History is the Essence of Innumerable Biographies

Thomas Carlyle

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my mother, Lee Ann, passed away about a week ago. I’d written about her before, but came across a weekly writing challenge called “Traces” in which we are challenged to write about leaving our mark on the world, and she’s the first person I thought of when regarding this challenge.

When reflecting upon my mother, of course there are fond memories, there are not so fond ones, too. My mother was not a saint… far from it in fact, but I loved her even more for all her misgivings. She was raised in California, dirt poor, in the 1950’s and 60’s. She had two older half brothers and one younger sister. She didn’t like to tell me stories about the things she did when she was young very often, but I know she was picked on, hated her own image, and made some rather poor choices in husbands early on.

When I tell other people about my mother, I don’t sugar coat a thing. She was honest, and so too am I. Her honesty could hurt sometimes, and maybe she wasn’t always transparent with everyone, but she was with me. When my sisters and I reminisce of her, we don’t talk about that trip we took or that time she was so nice… we tell stories about how people stared in horror as she yelled at us in a Mc Donald’s play place to get down or she’d “rip our arms off and beat us over the head with it”.

So why am I writing about my mother in a challenge about leaving my mark on the world? Well, I’m pretty certain that I’m (one of) her marks on the world. Sure, she made some awesome stuff that will still be around, now that she’s gone. She met lots of people, even took some of them in and cared for them when they were down. Those people will remember her and what she did, too. But I (and my siblings) are the result of her molding. Her mindset; brought to life. I am the product of her lifestyle, choices, personality… her everything. I am her mark on the world, and so too my children will be, after I’ve had more time to mess with their little minds and mold them into my little clones.

I am not my mother’s twin, but I carry a lot of her with me. We had the same hair, the same laugh, and the same pace and tone when speaking. People mistake me for her on the phone. Her views and mine were like night and day on some topics, and on ones we agreed on, we’d still debate the same side. She wasn’t the most understanding of what I thought, and nor I of her. She and I weren’t physically affectionate either. Honestly, I should have hugged her more. My mother loved the crap out of me though. I know she was proud of me, she said so often.

Now that she’s gone, her legacy is what she made. She made tons of objects, like dog agility equipment, painted rocks, polished rocks, paintings, blankets, and shadow boxes. However, it was the life she made herself, and those who gravitated towards it, that are her true legacy. I am who and what I am because of her, and I know she altered other lives outside our family, too. She was naturally nurturing, and people always just found her. Her legacy is her story, and now that she isn’t here to tell it, I suppose I should someday.

I hope someday I have impressed upon my children the importance of legacy; of family, and how they are my mark on the world. I’ve learned from my mother’s shortcomings and try not to have the same ones, but I’m sure the ones I do have will be remembered by my children. Someday, when they talk about legacy, I hope they think of me, I hope they know that THEY are MY mark on this world… and pass that on to their children. My story, my legacy, my mark on the world, is family.

Everything Happens to Everybody Sooner or Later if There is Time Enough

-George Bernard Shaw

More than a year has gone by since I opened my mouth last… perhaps that’s a good thing. Rather than apologize, I saw a quote while looking up ideas on how to write about the passage of time and came across this little bit of pleasure…

Sometimes I need what only you can provide: your absence

It made me think that apologizing to the internet for not having time for it is rather silly, since odds are, no one noticed I wasn’t writing. As depressing as that thought might seem, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t write here for any other person’s pleasure, just my own. It’s a nice little journal of sorts that I am willing to share, and if someone is willing to read, all the better.

So I’ll try to recap the last year as briefly as possible… mostly so I can remember to write about these events later.

  • We spent Christmas last year in Bremerton with family, for the first time in 10 years.
  • In January I promised myself to be healthier… and I promise I tried… for about a week.
  • In February I got a job at Burger King… In April I quit. Don’t work there. Just don’t.
  • April brought Lillie’s 6th birthday.
  • In late April I started working for The Home Depot. Do work there. I still do.
  • In June Hayden turned 10. Double digits earned him a trip to a water park. Turns out I don’t care for water slides… or find I feel too fat for them. See January.
  • Also in June I joined a gym. That lasted a month due to cost… but I lost weight.
  • In July my mom found out she had cancer. I spent a week or so in the hospital with her.
  • In August I decided the weight had to go. Between August and November I lost like 30 lbs.
  • In September both kids were in full time school. I wish they’d quit getting older, cause that means I am too.
  • In October I turned 29, Mom turned 59, Dustin turned 38, Molly turned 19, and I had my 11th wedding anniversary. I also worked too much, and didn’t celebrate much, but I did get an awesome 3DSXL and Animal Crossing for a present!
  • For my anniversary, though, I went to a Navy League Ball. It was fancy… and boring. But I got to wear an expensive dress.
  • For Halloween, Hayden was a Creeper, and Lillie was the Pink Power Ranger. Also, Bill visited.
  • November 6th was Garen’s birthday. He’s still old. (33)
  • On November 11th I arrived at Harrison Hospital at 3:30 in the morning, for my mother.
  • On November 13th I got to talk to her for the last time.
  • On November 16th, she passed away. (Also Garen’s late mother Charlet’s birthday)
  • On November 22nd, my sister in law Gina was being a sneak and got eloped. (CONGRATS!)
  • Tonight I redid the blog, merged in older posts, and got ready to try writing again.

