Monday, December 24, 2007

I'm not sure who wrote this, but it seems so appropriate today as we get ready to celebrate Christmas without Stretch this year:

I may not always be the one who kisses you goodnight
or sings you songs of carousels and stars shining bright.

But I do not love you any less
even when I can't be there
I need you to remember that
even when it seems unfair.

A military father loves not less
in fact he may love more
because your time's the greatest sacrifice
in the freedom he's fighting for.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

We hit the road today to go to my sister's. I didn't think about the timing of our departure and we hit bumper to bumper traffic getting off the base and out of town. I commented that I'd messed up and forgotten that all the Marines would be getting off at noon today. A very concerned Big Sis responded, "What?! Then who's going to protect us from the bad guys?!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here we go again...

It happened again. I don't really want to make it habit. Confronting Marines, that is.

I took the girls to BK on base for dinner tonight since we had to go to Big Sis' basketball practice afterward. There we were, in a nearly deserted BK, trying to eat our dinner. Three Marines sat a few tables away. They were far enough away that I couldn't hear what they were talking about. But they were close enough and loud enough that pretty often I could hear some of the words they were using. One of the Marines, in particular, couldn't seem to take a breath without using a certain word that rhymes with "truck" that I REALLY do not want to hear my 3 year old say*.

The girls weren't paying them any attention, but still... Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, so I walked over and calmly said, "Excuse me, but could you watch your language?" and walked away. Much better than the first time I confronted Marines about their *ahem* language usage. But, seriously, were they blind? Mine were not the only kids in there. There was one other family in there (granted they were further away). And the one who was the worst offender was facing us!

*Big Sis has already used this word. At the dinner table, no less. I was shocked but recovered sufficiently to realize that she had no idea what it meant. I tried to find out where she'd heard it (older boys, either on the bus or in the neighborhood). Then, I calmly(no, really!) informed her that if she ever said it again I would wash her mouth out. That might have been the shock talking. But I really do NOT want to witness her using that word in front of her father.


Apparently, women have more spine than men according to this. Oh, the implications! Oh, the jokes I could make... but that would be taking potshots... Must control... the urge...

Monday, December 10, 2007

"I'm going fast!"

Okay, it's not really that fast, since I can walk and still keep up with her. But for her, it's super speedy. L'il Sis FINALLY discovered her bike and figured out that whole pedalling thing about 2 days ago. Since then, she's been all about riding her bike. Just another one of those things I wish Stretch were here to see.
Following in Stretch's footsteps, Big Sis has started this season of basketball. They had their first game last weekend. She' s fast and has really improved her ability to make baskets. She's not terribly aggressive about getting the ball, though, so she only got the ball once. But then she dribbled it all the way down the court before passing it to a teammate. Of course, being a terrible mom, I have no pictures. But I did remember to take stuff to keep L'il Sis entertained. Hey, I'm not Wonder Woman here! And again, this is an area where Stretch's presence would really be useful. I am zero help to the child in sports. That is his area. So much for that plan.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

more gremlins

Deployment gremlins strike again! It seems a power surge killed our TV. The one we bought during our recent tour in Korea. It's a cute little flat-screen. So I called the insurance company (yay for renter's insurance!) to see what I needed to do. Following their instructions, I hopped on LG's website to find the nearest authorized technician to look at the corpse. Turns it out there is only one in the state and it is a mere 4 HOURS away. Yeah, that works for me. In some alternate universe, maybe.

Meanwhile, I borrowed some one's husband for the brawn to move our old boxy TV from upstairs to the living room (where the corpse resided). See? I can so ask for help! Okay, maybe it was the vision of me dropping the TV down the stairs, me falling down the stairs, etc., that prompted me to go elsewhere for the muscle power. Just slightly ironic that we were just talking about asking for help over on SpouseBuzz Radio the other night.

Friday, December 07, 2007

power yoga

Last month, my friend talked me into going to a Pilates class with her. I'd never done Pilates. Just a few minutes into the class, I thought I was going to die and was beginning to hate my friend. I was sore for a week! (Yes, I'm completely out of shape but that is beside the point.)

I'd enjoyed yoga in the past and noticed that the same gym offered a yoga class once a week AND it was at a more conducive time for me. Life got in the way and I didn't manage to make it to the class until today. I convinced that same friend to go, too. Yeah. I didn't notice it was a "power" yoga class. My friend, who is in much better shape than me (mainly because she works out all the time and I, well, don't) kept saying it was worse than Pilates. And whose idea was this, anyway? At one point, amidst the groans and grunts, I had to turn my head toward the woman on my right. As I did so, she muttered, "Jesus!" as she tried to maintain her pose. I don't know if it was a comment or a plea for divine intervention. Either way, it's hard to maintain your breathing when you're laughing.

By the way, "power" yoga roughly translates into "ouch!"

3 year olds playing "I spy"

I drove two 3 year olds to see Santa for their preschool field trip on Wednesday. This is part of their conversation:

Boy: L'il Sis! L'il Sis! Guess what I see?
Girl: America?
Boy: Yeah!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Home again

I'm back from SpouseBuzz Live. Many, many thanks to my MIL for watching the kids for me!

It was great to put a face to some of the voices in my head, those imaginary friends. In addition to meeting some of the SpouseBuzz authors, I met Butterfly Wife and her Jack Bauer, who accommodated my need for a photographer not once, but twice. I also met Stephanie, who was just as tiny as I'd imagined.

