Thursday, July 31, 2008

tall thin weeds

I mentioned in the last couple of posts that the girls had their yearly check-ups this week so that they could be enrolled in school (okay, fine, preschool for one). Once again, it was brought home just how weak my genes must be. After the girls had each been weighed and measured by a nurse (not a corpsman? this civilian doctors' office is gonna take some getting used to), we were put into an examining room to wait for our new pediatrician. She came in and the first words out of her mouth were that both girls were tall for their age but thin. Like this is news to me. They get both of these traits from Stretch, obviously. Big Sis's height and weight percentiles were inversely proportionate to each other, which I thought was funny: Her weight fell into the 47th percentile while her height was in the 74th. She's actually come down from her days at the 90-95th end of the chart. L'il Sis on the other hand topped the height chart at 98th percentile. But that is down from her infant days when she was off the charts. Yeah, those are not the Asian genes at work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's never easy...

Finally! I managed to get Big Sis enrolled in her new school today. It only took 4 attempts:

1. Go to school, only to learn there was no one available in the office.

2. Return to school during hours when someone is available. Receive packet of paperwork to fill out. Have brought copy of birth certificate and last school's records with me. However, am told that must have a number of other documents, including medical form and Florida immunization record. (I guess that international shot record just won't do.) Only a complete packet will be accepted.

3. It takes almost a month to get an appointment for the girls to see a doctor. After the appointment, I think I have everything needed to enroll Big Sis. So we make our way back to the school. Everything is there... except 2 proofs of residency. I rummage through my purse but can only find a coupon from Home Depot with our address on it. Deep breaths. Bundle kids back into hot car.

4. Am determined to get this child enrolled. Back at the house, pull car into the shade of the garage, run into house, find lease, phone bill and community clubhouse ID (figure they will accept at least 2 of the 3). Return once more to the school. Turn in complete packet.

I'm beginning to hate stickers

Stickers. Kids get them as rewards. Oh, but I'm beginning to hate the sight of them. It's bad enough that L'il Sis will stick them on any and every unsuitable surface. But I can deal with that. That's what Goo Gone is for. But in the past week, stickers have caused 2 melt-downs by Big Sis and a panic episode for L'il Sis.

After their first swim lesson with their new swim teacher last week, she gave L'il Sis a sticker. Big Sis didn't get one because she was busy swimming and playing in another part of our community pool (her lesson was first and then she went off to play and met a little girl her age). On the way home, when she realized L'il Sis had a sticker and she didn't, major meltdown. By the way, she will be 8 in a couple of months and L'il Sis just turned 4.

Yesterday, they had another swim lesson. This time Big Sis made sure she stayed close enough to get her sticker. Both received stickers and when it was time to go home, Big Sis took a long circuitous route around a large yard to get to our car. L'il Sis started to chase after her over the grass, but when I called her back to me, the sticker fell off her wet body and she lost the small sticker in the grass. Tears and upset followed. Big Sis was sweet and tore her sticker in half to share with L'il Sis.

Today, both girls had a medical checkup so that they can be enrolled in schools here. L'il Sis also had to receive 2 shots. The nurse told her she could pick 2 stickers as a result. You can see where this is going, can't you? Big Sis had a major meltdown before we ever got out of the office. She crumpled up her one sticker and kept throwing it in on the floor. (I made her keep picking it up so she could throw it into the trash.) Out in the car, after she lost TV privileges, L'il Sis offered to share with her, but she was having none of it.

All this because of stickers that will not last the day and end up in the trash anyway. Seriously?!

Monday, July 21, 2008

another list

Ages ago, a friend emailed this list to me. I've added a few of my own comments in red.


1. You yell at your kids saying, "Don't make me email your Father!"
2. Your neighbors know you but have never seen your active-duty husband. Likewise, your husband has no idea who any of the neighbors are.
3. Your conversations are sprinkled with PCS, TAD, LES, etc. and you know what they mean. My brother-in-law actually said that I "talk like him [Stretch] now."
4. You had 8 address changes in 9 years and you are not on the run from the law. 9 addresses in 10 years. And, no, we're not on the run from the law.
5. The front hall closet of your home is designated as a uniform closet. What?! Only one dinky hall closet?! How about a separate bedroom with it's own big closet. That way the room can house all that "I love me" gear: awards, plaques, military-themed pictures and decorations...oh, and the uniforms, too...
6. Your spouse will be gone for 2 weeks for work and you think, "Is that all? No problem." "I'll get to catch up on all the "chick" rentals from Netflix." "The kids can eat chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese -- woo hoo, no cooking for 2 weeks!"
7. The radiator blows up on the car and the washing machine dies just as your spouse leaves for temporary duty. And you wait for the 3rd thing to go.
8. You aren't surprised when you get 4 day notice for a 4 month deployment.
9. You don't know your own Social Security number, but you know your spouse's by heart. And you're surprised when anyone wants yours.
10. You are in a disagreement with a bill collector and say, "Let me speak to your CO!"
11. You spend your second wedding anniversary alone. Been there, done that.
12. You move your day care business from one state to another and still have the same children enrolled.
13. You have a collection of different shapes, sizes, and colors of window treatments for the same room. I didn't even bother with window treatments until 2 years ago. But now the collection does seem to be growing. What's disturbing, though, is the collection of curtain rods I now have.
14. Your heart races when you hear the doorbell ring during a deployment. Or the phone ring.
15. You've done more oil changes and mowed more lawns than your spouse because he's never there to do it himself. I just laugh when Stretch wants to keep some ratty piece of clothing because he "can wear it for yard work." When is he ever home to DO any yard work?
16. You remember milestones by duty stations. Oh, yeah...when/where major purchases were made, when/where the kids were born.

