Sunday, December 28, 2008

dinner-time battle of wills

I thought I'd made a decent dinner tonight: rice, asparagus (steamed and tossed with the same ingredients I usually make spinach with), and schnitzel. Both kids ate the asparagus without any argument (huge surprise there!). Big Sis finished her dinner and asked to be excused. Meanwhile, L'il Sis had eaten almost everything but hadn't touched her "chicken" (it's what she called it). I can't even adequately describe her dramatics in trying to avoid taking a bite. She sighed. She held her head in her hands, covering her eyes. It went on and on. Finally, I took her fork and fed her a bite. She chewed and swallowed, then she said, "Mm-m, that's good!"

Seriously, I don't get paid enough for this job. And it's causing gray hairs and wrinkles.

*update: I use pork tenderloin for the schnitzel. But I do use veal (and sometimes chicken, but it's not as good) for veal piccata over linguine. That's one of Big Sis' favorite meals.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

dancing kids

This is another one that only family will probably be interested in. A couple of months ago, I caught the girls on our Flip. While Big Sis' dancing was pretty tame, L'il Sis did quite a bit of air guitar and a little head-banging for good measure. Is it any wonder that we worry that a mosh pit might feature in her future?

Christmas 2008

These won't be of interest to anyone but family. One is L'il Sis opening a gift. By the time I got the Flip out to record her, she was getting tired and her fun meter was just about pegged. The other is Big Sis. She's funnier, especially when she effusively thanks Grandma.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

oh, really...

Not long ago, I was giving out to L'il Sis over something and asked her in frustration, "Why would you do this?!" With big innocent eyes, she calmly responded, "Because I didn't know any better."

Hmm, I don't think I'm buying it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New look

As you can see, I've been playing around with the look of the blog. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, that's a bit awkward...

L'il Sis has always been a bit more, um, aware of bodies. I can still remember the time when she was 2 and Stretch was completely traumatized by her. When he'd had to take Big Sis into a public restroom, he'd simply taken her into a stall, positioned her facing the door and instructed her to not move or turn around until he'd taken care of business. It wasn't a problem. But when he tried the same technique with L'il Sis... well, he spent the time trying to answer Nature's call while wrestling with L'il Sis (trying to keep her turned toward the stall door and away from him) while she yelled, "I wanna see naked!" I'm pretty sure that was the last time he attempted to take her into a restroom.

Then there was the question she asked me in a quiet library in front of some Marines (male, of course).

Well, she's managed to traumatize her father again. The other night, Stretch was getting her ready for bed when she started blitzing him with questions. The one that sucker-punched him was "Daddy, am I gonna bleed when I'm older?"

Fortunately, she moved on to something else quickly before he had to answer.

Update: I can't believe I forgot to include this little nugget. Big Sis loves to watch "The Saddle Club" and a recent episode showed a mare giving birth to a foal in all its gory details. Later, the girls were playing and pretending to be dogs. (This is a favorite game, maybe because we don't have pets.) While Big Sis was a very hyper dog, L'il Sis kept laying on the couch, giving birth to puppies. She would say, "Pretend another puppy is coming out my booty." I wasn't sure what to be most disturbed by as I had several choices. Stretch, of course, just wanted her to stop.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hey, Dual-bag!

This is too funny!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

race day

Yesterday Big Sis participated in a 1.2 mile run. We were so impressed with how quickly she ran the mile. You can't tell from this picture, but she started with a lot more kids from her school. This was at the finish line where she'd pulled ahead of most of the kids she started with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

this and that

Why can't my 4-1/2 year old leave the Christmas tree alone?! I don't remember having this problem in years past. Why now? She's 4-1/2, for crying out loud!

Remember this tree? It's down, again, for probably the 3rd or 4th time since we moved in last summer. Of course, Stretch is out of town for the week.

Oh, and to really top things off, I just found out yet another friend has moved to the base I left last summer. We were supposed to be there for 3 years. Instead, we were there less than 18 months. Well, the girls and I were there. Stretch might have been there 3 months altogether. Not that I was counting. So, anyway. I've got a list of friends that are now there (and I'm not!) while I'm here, still not having made any real friends. The Marine Corps has a sick sense of humor.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful...

...that the cooking is OVER! This is the first time I've cooked Thanksgiving in, oh, about 6 years. (So, the first time I've cooked it for L'il Sis.) I wasn't sure if I remembered what to do or when. I started baking yesterday. That lasted all afternoon: pumpkin bread, pecan pie, pecan tassies, beer bread. I thought I'd get around to making some Semper Fi cookies, too, but that will have to wait for another day.

I managed to get up, prep the bird and get it in the oven at a decent time. (Even more impressive was the fact that it was actually quite good, if I do say so myself.) We were shooting for eating at lunchtime. With a little help from Stretch, I managed to time it so everything was ready at the same time (relatively). The girls were a little confused as to why we were eating dinner if it was lunchtime.

We also pulled out the good china and flatware. Threw an actual tablecloth down on the table and used cloth napkins. I know, our kids didn't know what to make of that! I even managed to corral everyone into sitting for a family picture for our Christmas cards (almost overcooked the potatoes doing that).

Now, back to planning my shopping strategy for tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On L'il Indians and haircuts....

Both girls had their Thanksgiving celebrations at school today. At L'il Sis' preschool, the "little" kids dressed as Pilgrims while the "big" kids dressed up as Indians. When did my baby become one of the "big" kids?! At any rate, she looked very cute and wanted to pretend to live in a "tiki" (because she just can't seem to manage pronouncing "teepee"). Or maybe it's related to her fascination with lava, volcanoes and Hawaii.

