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! :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Twilight Zone

When I started planning our road trip north I decided I couldn't pass up a trip to Forks, WA. I'm a big Twilight fan and I just couldn't resist passing through the town where it all started. My husband indulged me and agreed to an overnight in The Twilight Zone.

My first thought upon entering this sleepy little town was how pretty it was. Forks is a tiny little hamlet on the Olympic Peninsula in Northwest Washington State. It's very isolated and pretty much comes up out of nowhere on the 101. My second thought was that it's literally been taken over. Every single establishment in town has some sort of homage to Twilight. While you may think that's a bit of overkill, it's actually pretty smart. The people of Forks have figured out what's keeping them on the map right now and they're capitalizing in the biggest way. They've whole-heartedly embraced their transformation into American Pop Culture and they're having a great time. The people of Forks are friendly and outgoing and love to talk to the tourists. From the Twilight inspired menu at The Lodge Restaurant to the Twilight gear and souvenirs available in every store, to the vintage "Bella" trucks on every corner, Forks is every Twilighter's dream.

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Forks, it's worth a stop. Even if you're not a Twilight fan, you'll enjoy the friendly people and the quaint little slice of the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Going, Going, Going...

I was really hoping to be able to blog more on this trip, but so far I've either had no time or no internet. I finally have a little of both so I thought I'd post an update.

We are still alive!

We left Fort Irwin and drove to Lemoore, California to visit with Chris' grandma and some aunts and uncles for a few days. While we were there we got a remote start system installed in the car. It's great, except for one thing - it included a car alarm that for some reason I keep setting off. It is really fun to scare people with it though. I started it in the check-out line at Walmart today only to come out to the parking lot to find some dude staring at my car like it was possessed. Good times.

After Lemoore we drove up to Sacramento to see Chris' brother. We also took the boys to the California Railroad Museum and had a good time walking around Old Sacramento. A day there and then we headed up to Crescent City to my inlaw's, which is where we are currently. We all went bowling today and Jack managed to score a 91. How is it possible that my 2 year-old beat my best score? We are having a good time with the family and Aiden is getting so worn out every day playing with his cousins that he just collapses in the bed each night without telling anyone and I have to go search him out!

I've also discovered that Dramamine is wonderful and I will never be without it again. It manages to keep both my little travelers from getting sick. It knocks Jack out for several hours, but of course Aiden is immune to all sleep-inducing drugs and I've gotten a combined 30 minutes out of him the whole trip.

Anyway...a few more trip details to iron out and then we'll be on our way again on Tuesday. Hopefully I'll get a chance to blog more and keep you all updated on our progress!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friends in All Places

It's our last night here at Fort Irwin, and I'm feeling sentimental. As excited as I am about hitting the road tomorrow to head out on our latest and greatest adventure, I'm also sad. I have loved my time here in So Cal, and there is a lot that I will miss. The great weather, the shopping, Disneyland...but most especially I'll miss the wonderful friends I've made here. I love moving to new places and experiencing new things every few years, but it's bittersweet at times.

The absolute BEST thing about Army life - in my opinion - is that we end up with friends all over the place. I feel like I'm part of a special sisterhood, and I've been lucky enough to have met some truly special women. To all of my Fort Irwin Sisters-in-Arms, I'll miss all of you and I hope we can meet again somewhere!

Okay, enough with the sappy Hallmark stuff. Time to get this party started! I'll try to update as much as I can from the road, but I'm not sure how much internet access I'll have once we get on the ferry. I can't imagine there being a lot of wifi along the Alcan Highway. Anyway, I hope you'll all follow along with me here and on Facebook - it's sure to be a heck of an adventure. After all, where we go - craziness follows!

Alaska or bust!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Glad That's Over!

We are still alive!! I've been wanting to update for a few days, but I've been without internet until last night. I've been surviving by checking my Facebook on my phone, but that's it. Talk about withdrawal! Anyway, the movers have come and gone, and all of our "stuff" is on it's way to Alaska. Aiden was super-thrilled to meet the real "Imagination Movers" (if you don't have little kids who watch Disney Channel just disregard that), and it actually went very smoothly. They were allotted three days for the pack and load, but only ended up needing a day and a half, so that was nice to have it finished up quickly. The first morning they came I opened up the door to four familiar faces - the same crew of guys who came to pack us up were the guys who moved us in two years ago! Fort Irwin is a small world...:-)

Anyway, since Wednesday night we've been on air mattresses in the living room of our empty house, basically camping with a bathroom. It wasn't so bad, but I'm very happy to finally be in the hotel! We are here 'til Thursday or Friday and then we take off on our journey north. And for the record, we are STILL waiting for passports, which they are insisting will be here in time. Uh huh, sure. They also can't figure out how to pay for our ferry passage, which is causing me a bit of a headache, since it doesn't strike me as that hard to figure out. Just give me another bottle of wine, it's all good.

It struck me that I'm going to be living out of a suitcase for the next month and a half. What fun. Although there is one advantage to not having any of my stuff. No coffee pot means that my daily Starbucks habit is now perfectly justified.

Tonight I'm having one last girl's night with my friends. Mary Kay facials, drinks and girl talk. Sounds like exactly what I need. Followed by more cleaning as I'm frantically trying to get the house spotless in order to pass our housing inspection on Wednesday. It's so much easier to get stuff accomplished when the boys are sleeping, even if that means I'm scrubbing the fridge at midnight. At least I don't have to stop every 10 seconds. I'll be really glad to leave the cleaning to someone else for a while!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Somebody Hook Up a Caffeine Drip

I am soooo going to need it. We spent all day at Disneyland yesterday (we left at 6:30 and got home at midnight), and I'm paying for it now. I'm more exhausted than my kids, I mean it's not like *I* get to ride around in a stroller all day. So I got to bed at 1 AM and then had to haul my butt out of bed again at 7 this morning. We have one set of movers coming today, but I don't know what time they're going to be here. You know if I assume they'll be here later in the morning, they'll show up at the crack of dawn. It's 8:30 now and they're still not here. Grrr....

This afternoon we have our housing pre-inspection. I hope they don't care if my house isn't completely picked up. I'm too tired to follow my kids around all day making sure they don't make a mess...

Then...we get to spend all weekend getting ready for the BIG movers, which will be here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Sometime on Saturday I have to pick up some stuff in Victorville, which is 90 miles each way. Then we're trick-or-treating on Friday, cleaning ALL next weekend to get ready for our final housing inspection. Somewhere in there I have to do all my laundry (I hear the laundromat calling my name), pack, get the oil changed, hopefully pick up our passports, move my family into a hotel....and sleep.

Starbucks will be getting a lot of my money in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Can I Take a Breath, Please??

Somebody hit Fast-Forward and forgot to tell me.

