Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We made it!

It may have been by the skin of our teeth, seconds before the planes were stopped for wind and snow. Or maybe it only seemed that way as we were leaving as the temperature dropped and the winds picked up. But after 12 hours on an airplane, no one getting to nap, and a 70 degree temperature shift, we all arrived in paradise on schedule.

Daddy was there to pick us up, and take us to our new home. I was a bit worried about the house, but quickly learned to have more faith in Daddy's ability to get something I'll like. We are all on one level, in a gated community, a block from the pool and shaded with Plumeria trees. I love that I can hear birds singing and kids playing outside, rather than the freeway which is close to many of the other housing communities available to us, and we are pretty central on the island.

It has been a few weeks, but we are getting settled. We are missing lots of old friends but excited for the possibilities that lay before us as we begin to make new friendships and discover the things that are going on out here in the middle of the ocean.

We arrived in the middle of the rainy season, so we've seen lots of monsoon type rain, with a few sun breaks, but I am having a hard time complaining when the East coast is buried under feet of snow and it's 80+ degrees here.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

And it begins!

This weekend I will be dragging my children halfway around the world to our new home in paradise island. Where I have been told that the cockroaches are the size of rats and the geckos are smaller than the mice and are all over your house pooping on your window sills.

But as we are leaving tomorrow, likely in freezing rain and snow, I'll be grateful to be headed somewhere where the definition of "cold" is still at least thirty degrees above the freezing mark.

That is, of course if I can get through TSA without some sort of craziness. And if the plane takes off despite the freezing rain and snow. And if our connecting flight from Denver leaves.

I didn't think I'd be so sad to leave Nebraska in the middle of December for somewhere tropical. But Little Monster has a knack of finding good friends with wonderful mommies. And we've had a good time spending our short time with them.

My next post will be from somewhere greener and warmer friends!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

It's about the little stuff...

I was truly blessed today to spend the afternoon with a friend.

Little Monster has been talking about spending some time with his friend who lives in Frank forever. Every since he started at this preschool, he has been asking to spend the afternoon with him. As in, asking every day. So, when I met his mom last week at a field trip, I was ecstatic when we planned a play date for the boys.

Today was the much anticipated day. We marked it on the calendar, a big old E right on today. This morning there was no argument about why he couldn't wear his pajamas all day. There was less argument about getting shoes on and getting in the car.

We met at a local fast food joint with a play land and followed up at "Frank's" house. The kids had a great time. There were sword fights, a few punches over lights being turned off or on. One big crash sound that ended up being nothing and a bathroom and Little Monster covered in poo. A tiny baby boy cooed and nursed while Butterball tried to be his mommy. I think that I enjoyed my afternoon (except for the poop incident) as much as Little Monster did. Frank's mom is a sweet, sweet woman who amazes me. And I am sad that I won't get to know her more.

I love when afternoons turn out as nice as this one did and can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The spanking girl

Before I tell you this story, I must preface it with the fact that Little Monster is every bit a four year old boy. He talks. And talks. And talks. The other night while with my mom the child talked for five and a half hours. Without a break. Without a pause for someone to answer the billions of questions he was asking. He just talked. It wouldn't be so bad if the child would use some punctuation when he spoke - -but often one sentence just rambles into another. Sometimes he forgets spaces for his wordsandtheyendupsoundingmuchlikethislooks.

I know. You all think, eh. Typical four year old. I'm not sure. I think he talks more than most four year olds, but maybe that's because I'm with him constantly.

By the end of the night, my mom and I just stared at each other, mouths agape in horror at the fact that he hadn't passed out from lack of oxygen. And then he went to bed and I watched Elf. It's not a masterpiece of the arts by any means, but after the day I'd had with Little Monster, it was downright hilarious in parts. Elf was Little Monster. Little Monster was Elf.

But now we need to get back to the original story. This evening it happened again. Non-stop talking. Running up and down the aisles at Michael's, while bouncing all over the place. I'd put him in "time-out" touching the cart, but it wasn't working. My patience was getting worn out. As we were in line checking out, he started to act up again. (Act up is probably a bit harsh. He was really just being a bit loud and asking questions I was too tired to answer and I didn't want to sound like a grouch around all of the other people in line). I didn't have much left for it. He had worn me out during the day with all "his friend who lives in Frank in the white house, and to get there you turn left and left then right and can we go over to his house after school his telephone number is 4" talk.

So, as we were standing there, and was tempted to issue an empty threat for a spanking, it came out of my mouth without thinking.

Little Monster. Did you know that there is a lady who spanks naughty kids in stores?

What? There was. That one lady. That one time. You don't remember?? Read This. Yeah, see. I didn't lie.

I thought it might squelch the very minor attitude and get him to be quiet for a minute. I was wrong. It just brought on more questions.

Mom, that girl that spanks naughty kids -- where is she?

I don't know. She could be anywhere! (Now I know she WAS in Ohio, but I don't know where she is right now.)

Mom is she here now?

I don't know honey.

MOOOooom. You're just joking. Right?!

Cue the guy who is standing in front of me with his young wife (who is giggling uncontrollably).

"No! I've heard about her!!"

At that moment you could see all of the color drain out of poor Little Monster's face as his jaw dropped down. We all stood around discussing whether it was possible if she was in the store the poor kid started to get scared. That some mythical woman might jump out between the checkout lanes and swap him in the butt for being naughty in the yarn section of Michael's. And the more we talked about it, the harder it was to contain my seriousness. The lady in front of us (young wife) was crying she was laughing so hard. She literally HID her face in her coat at one point because she didn't want to ruin the moment.

I may or may not have mentioned that if this mythical lady has to come out to spank you, she immediately calls Santa and puts you on the naughty list.

I'm not terribly proud of my momentary lapse in parental judgement. But I might just use it to my advantage. After all, I don't know where that lady is at any given time, and she could be anywhere, ready to spank my naughty children for me since I'm not willing to do it in public myself. But at least I'm not duct taping him to walls. Yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Instead of protesting a protest...

Perhaps it's because all of the pain is so new, so fresh. My Dad's funeral was only three months ago. Perhaps, it's just because I'm a human being who has a bit of empathy and I can't imagine what it would have been like to be so sad, to have lost so much, and be mourning the lost of a dear loved one, only to see picketers outside the funeral home or church. Whatever the reason, I am not alone when I say that the Westboro Baptist Church is way WAY out of line.

I'm not out to take away any one's right to a peaceful gathering, to take away their free speech. I don't follow my husband half way around the world every month so that he can protect those rights for nothing. I hold those rights near and dear to my heart. And so does he. We've talked about it, and he would not stop an anti-military protest. He refuses to say anything to anti-war or anti-military picketers on the street. Because they have the right to air their opinion in a peaceful manner.

I think, that if the group doing the picketing in this case were any group of people without ties to a Christian organization, I would feel much differently. I might not be as upset. I might not feel like it was as vitriolic, as disgusting. But then, maybe not. I think it is a violation of humanity to stage a picket line, a protest at someone's funeral. Turning an entirely somber affair designed to allow family and friends to say goodbye to a loved one into a political statement is entirely wrong. I don't know how. I can't give you a biblical example of why it is wrong to do this to people at a funeral, but I'm pretty sure it is. It goes against so many things that Jesus taught. It breaks my heart that the organization doing this comes in His name. It makes me want to scream and cry and try to stop it all at once.

Would God really use a teacher's car accident to make a statement against the way the public school is run? This church claims that the reason this teacher died was because the public schools teach rebellion. I think it's a little bit ironic, because wasn't that was Jesus was? A rebel? Didn't he fight the church leaders left and right? One of the things He came here to teach us was that sometimes a little rebellion isn't a bad thing. Jesus defied all sorts of social standards, liturgical laws, and rebelled against the sinful and unholy way the Pharisees were running the temples.

Why does it bother me so much that people are protesting at funerals? Maybe it's partly because of what my husband does for a living and this church is known for protesting at military funerals. Mostly it's because it's a church. It's a group of people associating themselves with MY faith and MY God. Maybe I'm wrong. I could be wrong simply because I am holding them to a higher standard than I would any other group or organization. Very often, I'm too judgemental of other people, especially Christians. I expect Christians to live a life with a higher moral standard, to be nicer to people, and to be law abiding citizens. But that's wrong, perhaps even hypocritical. I break the law, I'm not always nice to people, and I'm a Christian. I dare you to catch me on a bad day. Heck, let me catch you texting and driving, and you'll see the Christian fall off of me faster than a Maserati on the Autobahn. So, when I see a Christian failing my high expectations, I need to remember to pray and remember that I too, fall short. I too, sin. Most of the time it works.

But not tonight. I'm tired. Tired of hearing about these funeral protests. I'm tired of hearing about people showing up with signs that say that God hates Fags, and that all of our problems in this country are because God is somehow judging our nation for supporting a 'homosexual agenda' or fighting an unjust war or whatever else we do that could anger Our Father.