And, hey! I even won something! It was one of the ammo cases; stuffed with a book, a hat, a t-shirt, and a fleece jacket!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Woo-hoo! I'm off to SpouseBuzz Live to meet my imaginary friends!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ghost story

This is my 3 year old telling a ghost story:

It was a dark, dark night! A dark, dark night.
There was a dark, dark woods! A dark, dark woods!
In the dark, dark woods there was a dark, dark house!
A dark, dark house. A dark, dark house,
In the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room!
A dark, dark room.
In the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark box!
A dark, dark box.
In the dark, dark box there was a GHOST!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's been so warm lately that, except for the leaves all over my yard, it doesn't really feel like that time of year yet. Plus, Stretch isn't with us this year. So, what to do? Several friends in my neighborhood decided to join forces. We're going to the Club this year. None of us has to cook and it is right around the corner from our neighborhood. We'll be four families with only one dad between us. The others are all deployed. So the kids will outnumber us. But we don't have to cook! And we're hoping the lone dad will entertain the kiddos to a certain degree. I would feel sorry for him, but I'm too tired this year.

Despite the trials of this past year, I am thankful for several things. I'm thankful that everyone in my family is healthy. I'm thankful for great friends and family that are helping to make this year bearable. I'm thankful to Marna Krajeski for including my essays in her upcoming anthology Household Baggage Handlers. And I'm thankful for our military family.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Confession: I prefer the commissary

I was an Army brat before I was a Marine wife. Commissaries have always been a part of my universe. When it comes to grocery shopping, the commissary is my comfort zone. I know that I won't have access to one next year, and I'm already dreading it. Sure, there are all the complaints about commissaries. The produce usually leaves something to be desired. They should be avoided like the plague on paydays. I know this.

But a few weeks ago I had to go into a civilian grocery store. I actually got a bit disoriented. Then I realized that it's always like that when I go to one of those. They seem familiar yet strange at the same time. Almost like an alternate universe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Daddy is a superhero"

Big Sis had a writing assignment for school today. She had to draw a picture of a family member in the military. Then she had to write a story about this person including what their job is, why they are important (to the child and to our country). First, she drew the picture, labeled at the top with "My tall dad" then we set about writing.

I was afraid I was going to have to explain what Stretch's job is. The only problem is that I'm not always sure if I know, let alone trying to explain to a 7 year old. So, I asked her what Daddy's job is. She answered with "His job is to save the world."

Of course, I ruined it by asking if she really thought that was Daddy's job. She ended up writing this: "My dads job is helping peaple. I like that job. [Right] now my dad is saving our country. He is importent to my becase it is an importent job. And also becase he is my dad. I miss him and love him a lot. He is [important] to our country becase he helps America."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy 232nd Birthday, Marines!

I realized something recently: This will be the first time in nine years that I won't be attending a Marine Corps Birthday Ball with my husband. We've been apart for birthdays and anniversaries but this is the first year we will miss a Ball. And somehow, that makes me sadder than the birthdays or anniversaries he's missed. It was always the one guaranteed date night of the year where we'd get dressed up and (usually) have a fun evening with friends. And let's face it, these guys clean up really well in their Dress Blues or Mess Dress.

On November 10, 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern. That's right, they got their start in a bar. Explains a lot, doesn't it? Anyway, since I won't be attending a Ball this year, I decided to celebrate by sharing some of my favorite Marine Corps quotes:

"The Marines have landed and have the situation well in hand!" ~Richard Harding Davis

"Retreat hell! We just got here!" ~Capt. Lloyd Williams, USMC (WWI)

"Teufelhunde! [Devil Dogs]" ~German soldiers, WW I at Belleau Wood

"So they've got us surrounded, good! Now we can fire in any direction, those bastards won't get away this time!" ~Chesty Puller, USMC (Korea)

"The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!" ~Maj. Gen. Frank Lowe, U.S. Army

"Panic sweeps my men when they are facing the American Marines." ~captured North Korean Major

"I hate for there to be a fight, and me not be in it." ~Marine on CNN's "Devil Dog Diaries"

Excerpts from a speech by RADM J. Stark, USN:
"... it occurred to me that the services could be characterized by different breeds of dogs...
The Air Force reminded me of a French Poodle. The poodle always looks perfect ... sometimes seems a bit pampered ... always travels first class. But don't ever forget that the poodle was bred as a hunting dog and in a fight it's very dangerous.
The Army is kind of like a St. Bernard. It's big and heavy and sometimes seems a bit clumsy. But it's very powerful and has lots of stamina. So you want it for the long haul.
The Navy, God bless us, is a Golden Retriever. They're good natured and great around the house. The kids love 'em. Sometimes their hair is a bit long ... they go wandering off for long periods of time, and they love water.
... Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. ...They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat. That sounds like a Marine to me!
So what I really like about Marines is that 'first to fight' isn't just a motto, it's a way of life. From the day they were formed at Tun Tavern 224 years ago, Marines have distinguished themselves on battlefields around the world. From the fighting tops of the Bonhomme Richard, to the sands of the Barbary Coast, from the swamps of New Orleans to the halls of Montezuma, from Belleau Wood, to the Argonne Forest, to Guadacanal, and Iwo Jima, and Okinawa and Inchon, and Chosen Reservoir and Hue City and Quang Tri and Dong Ha, and Beirut, and Grenada, and Panama, and Somalia and Bosnia and a thousand unnamed battlefields in godforsaken corners of the globe. Marines have distinguished themselves by their bravery, and stubbornness and aggressive spirit, and sacrifice, and love of country, and loyalty to one another.
They've done it for you and me, and this Country we all love so dearly. And they asked for nothing more than the honor of being a United States Marine.
And that's why I like Marines!"

For some reason, I really like the "We don't promise you a rose garden" recruiting poster (actually I prefer the female version but couldn't find it). Maybe it's the "truth in advertising" aspect of it.
*Thanks to Meredith for finding the female version for me!

Happy Birthday, Marines! And Semper Fi!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Names, names, names...

