Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On our last day of 2008...

We bundled everyone up in multiple layers, strapped the baby in her backpack and took a walk.

The local botanical gardens run their Garden Festival of Lights through the second week of January. Makes it nice for those of us who just can't seem to pull it together enough to get out there before Christmas. And also for those of us who tend to get real twitchy in crowds!

One of the local model train clubs always sets up an amazing display. Jacob remembers from year to year. He enjoys the lights--this year they had spiders five feet across--but it's the trains that capture his attention and his delight.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This one was easy

For some reason the most difficult birthdays to get through have been the 5's--25 and 35 in particular. Not sure about 15 and I really don't remember too much about 5. Turning 30 didn't phase me in the slightest--just sort of breezed right through it.

Not really going to go into all of the reasons 25 was so traumatic. It involved self-made drama and a sabotaged relationship. Being friends with Jose Cervo probably didn't help matters now that I look back.

I welcomed the end of my 35th year with moping and self pity. 35! The end of my early 30's and the start of checking that age box on surveys with 36-40 beside it. I looked and searched and simply couldn't find anything worth celebrating. This is what my introspective detective work found--a 35-year-old female who, although she has traveled the world over and actually has a college degree, possesses virtually no viable job skills with a resume that looks like it could double as the yellow pages. I remembered that I had all of these things that I still wanted to do with my life. Dreams of being a globe trotting documentarian. A journalist with a by-line. Someone with a paycheck.

And I forgot. I forgot that on that time line of our lives it's the long lines in between the dots that matter. That's where life happens. That's where the stuff that matters is. The dots indicating our accomplishments? Merely dots.

After a long day of wallowing in my self pity I decided to just go to bed. Go to sleep and deal with my sad, pitiful life in the morning. On my way upstairs I stopped in and checked on Jacob. Like I do every single night. Check to make sure his blankets are on. Check to see if Kitty is still within reach. Check to see him breathing. And as I stood there watching my baby boy sleep--he's so peaceful when he sleeps--it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, this was enough. There right in front of me was my life. Everything I am. Tucked under a fleece blanket and a handmade quilt. And it was enough.

Yesterday morning that little boy came downstairs, Kitty tucked securely under his arm and hair all in bed head splendor. A huge 3-year-old hug and a "Happy Birfday, Mommy". It was enough.

For the first time in my life, I am content to stay within the lines.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

These days it seems like I barely have time to finish a sentence, let alone a project!

I wanted to post this before Christmas and it just didn't happen that way. So, here you go. My own birthday present to you all...a little insight into my childhood. Oh, did I not mention today was my birthday? I'll most likely have some deep thoughts later. Or not.

I learned this song around the time we first moved to Tanzania about 30 years ago.

Santa's using zebras now
to pull his Christmas sleigh
'cause a boy in Africa
wrote to him one day.
"Santa please stop by," he said,
"and bring some toys with you."
Santa's using zebras now
south of Timbuktu.

Donner, Blitzen, all the reindeer
put him on the spot -
they were used to ice and snow
but Africa was hot!
Then some zebras came along
and they pulled Santa through.
Santa's using zebras now
south of Timbuktu.

See the pyramids to by
and there's the Nile below.
Watch out for that tall giraffe;
mustn't fly too low.
Hello hippopotamus
the season's joy to you!
Hello Mr. Crocodile
merry Christmas too!

As they gallop over jungles
lions stop and stare,
wonderin' what those zebras could be
doing way up there.
While the reindeer wait for him
back home in their igloo,
Santa's using zebras now
south of Timbuktu.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gramps would be so proud!

Jacob's been singing the Monkey and Gingerbread song...

Had a little monkey
Took him to the country
Fed him some gingerbread
Long came a choo choo
knocked him coo coo
Now my little monkey's dead!
Boo hoo!

I may have had something to do with teaching him that...but you need to understand that I come by the warpness naturally. You know, one of the many things I've been handed down.

My grandfather (Gramps) taught me Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Only...not...

Propel, propel, propel your craft
Swiftly down the liquid solution.
Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically
Existence is but an illusion!

And, yet--I'm surprisingly normal. I am. Honestly.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yes. My children are amazing. Just ask me.

Mommy! KokoohaspresentsunderherChristmastree!

I know. She...