As for haircuts... well what do you suppose happens when an 8 year-old has hair-style change remorse and spends a night crying because her hair isn't long anymore? Never mind that it looks ten times better now, it just won't cover her pillow when she tries to spread it out at night. *sigh* So, I agreed to get mine cut to make her feel better. In fairness, I was thinking about getting a fresh cut anyway but I'm not sure I would've done it so soon or gone so short otherwise. But, as I told Big Sis, it's only hair and it'll grow back if I decide I don't like it down the road. Right now, I still like it but that could change tomorrow!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I took the girls in to get their bangs trimmed today. Big Sis spent the ride their complaining that she didn't need a haircut, didn't want one and wasn't going to get one. L'il Sis, meanwhile, kept offering to go first because she knew there would be a lollipop at the end of the haircut.

When we arrived at the salon, L'il Sis decided that she wanted her hair cut short like her cousin who has a stacked bob. Once we got inside the door, Big Sis suddenly decided that if she liked the way her sister's hair turned out, she'd get the same haircut. (I've been trying to convince her for months that she needs to cut her hair with no result.) Well, she liked it so now both girls are sporting bobs.

Since I wasn't expecting such drastic haircuts (just bang trimming!), I don't have a before picture, just the after:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Tis the season...

Around here, the Christmas decorations started going up before Halloween. It was all the more ironic considering we were still wearing shorts and sweating just walking to the car.

Another sign of the impending Holidays, one I actually enjoy seeing, is the collection boxes for Toys for Tots. Sometimes, you'll even get to see a Marine in his blues standing near the boxes to encourage donations. (And I think we can all agree that a Marine in dress blues is just nice to look at!) Did you know that Toys for Tots was started in 1947 by a Marine Corps Reservist (with a bit of prodding by his wife, of course)? Or that Walt Disney designed the logo? You can read up on its history here.

We all know that things are tight all over. In our region alone, Toys for Tots expects to provide toys for 100,000 kids this year. This is up significantly from last year. So, if you're able, consider donating to Toys for Tots.

You can see other Toys for Tots ads here, but this one has to be my favorite:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. As we took L'il Sis to preschool, we passed a tiny parade making it's way to our town's Veteran's Memorial which is located on the corner of 2 busy streets. Canopies and chairs were in place and presumably some speeches would be made. The only other indication that it might be Veteran's Day around here were the scruffy looking young men in pseudo-cammies that I saw on a busy street corner collecting money for a Veteran's group. Unfortunately, I don't know how legitimate they were. They might be perfectly legit, but they sure didn't look it.

This Veteran's Day, I'm really missing being around a military community (which usually has a strong retiree population as well). On the other hand, I did meet a man at the Birthday Ball the other night who served as a Corpsman on Iwo Jima.

To all those who serve and have served: Thank you!

Happy Belated 233rd Birthday, Marines!

Better late than never! We celebrated the Marine Corps' 233rd birthday Sunday night. (The actual birthday was Monday, November 10.) One of the beautiful things of moving so much is that I get to recycle dresses because I'm the only one who knows how old it is or how many times I may have worn it!

The program for the evening had a page with quotations about Marines. Last year, I didn't attend a ball but provided a few of my favorite quotes. I have a new one to add to the list:

They told (us) to open up the Embassy, or "we'll blow you away." And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, "Igaralli ahow," which means "Excuse me, I didn't mean it, my mistake."
--Karen Aquilar, in the U.S. Embassy; Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

Sunday, November 02, 2008


It's November and Stretch finally got home yesterday... in one piece, so no need to find any of his insurance policies. My days of single-parenthood are over... for now, anyway!

So, those gremlins can just go somewhere else!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

L'il Sis wanted to be a ballerina this year. It made a nice change from princesses. Big Sis originally wanted to be a rock star, but changed her mind last night. In case you aren't sure what she is, she's a "Marine princess." But this is also an improvement over last year when she decided at the very last minute to go trick-or-treating and threw a pair of wings on over her school clothes and declared herself a fairy. *sigh*
At least I'm not spending a fortune on costumes!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, now what?!

Yesterday seemed to be one frustration after another. The light on the dashboard that had appeared the day before had decided to stick around, meaning I was going to have to do something about it. I thought I knew what it meant but checked the owner's manual to double-check. I was right: one of my tires needed air. Sounds simple. heh

So, I needed to put air in a tire. I also needed to buy cookies for my daughter's class party. I was supposed to send them in that morning but since I didn't remember until after the girls were in bed and there wasn't another adult around, I couldn't get them until yesterday. After dropping Big Sis off, L'il Sis and I headed to a nearby grocery store. I needed plain cookies that the kids could then decorate during their party on Friday. There were no plain cookies.

Later, we tried a warehouse store. Again, no plain cookies. Also no air at their gas station. Off to a super discount store. There was a gas station in front of it and it had air. But charged $0.75 for it. Guess who didn't have any change?

Finally found the cookies. Yay!

Went home. Fed L'il Sis. Cleaned breakfast area so I could set up the sewing machine. (I should mention here that I don't sew.) I'd cut out fabric the day before to make a cape for the girls. The plan was to put it together that day. By the time I had everything out and put together, it was time to go get Big Sis.

While picking up Big Sis, I notice that there is a sizable hole in one of my fog lights on the car. But I don't remember this happening and can't figure out where or how it happened.

After we got back, I tackled getting the needle threaded and starting the project. It took me about 30 minutes before the first stitch was made. (Have I mentioned I don't sew?) The sad part is I brought this project on myself. I looked at the pattern in the store (it was marked as an "easy" project) and actually thought, "how hard can it me?" Pretty darn hard, it turns out, if you don't sew!

I managed to get most of the pieces put together. It wasn't beautiful. But by then I was subscribing to the "close enough for government work" theory of doing business. (There is a reason I don't sew!) It was time for dinner but I still had a few things to do with the sewing machine. So I left everything where it was and took the kids out for dinner. On the way back, I remembered I still needed air for the tire. Found a gas station that had free air and (hopefully) fixed the situation. At any rate, the light went off.

After getting home and getting ready for bed, L'il Sis picked Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst for her story. How appropriate. \

Maybe I should move to Australia? Oh, wait, they're moving into summer there and we're finally moving out of it here. Never mind.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Harvest Fest

The church we've been attending here had a Harvest Fest today. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than I realized. I thought we'd be there for half an hour tops. Try a little over 2 hours.