So the husband isn't too thrilled about being referred to as "Hubs" on the blog. And I don't blame him. As blog-names go, it's pretty lame. I only started using it because it was quick to type and I didn't want to use DH. But clearly, after looking around at some other mil-spouse blogs, I've really fallen short on giving him a blog-name (yes, and also on naming the kids). He hasn't liked any of my ideas so far. So, I'd love to have some suggestions.

Wrong number. Sort of.

The cell phone rang and when I answered, I heard a male voice. But it wasn't my husband. He identified himself as LtCol Somebody and then said, "I'm trying to reach...(um)...Basil." Really? Okay, sure. So, I told him he'd reached a wrong number.

Other than being annoyed that I've been getting several wrong number calls on my cell phone lately, I didn't give it any more thought. Then my husband called later that day. Mid-way through our conversation, he suddenly asked if anyone called looking for "Basil." Well, that's a little weird. How did he know?

He's been traveling lately and had apparently been borrowing someone's cell phone to call me. (No, I didn't ask where he was where a cell phone would even work.) Anyway, the owner of the phone accidentally called me. Afterward, he saw my husband and said, "Hey, Stretch, I think I called your wife. The good news is Basil's not there."

Little things

Communication had been very sporadic the past week and I was missing the contact with my husband. Just when I was really getting lonely for him, he emailed me some pictures of him. It helped.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I survived Halloween! Woo-hoo! Okay, I'll admit to being a Halloween grinch, particularly this year. I was dreading it with every fiber. But it turned out okay. The girls each had a little pumpkin that they got to decorate (with colored Sharpies because that's all I had on hand). Big Sis went with a character that she later named.

L'il Sis started off with a face but then kept drawing more and more people: family members, friends, even my sister's pets. Eventually, hers was just a big Jackson Pollack-type creation. The funny part was that as she drew, she was telling a story about each person she was drawing.

Big Sis helped me with the pumpkin scooping and carving. As in years past, she designed the pumpkin's face. She also did a great job helping to get it ready for carving.

Big Sis had been saying that she didn't want to trick or treat this year. She just wanted to hand out candy, like she did last year. A few days ago, she changed her mind. She has a set of books about Weather Fairies. She jacket has snowflake buttons and snowflakes embroidered on it. She's meant to be the Snow Fairy. She put her costume together all by herself. And she doesn't take suggestions well. *sigh* Have I mentioned that she just turned 7?

Like last year, L'il Sis LOVED LOVED LOVED trick-or-treating. She had one scare from a neighbor's teenager handing out candy but once he showed her his face under his mask she was fine.
We have a French neighbor who was getting a huge kick out of the trick-or-treaters. She took pictures of the kids before giving them their treats.
Trick or treating this year involved a lot of candy bowls left on doorsteps with notes to help yourself to a piece or two. Why? Because in our neighborhood, most of the daddies are deployed or just not here for one reason or another. This left the moms with the dilemma of what to do with kiddos too little to let loose on their own and vast amounts of candy to be loosed on the population at large. So... lots of bowls on doorsteps... Some of the kids really liked this because it cut out the middleman. I thought it was kind of sad. Part of the fun has always been to see all the kids in their various costumes and to make a big deal over them. Maybe next year...

Monday, October 29, 2007


It's cooled off and it actually feels like Fall around here. About time, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paper chains or...Dr. Pepper?

Some families make paper chains as a way to count down the days until Daddy or Mommy returns. I noticed TripleE had a "donut of misery." (Now, if that won't put you off donuts, I don't know what will!) Leave it to Hubs to come up with his own caffienated version.

Hubs had been in the habit of returning from the chow hall with one or two cans of Dr. Pepper to see him through his shift. During his R&R, his coworkers continued the tradition and filled his office space with Dr. Peppers. He said they covered his desk and a lot of other surfaces. Well, I guess so, since he counted well over 100. Actually, I think he said it was more than 120! He did some calculating and decided he had enough to have one each day before redeploying back home, plus quite a few extras. Due to his extreme love of caffiene, all of the "extras" are long gone. But his count-down stacks of Dr. Pepper are still in place and woe to anyone who tries to take one, messing up the count-down.

Monday, October 22, 2007

First weekend

Thanks to the Salute to Heroes program, the girls and I spent our first weekend without Hubs in Virginia. We took advantage of the free park admission and went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg Saturday afternoon. My sister suggested the trip some time ago. I knew she was bringing her family and the girls were SO excited to see their aunt, uncle and cousins. Additionally, good friends live in the area and we were able to stay with them. The girls loved getting to play with Mr. M and their dog. Plus, Miss T even gave up her day and went to the park with us. Thank God she did, too! I'm not sure how I would have handled a 7 year old and a 3 year old (sans nap) without her. It was much more crowded than we'd expected, but the girls seemed to have a good time. And honestly, that's all I wanted from this first weekend without Daddy: for them to have a good weekend with plenty of diversions.

I was torn about this weekend. I'd started planning it just before Hubs left. I was trying to finalize plans the day after he left when I learned that his great-uncle had passed away. I still don't know if I did the right thing or not. I sent flowers but opted not to take the girls to the funeral, and followed the original plan for the weekend. While I felt an obligation to be there for Hubs' family, I felt an even deeper obligation to the girls. What would you have done?

Ben Stein

Ben Stein has a new book out called The Real Stars. Some of you may remember that he wrote an essay with the same title some years ago. The book is the current read for the SpouseBuzz Book Club. I'll buy the book as soon as I find it. What makes this book even more attractive? The fact that all the proceeds benefit T.A.P.S.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Back from R&R...

He came.
He played.
He read bedtime stories.
He gave hugs and kisses.
Now, he's gone again.
And the waiting and the missing starts again.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


R&R is almost here! Woo-hoo!

