Monday, March 21, 2011

New Site!!

I've moved!! My blog is now located at! Still under construction, but be patient and pretty soon it'll be better than ever! This site will stay up for anyone who wants to read old posts...:-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Little Sunshine

I've decided to bring a new twist to an old theme. We've all read the various lists of "How to Piss off an Army Wife", in fact I've written one myself. But in an effort to remain perpetually bright and sparkly I've decided to give a helping hand to all those out there who want to bring a smile to our faces. Rather than telling you what NOT to do, I'm going to give you some ideas that'll bring in a little sunshine. Since we're gearing up for a deployment here, I'm focusing on that aspect, so most of these are things to do while they're gone.

*Disclaimer* I realize that I usually refer to spouses as "wives", and leave out those husbands out there who are also dependents. I can't help it, more than a decade in Combat Arms creates habits that are hard to break. Most of these ideas will probably be slanted toward a female perspective, (I can't really help that either...) but I'm sure with a little thought and creativity, they'll work for the guys, too.

-If you know that our husbands are getting ready to deploy, or leave for a long training exercise one of the best things you can do to perk us up a little is to watch our kids so we can go on a date. And don't children behave much better for other people that they do for me. I'll even drug them if necessary.

-Deployments are long. Even those of us with the sunniest of outlooks tend to get down in the dumps halfway through a 12, 15, or 18 month deployment. If you stop by during that time...bring chocolate. Chocolate works wonders on the female disposition. In fact, if you're planning to see me at anytime during a deployment, bring chocolate.

-We may be in a miserable state of mind for a while if our other half is gone, but that doesn't mean we expect you to be. If you're happy about something, please tell us about it. We want to be happy for you, too! Sunshine always dries the rain.

-Remind us that tomorrow is another day. Sometimes we get caught up in the little things that seem to grow exponentially during deployments. When you have to do everything yourself, even the dumbest thing going wrong can become a disaster of epic proportions. Once I got so upset about my mountain of laundry that I just sat down and cried. My mom came over the next day while I was at work and helped me get caught up, and suddenly the world was no longer ending.

If you haven't been in our shoes, we don't expect you to magically understand what we're going through. We don't expect you to be full of wit and wisdom. We just want you to be there, and be you. If you're my favorite coffee buddy, then keep having coffee with me, I need you now more than ever. Don't worry so much about saying the "wrong thing", or pissing me off. If we're friends, and I know you're trying, you're not going to piss me off.

One thing guaranteed to bring a smile to any Army Wife is the knowledge that someone else is supporting our husband, too. Send him a card, or a care package. Cheer him up, you cheer us up. If you don't know what to send him, just ask. We've got all kinds of ideas. Or just think about what you would want if you were far from home in a hostile war zone full of sand and grit. Send that.

And there you have it. I hope it helps. If you're an Army Wife, what makes you smile? Tell me something nice that someone's done for you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Real Me

Everyone gets it from time to time; it comes around every so often. You know, the "25 things you didn't know about me" chain letter. Or various themes on the subject. Using the second letter of your middle name, write down 412 things you like to do on vacation (I would, but there is no "S" anywhere in my name)...list a favorite food for every letter of the alphabet (really, how can you have 26 favorites? Doesn't that sort of negate the whole concept of a favorite?)...and of course the crazy lists of completely random questions that nobody cares to know the answers to (what's your favorite legume? Who CARES?).

Anyway, I've decided to create a list of things about me that might actually be interesting and worthwhile if you want to get to know me better. If you know me well, then you probably already know some of this stuff. If you don't care, then skip this post. I won't hold it against you. And just for the record - I pretty much dislike all legumes.

1) I am a voracious reader. Books are as necessary as food to me. I don't read, I devour. I will go slightly nuts if I don't have a book to read. I've had a Kindle for about a year now, and it's the best purchase I've ever made. My current literary obsession is the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. Awesome books, but not at all for the faint of heart.

2) I have traveled to 20 countries, to include the United States. They are, in approximate order, as follows: US, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Netherlands, Italy, Bulgaria, England, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Canada. It comes out to about 10% of the countries in the world. That means I have another 90% to explore.

3) I have yet to visit the two places that have long held the most appeal for me. Ireland, and Israel. I WILL see Ireland before I die. I'm not sure my terrorist-hunting hubby will allow me anywhere near the middle east, but I can dream.

4) I have a huge sweet tooth that I inherited from my Grandpa. He got it from his mother and gave it to me and I have now passed it onto my youngest son. legacies are important.

