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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What is Common Courtesy?

We were lectured today on our way to Target about our lack of "common courtesy." We were in a left turn-only lane. Someone drove up to us in the "straight only" lane and asked if he could turn in front of us when the lane light changed. I looked at Daddy, and he said no. So, I politely mouthed "He said NO. Sorry!" to the guy.

We joked about how the guy was going to hunt us down in Target, being as it was pretty obvious we were going to the same place. We didn't actually expect this man to speed across several lanes of parking lot at around 30 miles per hour to get to us as we got out of our vehicle. We didn't expect a lecture about "common courtesy" in the Target parking lot. But guess, what. It all happened.

The definition of "courtesy" is as follows:

cour·te·sy (kûr'tĭ-sē)
n. pl. cour·te·sies
a.Polite behavior.

b.A polite gesture or remark.

c.Consent or agreement in spite of fact; indulgence: They call this pond a lake by courtesy only.

d.Willingness or generosity in providing something needed: free advertising through the courtesy of the local newspaper.

So, I want to know -- should we have let the guy cut in front of us, violating traffic laws? Technically, what he expected follows the definition "d." Does "common courtesy" apply here? Should we have expected everyone behind us to wait to let this guy in front of us? And is it really following the laws of "common courtesy" to hunt down the people who think were rude to you just to tell them how rude they were? I mean, really? And what does common courtesy dictate about expecting people to be courteous? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of courtesy? Courtesy is something given that isn't expected. It's like yielding the right-of-way when you're driving. You are supposed to be the person doing the yielding, you're not supposed to expect others to yield and take the right-of-way, it's to be given - not taken?

I honestly think this guy was considering starting a fight with Daddy, but he hadn't expected Daddy to tower over his little white sports car like the Jolly Green Giant towers over his fields. As the guy was lecturing us, we politely explained that he obviously got there at around the same time as we did, so it didn't really matter. He didn't need to hunt us down. Perhaps maybe he should have had the "common courtesy" to follow the traffic laws and pay attention to where he was going, rather than expecting us to inconvenience everyone behind us who had paid attention and gotten into the lane they needed to be in to get where they were going.

I think perhaps people in New England ought to take the "Worst Drivers by State" study seriously and start learning to drive a teeny bit better. If you want to get technical, we have Nebraska plates and learned to drive in Nebraska. Nebraska which is 46 out of 50 in the worst states. Meaning, We are in the top ten states for the BEST drivers!

What do you think? Should we have let him through? Did we violate the laws of "common courtesy?" What should we have done?

Friday, July 09, 2010

MilSpouse Fill In Friday!

I missed last week's with all the hubbub of getting ready to go on our trip to Maine.

I'll do both weeks this week to make up!

This weeks Questions are:

1.What is your favorite household chore? I love cooking. I want to make sweet treats for my family nonstop. Pies, cookies, cakes, whatever you want, I like to make it. I love watching every one's faces light up when I've made something they really enjoy. It doesn't matter what I'm making -- even if it's just chopping up grapes and strawberries for babies. I just want to make something that tastes good.

2.What is your favorite childhood memory? I don't have one specific memory, really. I have memories! My childhood was wonderful, but the best experiences, by far, that I can remember are spending every weekend camping at the lake and water skiing with my family. We really did camp every weekend. The first couple of times we camped in a tent on cots, and that gradually moved to an old RV, and eventually to a newer one. But going to our "chocolate milk" (it was a mud-bottom) lake and spending hours upon hours in the water playing and running around was the best a kid could ask for.

3. What is your most embarrassing moment? I haven't had it yet. Seriously. Or maybe I've blocked it out of my memory. Or maybe I've been embarrassed so many times that I just can't pick one. Probably a combination of all of them. There was the time I left my lunch in my closet as a kid and it grew into something, well, gross, and my mom decided to tell EVERYONE about it. For the rest of my life. Or that time that I decided to skip class in high school and call myself in. I sound just like my mom on the phone -- foolproof, right? Yeah, except it doesn't work when you call the wrong school. And then your mom tells EVERYONE about it. For the rest of my life. But it's okay. I don't have anything truly embarrassing, not like my husband!