I'm tired of hearing about how much "God hates fags." That isn't true. Not in the least. God hates sin. God hates the behavior that often happens on earth as a result of humans having free will. God, however does not HATE any one. Be they a fag, a christian fundamentalist extremist, a tax collector, a murderer, even pedophiles. God doesn't hate human beings. God loves us. All of us. It is for that reason that He sent Jesus to die for our indiscretions. He sent his only Son to DIE so that we could have life. What is it that we don't get about that? It doesn't matter what we do, or what we don't do. The only thing that matters is what we believe. We don't earn an entrance into Heaven.

If God hates homosexuals because they engage in a sinful behavior (because again, God hates behavior and sin, NOT the being itself), then he must hate me too. Because I engage in sinful behavior every day. Just the other day my four year old had to remind me that the "f" word wasn't a very nice word. I told some girl to drive, rather than text with her "f"ing phone in a rather loud and mean voice. I sinned. I KNOWINGLY and consciously engaged in a sinful behavior. I think about doing BAD things all the time. I want to HURT people who stand outside of funerals with signs claiming that "God Hates (anyone)." God is love. And something that embodies love cannot hate anything but the thing that would destroy that love.

People don't die because of God's judgement. People die because their bodies wear out. People die because we were given free will from the beginning of time, and that free will sometimes leads us into bad decisions. People die because people die. It's bigger than a stupid church or a military policy on sexual orientation, or whether our schools are teaching the wrong things. The reasons for death are so deep and that I can't even wrap my entire mind around it or explain it in an angry blog post, but ultimately, it doesn't matter. Death is just the beginning for Christians. Without death we wouldn't have life.

This church believes that protesting at a funeral is a Christian act. It isn't friends. It just plain isn't. As Christians we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. And believe it or not, the word "neighbor" doesn't limit us to loving those people living in residences directly adjacent to our own. Neighbor here means a fellow human being. A fellow sinner. Whether homosexual, soldier, civilian, criminal, or regular old Joe Schmoe just trying to live his life. If we love our neighbors, we certainly aren't going to choose one of worst moments for a family to stage a political protest.

On some crazy level, I do understand where this church is coming from. I know what they are trying to accomplish, but the way they are going about it is all wrong. If you're mad at the government, protest at the federal building. Or the state building. You think the way the curriculum in the public schools is wrong? Join the PTA. Make changes. Home school your kids, or send them to a private school. Picket outside the Department of Education. VOTE to change the government and it's policies. It's your right. However, standing outside of a teachers' funeral claiming that she died because our schools teach rebellion doesn't change anything. It sends the wrong message. It tells people that Christians are hateful, spiteful, hypocritical human beings.

My message to a church that would send such a message to the world:

A Christian's first mission is to bring people to God. By sending such a hateful message in the name of God, surely you are turning people away from Him. And a back turned from God is a face turned towards sin.

What does the Bible say about Christians who lead people into sin?

Matthew 18:6 (NIV) But if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung
around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42 (NKJV) But whoever causes one of these little ones who
believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung
around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:2 (NIV) It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea
with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these
little ones to sin.

Not once, not twice, but THREE times it's mentioned. Three is an important number, and if you're a Christian, you know that. It's not an accident.

I could go on forever talking about how God loves everyone, regardless of their sins (He really does), how He wants us all to repent and believe so that we can go to Heaven (He really does), how He sent his Son to die so that we didn't have to pay the price for our sins (He really did) because He loves us so much, or how we can't get into heaven by doing (or not doing) anything (we really can't) and how it all hinges on what we believe.
I could, but it's late. And I'm sure I'm rambling by now. So instead, I will pray for this church. Because that is what I do when I'm angry with someone. I will pray that they will see how horrible, how AWFUL they are being by using a painful time in people's lives to make a political statement, turning what should be a sad but beautiful last moment in someones earthly journey into a media circus. I will pray that that the family will be protected from seeing the whole ordeal as they grieve. And lastly, I will pray that these events will cause people to question what the true God would say, and what He really says about moments like this so that they will come to know how much He loves us all -- no matter who we are or what we do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Time to spray for bugs...

Basements anywhere seem to be plagued with bugs. Spiders, earwigs, just gross bugs. But lately, being at Mom's house (no offense!) has been like a trip to the insectatorium. Or whatever. The bug section at the Zoo. Whatever you want to call it.

It all started a few weeks ago when Daddy was here. Mom and I were getting ready to go somewhere when we saw something scurry across the garage floor. It was large enough we thought it was a mouse. Mom jumped into her car and we yelled for Grant. Who informed us that it was a spider. A very large spider. So large, that when he stepped on it, guts spilled out at made him slip so much that he almost ended up doing the splits and going to the hospital.

Fast forward a few days. A spider was on the lamp. A big spider. I went to get it and it fell to the floor. After I caught it I went to kill it. And I squeezed. And squeezed. And squeezed. And after I actually gave force, it popped. I tried not to barf. It makes me shiver just thinking about it.
Fast forward a few more days. We had been outside grilling and I ate a burnt hot dog. This is a bit relevant, I swear. The kids were nuts that night, and I was out of my mind by the time they went to bed. I went to bed and woke up and as I was in the bathroom, I looked at my teeth. You know how you look in the mirror and run your tongue along your teeth in the morning. Between my teeth I saw a LOT of black stuff. Since we've had so many spiders, the thought of that email from forever ago claiming that we eat 8 spiders a year in our sleep (totally false, by the way) came across my mind. Instantly I felt nauseous. I was certain that I had eaten a giant disgusting spider in my sleep and the stuff between my peg laterals was chunks of spider leg. Then I remembered that we had eaten burnt hot dogs -- and maybe I had forgotten to brush my teeth before bed. I'm going to believe that's what it was. I really am.

And then there was last night. Last night when I was sitting innocently in bed and felt a tickle. In a sort of odd place. In the spot between my girls on the front. I said it. I figured it was a hair or something and went to scratch it. Only I felt something in there. Something like a stick. No worries. I had been crawling around outside all day. It was possible that it had been there for a while but I hadn't noticed it. Right? So I grabbed the stick and and pulled it out of my shirt.

Do you want to see the stick?
Are you sure?

Here it is!!

Do you SEE that?! That is NOT a stick or a hair or anything! THAT WAS CRAWLING ON ME! THERE!
We sprayed the house for bugs. And I feel a little guilty for killing that bug. It suffered a little bit. But then I still get a bit creeped out every time a hair touches me now. I can only wonder how interesting it will be when I get to the Island and have geckos and all kinds of crazy bugs and exotic 'pests' running around!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

...problem solved...

For the past six months my mother has had little Internet. Downloads were minimal. Uploads pretty near impossible. We've been blaming the "bad cable" in the attic.

A few weeks ago my dearest husband and some very good family friends moved the cable feed from the attic to the basement. And in moving the feed, removed about 3 splits and splices. The Internet got better immediately. As did the cable signal in the house. BUT it wasn't perfect.

After troubleshooting the router, and the cable modem, and seeing that the digital signal is still shoddy on occasion, I called Time Warner out to take a look. The guy who came out was actually VERY knowledgeable about what he was doing! It was amazing! He came, replaced some ends, I told him the whole long drama of Internet dis-connectivity and skipping cables, re-wiring and troubleshooting, restarting and rebooting, flashing lights and frustration. So he ran a speed test. It worked. No surprise. The speed tests often work and say that nothing is wrong. So then I said, let me show you. The speed test takes about 1 minute. The Internet craps out after about 3 to 4. Forget the speed test. I don't sit around running speed tests. Try to download the iTunes update! Try to download virus definitions! Try to download anything over 10MB!

So we did. And it failed. And it failed again. After troubleshooting, we came to the conclusion that we were fighting two problems. An indoor cable splice being used outdoors, AND a faulty router. Which is why the problem was so inconsistent and bothersome. No one wanted to take the blame.

Today we both did. New cable has been purchased. New cable will be run into the house using outdoor splicers. A new router has been purchased and set up. And now, my friends, my wonderful friends. We have a home full of computers with the latest virus definitions. And software updates. And skype works again!

I almost forgot what it was like to have real Internet!! ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Redneck vs. The Red Box.

Friday night. 8:00. Kids are in bed, too late to call a sitter. Not that we wanted to anyway. I was dressed in sweats and wanting to get snuggled up on the couch with a bowl of something chocolate and a good movie. But there wasn't anything we'd not seen or cared to see from On Demand. Blockbuster seemed far away and expensive.

But there is an alternative! The Red Box! Daddy and I had been using Red Boxes all over Rhode Island. We even used one at the base in Florida! No problems. Super easy. $1 per movie. I mean, how hard can it be -- You push the GIANT button that says RENT if you want to RENT a movie. And RETURN if you are bringing one back. Then you use the menu to pick out the movie you want. There is a picture menu next to the screen to show you what is available. You type in the title, swipe your card, and the box ejects a perfect red box containing the movie of your choice.