17. All your kids, including your 2 yr old, stop what they are doing and put their hands on their hearts whenever they hear the National Anthem.
18. You can sleep through the sounds of fighter planes and bombers during their morning practice. I usually don't even notice when artillery is going off in the distance.
19. You reach for your ID card when entering a civilian store. I've actually flashed my ID at Sam's Club.
20. You ask someone to hold on by saying, "Standby." Okay, I admit it, I've done this.
21. Your kids point and anyone wearing cammies and boots, regardless of race or gender and yell Daddy! Thank goodness everyone else's kid on base usually does the same thing!
22. You tell the movers the correct way to pack.
23. You notice when Hollywood makes mistakes in portraying the military. Ok, I admit, I do.
24. Military homecomings on TV bring tears to your eyes because you can relate so well. Sadly, it doesn't take much. I also love the Toys for Tots commercial with the little boy going up to the stoic Marine who eventually opens his hand and takes the boy's list and then the boy leaves whispering, "He really is Santa Claus!"
25. You start to read the Leatherneck in place of Cosmopolitan. I've picked up the Marine Corps Gazette to glance through it to see if we know any of the contributors. I don't really read many of the articles, though. Sad, I know.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Putting the pieces back together again

This is a post I meant to write much earlier. Oh, well, better late than never. And, maybe, I'll have more to say now.

There's something a bit disturbing about seeing all your things boxed up, your home looking a bit forlorn (as if it knows it's about to be abandoned). It's a bit like seeing your life boxed up to be neatly delivered somewhere else and hoping everything will be intact on the other end.

Seeing all of our worldly goods lined up in the driveway, waiting to be loaded onto the moving truck is always a bit strange, too. Until this last move, I always thought to myself, "Stretch doesn't know what he's talking about. We hardly have any stuff." This move was different. This time, I looked at all that "stuff" on our front yard and thought, "Good lord! I thought I'd purged but clearly not nearly enough. Where did all that come from?!"

Now, we're in the latest house. It's a good deal larger than the last one (which was pretty big by our standards -- it had been the largest one we'd ever lived in until now). But I'm still having the same old problem of trying find a home for all our things. I've heard more than one mil-spouse refer to it as a giant jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes, the homes are too small to comfortably fit all our things. Other times, especially when we were newlyweds, we didn't have much and tried to spread things out so the place didn't appear quite so empty (this failed miserably, by the way).

In some ways, it's fun because you never quite know where things will end up. While this house is big, it's a bit short on wall space. Which is why a painting that used to be in our living room is now in the master bedroom. Another painting that used to be in our living room and a framed papyrus that had been displayed in the dining room now share space in our entryway. This home is coming together, but slowly. I'm still trying to figure out where all the pieces will go this time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

10 years

10 years. That's how long it's been since we said our vows before family and friends. Since then, we've had 9 addresses, 6 PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves and 2 children along the way. We've moved down the coast (both of them), across the country and around the world. We've driven across barren wasteland wondering when we'd see the next person. And we've survived driving in the urban traffic of D.C., L.A., and Seoul.

10 years. We've endured the blistering heat of Mojave Desert summers and the butt-numbing cold of Korean winters. We've survived ice storms, tornadoes, earthquakes and monsoons. We've seen some beautiful places in the world. From the back of beyond in British Columbia (places so remote that the only way in and out was the train) to soaking up the sun in Jamaica to the fabulous sights and shopping in Singapore.

10 years. We've made so many memories. It's been an incredible decade of learning about ourselves, each other, and our marriage. And there's so much more to learn and experience. So many more memories to make. Here's to the next 10 years!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Read all about it!

It's here!
HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE HANDLERS: 56 Stories From the Hearts and Lives of Military Wives

As the editor, Marna Krajeski writes on her website: "...48 wives share their total embarrassments, tragic experiences, and tender emotions as they tackle the daily dramas of military life. By turns touching and hilarious, Household Baggage Handlers opens the door on an often overlooked world, one requiring the independence and survival skills to:

  • Move overseas while six months pregnant
  • Manage labor, delivery, and a newborn … without a spouse
  • Nurse a critically injured husband back to health
  • Confront the sight of someone in uniform at the front door
  • Shelter five children alone during a tornado
  • Cope with bats, blizzards, and broken cars during long deployments

Read all about it in their own words. With anecdotes from WWII to the present, these compelling stories capture a sisterhood forged by extraordinary circumstances. "

Within the covers are stories written by a variety of women such as syndicated columnists Sarah Smiley and Jacey Eckhart, SpouseBuzz contributors Andi Hurley and Ruthie Alekseyev (a.k.a. airforcewife), and ME! Who knows? One of the contributors could be your neighbor! Get a copy now!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

reunions, weddings, and fun with the "friendly skies"...

