hard to keep more love from dripping down my face.

I am so thankful that we went this particular Mass. I knew it was a good choice when I opened my missal and began reading the summary of the week’s readings. Drew had told me in the car that he felt like part of his youth died when his truck got stuck, and he would “never do something so stupid again.” Funny enough, the following words were on the pages I was reading:
“There are people who try to live without restraints. They follow the epicurean philosophy of the pagan Romans: ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.’ But we could also look at life in the following way: In order to transcend life, I must die to my old, immature, egotistic self. If I want to become a mature and grown-up person, I must leave my youth behind me.” (From the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal, Complete Edition)

I showed this passage to Drew and we smiled and chuckled, realizing that we were probably in for a very enlightening and emotional Mass experience. And what a doozy it was. It is like Fr. Jim knew what we were experiencing. His homily emphasized the importance of our reactions to life’s situations - Yep! We are learning that lesson right now! THEN, he went on to explain that although the Gospel reading about Jesus and Lazarus says, “Jesus wept,” the more original translation read, “Jesus burst into tears.” Father wanted us to think about a time when we felt that much emotion and how bursting into tears was often a sign of love and shock and overwhelming feelings – Yep! Been there, done that, two hours ago! Trying not to burst into tears right now! Needless to say, at this point I was fumbling around my purse looking for tissues and hoping people around me weren’t bothered by my sniffles. Father’s homily was exactly what we needed to hear, and the comfort of Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist provided the peace for which my soul longed. I am amazed at how often the lessons of the Mass align with the goings-on of my life. It would probably be a little bit scary if it weren’t actually so awe-inspiring.

We left Mass feeling very in love with each other and very loved and blessed by God. It became so easy to realize the important aspects of our dilemma: Drew was safe and healthy and we had people around us who were willing to help us find a solution to our problem. We didn’t know what the solution would be or when we would find it, but we felt a little more optimistic. After consulting our friends and realizing all we could do was wait, we went home and had a relatively relaxing evening.

Of all the silver linings to be found in the Mudpocalypse, it is the overwhelming feeling of love from this day that I appreciate the most. It is easy to say that you will love someone “in good times and in bad,” but it is harder to do it in real life. In the grand scheme of "bad" things that can happen to a married couple, our problem was pretty low on the totem pole, although it felt very large at the time. We aren't dealing with many of the awful situations people all over the world face everyday, but as far as our daily lives go, we had been thrown into a tizzy. If I can love Drew this much when things are tough, how much better can I love him when life is running smoothly? I know my words here cannot have come close to conveying the profound stirring that occurred within my soul, but I hope I have given you a glimpse of it. Choosing love is worth it, and when you do you will be rewarded beyond measure. Love wins!

I just read this post to edit it and now I am crying again. Geez, Louise, I can feel my "stone cold" reputation slipping away.
Come back tomorrow to see pictures of Bruce stuck in the mud and read about the continuation of the Mudpocalypse! I promise it will NOT be as touchy-feely as this post was. :)

4/27/2014 UPDATE: If you want to listen to Father Jim's homily, click here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, Part 1: Choices

Hello there! I have a true story to tell you. You should know that it is full of silver linings and it has a happy ending, because if it had not turned out well I would be keeping this tale to myself. It will probably take a few posts for me to get through the whole thing, but even if nobody reads them, I will feel it was worth it to get out my thoughts in writing so that I can look back on this past week and smile. And maybe laugh. 

I have dubbed April 5th through April 8th of the year 2014 the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse. 
Here is why:

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, Part 1: Choices

April 5, 2014 was going to be a fun day. My husband, Drew, had planned a remedial Land Navigation course for some of the guys in his National Guard unit and was going to be spending the morning and afternoon out at a local park. He invited our friend Izak to join him. Meanwhile, Izak’s wife, Kris, and I planned to prepare lunch for the guys and then do a few spring/Easter themed craft projects. 

Kris and I were at my apartment with dinner in the crock pot and dessert cooling in the refrigerator when I got a phone call from Drew around 3:30 pm.

“Hi! We are done with Land Nav, but . . . the truck is a little bit . . . stuck, so we’ll be home as soon as we can.”