I make no promises to commit to writing, because I never seem to follow through. But I’ve got the bug, because my hubby got the bug… and well, anything he can do I can do better! (Not really, he’s got a knack for words).

I’ll try to expand upon these things in the next few days… but there’s the short version.

Goodnight!

-Andrea

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Alright, so I see I haven’t posted since last January. Bad me, bad. I know, it’s bad practice to take off and not say anything for months… but I was really really busy. So let me see if I can recap a little bit for you.

 

  1. In February or so I decided to pause my schooling because work and kids and life were seriously getting in the way.
  2. Hayden did some Tae Kwon Do. He managed to get to Green Belt. So proud!
  3. We headed to a Circus in Milwaukee. I haven’t been to one of those in like, forever.
  4. In March, I got my tattoo… That smarted a bit. Rockstar Tattoo is awesome, btw!
  5. Lillie turned 5 in April. She had a small party at Ricky Rat’s… I mean, Chuck E. Cheese
  6. In May, we went to see the animals at the Petting Farm.
  7. Hayden turned 9 in June. He had his party at Lightspeed. Go Karts and Lazer Tag FTW!
  8. In June, Garen began a transfer from Cheboygan, Michigan to Astoria, Oregon. He stopped in Milwaukee to pick us up.
  9. This meant in June I had to quit my job at the Geek Squad, which is too bad, cause I actually really liked my job.
  10. I also got my new phone. Traded in an iPhone 4 for the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s HUGE!
  11. I spent all of July living at my parents. That was…. fun.
  12. We got to blow stuff up for the 4th of July.
  13. In August we moved into our new house.
  14. August also brought football practice for Hayden… which he then quit last week.
  15. August was also Bill’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday, Bill!
  16. August is also the start of Lillie’s Soccer Practice. Go girl, Go!
  17. August is also the month the kids began and excelled at Swim Lessons.
  18. We also went camping in August. I don’t love camping.
  19. This weekend we’re headed up to Bremerton to go to the Kitsap County Fair… So excited!

So now you’ve been updated. Sorry for the short recap but there’s really too much to fit into a single post. Here’s some pictures of the missed stuff…

Geek Squad Team

Half of the Squad…

Geek Squad Team

Last day at work with the co-workers. I miss them.

Lillie's Face Painting

Lillie’s Face Painting at the Circus

Hayden Tae Kwon Do

Hayden during Tae Kwon Do

Hayden and Lillie playing LaserTag at Lightspeed

Hayden and Lillie at the Farm

 

Until Next Time,

Andrea

 

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Day 6: A picture of something that makes you happy

Hi! Did you miss me? I’ve been gone a long while… had to move and such, ya know, Coast Guard Life and all. Anyways, this post is a little challenging because it involves me declaring what makes me happy. The problem with this is figuring out what it is exactly that makes me feel great. In general, I really like pictures, so pictures make me happy… but lets see if I can dig out a few that make me feel that seemingly elusive feeling.

I’m gonna go ahead and put a break here due to the many pictures…

Continue reading

A Tree Is Known By It’s Fruit

1988 -- Mom and Dads Wedding

And so it’s post four of the challenge…

Day 4: Your parents

Oh man, my parents? Well… Lets see… I wasn’t born to my dad, but… I might as well have been. He’s the only dad I’ve ever known, and he’s the only dad I WANT to know. He is (as of 1997) the dad listed on my birth certificate and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way, so with that out of the way, let’s tell you about them. We’ll actually start with my mom.

