Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reading milestone

It took 2 nights, but L'il Sis finished reading Green Eggs and Ham tonight! Woot! She is the child that I can never get to practice her sight words, etc. Unlike her sister, she's usually not happy to sit still to have a book read to her and has had little interest in learning to read.

So. This was huge! I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Abigail Adams

We were watching Part 3 of the John Adams miniseries. That man was gone a LOT. During the part where John leaves with their oldest son to go to Europe during the Revolutionary War (leaving Abigail home on the farm with the rest of their brood), I commented that she was a strong woman. Stretch chimed in with, "and grumpy, apparently." To which I could only reply, "She had every right to be grumpy!"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

She's a genius! Um, maybe...

I walked into our 5 year old's room to find her "writing" D-O-G on Stretch's back. He deciphered the word and then exclained, "I think she just spelled Devil Dog!"

I had to start laughing. He'd obviously forgotten that the back of his t-shirt had the words "Devil Dog Run" on it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Time for Toys for Tots!

It's that time of year! For the first time, I'm able to help out at our local Toys for Tots warehouse where toys are sorted and distributed. One of the Marines noted today that this year the warehouse is emptier than he's ever seen it. While the need continues to grow and surpass previous years, the donations are down. So, please, if you are able, consider donating a new unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots.

To learn more, you can read last year's post. Meanwhile, my favorite Marine commercial:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

After the Ball

Wouldn't you know it? I forgot to take pictures before the Ball so we took some after we got home. Of course, part of the problem was that we were running late and we were supposed to meet 2 other couples to carpool!

In case you're wondering: I'm not on a box or wearing stilts. Stretch is squatting... Feel the burn!

Thank you!

First, thank you to all our veterans. I didn't post yesterday because I was spending the day with my Marine and our girls.

And second, a big thank you to everyone who donated to Project Valour-IT. We raised $102,946!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Today, our Marine Corps celebrates 234 years since their birth in Tun Tavern. On Saturday, I was privileged to attend a Birthday Ball with my Marine. It is impossible for me to attend a Birthday Ceremony without being affected by the sense of history and fraternity that is a palpable presence.

Our men and women in all the services continue to give their all. You can honor their service and their sacrifices. Please give generously! They already have.

Click on the Valour-IT thermometer on the upper right sidebar to donate. Thank you!

Semper Fi!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Marines of the Day

Today's Marines of the Day are Aaron and Diana Mankin. You can read more of their story at Villainous Company. The following is an interview with Corporal Mankin:

Please consider donating and spreading the word to others who may not know about Project Valour-IT. These brave men and women have sacrificed so much, it seems the least we can do.

Update: An inspiring story of a group of female Marines.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Call for reinforcements

If you haven't yet done so, please consider a small donation to the Valour IT Marine team. We've managed to assemble a team of over 65 bloggers but it's tough for us to compete with the larger services.

Until yesterday we had a $2000 lead over the Army and a $7-8000 lead over Air Force and Navy. But our position is being overrun. We need reinforcements!

The devices that Valour-IT funds have a profound and visible effect on users/recipients and ALL money donated for Valour-IT goes to purchase and shipping of laptops, Wiis, and GPS devices (that means ZERO OVERHEAD). Valour IT provides powerful tools that help severely wounded vets (not just those with hand problems) speed up recovery and treatment, maintain a support system, and regain a sense of independence.

Valour IT facts:

*in 4+ years Valour IT has provided 4,100 laptops, over 30 Wii systems to VA hospitals, and nearly 100 handheld GPS devices
*Total online funds collected to date: nearly 3/4 of a million dollars
*Every dollar raised goes directly to wounded vets military medical centers and VA facilities nationwide, such as:
  • Balboa Naval Hospital
  • Brooke Army Medical Center
  • Madigan Regional Medical Center
  • National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda)
  • Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton
  • Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital (29 Palms)
  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Here's what your donation can provide:

Voice activated laptops:

1. Help wounded vets connect with still-deployed fellow service members (relieve anxiety about how their friends are doing, allow them to maintain a support system)
2. Allow vets to stay in touch with loved ones who can’t be at their bedside
3. Run therapeutic computer programs that help restore brain/vision function,
4. Can be used to research treatments, keep track of treatment regimen.
5. Retrain for post-military employment
6. Voice control makes using a computer one of the first things they can do on their own

Wii uses:

1. Physical therapists in VA hospitals and major medical centers are using Wii fit systems with their patients
2. Motivation: Wii Sports games key into natural competitive nature
3. Track progress in a fun way


1. For those with very severe PTSD or TBI (memory problems, high anxiety, etc), having a GPS increases independence and restores a sense of competence. Short-term memory problems can make it hard to navigate of new locations. A GPS can mean the difference between success and failure.

Please help. These men and women have already given so much. The price of a nice six pack of beer or an inexpensive dinner seems the least we can to in return for their sacrifices.

Let's get the word out!

Although we have a small lead, it's no time for complacency! We need more bloggers to join the team. We need more folks getting the word out to get more people to donate to Valour-IT.

It's time to get motivated!