He and Izak had been scouting out future sites for more Land Nav courses and got bad directions on how to get from point A to point B. Okay, fine. Trucks get stuck all the time. No big deal. Kris and I settled in to watch the UF/UConn basketball game when the boys still weren’t home at 5:00. We got another call.

“Um, can you ask Kris if she knows anyone in the Arlington area with a truck? We are really stuck and we need some help.”

I began to worry a little bit. Because of where they were located, no towing company would even entertain the idea of going out there to help with Drew’s truck, which is named Bruce, by the way. Kris started calling people she knew from work, and we were able to get in touch with one guy who had a truck and could help out. And then we waited.

Every time I heard a vehicle in the parking lot, I ran to the window to see if it was Bruce and the guys pulling up to the building. My anxiety reminded me of how I used to wait for what felt like forever for friends and family to arrive at my house for childhood birthday parties and holidays. It got dark and Kris and I decided to play cards, hoping our husbands would be home soon. The phone rang again.

“Well, one truck came out here to help us and got stuck. Then another guy came out here and got stuck. And now someone else is coming to help.”

At this point, Kris and I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting at home any longer, so we ordered three large pizzas and planned to pick up some beer for the stuck truck crew; it was almost 9:00pm and we knew they would be starving.

NOW, you might be wondering how I reacted to all of this. Among the list of things a wife doesn’t want to hear over the phone is, “Our very expensive vehicle is stuck in an unsecure location in very thick mud and we can't get it out.”

I will admit that several less than charitable thoughts ran through my mind at first, but since I was removed from the situation, I had many hours to contemplate how I would react to all of this in Drew’s presence. Thank goodness I had Kris with me all day, too, because I was able to talk through my thoughts and feelings with her before we headed out to check on Bruce and the boys.

Since getting married, I have realized that, although I tend to give other people the benefit of the doubt (unless they seriously disrespect me in traffic), I jump to criticism and judgment very quickly when it comes to Drew. I am not proud of this fact, but hey, at least I am aware of my weakness and willing to improve myself. It helps to have examples of good wives after whom I can model my behavior, and I know many women who are tremendous inspirations to me. 

In this particular moment, though, I found myself thinking about a fictional woman: Cora Crawley from Downton Abbey. I'll be honest in saying that sometimes her character really annoys me, especially because of the tone of her voice, and I surprised myself when I had this moment of revelation about her. Let me explain: there is a scene where she finds out that her husband has lost all of her money in an investment that went kaput. They have certainly had contentious moments in their marriage and I expected her to be upset and reprimand him, but instead, I watched in awe as she considered only the feelings of her husband as she lovingly stated, “This must be so hard for you!” She knew he was already beating himself up over his poor choice and so she chose to simply show him love.

Channeling Lady Crawley, I went with Kris to gather sustenance for the men and we headed out to the scene of the stuck trucks. There were five trucks down in a muddy pit and I think three or four of them were trapped in the muck when we arrived. It was amazing that so many guys had wanted to help out, but frustrating that trucks kept getting stuck and unstuck and then stuck again. Drew had not been goofing around when he got stuck and none of the ensuing truck stuckness had been intended on his part. He clearly understood the consequences of his actions and I knew without asking him that he felt bad that all of this trouble was happening on his account.  After surveying the scene and passing out beer and pizza slices, I took a moment to embrace Drew and tell him, “I love you.” I am proud to say that it took him by surprise to observe me being so understanding (I figured leaving him to wonder what I might be thinking would be torture enough.)
You can see some of the trucks and jeeps that came to try helping out. None of these are Drew's truck. Thanks for the picture, Kris!
The truck in the foreground was stuck for quite a while. The red truck behind it spent a long time trying to get it out. Thanks for the picture, Kris!

Choosing to be understanding and supportive made hanging out in that mud pit for a few hours tolerable and even fun at times. Drew did not get home until 4:30am, and his truck was the only one still stuck in the mud with a day full of rain ahead in the forecast. I hugged him again and said, "I love you." I was glad he was home safely and hoped he would be able to get some much needed sleep. I could tell that Drew really appreciated my attitude (believe me, I had chosen to act against my own instinct and it took a lot of strength to do so), but it wasn’t until the next morning that I realized how I would personally be affected by my choice.

Come back tomorrow to read the next part of our adventure! Sign up for email updates and you won't miss a thing. :)