There's one for me. One for Kyleigh. One for you and one for daddy. There's one for Maia and one for Sammy and one for Ethan and one for Donia and one for Billy!

Then I thought his head was actually going to explode when I was finally able to speak and informed him that there were presents under
his Christmas tree as well!

My two children spent the night with Kokoo and Babu Saturday night. It gave the Husband and myself a chance to spend some time together, which included a delightful dinner of tapas and paella at a Spanish restaurant. It was sort of a hole in the wall place down by the university but the food was fantastic!

Before we left for dinner I called to check in on the grandparents and the children. That's when Jacob informed me about the unbelievable development regarding Kokoo's Christmas tree. He then went on to rat out his sister who had allegedly been messing with presents.

Jacob's one request last night when I brought them home was he wanted to see the presents under our tree. Then he counted them. And asked who each one was for. He then repeated all acquired information to Kitty. As he got to the last one...

But where's a present for Kitty?

Um....well...Kitty's just hasn't shown up yet.

Oh, that's awright. I'll just share mine with Kitty.

See why this child is amazing?

Now if we could only channel some of that giving spirit towards sharing toys with his sister...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

10 years ago today...

I stood in this very courtyard, beside an amazing man and promised to Love, to Honor and to Cherish him for ever and ever.

We've had our share of challenges. Long periods of separation (due to work). Long, stressful work days. Miscommunication. Lack of communication. Infertility and miscarriages. Financial crisis. Now two highly active and challenging children. We've also had far more than our share of amazing and wonderful things happen to us and for us. Through it all--even during the times when we seemed to not really like each other very much--we have remained true to those vows. Through it all we have Loved and we have Honored. We have come to learn that To Cherish is the greatest of them all.

I Cherish my husband. My family. This life that we have created for ourselves. And I look forward to writing another mushy post on our 20th anniversary! I was taught that marriages are meant to last forever. May I pass on the same legacy to my children.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Random observations...

There tends to be the assumption among my peers that since our spouses share the same occupation, we must therefore share the same world views and politics. Yeah, not so much. If you're new to this blog (Hi!) then you need to know that I'm Not From Around Here. While I do my best to blend in, there are times it is glaringly apparent that I'm "different".

The Husband's platoon Christmas party was a couple of nights ago and we made it a family affair. While I know most of his co-workers, I really didn't know any of the other wives. I've learned, just like with Navy wives, police wives have strong opinions. Shockingly enough. I've also learned that my opinions tend to go against the stream. Yes, I know--another shocker. And since I really don't want to offend I tend to listen a whole lot more than I talk.

I sat next to one of the wives I had just met and she started chatting with Jacob.

"What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"

Silence. Jacob just looked at her.

"We really don't talk about Santa too much", I tried to explain without making it sound like I thought Santa was a bad thing. Just not a big thing.

She then goes on, without hearing a word I said, about her four-year-old making multiple trips to Santa's lap because he kept thinking of more things for his list. She made it out to be this cute little story. Outside I sort of smiled with her. Inside I was all, Really? That's what your son thinks Christmas is about? Already? That's not cute. That's sad.

Then she tells me about a recent play date she and her children had with another family. A family that didn't let their children play with toy guns. She was baffled by this attitude and expressed that they would not pursue that relationship. And then she looked to me expecting to see bafflement on my part as well. Once again--not so much. My children do not have toy guns either. Neither will they. They are already learning about gun safety--which currently consists of, Don't Touch, Leave it Alone. But toy guns? No. Guns aren't toys--no matter the form.

Every now and then I receive emails from a friend from a former place we lived. Our husbands were co-workers. While we did have a lot in common--we camped and rock climbed together--we didn't share the same politics. Given the emails she forwards to me I don't know if she just didn't get that about me, or if it's a passive aggressive attempt at a conservative conversion. I simply do not subscribe to her point of view. However, I believe that individuals of different political and religious leanings can and do remain friends. Just look at my own household! Our own little micro experiment at world peace.

Anyway...the other police wife I met at the Christmas party? We didn't exchange phone numbers. It would never work between us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A true Christmas song...

We all have our favorite Christmas carols, hymns and songs. Mine has always been The Little Drummer Boy...I remember being a little older then Jacob and loving the ba ba ba bom part. Over the years I've discovered that I really enjoy Neil Diamond's version best.