And, of course, it's November now. Toys for Tots will be in full swing soon. So I'll repost my favorite Marine commercial:

How can you say no to donating to Santa's team? Click on the fundraising thermometer on the top right to donate!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inner dialogue

I'm on week 8 of the 9 week Couch to 5K Program. Today I was supposed to run for 28 minutes. Yeah. I was supposed to that on Monday, too, and it didn't go well. Not at all.
So this was today's inner dialogue while on the treadmill:

You can do this! You CAN!
Oh, my God! How much longer?! I can't do that !
Don't think about it! You can do this!
(about 10 minutes into the run) I really don't think I can make it. This hurts! Need to stop...
Don't stop! You can do this!
Maybe I'm just not meant to run that long!
Don't give up! Keep going!
Hmm.... maybe if I can just make it to 25 minutes. I've done that before. Yeah, I'll just run 25 minutes.
(I wasn't too sure I was going to make even the revised goal, until I put on a certain song a couple of minutes before the new goal) Okay, just make it to the end of this song. You can do that! Feeling better. You can do this!
(The song ended at the 26 minute mark) Yes! Hey, only 2 more minutes to 28. You can do 2 minutes! It's only 2 minutes. C'mon! You can do this!
(Check the time) Oh, thank God! Only a minute and a half! You've got this! You're almost there.
(As the 28 minutes ended) Yes! It's over!

The embarrassing thing is I may have muttered some of this out loud.

Later, I had a conversation with a good friend who told me about a similar dialogue she had with herself on her local track. When she told her husband about it, he seemed stunned and asked, "Do you really have these conversations with yourself?"

To which I can only answer, "Um, yeah. Gotta problem with that?"

It's all in good fun (and for a good cause!)

Check out today's Marine of the Day, Lance Cpl. James Crosby over at Jules Crettenden: Forward Movement. Cassy Fiano has some great demotivators up as well as some USMC trivia questions, for those of you who think you know the Corps. And Cassie has a post up about the Miracle Marine, Sgt. Merlin German.

Also, there's a offer on the table to match the first 10 donations of $100. Go here for details. What a great way to double your donation!

I can't take credit for this one, but had to pass it on:

We're neck and neck with the Army, so spread the word, donate the money you would have spent on a latte or lunch instead! Donate by clicking on the thermometer on the top right of this page.

My quote for today:

The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.
~General Alexander A. Vandergrift, USMC
to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, 5 May 1946

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Marines have landed

My quote for today:
"I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
~Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders

Don't forget to spread the word and donate to Project Valour-IT (you can click on the fundraising thermometer at the top of the sidebar to the right).

Update: Today's Marine of the Day is Captain Kyle VanDeGiesen. Read his story here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Off to a good start...

Let's keep it going! How's this for some motivation to keep that thermometer moving in the right direction?

Support our Wounded Warriors by supporting Project Valour-IT!

And we're off!

The 5th annual Project Valour-IT fundraiser has begun! Starting today and going until November 11 (Veterans Day!), the inter-service rivalry will be raising money and awareness.

"Project Valour IT is simply this: grateful Americans, providing voice-activated laptops and other helpful tech gear to severely wounded troops." You can read more over at Villainous Company (VC), our fearless leader of the Marine Team.

Today's featured Marine of the Day is Matt, a corporal who has deployed to Iraq twice. Read his interview over at Cassy Fiano.

My quote for today:
"Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share."
~Ned Dolan

As Cassie wrote over at VC :
"Please open your hearts and your wallets. Dig deep. These are some extraordinary young men and women - they've given their all in service of this great nation and this is a great chance to show them that all the talk of supporting the troops isn't just lip service. Someone still cares and more importantly, respects and honors their service. Please dig deep. You cannot know the value of the comfort your support can bring to those who have already given so much on our behalf."

If you wish to donate, simply click on the fundraising widget on the upper right sidebar or the link below:

You can pay by credit card or electronic check. You can also mail a check (with MARINES in all caps on it!) to this address:

Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Project Valour IT

It's almost time for the annual inter-service competition to raise funds for Project Valour IT, a Soldiers' Angels program. Project Valour IT provides voice activated software and laptops for wounded Marines, soldiers and sailors. Every cent raised goes directly to aid wounded warriors, so it's a great way to support the troops and know your gift is well spent.

Typically, these young men and women have lost the use of one or more limbs, their hands, or their sight. Valour IT allows them to keep in touch with buddies in the field, with family, and with friends during the long and grueling convalescence period. It helps them escape the confines of their hospital rooms mentally, if not physically. This is an enormous morale booster. Valour IT also provides Wii's, which have proven very useful during physical therapy and help wounded warriors regain flexibility and strength while having a bit of fun.

Historically, the Marine team have been the underdogs in this friendly inter service competition. In 2006, the Marine team not only outraised the far larger Army and Navy teams, but total fundraising receipts were the highest in the history of Valour IT. The Marines would really like to give the Army and Navy a run for their money this year, but to do that we need to assemble a strong team.

Would you be willing to join the Marine team? If so, click over to Villainous Company to join our Marine team!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Best quote heard today...

My 9 year old said:
"I'd rather get a horse than go through puberty."

Followed by the 5 year old asking:
"Can we go and visit Poo-berty someday?"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

honest mommy moment

How ridiculously sad is it that I'm SOOOO happy that my butt-wiping days are just about over? Seriously, I have been wiping other people's backsides on a regular basis since 2000. L'il Sis has FINALLY started to wipe her own and just about has the process figured out. YES!!!

The really sad part is that it is 2009 and I'm just getting to this point. I only have 2 kids, people!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Suck it up, buttercup!