We went to our transportation briefing on Friday, and booked all of our moving appointments. We've got three separate shipments to get ready for: A safe-keeping shipment that we are using to ship Chris' project 1946 Jeep Willys to his parent's house in Northern California. A non-temporary storage shipment for my piano and all of our "stuff" that I can't bring myself to get rid of yet, but I don't think I'll be needing in Alaska. Stuff like the box of baby clothes I can't part with yet. Chris actually marked the plastic bin they are stored in with "Throw this stuff away and you die, Chris". He's a good man. :-) THEN we have our main household goods shipment for the rest of our stuff. That's everything that will go to Alaska with us. The Jeep is going this Friday, the storage shipment next Tuesday, and HHG on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

PLUS we are going to Disneyland on Thursday. Couldn't leave Southern California without saying goodbye to my old pal Mickey. Somewhere in there we have to have a pre-inspection from housing, and then a final out of housing the beginning of November.

Oh yeah, and I have to pack.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Expect the Unexpected

Nothing in the Army ever goes according to plan. It's Uncle Sam's Law. Nothing is for sure until after it's happened. I should have known better than to assume that just because they told us we'd have a report date of no later than January 10th, doesn't mean that's actually the case. Once again the proverbial monkey wrench has been thrown, and we found out yesterday that our report date has been changed to November 10th. Yep, you read that right - November 10th. As in, less than a month from now.

Time to freak out? I'd love to, but I don't have time. They're working with us as much as they can and *say* they can extend our report date to November 30th, but that's the best they can do at this point. So now we're in a hurry to get our stuff packed up, clear post and figure out how the heck we're going to get up there. If we get our passports back in time, I think we're going to drive. If not, we're going to fly.

So yeah, I don't know what's going on now as far as our leave and Thanksgiving is concerned. We may be driving the Alaska Highway instead of eating turkey. At least it will be a Thanksgiving to remember!

Here's to the US Army, where life is never dull!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tricks of the Trade

So, if all goes according to plan (yeah, right) in approximately one month and four days we will be leaving Fort Irwin behind. That means it's time to get serious with the prepping. While yes, the Army does pay for professional movers to come in and pack our house up, there is quite a bit of prep-work involved if you want it to go smoothly. I decided to put my ten years of PCSing to work and make a list of things that are good to know. For those of you who are new to the world of PCSing, listen up! :-)

1. Organize, organize, organize. In order to make life a little easier for yourself on the other end of the move, make sure all of your things are fairly organized before the movers come. Decide how you want things grouped together - by room or by item. The movers usually pack by room, not by item. So, for instance, if you want all your bedding in the same few boxes, make sure it's all in one place, not split up between bedrooms. Take a day or two before moving day to make piles of things you want packed together.

2. Packed By Owner. Most of us ladies have certain, er, unmentionables that we aren't comfortable having a group of strange, sweaty men paw through. Totally understandable. The solution to this problem is called Packed By Owner. Before moving day, pack yourself whatever you want to keep hidden. Seal up the box and write "PBO" on all sides. The box will be marked on the manifest as "packed by owner" and won't see the light of day until you open it back up. Keep in mind - anything in a PBO box will NOT be covered by the government insurance, so if whatever you pack is fragile, make sure you do a good job.

3. Open First Box. Nothing is more irritating than unpacking your boxes in your new house searching for something that you need and having to open 32 boxes before you find it. I recommend an "open first" box. Put together a list of things you think you'll need when you first move in. Things like a few towels, a sponge, bars of soap (not liquid), toilet paper, paper plates and plastic silverware, a frying pan, a few cooking utensils...etc. Put it all together and tell the movers you want this stuff in one box. Mark it "Open First". Now you've got the essentials to get you through the first few days of unpacking without having to open every single box while you look for a frying pan.

4. Ziploc Bags are Your Best Friend. A friend of mine mentioned this to me during her recent move and I thought it was a great idea. Put all your small items - silverware, junk drawer items, magnets, into Ziplocs before moving day. The movers will just lump everything together and wrap it all up in paper which usually ends up making a mess during unpacking. Ziplocs will save you from having to dig out all the spoons that fell out of the paper during the move.

5. Watch Your Valuables. They'll tell you this during your transportation briefing, but I'm going to reiterate it here. When it comes to valuable items - WATCH THE MOVERS PACK THEM. Make sure they are careful, make sure the boxes are correctly labeled, and make sure it goes on the manifest. While I personally like to believe the best about people, the fact remains that not everyone is honest and the possibility of your things disappearing is a big one. Remember, if it's not on the manifest, it doesn't exist. Make sure the movers write down your flat screen, your blu-ray player, your thousand dollar antique bell collection...etc. Above all - make SURE you hand carry all your money. Do not allow the movers to pack cash or coins - it WILL disappear, and money is not covered by the insurance.

6. Do Your Own Labeling. If you want, follow behind the movers and mark the boxes with your own labels after the movers are done with them. Don't cover their labels, but add your own. I'll tell you why. During my last PCS I opened up a box that was marked "kitchen". In the box was a bunch of sheets and blankets and one drinking glass. Don't ask me how that glass got in there, but according to the movers that made it a kitchen box. If you want to avoid this type of unnecessary confusion, you might want to write down what's actually in the box on your own.

7. Purge. This kind of goes along with #1. Before moving day arrives, go through everything and get rid of what you don't need. There is absolutely no sense in moving stuff you want to throw away. Not only will it eat up your weight allowance, but you'll just end up having to get rid of it when you get to your next place. Throw it away, donate it, sell it, whatever. Just get rid of it. Most posts will allow you to schedule a special bulk trash pick-up when you're moving out, so if you have big items to get rid of, that's the way to go.

Hopefully this helps you, and gives you some ideas to make moving easier. If you have other tricks or things that aren't mentioned here, please write me a comment and let me know! I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Right to Mourn in Peace

For a long time now, the Westboro Baptist Church has been stirring up trouble and pretty much pissing off every member, family member and friend of the military. It's coming to a head now with the Supreme Court hearing the case of Albert Snyder vs. the Westboro Baptist Church. Mr. Snyder has leveled a civil lawsuit against the church for disrupting the funeral of his son - Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder - who was killed in Iraq in March of 2006.

The Westboro Baptists say they have a right to do what they're doing, as protected by the First Amendment. That's true, the First Amendment protects the right of free speech, as well as the right to assemble. It's the second part of that statement that I feel the Westboro Baptists are violating. The exact wording of the First Amendment reads,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

See, the problem I have with the Westboro Baptists is that they are not "peaceably assembling". Gathering outside of funerals with signs and shouting hateful things like "Thank God for dead soldiers" is not a peaceful assembly. Everyone has the right to their opinions, and I personally don't care what they are. You also have the right to express your opinions in a peaceful manner, according to this country's constitution. What no one should ever have the right to do is inflict those opinions (notice I said inflict, not share) on others by desecrating a sacred event.