4. What uniform of your husband's is your favorite? Well, if you're talking about military uniforms, probably the dress blues. I kind of like the polyester khaki's too, but they've been pretty much phased out. The dress blues look distinguished and oh-so delicious. If you're talking about the rest of the time, I'd probably say that it is a white under-shirt and jeans with a brown belt. Kind of like the Brawny guy without the flannel shirt. He knows that too, and uses it as a secret weapon.

5. What canceled TV show do I miss the most? Oh man. So many TV shows have come and gone. There was this show called Hidden Hills that was pretty good. But it didn't last long. Friends ranks right up there, but my TRUE honest to goodness favorite was Gilmore Girls. I seriously wanted them to follow that family forever. I wanted to see Rory's children and find out who she married. I wanted to see Loralie have more kids and watch her Inn flourish. I miss Sookie's craziness and even Kirk's odd antics. Heck, sometimes I even miss that stinky, crotchety town manager Taylor. I loved hating him because he really wasn't evil, just obnoxious, irritating and very annoying.

And now for the questions from last week:

1. Tell us about your dream job. One you wouldn't mind doing even without pay. Well, I do lots of things without pay that I enjoy. I enjoy doing the web stuff for the PWOC groups that I've been involved in. But, the best job I've ever had was being a preschool teacher. I want to do that when I grow up. But I want to run the preschool my way, the way that Little Monster's preschool was run.

2. What is your most prized possession (kids and pets don't count!). My most prized material possession is a tie between my laptop, my iPhone and my camera. I can't live without my fantastic Digital Rebel camera. It takes the best pictures without me trying. I can't live without my iPhone because it is the compact way that I keep in touch with my friends and family. I can access Facebook, play Angry Birds and Words with Friends on it. But I can't live without my laptop either. It lets me edit all of those wonderful photos, and sometimes it's nice to be able to view flash websites or just plain websites in full size. It's easier to do some of the things I like to do on the Internet on my laptop. Plus, all of my pictures are on my laptop. It's easy to say the three things are always near each other, easily accessible (even to toddlers, sometimes), and would be ushered out of the house in a fire. Right after the kids. Probably before the dog, but not because I wouldn't try to get him out first, but because the dog would run into the fire in order to get warm. He's weird like that.

3. What was your favorite duty stations and why? As of right now, I don't really have a favorite. We have been stationed in Newport, RI (twice), Norfolk, VA, Bahrain, and Monterey, CA. Each has it's own pluses and minuses. I miss being in a house that I own (Virginia), I love being in New England and all of the people here. Bahrain was fantastic, even though we didn't live there with Daddy, and even though it was the hottest place I've ever experienced, and I'm sure when people described the heat of hell it's because they had visited there. California, though will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the place where I found PWOC. I had more friends in California than is fair. I belonged and felt like one of the 'cool kids.' It is where my daughter was born, and where I felt the most connected. However, I could not stand the politics and did not like that I needed a translator or proficiency in another language to order a pizza.

4. What is your least favorite household chore. Hands down, it's laundry. I hate waiting for it to wash, and dry. I hate that you have to sort it out and fold it immediately or it wrinkles. I hate that the second you finish, you have to start over again.

5. What one piece of advice would you give to a teenager today (not specifically a MilTeen)? Have manners -- don't be one of the cool kids. That's a big order, I know. It includes being honest, kind, fair, and treating others decently, especially the little guy that's always being teased. The movies depicting the "cool" bullies and dorky dorks, they aren't real life. Those dorks are the ones that are going to make it in life. And those "cool" kids who "rule the school" with their stupid rules and mean tricks -- they are going to be despised and hated later in life. Being cool only teaches you how to be a jerk and get away with it. No one likes the jerks. Real life, is a lot like high school, except those dorks, geeks and jerks don't have any quality of life because no one REALLY likes them. They don't have real relationships with real people. Be a dork. It's okay. Someday you'll be grateful you got decent grades and learned how to be nice to people.