I got to the WALMARTS to get my red box, a little crabby and tired from a long day of fighting with small children who either can't or won't listen to a word I say. I have to admit that I may have appeared christian on the outside, but the thoughts going through my mind as I walked up to that Redneck vs. Red Box battle were anything but. These were the type of rednecks that were proud of it. "Big Papa" had a beer gut about four feet wide and he was donning the dirty holey jeans and a T-shirt that had a list of reasons why he was in fact a red neck. "Big Mama" was wearing a sweat suit too. Only hers was the same size I was wearing. And three of me could have fit into her. Their kids were wreaking havoc on the entry way, opening the doors and letting them shut. Open door. Shut. Open door. Shut. Run around and scream. "Big Mama" was trying to 'figgure it out and wudja knock off all this rukkis!!!" After about ten minutes, the man in front of me, but immediately after the red-necks looked at me and we shared the same thought. "Oh My LORD!" The kids were screaming (rednecks, not mine or the other guy whose child was patiently sitting in the cart) about wanting to watch some movie that the box probably didn't have. Through the whole ordeal I managed to stand there, quiet, without even mumbling things under my breath. I think fifteen minutes had gone by. Maybe not, but it felt like it.

At about this point, I was frustrated. Furiously frustrated. I was thinking VERY mean and VERY un-Christian things. But then I looked down, and realized I was dressed very much like a redneck in my sweat outfit. And if my kids had been there, the situation could have gone either way. They could have been angels or I could have been ripping my hair out too (although it is rare for my kids to be out and about after 8:30). The poor redneck mama was furiously getting frazzled. And the guy in front of me said "It's no fun when they don't have what you want, huh?" And the crazy redneck family left. Three minutes later, both I and the man in front of me had selected our choices, paid and received our movies.

I guess it was just a case of Red box vs. The Redneck. The red box won. And I hope that the next time I won't be so nasty and judgemental. Even if it was only in my head. And even if red box is set up to be easy enough for my three year old to do it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

August. September. October.

Sometimes it's hard to write things because it all seems so trivial. So silly. But maybe that is a good thing. If we focus on the trivial and the silly, then the serious and sad don't seem so big.

The past few months have been a blur. And for good reason. We have flown to Nebraska and back to Rhode Island. We have packed up our house and vehicle and shipped them off to a tiny Island somewhere in the pacific. We drove from Rhode Island to Florida for a week, and then drove back to Nebraska. During the week my husband was here in Nebraska, we sold a truck and our RV -- the one home that hasn't changed in the past three years. We saw Daddy off to the Island where he checked in and has been busy working on getting us into a house. We have wavered back and forth on whether we will be able to keep our beloved pet. All while dealing with the loss of one of the greatest people I've ever known.

We have done quite a bit since visiting Nebraska. Although Little Monster is sad that we weren't able to visit the "Pumpkin Patch of Blood." Some imaginary place he made up that he thought existed near Indian Caves State Park here. Between the Monster and the Monkey, I've been busy. Monkey is climbing onto table tops, running around and bashing her head into everything she can find. I know the whole "duct taping your children" got a bad rep, especially here in Nebraska. And I WOULD NEVER DO THAT!! But I can totally understand why someone might consider it. Anyone who couldn't, either doesn't have children, or their children are miracle angels that don't spend their days dismantling cabinets, moving furniture, and figuring out the child-proof locks that cause most adults grief.

I am looking forward to Monster's birthday party, and spending some time with family before we head off to the middle of the ocean. And then, I'm sure, things around here will get interesting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Originally written 8/7/2010.

Last night it didn't seem possible.

This morning it all seems surreal. Sitting in my living room, which I had begun to stage for a move, but is now staged for a trip.

I've written about him a few times. I wish I had told you all more about the man that came to be my Daddy. He was my daddy. Since my biological one disappeared from our lives, my mom always told me that anyone could be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy.

He was special. He wasn't my father at birth, but he treated me as if he had been. There have been many times in my life where I've felt left out, like the "step" daughter who didn't belong, but NEVER, N.E.V.E.R. was he the cause of that feeling. I was never introduced as his step-daughter. Only as his daughter.

I know my kids won't mourn his loss, but I will mourn for them. I will mourn that they will not get to know this man, who though not grandfather by blood, was grandfather anyway. I

He wasn't one for many words, but the man showed his love for you by what he did for you. And with his great hugs. I will miss those hugs.

I can't imagine the earth without him here. I can't begin to imagine what my mother is going through. The worst part, for me, these past few hours, has been being so far away from the rest of my family. And knowing that I'm moving so far away in a short period of time.

Friday, August 06, 2010

It's suddenly clear to me now

I remember lots of jokes as a kid about toddlers, VCRs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I'm here to tell you now that those were not jokes. Jeff Foxworthy was not kidding when he spoke about the number of raisin boxes you can fit into a VCR. He knew. From experience.

We still own one of those archaic pieces of equipment and apparently Butterball has decided that it is her personal treasure box.

Tonight, in an operation that resembled one of those third world, fake, "no instrument" surgeries I pulled the following items out of the VCR:

2 nerf darts
1 Lego
1 outlet cover
2 extra long Lincoln logs
6 MORE nerf darts
1 something indistinguishable that may or may not have a part still in there

At least nothing was sticky and gooey. She won't be allowed to walk around with PB&Js or boxes of raisins for a while. At least not until this fascination with cramming strange things into odd hiding places passes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

MilSpouse Fill in #7

Another MilSpouse Fill-in thanks to Wife of a Sailor. :) This week's questions:

What is something you wished you’d learned to do earlier in life?
Be organized. This is no fault of my parents. My mom is desperately clean and organized, but somehow my house is in a constant state of chaos. We aren't hoarders, but toys are always scattered around the house, and there is generally a heap of papers on the desk. Every time I lose something, I can hear my mom's voice from when I was ten "If you'd put it where it goes, you'd be able to find it." Maybe it's nature that I'm organizationally challenged, rather than nurture? Who knows. I would love to have a house where everything is in its place. Maybe if we didn't move so often, things would be a bit better. Maybe they'll get better in our new Island Paradise? We'll see!

What is your biggest pet peeve with the military?
I am having a hard time answering this question. My answer changes based on where we are. Right now, my biggest pet peeve is all of the paperwork and craziness that go along with moving. And that even though THEY tell us to move, we have to provide several people within the military the proof that they've asked us to move, and get everything started ourselves. It seems like they should be able to just look up all that stuff in some central computer. Ask me about my pet peeve in six months, and it will be work-ups, and something dealing with the ship, I'm sure.

What tourist attraction near you have you never seen?
Right now we're in New England. We've been here twice, and somehow we've skipped visiting Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, haven't spent much time in Boston or on Cape Cod, and we didn't get to visit Six Flags. Oh well. Life is life, right? I'm sure we'll be back here again at some point!

What are you avoiding doing right now?
See Question 1. There are toys scattered all over. I've got a move-out inspection tomorrow. I really, REALLY need to get stuff cleaned and organized for tomorrow morning. But, I don't feel up to it. Maybe because it's 1000% humidity outside and our wimpy window a/c's can't cut it without bringing the temperature down to sub-zero. And none of that is good for my cold. blah. Anyone want to come clean up my trash heap of a house!?

Wine, beer or liquor?
This totally depends on the day. I can usually do a little Zin or Shiraz with dark chocolate. I don't care about wine pairings, I just eat them together and try to not to die from the loveliness. Or, Kahlua, which is really doesn't fit in either of those categories. But really, one of those two. I'll do a Corona on occasion, or sometimes a pale ale. But we really don't drink all that often. In fact, only the other day did I find out what the heck getting "iced" was, and why I should be carrying a container in my diaper bag.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The day from -- well, one of two places.

I'm still trying to decide who was messing with me today.

It started at 3:00AM when I began coughing. And coughing. And coughing. And truth be told, I hadn't slept well before then either. But I finally fell asleep around 6:30AM. And then I got up coughing again at 7:00, decided sleep wasn't going to happen and got into the shower.

After I got out of the shower, I noticed a little more morning junk in my eye than normal, and it seemed red. So I called the Dr to get an appointment. This cough and sick stuff has been taking over my house for several days. The Butterball has had green stuff oozing out of her eyes since Thursday (Note, I had called the Dr. Sunday night, and was assured it wasn't pink eye) and has been coughing a bit -- especially at night. It is 7:34 AM

I called the doctor, and got an appointment for Butterball close to lunchtime, and one for myself later in the afternoon. The problem with my appointment was that they could not address BOTH the possible pink eye AND the possible bronchitis. I had to pick an ailment to create the appointment for. Seriously. I had to choose breathing or seeing. I figured since Butterball was being seen, I'd know if it was actually pink eye by the time I got to my appointment and chose to fix my cough and breathing problem. 7:45AM

Little Monster woke up and wanted something for breakfast. And by something, I mean something in some language I don't understand. Something Kai eats, he says. Who is Kai? I have no idea. Probably his imaginary friend. The kid has a knack for stories. 8:07AM

While the kids were quiet I took a second to look at my phone and see what I had in front of me for the day. There were approximately 3,934 emails and notifications having to do with things with our house in Virginia that we are trying to sell. The power had been turned off, rather than transferred. However, since the power had previously been in Daddy's name, I couldn't turn it back on without an extended credit check, blah blah blah. There were several more emails and items dealing with our house that needed to be taken care of right away as well. I texted Daddy with the number, hoping he'd have a few seconds to wait on hold for hours to deal with the power company. 8:27AM

By this point in the morning, I was already frustrated. I walked into the kitchen to find Little Monster attempting to dismantle the camcorder. While covered in syrup from his pancakes. I lost it my friends. Lost is so bad that I smacked my hand into something and popped a blood vessel in my finger. And then I really lost it. The fact that I thought we all were going to get pink eye because I'd let stuff ooze out of Butterball's eyes for days thinking it was just part of her cold, the pain in my finger, the lack of caring on the part of the bureaucracy that deals with my health care, all of the jerks who have screwed their spouses over meaning I couldn't start power in my husband's name. It all hit me at once. 8:43 AM

My mom started her day with a nice little phone call from a grown-up kid sobbing like a baby. It was only 7:43 AM for her. It was great.