5) I'm fascinated by vampires, and have been since long before Bella met Edward. I'm not one of those "hey look at me, I'm pale and pierced and wear black all the time and walk around with an eternally depressed disposition cause I want to be a vampire" type of people. I like my pink and sunshine too much for that. Plus it's just plain weird. But still...something about them draws me.

6) Paul Newman is my favorite actor and always will be. He was classy. My husband married me with the full knowledge that if Paul ever came to the door and asked me to run away with him, all bets were off. I guess he figured it was an acceptable risk. At the end of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, when he looks at Liz Taylor with those blue, blue eyes and says, "lock the door", I just come unraveled.

7) My close friends and family will tell you that I'm a walking encyclopedia of useless facts. Nobody will play Trivial Pursuit with me. But knowing when the Battle of Hastings took place (1066), the first line of Hamlet ("Who's there?"), or that the Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing will come in really handy if I ever try out for Jeopardy.

8) I got mugged once. In Germany. To make a long story short - he attacked me, I got pissed, we fought, I won. Never underestimate the power of 4 inch stilettos.

9) I make a killer giant cheesecake. It's huge. Tall, thick and about 80,000 calories. It takes about 2 days to make and It. Is. Fabulous.

10) I don't like to drive. I consider it a necessary evil. I prefer to be driven around. I think it's a throwback to my past life when I was Queen of Everything. I'm pretty sure I had a chauffeur.

11) I absolutely love the smell of sandalwood. I don't know why, I don't know what kind of repressed, sensory memory it evokes in me, but the smell of sandalwood magically transports me to another place. One that is rich, luxurious, soft and warm. And quiet. I had a perfectly scented Tibetan Sandalwood candle once, and when it got too short to burn I would just pick it up and smell it. I'm pretty certain that Heaven smells like Sandalwood.

12) I am displaced in time. Born in the wrong decade. I should have lived in the 30's and 40's. I love the music, the style, the class and the grace. I love the simplicity of the pride we felt in who we were as a country, as a people. No insane politics, no misplaced guilt. Just the determination to go on, to fight the bad guy, to go where we were needed and to rebuild. Plus - great hats.

13) I absolutely cannot handle people touching my feet. It just weirds me out and gives me the willies.

14) I once broke a finger doing laundry. Not a fingernail, a finger. I was in Korea and I was taking a belt out of one of my husband's uniforms. This belt was slightly elastic and as I was pulling it out of the belt loops I lost my grip and the metal buckle snapped back and cracked me on my ring finger. It started swelling and turning purple pretty much right away. The medic said it was fractured and made me wear a splint for 6 weeks. Who knew mundane housework could be so dangerous?

15) And last but not natural hair color is brown. Who knew, right?

And for all of you gutter minds - my favorite thing to do on vacation is to go SIGHTSEEING. :-p

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Dirty Secret

Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I'm addicted to HGTV. I can't live without my daily dose of style advice, renovation tips and ideas to boost my curb appeal. I'm now chock full of ideas on how to dress up my foyer, give my kitchen a make-over for under $1000, and plan a garden party for 12 on a limited budget. I have dreams about installing recessed lighting, laying tile and re-purposing thrift store cabinets.

I've actually learned quite a bit about myself through the feeding of my addiction. I've learned that I love red doors, I hate subway tile and anytime Jamie Durie feels like stopping by with his Australian accent to fix up my backyard, he's more than welcome.

But my all-time favorite poison is House Hunters International. It makes my heart beat just a little bit faster to see all that foreign potential. Who wouldn't love to go condo shopping in Turks and Caicos? You can get a nice one-bedroom with beach access for $500,000 US. Or there's the 200 year-old Czech farmhouse with no indoor plumbing, but it's stuffed full of antiques - included in the price! And my favorite possibility and new "if I win the lottery dream", a turn-of-the-century rustic French chateau in Brittany. Did you know you can buy one for about $250,000 US? Let's throw caution to the wind and move to Northern France.

I simply can't get enough. It's all so fascinating. Who would have thought a can of paint could make such a difference? Or that turning an old window frame into a headboard would look so fabulous? If you're an addict as well, I'm here to tell you that it's okay. Let your secret out. Together we can take a deep breath, focus and become a useful member of society and actually do something constructive with all that knowledge.