... is not a phrase the girls are familiar with... yet. But I think L'il Sis already understands the gist.

Yesterday, the girls were rough-housing and somehow ended up in my room. Big Sis banged her knee against my bed's footboard. There was much wailing and moaning. We checked and her knee was fine aside from a red spot, but that could have been from her rubbing it as well. At any rate, Big Sis was on the bed, holding her knee and crying, "It hurts! It hurts!"

L'il Sis, being the sweet little sister that she is, kept bringing things to Big Sis to help her feel better. First, it was a paper cup with a sip of water. This was followed by a bandage (no blood so not really needed) and then her sleep mask so that Big Sis wouldn't have to look at her boo-boo (again, it was just a little red spot).

Eventually, L'il Sis brought in a little pink egg-timer that their dentist had given them and said, "When the sand runs out, you have to stop crying."

Big Sis responded with, "But that's only 2 minutes!"

If L'il Sis had known the phrase, I'm sure she would have used it: Suck it up, buttercup!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

9 years ago...

She came into the world weighing just over 8 lbs. 7 oz. and measuring 20-1/4 inches long.
Today, she's almost 4'6". That's roughly 33.5 inches of growth in 9 years. It sounds like a lot, but it creeps up on you. On day, she's a bundle of babyhood entirely dependent on you for everything. Then one day, you wake up to find a little girl who wakes herself up for school and makes her own breakfast. She's not entirely sure that you know anything about anything but has to stay on your good side to keep collecting her meager allowance. I'm telling you those 9 years went by in a flash!

Big Sis turned 9 today.

I took cupcakes to her school for her to share at lunch. She'll have a party this weekend. But today was just for family. She asked me to make veal piccata for dinner and I helped her bake brownies for dessert. After dinner, she opened her family presents. While her sister was less than thrilled with the book she received, Big Sis was excited about the Little House book she got.

I was reminded of my sister and myself as Big Sis went about opening her presents. While L'il Sis urged her to just tear them open, Big Sis very carefully and slowly unwrapped each gift.
(One Christmas, my younger sister grabbed my gift and opened it for me because I was being too slow in her opinion!)

Enjoying Big Sis's brownies for dessert...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

What does this button do?

Big Sis knows how to push our buttons. Tonight, it was Stretch's turn.

One of Big Sis' jobs is to pour milk for herself and her sister for dinner each night. She is notorious for trying to skimp on her glass. As she was pouring, she asked, "Mom, what's sex?" Okay. We're sitting down to dinner and the 5 year old is sitting right there, so I said, "Whether you're a boy or a girl."

Then, she filled her cup with more milk than her sister's tonight. She pointed it out as she sat down to dinner and asked if anyone was wondering why she had so much milk, looking at her dad with a twinkle in her eye. Then she informed us that it was so "these" will grow and pointed at her chest. I thought Stretch was going to have a stroke.

She went on to ask what a tamp0n is. And then casually mentioned wanting puberty to happen. Stretch got a headache and I started to worry his head might explode from the sudden rise in blood pressure.

Naturally, Stretch's over the top reactions resulted in a lot of laughter. L'il Sis didn't really know why she was laughing, but thought it was all hugely funny anyway.

Quietly, I told Big Sis that I would answer any questions she had after dinner but that we weren't going to talk about it over dinner (and in front of her dad and 5 year old sister, to boot). Since I had already covered a lot of what she was asking about with her, I had a hunch she just wanted to punch Stretch's buttons.

Of course, after dinner, she had more important things to do and was no longer interested.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Field trip day

Today marked the first field trips of the year for both Big and L'il Sis. Only one seemed to have any educational value. The kindergartners went to a movie theater to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

Big Sis has been excited about her field trip for weeks so I'll let her tell you about her field trip:

a day at little red school house

big sis got her aqua blue Sunday school dress on and grabbed her green 19th century bonnet.
she hurried to get a basket, so i could pack bread with margarine and a clear jar filled with fresh water. then i dropped her of at school. at 9:30 her class got on the bus. big sis said they drove for at least thirty minutes. when big sis's class reached their destination they had to walk most of the way, some of the distance was done by bus. then her class went to the back of the little red school house or the one room school house because it is only one room.

the teacher met them at the back talking about how the children got to school. once they stepped inside the teacher became a 1800's teacher and very strict she said. we learned the rules. then we learned how to rise and sit down again properly and how to address her, like "no, ma'am," "yes, ma'am" or if it was a man, "no, sir" or "yes, sir." You always had to say, "ma'am" or "sir" before you started a sentence.

then we had our lessons. first was penmanship. we had to draw circles, then o's and a's. then while we were doing penmanship, we were supposed to be writing, "good posture makes good thinkers" but my row was called up to do a private lesson in reading where we got to read. she called us by our character names not our real names. big sis was "maggie bradley." the people were real who actually went to the school house. big sis shared a desk with another girl because there were not enough desks, but that happened in the 1800's as well. we went outside and played "get the bacon." it was a knotted piece of cloth, not real bacon. we were split into 2 teams and the "bacon" was put in the middle. we each had a number and we would run in and try to grab it without being tagged on the way back to our team. after that, we had lunch. when the bell rang once again, we lined up once again in back of the schoolhouse. we went in and put our baskets of food down in the corner. then we sat down the way we were taught to sit back down. we learned more lessons but our main lesson right then was reading. if we had a partner, then we shared the one book we were given. before we did that, we gave our pieces of slates that we did our penmanship on to the teacher. some of us didn't finish reading the story and then we could ask questions but we had to stand and say "ma'am" before we asked the question. then she taught us more and pretended we were back in 2009 but still called us by our character names.