Of course, that means what can go wrong will go wrong.... The only day I had to get the car detailed threatened rain. The morning that L'il Sis was in preschool and I had scheduled a hair and wax appointment, well, my stylist gets horribly ill and has to cancel. While I feel terrible for her and wish her a speedy recovery, I still needed those grey roots to disappear. So, I put my head into the hands of a total stranger and hoped for the best. It worked out okay, but I could have done with less stress to get it all done. When the stylist was shampooing my hair (my favorite part!), I was getting a little head massage. I could feel her trying to work the tension out of my neck and temples. I appreciated the attempt, but almost felt I should tell her it was futile.

Obviously the other thing R&R means is that I'll be absent from the blogosphere for awhile.

*random observation: While driving around running last minute errands, I saw an attractive young woman driving a car with the following on her rear window:
Proud family of
(rank) (name)
serving in Iraq

Maybe it's the cynic in me, but my first thought was that it really wasn't a good idea to advertise the fact that her husband was overseas, not home, not around. Especially in such large letters. I understand she's proud of him. But couldn't she find a way to express that without compromising her own security?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is in front of the main gate to an installation that is home to some noisy machines. I like it!
I posted before on the sound of freedom here. What does freedom sound like to you?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some serious growth...

With R&R almost here, I wanted to see how much the girls had grown in the almost 8 months since Dad left. You'd think I put fertilizer in their shoes! Big Sis has grown 2-1/2 inches and L'il Sis has grown by 2-3/4 inches. This has got to stop! At this rate, they'll tower over me by the time they are 12!

I must have seriously weak genes.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I'd never had dark chocolate m&m's. Until today. Where have these been all my life?!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The more things change...

Have you seen this week's Jenny comic strip? Definitely a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

And it's not just the nomadic lifestyle. In this current climate of constant deployments and high stress for military families, this is another area where things have changed considerably from previous eras but so much has also stayed the same.

Previous military families who endured separations during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and so many more conflicts didn't have access to the communication technologies that we have today. Many of us are able to email or MotoMail our loved ones. Sometimes they are able to call us using morale calls or even satellite phones. Occasionally, units or even individuals are able to arrange VTCs (video tele-conferences) with our service members. Previous generations didn't have any of that.

But what hasn't changed? They are still gone, half a world away in a hostile environment. We still worry. And we wait. Our hearts still break a little each day. We wait and wonder about the person who will return. We wonder if they will still like and love the person we've become, the person they will be returning to. We wonder what we will do if they don't return. We wait and torture ourselves with all the "what ifs." We look at our children and mourn the time they've missed with a parent and all the events and milestones that the other parent has missed. We wait and worry about all the little things and all the big things. We wait while looking forward to homecoming with excitement and anxiety. They are still gone. We are still left behind waiting and trying to hold it all together. Waiting for them to step back into our shared life. That hasn't changed.

The book is not about a military family, but the first page of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife resonated with me in terms of being the one left to wait. It begins with these lines:
"....It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays."
A little later, she asks: "Why is love intensified by absence?"
Then: "I wait for him. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?"

The waiting hasn't changed.

*update: I'm not recommending the book at this point as I haven't gotten very far in it yet. I'd only just started reading it and the first page just resonated a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

random movie

One of the benefits of deployments is that I get to fill our movie queue with all sorts of things that I know Hubs wouldn't watch. I've caught up on movies that the rest of the planet has already seen, chick flicks, BBC TV shows, and other totally random films, like The Man Who Sued God. Sometimes I watch things that are really good but because they are independent or foreign films probably didn't get much play here in the States.

Last night, I watched Sweet Land. I'd never heard of it so went into it with no expectations. It was wonderful! The story is of a German mail order bride arriving in 1920 Minnesota to a hostile Norwegian-American community. Prejudices run rampant and she is unable to procure the paperwork necessary to actually get married. But beyond that, it is a love story of two strangers who come to respect and love each other despite/because of their obstacles. You can see the growing attraction and sexual tension between the couple. You can see the love growing in their eyes as they surreptitiously watch each other. But that's just about all you see. Anticipation is almost another character in this film. But I guess I relate to that these days!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

Six years ago, we were in San Francisco on a vacation. We stood in our hotel room glued to the TV. At first, we thought it was a movie or something. It took us awhile to realize that we were watching news coverage of actual events that were taking place that day. Very quickly, Hubs was on the phone with his unit. Then I was on the phone to arrange for an early return home. There was nothing we could do that day, so we ventured out into the city. It was so eerie. Everything was so quiet and almost deserted. It was as if the entire city was in shock. I guess it was, really.

I feel like I should have something to say today. But I don't. Words really aren't enough.

Monday, September 10, 2007


L'il Sis started morning preschool last week. She's getting to be such a big girl! (And I'm reminded of that when she sings "I'm a big girl now!" from the Pull-ups commercials.)

L'il Sis and a classmate waiting at the gate for their teacher to come and get them.

Welcome to Preschool! L'il Stinker never even looked back once the teacher had them all lined up and headed to their classroom. Not once!

At the end of her first day, L'il Sis was happy to tell me what a great day she'd had.

As much as I'd been looking forward to this day, it was a little sad, too. She's potty trained and now she's started preschool. She's no longer a baby, or even a toddler. L'il Sis is officially a preschooler.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ist day of school

Big Sis started back to school last Thursday. (Yes, I'm a bit late with this post.) As you can see, she insisted on a messenger bag. She wanted something with only one strap. Which makes since, since she preferred to only use one strap on her backpack anyway.