Peace is defined in the dictionary as "In a state or relationship of non-belligerence or concord; not at war." Also, "Untroubled; tranquil; content." Does this describe the gathering of Westboro Baptists outside of various military funerals? Not in the slightest.

The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The right to Life, Liberty and Happiness should include the right to bury our dead in peace. That to me is an unalienable Right. And it's not an American Right, it's a Human Right.

Death leaves all politics and nationalities behind. No matter what our beliefs, or what cause we die for, or what country we call home, death is still death. It grieves those who are left behind. The passing of a human soul from this life into the next should be regarded as sacred and those who are left behind should be allowed to lay their dead to rest in peace. The parents of Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder were not burying a soldier, or a hero, or a veteran. They were burying their son. That has nothing to do with politics or religion or the holy war the Westboro Baptists are waging against whoever it is they think they're fighting.

We treat prisoners of war better than we treat each other. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention:

"Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity."

Shouldn't we as a free people be entitled to the same dignities? We protect our enemies from insults and public curiosity, but not ourselves? The Westboro Baptists are hiding behind their "American Rights". But I say that American Rights do not trump basic Human Rights. Just because we're Americans with the right to free speech does not give us the right to desecrate the dead, or our rituals involved in laying them to rest.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Not Your Average Lifestyle

Something occurred to me today while I was out running errands. Life on a military post is really not normal. Don't get me wrong, I DID know that already, but it's just that the things we see every day - when you get right down to it - would really freak most people out.

For example:

1. Groups of guys walking down the street in body armor carrying large, nasty looking rifles. If you saw that in the civilian world, you'd probably run for cover and call the police. Me? I just keep driving.

2. Road signs that say things like, "Tanks have right-of-way" and "Watch for falling artillery". And seriously, do you really need a sign to tell you that the tank has the right-of-way? I mean...duh.

3. Sounds of gunfire, like, ALL the time. Whenever Aiden notices a particularly loud boom, he tells me, "Dad's out shooting the guns today!" Makes a mother proud, it really does.

4. For 2 weeks out of the month, you see a bunch of people walking around post dressed up like the Taliban. This is more localized to Fort Irwin, because we are the National Training Center, but still. It's kind of weird.

5. There are Humvee's parked at Burger King. And I'm not talking about your neighbor's blinged out H3.

6. There are signs with "Terrorist ThreatCon Level" posted outside all the public buildings. Word of advice - if it says "ThreatCon Delta", go home.

7. There are giant bunkers that are filled with hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition. It's like Unibomber Paradise.

8. You have to present your identification to armed guards every time you come home from Walmart. I would actually prefer to have an armed guard WITH me every time I go to Walmart, but...whatever.

I'm sure there are more that have escaped my jaded notice. But, you get the picture.

Want to come visit?? :-)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breathe, Breathe, Breathe....

I've been looking through some of my old photos recently, taking a little walk down memory lane. There is a recurring theme in most of the pictures of me. Like...tank tops. Shorts. Skirts. Sandals. Skin that is visible and not hidden under 6 layers of clothing. When I realized my impressive sandal collection is going to be good for nothing except gathering dust in my closet for the next 3 or 4 years I started hyperventilating. It all came crashing together all of a sudden. WHAT am I DOING? I'm moving to Alaska? Am I OUT of my mind?? I'm a born and bred California girl! I love the beach! I love Disneyland! I love South Coast Plaza! What am I going to do in the Great White North in 40 below zero weather and nothing but a whole lot of snow and ice???


It'll be okay. I'll just have to take up snowboarding. Again. I tried once before in Germany, and all I managed to do was master the art of falling down. I woke up the next morning and felt like I'd been run over by a truck, trampled by a moose and rolled down a mountain. At least the rolled down a mountain part was accurate enough. I'll make some snowmen. Snow forts. Igloos. Wait a minute, I HATE snow! It's cold and wet and gets dirty and tromped all over the floor and makes everything gross. What am I thinking???


Okay. Enough is enough. Pity party over. I can't wear sandals? I'll just have to buy some super cute boots. And sweaters. Can we say Cashmere? Ooohh, and pretty scarves. I LOVE scarves. If I can't go to Disneyland, well...I'll live. The bright side of being stuck inside all Winter is that I have an excuse to scrapbook and have Buffy marathons. As for all this snow and ice? I'm just going to plan a vacation to someplace warm. Like Hawaii. Or the Bahamas. Or Mars.

I'll be fine. I'll be more than fine. I WILL flourish! I am an Army Wife after all, traveler extraordinaire and conqueror of impossible situations. Bring it on Alaska! You don't scare me...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Reason for my Insanity

You ever meet someone who seems normal at first glance, but the more you talk to them the more you realize that there is something just not right? Their laughter is tinged with that slight edge of hysteria and you realize they're walking that tightrope of "almost insane, but not quite". This, in my opinion, describes all stay-at-home mothers of small children. Especially if everyone else in the house happens to have a Y chromosome. We're all just one attempted egg-juggling on the carpet away from the looney bin.

You ever wonder why?

I can tell you why. Because little kids - little BOYS especially - are specifically calibrated to drive their mothers insane. It's their sole purpose in life. I think they get an award if they accomplish it before they turn 5. My almost 5 year-old Aiden is on the downhill slope, so he's working overtime. We had this conversation last night.

Me: "Aiden, where's the remote?"

Aiden: "The remote? I don't know."

Me: "You had it last, where did you put it?"

Aiden: "Where did I put what?"

Me: "The remote, Aiden. Where did you put it?"

Aiden: "OH, the remote. I can't remember."

Me: "Think. Where did you put it?"

Aiden: "I know! Someone sneaked in our house and was really quiet and took the remote to change the batteries."

Me: "Aiden. What did you do with it?"

Aiden: "Ummm...I put it...wait, what are you looking for?"

Deep breath. Deeeeeeep breath.

Me: "The. Remote. Control."

Aiden: "Oh right. The remote. I think I lost it."

Me: "You think you lost it?"

Aiden: "Yeah, I lost it in the couch. It fell down in the cushions and it's gone now. Sorry."

I search the cushions...ah! Success!

Me: "I found it."

Aiden: "Found what?"

Almost exactly six years ago, I was lying on a beach in Mallorca, Spain. I was sipping some alcoholic concoction I couldn't pronounce, with Mediterranean breezes softly blowing around me. It was quiet. The sun was warm on my face. I had a book. It was QUIET. This is why I'm almost insane. I went from sunbathing in the Mediterranean and hiking up to the Parthenon and drinking wine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower to looking my son in the face and wondering if he's had a brain transplant with Dory from Finding Nemo. And just the fact that the first thing I thought of was a cartoon character from a Disney movie proves just how far gone I am.