Every now and then, however, a song comes along that really, truly touches your soul. A song that makes you pause. Even one that stops you in your tracks. This one did just that to me the first time I heard it--almost 11 years ago. And it is still some of the most beautiful, poignant lyrics I've ever come across.

I figured I'd offer it up in the original form, sung by the man who wrote it--Mark Lowery.

Enjoy. And Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A day late...

Well, not really once you consider the fact that it should be Bill of Rights Day Every. Single. Day.

Of course, I'm simple. The first one is the one that is near and dear to my heart. The US is also the only nation to inform its government that it has no right to tell me to hold my tongue.

Speak on, My Fellow Americans, speak on.

(Oh, CBLDF stands for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund...because there are those who, while enjoying their own freedom of speech attempt to limit other's. Now that's just not right, wouldn't you agree?)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A letter to the management...

Dear Whomever is in Charge,

I wish to lodge a complaint for the following reason. There appears to be a design flaw in Children which causes accelerated growth. I'm sure if you were to do your
research you would find that most parents and grandparents are not Okay with this.

For children should not have gone from this:

to this...

all within one short little year.

I'm surprised that Quality Assurance allowed such an oversight to pass unnoticed for so long. I trust that this will be corrected before I find myself writing regarding my own

Thank you in advance for your time and cooperation,

One Bewildered Mommy

PS...Jacob would like me to also ask that if you aren't too busy he would like snow this winter. He wants to build a snowman and serve it hot chocolate.

PPS...He would also like to ask you a question. Did you know that a caterpillar starts its life as an egg? And also dinosaurs? I explained that, yes, you probably did know all of this but he wanted to ask just in case.

Friday, December 12, 2008


My niece just celebrated her 13th birthday. (I'll pause a moment to let that sink in.) I had the amazing privilege of holding my niece the day after she was born.

I was on a whirlwind two week trip to the US. It was my one and only flight on the aircraft I worked so hard to keep up in the air. We were trading in a 40-year-old plane for a newer 30-year-old model. Since one of my best friends was Crew Chief, I was able to charm my way onto the flight.

First stop on the trip was Jacksonville, FL where I took possession of my shiny new 1995 Harley Davidson XLH Deluxe. Black and oh, so shiny. Drove the bike to the boatyard in Charleston, SC so they could ship it back to Spain. Picked up a rental car and drove through the night to my sister's in Virginia. No member of my family even knew I was in the country. Fortunately my brother-in-law hadn't purchased his shotgun yet!

The births of my nephews and niece mark major milestones in my life. The eldest nephew was born when I was in bootcamp and the youngest just months before my wedding. The week after my niece's birth I had a my first date with the man who would turn out to be the love of my life. I'd call that a fairly major milestone.

My parent's were also in the country for a few weeks during that trip and we were all able to spend time together as a family--a slightly rare occurrence. The three of us went shopping--my mom, my sister and I--and I bought a dress for the Christmas party I was attending the day after I returned home. I also found a tie for my date since he had informed me he didn't own one. With one last stop at the hospital to tell my sister and brand new, red headed niece goodbye I left and drove on up north. Spent the afternoon with my grandparents--the last time I'd see Gramps--and continued on up to Maryland to catch the flight back to Spain.

The XO (Executive Officer) of the squadron flew the new plane home. When the wheels stopped rolling he strolled past me down the aisle.

"How'd you like the flight, Mac?" he asked as he clapped me on the back.

"Honestly, Sir? I've had better landings." I replied as I clutched my full airsick bag.

See, there's that
issue with authority again. I never was able to grasp and adopt the concept of respect simply due to one's rank. Not exactly a shock I didn't make a career out of the Navy. I think it was more of shock that I made it four years without my mouth getting me into trouble.

So it wasn't really a romantic date--there were actually five of us. It was our squadron's Christmas party. A rare occasion to clean the grease out from under our fingernails, get all dressed up and "purdy". Four of us girls decided to invite one of our male friends from a different command. Though I suspect it was a ploy to get the two of us together since shortly after the party I found myself alone with him. We had been friends for a while. But that night we became something more--though neither of us was willing, at the time, to put a label on this new thing.