It's hard to believe she's already in 2nd grade! The only thing I'm anxious about this year is the fact that her school is multi-age and her class this years has 2nd graders, 1st graders AND kindergartners! I felt a little better after the parent orientation, but still have some reservations. Big Sis is very bright but will simply coast if allowed to do so. I ought to know since I was the same way!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

little artist

This is not a new thing for L'il Sis, but it has been awhile since she's done this. But this week, she did it TWICE! One day, she was coloring in her coloring book (like one is supposed to do), when suddenly I hear, "Mommy, I color my cheeks!" With a pen! Fortunately, it came right off with a baby wipe. Then a few days later, I find the archway into the living room has been "decorated" with a pencil. Cinderella got to clean up her handiwork with a Magic Eraser. I went over it to make sure it was all gone, but she managed to get the bulk of it off. You'd think that will teach her not to color on things other than paper. But I doubt it!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's come to this

Last night my sister called:
Sis: What are you doing?
Me: Something weird... I'm watching Heartbreak Ridge on TV.
Sis: What's that?
Me: It's a Clint Eastwood Marine movie.
Sis: (long pause) Your Marine really needs to come home.
Me: Ya think?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

yep, she's a Devil Pup

A few weeks ago the girls and I joined my mother, step-father, sister, brother-in-law, niece and 3 nephews at a beach house in Topsail for 4 days to celebrate Mom's birthday. Most of the kids loved going down to the beach and playing in the surf. I say most because my 2 year old nephew screamed and shook when he first saw it. And L'il Sis thought "a dab'll do ya." I'd take her down to play in the sand and water. She enjoyed it but after a bit would decide she was done. Then for several days, she didn't care to even go down to the beach and water. That was why I missed what happened and am telling this story second-hand.

Big Sis was down on the beach with everyone else (I couldn't get L'il Sis to leave the house). They see an aircraft and my sister tries to point it out to the 2 year old, "Look! A helicopter!" Big Sis, in all her 6-year old wisdom, practically rolls her eyes and with the "duh!" clear in her tone, informs them, "That's NOT a helicopter. That's an Osprey."

When she returned from the beach, my sister asked me about it and when I confirmed that, yes, the description sounded like an Osprey, she said, "She's definitely a military brat!"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lactation, Navy-style

In 2000, I gave birth to my first child at Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital in the middle of the Mojave Desert. That pretty much sets the tone, doesn’t it? Because she was my first child, I was horrified that these insane people at the hospital were going to send this child home with me when I was obviously unqualified to care for her. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice that all of my post-delivery care was provided by men. My nurses and corpsmen were all men. Don’t misunderstand me -- they were great and I received wonderful care. But it was a bit odd, and I didn’t notice. My mother pointed it out when she visited before my discharge. It might have been odd but it wasn’t terribly surprising. After all, it was a Naval hospital.

The nurse serving as the lactation consultant was also a man, a Navy Ensign. He was very encouraging and supportive and just a bit over the top. My husband says he was way over the top. My husband left for a short time to bring a friend to see me. While he was gone, this Ensign, the male lactation consultant, came in to see me for a consult because I was having some problems. Once my husband returned, the Ensign called him out to the hall to go over all the things he’d already discussed with me and to drive home the importance of my husband being supportive of the process. While that sounds pleasant enough, this was an Ensign on a mission and he was on the warpath to ensure my husband knew he should have been there to receive the lecture, I mean consultation, with me. Maybe he was having a bad day. My husband is a 6’8” Marine. I didn’t see this “lecture” as a good idea.

Our lactation issues were just beginning. The hospital also had another person whose job title was Breast Education Specialist/ Lactation Consultant. This person was, thankfully, a woman. After being home with our baby and continuing to have difficulty, I was referred to this consultant. My mother was still there to help out so she came with me. The three of us, Mom, the baby and me, sat in this woman’s office for an hour. We discussed what I had tried and what more I could do. I nursed the baby while the consultant observed and offered suggestions. Finally, we got ready to leave. As we were going out the door, Mom asked her, “Did you nurse all of your children?”

She smiled and answered very sweetly, “Oh, I don’t have any children.”

Gee, I think I could have read the books myself. Oh, wait, I think I did.

*In case it wasn't clear, this post was a memoir post. The child I wrote about is going to be 7 in less than 2 months. I was having a rough, deployment gremlin-filled day and wanted to post something that struck me as funny.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Greater Good

I wrote what follows last year, before our current deployment. I was inspired to make a few changes by a post on SpouseBuzz.

The Greater Good

My husband’s thoughts start turning to the next big thing he wants to do in his career. I’m not sure why he even bothers discussing it with me. Maybe he wants me to feel as though I have some control over what happens. The illusion is not working. The most I can hope to do is point out how difficult certain things could be in various locations (the ones I really, REALLY don’t want to go to) so that he lists it as his number two or three choice instead of as his first. Any of the places I suggest he try to go to are met with a blank look. Sure family life or liberty might be great there but how will that get him into the action, get him into a deployable unit? Duh, it won’t. But I’ll be happy. We’ve done the deployment thing and gotten the t-shirt but no family member wants to do it again.

There’s a scene in the Disney movie The Incredibles when Frozone is tearing through his apartment looking for his super-suit. His wife is preparing for a dinner party and is less than thrilled at his wanting to run off to save the world. Service members are a little like Frozone, grabbing their super-suits and leaving us behind for “the greater good.”

I was telling a non-military friend that my husband was itching to deploy again. It was killing him that his buddies and his Marines were over there and he wasn’t. She asked if he’s crazy. Well, yes, but I knew that before I married him. Clearly, he didn’t become a Marine to do a desk job. My husband likes to say that a smart Marine doesn’t whistle while he packs. It doesn’t mean that he wants to be separated from us, to miss chapters of our girls’ lives while living in challenging conditions. He just thinks there is something important that he needs to be doing, that he should be doing. When your service member is talking about needing to defend our country and our freedoms, how can you argue with that? A missed birthday or simply being home to take out the trash seems pretty unimportant next to that.