We stopped off at the pumpkin patch first but I guess I'd left it a bit late. The pickings were pretty slim. We still got a pumpkin to carve but there weren't any little ones left for Big Sis (L'il Sis got hers earlier this week during her preschool trip to the patch).

The craft fair area was pretty small and didn't have much that I could browse with my 2 girls in tow. But then we went to the rummage sale area and Big Sis found a toy stable for her
horses. The best part was it was only $2. She could afford that.

Then we went out to the parking lot area where there was a stage set up, food booths, a firefighter static display, games and rides, and facepainting. Big Sis immediately wanted her face done. After getting tickets, that was our first stop. L'il Sis was more leery of the whole thing but soon decided she wanted a bunny on her hand. (The child is obsessed with her bunnies!)

Then we hung out waiting for the pony rides. It was hot out there and there wasn't much in the way of shade. Isn't it October?!

After pony rides, Big Sis wanted to try out the bungee-trampoline-jumping thing. L'il Sis wanted to go down an inflatable slide and then a jumpee-obstacle course. By this time, I was seriously starting to wilt from the heat and sun. Fortunately, it was almost time for the puppet show. So I herded them toward the blessedly air conditioned area for that.

I took some pictures with my camera-phone while we were there and sent them to Stretch. But it would've be so much nicer if he'd been there in person instead. One more week!

Friday, October 24, 2008

the confidence of being 4...

When I compliment L'il Sis (whether it's telling her she's smart, pretty, sweet or anything else), her response is often, "I know."

Update: This is a picture from L'il Sis' preschool outing to the pumpkin patch at our church (it's also where her preschool is). The scarecrow gave them their mini pumpkins and then they each got to buy a slightly larger pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Relocation bonus

Today, I managed to find a benefit to our new home. I had a doctor's appointment, my first since moving here. And you know what? I saw an actual, honest-to-God doctor! And that wasn't all. She actually took the time to listen to me, ask questions, make suggestions, and discuss what the next few steps should be. I was floored and left her office with a positive feeling. It's been a long time since I actually liked the person responsible for my health care. Too long.

Now for the back story. The last 2 duty stations we were at, my PCM (primary care manager) was a nurse practitioner. In theory, I don't have a problem with this unless I have a serious illness but I'm generally pretty healthy. I said in theory. Because I'm sure there are some wonderful nurse practitioners out there. I just wouldn't count the 2 I had as being among them. Both were extremely condescending and dismissive toward me. And for those of you who know me personally, you know how much I hate that! Every time it happened, I wanted to scream at those women that I probably had more education and a higher IQ than they did so they should stop treating me like an idiot and just listen to my concerns for 2 minutes.

3 tours back, the doctor I saw the most was an OB (it was when I was having L'il Sis). We were at a duty station where we saw civilian doctors. And although the OB wasn't my PCM, she was who I saw most of the time due to the situation and short time we were there. I wasn't an interesting enough case for the her though, so more often than not, she was out of the exam room practically before I had a chance to open my mouth to ask a question.

So you can see why I'm so appreciative to have gotten lucky this go-round. It was about time!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holy smokes! It's a miracle!

Last night, L'il Sis not only stayed in her bed all night, but she managed to actually sleep all night. She did not wake up and then wake me up with screaming or crying or room invasion. I put her to bed last night ONE time. She stayed in her bed without getting up for her usual wander-around-for-a-bit routine. (She always has some reason for it: bathroom, water, needing a hug) There was no 3 a.m. wake-up call. When I woke up this morning, there was no pint-sized visitor laying next to me. She was still fast asleep in her own room! Yes!

I know she's had a rough year and a half between 2 moves and the deployment in between. But believe me, the no-sleep thing has been rough on me, too!

I woke up in a much better mood than usual this morning. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a trend and not just a fluke!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

the gremlins are back

True to form, Stretch is gone so the gremlins have come to play. It's not a good thing to find your FREEZER dripping with water. It was everywhere...

So, now, instead of getting out of the house to do something fun with the girls, we're sitting in the house waiting for a repairman who will be here sometime between "now (it was 11 a.m. at the time) and 3" p.m. What a way to spend a beautiful Saturday.


Update: By 3 p.m., there was still no sign of a repairman. So I called the company our landlord has contracted for these issues. The snotty girl on the other end of the line said they'd called and left a message indicating that he was running late. Um, no, since I've been home ALL DAY and no one called and there were no messages on our voicemail. I asked what number they'd called. It was completely unfamiliar and probably either belonged to our landlord or the previous tenant. The other number they had was Stretch's cell phone (yes, the same Stretch who is in another state for the month). Then she offered to delete Stretch's number (which they also had not called) from their database. WHAT?! Oh, wait, of course, because it would be SO helpful to delete the ONE phone number with which you'd have any chance of reaching the actual occupants of the house.

Seriously, I can't stand idiots or people who waste my time. Oh, and the repairman finally showed around 4 p.m., spent about 5 minutes replacing a part and declared the fridge fixed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

more insurance, please?

Stretch and I have a running joke about insurance. When I feel like he's not taking good care of himself, I'll often tell him he needs to buy more insurance. It's a choice: take care of yourself so you'll live longer or get more insurance. (It should go without saying that I'd rather have him around than the money.)

Currently, Stretch is attending something where injury is a possibility. Hopefully, it isn't a probability. Every evening he calls and tells me about his aches and pains. He's using the heating pad and soaking in boiling hot baths. I think he should find a sports masseuse where he is, too.

(tongue firmly in cheek) Is it wrong that I'm also wondering if he has enough insurance?

Monday, October 13, 2008

On not cooking

The night before Stretch left, I made a "real" meal. We had steaks and I remarked that it would probably be the last time I cooked until next month. A few days later, he asked what we were having for dinner. By then, we'd had leftovers and pizza and I was considering takeout and pancakes as options. He laughed. He brought up what I'd said about not cooking while he's gone. Did he think I was kidding?