The first time we met he didn't remember me. But that was okay. I was overweight, self conscious and, well...forgettable. My relationship history was fraught with abuse--mostly emotional, one was physical. I wasn't broken, but I wasn't whole either. Following that initial meeting I remember wondering what life would be like if someone like that were to be interested in someone like me. It made me think and re-evaluate who I was, where I was. He went off on a ship for six months. In that time I found that I was actually good at my job--even with being a girl in a male dominated field. I decided I was tired of being fat. I also discovered that I kinda liked who I was--just me. And when he returned and we met again--he remembered.

Thus began our tumultuous love affair. A relationship which had even our friends claiming doom and gloom--even
after we stood in front of my dad (the minister) and promised to love and cherish each other until the cold, clammy hand of death ripped us apart. Apparently two strong willed, opinionated, passionate and stubborn people shouldn't attempt a serious relationship.

Next week we celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Guess we sure showed them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Silent night...

Quiet night...

One morning in primary school our esteemed Headmaster--Mr. Wiggins--played this version of
Silent Night for us. And then we sang All Things Bright And Beautiful.

Some genius took Simon and Garfunkel's
7 o'clock News rendition of Silent Night and put it together with Time magazine covers. Paul Simon should buy him or her a drink.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


There's a lot of chatter lately regarding New Year's resolutions--a tradition I've never really been a supporter of. However, this year--or next year, whatever--I have decided to make a resolution. I resolve to put my rather expensive college education to work. I know--that's just crazy talk! I'm serious! And, yes, I also resolve to stay true to my career goal which is to never have to wear pantyhose again...I'm a simple soul.

Since I have been adamantly opposed to working outside of the home and putting my children in childcare, any job prospect would have to be on the really shiny side for me to consider accepting. Something in communications (you know, like what it says on my diploma), non-corporate, laid back, enjoyable, fun and if possible--outdoors. Wow. That's a pretty tall order. Sounds like I might have better luck if my New Year's resolution was to finally acquire those last few inches taking me to my dream height of 5'7". Or maybe not...

As of January 1st I am the new Director of Advertising and Sponsorship for Running Kids. Sweet. I cannot even begin to describe my level of giddiness. It wasn't like I was out dropping off resumes and actively job searching. Truth be told, I have a lot going on right now. But a chance meeting with an old acquaintance at a local fund raiser early in November led to a job offer I couldn't refuse.

I really don't believe that
everything happens for a reason--most things do, but not all. I believe in the random. Makes me feel less like a toy for the puppet master. Regardless, there's a fair bit about this opportunity that smells like a Master Plan.

When we first moved here I was very aggressively searching for employment. In the beginning I was dropping off resumes and portfolios at places I had researched and wanted to work with and for. Towards the end I was approaching anyone in the "business" who was hiring. And I was totally and completely stressed about the process. I recall one day having to pull over to the side of the road because I was having a panic attack. We needed me to have a paycheck. Immediately. But the idea of battling traffic on a daily basis to go work 40 hours a week in a box was sucking the life out of me--and I hadn't even been hired yet! So, I switched directions. I made up my mind to keep the creative side freelance and simply accept a job--any job--with a paycheck. That's about the time when the manager from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports called and offered me a full time position. It was meant to be a temporary gig until other stuff panned out--it just lasted a little longer than almost four years.

I made a lot of contacts in those four years. One of them being my new employer. Others being representatives of the various organizations I will be approaching for sponsorship. I know the business. I'm familiar with the outdoor industry. I'm also passionate about what the organization stands for. I can't wait until my children are old enough to participate! I'm going to do my best to take them with me to as many of the events as I can--shouldn't be too difficult since travel expenses will be paid for me and my family!

Oh, the really, really nifty part? I'm working from Home. Yep. Right here with the munchkins. In my jammies. Sometimes. Video conference days I may put on a bra.

Things I've learned so far this week...

Pull-Ups explode in a nasty gelled mess in the washing machine.

The Husband's gauze bandage does not get along well with Velcro.

Children, like predators, can smell weakness and hone in on an injured hand like lions on helpless gazelles. He's really not having a good week!

Watching, helpless to do anything, as my daughter tumbles down the entire flight of stairs ends up being far more traumatic for me than for her. She's just sporting a few more bruises--a nice shiner under her right eye. I have an image forever imprinted on my brain.