So the next time you see some poor, harried mother in Target or Panera Bread with small children in tow and a look on her face that says she's got one foot over the edge, be nice. Don't think to yourself, "geez, would it KILL her to put on some make-up?" because she used to be a person, too.

I'm hoping that eventually my sanity will return. I refuse to believe that it's gone for good, but rather that it's taking an extended vacation. It took one look at my kids and decided to get the hell out of dodge, but it'll be back. Probably when my kids get married and have kids of their own. Then I'll be able to laugh along with MY mother at the great karmic wonderfulness of the universe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Close Enough For Government Work

With our upcoming PCS to Alaska, we get lots of what the government refers to as "entitlements". Meaning - benefits the Army gives you to aid you in your trek to wherever they are sending you. Since Alaska is considered an overseas location, we're entitled to a lot to get us there. One of these entitlements is shipping our vehicle at government expense, so we don't have to drive it up there. Sounds good, right? Drop the car off at the port and hop on a plane, easy as pie. As my 2 year-old says, NOT. We've shipped cars through the government twice before - once on our way to Germany and once on our way back. And you thought they made doing your taxes hard? Ha.

First of all, it has to be very clean. I don't mean vacuumed and emptied of all fast food wrappers and dead french fries. I mean, CLEAN. Absolutely no dirt, whatsoever. A toothbrush would be a good investment when cleaning your car prior to shipping. The phrase "close enough for government work" does not apply in this case. Not only does it have to be sparkling clean, but your fuel level has to be at a certain level, and your tires must be clean. Difficult to manage when you have to drive around to get your gas level at the right place. In light of this, Chris decided to clean the car this weekend. When he said, "I'm going to clean the car out so you can go to the commissary later", I thought he meant he was going to take his TA-50 (Army crap) out of the back and maybe gather up all of his empty Monster cans. After about 2 hours he comes inside and says he needs my help with something - my muscles, to be specific.

Now, considering the fact that my husband's muscles alone probably equal half my body weight, I couldn't imagine what he could possibly need me for. I walked out to the garage to see all the seats in my car scattered in the driveway. Yep, he unbolted the seats from the car and took them out. He needed my help in maneuvering them so we could clean and vacuum and scrub the heck out of the carpet and the interior. It took 2 days.

So now my car is super clean. I don't think it was this clean when we bought it. The trick now is keeping it clean for the next month and a half or so until we ship it. So the kids are going to walk EVERYWHERE. :-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moving, Mouthiness and Mind Control

I always have high hopes of being able to blog every day or every other day. Lord knows I never have a lack of things to talk about. And then I remember that I'm an Army Wife, mother to two crazy little boys and smack in the middle of getting ready to PCS to Alaska. I barely have time to shower some days.

As I mentioned, our move to the Big White North is fast approaching. I'm not sure how it got to be the middle of September already but it's here, and if all goes well we'll be leaving Cali in two months. Which means I've had to seriously get my butt in gear. Alaska is not your average PCS (if there is such a thing as an average PCS), there is a lot more to think about and do to get ready. And we're not exactly prepared for sub-zero temperatures, considering we live in the Mojave Desert and we are still having triple digit heat in September. Coat? What's a coat? And it's not just us that have to get outfitted for the extreme cold, we have to take care of our trusty Ford Explorer, too. Can't have my baby freezing it's batteries off up there...

I've spent the last couple of weekends going room by room with garbage bags and sorting, purging and organizing all of our stuff. It's been great! I had so many bags filled with junk bound for the thrift store and the trash pile, it was taking over my garage. So yesterday I called for a bulk trash pick-up for today and we spent the evening piling everything outside. To include my beloved Lazy-Boy sectional sofa that Chris decided had taken enough abuse and needed to go.

I've also been dealing with an almost 5 year-old with a seriously bad attitude. Aiden seems to think it's okay to order me around and then have a total meltdown when I refuse to drop everything and do his bidding. It's been really frustrating to have absolutely everything turn into a fight lately. He's learning the hard way that disrespecting his parents has consequences. I'm just hoping that Jack is sitting back and taking serious notes, cause I really don't want to go through this again in a couple of years.

One thing about Aiden though - he has a very active and colorful imagination. I think his brain functions on a completely different level from everyone else. Scientists would love to study him, I'm sure. He also has an over-abundance of confidence. The idea that he can't do something has truly never occurred to him. Just yesterday I asked him where his brother had gotten off to, and he told me that he had taken over Jack's mind and made him hide in the closet. He told me this in the same nonchalant tone you might use to tell someone you're out of milk, or the clothes are done in the dryer. Where he gets this stuff, I have no idea. Chris told him it's not very nice to take over people's minds, they might not like that very much.

Anyway...Life is calling...again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I couldn't let this day go by without a mention. It's been nine years since the unthinkable happened and yet I can hardly remember what it was like before. Our current generation of soldiers consists of a lot of men and women who weren't even in high school yet when 9/11 happened. As seriously old as that makes me feel, it's also heartening. Our youth are stepping up to the plate and defending this country as their parents and grandparents did before them. The threat is still there, but as long as we have brave men and women who are willing to sacrifice for a cause greater than themselves, I have faith that we will not fail.

And to all those who have fallen defending our freedom, I offer an old Irish Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

Let us never forget.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things I've Done That Probably Weren't That Smart - Part Two

A friend on Facebook posted something that reminded me of my first trip to Oktoberfest. You know, that little party they throw every year in Munich, complete with food, rides and lots and lots of BEER. The first time we went was in 2001, so that was...9 years ago? Holy crap, I'm getting old.

Being stationed in Germany in September of 2001 was an experience. The world changed drastically that Fall, as I'm sure all of you remember. Being in the military means you are pretty much patriotic by nature, but after 9/11 we became rabid. We also got a big case of cabin fever, seeing as how we were all locked down on Post. After a couple of weeks the lockdown lifted, and we were desperate to go somewhere. Still, seeing as how we didn't have a car yet (it was still on the boat on the way over since we'd only been in country for about a month), it was easier said than done. When a friend of Chris' suggested taking the train down to Munich for Oktoberfest we jumped at the chance. Well, us and about 10 of Chris' single buddies.

Let's do the math. Single joes + 2 hour train ride + beer + overwhelming patriotic fervor = trouble.

The most important thing the Powers-That-Be were pounding into us back then was Situational Awareness. Be aware of your surroundings. Be alert to possible terrorist threats and activity. At that time, there was a terrorist around every corner. Above all, when traveling in a foreign country, try not to announce yourselves as American soldiers. You don't need to invite trouble.

Yeah. Right.