The problem with cooking is that the kids almost never appreciate it. Yes, there are occasional meals and certain dishes that they really enjoy. But I don't want to spend the time and effort to make a nice dinner, clean it all up, and have 2 kids not eat it or have to spend the entire meal saying, "Take a bite." It's just too frustrating. When Stretch was gone for the year, I cooked "real" dinners 2 or 3 times a week. But he's only gone a few weeks this time. So I'm making the executive decision to give myself a break. Over the weekend, I ordered Chinese takeout. Big Sis turned her nose up at it (except the rice, she took half the rice). But L'il Sis tried the egg drop soup and LOVED it. The next night she asked if we could have Chinese food again.

Besides, there are a lot of meals that don't require "real" cooking. Last night we had pancakes. Made from a mix. I don't consider this cooking. But L'il Sis was delighted. Tonight I threw some canned rolls into the oven and emptied a frozen meal in a bag into a skillet. Again, I don't consider this cooking. It's more heating. We'd had this particular meal once before while Stretch was still home. L'il Sis greeted the pasta dish with this: "Dee-licious! I can't stop eating it!" Considering the usual response that I get from her ("Yuck! I'm not eating THAT!"), it's not inspiring me to actually do much "real" cooking this month.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Missing Daddy?

Stretch left here Wednesday morning after dropping Big Sis off at school. Three days later, on Saturday morning, Big Sis asked, "Where is Daddy exactly?"

She understood he'd be gone all month and has been good about trying to explain that to L'il Sis who just doesn't get it. L'il Sis keeps thinking he's coming home or asking if we're going to go pick him up. But still, I wonder about Big Sis' lack of curiosity for 3 days. Of course, this is the same child who once told Stretch when he'd asked her if she missed him shortly after leaving on a trip, "Not really. It's only been a day. That's not long enough to miss you yet." Ouch.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Flying Solo

I'm doing it again. Being a married single parent. The good part is that it's only until the end of the month this time. Much better than a year, let me tell you! 3 weeks should be a snap. Yeah, right.

Actually, so far so good. Despite 2 of us not feeling our best, the first couple of days have been decent. L'il Sis didn't stay in her own bed again last night, but then she almost never does, so it wasn't a huge surprise.

Big Sis had the day off from school today. So when she came downstairs and wanted to cuddle and watch TV after she was supposed to be in bed, I let her stay up a little later than usual. Besides, I have to get my cuddles with her when I can! She is much more reserved than her sister with affection so I take what I can get.

This morning, after dropping L'il Sis at preschool (and staying for their 1st chapel time), Big Sis and I went to Wal-Mart so she could start spending some of her birthday gift money. There's no denying she is Stretch's and my child: After picking out thank-you cards, she headed straight to the book section and picked out about $25 in books to spend her money on. She never even asked to go to the toy section (and, no, I didn't suggest it). After that, she wanted to go straight home to read her new books. Although I'm not sure why since she started reading them in the car!

Hmm, about 3 more weeks... Can a person completely forget how to cook in that time?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Big Sis

8 Years ago...
She always did have long legs like her daddy...
The birthday girl today...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mission Impossible

I honestly thought it would be a simple and quick errand. After school, Friday we would head over to C Creamery and order Big Sis' ice cream birthday cake for Monday. (That's what she asked for this year.) They were supposed to open at 1 p.m. but there was a sign on the door apologizing for the inconvenience and stating they would be open tomorrow. Hmm, now what? Oh, wait, there's a BR across the street and they have ice cream cakes! L'il Sis falls asleep just as we pull into the parking lot. No problem, I'll just have to carry her. In we go and peruse their cake book. Jackpot! They have a Spirit cake (the Disney horse) and Big Sis wants a horse on her cake because she is turning 8 and is completely horse crazy. But wait! You have to order these cakes a WEEK in advance. Well, that won't work since we need it in 3 days. Hmm.

I keep a small phonebook in my car and start looking through it frantically after we're in the car again. A DQ! But where is it? I think I can find it and we go looking for it. We can order a cake and they can draw a horse on it. Big Sis doesn't look thrilled but says she wants it. We order it but as soon as we're out the door (not even in the parking lot yet) she admits she really wants the Spirit horse figurines on her cake. So we go back in and cancel the order.

Then we have a little discussion that maybe she'll have to settle for a regular cake and not an ice cream cake. She is fine with this as long as Spirit and his companion are on the cake. So we try P grocery store (#1). No horse cakes. We go another grocery chain. Again, no horse cakes. How is this possible? We live in horse country!

We give up for the day and decide to try again on Saturday. The monsoon moves in before dawn on Saturday. And stays all day. By 11 a.m. I've decided, there's nothing else for it but we're going to have to go out in it. The girls don their raincoats while I take the closest thing I have (a windbreaker that's not quite up to the task). Our first stop is Wally World. I think we've hit paydirt. There is a cake with horses on it. It's not exactly Spirit but pretty darn close. But we celebrate too soon. They are out of that cake topper. Of course they are!

So then I change my paradigm once more. Maybe I can find the cake topper at a party or craft store and mommy will just make the cake. It wouldn't be the first time. I'm even willing to try drawing a horse on a cake at this point but she's not happy with that option. So we go to a party store. Half the store is taken over by Halloween costumes and paraphernalia. No luck with Spirit or any horse related items, unless you want to count My Little Pony, which Big Sis didn't. So we tried the craft store. Again, no luck.

At this point, I need sustenance. So we stop for lunch. By the way, it has been raining steadily the whole time. Occasionally it slows, but never stops.