Like re-purpose the dining room table.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Wonderland

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't really posted any pictures on here yet. I bundled up the kidlets and we went for a walk up the street, to take a look at the Chena River. Jack wanted to see some ducks, but I had to break his heart and tell him that it's a little too cold out for the ducks right now. I managed to get a few good pictures in between Aiden's bouts of whining about how cold he was. It seems he needs more time to acclimate. We might just have to get out there and take a walk every day! This was at about 1:30 in the afternoon, we have roughly 5 hours of daylight now, and increasing slowly every day. It was about 0 degrees, and you'd be surprised how good that feels after experiencing -40! Enjoy the pictures (click on the image to view larger), and take special note of the dog sled design in the fence bordering the river. Sweet, huh?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is...a House

Life always seems to get in the way of all my great intentions regarding this blog. Part of The Army Wife Life is being busy, I guess. Oh well.

After spending 25 days in the hotel on post, we rented a small, 2 bedroom furnished apartment off post, on a month to month basis to wait out housing. We moved in here on the 18th of December, and exactly 10 days later we got The Call. We have now accepted a house on post, it will be ready for us around the 28th of January! I can't tell you how excited I am! This little apartment is perfect for our short-term needs (and tons better than living in a hotel room), but it's pretty small and my kids need some space to run, especially as they can't really go outside and do it. So having over 2000 square feet at my disposal will be really nice!

That's the good news. The bad news...Chris won't be here. He'll be leaving either the day we move in or the day after for a month of training. While he *should* be able to help me move out of the apartment, he won't be around to help me unpack our household goods. Again. I swear, the man is paying somebody. He's never here for the unpacking. I'm lucky if he's around for the delivery. I have unpacked with the flu, in the snow, in the scorching heat, and now I get to add extreme sub-zero temps to my repertoire. The bright side to that is I get to put everything where *I* want it.

We had a great Christmas, I baked up a storm in my little apartment, I was just so grateful to have an oven! The boys were thoroughly spoiled and now our living space is full of toys that we don't have room for.... Santa brought Aiden a Batcave (think Barbie Dream House for Batman) along with assorted villains and accessories and Jack got what he was asking for all month long - a choo-choo and a dump truck. I got a free-standing wine cellar that I have a feeling will be coming in quite handy during the upcoming deployment!

All in all, life is good. I'm enjoying Fairbanks so far. It's not a big town, it's easy to get around and find stuff, and everyone we've met has been super-friendly.

Happy New Year to all of you!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lessons Learned on the Alaska Highway

Let me start off by saying that I'M SORRY I haven't blogged sooner. It really was my intention to keep as up to date as possible during our move, but it just didn't happen. To make a very long story short - we made it to Alaska.

Rather than tell the story in boring, minute detail, I've decided to compile a list of things I've learned from the experience of driving to Alaska. Even though I've PCSed five times now, each move is different and presents it's own unique challenges.

1) Your cell-phone charger is one of those things you should really make sure you put in your purse before the movers come to pack your stuff. Thank you Kristi for saving my butt. :-)

2) On a road trip of 3500 miles, no matter how many rest areas or gas stations you stop at, your 4 year-old son will have to pee about 5 minutes after you're back on the road.

3) 32 degrees is cold. -25 degrees is colder.

4) Canadians really don't understand the concept of a "rest area". To them, it consists of an un-plowed turn-out and a wooden porta-potty or outhouse.

5) Toilet paper DOES freeze.

6) If you bundle up in your warm coat, boots, hat and scarf when it's only 10 degrees outside, the natives will laugh at you.

7) "Highway" is a relative term.

8) In Yukon Territory, Miller Genuine Draft is their idea of an imported beer.

9) When the sign says, "Next Services 150 Miles", what it actually means is, "No Signs of Civilization Whatsoever for 150 miles".

10) There are still places in this world that are untouched by man...and cell towers.

11) Five channels in a hotel room is considered Cable TV.

12) Driving a fancy white Hummer and sporting an attitude the size of Jupiter won't keep you from sliding off the road into a snow bank if you drive too fast on the Alaska Highway. And when a 5-car convoy of soldiers comes along and pulls you back onto the road out of the kindness of their hearts, the appropriate response is "Thank you" and an effort to slow down. Because the next time we see you buried in the snow because you're an idiot, we're not going to stop.

13) Studded snow tires are worth every penny.

14) No matter how many times you hear the words "Are we there YET?", it's still annoying.

15) It's worth the hassle and preparation. Alaska is beautiful, and unlike anything else I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot.

We pulled into Fairbanks on November 24th and we're currently living in the on-post hotel awaiting a house. We're next on the list, so hopefully it will be soon. I'll try to update more often now that we're semi-settled.

Happy Christmas Shopping! :-)