Can you sense the sarcasm?

The day did seem to get better. I, sick as I was, had to run an errand and decided to stop and buy a little gift for Daddy. And I did. Because I love him, and after a morning of temper tantrums, lost tempers and things spiralling out of my control, I needed something nice. Even if it was just doing something nice for someone else.

I ran my errand, and headed to base to get my fake Starbucks coffee, and get Butterball to the doctor. As I approached the gate, I went to grab my military ID out of my wallet.

And then when it wasn't in the slot where it goes, I passed the gate and went straight home. And I searched my diaper bag. And my house. And my car. I tore apart my wallet. I tore apart the diaper bag again. I tore apart my wallet. I searched in all kinds of odd places a baby girl could have possibly hidden the spoils of an earlier diaper bag and/or wallet dismantling.

I didn't find the ID, so I called the doctor. They cancelled my appointment. Butterball's eyes were pretty clear all morning anyway. No big deal. We came inside for lunch. We were out of milk. And bread. And pretty much EVERYTHING you need to make children some sort of lunch.

Off to Burger King we went like a herd of sick and hungry, whining turtles. Butterball's eyes had surged back into full oozing weeping disgustingness. Of course. As I leaned over the seat in the drive-thru so many prayers of the morning were answered. I could see approximately 1/50th of the ID card I'd spent all morning tearing everything apart looking for. It had fallen between the center console and the passenger seat. At least I'd be able to make it to my Doctor's appointment that promised to cure half of what ailed me. It was the turning point of the day. Surely things had to start getting better right? I know that about ninety percent of the problems from today stemmed from the days and days of coughing and nights and nights of no sleep.

I showed up to the doctor's appointment not expecting a whole lot. It was one time today, when my expectations were wrong. I don't know if the doctor could sense my desperation or if she could see the lack of sleep and sick crawling all over me. As Butterball sat in my lap, oozing from her eyes, she asked who the appointment was for. I explained that it was for me and told her about the loss of ID leading to the cancellation of her appointment for earlier in the day. (I had already rescheduled the appointment for the next day.)

Butterball was on my lap, and as the doctor looked in my ears, and listened to my lungs, she also did a quick 'once-over' of Butterball. Which turned up an ear infection. And this angel of a doctor, figured out a way to take care of not only MY pink eye (nothing), MY chest congestion, but she also took care of my baby. They dug and dug through their computers, trying to find an appointment time to slip Butterball into so that the doctor could prescribe the medicine that would fix Butterball's ear infection. And they cancelled the appointment we had scheduled for tomorrow. Because they were angels. And probably mothers who could read the look on my face.

I almost cried for the second time today. Only this time the tears would have been tears of gratitude.

And so, tonight when Butterball stood in the tub and let feces fall from her behind, I was able to laugh. Because, how else should my day end but with a tub full of poop?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The beginning...

We've begun the moving mayhem around here. Notice has been given, things are getting lined up for a very large, complicated move. Shipments going with different companies at different times to different places. It should be fun. Seriously.

Meanwhile, we are all trying not to die from whatever microbial organism that has decided to take up residence in my lungs. I'm not super happy about being kept up at night by an ugly green mucus monster. I've got two much cuter monsters who enjoy keeping me up nights without a third one moving into my body and making me sound like someone who has been smoking for 80 years.

Speaking of smoking -- it isn't fair. I smoked for a small period of time a long time ago, in a land far, far away. And I enjoyed smoking. Yes I did. It kept me skinny, because I was never hungry. Ah, nicotine. And while I didn't enjoy the residual smell, there was something in the initial scent of the cigarette first being lit that still gets me. If, somehow, I could have all of that without the stink that gets all over everything, and you know, the total destruction of your lungs, I'd probably think about smoking again. At least if I smoked, I'd have a reason to sound like I do.

In the meantime, I'm busy trying to de-clutter and organize our household. I'm trying to enjoy the last few weeks I have in New England, and the last few weeks I have with friends here (No thanks to the Mucinex Monster in my chest).

I hate this part of moving -- the organizing, the packing, the leaving, the un-doing of everything. I keep going with a smile on my face because I know in a few weeks a new adventure will start. In a short while I will be in the middle of my favorite part of moving -- the unpacking, organizing and setting up of our new household. I am trying to picture our new house, how our life will be when we get there. And that's what keeps me from curling up into a ball and hiding from all of the things that need to be done.

Friday, July 30, 2010

MilSpouse Fill-In!

I'm totally lazy today. You can check out the whole deal here at Wife of a Sailor

1.What is your spouse’s best feature?
His pale blue eyes. Eyes so blue that the sky itself can barely compare. Of course, those pale blue eyes are flawed in that they flake pigment. And I guess that can lead to glaucoma. Nice, huh?

2.Mild, Medium or Hot sauce?
None, thank you. I would like some mild pico-de-gallo though. Or some guacamole from Chipolte.

3.What is the worst uniform you had to wear for a job?
The worst "uniform" I've ever been forced to wear wasn't even really a uniform. It was just a sexist requirement that all women were required to wear a skirt. I bought the longest skirts I could find, and all in the material sweat pants are made out of. It was a ridiculous excuse for a uniform that was more so that he could look at the ladies legs.

4.You have invisible powers… where is the first place you would go?
Hmm... I really don't know. I think it changes based on the day. At this point in time, I'd probably visit the summer camp my son used to go to and see what goes on when parents aren't around and see how well the kids are actually being supervised.

5.What’s left on your “to do” list for this summer?
Sort through every.single.thing.we.own. To find out what is coming with us across the Pacific to Vacation Wonderland, and what is getting shipped to my parents house. And a ton of stuff to do for my bible study group that will begin again in September. And move. *sigh*. Move.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Moving -- Showing up and Setting Up!

One of the most exciting parts about being in the military is getting to a new duty station. I love getting to a new place, especially the first morning if we've arrived late at night -- which is usually the case. It feels like Christmas! That's not to say that there aren't a lot things to do to get set up in a new place.

Just like in any civilian move, we have to find a place to live. You can sometimes get into housing. But, generally the waiting lists are ridiculous. Some places it can take years to get into a house on base housing. It used to be that housing kept a ton of houses available for incoming members, but it isn't the case anymore. Housing pretty much everywhere (at least in the US) has been privatized to try to save money. I'm not exactly sure how much money the military is actually saving by leasing the land to a third party, and then paying all military members the housing allowance, but it has made life a bit more difficult when you're trying to get into base housing in some places.

Housing Allowance? What? We get a certain amount of money for housing costs based on where we live. Everyone in the military gets paid the same based on their rank and time in service. BUT if they didn't give a housing allowance, people in some areas would effectively get paid more than others. Someone living in Omaha, Nebraska would be making a ton more than someone stationed in San Diego CA, if they didn't change the rate for housing based on where we live.

One of the first places you visit when you get to your new station is the housing office. Now that it has been privatized, it's kind of a mixed bag. It used to be that you visited a place on base, and you got a house if one was available, based on the active duty member's rank and the number and age of their dependents. Now that it has been privatized, though, some places are wonderful to work with, and others are a nightmare. When we visited the housing office in California we were offered an old, dilapidated looking home with two bedrooms, one bathroom, no washer dryer hookups, and a driveway that was to be shared with five other families and a broken fence. All for the low cost of our entire housing allowance. Seven miles away we were offered a very new three bedroom house with a two-stall garage, a driveway we shared with one family. And the fence wasn't falling down. How much was the newer house? The same amount as the first place. Which house would you choose? I wasn't exactly hip on paying to live in a shack where I'd have to visit the laundry-mat with a toddler every week. The problem wasn't even the lack of available decent houses. The issue we had was more in the way we were treated. When we arrived, we waited around to talk to someone about what we would be offered. The two housing offices played against each other, and if we hadn't been smart about the way we were accepted and offered our lists, we would have had to wait an additional 30 days to even see what was available. We felt like we were looked upon second-class people getting a free handout from the government, rather than a renter who was paying $3000 per month for rent. It was completely obvious that the civilians that were running the housing office despised the military and the people who showed up to rent from them. It seemed odd. That isn't always the case, though. When we applied for housing in New England, we expected to show up and have the same situation. We called to find out where the office was to meet our agent, and she instead had us meet her at our house. She was incredibly friendly, and as has been the case here, that everyone is happy to help with most everything. (Except for the speeders the race through the neighborhood, but that has nothing to do with the military). I've already talked about the differences between the two houses, so I won't go there, but I'm much happier here where I don't feel as if the people at the office despise us because we are getting "free" housing that we are actually paying for.