she didn't do a roll call and she didn't do a check of our palms and knuckles and our necks for any diseases. then we were dismissed and we walked back to the bus.

the best thing about this field trip was the whole thing.

the worst thing was the heat since there was no air conditioning in the 1800's.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

spotted on a bumper sticker:

no one owes you anything

Sunday, September 27, 2009

napping and chatting

Kindergarten is apparently quite exhausting. For the first week, L'il Sis was coming out of that school looking like she'd been run over by a bus. I'm sure she'll work up some endurance over the year, but for now school just about does her in. She doesn't normally take naps (mainly because she won't sleep at night if we let her). But Thursday was a half-day for some reason so when L'il Sis put herself down for a nap about an hour after we got home, I just let it lie.

While her sister was sleeping, Big Sis went into tween mode. She spent almost all afternoon on the phone. Most of the time, she and a friend from school were calling each other. If this was a preview of life to come...*shudder*
.... I actually had to threaten to make her pay the phone bill to get her off the phone.
(no, this is not her room...she took over my room for all the chatting)

Monday, September 21, 2009


Be sure to listen with the sound on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Still on the bandwagon, er, treadmill...

I've never been athletic or even particularly active. Running is a totally foreign concept to me (as in "If no one is chasing me, why would I be running?!"). So, just the fact that I've taken up the Couch to 5K program is a huge step for me. I've been running on a treadmill because the one day I ran outside I wanted to die. It wasn't just the heat and humidity. I have no clue how to pace myself apparently. So the treadmill it is.

Now, factor in the fact that I'm not only married to a Marine, but one who is naturally quite lean without much effort on his part. I finished Day 1 of Week 4 on Monday. It involved running for 3 minutes, walking for 90 seconds, running for 5 minutes, walking for 2-1/2 minutes, and then doing it all again. The thought of running for 5 solid minutes terrified me. So when it came time to run for 5 minutes, I set the pace slightly slower than I did for the 3 minute run (very slightly). I wanted to be sure that I actually ran for the entire 5 minutes and didn't give up and slow to a walk prematurely.

I made it through the work out and told Stretch about it later. He told me not to slow it down too much, I needed to keep pushing. Sometimes, I hate being married to a Marine.

Today was Day 2 of Week 4. I kept the same pace for all the runs. It was at a roughly 13-minute mile pace. Which I know is probably super slow. Heck, I used to be able to WALK a 15-minute mile without a problem. (Okay, so that was over a decade ago, but whatevs.)

My point is that despite the slowness, it was HUGE for me. I kept it up. I didn't stop despite really, REALLY wanting to during the last 5 minute run. I can't help wondering where are the endorphins I keep hearing about? They're probably a myth.

Now if I could just see some pounds and inches disappear...

Friday, September 11, 2009


It took me until almost noon to remember today's date. But I had my reasons. That day 8 years ago was tragic and changed so many of our lives. But today my heart was heavy from more recent events.

Yesterday, a Marine Reservist died during a routine training exercise. Stretch not only saw the event, but then was one of two Marines to notify the young man's parents. As much as we as spouses dread that knock on the door, I can only imagine the heaviness in a Marine's heart as he stands on the other side of that door.

So, in addition to remembering the tragic events of 8 years ago, I'm asking that you keep the Marines of this unit, as well as the family of this young man, in your thoughts and prayers.

Patriot Day giveaway

Head over to the Mrs. and see the blue star she's giving away in honor of Patriot Day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just another reason I'm NOT a Marine (just married to one):

I don't like sweating. As in the wet and dripping type of sweat. Nope. I don't enjoy it. In fact, it grosses me out. Now, I already knew this about myself. But I confirmed it this morning.

I started the Couch to 5K program this week in an effort to get in better shape. I want to use some of that extra time I have now that both kids are in school to get more exercise. The first 2 days I followed the program inside on a treadmill in our neighborhood clubhouse. (And yes, I worked up a sweat, just not like today!) When I found it wasn't open yet this morning, I decided to go ahead and do the workout outside despite the heat and mugginess.

I knew it would suck. About half or three-quarters of the way through the 30 minute walk/run workout, I wanted to die. By the time I got back home and stretched, the sweat was pouring off me. Ick. Stretch laughed at me when I asked if you could be allergic to your own sweat. (My chest started itching at some point and when scratched, I found it was covered in a sheen of sweat. Ick. Ick. Ick.)

I also asked Stretch if he could just go ahead and shoot me to put me out of my misery. For some wretched reason, the man refused and kept grinning at me (and probably inwardly laughing).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1st day of school

This week brought the first days of school for the girls. Big Sis started 4th grade on Tuesday. She's now too cool to be seen with her parents and we were not allowed to escort her in to the school, never mind her classroom. Her first day seemed to go really well and I'm hoping she'll have a great year.

Kindergarten has a staggered start here, so L'il Sis will only be going today and Friday this week. Because the first week of school always includes crazy traffic around the school, we decided to walk this morning (it's about 3/4 mile). It started to sprinkle a little by the time we reached the school. We got L'il Sis settled in her classroom and took a picture before leaving her for her first day at "real school." She was so excited she was singing while sitting on the stairs putting her shoes on at home. By the time we got to the classroom, she was a little nervous, but Stretch waved to her as he left the classroom and she smiled and told the little girl next to her, "My dad always makes me laugh." So I think she'll be fine.

