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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

motherhood quote

"For the first two years, you're up to your elbows in poo and puke. Then for the next 10 years, you feed them and educate them. Nurse them through every disease known to man and some known only to veterinary science. Then they shut themselves in their room and play cruel music at you and shout through the keyhole that you don't understand them and they hate you."
~Laura Thyme, "The Gooseberry Bush," Rosemary & Thyme (BBC mystery series)

I heard this last night and it really struck a chord. Yes, motherhood can be wonderful and rewarding and all of that warm and fuzzy stuff. But a rather large chunk of it makes you feel unappreciated. Those great moments when you feel your heart bursting with love and pride for your kids and everything is wonderful and you love being a mom, etc, etc, are very nice. They are also fleeting and sometimes don't happen as often as we'd like. But it's those moments that make all the mundane drudgery worth it. Because the truth (shh! it's not something we tell people who are considering making the leap into motherhood but haven't done it yet), well, the truth is there's a lot of thankless tasks involved in motherhood. It's probably the reason we never truly appreciate our own mothers until we've joined that group ourselves. And we can just forget our kids appreciating us until they've got kids of their own who don't appreciate them! And that is probably the origin of the mom curse (you know, the one where your mom hopes you have kids just like you).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Last day of preschool

Today was L'il Sis' last day of preschool. Ever. We've hit another milestone and it just sort of crept up on me. Yet again. Starting this fall, both kids will be school-age kids. When did that happen? It seems like I was just struggling with potty-training so that L'il Sis could even go to preschool!

We had a little end of the year party toward the end of the class day for the kids
. After class was over, the parents' association sponsored a Splash Party on the playground for the kids with sprinklers, a slip-n-slide, snacks and even free treats from an ice cream truck. As you can see by the fact that L'il Sis is walking along side the thing, she didn't quite get the whole slip-n-slide concept.

On the other hand, she totally got the ice cream! I didn't know she was capable of inhaling one of those things, but apparently she is.
Despite the heat and mugginess (seriously awful, I thought I was going to die out there!), she ate her treat so fast it didn't have a chance to melt. Although I gave her a napkin and made her use it, she didn't really need it.

The Splash Party was a great idea. It helped make the last day a little less sad for the kids.


After picking up Big Sis from school, we got home just before a huge thunderstorm hit. I made L'il Sis wait until the thundering and lightning was over before letting her outside. She didn't get particularly wet, but she looked quite fetchingly pink while she tried!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day weekend

I know this is late, but it was a difficult post to write and I'm still not too sure if I should post it.

It was Memorial Day weekend and it seemed a fitting time to finally sit down and watch Taking Chance, the HBO movie based on LtCol Mike Strobl's story of escorting a fallen Marine PFC Chance Phelps to his home. I remember reading the story written by LtCol Strobl some time ago and crying as I read. That was nothing to the tears I shed watching the movie. Great minds think alike and I noticed that Amy at The Fourth Frog had done the same. She has a great post over there about the film so I'll try not repeat what she's already said.

There were a few reasons I wanted to see Taking Chance. A few months ago, I'd finally read Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives by Jim Sheeler. Although I could barely go a page without having to stop because I couldn't see through my tears, it was hard to put down. As I mentioned, I had read the original article by LtCol Strobl. When I heard that HBO had adapted the story into a film, I wanted to see it but it took me awhile to work up to it. And there was the fact that Chance Phelps died while serving with 3/11, a unit Stretch served in and deployed with in 2003.

One thing I noticed was how well Kevin Bacon portrayed the discomfort so many Marines (and I'm sure other service members) feel when thanked for their service. Sometimes, as in Strobl's case, it is caused by feeling they are not participating in the "real work" of the Marine Corps. This is the way they feel, rightly or wrongly. I know this because I live with someone who, despite 2 tours in the sandbox, still feels that way. In any case, some of the discomfiture is caused by not really knowing how to respond. That's not to say that hearing the thank-you's are unappreciated.

We watched the film with Big Sis, who is 8-1/2 years old. That might seem a bit young to watch this film but we wanted her to see the impact of one Marine's death, even on people who didn't know him. She has struggled with Stretch's career lately. The year-long deployment (Feb. 2007 --2008) and the move to yet another home and school really caught up to us this past year. In the midst of tantrums, she has said things like she wished Stretch had died in a battle. (Which is pretty darn specific, if you ask me!) While we had tried to paint a picture for her of what her life might be like now if that had happened, we could never really be sure if we were getting through to her. And before any comments suggest it, she is seeing a counselor. Much like her parents, (okay, her mom) Big Sis didn't say much after the movie was over and tried to act like she wasn't affected. But she wanted to see a lot of the special features on the DVD. And a day later, she and her sister were playing and the name Chance seemed to figure in the game. I'm hoping that something got through to her.