After lunch, we try the creamery that we started with yesterday because they are supposed to be open today. False advertising. They are still closed. They still promise to be open tomorrow. But another super discount store is nearby so we go there. By now, the rain really is at monsoon strength. It is pouring and there is no such thing as a close parking spot. I park and grab the kids and the umbrella and make our way inside. We slip and slide our way to the bakery section but find no joy. On the way out, there is certain ubiquitous coffee shop. I'm sorely tempted to get a latte or machiatto or something. But I can't figure out how to hold onto L'il Sis, my car keys, the umbrella and a hot beverage while battling the monsoon back out to the car. Oh, well, I didn't need the calories anyway. By the time, we make it back into the car, the back of my pants are soaked. It's oh-so-comfortable.

We are across the street from BR so I think, "Well, maybe I can simply buy the cake topper from them. Although probably not b/c I don't think the cakes are made on site, but whatever, I'm desperate so let's try." The almost-human teenage boy working the counter didn't think it was possible. At least, that's what I think his grunts meant. I was too irritated to think about asking for a manager at this point. We pile back into the car. Have I mentioned that I'm now sitting in wet denim?

We go to P grocery store (#2). Still no horses but Big Sis decides she can live without them (she hopes for better luck next year) and decides on another design. The good news? It will be an ice cream cake, after all.

The worst part about the whole ordeal was that Big Sis kept apologizing, saying it was her fault that she'd picked such a hard cake to find. I felt bad enough as it was without her feeling bad, too. I kept trying to tell her it wasn't her fault at all. If it was anyone's fault, it was mine for waiting to place an order. But I honestly didn't think it would be such an ordeal. From a simple errand to practically the quest for the holy grail! Who knew it would take 12 stops and 2 days to accomplish the mission of ordering a cake?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

3rd grade math...

...has changed, people! The other day Big Sis' math homework started with 4 word problems. Okay, I had word problems in 3rd grade. (I think, after all, it's been a long time!) But these word problems seem to require algebra to solve. Or at least that's the only way I could solve them! Example: What two numbers have a sum of 39 and a difference of 11?

So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I sat there and tried to teach my not-quite-8-year-old some algebra, complete with x's and y's. She didn't much like having letters mixed up in her math. Can't say I blamed her. Where was her engineer-degreed father when we needed him?!

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments explaining the mysterious workings of 3rd grade math. How sad that I needed them! Of course, I wouldn't have needed them had the teacher bothered to send something home stating that's how those problem should be solved! But I digress. I still think it would make more sense to simply give them drill or practice sheets if they need to practice adding and subtracting (and believe me, they do!). Why go about it in such a round-about way? It seems inefficient and confusing to the kids (and parents!). If kids are struggling with math, this is not going to make them feel any better about the subject.

high praise

Cooking for my kids is so disheartening it might even give Rachel Ray pause. Seriously. Almost every dinner I make is greeted with "Yuck!" or "Eww!" or "I don't want to eat that!" It doesn't matter what it is or what it actually tastes like. Not to toot my own horn, but most of the time it is pretty good or, at least, edible.

This morning I made French toast for breakfast. I don't usually cook for breakfast so it should be considered a special treat. You'd think. Not so much. The oldest said she didn't want any. The youngest embraced them wholeheartedly. But she was hungry and fixated on the strawberries I promised her would go with them. I told Big Sis she couldn't have her "usual." (She puts frozen Chocolate Chip Eggo waffles into the toaster every morning before school, making her own breakfast.) Reluctantly, she sat down and inhaled her breakfast. But wouldn't admit to liking it. For some reason, she never remembers that this is a breakfast dish she actually likes. But L'il Sis sat next to her, eating and making appreciative noises. Then she turns to her big sister and says, "See. It's not so bad."

High praise, indeed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not exactly mother of the year

My friend Jody comes up with the best kid-parties. Her latest effort was a Jungle theme for her newly minted 5 year old. She managed to pull off another great party for her eldest shortly after moving into a new house in a new state. I have got to find a way to live in the same town as this woman, or at least within a couple of hours drive-time. Seriously. My poor kids have been short-changed this year. L'il Sis got a "family" party when she turned 4 in May and cupcakes taken to her preschool. Big Sis got a family outing for horseback riding last weekend (more on that later) and we'll celebrate as a family next week. And that's it. No parties. No themes. *sigh* Maybe I'll do better next year. Maybe I can talk Jody into coming down and party-planning for them...

Monday, September 29, 2008


Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law, I was able to go on a business trip with Stretch last week. I had one day of "classes" or conference and then the rest of the time was mine to catch up with friends and family. Stretch spent almost his entire time there experiencing death by PowerPoint. When one particular day ran long, I received a text message, "Just shoot me now."

For the 3rd time, I participated in a Four Lenses temperament class. Not too surprisingly, my personality or temperament hadn't changed, it only became more entrenched in what it already was. There actually are benefits to doing this more than once. I take something different away each time, but I do wish the presenters would recognize that some of us have done this before, thereby enabling a broader use of the training. For those of you who have done this, I am a green (one of only 2 in a room of 27 women at this conference). We are a rare breed and like it that way!

One of the highlights of the week was getting to spend almost all day Sunday with my college roommate. She was sweet enough to drive the 2+ hours to where I was since I had no transportation. It was nice to just get to hang out again without children and without a schedule to keep. We lived together for 5 years so we'd done our fair share of just hanging out in our youth.

Then, my mother and stepfather drove in from out of state for a couple of days. We shopped and ate Korean food. We even introduced a buddy of Stretch's to Korean food. This was challenging because we found out minutes before leaving for dinner that he had a sesame allergy. Seriously? Do you have any idea how integral sesame oil and sesame seeds are to Korean cooking?! Somehow we managed to feed everyone and no one went into anaphylactic shock.

I also ran into a couple of other Marine wives and had a great opportunity to catch up. A few of us even managed to go exploring and have lunch my last day there. It was a restful trip for me. One I'd needed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

go vote

Get the Gouge is currently running a funniest military story essay contest. Voting starts today and ends Sept. 30. If you feel so inclined, head over there and vote. And I'm not just saying that because I have a story up for the contest. (Mine is the one that combines lactation and the Navy.)