If you look for a house out in town, it's the same as civilian life, with one exception -- you HAVE to have a military clause in your lease. Orders change. Orders can, and do change mid-tour. So, you have to have a clause exempting you from the lease termination fee should you need to move out early because of a change in orders. In some places, you'll be treated like crap whether you're leasing in town or from the housing office because of that termination exemption. The housing office usually has a list of "black-listed" agencies and complexes that you shouldn't rent from, because they are notorious for being unfair and mistreating the military members when they need to use the military clause in their leases, sometimes even refusing to honor it.

Once you've found your house, vacation is over. You get in and you call the moving company to tell them your new address. You can update your address with the post office, hopefully get caught up on any bills and obligations you've had to put off while you were "homeless" between addresses. In housing, generally your basic utilities are automatically put in your name, while out in town you have to arrange all of that yourself, just like everyone else. If you're in housing you have to figure out cable and Internet. Cable and Internet is one major bonus to privatized housing. When housing wasn't privatized, the civilian cable companies didn't have cable run to the houses, so you couldn't get 'normal' cable, and getting any kind of high speed Internet was next to impossible. Some places, (ahem, where we used to live) the privatized companies didn't deem cable and Internet as "necessary" utilities. So, they simply didn't pay the companies to come in and install any hubs or lines to the neighborhoods because they were too cheap. At our last house, we didn't have any option other than satellite for TV. After the digital conversion, we couldn't even get over the air channels because the TV stations were too far away and there were too many hills around to get a signal except for in one bedroom upstairs -- and even then you had to be standing on your head, touching your nose and sticking your tongue out just so to get the one channel that would come in. As for Internet, we were lucky that they did have "high speed" (IE, barely faster than dial up) Internet set up, but it was still incredibly slow, worked about 1/2 of the time and cost twice as much as anything else we could have gotten anywhere else.

If you're lucky, and moving somewhere in the US, you can usually have your stuff within a couple of weeks of getting into your house. We have had it take a full month before, though. Your stuff has been shipped across the country, and has probably been put into storage if you didn't fly from one place to the other, or drive like a crazy maniac trucker or stop and visit family on the way. In our experience, when your stuff goes into storage it gets broken. The movers treat your stuff a bit differently when you're watching them. Have you ever watched how the luggage handlers at the airport treat your bags? Yeah. I'm pretty sure it's the same deal at the storage facility.

In my experience the movers who offload our stuff whine a lot less than the ones that pack it and load it. I think that's because most of the time they aren't doing quite as much work since they're not unpacking. Yes, you have the option of having them unpack for you. However, while they will take the stuff off of the shelves and put it into a box, they won't take it out of the box and put it onto a shelf. You have to put your dishes into the cabinets, your clothes into your dressers, and your books on your shelves. So, unless you have eight arms, no children and can be in three places at once, it's much easier to unpack at your own pace.

A military family learns to unpack quickly too. Since we move so often, we don't have much time to waste unpacking. If we spent months unpacking our boxes, we'd be living out of boxes our whole lives. Our last move, it took us one week to have our house completely set up and unpacked. However, there always seem to be a few boxes of miscellaneous stuff that don't get completely unpacked. Those are the boxes that never seem to get unpacked and they seem to multiply with every move.

As you're unpacking you will most likely, find broken things. Because, like I mentioned earlier, your stuff has been moved without you around. The moving company (if you've paid for the replacement insurance -- we always do--out of pocket) will pay to repair and replace any broken items, but it's often a pain to get all of that sorted out. And how do you really replace stuff that is irreplaceable -- you can't find some things again.

Remember the lamps we got rid of at the last place because the entire house had lighting in the ceiling and you didn't have an affordable option for storage? Too bad. So you're out buying lamps. And new curtains because the windows that were 84" above the floor in California are only 65" off the ground in New England. This is something that happens no matter who you are and you move, but it all adds up when you move every year. The last house you lived in was built in 2004, so it had network cable in the walls and electrical outlets (or several) on every wall. This house, however was built in 1950. When you plugged in a lamp and a TV. So there is about 3 plugs in every room. So you have to buy extension cords.

Most of that stuff I had to give away at the last place, because the movers couldn't move it will have to be replaced. Every year or so I've had to replace my entire kitchen cabinets with new spices and cleaners. Not a big deal, really, except that it can get expensive. And it's really annoying when you get to the new place and go to cook something, and What do you MEAN we don't have any garlic powder, vinegar or baking powder? Didn't I JUST buy that the other day? Yes, but the other day was in our last house.

Luckily, some things have gotten easier recently. It used to be that if you were a military spouse, even though you moved on military orders, you became a resident of the state you moved to. So you had to change your driver's license right away too. If you were smart, you'd leave your car titled only in the military member's name because otherwise you were required to change the plates on it to a new state every time as well. Sometimes, it's better to change the plates. We do if we are going to be in one place for a long period of time and the cost is reasonable in the new state. For the past few decades, they have been trying to pass a bill so that military dependents can keep the same state of residence even while moving around. It passed this year, which is wonderful. It makes the whole "arriving" in a new place a bit easier. It basically means that we don't have quite as much paperwork to do.

Now that we're here and set up we can begin exploring!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

MilSpouse Fill in #5

Wife of a Sailor's MilSpouse Fill in continues this week! I'm a little late -- as usual, but oh well. It was a rainy day yesterday and we spent all of our money at Target. So I was tired.

1.Besides the horizontal mambo, what do you miss most when your spouse is deployed? I miss our evenings. The first few nights are the worst. When he's gone and you're alone and the kids are in bed, and it's a little too quiet. After the first few nights, I enjoy it just a little bit. But then I settle into being lonely again. He hasn't been gone since we've had kids (at least not long enough to really miss him too much) other than when Little Monster was born, and I lived with my parents. So I know the next time around I'll miss having him around to play with the kids. It's wonderful how much time he spends with them.

2. What do you miss least? Cleaning up after him. Not that he's any messier than anyone else that lives in this house, but I hate cleaning period. So, yeah.

3. You only get three crayons to finish your picture… which three do you choose and why? I pick Red, Yellow and Blue. They are the primary colors, and you can, if you're patient, create almost any other color with them. Without those colors, things would just be shades of grey.

4. If you could have your own fragrance, what would it be called? I kind of do. Only it's my mom's sort of. My mom scent's her own goats milk soap, and she makes one that's called Sea Moss, but it's seriously a clean, yummy, smell that I love. It's earthy without being too dirty, and pretty without being too perfume-y.

5. If the shoes make the man (or woman), what do your shoes say about you right now? This one is funny, because if you go to my profile, it's one of the random questions you could pick to sum yourself up, and it's the one I picked. If I had my way, I would never wear shoes. I am a simple girl, and love the feeling of walking around barefoot (as long as my kitchen floor is reasonably clean). I walk barefoot on the beach, in the grass and anywhere I can get away with it. I was barefoot at our wedding (even though that wasn't the day we got married) under my fancy dress. I walked down the aisle of the church barefoot. Hmm. I wonder if that's blasphemous? Jesus was barefoot a lot too, right?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving -- Setting it up and Setting out!

Moving is inevitable when you're in (or married to) the military. Sometimes you know its coming and other times you have no clue. Sometimes you have months to plan, other times you are lucky to get a few weeks. But moving happens. Military jobs have a timeline. You're not in one place for very long but you generally know how long you're going to be at any specific job.

There are many variables, but at some point in time, you know your time is waning at the job you're in, so in some way, shape or form you either pick or get picked to go to your next job. Sometimes you get to pick, other times the government picks for you. That all falls into the whole "government property" thing. At any rate, you are set up for a new job and you have an idea about where you're going next. However, before you can do any planning of any kind you have to wait for orders. Once you have orders, you can begin planning. Most military members know, though, that you shouldn't plan too early if you're lucky enough to get orders a few months out. Because orders can, and often do change.

Before we got married, when I decided to move it was because I couldn't afford rent, wanted a change of scenery, etc. I knew when my lease was up, so I started looking a few months out, put down a deposit on a place and scheduled everything so that I had a few days overlap. One sweaty weekend, a case of beer, a U-haul, some friends and family, and I was in a new place. Now, when I move it's because someone is telling me to. If I'm lucky I get a few months to think about where we're going to move to, but I can't start searching for a new place to live until we have orders. Usually I can't find a new home until after we've already moved to the area.

In order to move, there are several forms to fill out. Just because we're being told to move from Place A to Place B, doesn't mean it all happens automatically. We have to tell someone to schedule the moving trucks, packers and loaders. We have to tell someone to arrange for our travel, especially if travelling requires airline reservations.