P is for Plan. And Pencil

There is a lot going on over here. There always is within a month or two of a move. And we are getting very close to that time. We knew we were only going to be in New England for a short time, but it seems as if the time is shrinking at an exponential rate of decay. (That was some math talk for the husband.)

I've mentioned all of the things we've been doing in preparation for our move. We are trying to sell our house in Virginia so that we could all move to San Diego as a family. We had a back up plan that I would live with the kids in Virginia if the house didn't sell, refinance it at a lower rate, and move when we got new orders somewhere else, unless the orders were back to Virginia. If we got orders back to Virginia, we'd just hold on until Daddy could join us and beg the Navy to pay us for the move we'd financed ourselves. His job in San Diego meant that the first year we wouldn't see much of each other anyway, so we were all okay with this back up plan.

It's a good thing that Daddy after 13 years (plus college) and I after 8 years have learned that with military life, you need to make all of your plans in pencil. Plans change, orders change, and things don't always work out the way you'd expect.

We've had a few disappointments in the past few months. We tried to find and purchase a new camping trailer that had a garage for the motorcycle and room for the kids and friends. It fell through. This entire time I've had a hard time making plans for our upcoming move and getting excited about where we were going to live. I assumed that part of it was that I didn't know where we were going to be living. I didn't know what to expect -- Virginia or California. Only the Lord knew. No matter what we did, I didn't get that 'rush' that comes with an impending move. Maybe part of it was that this is our eighth move in eight years (two of those were not military). Maybe part of it was that I wasn't so excited about the possibility of living separate from my husband. We do enough of that because he's floating around in a tin can somewhere without doing it to ourselves. I couldn't make plans to find a preschool for Little Monster this fall, or think about where he'd go to school. I couldn't look for houses in San Diego or plan for our cross country trip to drop Daddy off at his new ship.

A little over two weeks ago we got word that we were being given the option of changing our orders. The funny thing is that we had pretty much assumed that his orders were no-change orders. NO one (and I mean NO ONE) really wants to take the crap that he'd taken voluntarily. The other funny thing about the military giving us an "option" was that they really wanted to see how big of a stink Daddy was going to make. If he'd raised a big fuss over the change, they might have bothered themselves to figure something else out. and by "might" I mean we had a 20 percent chance. In our case "option" was really synonymous with "ordered."

So now we've got orders to somewhere we'd never thought we'd get to go. I immediately got the 'rush' I'd been missing about the other places we were going to live. This must be the real thing. I'm excited about going to an island paradise to live for a while. Even if it means wading through pages of paperwork to avoid quarantine for our dog, Little Monster starting preschool late (if at all), and living in a teeny tiny house just like the one we're in now.

Everything is set. We have orders to a beautiful WARM place that we've never been to. We know what we need to do to get there, and there's a ton of work to be done to make it all happen. But for now, until we get a little bit closer to our move, I'm still only planning things in pencil.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A weekend to be grateful for

We just got back from a "camping" trip in Maine. Maine, oh how I love you in July. I am not sure I'd enjoy you much anytime between November and April, but summer in Maine is absolutely wonderful.

The weekend was absolutely wonderful, but we weren't certain we were going to have a weekend at first. We loaded up the camper (which is why camping is in quotes above -- it doesn't really count as camping) with just what we'd need for a weekend trip on Thursday and Friday Morning. Daddy got home early from work and we headed off.

The trip was slow going, traffic was awful through Massachusetts, which I expected, but Daddy didn't. Then we got to Maine. The traffic cleared up and the road was resurfaced, life was good.

And then they passed us. "They" is a black pickup pulling a very long, fairly old travel trailer camper. We own a fifth wheel, which means it's connected to a large hitch in the bed of our truck. They were towing a travel trailer -- just as long, just as heavy, but on a regular ball hitch on the back of their truck. Travel Trailers are not as safe and steady to drive as a fifth wheel. There is a reason that the big rig Semi's use a fifth wheel hitch to attach their loads.