Okay, so the last one wasn't so humorous. Sorry. It's been a long day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

All twinkly and bright...

It's coming up on Christmas time. I love this time of year--even with the flurries blowing around outside! Going out and picking a Christmas tree. The lights, the music. Pulling out all of the ornaments and the memories they bring back. My mom, my sister and I all have a number of the same ornaments...ones we either made or collected together. I remember putting up my tree those years in Spain and realizing that the same ornaments that were on my tree in the south of Spain were also on trees in the States and in East Africa. It was a comfort.

Last year my boys went out by themselves and brought home the most beautiful tree. This year we made it a family affair. The four of us bundled up this afternoon and made our way down to the same Christmas tree lot we've patroned for the past three years now. The same old man was out there to hold up the trees for inspection and then to load the chosen one up on top of the Cherokee. For as much as I've spoken against traditions--I like the ones our little family has started.

I enjoy wrapping the strings of lights around and around. I always manage to pack them up each year so they're not too tangled the next. This year I have three strings of LED lights--don't stare right at them or you'll see spots for a while! Maybe I will actually make it to one of the after Christmas sales this year and pick up a few more boxes. I feel like I defied the laws of physics--a delicate white pine should not be able to hold up all of those lights...all 600 of them!

The heavy miniature pots and teacups I found in Portugal and made into ornaments have stayed in the bin. They're too heavy for the tree this year. A few others that are far too fragile to be on display in a home with these two whirlwinds we call our children have also stayed in the bin. All of my share of the wooden ornaments my mom painted the Christmas I was born are hung up. Jacob and Kyleigh both have ornament collections started--none too fancy, just ones I've picked up that remind me of them.

Jacob helped me hang the red wooden beaded garland my mom and I picked up on one of our excursions. He was dragging the other strands around the living room like a snake.

My Christmas shopping is complete--thanks to Amazon and the internet! The space under the tree will remain vacant until the little ones go to bed Christmas Eve. Well, not exactly vacant--that tree skirt is Sebastian T. Cat's nap spot of the month. He'd be there now except he had his face buried in his food dish at the time I snapped the picture. And, no, the angel won't sit up straight. Blame it on the eggnog!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random bits and no pictures!

The Husband is sleeping off his pain medication...softly snoring on the couch. He had put in The Fellowship Of The Rings with the best of intentions, but now it's just me watching it.

Apparently he is now legend at the V.A hospital. The team of anesthesiologists who prepped him for surgery this morning informed him that policy changes were put into effect immediately due to the circumstances surrounding his last visit to their fine, fine surgical ward. I know we made light of it at the time, but honestly? It was a screw up of epic proportions. And I'm glad to know that they have taken steps to insure the same thing doesn't happen to someone else.

My parents arrived safe and sound--jet lagged--but on time. Oh, did I not mention they were coming back to the States for Christmas? We actually managed to keep it a secret from the grand children as well. Not an easy task, pulling something over on those five! Kyleigh, Jacob and I drove out and spent Tuesday night with them. I had supper waiting when they arrived. Then, yesterday morning--after coffee and pancakes--I left my children with Kokoo and Babu and drove home. Jacob's reaction to being left?
Yeah, I love you, Mommy...bye.

The Husband and I then managed to check various items off of our "To Do" list...moulding up in the living room, move Kyleigh's crib from our room to Jacob's room, scrub the grout in the bathrooms...go on a date with your beloved...went to a movie--I know, that's just crazy! Then up at 5am to be at the V.A. by 6.

I discovered that my GPS is missing a feature. The button that says, "Bruce--GPS dude--it's 5am. Tone down the chipperness, just keep reminding me of my turns and tell me to actually get the change for the toll out of my pocket before I get to the toll plaza!" But I suppose that would be too much to put on a button.

We were once again reminded today how precious life is. There are those at the V.A. who are in far, far worse circumstances than we are. Old men in wheelchairs, a man laying on a gurney wheeled outside to smoke, veterans, missing limbs, lives shattered.

Tonight, I'm grateful. For my children upstairs--now sharing a room. For my husband--broken, yet on the mend. My parents--exhausted and jet lagged, yet still they kept my children for two days. For my bed--to which I am now going, and for the first time in over a year, a bed without a crib at its foot. *Sigh* I know. It was time. But I'll miss hearing her softly breathing, stirring.