Update: They seem to have had a glitch in the voting. If you've already voted, please go back and cast your vote again. If you haven't already voted, click on the link above, select your favorite essay from those listed on the right sidebar and click on "vote."

I'm back

I know postings have been sparse lately. I just got back from a trip with Stretch but the natives are getting restless downstairs so I'll have to fill you in later. For now... I'm glad I had the break but am also glad to be back!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Really. Don't call us.

Last night, I heard Stretch answer the phone downstairs and speaking in Korean. I assumed my mother was on the phone, but Stretch didn't call me and by the time I finished what I was doing and went downstairs, he was off the phone. Hmm.

Since moving here, we are constantly getting phone calls from telemarketers and pollsters (despite being on the national do not call list). Last night, the phone rang and Stretch looked at the caller ID and reasoned it was either a telemarketer or a pollster. So, he decided to have some fun with it. He answered the phone with, "Yo-bo-say-yo." (Korean telephone greeting) Then, he continued to speak to the person on the line in Korean, frustrating the poor man until he finally hung up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

catching up

Wow, it seems I have some catching up to do. Last week was L'il Sis first real week of preschool here. The week before she was only in the classroom for an hour and a half without me while I attended a parents' meeting. But last Tuesday she attended preschool and Lunch Bunch. So this picture is from her first real day.

Last weekend, we decided to take a trip to the Space Coast. We went
to Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. Although it was a bit warm, it was a great day for it.
There weren't too
many people there so there were no long lines for anything. It's
hard to see in the picture, but there was a space shuttle on one of the launch pads, prepared for a mission scheduled in a few weeks.

Stretch rounded off the weekend by giving me a belated anniversary gift: an Atta Girl! bracelet! I'm wearing it as I type. I'm not a huge jewelry person (I'm definitely accessory-challenged!) but I like the bracelet for a couple of reasons. It is unique. It tells a story. And I love the thought that went into it. It is more than a piece of jewelry. It has meaning behind it, reminding me that Stretch really does appreciate me and what I do.
UPDATE: Someone asked what an Atta Girl! is. So here is my attempt at an explanation. Our service members receive various awards during the course of their service. Often these awards take the form of ribbons that are worn on dress uniforms. Atta Girl! charms use crystals on Italian charms to approximate the look of ribbons and are meant to represent different achievements of family members of service members.
My Atta Girl! bracelet tells my particular story: I'm a military wife, specifically a Marine wife. My husband awarded me both a hazardous duty and a deployment Atta Girl! (both with one star) for surviving his 2 deployments to Iraq with small children, the second one being a year long. I also wear a PCS charm with 5 stars and an overseas duty charm.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Proud mama

Last night was curriculum night at Big Sis' new school. I'm still not impressed. And although it's not very big of me, I couldn't help feeling not just proud but a bit gleeful when Big Sis' teacher told me last night that she is his best student. Apparently she is always the first done with any work, the first ready with an answer in class. As a result, she is the one he usually sends on errands.

I wasn't entirely surprised because she has always gotten great reviews from teachers. I just want to know why can't she bring some of that home with her?!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11

Last year, I posted about remembering where I was. NEE has a great post up today. It's short but to the point. It's also something along the lines of what I've been thinking today. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, our nation came together and fought a world war as a nation. After the 9/11 attacks, we came together for a short time. But that time seems to have been all too short. We are still at war, but I don't think we, as a nation, are fighting it.

Jan has a post on Standing By inviting comments on where you were 7 years ago today. And SpouseBuzz Radio will be airing a special show at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Viva la difference!

We took the kids to a science museum today. In a corner between the hands-on displays and the hallway of brain teasers, there was tucked a little Egyptian display, complete with a child mummy. L'il Sis could not get enough of the mummy. Three or four times, she went back to "Egypt." Once she discovered this section of the museum, she would have stayed there the entire time if we'd let her. She also wouldn't stop talking about the mummy. As we were getting into the car to leave, she was talking about it. Big Sis responded with, "The mummy gave me the creeps!"

Friday, September 05, 2008

Just another moving perk...

Stretch complains about "breaking in" new barbers. But he gets a haircut every week. So if he gets a bad haircut one week, it will be different (if not better) the next week.

Today, I went to a hairdresser for the first time since moving here. Yes, I was well overdue but hesitant about finding a new place to go. And unlike Stretch, I only have my hair done every 6-8 weeks (ideally, in reality, well that's another story). I feel I have a lot less room for error than Stretch.

I went in for color and a trim today. The greys really needed covering but I don't want to take the plunge with a new haircut until I know a hairdresser better. Today's appointment went okay. The color turned out well. And I have no complaints about the trim. She barely took anything off and didn't charge me so that was a plus.

But can someone please tell me why every hairdresser I go to wants to make my hair flip out when they style it?! The woman today even went so far as to recommend a cut that would make flipping it even easier. But I don't want my hair to flip out like that weird pink and purple Doodlebop character. I have nothing against the style. Some women look quite nice wearing it. I just don't want it on MY head.

Friday, August 29, 2008

not impressed

We knew coming to this state that the schools weren't considered great. I'd started to feel better about our area as I researched schools. The elementary school Big Sis is enrolled is just received an "A" rating from the state. I don't really know what that's supposed to mean, other than it's supposed to be an indication that it's a good school. Maybe the caveat should be "for this state." Two weeks into the school year and I am not impressed.

First, Big Sis has been complaining that they don't get recess. What? Third grade and no recess? My mother-in-law (retired teacher and principal) pointed out that x number of hours was required by state law in their state. Turns out it is here, too. So, what's the problem? Overcrowding and lack of space, apparently. The school currently has over 1100 students and they just don't have enough outdoor space (especially with shade -- it is still hot and muggy here) for all the kids to get recess. Supposedly, it is a priority and they are "working" on it.

Second, Big Sis brought home a flyer yesterday for after-school Spanish classes. It would be once a week and cost $195. What?! They don't have any foreign language instruction during the school day. Big Sis has had Spanish since Kindergarten during the regular class day. While we were overseas, she received some instruction in Korean as well as a daily class in Spanish. The last school she attended was in coastal Carolina. We are now in South Florida. Which area has a more obvious need for Spanish instruction?

