Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Break

Yes, I know I'm late since Spring Break was 2 weeks ago... Better late than never!

Backing up just a bit...I returned from my fruitless house hunting trip on a Friday night. By Sunday, Stretch hit the road for a course. The next day, Monday, found the girls and I on the road to my in-laws' house for a few days. Then, it was another day on the road to join Stretch for a long weekend before returning home.

Stretch had classes to attend so I took the girls to the Virginia Zoo the first day we were there.

Saturday morning found us at Jamestown. L'il Sis particularly liked the Indian village. She wasn't too thrilled with the ships and wanted off of them as soon as possible.

Because we are over-achievers, after we left Jamestown, we headed over to Yorktown.

Every time we saw a cannon, L'il Sis would exclaim, "Oh, Daddy! It's your favorite!"

We also went to the Yorktown battlefield. Did I mention being over-achievers? It was late by then, and the park building was closed for the day. So we walked parts of the battlefield while Stretch tried to explain the battle in terms a 7 year old could understand. You can see in the picture that Big Sis insisted on a rifle at the previous stop's gift shop (she wanted it so badly, she paid for it herself). She was cute, paying close attention to Stretch's explanations and asking questions. The next day, after we returned home, she rounded up a couple of the neighborhood boys, enlisted them and fought the British.

It was a lot to pack into a single day, and although I was exhausted, I'm so glad we did it. The girls both seemed to enjoy themselves and we really don't know when we'll be in the area again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Check out "Anti-War Wounds." The article is an eloquent expression of what it feels like to be married to a military servicemember during this war. And it makes a pretty good point on using the word "we." Katie Dyer was able to put into words something that is often so difficult to express.

Update: I think the writer's focus was not on the anti-war movement but rather on what it is like for military spouses when confronted with some of those attitudes by people who have no idea what our lives or our spouses' lives are like or about. I had something similar happen on my recent house hunting trip. While eating breakfast one morning, an older man started chatting with my mother-in-law and me. As soon as he found out that Stretch was in the military, he immediately started in with how terrible the war was and what a waste it was and then followed up with "but your husband probably supports it" as if all military members blindly support anything and everything the administration does. Regardless of Stretch's views, this man was talking to me. And he had no idea of what my views were or what it feels like to hear someone say that the past year my husband and I spent apart had no value and was a complete waste. I think Ms. Dyer's point was that everyone has the right to their own opinion but opinions can be expressed without trampling on other people. For one protester to tell her that she'd join them when her husband was dead was going beyond the pale.

peeking into the civilian world...

Our next duty station is in the civilian world. So despite being in a large metropolitan area, it feels like we're going to a remote location. No commissary. No military hospital or military doctors. None of the usual groups and services that I usually just take for granted: Spouses' groups, LINKS, base childcare, base chapel (I secretly like them because I know everyone there "gets" it), oh the list could go on forever. So, as you can see, I'm a bit nervous of leaving the safe harbor of military living and making this initial foray into civilian living.

Well, let me tell you, my recent house-hunting trip did very little to allay those nerves! I spent almost a week (and let's not talk about how much money) going to the area with my mother-in-law and looked for rental property. It was incredible frustrating. My first choice, while not ideal was in a great school district, had a grumpy landlord and/or property manager who refused to do basic things to make the house fit to live in. So cross that one off. My second choice wouldn't come down on the rent (I didn't really expect them to) so cross that one off. My third choice... well, I thought it was decent compromise of the things we were looking for and, at first blush, the landlord seemed great and accommodating. We signed a rental contract and I handed over a deposit check and a check for the first month's rent. And I returned home.

The following week, the lease was faxed to me for approval. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I read through it. Stretch probably thought I was going to have a stroke as I kept saying things like, "No! Um, no! What?! Is he crazy?" Bottom line: the lease didn't come close to resembling the terms of the rental contract. For starters, deposit and rent amounts had been increased. The military clause had been left out. And from what was written, it appeared the landlord intended to return very little of the security deposit. After going "high and to the right," I calmed down and put on my lawyer hat. I emailed my realtor with a list of why I viewed the landlord as being in breach of contract and gave examples of him showing bad faith (one example was he'd cashed the rent check despite not having a signed lease!) and expressed the need to have all money returned to us immediately. (We did eventually get our money back, by the way.)

So what did I have to show for my week in the area? Lots of stress (and physical manifestations of that stress) and we STILL don't have a home.

Monday, April 21, 2008

by the numbers....

Sometimes, I think too much.

While driving across yet another state last week, I decided to tally up just how long Stretch has been with us during this past assignment. That was a mistake.

We will be in our present home for almost 16 months when we move out this summer. During that time, Stretch will have been home for roughly 3 months, not all together but if you piece the individual days and weeks together.

We're going to have very different memories of this duty station. I doubt he'll remember the house at all. And after all my, ahem, issues with this house, I doubt I'll be able to forget it!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


"Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

~Ronald Reagan

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spa Day

We're going to be moving (again!) in a couple of months. It seems like we just got here. Oh, yeah, we did just get here (practically). We'll have been in this house for almost 16 months when we move.

I'm going househunting next week with my mother-in-law while Stretch stays home with the kids. Between all of the recent chaos, stress from the upcoming move, stress from worrying about finding a home at the other end in a good neighborhood with a good school, etc., etc.... Well, I've been a bit stressed lately. Then, add another birthday this Sunday. Yay, me!

I have to give Stretch kudos this year. He did really well. I received my pressies early this year since I'm leaving tomorrow. The kids gave me perfume and Stretch gave me jewelry (always appreciated). Then he also surprised me with a spa package at a local day spa. A massage (pure bliss!), mini-facial (very nice!) and a spa manicure (I would NEVER get this for myself). It was so nice to spend 3 hours being pampered and not feel an ounce of guilt for it. So relaxing!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

In honor of April being Month of the Military Child...

I am a
Marine Brat
My hometown is nowhere, my friends are everywhere.
I grew up with the knowledge that home
is where the heart is and the family..
with no dependency on the dwelling.
Mobility is my way of life.
Some would wonder about roots.
yet they are as deep and strong as the mighty oak.
I sink them quickly, absorbing all an area offers
and hopefully, give enrichment in return.
Travel has taught me to be open.
Shaking hands with the universe,
I find brotherhood in all men.
Farewells are never easy.
Yet, even in sorrow comes some strength and ability
to face tomorrow with anticipation...
And if when I leave one place
I feel that half my world is left behind, I also know
that the other half is waiting to be met.
Friendships are formed in hours and kept for decades.
I will not grow up with anyone but will mature with many.
Be it inevitable that paths part, there is constant hope
that they will meet again.
Love of country, respect and pride
fill my being when Old Glory passes in review.
When I stand to honor the flag
so also do I stand to honor all Marines, and
most especially, to the parents whose life created mine.
Because of this
I have shared in the rich heritage of the Marine life.
If you haven't already seen this film, I highly recommend BRATS: Our Journey Home. It will especially resonate if you grew up in the military, as I did. It's narrated by Kris Kristofferson (an Air Force Brat). I had the opportunity to attend a screening on base where the director Donna Musil (also a military brat) was available to answer questions.