Lee Ann (Panzica) Choate

She was born on October 3rd, 1954. She spent a good chunk of her life in southern California. Her family was not a wealthy one, and maybe a little complicated in some ways. Her family tree is impossibly difficult, and I’ll be sure to post about it someday in hopes that I can find an answer. Besides all that I know my mom worked in the nutrition field for a hospital, I know she has a real knack for mechanical work, I know she’s been in the mobile home selling business, I know she’s been a bartender, and a bar manager. I know she raised four kids, and she somehow has a little bit of sanity left. Most people will know my mom for her ability to create stuff, particularly cool looking stuff, sometimes out of other stuff, sometimes out of what seems like nothing at all. She once helped me make a DNA strand out of pipe cleaners and some sort of paste. She made my dad his wooden chiefs book out of a block of wood with a dremel tool. She used to watch a lot of Bob Ross and made realistic paintings of happy tress, too.

Mom and I

My mom taught me a lot of things, quite a few of them I refused to admit I’d learned. She taught me to live thriftly, though I often will choose not to, she taught me to figure things out, she taught me acceptance, fairness, and love. She also taught me that I should stand up for myself, that I cannot nor should not try to save the entire world, and that sometimes, all someone needs is a good friend. She taught me how to do chores (again, I like to pretend I can’t keep a house to save my life) and she taught me to forgive. My mom can be quite a pain when it comes to getting a hold of her, and she suffers from depression that can really kick her butt, but all in all I know my mom did the best she could at being my mom and despite a whole lot of difficult times she came across, she never smothered me, never wronged me, and never stayed mad at me for more than an hour.

Robert Franklin Choate

My Dad, Sisters, and I

My dad was born December 26th 1962. His life was spent growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I know less about my dad’s family growing up then my mom’s, but I hear driving on frozen lakes is good fun and I know that a Krolls Burger is worth 50 bucks to overnight to someone. My dad served active duty in the US Navy for more than 20 years. I was there when he retired, and I am proud of him for his service. He was a boatswain’s mate. He retired as a Senior Chief. My dad got to go to some really cool countries and he always brought back some really nifty things for us kids. I know I’ve had a kimono, a porcolin doll from Japan, a big rice hat from china, a silver plate from Singapore, a boomerang and kangaroo crossing sign from Australia, and other odds and ends.

Dad, Sarah and I

My dad’s hobbies were and still are fixing odds and ends in the house, taking care of the dog, and shouting rather loudly at the TV when the Green Bay Packers aren’t playing as well as he thinks they should. My dad also enjoys a good BBQ, a large bonfire, and Mafia Wars. Growing up, I always thought my dad was really hard on me. He’d celebrate when I brought home A’s but would be disappointed if I didn’t. He expected me to be extremely punctual, polite, and active. If it was sunny, we were told to get outside. If we were late, we were grounded. He taught me to push myself, to quit saying I’m sorry all the time, to drive a car, to change a tire, to mow the lawn, and how to string together more strands of Christmas lights than should be possible. He took me camping, fishing, to softball games, and firework shows. He did and still does have a short temper but he also loves all of us like crazy.

Over the many years I’ve gone from thinking my parents were the smartest and most capable beings in the world, to resenting them, to hating them, to missing them, to wishing they were living nearby. I have ups and downs with them, but I know they gave me every opportunity, I know they taught me the best they could, and I know they will not let me fail. Now that I have my own two kids I realize how hard they worked, what a pain in the ass I must have been, and how their imperfections really aren’t so imperfect.

So here’s a cheers to my mom and dad, I’m still alive, and I’m surviving, and it couldn’t be that way without you.

Love,

Andrea

Belated Mother’s Day Post

Whoops. I fell behind. The story of my life I tell ya.

Riddle House, Oldest on M.I.

I’ll have to backtrack to Mother’s Day. Garen did a dang good job of ensuring I had a good day. He deserves a post praising the fun I had with my family. I’ll try to keep it brief though, since it was a while ago now.

West Wing

For Mother’s Day I got to head off to Mackinaw Island with my family. Usually, I don’t get around to doing the tourist stuff in the towns I live in, so it was a treat to go and check out the (what I thought would be) overhyped and overly expensive island. The ferry ride was free for the day, and we were also given a free ticket into the Butteryfly House.

The WHOLE House

The ride over was freakin’ frigid. I don’t know how I spaced how cold it is on the water. I grew up in that environment… but we froze all the same for the 18 minute ride. Once we got there the kids wanted to see horses. The island doesn’t have cars. Just horses. Which are awesome, I admit, but Lillie was totally lost on the dang horses.

Butterfly in Lillie’s Hair

We checked out some shops, walked around the main street and some side streets. We found a really old and tiny post office and the oldest building on the island.Then we settled in for some lunch. It wasn’t an amazing lunch, but edible.

Hayden Holding Said Butterfly

After we ate we headed down towards the Butterfly house. To get there you pass a few private residences and bed and breakfast places. I found one house that looked huge. I took a picture while Hayden read the sign. Then after listening to him I realized I’d only taken a picture of a WING of the place. Here I thought this was a HUGE house, and it’s just a huge WING. That was nuts.