After you fill out all of the forms, which can take hours and sometimes days, letting everyone know that you're moving, where to, and when you'd like to have it all arranged, you are told when everything will actually happen. Sometimes it is when you want it to happen, other times, not so much.

Sometimes you can visit your new destination ahead of time to find a place to live, but most of the time it is expensive and you're moving too far away for any kind of real house hunting. Leaving one house before you find a new address can create problems. Technically when we're between houses, we're homeless. We don't have an address to put down on any forms. We can't fill out a mail forward until we know the new address, so we have our mail forwarded to family or friends nearby temporarily, but that isn't always an option. So you're stuck using your last address and hoping that no one is going to try to mail anything important to you. It's especially difficult to explain to utility companies that you don't have a forwarding address for the final bill. They don't quite get it sometimes.

Once you've gotten everything "scheduled" you have to prepare your house. One nice thing about military moves is that if you choose, someone will actually come pack up your stuff for you. (You can also pack your stuff and move yourself. But with a military spouse who is lucky to get time off for dinner, it's hard to arrange a move on your own without it turning into a nightmare. If you can, though, the military will pay you part of what they'd pay the movers to do all of that work.) That doesn't mean everything is easy, though. They don't move some things. All those cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink? Can't be moved. Do you have anything flammable such as propane canisters, spray paint, any aerosol products? Nope, they can't come. Open boxes of cereal? Nope. Ketchup in the fridge? Sorry. Pretty much anything that is perishable or open is garbage. It can't be moved.

What do you do with all of that stuff? Most of the time I try to donate stuff to neighbors or the homeless, etc. However, most of the food that can't be moved is open. And the homeless shelters won't take open food items. I get the reasons for it, but if you're neighbors have all moved before you, or can't take any more free stuff (because their fridges and pantries are stuffed from everyone else moving ahead of you), you're pretty much throwing away a bunch of perfectly good food.

There are pests in some parts of the country and the world that are dangerous to the environment in other places. One example, the gypsy moth. If you are lucky enough to get stationed somewhere that the gypsy moth lives, you have to inspect every single thing that has ever been outside for larvae to ensure that you're not going to single-handedly kill off the endangered species that live ONLY on one island in the entire world. If you don't find it, and the movers or customs finds it, it's a whole lot of fun trying to get your shipment without a bunch of red tape.

Have pets? Travelling with pets in CONUS isn't a big deal. You just cram them into the car with the travel high chair, pack and play and your kids. Moving OCONUS (outside of the continental US)? Good Luck. You have to fill out several pages of paperwork, have blood drawn, and pay close to a thousand dollars out of pocket between vet bills, paperwork and plane tickets to get your pet from Place A to Place B. And if one thing goes wrong, you're looking at thousands of dollars for the quarantine period.

The date arrives, and the movers are supposed to show up to pack your stuff at 8:00. You've sorted out all of the "un-movables" that you can find early, but know that they will tell you that they can't move some things this time, even though they did last time. You get the kids up and ready, everyone is dressed, donuts and coffee for the packers have been purchased. 9:00 arrives and no movers. 10:00, and 11:00 and noon. At 1:00 they show up to pack. And then they spend the entire day whining about how much stuff you have. How many movies and books to you really need? Do you really have to have so many pictures to load? What about all those toys? Do your kids really need that? Your furniture sure is heavy! And you have a lot of it! Never mind that you only own 6,000 pounds worth of stuff and you're authorized twice that. I forgot to mention that. We can only own so much stuff. It's not based on the number of people in your family, just on rank. Everything is finally packed at around midnight.

The truck is supposed to arrive tomorrow. At 8:00. So, you get up at 6:00 in the morning, get the kids ready to go, buy donuts and coffee for the loading crew, and get to your house at 7:45 to make sure the place is ready to go. 9:00 arrives and no truck. And it's 10:00, 11:00, noon and 1:00. The truck shows up at 4:00. You've been sitting at a house where everything is packed, waiting for several hours for the truck to show up. When they show up there is the whining again. Do your kids really need all of those outdoor toys? Your furniture sure is heavy! And you have a lot of it! How many boxes do you have to load? The truck is finally loaded at midnight. If you're lucky, your spouse is around so one of you can return to the hotel with your children before they reach critical mass and explode.

Once the truck has pulled away, you ensure that you've gotten everything packed. Everything you need for the next two months is loaded into your cars. You need two months worth of stuff, because moving is about the only time you get to visit family. And because most of the time you haven't found a house ahead of time, you don't have an address to give to the moving company. Your stuff goes into storage. And you have to wait your turn to get stuff out of storage and into your house. Which sometimes takes a month or more. If you're brave, you drive across the country, small children in tow. You have to drive yourself because the military won't pay for shipment of vehicles. (The exception is if you're travelling over seas and lucky enough to be moving somewhere where you're authorized to move a vehicle, but even that isn't easy. If you are having a vehicle shipped, you often have to drive it several hundred miles to a drop off point -- they will NOT pick it up at your house and send it from there.) If you have small children who don't do well in the car, you have to have vehicles shipped on your own dime, and fly from one place to another. Many families have one parent travel with children by air, while the other drives a vehicle packed to the brim.

These few days between houses can be incredibly irritating or wonderfully amazing. I love it when we're between homes. We always drive if we're travelling in the CONUS (Military speak for Continental United States). We don't have any responsibilities other ensuring that we're to our destination on time. We usually attempt to turn our moves into an adventure. Not quite a vacation, because we're usually on a tight schedule and can't afford long stops in many places, but we try to have fun anyway. Even with all of the reality checks, problems and pains that go along with moving, it's always exciting. It's fun to live with the anticipation of a new place. Those few days between duty stations are like the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a buzz in the air that can't be contained. I often hope I get to our new destination in the dark. That way, it's like Christmas to wake up in a new place that you haven't seen in the light and go exploring -- only Santa has delivered a new start in a new place. What an adventure!

What's next? Getting to your new place!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Does this still go on? I don't know. I've been so out of the blogosphere and in my own world lately. All of this move stuff.

These photos were the result of a magical summer evening. We had gone to a hibachi place for dinner, eaten ice cream and then headed home to ride bikes and hang out. Yes, there was even genuine smiles from the Daddy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eight Years, Eight Seconds?

Eight years have gone by since we said "I do." We won't talk about the word "trust" and how that was more stuttered than stated.

It's hard to believe that this was us eight years ago:

Look how tall he is! And how short I am? (I'm standing a full two steps higher than him, in heels.) Look how skinny I was! And he has HAIR!
Why no dress? Where's the tux? One of the great things about military life is that in order to get a place to live, we had to get married. A full two weeks before our wedding. We weren't given the option of being a runaway bride or a missing groom. It made for a great wedding day with no pressure at all. What's that? The pastor tried to burn the church down during the ceremony? Eh, we're already married. What's that? It's 106 and ninety percent humidity? The reception is outside? Eh, we're already married.
We had a blast at our wedding. It was easily one of the best days of my life at the time. I say at the time because so many days after that have become the best day of my life. Two kids, several moves, a few more pounds, a little less hair, and I can't wait to see what else life has in store for us!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Military Life. Part One.

I started writing and realized what a big undertaking this series is going to be. I am still writing and thinking and considering all of the aspects of my life and how different it would be if I wasn't married to someone in the military.

I've narrowed everything down to two main "causes."

  1. 1. Moving. We move. A LOT. And by a lot, I mean usually once every year or so. Sometimes more often. Sometimes we're only in a place for six months.
  2. 2. At least one person is literally "property of the US government." Doubt me? I wouldn't. It means that the government can -- and will use the person where it is best for the government. Usually there is some consideration for the families, but leave and liberty are always privileges -- not rights. (Leave is like vacation, and liberty is getting to leave the base for any reason at any time -- like to go home for the night, etc.)

Unless I'm totally overlooking something, every single thing in our lives revolves around those two things. Where we live, what we eat, where our kids go to school and for how long. We as military members and their dependents have little control of many aspects of our lives. And those aspects that we don't have control over are often what civilians consider part of their identity. So what is our identity? We are in the military. Our lives are different. Most of us embrace the differences, dealing with them day-by-day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Things I think about that you don't have to.

The other day a good friend and I were talking about different groups we've joined trying to get social interaction for both ourselves and our preschool children. She had joined a group that was designed specifically for mothers who have children who are too young to go to school. I'm not going to name names, but you should be able to figure it out. She mentioned that the specific group she joined touted their 'welcoming attitude' toward military families. Then, she mentioned how when she joined, she was surrounded by a bunch of ladies who had all grown up in the area, never moved, and hadn't been very friendly to her. They weren't mean, but they weren't friendly either.

I know -- why do you care? Well, because this is something that most people don't get about being a military family. We have almost an entire culture to ourselves, because of the differences in our lives that regular people don't have to put up with. So many things that most people don't put up with we do without blinking an eye, or even thinking about. Most of them, in fact, we don't even notice after a few years. Ever since having that conversation about how she got the cold shoulder, I've been thinking about how different our lives must be, and how we don't even notice until we are confronted with it.