By the time we got off the train in Munich, I was pretty much the only one who wasn't toasted. I don't like beer. We spent the next several hours wandering the Fest and gawking at everything. We ate pretzels the size of my head, watched a waitress in traditional Bavarian dress carrying 6 full beer mugs in each hand. If you've ever seen a German Fest mug, you know they hold a little more than your average Sam Adams. As in, one mug can probably hold an entire six-pack. The chick had some biceps. We also bought a bunch of retarded souvenirs and a huge gingerbread heart that said "I Love You" in German. Yeah...I really don't know why.

We all gathered in one of the outdoor seating areas near one of the huge beer tents. I don't remember which one...probably the St. Pauli Girl since it had a huge picture of a blond with considerable...assets. One of the over-muscled waitresses brought over a round of beers and the guys went to work on getting even drunker than they already were. One table over were a bunch of equally drunk German men who broke out into a rousing rendition of Deutschland Uber Alles. And yes, I know that's not the actual title of the song, but if I had said "Das Lied der Deutschen" you wouldn't have known what I was talking about.

Anyway. If you know anything about American soldiers, it's that they have pride. In themselves, in their buddies, in their ability to consume large amounts of malt beverage, and above all, in their country. Hooah! Combine the last two and add in a challenge and you have a recipe for disaster. Not to be outdone, when the Germans finished their drunken patriotic display, our guys had to do it better. They all took a big swig, stood up and started belting out The Star-Spangled Banner at the top of their heavily intoxicated lungs. If you want to keep a low profile, that is not the way to do it.

Afterward there was silence. I mean SILENCE. Not even the crickets chirped. I held my breath, waiting for the fight to start. This was sooooo not good. After ten seconds that lasted for hours, everyone at the surrounding tables stood up and started to clap. Then they started cheering. And finally, they offered the universal German welcome of extending their beer mugs and shouting "PROST!!!" I exhaled in such relief I thought I would pass out.

The guys laughed and shouted PROST! right back and it was all good. Everyone went back to their beers and eventually we headed back to the train station. Getting back home was a little more difficult than the trip down (probably due to the fact that everyone had lost their ability to focus and comprehend written language) and we got off at the wrong place and ended up having to spend the night in the train station in Augsburg. But that's neither here nor there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things I've Done That Probably Weren't That Smart - Part One

Ever have one of those experiences that seemed like a great idea at the time and then you look back on it and think to yourself, WTF? Yeah, that's happened to me. A lot. Some of those times have been on my mind lately and I thought they might be good for a laugh. I promise I'm not making any of this up. My life is, on frequent occasion, stranger than fiction.

Dinner with the Russian Mafia

I would advise not attempting this on your own.

In May of 2003, we were stationed in Germany, and Chris was deployed to Kosovo for 10 months. A couple of crazy friends (you know who you are) and I decided to fly out and meet the guys in Sofia, Bulgaria for a 4-day R&R weekend. You may think that in itself is worthy of a WTF moment, but not really. It wasn't so bad. And yes, before you ask, we did manage to see more than just the inside of the hotel room.

The first night we all went out and consumed various strange meats on a stick (duck heart among them) and drank margaritas which I now suspect were made with pure grain alcohol. Where we ended up that night is far from where we started, but that is another story and I will NEVER TALK.

Anyway. The next night happened to be our third anniversary. Chris and I decided we wanted to celebrate by having dinner in an authentic Bulgarian restaurant so we could soak up some culture of the non-alcoholic variety. The six of us had hired a private taxi driver/tour guide for the weekend, so we asked him for some recommendations. He said he knew the perfect place and we hopped in the taxi and took off into the city. A word of advice. When traveling in a taxi (or bus or trolley car or any form of transportation) in Eastern Europe, close your eyes and pray. Do not look at the road. Do not look at the other cars. Do not try to figure out the traffic rules. Just pray. Hard. In as many languages as you know.

We ended up in a rundown section of Sofia in front of what looked to be an abandoned building. Not a good sign. Two very large men in dark suits met us at the curb. They were armed. Again, not a good sign. The taxi driver told us to go with these men, and when we were ready to leave they would call him and escort us back to the car. He told us that under no circumstances were we to leave before he came for us, and to not wait on the street alone.


We suddenly found ourselves at night in a rundown section of city in a country that was very recently communist, with only Boris and Ivan and their various pieces of hardware for company. Since we pretty much had no choice, we followed the two giants down a set of concrete stairs toward a ratty looking door. At this point, the thoughts in my head were all centered around one thing: We are SO gonna die. Well that, and the fact that I really shouldn't have worn heels. It would have been easier to attempt an escape. The door opened into....a truly fabulous gypsy-themed restaurant. It was huge and beautifully decorated and obviously doing very well. A waiter led us to a private table that was partially concealed in the bones of an old wooden gypsy wagon. It was fantastic. The food was delicious, the service was impeccable and it was truly an experience. There were also several other tables like ours that were filled with groups of very rich looking men who appeared to be conducting quiet business. The kind of business that you obviously needed to conduct in the basement of an abandoned building at night. Surrounded by armed guards.

After a floor show featuring traditional gypsy dancers we told the waiter we were ready to go. He called over our personal bodyguards, one of whom pulled out a cell-phone and called our driver. A few minutes later we were led out to the street and put safely in the taxi and driven back to our hotel. One thing was for sure. Bulgarians may drive like crazy people but I certainly wasn't going to be critiquing this guy's skills any time soon. Talk about connections.

The entire night held an air of the surreal. Probably because it was surreal and stuff like that just doesn't happen to regular people. On the ride back I kept looking at Chris and wondering, did that really just happen? Did I inadvertently drink another one of those battery acid margaritas and I am now hallucinating?

To this day, I think back on that very strange night and shake my head while asking myself a great big WTF!?

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Generation of Whiners?

When I first read this article, I got royally, seethingly mad. I'm talking spitting nails, where's my punching bag, Army Wife Up-In-Arms pissed. I forced myself NOT to write a rebuttal right away because I knew I would regret it. I told myself to let it simmer....

I'm done simmering.

Her basic gist is that military spouses today are a bunch of whiners and we need to grow up and "soldier on". In her day, we didn't have toy drives and TV specials and support for military wives. Apparently nobody gave a rat's petunia about her and her fellow wives, so why should we expect anybody to care now?

My first question is this - since when does allowing someone to do you a kindness, give you some attention or try to help you and empathize with you in any way they can, considered whining? I'm not asking for attention, I'm not asking for hand-outs, and I'm not asking for everyone to bow at my feet and tell me how strong I am. But if someone wants to give me a hug and tell me they're praying for me, I'm not going to say no.