Back to the story. They passed us. It all happened in a matter of seconds, but it seemed like hours as it was happening. As they passed us they hit the rumble bars. Luckily, Daddy heard that and looked over. As he looked, he noticed that their trailer hit the guard rail on the side of the road. And Daddy hit the brakes enough to allow us to back off.

Thank God for Daddy and his observant Nature.

The man in the truck over corrected as he panicked, sending the trailer swerving back into the lane, and headed into the next one over. The lane we were in. As I watched the back end of his trailer miss the front of our truck by mere inches my heart sunk into my stomach and my stomach jumped into my throat. Daddy backed off even more and hit his hazard lights to alert people behind us.

The man over corrected again, sending his trailer back onto the shoulder, where there was no guard rail this time. And then his trailer swerved back the other direction onto the other trailer. He was out of control. Daddy backed off even more.

We sat there in the cab of our truck watching as this truck and trailer prepared to flip and roll down the freeway. The trailer was swerving uncontrollably. We saw the under carriage of their trailer a few times. At one point in time the truck was sideways in the road. One second it was going one way and the next moment it was facing the other direction. Sparks flew up where the side of the trailer made impact with the asphalt on the freeway. The rear bumper of the trailer ripped off on one end and a sewage hose (just the empty hose) came flying out of the end of the bumper (a common storage place) and rolled down the road. We ran over it. It was at about that moment that I was worried for the driver and anyone inside the truck. We were going to be okay. Daddy was far enough back that we wouldn't hit them or be hurt.

After what seemed like hours, the truck managed to get the trailer back under control. He and the rest of his caravan pulled off to the side of the road. As I watched his wife (I assume that's who it was) get out of her car, I could feel the fear and pain and the beginnings of anger for her. Whatever was in the trailer was ruined. The truck's frame is probably bent. Thousands of dollars worth of damage because there was a small distraction. It could have been much worse. Much, much worse.

We didn't stop because the other vehicle had. Many people think it is safe to travel in a pull-behind trailer as you're driving down the road. I've seen people getting in and out of the things as we've stopped. It isn't safe. I only hope that this family was being cautious and didn't put any living creatures in the trailer, because anything living was most likely injured if they survived being tossed around like that.

It puts things into perspective to watch and be so close to something so scary and dangerous. I know you think I might be exaggerating this incident for the sake of the story, and the blog. But I'm not. In fact, I'm under telling the story. Daddy has seen a lot doing what he does for a living. He's had some exciting moments when waves have been rolling over the bow of his ship. He's looked over to see that his ship has rolled more than it's supposed to without falling apart and sinking into the cold North Atlantic. He has climbed on teeny tiny ladders into a zodiac type boat to rescue people in rough seas from their boat, dead in the water. Even he says that moment goes into his top five list of exciting and scary moments.

We said many prayers of thanks throughout the rest of the weekend. We enjoyed even the small things and some annoyances without as much complaining, because we had been recently reminded how precious life is and how lucky we were to be able to enjoy our weekend. The other family's weekend had been ruined, even though it had almost been much worse than it was. We were able to enjoy our 12 mile bike ride around the park. We were able to enjoy our campfire with giant marshmallows roasting and ever mosquito bite that came along with it. We enjoyed wading in the ocean on the rocky shore and watching Little Monster ride his bike until dark at the campground. We enjoyed watching the last of the coals burn out as the kids slept. We enjoyed fresh lobster at a local lobster pound. Even thought it wasn't the Lobster Pound we wanted to visit, it seems a bit off to whine about the fact that even though their website said they were open EVERY DAY, EVEN HOLIDAYS only to show up at 2:01 on a day when they decided to close at 2:00. It's fine. Another company got our business. We enjoyed ice cream at a small local shop, even though I made a bigger mess with my ice cream than both kids combined. We enjoyed visiting a civil war fort, and watching their cannons go off. Even though it was steaming hot, and the sound of the cannon blast set baby girls to crying and little boys up my skirt, hanging onto my leg as though the end of the world was beginning.

We had a great weekend. I'm sure it would have been wonderful even without the incident, but I'm certainly grateful that we had things put into perspective and were able to enjoy the smaller things.

What did you do over the holiday weekend?