So I'm going to try something. I'm going to start telling you the ways that my life is different than the 'average' citizen of the country. We'll see how it goes. I'm sure I will be adding to it as we go. I don't want anyone to think I'm whining or complaining -- I'm not. I accept all of the parts of military life as just that -- part of our lives. This is a topic I've tried to write about multiple times, but haven't ever posted because I didn't want anyone to think I'm a whiner. Well, I am, but I don't like to whine when it comes to aspects of military life. I married into it knowing all of the ups and downs that were going to come along with it.

To the other military spouses -- leave a post in the comments about the things you notice about your life being different than the civilians you live near and around. And if I can, I'll try to post about it. Non-Military spouses, ask questions -- what do you want to know?!

Friday, July 16, 2010

MilSpouse Fill-In!

Oh how I love Fridays now. I never have to worry about what I'm going to write. Wife of a Sailor hosts such a good party!

This week's Questions and answers!

What food reminds you of your spouse? Stuffed Crust Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza. It's a pizza that he loves, that I wouldn't normally order, but always do when he's around.

Who would you rather sit next to in a cross-country plane ride: an irritating non-stop talker, or a quiet stare-er? Hmm.. What if I am the talker? Okay, maybe I'm not so bad. I don't generally talk non-stop. But I gave birth to a talker, so would it be wrong to hope I get sat next to a grandma who loves talking to little boys with superhero verbal dysentery? That's what I'd like. And then I'd like for Butterball to take a nap. And I can read a book. That would be amazing. I am betting it won't be so grand when we fly to vacation paradise in a few months.

What are your best tips on how to save money? Stay. Home. As in, don't leave the house for any reason at all. If I leave the house, I'm spending money somewhere. Going to pick up the kid? Starbucks is on the way? There went $5 (or more). Stopping at Target to pick up diapers? There went the cash for the diapers. And several things out of the dollar bins at the front. And probably a pair of shoes. And that thing we've been meaning to get but kept forgetting about. And maybe another guitar so we can play dueling guitars on Rock Band.

What is your favorite summer memory? I realize this is totally lame, but my favorite summer memory is just plain ol' summer. We are making some great memories this year. Our last little trip was a great time, even (or maybe especially) when you consider how it nearly didn't happen. Little Monster loved riding his bike. Taking the kids to the pool this summer has been a heap of fun. But I sincerely loved spending every weekend camping with my family at the water ski lakes we visited. Each water ski tournament/weekend was a visit with friends that were so close they were like extended family. But I was also married in the middle of summer. And the guys tried to douse my husband with a water cooler like you do the winning coach. But he's tall. And they weren't, so they missed. And got his great-aunt instead. She was in her eighties. And we thought that they might have killed her. But they didn't and it turned out to be great fun instead. Summer really, sincerely is filled with so many memories that I can't pick out just one. Maybe that's why I love summer so much. Give me heat and sunshine, and I can make a good memory out of it!

Do you believe in ghosts? Yes. And no. It's complicated and it's not. I'm not sure I want to go into it here. Or now, so I won't. But yes. And no.

Another reason why I'm old.

I have a 13 month old daughter whose favorite thing in the entire world -- besides demanding that I put on her pretty pink sandals -- is to give me a serious case of myocardial infarction. Seriously. It means heart attack.

The child goes out of the front door, and unless some odd wet substance is falling from the sky, runs immediately for the street. No joke.

It really shouldn't be that big of a deal. We live in base housing. The speed limit is 15mph. The neighborhood is pretty small. However, we are also a "convenient" cut through for the main road. But the people who see it as such fail to realize that there are a bazillion stop signs. And a bazillion speed bumps. And if they don't miss those (I recommend slowing down for the bumps unless you want to lose your oil pan), they definitely miss the speed limit. Most of them double it.

I've called police and complained to the neighborhood association. But short of putting out tack strips activated by vehicles going over 20mph (see that? I'm giving you an extra 5mph), there is no easy, cheap or effective way of stopping it.

So, for now, when you go buzzing past my house faster than I perceive is safe, be wary of the crazy lady with a broom and camera. I'm getting your license plates. And yes, I'm going to make an idiot of myself and scream at you. And flail my arms. And be totally obnoxious. Especially if you drive a giant, old, white, station wagon with an odd rack on top. You speed by EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. You don't live in my neighborhood and you act like I'm the crazy one when I scream at you because you come flying around that corner, skipping stop signs as I whisk up my child.


Or I'm going to have to get the ninjas to come after you.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

PrompTuesday #114

Check out San
Diego Momma
's site for more information!

As usual, I'm a day (or three) late and a dollar (or several) short.
But at any rate. This week was about lists, so here goes.

Odd things that live in my house. I should probably contact pest

1. The un-pack rat. The "un-pack" rat is small in stature, but busy in nature. It finds its way into small spaces, removing all items so that it can create a nest inside the area. It especially enjoys areas such as under-sink cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen and the pantry. If any items in such areas are dangerous, you will surely find this unpack rat attempting to see exactly how dangerous it could be. Most likely by ingesting. The un-pack rat loves to find areas that are neatly organized and un-do any sense of organization that could be found. Laundry baskets and dresser drawers full of neatly folded clothing are a favorite target. The un-pack rat also
loves to have a soft cushy place to walk, partially because it is not very nimble and falls onto it's bottomus maximus quite often. In order to maintain a soft landing pad for accidents the un-pack rat will take all items found on it's "unpacking" adventures and spread them out around it's habitat, creating a type of carpet. Unfortunately for the un-pack rat, it doesn't pay heed to what items will actually create a soft landing surface for its eventual falls. Everything gets spread around, whether it would be a comfortable landing pad or not. The un-pack rat is not nocturnal, but it tries to be and when it fails at staying up at night, it keeps everyone up with it.
Most people assume that the un-pack rat would be homely, however, it is very cute and manages to fool almost everyone into thinking that it is a harmless creature. Watch out, for
the few teeth the un-pack rat has are sharp, and the un-pack rat can be dangerous if not treated properly. However, if you treat this un-pack rat well fed with goldfish crackers and milk, and keep it supplied with the proper type of foot protection on its feet or in its vicinity you will be rewarded with lots of snuggles and loves.

2. The leaping, lumbering, lowing leopard. It is important to note that while this animal is a leopard, it is not one of the more agile creatures you see on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel. This species is very rare, and not much is known about the creature. Like the un-pack rat, this creature tries to be nocturnal and punishes everything around it when it is unable to remain awake during the night hours. It wants to spend much of its time watching a box that emits pictures and sounds that are obnoxious to almost every other living thing. Often, this box will be found chanting "I'M THE MAP" over and over again until any functioning animate being would do almost anything to destroy it before the sounds that are emitted turn cranial matter into useless goo. Somehow this leopard species is immune from the effects of the
box. The leopard likes to think it is agile, quick and strong, however, it often falls when leaping
from one object to another (objects, it should not be on or jumping around in the first place) breaking things near it, or injuring innocent by-standers. The leopard can be very dangerous in that it is strong, but doesn't know its own strength, and often tries to pretend to be other animals with different abilities. Should you try to catch this leopard while it is pretending it is something else and mistakenly call it by its name it will ignore you until you guess which animal it is pretending to be at that moment. The leopard will always howl and make sounds indicating that it has been starved its entire life. When you try to feed the leopard, however, it
will turn its nose up at any fare offered unless it is fried fast food and fizzy drinks. When the leopard is tired, rather than laying down to sleep, it will try to fend off sleep by running around and leaping even more clumsily than normal. The leopard is incredibly intelligent and will repeat anything you say at the most inconvenient of times. The leopard will randomly emit sounds that make no sense at inappropriate times. Most of the downfalls of
this leaped are made up for in that the leaped tells very entertaining nonsense stories. And if you can keep up with it's imagination you won't ever be bored.

3. The Mommy Grizzly Bear. This bear is dangerous for many reasons. This bear has not
been able to enter into a real hibernation in years and is very cranky most of the time. If you are lucky you might find this bear on a day when it's recently caught it's favorite beverage consisting of water filtered through ground beans and poured onto milk. That is the best time to
come into contact with this bear. The worst times to come into contact would be early in the morning, late in the evening and any time in the night, as well as during the day. The bear strives for order but the cave is often a mess, because it is filled with un-pack rats and the lowing, lumbering leopards. After several hours of attempting to create order in the cave, the grizzly often gives up and lets the wild beasts who have taken over the cave have their way. This usually means ground up food and a carpet of odd things strewn around. The grizzly, although
often irritated by these little pests in the home, is fiercely protective of them as well. The grizzly will do anything to stop harm to the little creatures and knows that eventually they will go away
on their own, leaving the cave empty and clean, but altogether too quiet.