I remember once I was eating dinner in a restaurant (who I was with and where I was have been lost somewhere in my brain...) when a gentleman a few booths away came over and told me that he had noticed the pin collection I was wearing - among them my "Proud Army Wife" pin, my Blue Star and my "Operation Iraqi Freedom". He told me he was grateful for my husband's service and said that he would like to pay for my dinner as his way of saying thank you. I was floored. I was certainly not expecting that. I was touched by his gesture and to say "no" would have been insulting to him. Same goes for the man at the Mail Boxes, Etc. who wouldn't allow me to pay for the package I was shipping to my husband for Christmas. "It's my pleasure," he told me. His way of saying Thank You, and Merry Christmas.

What Mrs. Sisk doesn't understand is that these toy drives and TV specials and support programs are not because the military spouses of today need them, they are the country's way of saying thank you. Things are different today then they were in times past. The war doesn't touch everyone and everything the way it used to. We're not turning out tanks from our cereal factories and we're not drawing lines down the back of our legs because the nylon has all been used for parachutes. Susie down the street may not have a single relative in the military, or even know where Kandahar is, but she sure as heck can make cookies. And if bringing a plate of chocolate chip to her neighbor, who just sent her husband off to war for the 4th time in 6 years makes her feel like she's giving back, who are we to say no?

A lot of folks think this country is full of dissenters that don't give a crap about the war and why we're over there. Maybe that's true. I personally think that there are more good people out there than we know about. They just speak with their actions and not their words. This country knows it owes a debt of gratitude to our Military that can never be paid. They are constantly putting their lives on the line, day in and day out, year after year for the sake of others. Yes, they get a paycheck. They have to feed themselves and their families somehow. But just because they are paid for their service doesn't make it any less honorable. The people at home who are putting on this show of support for the families are saying thank you in the only way they can. They're closing ranks around the spouses and children who are left vulnerable, telling the soldiers, "It's okay, we've got your back. Don't you worry about a thing. Come home safely and we'll make sure your family is here waiting for you."

I may not need the help to keep my family running, but I would never insult the wonderful people of this great nation by refusing their assistance. They are thanking my husband through me. I hope that I never become so jaded and cynical that I begrudge anyone who accepts help from someone else. Don't worry, I'm not going to start singing Lean On Me or anything, but there is nothing wrong with supporting each other. That's what America does - we take care of our own. It doesn't make us whiners, it makes us smart.

And as to the whole, "you're not sacrificing unless your husband comes home in a wheelchair or a box" thing - STFU.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Past Ten Years

A week from today will mark quite a milestone for Chris and I - ten years of marriage! It also means something else for me...ten years as an Army Wife. Not only an Army Wife, but a true blue Infantry Wife.

I'll admit, it didn't quite turn out like I'd thought it would. We got married pre-9/11, in an Army that was not at war, and hadn't been for quite some time. Army life was not difficult then. Sure, you had the odd peace-keeping mission to Kosovo, and long field training exercises, but never did I think I would have to actually send my husband off to war. Then came September 11th, and the world came crashing down.

Then came the time that all Army Wives found out what they were truly made of. We sent our loves off to war, more than once. We sat by the phone for weeks, wishing it would ring and then also praying it wouldn't, because it was always bad news. We had babies while our husbands waited for news in a tiny little room in the Iraqi desert. We cried when our husbands came home, and we cried for those who didn't. Then we turned around and did it all over again.

It hasn't been easy, but there is something fulfilling about knowing that you CAN do it. You made it through, you've earned the right to call yourself a war wife, and stand with our Grandmothers and all those women who came before us. Sometimes you hear people say, "Oh I could never let my husband go off to war, I could never do that." Rather than get irritated at their lack of compassion, I just smile and say, "you're couldn't."

Am I proud of who I am? You betcha. Would I change it? Never in a million years. They say that war will test a soldier's mettle, and it's equally true for those who stand behind them. While war would never be my first choice, it has helped to make me who I am.

Here's to the next decade.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How to Make a Baby Sister

The old saying goes something like, "sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of." Not according to my 4 year-old son, Aiden.

The last few days Aiden has been begging for a baby sister. Never mind that he already has a little brother, he wants a sister. Or so he thinks. He asked me if we could go to the baby store and buy one. Yeah, if only it worked that way. I made the mistake of telling Aiden that you can't buy babies, you have to make them. Yeah, I know. As soon as the words were out my mouth I knew I was going to regret it. Of course, Aiden thought that was awesome. Chris, who was standing right there, thought it was hilarious.

A:"Can we make one right now??"

M:"Uh, well no.

A: "Can I help you do it later?"

M: Over Daddy's hysterical laughter, "Umm...only Mommy and Daddy can make a baby sister."

A: "Why?"

M: "Ummm, well, because." Yes, I know that "because" is not an answer for anyone over the age of 7, but honestly, I wasn't ready to have this conversation yet.

Daddy decided to chime in about this time.

D: "Aiden, do you know how to make a baby sister?"

Oh great...WHAT is he thinking??

A: "Yeah, I know how, you need lots of stuff."

D: "Really? Like what kind of stuff?"

A: " Well, you need....

1. A Wallet. Ain't THAT the truth....

2. String.

3. Potatoes. You lost me....

4. A Head. Chris LOVED that one...

5. Some hair.

6. A dress.

7. Eyes.

8. A Binky.

9. Arms.

10. Fingers.

11. Hands.

12. Some chicken.

13. Soap.

14. Pickles

15. A Ding, ding, ding. Just what the heck is that??

16. A Waffle, and...

17. Batman gloves."

Chris and I stared at him speechless.

M: "Umm. You need all that stuff to make a baby sister?"

A: "Yep. Okay, I'm gonna go watch my show now, you and Daddy can go make me a baby sister now." He skipped back out the living room without so much as a glance behind him.

Chris looked at me and raised an eyebrow. "How 'bout it Mommy? You grab the chicken and I'll get the ding, ding, ding."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

6:30 AM:

I'm sleeping peacefully, all alone in my big bed, soft down pillows, nice and comfy. I start to become vaguely aware of something shaking me, and a small, annoying voice starts to penetrate the fog in my brain.

"Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mommy, Mom, Moooooom, Mommy, Mom..."


"I picked out all of Jack's boogers, want to see?"

I stare at my 4 year-old in sleepy confusion. "You what?" I'm not certain I heard him correctly.

"I picked out all of Jack's boogers. Now his nose is all clean!" He's entirely too chirpy for this early on a Sunday. Suddenly another little head peeks up over the side of my bed, blond curls in disarray.

"Clean!" says Jack, "see, Mama?" He then tilts his head up to give me the best view of his now clean nostrils. I think to myself I should just go back to sleep, and put my head under my pillow to hide. It doesn't work.

"Mama! See!!!" Jack is insistent that I inspect his nostrils.