After leaving the school, Stretch and I had to walk home. It quickly started pouring down rain. Of course. And I'd made the mistake of wearing a white t-shirt. Maybe the weather was reflecting how I felt a bit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Go ahead, punk....

Last week, the girls and I returned home a day after Stretch left on TAD (TDY for the Army folks and a business trip for any civilian readers out there). The 2nd night we were home, I heard the doorbell go and a pounding at the front door at TEN O'CLOCK at night. I ran downstairs and flicked the outside lights on and peered thru the peephole. There was NO way I was opening the door. My first thought was that it was someone checking to see if the house was empty so they could burglarize it. I called our neighborhood's security people and reported the incident.

Last night, Stretch and I were relaxing downstairs after the girls were in bed when it happened again. Like any good Marine, Stretch raced for the front door, flicked on the outdoor lights, and was out the door like a shot. In his bare feet. By the time, I got outside, he was half-way down our block. I heard him say, "Gotcha!" followed by "Freeze!" as I watched him running down the sidewalk. I went back inside, again called the security company, went back outside and locked the front door while I waited outside with both the house phone and my cell phone.

The security guard arrived first. I explained what had happened and when he asked where my husband was I answered, "He's still chasing them." At that point, he nervously asked what my husband would do if he caught them. Hmm. Good question. I wasn't too sure, so I went with, "Oh, he'll probably ask where they live and take them to talk to their parents." That sounded pretty innocuous, right? Eventually Stretch returned and we finished giving a statement for the report.

Later, Stretch told me that he'd stopped one teen walking down the street that he was pretty sure was involved. And had a little chat with him. After questioning him a bit, he let him know in no uncertain terms that there would be consequences if the act were repeated and that the kid should let his friends know. Now, Stretch is more than a little tall. He also just happened to be wearing a shirt with the EGA (Eagle, Globe and Anchor) and U.S. Marines embroidered on it.

I'm wondering if the kid made it home with clean underwear.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mission Completion

My mission for Summer 2009: Survive almost 3 months of boiling heat with both kids at home all day, every day; without selling either child on e&ay. Do so without going bankrupt.

My strategy: a little something I’ll call the reverse deployment. That’s when the family members leave and the service-member holds down the home-front (‘cause they still have a job to do, you know).

The kids and I loaded up the car and hit the road. Except for the 1st week, when [*gasp*] Stretch actually took leave and joined us, we were on the road and Stretch was left behind to man the home-front. As it turns out, he didn’t enjoy being the one left at home. I can understand that. I don’t particularly enjoy it, either.

We actually reverse deployed twice. The first time was for 4 weeks. It started with a 3-day drive across 6 states to my mother’s home. The first night we stayed at a military installation: great suite and even better price. The 2nd night we used Stretch’s hotel reward points for a free night. (Guess all those TAD trips had a good side to them after all.) Stretch helped drive half-way across the country and then flew home (or redeployed) on Father’s Day. (Hm-m, that might not have sent quite the right message.) The kids and I stayed another week while the girls took swim lessons. When it was time to go, I drove a day and a half across 3 states, spending the night at another military installation, before reaching my aunt’s home. After reconnecting with extended family for a few days, we hit the road again to join a fellow military spouse for the 4th of July. We only had to cross into the next state this time and it took only half a day.

Despite not having laid eyes on each other in almost 5 years, we picked right up where we’d left off. Even the kids bonded quickly even though only one of the five had any memories of the others. Because her husband had taken Reserve orders and was gone for the summer, I talked her into making the 10- hour drive to follow me home so our kids could continue to entertain each other. The fact that we hadn’t seen each other in years had nothing to do with it.

We had about a week’s break before reverse deploying again. This time it was only for 2 weeks. I drove for 12 hours in one day to get to my sister’s house. By the way, I don’t recommend this on 4 hours of sleep. A few days later, I drove another 3-1/2 hours to take the girls to my in-laws, where they would stay for almost a week. We went a day early so the girls and I could attend my mother-in-law’s annual family reunion. It was the first time we’d attended. In 11 years of marriage, Stretch and I had never been able to attend due to distance. And the first time I attended (this year), I did so without him. Typical.

The kids and I made the drive back home earlier this week. This time, I made reservations at yet another military installation part-way back to avoid another 12 hour drive. For the first time, I was wishing my oldest (she’s 8) was old enough to drive.

The summer flew by while the kids and I spent time with family and friends. Now we are waiting to hear teacher assignments and I’ve finished buying school supplies. School will start next week. The summer is drawing to a close and the mission was accomplished.

Just don’t ask me to drive anywhere anytime soon. Oh, and if anyone has seen my sanity, could you send it back to me?

(This is cross-posted over at SpouseBuzz.)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

minty fresh?

After I'd nagged her into brushing her teeth this morning, L'il Sis poked her way through the task. I had to keep prodding her with, "Scrub, don't suck on your toothbrush" and such. When she was done, she sighed and said, "That's so refreshing!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sugar and spice

Do you remember this nursery rhyme:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

That about sums up Li'il Sis.

Just yesterday, as I gave her a bath in the morning, she sighed as I started scrubbing her and said, "This is the life!" She can be very sweet and often says the funniest things. As my sister describes her, she's a joyous child.