Fort on M.I.

The Butterfly House was a hit for both Hayden and Lillie. I hate bugs. I hate bugs that fly, even pretty ones… but I sucked it up and went inside. I’m glad I did. The kids were loving every moment and even got to touch a few of them. One landed in Lillie’s hair and got stuck. Hayden got it out.

Officer’s Quarters

After the Butterfly house we headed up to the Fort. Here I thought it would be some campy recreation of a fort. Nope, it’s the real thing. A lot of the spaces are still in tact, behind glass. It was really awesome to read about these people, how they lived (How some died) and how TB effected them, and how medical practices worked. (I’ve now seen how bloodletting worked). There were real cannons, gun demonstrations, and a cannon firing.

Lillie and I in Jail

The school was cool, but the officer’s homes were the best, in my opinion. Lillie and I even got locked in Jail. Garen couldn’t resist shutting the door and locking us inside. And then he left. No joke.

Oh he knows he did good

After all that, we made our way back down to Main St. Lillie STILL wanted to see the horses so Garen went and flagged someone down and got her a nice little ride. While they did that I snuck off and bought 2.5lbs of fudge. I cannot eat all this fudge… but what I can eat is AWESOME!

So there ya have it… My awesome day at Mackinaw Island for Mother’s Day. Thank you Garen, Hayden and Lillie. I feel special and loved.

Here’s some other shots from the day:

Freezing on the Ferry

Lillie on the Ferry
School House

Hayden on the Ferry
Fort in 1880s
Fort Today
View from the Fort
Old buggy
Hayden outside a Restaurant
Lillie @ Lunch showing us how butterflies go
Post Office, which looks suspicously like a house 🙂

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Counter-Terrorists Win!

If you can really call us that anyways…

This particular post deals with the response to the death of Osama Bin Laden. My friend Dechion and another member of the blog community Big Bear Butt have also committed posts to this view. Their opinions are different than mine, and I do not mean to offend them. I found their works to be rather thought provoking as well. I encourage you to see their opinions… if you’re into political and moral debates. If not, walk away… quickly… 

Disclaimer:
 I rarely have to put one of these before something I write. However, this post will touch on topics of extreme sensitivity, and subjects of mass debate. If you are easily offended by discussions on politics, religion, Osama Bin Laden, terrorism, Military or any other of those “Shhh you can’t talk about THAT” subjects, I advise you to walk away. My opinions are often either really harsh, really from left field, and sometimes laced with rather inappropriate humor. Also, I am generally long winded. After this break, you may read on, and have your own opinion. I encourage you to share it. I however will not tolerate hate posts, general ass-hatery or nonsense. You have been warned.

I was in high school the day the World Trade Center North and South towers bit the big one. I was unable to immediately comprehend not only the massive amount of lives lost, but the idea that a foreign guy I’d never heard of planned and initiated a war on the United States. It however became apparently rather quickly that Bin Laden (OBL) had effectively kicked the trash out of New York City, The Pentagon, and airlines in general.

Up until September 11th, 2001 I had believed the United States was untouchable, and I was damn lucky to be born on her freedom lovin’ soil.

I walked home from school that day incredibly aware of the silence in the sky. No planes, no helicopters, even PSNS (Puget Sound Naval Shipyard) was eerily quiet… (and on lockdown). The silence was unnerving, but even more worrisome was the unspoken fear of the adults in my life. War was coming, they knew it, they understood it, and I didn’t. I was clear across the country from all the chaos of that day, and yet it was like it happened down the road. I wasn’t sure how to respond, how to feel. I was only 16 years old.

I have always been fairly removed from the situation. I lived on the west coast. I had no friends or loved ones lost that fateful day in New York. Every male in my family had either served or was currently serving in the military, and sooner than later I would find myself married to an active duty Coast Guardsmen as well.

Despite all that I do not know what it feels like to walk in the shoes of the soldier overseas. I do not know the pain of the mother who’s child was on one of those planes. I did not know the sinking feeling of watching someone I cared about leap from a burning building to their deaths. I did not have to wait to hear my mother would never sing to me again. That my brother would be deployed for the third time, or that my husband would never kiss me goodnight again. I never had to explain to my young children that their parent paid the ultimate price to ensure their continued safety and the cost was they could never ever see them again. While my husband does serve this country, and my father did serve this country in other wars, and my brother served, as well as my uncles… I never once this entire ten years had to feel any sort of personal connection with this war other than being an American who lived during this time.