"Gee...that's great. Look at that, I can see all the way to your brain, Jack. Did you guys make coffee by any chance?"

Aiden rolls his eyes. "Mom, don't be silly, we're just kids! We can't make coffee!"

"Oh yeah, I forgot. Must be the fact that it's 6:30 IN THE MORNING!" I drag myself out of bed to go in search of coffee.

11:30 AM - Post Commissary

"Mom, where's Dad?"

"He's at work."

"Camping in the Desert?"

"Uh huh."


"Cause that's his job."

"To fight the bad guys?"


"Are there bad guys in the Desert?"


"Where are the bad guys?"

"In Iraq and Afghanistan."

Blessed silence while his brain processes this.

"If the bad guys are in Iraq then why is he in the Desert?"

"I don't know, Aiden."


"Aiden...just give it up, okay?"

"Okay. Can I get some Batman snacks?"


"And some fish crackers?"




"Where's Dad?"

2:30 PM - Home

"Mom!! I need to go poop!!" He yelled it so loud if we had neighbors right now they would have heard.

"Fantastic, why don't you go?"

"Oh, okay. That's a good idea." He ran into the bathroom.

"Do you need help?" I asked him.

"No, I can do it myself. Close the door, I need some privacy. You can't watch me poop, Mom!"

"Oh, of course, excuse me." I rolled my eyes to myself.



"I need you to wipe my butt!!"


There are about 4 bottles of wine in my fridge. When's bedtime??

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I think the Army should change it's motto from "Army Strong" to "Life is Never Dull", or "Nothing is Certain." Unfortunately, our upcoming PCS to Germany has been canceled. :-( Long story short, the position they were going to send him to is non-deployable, and he's been home for too long according the Army, so he needs to go to a unit that could deploy. Not that they necessarily will deploy, but it's a good possibility. Germany for us. I know, it's a bummer.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we're going to Alaska instead. That was our second choice, so we're still excited. Fort Wainwright - in Fairbanks - where it snows from September to April and you get the best view of the Northern Lights. My kids will go from surf-bunnies to snow-bunnies.

And, before I get inundated with comments about how cold it is in Fairbanks, let me assure you...I know. It's cold, it's remote, yada, yada, yada. I get it, trust me. It's also new and different from anything we've experienced before, and therein lies the draw for us. Chris and I, we love new places and new experiences, especially when it's temporary. I mean, hey, if we hate it, it's not forever!

So in keeping with the way we like to live our life, we are taking our family to The Last Frontier. If you want to come visit, you are more than welcome! might want to come in July....:-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Jack!

Today my baby is two years old. As much as I love to celebrate my son's birthday, I'm a little bit sad. It just seems to go by too fast. Jack is my baby, my little snuggle bunny. Aiden has never really been a cuddler, but Jack is the complete opposite - he'll snuggle in my lap all day long sometimes. I had to force myself to start making him sleep in his own bed, I love having him curl up and cuddle with me in the middle of the night.

My baby has been blessed with his Daddy's curly blond hair and green eyes, along with the cutest little impish smile you've ever seen. Don't be fooled though...he's as devious and sneaky as they come. He is 100% little boy. At two, he somehow manages to arrange things so that his older brother Aiden gets in trouble, while he just stands by and looks cute. I'm on to him, though. Really, I am. :-)

Happy Birthday my sweet boy...don't grow up too fast.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


As you may have noticed, this blog is undergoing a major transformation. I'm having so much fun giving my blog a face lift, I have to tear myself away from the computer during the day so I can work. I still have tons of stuff I want to add, so please bear with me as I make it as perfect as I can! Keep checking back to see all the fun stuff I'm adding...and maybe eventually I'll get around to actually posting something, too!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oh, Come ON!!

So. Lately my thoughts have been mostly consumed with our impending move to Germany. Not surprising, since it's a big undertaking to move your entire household to another continent, even if the Army does do most of the leg work. I've been hearing mostly positive things from my friends, they're all excited for us. Except for one lady I spoke to the other day. They are brand new to the Army, only been out of basic for a few months. We were talking about different duty stations and I mentioned to her that we are on assignment to Germany and she just couldn't believe that we are actually excited about it. She told me that I won't like living so far away from my family. I told her that yeah, that part kind of sucks, but truth be told, I'm always far away from my family, so it doesn't really make that much of a difference. She tells me that I must not realize how different Europe is from the States. I tell her, well, actually we've already lived there for four years, I know exactly what Europe is like. I'm starting to get slightly irritated at this point. When she hears this, she about has a heart attack.

"You've already been over there once and you actually want to go back? Are you nuts?"

", I'm not nuts. Europe is great. Granted, it's probably not for everyone, but we happen to love it there. Honestly I could live there indefinitely and be very happy." Not to mention getting away from narrow-minded Americans like yourself...

"Well, I think you're crazy. You really don't know what you're getting yourself into, being that far away from your family. What if he deploys? What will you do over there by yourself with your kids?"

EXCUSE ME? Just who are you to look me in the face with your 3 months of Army experience to my 10 years and tell ME that I don't know what I'm getting into? Do you really think I'm some baby-faced 18 year-old with no idea how to take care of myself? Do I LOOK helpless to you?? Deep Breath. Deep Breath. "I'll be fine. I've gone through several deployments already, and my husband deployed twice last time we were overseas. And I'll do the same thing over there that I do over here. Take care of my house, take care of my kids, take care of my husband. Oh - and TRAVEL. Europe is a big playground, it's gonna be great!"

"'s SO different over there. I mean, do they even have Walmart?"

It's Europe, not Mars. "Yeah, they have Walmart, - not that I find that any great comfort - and lots of other great stores. Ikea is even more fabulous in Europe. Plus, you know, you still have the PX and Commissary."

"Well...whatever. I would totally HATE being far away from my family. And not having all my stores and restaurants to choose from. I mean, that would suck."

Uh huh. Welcome to the Army, sister.

Can I just say one thing? AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Okay, I feel better. I'm not trying to say that everyone has to agree with me on the whole Europe issue, I understand that living overseas is not for everyone. There are drawbacks, and for some people the cons outweigh the pros, and that's fine. I get that. However, please, please, please, do not tell me that I'm crazy for wanting to go back to a place that I loved, and that I don't know what I'm getting myself into. It's a big world out there, and I don't have a "stay-put" personality. And if you're in the Army, I hate to break it to you, but you will not get to stay 5 miles from home for the rest of your life. Try not to get too worked up over it, I mean, a little open-mindedness never hurt anyone.