Despite my aggravation with the absences and how much my husband gives to the Marine Corps, I am proud of who my husband is and what he does. After all, his sense of duty and commitment to his country are part and parcel of who he is. These are some of the very reasons I fell in love with the man. The truth is, while a strong sense of duty and a desire to serve are admirable qualities, it is hard to be the one left behind for “the greater good.”

We were in San Francisco, on the first day of an overdue vacation, when 9/11 happened. We spent the morning in our hotel room at the Marine Memorial watching the news coverage while my husband made phone calls to his unit and I scrambled to change our travel plans to return home early. We later watched local coverage of people lining up to donate blood. They felt that was something immediate that they could do to help. My husband watched that and quietly commented that he was glad he was in a position to do more than just donate blood.
Damn super-suit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

anticipatory grief

It hasn't been an issue this deployment, but anticipatory grief was something I really struggled with the last time Hubs deployed to Iraq. Of course, I didn't know what it was or even that it had a name. I only knew what I was feeling and thinking about and wondering what was wrong with me that I kept thinking such morbid thoughts. I recently ran across an article on the subject by Kristin Henderson, the wife of a Navy chaplain. It was comforting to know that I wasn't alone and that it is a common experience for families left behind. Ms. Henderson has written another article about the growing disconnect between the military and civilians that is also worth reading.

Friday, August 03, 2007

update on deployment gremlins masquerading as contractors

I'm quickly losing the capacity to be civil.

When people tell you that they will call you no later than ___ with information, shouldn't they do so? Especially when that information involves when they will be making pertinent repairs to your home? I would think so. However, the contractor responsible for repairs to my house failed to call me Wednesday until after 5:30 p.m. (AFTER I'd left a voicemail for him asking for the information). At that time, he left a voicemail saying he wasn't sure if they'd be here Friday (today) or Monday but he would let me know. Guess what? No phone call. I left a terse message on his voicemail this morning. Then I spoke to the maintenance supervisor. Mr. Contractor just called acting offended because he called and left a voicemail for me after my voicemail to him on Wednesday. I interrupted him and pointed out that in his message he said he would call back to let me know whether it would be Friday or Monday. He paused, realized his mistake, and apologized. His tone quickly went from one of umbrage to one of retreat with his tail between his legs.

Now, much as I love being right, I'd love this problem being resolved even more!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When it rains...

A couple of months ago, we had a heavy rainstorm. The next morning, I found that our back wall was literally crumbling away. I contacted the maintenance department (we live in privatized base housing). Several people came by to look at it over the next several weeks (yes, I said "weeks" not "days"), including 2 different sub-contractors. After over 3 weeks of this, I was pretty fed up and physically went to the leasing office. While I was there, they were trying to reach me because the contractor was at my house to do the repairs. No one had bothered to tell me they were coming! So the repairs were made and completed just in time for in-laws to visit. They finished the work in the afternoon. My in-laws arrived at dinner-time. Let's not cut it too close, guys. This wouldn't have been a sticking point except the guest room is right across the hall from the door in the picture!

By the way, the first picture is the baseboard on the wall that needed replacing. See that huge hole in it? I was told they would fix that by filling it with caulk. I replied that wasn't going to do it for me and that the baseboard needed replacing. I said this to at least 2 men. I got another baseboard.

So contractors fixed our back wall near the back door (inside and out) as well as the roof a couple of weeks ago. Well, it rained yesterday. Hard. There was a waterfall where our backdoor is supposed to be. See the picture.

Then the windowsill was completely wet. I took pictures to document it all. Then I printed the pictures and took them down to the leasing office this morning. The ladies there were pretty aghast at the sight. Especially since they knew this was an ongoing problem. One of them remembered me from the last time I was in there about the wall. So, around noon, 2 of the ladies from the leasing office, the work order manager, the area maintenance supervisor, and the contractor all converged on our house to see and discuss.

Later, a maintenance man brought a dehumidifier that is now plugged in and draining into the downstairs shower. It is currently blocking the back door. Hopefully, it will only be here for a couple of days. He also fixed the powder room toilet (again). And looked at the cracked stair (again) and will be ordering a replacement. When that gets here, he'll replace the stair and caulk the others. Is caulk the new duct tape?!

The contractor is supposed to call me tomorrow to let me know when they will be back to do yet more work on the roof and back wall area (on the outside this time). If I don't get that call, I can assure you that I will be making some phone calls of my own! Hell hath no fury as a milspouse in an unsat house with small children and a deployed husband.

I joke that the house is falling down around my ears but sometimes I wonder if the joke isn't on me! But then, hubs is deployed, so, OF COURSE, all this is happening. See all the fun he's missing?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coaching (warning: yet another potty story)

Starting July 1, L'il Sis and I got serious about this potty training business. What finally got her over her fear of release? Would you believe a Tinkerbell nightgown? Yes, that's all it took. And she hasn't looked back. Sort of.

L'il Sis has been wearing her big girl underpants (cotton training pants) during the day and doing a fabulous job. She hasn't had an accident during the day in ages. But. Well, let's say, "Houston, we have a problem." This one is more common than her fear of release problem, from what I hear. Girlfriend is constipated. I have plied her with apple juice and anything else that I think will provide her with fiber and kept her hydrated. Yet, she's only managed the deed once in a week's time. And that one time... I sounded like a labor coach. Seriously. There I was, cheering her on, encouraging her to "push, push it can do it." It was just so wrong!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Devil Pup

Claire is a true Devil Pup. Lately, her rendition of "B-I-N-G-O" includes this refrain:

"E- N-C-O...E -N-C-O!"

