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 worry...my 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. Hey...family 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 least...my 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?