But she's got a mean streak, too. Last night, Big Sis came to me crying and holding her throat. Her face was red from crying and she complained that L'il Sis had kicked her in the neck. Nice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reverse deployment

This summer, the kids and I have spent a lot of time away from home. In fact, we’re hitting the road again tomorrow morning. For the first time, Stretch has been the one left at home. And he doesn’t much like it. During one phone call, after he told me how much he missed us, he paused and said, “Somehow, I get the feeling that, strangely, you are unmoved.” (It’s a favorite line from a Pride & Prejudice adaptation that we often use on the kids.)

I DID miss him. Let’s get that straight first. But after a year-long deployment, a couple of weeks seems like a snap!

Then, I told him to think of it as a reverse deployment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Somehow, when I told the 5 year old to get into the car quickly after our last errand today, she translated that to mean she should poke around in the grass and find the nastiest thing she could to touch. Maybe Bill Cosby was right and kids ARE brain-damaged.

To be filed under things you really don't want to hear while you're working in another part of the house: "Well, then, don't put things in my underwear!" (shouted by the 8 year old to the 5 year old).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Come again? I don't think I heard that quite right...

My 8 year old only likes to wear a few of her clothes. The vast majority of what she owns languishes in her dresser unworn until it's time to pass them on to her younger sister. Being the cruel mom that I am, I sometimes will let the laundry go for awhile (or at least hers) in an effort to force her to wear some of the other items.

This morning, Stretch and I looked up from the couch to see her carrying her clothes hamper down the stairs. At first, I thought that was a hint that she wanted her laundry done. Instead, she said, "Well, since you haven't washed my clothes, I decided to do it myself."

What?! Did I hear that right?

I hopped right up and helped her get started in the laundry room. While I supervised and reached the things she couldn't quite get, she did her own laundry. She cleaned out the dryer vent when it was time to put the wet clothes into the dryer. She put the clothes into the dryer and later folded them herself.

And I thought finally getting them potty trained rocked my world.

A day at the beach...

We took the kids to a beach today. It was so hot that the sand was burning our feet as we made our way across the sand to find a spot to lay out our beach blanket and the stuff we'd lugged from the car. But once we were in the water, it felt pretty good. L'il Sis was having a grand time collecting a bucket full of seashells. Stretch had his snorkel gear and showed Big Sis how to use it. The mask was a bit big for her so she held it to her face while she snorkeled. (I guess we'll be looking at getting her one of her own.) She had a blast following fish around.

At one point, as Stretch tells it, she was watching a school of fish and he was following her in case she got into trouble. Suddenly, without ever coming out of the water, she did a one-eighty and started stroking for shore as fast as she could. Stretch said he'd never seen her perform such great freestyle strokes. Apparently, the fish she'd been following turned and started coming toward her which she found odd because usually they swam away from her. But then she saw why. A large fish, 2-3 feet in length, with teeth she could see. Or as she put it, "It was this big (holding out her hands) and it had TEETH!" I thought it was a bit funny that she'd left Stretch behind but as he pointed out she probably had the mindset of "I don't have to outswim the fish, just YOU!" and when I asked if it was a case of every person for himself, she said, "That's right!"

The fish she saw might have been a barracuda. An adult snorkeler had said he spotted one earlier in the same area. At the time, I was more concerned with the stingray he'd also spotted and which I'd also seen, heading toward Stretch and Big Sis. I think it passed them by and they never saw it. When I saw it, I was thinking, "Please be a sea turtle" until I heard the snorkeler say it was a stingray.

I think I may have reached my quota of wildlife this week. Earlier in the week, I'd taken my friend and her kids to a National Wildlife Refuge where we saw a huge alligator. It's head alone was easily 2-1/2 to 3 feet long. Since it remained mostly submerged, we never saw exactly how long it was. Oh, and we were on a dock with our feet only about 4 or 5 feet above the gator.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Girls Night Out that wasn't

Following the kids' and my month-long trek across the southeastern corner of the U.S., I convinced our hostess at our last stop to follow us home. Her husband is gone for the summer and it kept our kids busy with each other. Plus, I selfishly wanted to spend more time with my friend whom I hadn't seen in almost 5 years.

On her last day here, Stretch called home in the morning and offered a Girls' Night Out (GNO) to us and promised to be home early enough to make it happen. I was ecstatic and looked forward to it all day. Since he would be clearly outnumbered by the 5 kids, I had dinner ready for them when he came home. Everything was set for us to get out of Dodge.

Because Stretch was parked behind me (and my vehicle was in the garage), we drove his vehicle. We drove away without a care in the world, trying to decide what we should do. We were positively giddy with the freedom of it all.

Then we made our first stop. It should have been a quick one. But when we returned to the car, it wouldn't start. Now this car is only 2-1/2 years old. We just replaced all 4 tires. And now it refused to start. We pulled out the owner's manual, trying to figure out what the problem was. We tried suggestions multiple times, in case we were doing something wrong. Nothing. Finally, we called Stretch. He and the kids were just finishing dinner. So he loaded them all up and drove to us. (We weren't far.)

After trying to jump the thing, we decided that I'd take the kids and my friend back to our house while Stretch continued to work on the car. Now, my friend and I hadn't eaten yet. So I started to heat up the remnants of dinner when we returned to the house. Before I'd gotten very far, Stretch called and wanted me to return with my car so we could try to jump his again.

