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

I Need A Do-Over

Do Over Button

I Call Do Over!

ANOTHER blog?

Sure, why not? I keep thinking I enjoy writing… I just never seem to stick to it. I considered other names for this blog that gave off a sense of constantly starting over, some depressive sounding names, some inspiring ones, I even considered calling it blah blah blah assuming no one is really going to read it other than me, and maybe Garen. Usually having a specific topic in mind and sticking to it is helpful in blogging. It helps to build and audience and it helps you to spur along in writing about said topic you love. Previously, I’d tried to do that with Altoholics R Us and it’s predecessor AltoholicMom… They were rather successful, but a hacker that wouldn’t quit sort of put the damper on my drive to continue writing them.

Before that I’d attempted to write about my life in general, several times over. Every single time I’d find myself looking over a post and thinking, geez… no one really wants to read that… and then gave up on it again. This time I still intend to write a bit about my life, but maybe more specifically into the things I do, like crafting and couponing and work, rather than how adorable the kids are and how I wanna strangle them some days. (Even as I write this they are terrorizing a box I had an intention of using to send rather late Christmas presents).

One of my worst personality traits is that I tend to not finish what I start… or I start it over again and again… each time hoping that this time will go better than the last. I am constantly doing-over things I’ve already done… mostly because I can’t do things perfectly on the first shot… but then again, who really can? Perfectionist Fallacy was another name I considered for this blog. Sometimes I feel like I want to call out “DO OVER!” on my entire life, but then I come to my senses and realize things could be much much worse.

This time around on my blog do-over I have no set direction, I have no specific topic.

I hope to develop the intention of this blog as I go. I hope that those who have the misfortune of stumbling across it get the occasional joy out of reading the rambling that pours out of my head on a daily basis… but mostly, I hope this stops that nagging feeling I get that makes me light a fire under my ass to create endless amounts of blogs out there…

Regardless, until next time…

Andrea

Welcome Isabella and Eisen

Well, we’re back from our visit to Milwaukee to pick out our newest family member. All that fuss about selecting a name and the kids did the most wonderful thing… they found a dog they liked right away, and knew her name almost as instantly. They settled on a female, which I am totally ok with, and they named her Isabella, or “Izzy” for short. Izzy is smaller than her brother, but her colors are beautiful and her fur is far softer than his. She likes to hop about, she mistakes Lillie for a sibling puppy, and she likes to snuggle up and be held. She’s my kind of dog for sure. Bonus… Garen seemed to really like her as well.

Eisen is Bill’s pup. Larger than Izzy, Eisen has a very square head. His fur is kinda course but his colors are even darker and prettier than Izzy’s. His paws are huge! He’ll be a big dog for sure. Eisen seems to be a bit afraid of heights so he doesn’t like to be picked up as much as his sister, but he does snuggle up to people’s feet like Izzy does. Both pups are doing great on the housebreaking… and they are rather playful. They pick on each other quite a bit, but all in all they’re really good dogs.

Taking the kids to pick the dogs out turned out to be a wonderful idea. Lillie ran right into the litter of 7 puppies, even with mom and daddy dog barking madly from their kennels. That day was the pups first day outside, and they got ran around like crazy thanks to Hayden and Lillie. Hayden was a bit more timid about simply diving into a pack of puppies, but he eventually came around, too.

Sadly, we had to leave Izzy with Bill and Eisen until after our planned trip to Disney World this summer. I didn’t have it in me to ask someone to watch such a young pup, and Bill’s brother Len was more than willing to take in both pups for that week. So until June we’ll have to settle for seeing her on the webcam… but at least she gets to spend a bit more time with her brother.

Here is a video of the kids meeting the dogs for the first time and some pics of selecting and then playing with our new family members… enjoy!

Hayden and Lillie playing with pups at the breeder’s
Lillie holding Izzy at the breeders
Izzy in the foreground and Eisen in the background at the breeder’s
Me and Izzy
Bill and Eisen
Izzy and Eisen (She’s got pink, he’s got blue)
Izzy chillin’ in the back yard
Eisen who’d recently finished chewing on my shoe.

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