Okay, venting over :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I posted the other day that we are moving back to Germany in December, and I CAN'T WAIT! Waiting until then is going to drive me nuts! And although I'm excited about the big move across the Pond, I already know that getting there is going to be a pain in the butt. For starters, I have to get the boys passports, of course. No big deal there except their birth certificates have to be amended first because wonderful Alabama printed some wrong information on them. Seeing as how I live in California now, that's not going to be easy. I have called to see what I need to do, but nobody in the records office seems to be able to tell me exactly what I need to do/send them. It's beyond frustrating. So we'll see, I guess I'll have to call every day and bug the crap out of them until they find someone who knows what to do.

In other news, I'm a full-time FCC Provider now. I had 6 children, but I'm now down to 5 at the moment. All full-time. Of course, 2 of those are mine, so they're 24/7...:-) So I'm pretty busy during the week, but it's really nice to have a good second income. Especially since I don't have to pay for childcare for my own kids out of my paycheck. My plan is to save, save, save as much of my money as we can after paying stuff off, so we can have some traveling money once we hit Europe!

We are going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff before we leave, we only want to take the minimum with us and put the rest in storage. I do want to take our outdated big screen TV though. Maybe it will get broken?? Then the Army will give me money to buy a new one....:-) If it survives another move unscathed, I'll be seriously impressed with Sony craftsmanship. After all, it's already been across the ocean once, and across the country. How much more can it take?? I'm hoping it doesn't take as long as it did last time to get our stuff. When we moved out in '01, we had two shipments - one from Korea which shipped in June and one from CA which shipped in August. They both miraculously were delivered on the same day in December. Chris was in the field, and I had the flu. It was a fun few days.

We're half-considering Paris for Christmas this year...not sure if we'll be in country yet or not, but it's a thought. The Eiffel Tower is beautiful anyway, I can't imagine how it will look at Christmas-time. Listen to me, I feel so cosmopolitan...considering Paris for Christmas this year....I LOVE living in Europe!!

Anyway, I'm rambling....TV Time is almost over so I guess I'd better get back to the grind...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Homeward Bound

It's official - after 5 years, we are finally headed back to Germany in December. It's been our favorite duty station so far, and we've been trying to get back ever since we left. This time we'll be bringing along something we didn't have last time - two curious little boys. Aiden was just a little twinkle in my tummy when we left. I can't wait to show my kids Europe. I want them to learn German and experience something besides McDonalds and the fast-paced life of the US. I want to take them to the top of the Eiffel Tower and show them that the whole world is spread out before them. I want them to see Grecian ruins and Venetian canals and tulips in the Spring-time. I want to experience the Green that is Ireland and the Majesty that is the Alps in Winter. I'm so glad to be going back to my beloved Europe, and to be able to share it with my children.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moving On

Most of you probably know by now that I suffered a miscarriage last month, at 6.5 weeks. I've been working on a blog post about it, trying to "get things out" so to speak by writing about it. I haven't been able to finish it. At first it was too painful to write about, and then...I don't know. I think I was hoping that by writing about what happened, and how I felt, it would act as some sort of catharsis for me, and I would feel better. But every time I tried to finish it, I would just get depressed again - it wasn't making me feel better.

Then I thought some more and I realized I don't need to write about it. Life has been my catharsis. By just living every day and doing what I need to do, I feel better. I don't need to put all my thoughts down on paper in this case. How did it feel? It hurt. It still hurts. I think a part of me will always hurt. But I'm done doing everything in the shadow of the word miscarriage. It's depressing, and I don't like feeling that way. I've never been a wallower. I'm not ignoring it, or pretending it didn't happen, but I'm moving on. I'm not going to let my motherhood be defined by what I've lost, but rather by what I've gained. I'm going to hold my two beautiful boys and know that one day, I will hold the little one that I never got the chance to meet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Growing Boy

I took Aiden to the doctor today for his 4 year check up. I knew it was going to be rough, it was time for shots again. He started out very excited to go, he thinks the doctor is cool. Of course that all changed today.

On a military post, going to the doctor can be frustrating. You never seem to get the same doctor twice, they always change your "primary physician" on you, so you never actually know what doctor you are supposed to see, and you just end up with whoever is available. Not really that big of a deal though when you are just going for check-ups.

Like I said, I was prepared for the shot part to be rough, but I wasn't expecting Aiden's reaction to the exam. When I told him he had to take his clothes off and let the doctor look at him, he wasn't too thrilled. In fact, this is what he said:

"NO!! I am NOT taking my clothes off! Doctor, you can't touch me! You can't see me without my clothes on! You GO AWAY!!!"

Needless to say, the doctor was frustrated by Aiden's lack of enthusiasm. I, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious. I was proud of him, he knows not to take his clothes off for strangers, and he is very good at expressing his opinions and feelings. He gets that from me. We managed to get through the exam, even though Aiden was squirming and fighting it the whole time. Afterward, the doctor told me that he thought Aiden might be ADD, since he obviously has trouble sitting still and following directions. I felt like telling him "he's not a Private, he's a four year-old, of course he can't sit still."

On the brighter side, Aiden is growing like he should, although since he never eats more than a few bites at a time, I'm not sure how that's possible. He's in the 51st percentile for weight, so he's average there. His height is a bit of a mystery though - he's in the 98th percentile! If you know my husband and I you know that neither one of us is exactly where Aiden's height comes from I have no idea!

The shots went as expected. Lots of screaming and thrashing. I don't envy those ladies in the immunization clinic one little bit. Aiden's being a bit of a drama queen. It's been almost an hour and he's still going on and on about how the doctor was mean and made him get shots.

"Oh Mommy! My legs HURT!!"

"Oh really, do you need to go to the doctor?"

Silence...."No, I just need a band-aid and some ice cream."

Aiden feels that ice cream is the answer to everything. He gets that from me, too.

We are thinking about enrolling him in soccer soon...I don't think he's ADD, but he could definitely use an outlet for all that natural, boyish energy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snips and Snails

Every year, two days before my birthday, I get a phone call from my mother telling me that "X number of years ago I was in labor with you". After almost 30 years, it's become tradition. Well, four years ago today, I myself was in labor with my oldest son, Aiden. It being my first time, I remember being scared when the labor pains hit. I had read all the books, but I still had no real idea of what to expect. I remember everyone telling me not to be afraid. Looking back now, I'm of the belief that none of those people had boys. If there is one thing I've learned in the past four years it's this - if you are pregnant with a boy, be very afraid.

Little boys are an entity unto themselves. They are not like anything else. On the one hand, they are sweet, lovable, cuddly and cute, kind of like puppies. On the other, they are capable of the most amazing acts of stupidity. And the things that come out of their mouths....

Oh well. As I tucked my little boy in bed on his last night of being three, he looked at me and said, "I love you, Mommy. Hug me so I'll have sweet dreams."

There is nothing in life, and I mean NOTHING to compare with that.

Happy Birthday, Aiden. Mommy loves you.