Update: I saw this about a medically retired Recon Marine and wanted to share. It's a bit long but worth it. I saw a name at the end that I knew and that always brings it home even more. By the way, according to SemperFiWife over at SpouseBuzz, Derek Zeier finished the 100 mile ultramarathon in 31 hours, 03 minutes and 21 seconds. And he wasn't supposed to be able to walk without the assistance of a cane?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Go-To Gal

Stretch discovered he needed new tires several months ago. Like back in February. Left to his own devices, he was always too busy to do anything about it. Or something like that. Finally, I'd had enough and Friday morning I told him to take my car and leave his. L'il Sis and I ended up at a tire store for around 2 hours during a driving rainstorm. She was pretty good for the first hour but the 2nd hour tried us both. Finally, the tires were mounted, balanced and aligned.

And I can't help wondering what he would do if he weren't married? Actually, if that had been the case, the new tires would probably have been put on back in February...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PreK Graduation

Monday night was busy one here. L'il Sis had her dance class then we had to rush to her PreK graduation. The kids have been working hard to prepare 8 songs. They all did such a great job. But between the slide show, the songs, and the diplomas, it all made for a long night and L'il Sis was pretty tired by the end of it. It was bit over the top but the kids were so cute.

The night wouldn't have been complete with at least one "I don't know that child. Nope. Never laid eyes on her before" moment. It had nothing to do with L'il Sis. Her big sister, the 8 year old who claims she's not a child and therefore should know better, was the perpetrator. She said she couldn't see and had crept forward while the kids received their diplomas. It was done by class so there was a bit of a lull between classes while parents moved forward to take pictures. During one of these lulls, we see Big Sis pulling on the preschool director's blouse (she was MC'ing the ceremony) to tell her something. Oh, the horror! Turns out Big Sis thought the director had skipped a song (she's heard the practice CD a few times). It was the last song, the one the kids sang after receiving their diplomas.

Although they had their graduation ceremony, there's still a week of school left for L'il Sis. And thank goodness. Her class was small and very close-knit. She'll miss seeing her friends every week. Only one will be going to the same elementary school and there's no guarantee they'll be in the same class.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

weekend mish-mash

Out of the mouths of babes:
I was cleaning the outside of the kitchen cabinets and our banister the other day (all are white). Big Sis came down the stairs as I was working on the banister and asked what I was doing. I explained I was cleaning (although I thought it was pretty obvious). She replied with, "Why? No one is coming to visit."

*sigh* I know that housekeeping is not my strong suit, but still...

Stretch returned from his trip late Saturday night. A flight attendant upgraded him to first-class on both legs of his return flights. Now, this has happened before. And I certainly don't begrudge him the extra room. I've sat next to him and know how cramped he is in coach, especially since most of his height is in his legs. (By the way, the next time you fly, you might want to check behind you before pushing your seat back. If it won't go back, it might be because you're ramming your seat into the knees of someone behind you and his knees have nowhere else to go!)

I've lost count how many times flight attendants have taken pity on Stretch and moved him to first-class. But it only seems to happen when he's flying solo. It has NEVER happened while he was traveling with his wife!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ms. Fix-it

As a military spouse, I understand that I'm often the go-to person at home. I'm usually the one to either fix things or to get it done by someone else (not Stretch usually). But when Stretch is home, I have an irrational belief that he should step up and do some of those projects. After all, his father taught shop at one point and is often working on something around the house. This gene must have completely bypassed Stretch, though.

For weeks, we've had a leak that has gotten worse around our water filter attached to our kitchen faucet. I've pointed it out numerous times. Twice, Stretch took a cursory look and basically shrugged before walking off and doing nothing.

I finally had enough and while Stretch was off on a short trip this week, I bought another filter system and replaced the leaking one. There might have been another (cheaper) fix, but it's done and no longer bothering me.

If I manage not to say anything about it, I wonder if he'll even notice?
Update: He noticed, but it probably had something to do with the fact that the new filter wasn't exactly the same as the old one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Principal calling...

Big Sis' principal called me this morning. She had Big Sis in her office. Considering her attitude issues lately, I first closed my eyes and inwardly groaned wondering what she had done. Apparently, Big Sis had entered her principal's office nervously wondering the same thing.

It turns out she is something of a hero today. Another little girl had brought something to school that she shouldn't have. Big Sis saw it and quietly told her teacher. The principal made a big fuss over her and how responsible she had been in doing the right thing. The school's police officer told her he was going to buy her lunch today. Big Sis told the principal that her dad is a Marine and therefore would be especially proud of her. And then the principal called to tell me about it and let Big Sis talk to me as well. I haven't gotten the full story yet but it seems the item in question was a knife. In third grade, people!