4. The LION This animal prowls around the house, often early in the morning and late at
night, after spending the day collecting food and comfort items for the cave and the tenants. Like the grizzly, it is often annoyed by the pests that roam about, but is fiercely protective of them. The Lion and the Grizzly somehow live together in one cave despite their differences. You might even say that they tolerate each other. The Lion does everything it can to keep the motley pride of animals living in its cave from clawing each other apart while attempting to provide the necessary items for sustaining life. Unlike most species of Lion, this lion is not deterred by fire, but instead likes to create it for the amusement of those around it, as well as to roast food. This
Lion also enjoys dragging the creatures out of the cave in an attempt at getting rid of a few of them. Unfortunately for the Lion, usually the excursions end up only enhancing the bonds between the cave dwelling creatures and extending the time that they swarm around him. After a few hours (or sometimes minutes) of the swarming, the Lion will let out a roar, sending all of the cave dwelling creatures (except the un-pack rat, which is undeterred) scattering away to leave the Lion to his own business.

5. The canine jackus russelus terror. This is probably the most civilized creature that lives in the cave. It patiently waits for permission to leave the cave in order to do his "business." It also patiently waits for food and water, and occasionally a frolic. This creature spends most of its time confined (of its own free will) to an interior portion of the cave, waiting. The creature thoroughly enjoys chasing small furry animals and will often sit near the Leopard and un-pack rat waiting for rejected food. This creature is impervious to the loud sounds and precarious lumbering of the other inhabitants of the cave.

I really do think I need to get some sort of pest or exterminating service involved. These animals have taken over my house and won't leave. Oh well, hopefully it will all be back in control in a few months when we head off for our island paradise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Look first, then pitch. But look again. Just in case.

The other day we got a letter from Chrysler -- Schmitty's momma -- admitting that they put less than quality brakes and rotors on their cars. Brakes and rotors that wear out before they should -- like at 16,000 miles. Just a few miles and a few months outside of their warranty.

Of course, we knew all of that. I called them and complained about the whole thing a year or so ago when we had 16,000 miles on our minivan, but the brakes were funky. They finally conceded to paying labor, but we had to pay for parts. And then the dealer found the same problem on the back brakes and fixed those too.

Fast forward to this weekend when we got the letter. I threw the letter in the trash, convinced that there was no way we had kept the receipt for that work, (through a cross country move and after a year!?) and therefore wouldn't be compensated for the parts.

Fast forward to today. When I found the receipt. And had to dig the letter out of the trash.

It's covered in some sort of garbage juice. But I hung it up to dry. That letter in conjunction with the newly found receipt is worth some money! If Chrysler doesn't want to get trashed letters they shouldn't put crappy brakes on their cars, right?! Or am I wrong? I have learned my lesson though. I'll at least give a glance for receipts before I go trashing any letters promising a return of my money.

How much cash would prompt you to dig through the trash? How much would NOT be enough?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Imaginings of a Little Monster

Pssst! Psst!

What was that sound? Did you hear it? Wet's Wook! It was Swiper DA FOX! He wost him goggles and gwoves. And he's wivving in the woods where da bad wolves are! But here comes bumbow bee to wescue him from da bad wolves. And I'm gonna hewp him. Wif my wocket boots. And mine bwoo jet. Mine JET hand! Because I'm a woobot. I'm a GOOD wooobot. And dat was NOT swiper. Swiper is weally in the woods still. AND I'M BATMAN!

Mom -- are dere bad wolves in da woods?

Not much anymore.


There are wolves in the woods in other places though.

Oh. Okay... Den dat is where swiper is.


As far as I know he made that song up himself. Unless there's some random Iron Man cartoon that uses that for their theme. Even still, I'm just as impressed that he remembered it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday.

I don't want to get too mushy here, especially considering next week we have our eighth anniversary.

But Happy Birthday to one of the greatest men I know.

What do you get for the guy who has everything he ever needed and wanted? What do you get for him when you consider that we are getting ready to move across oceans and we don't want to acquire anything else?

It doesn't seem fair that I don't have much to give you this year, especially since it's a year ending in 5/0. You've given me so much. The best thing is our kids, of course. They are so amazing. And they love you like crazy. The past few nights when you've been working late 'attending to be on a ship' as Little Monster would say, they've been cranky and asked for you often. I don't know what we're going to do when you're not pretending anymore. We've been lucky to have you home for two and a half years.

You saved our lives this weekend. And were the master of fun all weekend long. With your campfires and beach swimming, and bike rides.

There is a reason why every single day Little Monster asks "when am i gonna be big wike mine daddy?" It's because you're an amazing person. We're lucky to have you. And I hope we get to keep you around for a few more decades.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kids and Bikes and Long, Long Rides

We like to take bike rides in our family. Well, that is, if we're on a fairly flat path and not a street -- I hate sharing the road with crazy drivers in a car, let alone on a bicycle toting my precious babies.

The past couple of years we've done some biking. And Daddy has tried to induce heart attacks, strokes and the eviction of my lungs through my mouth by taking me on rides up hills. By hills, I mean hills. Hills that would make Lance Armstrong think a bit about how he's going to ride up. A couple of years ago we went for a ride that should have been pretty flat behind our housing community in California. And that "flat" ride turned into a roller coaster ride that we had to power ourselves. It wasn't fun. There was tears and lots and lots of whining. And then Little Monster got tired of riding in the bike trailer and started crying too. Poor Daddy has to put up with a lot.

We found a flat path and rode it after that. But now, just the thought of a hill makes me wince. He mentioned that we should ride our bikes to the pool while visiting his parents, but he warned me of a hill once you leave. I whined and put off the ride and the pool thinking it was going to be something like the roads of California. And then I gave up and we went. And after we'd returned, I asked Daddy where in the world that hill he had talked about was. We decided there was a slight incline in the road for about a block. And it might have been a killer hill when he was ten on a single speed bike, after being in the pool all day. Before he met a real hill.

This past weekend we went up to Maine with the express thought of riding around some of the Rockefeller's Carriage paths on our bikes. We'd walked them a few years back when his frigate pulled into a town in a 'down-east' area with the dogs and had a great time. We have talked about going back several times.

We had seen these bike trailers everywhere that looked amazing. They basically make your bike into a tandem bike so the kids can ride and work, or just hold on and be part of the 'grownup' crowd on the bike ride. Of course, when we went to purchase them we couldn't find one in a store that we could take home to try before heading off on our trip. We ended up ordering one through our Sporting Goods Coop and it arrived the day before we left. As we were packing up the camper to go, we tested it out and set it up so that Little Monster could ride behind Daddy. The first try was really wobbly. We had a hard time convincing Little Monster to get on it after some adjustments. I think we may have even threatened a spanking. Eventually, after getting on the thing, Daddy and Little Monster rode around the block. And then they rode around the block again, per Little Monster's request. And again. And again. He loved it.

When we got there we couldn't park in the lot nearest our planned bike path because it was full, no big deal, we parked at a different spot and adjusted our bike route so that we weren't adding a zillion miles to the ride, considering we weren't sure how Little Monster was going to do on the bike ride. We got about a half mile into the bike ride and realized that "witch hole" meant that it was a witch to get our bikes up and over that hill. I felt like a big sissy whining and crying and trying to cough my lungs out through my mouth. I regretted all of those days I skipped my workout and swore I'd try to be better about remembering to pedal like a fiend on our recumbent bike at home. .

After a very painful 1 1/2 miles, we got to the parking lot where we had planned to start. I seriously considered wimping out and telling Daddy to go get the truck. I was so done. But then I looked back and Butterball was asleep in the chariot, starting to stir because we weren't moving anymore. Little Monster had started whining because we'd stopped long enough to use the bathroom, so I knew he wouldn't be happy if I said we were done and going home. So, I toughed it up and kept going.

I made the right decision. The first hill wiped me out, and I was tired, but once I got my second wind, it was fine. It also helped that the majority of the rest of the ride was gradual uphills and downhills. Little Monster loved passing me on the bike. I can't count the number of times I heard "Ha HA! I'm winning MOMMY! I'm PASSING YOU!" come from his mouth. About 2/3 of the way through the ride we stopped for a picnic. The kids ate better than they have in months. Little Monster was really excited to have a real picnic. Little Monster happily rode the entire 12 miles on the bike, only complaining that he was hungry before we had our lunch.

And then we got to the "witch" hill again. Only this time we were going down. There were caution signs warning about steep grades and sharp curves. The hills going down were no joke. I rode my brakes the entire time. I'm guessing I wasn't as big of a wuss as I imagined. On our way down, we met several people walking their bikes up the hill, just like I did.

The last night of the trip, I snuggled with Little Monster to get him to sleep and we talked about our favorite parts of the trip. He liked swimming in the ocean. And he liked riding his bike around the campground and having the campfire. But he said his favorite part was the bike ride.

Using the bike trailer gave him confidence that he could ride his bike. He hasn't wanted to ride his bicycle since we got it, because he, like me, was scarred by the crazy hills in California. Ever since we went on that bike ride, though, he's been excited about riding his bike and wants to ride all of the time.

The trailer was worth every penny to see the giant smile on Little Monster's face every time he passed me. It was a bonus that he now wants to ride his bicycle everywhere we go "REALLY FAST!"