Just before I pulled up, Stretch had dropped a tool in the engine. And it was stuck somewhere under the battery. That's about how the evening was going. After another jump attempt, Stretch decided to remove the battery and take it somewhere to test it. That's when he lost part of another tool. This time in the back of his car.

He took me back to the house, picked up more tools and returned to pry the battery out of his car. About an hour later, Stretch called again to say he was on his way to pick me up so we could retrieve his car. Apparently, the battery had to be replaced.

So Stretch got kudos for wanting to give us a GNO. But the gremlins got the last laugh (Hello! He's not even gone this time!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Get out the tissues...

A friend emailed this to me:

"...this is a video that will touch your heart and remind you how very proud you should be to be an American. ... Notice all the people on both sides of the road for more than 10+ miles!

...Killed in action the week before, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City , Georgia , just south of Atlanta , on June 11, 2009. The Police escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough , Georgia . A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time. This was filmed during the procession by a State Trooper.

Nowadays one can be led to believe that America no longer respects honor and no longer honors sacrifice outside the military. Be it known that there are many places in this land where people still recognize the courage and impact of total self-sacrifice. Georgia remains one of those graceful places. The link below is a short travelogue of that day's remarkable and painful journey. But only watch this if you wish to have some of your faith in people restored."

(Sorry, I couldn't get the video to embed.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Eleven years and counting

Stretch is out in the field training with Marines. I'm finally at home, after a month on the road. My friend and her 3 kids arrived yesterday afternoon, so I'm listening to kids playing and waiting for breakfast to come out of the oven.

Just a typical Saturday morning. And Stretch's and my anniversary. Once again, we'll be spending it apart. But at least we're in the same state!

Eleven years and two kids later, it still feels like we've only just started this adventure. Happy anniversary, Stretch. As much time as we spend apart, I can't imagine my life without you in it. You are still the man of my dreams, the love of my life.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

He's a Barine!

My friend Jody keeps asking L'il Sis what her daddy does just so she can hear her proudly say, "He's a Ba-reen!"

Speaking of which, Big Sis is wearing her woodland camouflage t-shirt with hot pink letters that proclaim, "My daddy is a U.S. Marine." The man serving us lunch at the fast food counter this afternoon saw it and thanked her for her daddy's service. In true Big Sis fashion, she wasn't paying attention and didn't hear him. When I told her he'd thanked her for her dad's service, she looked confused and asked, "why?"

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Independence Day

For many, the 4th of July evokes images of cook-outs, parades, and fireworks: all to be enjoyed with family and the larger community. Some of my best 4th of July memories come from celebrations on military bases. There's just something about the William Tell overture accompanied by howitzers that just says "Happy Independence Day!" like nothing else.

This year, the 4th of July found Stretch and me in different states. Which is so much better than different continents. The kids and I are still on our extended summer migration and arrived at fellow milspouse and blogger Jody's home on the 3rd. That same day, Stretch was leaving our home to travel to Camp Lejeune so he could meet a group of Marines returning from Iraq on the 4th.

It didn't seem too odd to me to be apart for the 4th of July. (Yes, I still missed him.) He was doing something he felt he should do (and I agree that someone from the unit should be there to meet the Marines.) Jody and I took the kids to a small town parade and to see fireworks. It might be the first parade I'd ever gone to that didn't have a military presence. We all had fun and the kids especially enjoyed it because they gathered about 5 pounds of candy at the parade. Jody and I were just enjoying being able to hang out together because it has probably been almost 5 years since we last saw each other.

Part of the reason it didn't seem strange to be apart is the fact that we really haven't spent too many Foruths of July together. Last year, Stretch was working. The year before, he was in Iraq. We'd probably been married 3 or 4 years before we were able to spend this particular holiday with each other. The first time we actually had the day to spend together, we were a little lost as to what we should do. I guess it's inadvertently become our tradition to spend Independence day independently of each other.

This is one tradition we don't need to keep though.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


L'il Sis: Because I was insisting on the girls standing when they were supposed to in church and expecting a certain minimum standard of behavior during the service, L'il Sis loudly proclaimed, "You're mean!" Why, yes, I am and I'm about to get meaner!

Big Sis: After Big Sis discovered the diving boards, she asked me, "Mom, do you weigh less than 250 lbs.?" What?! Uh, yes, by a considerable margin, thank you very little! (She was asking because the diving boards had posted weight limits.) When I asked her if she thought I weighed that much, she said yes, it was in my legs. Gee, thanks.

Stretch: Stretch is at home while the girls and I are half-way across the country, visiting relatives. He called me wanting to get directions to somewhere he'd been invited. I suggested he look at a map in one of our kitchen drawers. He'd already left the house and thought I might either know how to get there or would be able to get online to find out. (Um, no, I was in the car.) I'm currently 5 states and a timezone away. And I'm beginning to get the idea that maybe I make things a little too easy for him at home.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pics from the Plains

We're getting ready to depart for Part Two of our mega-road trip. We've been at my mom's for about 2 weeks. I thought I'd take advantage of the internet access to post some highlight pics.

While I spent a day catching up with 2 of my best friends, Stretch and the girls spent some quality time together before he flew home. They went bowling before visiting both the new Artillery Museum (L'il Sis and Stretch loved it, Big Sis not so much) and the Fort Sill Museum. The girls picked out the sunbonnets as their souvenir. They liked them so much, they wore them to church the next day. Yes, and wore them throughout the service.