It looks like I'll be taking Big Sis to the ice cream parlor for a treat today.

Update: Big Sis is a girl after my own heart. She decided to forgo ice cream and we went to the bookstore instead.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"You're 5 now, so...."

I'm getting a lot of mileage out this little phrase lately. And will continue to shamelessly use it for as long as it works!

L'il Sis has a bad habit of not wanting to do things for herself. It's a trend that started in her infancy. While her sister happily grabbed her bottle or sippy cup at an early age to hold it herself, L'il Sis refused to do so even when prompted (by us putting her hands on the bottle!) when she was a year old! So it was not a big surprise that she has refused to try to buckle her own seat belt. She has said that she was too little and couldn't do it. Never mind the fact that she hadn't even tried. My nephew who is a year younger than her can accomplish this little task. So she turned 5 on Sunday. On Monday morning, I told her she was 5 now, so she should at least try. She was very proud of herself the first time she did it completely by herself. And while she sometimes needs help getting the seat belt in place, at least she's trying!

Then, tonight at bedtime, she tried to tell me how much more comfortable my bed and pillows were compared to her own. Uh huh. After pointing out that her bed and pillow were also comfortable, I also said that now that she's 5, she should really try to stay in her own bed all night every night. Yeah. I don't know how well that will work, but it's worth a shot!


I was feeling a tad bit guilty for all of the eating-out the girls and I have done lately. Stretch left on another trip Sunday afternoon. We stopped for take-out after dropping him off at the airport. Yesterday, L'il Sis had a late afternoon/early evening dance class so we picked up a sack of burgers for dinner. (To make it seem bit better nutritionally, I supplemented the burgers with leftover fruit.) Then, today. Big Sis had a late afternoon appointment about half an hour away. By the time we were near home, it was almost dinner-time. So... we ate out. I was craving a particular salad so we went to @pplebee's.

I was feeling guilty about eating out and then I looked at the bill.

The girls' meals were free (love Tuesdays! must remember this!) and I had enough rewards points that so was mine. The only thing the meal cost me was the waitress' tip. Hmm....nope, don't feel a shred of guilt now!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

weekend wrap-up

Saturday was L'il Sis' birthday bash. The one I've spent the past 2 weeks stressing over. The only major task that I delegated to Stretch was to come up with a game or activity of some sort for the kids. As I was getting ready to drop off food at the clubhouse's refrigerator, an unshowered Stretch was sitting at the computer looking for ideas. Mere hours before the party. Way to give me a stroke, big guy!

But wouldn't you know it? He got the job done. And he totally rocked it! He came up with three games for the kids to play and another game for the presents (a variation of spin the bottle, except the kid the pointer lands on gets to give L'il Sis his or her present). The kids had a blast and I didn't even need to pull out my wimpy little craft (yes! something that gets to be returned to the store!).

Sunday (today) was a crazy day. After church in the morning, we raced home to divide up the kids and go in separate directions. Stretch took L'il Sis and attended a function for one of his Marines about an hour away. I took Big Sis to lunch and a production of The Magic Tree House: The Musical. Afterwards, we met at Stretch's office so I could retrieve L'il Sis and take him to the airport. I was done at that point (so were the kids -- both were whiny) but still had to make it thru dinner and bedtime!

I think we'll all sleep well tonight!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hula girl birthday cake

I told someone I would take pictures and post how I did this cake. Thankfully, it turned out better than I thought it would!

I baked 3 cakes using one pan and 2 bowls. Hmm, wonder which will take the least amount of time to bake? Okay, so it was more like 2 cakes and 1 cupcake.

This is after I've leveled the cakes. I didn't do the best job but our motto around here is "close enough for government work."

Then, of course, I glued the parts together with frosting...

...and covered the whole thing with a layer of frosting to seal in any crumbs. Then I put it in the fridge to harden.

At this point, I'm thinking, "Geez, maybe I should've gone with a volcano cake. It kind of looks like one and would probably have been a lot easier to decorate." (L'il Sis has a thing for lava.)

I didn't wait long enough for the first layer of frosting to set, but it still turned out okay. After covering the whole thing in green frosting and then "combing" it with a decorating tool to get the look of a grass skirt, I thought it looked more like a Muppet's wig.

Here's the almost-final product. The hair and arms are still up because the frosting is still soft. I'll try to do something with the hair and pose the arms tomorrow. I'm also planning on putting crushed graham crackers around the base to simulate sand with chocolate seashells scattered on top of the "sand."

Update: Here's the final product at the party...

Freudian slip?

I just realized that my profile still listed our last duty station as our location. The one we moved from 11 months ago. Almost half-way through this tour and I finally changed it. Maybe it's my cyber-version of those last few boxes that just never manage to get unpacked. Or maybe it's just that I really didn't want to leave the last place.