(*an NCO is a non-commisioned officer such as a sergeant)

movie review

I watched Billy Connolly in "The Man Who Sued God" (2001) last night. It's an Aussie flick and was entertaining with an interesting premise. Connolly plays Steve Myers, a lawyer turned fisherman, whose boat is destroyed by lightning. When the insurance company refuses to pay up, citing the "act of God" clause, Myers decides to go after God, or rather his representatives on Earth, for the money. The churches and synagogues find themselves in an interesting position: either they admit liability and open the flood gates to untold claims or prove that God doesn't exist, making them frauds. At any rate, Myers isn't really attacking the religions; he's really after the shyster insurance companies. The film is witty and well worth the time spent watching it. That said, for those unfamiliar with Billy Connolly, supposedly Robin Williams once said that anyone can swear but only Billy Connolly can make it poetry. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there you have it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

warning: rant ahead

Let me preface this by saying that July has been a difficult month for me (yes, I know it's not over yet!). There are several reasons for this. It's our anniversary month and we're not even on the same continent. We are 5 months into this deployment and this is the month I've really hit a wall. Maybe it's because I really want to get into homecoming mode but homecoming is so far away I can't even see it! Even R & R seems a long way away (and will be over much too fast). Maybe it is the anticipation of R & R and how hard it will be when he leaves again to finish the deployment. Maybe I'm just ready for school to start again. Whatever the reason, this is really not the month to try my patience with foolishness. Okay, my family and friends will probably say there's never a good time for that. I admit it; stupidity really gets on my nerves. So you've been forewarned. Proceed at your own risk.

At the end of the month, my sister and her family (including 4 kids, 3 of whom are not yet school-age); my mom and stepfather; my 2 kids and I are all going to a beach house. We're celebrating my mother's birthday and spending time together. As we are so spread out, we don't get the chance to all be together often. Keep this in mind.

A woman at my sister's church overheard her talking about our plans. I'll call her Ima (you can fill in the last name yourself). Later, she contacts my sister and gives her a sob story about losing her mother last year, who was apparently also her babysitter. Ima goes on to say that she and her family will also be at the same beach and that it will be their wedding anniversary. It would be such a blessing if my sister could watch her 2 kids for them so they could get a night to themselves. They haven't had a night out since her mother became sick. Oh, and she'd only expect my sister to watch her kids for 5 hours!

My sister tried a tactful approach by saying that she didn't think it would be a good idea as we'd be taking mom out for dinner one night. Not taking the hint, Ima said another night would work for them as well. The nerve! Ima said it would be such a blessing for her and her husband to get to spend an anniversary just as a couple. My sister pointed out that it was my anniversary month, too, and my husband is deployed to a war zone so I spent it without him. At any rate, Ima kept persisting despite my sister telling her no.

Who does this? I can't imagine intruding into another family's vacation in this way. Or another family's reunion. And the nerve of her, trying to guilt a virtual stranger into babysitting for her by telling her what a blessing it would be. My sister wisely refused to give me Ima's phone number. She knows I'd give Ima an earful of blessings.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I caught this over at Andi's World. I love how articulate Andi is in addressing the core issue of being a family member of a deployed servicemember, regardless of personal politics. Some Soldier's Mom also addressed the same op-ed piece written by a Marine's mother and was equally eloquent.

Also a great post on perspective.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

title change

I've been trying to come up with a new title for months now. Everything sounded so... well, not quite right. So, let's try "Dragonfly" and see how it fits.

Why did I pick this? The first year we were in Korea, my husband had the opportunity to go to Jeju-do. I couldn't go that year, but he brought back a beautiful dragonfly cell phone fob. It had a curved silver body and purple amythyst-like wings. Unfortunately, I lost it right before we moved from Korea. So I guess it reminds me of him. It also reminds me of our time in Korea and, by extension, my Korean heritage (I'm half). Plus, I just think they're pretty!

The fact that they seem to flit from place to place seems to fit, too. Lately, it seems we are always moving! Yes, even more than is usual for a military family.

Happy Anniversary

We picked Ruth 1:16-17 as our scripture reading for our wedding ceremony. At the time, I thought I knew what those words meant. I'm sure lots of military couples choose this passage. If they don't, they should! Truer words were never spoken: "Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God." Well, we've done that in spades!

In our wedding album, I incorporated a lot of quotes about love. Here are two of my favorites. I think they're pretty appropriate, too:

"Do not think that love, in order to genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired." ~Mother Teresa

"How lucky that we two should meet and make each other's lives complete." ~Unknown

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

the sound of freedom

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

I clicked over to Jenny ("The Sound of Freedom") and was inspired to write about our family's "sound of freedom."

When Big Sis was just nine months old, we went to our base's parade ground on the 4th of July because my husband's battery was in charge of the gun salute that year. Now, when I say "gun," I should explain that my husband is an artilleryman so these were howitzers. I had Big Sis strapped into her umbrella stroller and we were on the opposite side of the parade ground. Then, as they were readying to fire the guns, I put my hands over her ears in an attempt to protect them. Hey, these things are LOUD!

A round was fired every minute until the 3 guns completed the 21-gun salute. That's over 20 minutes of incredibly loud booms. And Big Sis was getting irritated. Oh, not by the noise of the guns. That didn't faze her a bit. No, it was Mom trying to cover her ears that bothered her. She fussed and pushed my hands away. She was a true Redleg Baby. Those loud, house-shaking booms weren't noise. That was the sound of freedom.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

horse camp

Big Sis attended a 4-H Beginner Riders' Horse Camp this week. She had a great time and now she REALLY wants to take riding lessons.
Big Sis petting Booger while he's being cleaned up after riding lessons.
On the last day I wanted to take some pictures of Big Sis on a horse. L'il Sis wanted in on the act. And she had no fear. When I stopped her from climbing through a fence into a paddock, her response was, "But, Mo-om...." She was determined to pet Savannah. Look what a stretch it was for her to pet the mare's nose!

Then she insisted she wanted to ride the horse. The instructor was nice enough to let her have the first ride. Then, L'il Sis wanted more and couldn't understand why she wasn't getting another turn. Hm, maybe because you aren't even supposed to be here!