Oh, to be back in a DoDEA school!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Military wives

A friend sent this to me but I have no idea who wrote this. One of the comments in the email was "We must be nuts!" Well, yeah. It is particularly apt that my friend sent this to me now, at a time when I needed a reminder to pull up my big girl pants and drive on. The bold and italics are my own emphasis.

What is a MILITARY Wife?

They may look different and each is wonderfully unique
But this they have in common.

lots of moving---
moving far from home
moving two cars, three kids and one dog----all riding with HER of course
moving sofas to basements because they won't go in THIS house
moving curtains that won't fit
moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours
moving away from friends moving toward new friends
moving her most important luggage; her trunk full of memories

often waiting-
waiting, waiting, waiting for housing; waiting for orders; waiting
for deployment; waiting for reunion; waiting for phones calls;
waiting for the new curtains to arrive; waiting for him to come home for dinner----AGAIN!

They call her 'military dependent', but she knows better
she can balance a checkbook
handle the yard work
fix a noisy toilet.
She is intimately familiar with drywall, anchors, and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes, sell a house, buy a car, or set up a move, --
--all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don't welcome her.
Reinvents her career with every PCS; locates a house in the desert,
the arctic, or the deep south and learns to call them all 'home'.
She MAKES them all home.

She is fiercely IN-dependent

Military Wives are somewhat hasty
They leap into decorating, leadership, volunteering, career alternatives,
churches and friendships.
They don't have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other. They connect over coffee, rely on the spouse-network and accept offers of friendship and favors and record addresses in pencil.

Military Wives have a common bond. The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands. His commitment is unique. He doesn't have a job, he has a 'mission' he can't just decide to quit.
He's on-call for his country 24/7 but for you, he's the most...
Unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign: TDY, PCS, OPR, ACC, BDU
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his.
She is the long-distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.

Military Wife has her moments--
She wants to wring his neck, dye his uniform pink, and refuse to move to Siberia.
But she pulls herself together. Give her a few days, a travel brochure, a long hot bath, a pledge to the flag, and a wedding picture.
And she goes.
She packs.
She moves.
She follows.

Why? What for? How come? You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has lost her heart.
It was stolen from her by a man
who puts duty first
who longs to deploy
who salutes the flag
and whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military husband,
She will remain his Military wife.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Must be in the genes...

Just a little background: Stretch has a lot of teachers and educators in his family. Both his parents, his aunt, his grandmother. I have a few in my family but they are not as closely related. Plus, Stretch has done stints as an instructor and he's very good at it. (Unlike me, I was a horrible tutor. I never understood why someone didn't "get" something if I understood it.)

School's been back in session for just under a week and already Big Sis is trying to "teach" L'il Sis. Of course, L'il Sis thinks it's a game, while Big Sis takes it seriously. This is the conversation heard today while dinner was in the oven:

L'il Sis: I want to be the teacher!
Big Sis: No, you don't know anything. (said very matter-of-factly)
(more talking, but I can't make it all out)
Big Sis: I know everything. (Oh, the confidence!)
(still later)
Big Sis: (exasperated) We're not playing! (She actually is trying to teach her sister something, anything at this point)
L'il Sis: (resigned, still thinking it's a game) Fine, you can be the teacher.

(Still later, Big Sis is trying to teach L'il Sis about addition. Um, how about we just concentrate on counting without leaving out any numbers? I mean, she is only 4!)
Big Sis: 1 + 1 is 2. It's not 1 because that's multiplication.

Then she moved on to the Pledge of Allegiance. Shortly after that, L'il Sis was getting agitated and complaining that school was boring so it was a good thing dinner was ready.

storm update and creepy crawly question

Although Fay is still hovering over Florida, we missed the brunt of it. Monday night was probably the worst in our area. Ironically, the tree in our front yard didn't fall over until the next night. Yesterday, some guys came by to right it and stake it for support. But the ground is still so soggy that a couple of hours later, it was already leaning almost 45 degrees again. Guess I will be calling and asking them to come back and do it again.

Now,for the creepy crawly question. Does anyone know what kind of spider this is? It's made a home outside our breakfast area. Then Stretch made the mistake of dubbing it "Homer" so the kids refer to it as a pet of sorts. The problem is I haven't been able to identify it or whether it's poisonous. We just don't go out to the patio right now. It's hard to tell in the picture, but Homer is BIG. So, if anyone knows what this is, I'd love to know, too!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I needed a laugh and this is what I got:

Stretch is due to leave for a trip this week. And we have Tropical Storm/Hurricane Fay bearing down on us. Yep, that sounds about right. I couldn't help but think of the story in Household Baggage Handlers about the woman and her daughters surviving a tornado in Oklahoma while her husband and the planes were taken out of the danger zone. She noted the irony of the women and children being left behind.

So anyway, we've got Fay heading our way. My sister pointed out that we've survived tornadoes, earthquakes, monsoons and now this. What's next? A plague of locusts? Oh, wait, do the crickets that seemed to be everywhere in 29 Palms count? They're not exactly locusts, but let's check that one off, too.