You may recall that we've just moved. Or maybe you just thought I'd fallen off the planet. At any rate, we managed to accept our household goods one day and then the next day we flew to another state to retrieve our children and second vehicle. We visited with my sister for a few days (she took care of our girls for us that week we were getting the house ready and trying to move in). Then we went on to yet another state to visit Stretch's family (which included a side trip to yet another state -- we're up to 3 now if you are counting, not including the one we started from).

We left family and started our drive back to our new home 3 states away. On the way, we stopped in Myrtle Beach for a night so we could have dinner with one of Stretch's Naval Academy room-mates and his family. It was the first chance I had to meet them. We've been married 10 years and we finally proved to them that I actually exist (and so do the kids!). I still heard his ex-roomie remark, "I still say Stretch was on the beach this afternoon with his wallet saying, 'I need a mom and 2 kids!'"

After a grueling 3 days in the car, we finally make it to our new Maison Dragonfly. Then the serious unpacking had to begin. But there was a catch. Isn't there always? In the midst of all of the unpacking, I also had to start packing. Because we were off on yet another trip! My cousin was getting married and the girls were going to be flower girls in her wedding.

In true military family fashion, no one from this part of my family had met L'il Sis yet and she turned FOUR in May. Big Sis hadn't seen any of them since she was 2, so didn't remember anyone and kept asking who "these people" were and how were we related. But they were excited about the wedding and their princess dresses. My sister's daughter was the third flower girl so they were even more excited.

But the real fun was yet to come. We had an evening flight to return home. Which would have been fine except there was heavy weather at the airport of our connecting flight. We were delayed. Then delayed again. Eventually, they boarded us onto the flight. Only to tell us that all flights had again been grounded and they were looking for another update in 50 minutes. So we just sat in the plane at the gate. Fun! The next time the control tower lifted the ban on taking off, our pilot did so as quickly as possible.

Of course, there weren't 4 seats together. Stretch sat with the kids. I was in a window seat next to a stranger. Who went to sleep. Which wouldn't have been a problem, except I developed a need for the restroom. But we were almost to the next airport so I thought I'd try to hold it. When the plane landed, I was one of the first people in the aisle. Stretch knew I was in pain and told me to just go and get to the nearest one and he'd follow with the kids. We're still standing in the aisle. Then the pilot announces that they are waiting on the guy to drive the jet way to the plane. He takes his merry little time getting there. Or at least that's how it felt. He finally arrives. Still no jet way. The pilot announces there is a mechanical problem with the jet way but mechanics are on their way and will get it fixed in no time. At this point, I would have been happy with a ladder! Finally, the jet way was in place and the door was open. I made my way out as quickly as a woman with a full bladder can. Thankfully, there was restroom just across the hall from the gate. I ducked in. ALL the stalls were full! I was beginning to think there was a conspiracy!

Finally, mission accomplished, I reached for my cell phone to call Stretch to find out which gate they were at for the connecting flight. It went straight to voicemail. I started to panic a little. I called back but then my phone was ringing to let me know I had a voicemail. I pulled it up and heard, not a message, but my husband talking to whoever was manning the gate at his end, "our flight just wife is in the, she couldn't wait..." I hung up and dialed Stretch again. He answered this time. He told me which gate to go to and then added, "Run. They've already closed the door." Just peachy.

I get there and find I am not alone. There is a man waiting to board and someone in a flight uniform who turns out to be the co-pilot. The door is unlocked and the 3 of us head down the jet way. My family is waiting for me at the end of it. Big Sis' eyes has been crying. She grabs my arm and doesn't let go. Of course, our seats are near the back of the plane. When we finally get to them, an announcement comes on that the XO has arrived and he will be nice enough to turn on the A/C. Apparently, these people had been sitting on this plane for a long time. Without A/C. But we were still waiting. On the pilot. Yeah, I could have been spared the slight coronary that I'd been given exiting the ladies' room.

We finally made it home just after 2 a.m. Big Sis (who didn't sleep the entire trip) kept saying how tired she was and that we would all need to go to bed as soon as we got into the house. No arguments here!

Back to the land of boxes...
Now, I've heard of mil-spouses who tackle the unpacking and get it done in less than a week. These are super-women. I don't understand how they do it. I actually know one from our last duty station. While her husband was deployed, she moved onto base, had her house unpacked within two weeks, AND hosted an event in her new home. Yeah, let me tell you, that is so NOT happening here. And not for lack of trying. The boxes just seem to multiply. Well, since I'm still knee-deep in the unpacking of it all, I guess I'd better get back to it...