After Stretch was gone, the girls continued to take swim lessons (that Grandma had arranged) in the mornings. One afternoon, we went bowling again with my college room-mate and her kids, who were kind enough to drive up after their own long day at nature camp to spend time with us.

The final 2 pictures show that Big Sis discovered not just the diving board this last week, but the BIG diving board. We took them swimming again
after the lessons were over and she spent the entire time going off these boards. I can't believe she wasn't either exhausted or had a permanent wedgie or both!

Monday, June 22, 2009

summer "deployment"

On Father's Day, we redeployed Stretch back home. He had to go back to work so he flew back by himself. Frankly, I'm surprised he took a week off. But I was so happy he was able to help with the drive out here. Three days in the car was a long ride!

The girls and I remain "deployed" to my mother's house for the next week. Then we will slowly meander our way across the country back to our house, stopping to visit family and friends. Of course, when we arrive back home, Stretch will probably be out in the field for a week. *sigh*

Friday, June 12, 2009

On the road...

We've lost our minds. We're driving for 3 days to go visit family. Oy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Military weekend

I spent last weekend wrangling the kids and spending more time than I care to think about sitting in a high school theater, forcing short hair into a bun and trying to put makeup on a 5 year old. In the end, she just wore blush. L'il Sis had her dance recital on Sunday afternoon so the dress rehearsal was Saturday. We managed to leave the rehearsal after only 3 hours, older girls had to stay much longer.

While I was having such wonderful fun, what do you suppose Stretch was doing? On at least one day, he was jumping out of a perfectly good plane. One of his landings was less than perfect and he was dragged across the landing zone. His uniform did its job and he came through relatively unscathed (small scratch on a finger). But the uniform is shredded. Now, part of me was appalled at the sight of that uniform because I much prefer to not have evidence of the dangers of Stretch's job in my face. It's much nicer to think of such things in the abstract -- not quite so "real" that way.

But I'm not gonna lie. Another part of me was thinking about how much it's going to cost to replace that uniform.

Monday, June 01, 2009

It must be Monday...

... or Another Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...

I thought I was starting the day out well. After taking Big Sis to school, L'il Sis and I returned home where I replaced a couple of dead plants with live ones in front of our house. Then, we headed out to the neighborhood clubhouse and it's workout room. I hadn't darkened it's doors in quite awhile so it was a momentous occasion for me. So far, so good. Right?

Not so fast. Things started heading south in the afternoon. Here are just the highlights: I discovered the transponder that gets my car in the gates of our neighborhood wasn't working. Hmm. Then I found out it was because our landlord had neglected to tell the HOA that we had renewed our lease. Deep breath.

While reviewing our travel plans for the next month, I discovered I'd signed the girls up for the wrong week of VBS. Hopefully, I can get this changed. Otherwise, my drive across country with the girls will be anything but leisurely (which was the original plan... slow and leisurely, dammit!).

Then, I took L'il Sis to her last dance class, which is already fraught with stress because the recital is next weekend and these little girls really don't know this dance. But today, L'il Sis managed to get her hand squashed in a door right before her class started. So she was crying. (Justifiably so.) One mom ran out to her car to get a cold bottle of water. We held that against her fingers for a bit. Her fingers looked to be fine but I'm sure they hurt like the dickens. Then the dance teacher came back with some ice. L'il Sis really needed to learn this dance, so I convinced her to go into the room to at least watch the other girls. She eventually joined the class but not until more than half-way thru the class. I still had to sit on the floor of the class, though, and couldn't go back to the lobby area with the other moms. Stretch came by, picked up Big Sis and went in search of dinner. Because at this point, obviously, my plan of dropping L'il Sis off at the studio, going back home to make dinner, and then having one of us pick her up was not only shot, it was dead in the water. [Oh, the fingers were just fine. At the end of the class, they turned off the regular lights and turned on the colored stage lights and L'il Sis perked right up.]

By this point, I was feeling more than a little frustrated. Then Stretch and Big Sis got home with dinner. Fast food. But, wait, was that a salad by my place? Not just a salad. It was my favorite Oriental Chicken Salad (not from the same place as they'd gotten their dinners). He even noticed that I'd started ordering it with grilled chicken. He'd made a special trip to get my salad because he felt bad for the day I'd had. Oh, and because he loves me. Yes, I'm lucky to have him.

Maybe I won't move to Australia after all. They have bad days there, too.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 were gypsies, too?!

Last night, Stretch and I attended a charity event we'd been invited to by friends from church. Among their other guests were a retired Army couple. While they were obviously older than us and their children were grown with children of their own, we found ourselves drawn back to this couple repeatedly throughout the night. Of everyone there, we had the most in common with them. As I talked to them of places they'd lived, we kept finding common ground...literally. As an Army brat and later an intern, I'd spent time in Germany where they lived while their children were young, including one town where we'd both lived. They spent a number of years at Fort Sill, a place Stretch and I are both familiar with. Between frequent moves, frustrations with different schools, and just the lifestyle in general, we found we had much in common. Maybe it was because we've been away from other military families for so long, but just being able to talk to someone who understood things without explanation was absolutely wonderful and probably the best part of the evening. It was like being able to speak in our native tongue again after struggling with the local language.