Then I managed to get some pictures of Big Sis on the thoroughbred. After all, that's what I was trying to do in the first place!

not exactly on a roll, but close

Things are still not going well but wanted to share the latest. L'il Sis wanted to wear a nightgown tonight. I reminded her that she could wear one when she used a potty like a big girl. Then I had the brainwave to show her the pretty Tinkerbell nightgown that Grammy had gotten her some time ago but that she hasn't been able to wear. A few minutes later, L'il Sis announced she wanted to pee in the potty and ran off to the bathroom. She sat there while I went about doing other things. Suddenly, a commotion from the bathroom. Both girls are talking. L'il Sis is saying she peed in the potty. Big Sis says she's not sure if it happened or not. By the time I get there, L'il Sis is standing up and looking in the potty and, sure enough, she'd done it! She flushed the toilet saying "Bye-bye, pee!" but then had to flush it again and say it again because the potty hadn't been emptied into it yet.

She got to wear the nightgown to bed tonight.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Potty, Schmotty

Well, it was a small victory but I'll take it.

This morning, I started using the timer and making L'il Sis sit on the potty at 30 minute intervals. She was fine with it. She didn't mind sitting on it as long as nothing happened. This is the same child who was informed a few days ago that if she peed in the potty she would get chocolate. Then, to be sure she understood, I asked her how she could get chocolate. Her first answer was "Reach for it." I told her, no, and again asked how she could get chocolate. This time she thought about it, her finger tapping against her lip, before answering, "A ladder!"

Anyway, L'il Sis was on the potty and after a bit she started fussing and wanting to get up. She wanted her pants back on. This is a sure sign that she is about to pee (in her pants). So I forced her to sit on the potty. I held her firmly and tried to get her to calm down, but wouldn't let her get up. She peed. In the potty. Wasn't too thrilled about it, though.

I praised her and told her how proud of her I was and what a big girl she is. She wanted to dump it in the big potty herself. So we did that. She was a little afraid of the flushing so I didn't push it and did that myself. I had her wash her hands and gave her M & M's. Again, I told her I was proud of her and wasn't she proud of herself? She said no.

I think I feel another headache coming on.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

random quote

I ran across this quote recently. I'm not sure who said it. But I'm thinking about posting it, prominently, somewhere in my house:

"Children are paparazzi. They take your picture mentally when you don't want them to, when you don't look good, and show it back to you in their behaviour."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fun in the sun...

We took the girls down to Topsail and went to the beach there. After playing in the sand for a little while, Big Sis started wading and I got her to put her swimsuit on. Then, she REALLY got wet. She didn't go in too far, but crouched down so the water could get her wet to her shoulders and even her hair was wet (at least the ends).
L'il Sis just wanted to play in the sand although she insisted on her bathing suit before we even left the car. At one point, she was rolling around in it. Yes, she was. She should be well exfoliated tonight. Despite all efforts from Grammy, Mommy and Big Sis, L'il Sis wanted nothing to do with the water. In fact, see the picture of her in a bucket? The bucket had water in it and that was about as close as she intended to get to the ocean.
After about an hour and a half, she finally got brave enough to let her toes get wet. She got knocked on her butt a few minutes later and then insisted on holding my hand. Less than half an hour later, there was no stopping her. She kept wandering away, not so much deeper as sideways from me. Getting braver and braver, nonetheless. Both had a great time. I got a bit of a sunburn.

Dancing Queen

My mother in law came down on Saturday afternoon so we could all attend a graduation dinner. L'il Sis had not napped AT ALL, despite best efforts. So I was a bit nervous as to just how quickly we would need to exit in case of a melt-down. But she did really well.

There was a DJ. And L'il Sis danced and danced. Girlfriend boogied until she just couldn't boogie anymore. Okay, it was more like until her mama said it was time to go. And... she was the ONLY one dancing. This 3 year old was the entertainment, the floor show. Everyone seemed to be getting a huge kick out of her. The fact that she had an appreciative audience only encouraged her. She made sure they appreciated her. At one point, she kept yelling, "Look at me! Look at me, peoples!" She had some moves, I tell you. She'd be dancing (with rhythm) and suddenly do a ballet move.

I'm not sure how long she danced but it had to be over 30 minutes straight. Then she took a short break to inhale a piece of cake (refueling?) before dancing some more. Big Sis wanted to dance but didn't want to do so in front of everyone. She tried to make Grammy come dance with her, but Grammy said nothing doing to that. But L'il Sis, not an inhibited or embarrassed bone in her body.

Oh, AND she kept pulling her dress up. Good thing she had matching bloomers on. And yes, I tried to get her to stop. So did Big Sis. For all the good it did. I guess sometimes the urge comes over you and you have to flip the dress up. She also did a lot of hair flipping.

Of course, I forgot to take either a camera or camcorder so have no record of it. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


My apologies to OTJ for being remiss about the recipe. To atone for that, I'm posting 2 veggie recipes that my kids both love:

Korean-style Spinach
1 bunch spinach
1/8 -- 1/4 tsp. salt
1 -- 1-1/2 tsp roasted, (kind of) crushed sesame seeds
1-- 1-1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 -- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 -- 1-1/2 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. Korean beef broth powder (this is optional but really helps)
(*these amounts are to taste)

Clean spinach. Blanch spinach (Boil large amount of water. Place spinach in boiling water. Stir to get all spinach into water. Return to boil. Remove spinach and rinse in cold water.) Squeeze out as much water as possible. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. (The best way to do this is by hand.) Serve either at room temperature or cold. (Can be refrigerated and served later.)

Steam fresh broccoli. Drain. Drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce.

Yeah, I know. Calling this one a "recipe" is kind of stretching it.