1st day of 3rd grade

Big Sis started 3rd grade at her 3rd school today. I usually try to take her picture by her growth stick on the first day of school. Usually, I do this in the morning. Today, between first day AND new school jitters AND the possibility of our first hurricane, well, I just forgot. So we did it after school. After homework. Big Sis insisted on that. (It was less homework and more paperwork for me and memorizing a few things for her.) Although she didn't want to tell me anything about her first day ("Quit asking questions about school, Mom!"), it was obvious that she came home excited and ready for this next year. I love that she gets excited about school and I hope she can hold onto that excitement throughout her school years.
It was starting to rain when L'il Sis and I left to pick up Big Sis at school. Her school lets out at 2:00. We left the house at 1:40 (we live less than 5 minutes away). Because it was raining, I got into the carpool lane instead of parking and picking her up at the spot where walkers are met. Big mistake! It was after 2:30 when I finally turned into the school's gate to make the short loop around the front entrance and it was 2:45 before I had Big Sis in the car. In future, either L'il Sis and I will just get drenched or we'll leave around 2:30 or later to get Big Sis!
Update: Some of you asked about Big Sis' outfit. She attends a public school, but all of the schools in this county have a "uniform." At her school, the kids can wear 4 colors (black, navy blue, khaki, and olive green) on the bottom in a variety of styles (skort, bermuda shorts, pants, capris) and any solid color top without logos. Of the colors they are allowed for their bottoms, I could only find 2.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

sweethearts, tantrums and chipmunks

It seems everyone in this area was out today stocking up in case of a hurricane. I set out for Wal-Mart for the things still left on our list a couple of hours before dinner. It was packed and I spent almost as much time in line as I did shopping, despite being in the express lane! Anyway, it took me longer than I thought it would. So it was dinner time before I got back and I just knew it meant a late night for the kids with everything pushed back an hour or so. But I was in for a surprise.

Big Sis had taken it upon herself to clean up the kitchen and make dinner. On the menu this evening were hot dogs and mac-n-cheese. I'm sure she got a little bit of help from Stretch but he says it was all her idea and he let her do most of the cooking. She was so proud and insisted on plating everyone's dinner and dishing out seconds herself as well. Did I mention she's only 7?

In so many ways, she acts so grown-up. She can be so sweet and responsible. She was great with Claire the whole time we were out earlier in the day. But her mood can change so quickly that it can give you whiplash.

After dinner, she wanted to play chess. (We played for the first time the other day.) It wasn't long before she became both bored and frustrated. Then she threw a tantrum. Eventually, Stretch pinned her down and was giving her zerberts, trying to give her chill bumps and make her laugh.

And that's where chipmunks come into it. L'il Sis (aka the Brute) heard him saying "chill bumps" and jumped in wanting to give him the same but it came out "chipmunks." It took me awhile to figure out what she was talking about. She wiggled in close enough and gave him zerberts on his neck while giggling and saying "chipmunks" when she came up for air.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

our little brute

I might have to change L'il Sis' nickname to "The Brute." She's my 4 year old. Her older sister is 7 (soon to be 8). They'd been bickering off and on all day today, but this afternoon it took on a whole other tone.

I heard Big Sis crying and saying that L'il Sis had punched her in the stomach. By the time I had them both in front of me, the older one was still rubbing her stomach (and yes, she can be a bit of a drama-queen) and the younger one was completely unrepentant. Apparently, Big Sis had been ignoring her. Well! We can't have that, can we?

I sent her off to her room for a time-out. Later, she traipsed into my room to tell me that Big Sis was "annoying" her. Her convoluted explanation included that Big Sis had said she "didn't care" and that was why L'il Sis, or The Brute, "beat her butt." Yes, those were her words. I know it's wrong, but it was really hard not to laugh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Uniforms and free lunches

I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but our new home is NOT a military town. Stretch is here working with Reservists. There is no base or anything else remotely resembling active-duty living. The Marines have a building that they share with the Navy, motor pool area, and parking lot that is all enclosed by a rusty chain-link fence. So coming here, we really had no idea what to expect.

So far, Stretch has found that reception the Marines receive here is overwhelmingly supportive. In fact, they dress up once a week and wear their Charlies. They can't wear their cammies out in town but they can wear the Charlies. On several occasions, Marines have had strangers pay for their lunches while out in uniform. In fact, it happened to us just last week. L'il Sis and I met Stretch for lunch. We needed boxes and when the waitress brought them by, she let Stretch know that the gentleman at the next table had paid for our lunch. Of course, he thanked him right away and again before we left. Outside, he chalked it up to L'il Sis being so cute (okay, he said me, too, but I'm not buying that). Hmm. Yes, she's cute. But she's never gotten me a free lunch before.

It's an interesting thing. It's very nice to have someone feel appreciative of the military and want to do something nice for its members. At the same time, it felt a bit strange to be the recipient of that.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Guard Wife had an interesting post over on SpouseBuzz. The Mrs. over at Trying Our Best had a similar post a little while ago. The issue was having or not having a third child or when to know when you were done having children. This is such a personal issue and it is different for every family and every person.

But I know I am done. So done.

Early on, Stretch and I agreed that 2 children was the right number for us. We both came from families that had 2 kids. From a logical perspective, it meant a parent-child ratio of 1 to 1 (well, when he's around) and when only one parent was around, we had a hand for each child.

Yes, it's nice to hold a baby and inhale that clean powdery baby smell. And it's fun to play with with my toddler nephews. But babies grow up and have to be potty-trained. My girls are 4 and almost 8 now. Neither one needs to have her diaper changed. I no longer have to haul a diaper bag, changes of clothing, and a stroller just to get out the door. I no longer have to pack for every contingency just to go shopping. The oldest can get her own breakfast and even her sister's if she needs to. She can make a simple sandwich if she's hungry and no one else is willing to do it for her. The youngest is fully verbal now. I don't have to guess as much about what's wrong if she's crying. These are little things but they are huge at the same time. It means that the girls are moving that much closer to independence. They are obviously nowhere near being independent but they are a lot less dependent on me.

Although we haven't made the switch yet, legally Big Sis doesn't have to ride in her booster seat in this new state. And L'il Sis could probably make the switch from car seat to booster (her seat does both). The point is both are growing up and it is getting easier to get in and out of the car with them. Do I really want to go back to a baby in a rear-facing car seat that takes up so much room in a vehicle? No. And, on a tangent, why is it that the smaller the child, the more room their luggage and equipment takes up?!

Next year, both girls will be in school. I can almost taste getting a life of my own. So do I want to start all over? No! I love my girls and wouldn't change anything about having them, but to borrow a phrase from Bill Cosby, we have 2 children because we do not want 3.