So does this mean I feel nothing for all this fighting? For the values we are trying to defend? For the people who have died, those that will still die, and those who have to decide if we need to continue fighting? Of course I do! I am invested in this country and while sometimes I want to bang my head against the wall; this is my home, too.

OBL is dead. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. I caught the headline that the President would address the nation at 10:30pm on a Sunday and feared that the news would be more war. Some horrible thing had occurred…

Instead I was blessed with the news that the longest game of hide and go seek with the world champion of hit and runs was over.

I was overjoyed. I lept off the couch and hugged my husband. I called my Mom to ensure she’d heard the news. I called Bill and told him, too… for he had been recalled to serve twice and even had to leave his father who was dying to serve in this war, only to have to return a mere three weeks later to attend his funeral.

Was I dancing in the streets chanting USA? No, that’s not my style. Instead I find insanely inappropriate pictures to display my sense of humor and joy at the situation and share them with Garen and friends, but I was indeed celebrating, in my own little way.

But in this I’d lost nothing. NOTHING.

There are so many out there missing someone because of this mess, and if I were them you bet your ass I’D BE CELEBRATING! Like really celebrating. Did a human die? Was a soul lost? ABSOLUTELY, if you could accredit him with such things and/or call him that.

To those who see this as a case of the human condition, I am sorry that I’m offending you. Yes, he was a living being. Yes, he was human, who had intelligence, and a family… who killed other’s families. Who used his intelligence to make us afraid, to make us fight, to make us lose so much. He used his humanity against the entire country, and in my mind, he willingly threw his humanity out the window.

I do not feel this way for him alone. The Australian man I read about today who posted on Facebook as he murdered his two year old child to seek revenge on his ex wife lost his humanity too. I’d like to see a navy seal put one in his head, undefended even, like that little girl was. Harsh? Maybe. She’s not even my kid… but she’s two and she died without any reason, and without the ability to defend, at the hands of someone she loved and trusted. That man seriously has a way overdo can of karma whoop ass headed his way.

Charles Manson? I can think of quite a few who wish him dead. Who’d happily watch him die. I bet there’s even a few who’d love to pull the trigger. I don’t see anyone touting on about Hitler and how it’s so sad that he died. Lets discuss how you feel about that random neighbor who was so nice he cut your grass for you, and then he kidnapped, raped, and slowly bled out your 4 year old daughter to death. If you aren’t first in line at his execution swearing to invent ways to bring him back to life so you can kill him again… I’d be worried for you.

I believe in God. I believe that God does not wish us to kill needlessly. I do however believe that God has fought wars, I believe that God has defended his people against other people, and I do believe that God has once or twice kicked a few asses, or had others do it in his name. This is not God’s fight… He’s staying out of this one really, at least… on our end. I however do not think God would find this mans death… or those people who are celebrating it unreasonable or unjust. Of course, I like to think that God is a pretty rational guy, myself.

God aside, this is America’s victory. This man sought the lives of our entire nation… we sought his. Armed or not he killed thousands with a freakin’ airplane. He hid for TEN YEARS. If I’d been that Navy Seal… I’d have shot his ass dead, and then double tapped for good measure, even if he’d been unarmed, naked, helpless, old, dying and surrounded by hundreds of witnesses of family friends and unsuspecting cute creatures, like bunnies and children. He begged for it, he invited it to his front door, and if he didn’t hear that helicopter crash in his front yard and and didn’t grab a gun, I’m thinkin, he had a death wish too.

So excuse me while I am happy to watch the people dancing in the streets, wavin’ their flags and singin’ something akin to God Bless America (Or perhaps what I’m hearing is America, F*** Yeah). Either way, Some of these people waited ten years for justice. I’m gonna let them have one freaking late night.

Just my .02 cents….

P.S. Obama, Bush Jr. Bush Sr. and every other leader of this country that ever was, along with all of their advisers, aides, military and fellow American citizens should be credited with this victory. Bush Jr. had to carry the burden of the attack. His father carried a different fight with the same guys, Obama had to decide to act now, wait longer or do nothing. He had to decide if dead or alive was an option, and he had to decide who’s lives to risk and who’s world to shatter when he decided to send in the Navy Seals. I won’t even pretend like I could sleep at night with that kind of responsibility. I don’t pretend that I could have pulled the trigger to save my own skin, and I certainly don’t pretend to know enough about what’s goin’ on to make these kinds of choices. I don’t think any of us could walk their shoes… and nor should we try. I’m grateful that they’re doing everything they can to keep my family safe, happy and healthy, and while it’s not always graceful, and it’s not always what I want to hear coming out of their mouths… I will not forget how lucky I was to be born on American soil… and I will not begin to bad mouth my fellow Americans or her leaders now.

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