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.