Wednesday, December 28, 2011


My family actually managed to keep secrets and threw me a surprise birthday party! I can honestly say that yesterday was one of the best days of my life--and I've had some really good ones! 

Apparently there was quite a bit of discussion regarding a cake.  Even though my mom displayed amazing cake skills while we were younger, she didn't feel up for the challenge of creating a birthday cake for a cake maker.  In the end...

My favorite cake--a good old fashioned southern Lickin' Cake.  Six layers of yellow cake with a layer of fudge in between each one and then covered drenched in fudge.  
It was delicious! And perfect. 

I have the most amazing family and friends in the whole wide world.  
It was an outstanding celebration of my 40th trip around the sun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Yep.  Apparently time stops for no one.

If anyone is curious, I'll be regressing today and kicking my 6-year-old's booty in Fruit Ninja.

Because that's how newly minted 40-year-olds roll.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Things that make me happy...

Lately every time the Boy has been watching television and the Tintin movie trailer comes on he's been all...yeah, yeah...I know, really want to watch that...blah, blah, blah.

Yes.  He really adds the "blah, blah, blah."

Thanks to a very generous Nana, great aunt and great grandmother, our big family gift this year was an Xbox 360 with kinect.  Which is pretty much awesome in itself.  But then my always thinkin' husband goes and buys the Tintin movie companion game.

It's received quite a bit of play today.  From all four of us.  And now the Boy is really excited for the movie.  We were discussing it at supper when I made the comment that I was looking forward to it because I grew up with Tintin.  So then he wanted to know if we could watch the shows I watched as a kid.

They weren't tv shows--they're comic books.  The movie is made from one of the books.

Wait...they're books?! 

Yep.  And I still have them.

So I can read them?

Tonight's bedtime story? "The Secret of the Unicorn." Complete with pirate voices and funny Belgian accents.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


They let us sleep in this year!  Both waited, ever so patiently, for both of their parents to be up and on their way to being caffeinated.

With each and every gift opened there was a proclamation of, "Oh my goodness! This is what I've always wanted! Thank you!"

May they always be so grateful!

We're off for a short church service this morning...a simple gathering to sing a few carols and to hear the Christmas story.  Then we'll make our way out to my parents' where we'll spend the rest of the day as an entire family--mine and my sister's gift to our mom.

The past couple of years have seemed to be filled with more ups and downs than others.  But through it all, we have been blessed beyond merit and measure.  I very much believe the best is yet to come!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

13 years...

Since we vowed to walk this journey together...

Whatever it was that put us in the same darkly lit, dodgy country bar on a cold January night in the south of Spain almost 17 years ago, I'm forever grateful.  I fell in love for the first and last time that night and you still make my heart thump all these years later.

Happy Anniversary, my love!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Traditions...old and new...

Early last month I took over the space where the Christmas tree has resided for the past two years...previously it was in the dining room which allowed us to control munchkin access by means of gated doorways.   So this year, furniture was moved to make room in the living room for the largest tree we've ever had.  The top branch ended up being trimmed to accommodate the angel.  The angel I purchased for our first tree together as a married couple.  It went on top of a tiny little three foot tree I spent way too much money on just so we could have a real Christmas tree in Florida!

Our first Christmas in this house the boy and his dad went out on their own to find a tree.  They found a  couple of old tree farmers selling trees in the parking lot of one of the older strip malls not too far from us.  We've gone back there ever since.  We always take our time looking for the perfect tree--perfect by our standards, not anyone else's! One of the farmers this year made the comment about how big the kiddos are getting.  I wonder if it means as much to them to see us every year as it means to me?

Once the lights were tucked in the branches it was time to let the kiddos loose with the ornaments.  I waited until they were in bed to rearrange clusters and distribute some a little higher.  The lower half of the tree was decorated beautifully!  The top half was a little sparse.  It's evened out a bit now.  Especially as the kitties do their share of ornament placement critiquing. 

Please don't tell any of the other holidays, but I really like Christmas the best.  I do.  I love Christmas.  I love just about every bit about it.  The family time.  The music.  The decorations.  The lights.  Pulling out our ornaments and hanging them on the tree reminds me of who I am and where I come from.  I love that I can pass that down to my children.  And I love that they are at the age where they're curious about them and they want to hear the stories.  

The hand painted wooden ornaments that my mom painted the Christmas I was born.  When my sister and I left home these were divided between the three of us.  Given our nomadic upbringing it means a great deal to know that no matter where any of us are any given Christmas, these wooden ornaments--among others that were also divided out--draw us together as sisters and mother...

There are tiny little clay pitchers I purchased on our camping trip through Portugal.  A painted tin cat that reminded me of our beloved Sebastian T. Cat.  A bright red ball that was a reward for raising a lot of money for this year's National Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run.  A crystal star given to me by a dear friend and fellow Navy vet I share a birthday with.  A handmade ornament I won in a raffle my first Christmas in Spain...

Carved wooden animals my mom brought back one year.  She and my sister strung them up on a clothes line and spray painted them gold, silver, white and red and gave them all beaded garlands. A little bit of Africa to remind me of home...

My favorites, however, have started appearing in the past three years...ornaments the kiddos have made in school.  Clay mittens painted and sparkling with glitter.  Snowflakes and gingerbread men.  Picture frames with their smiling faces...

New finds I couldn't resist...

And ones each child gets to pick out for themselves.  The girl chose a shimmering purple ballet slipper.  The boy had a tough decision between a dinosaur and a dragon.  In spite of my love of paleontology, I'm secretly pleased the dragon won...

And new traditions.  Last year Kyleigh wanted a Christmas tree in her room.  This year when she brought it up again I remembered how I had always wanted a tree in my room as well.  

I actually found a set of two pre-lit trees on sale, as well as a bin of small non-breakable ornaments, and sparkly garland.  I had the trees plugged in and lit in their rooms when each came home from school.  I knew the wee girl would be excited...and she was...but I wasn't expecting Jacob's reaction.  

He was overjoyed!  His tree was decorated before I could make it upstairs with the camera.  He made sure that this would be something they do every year.   

Of course, they now want to add their own ornaments to their trees each year.  I suppose it's only fair.  But I'm drawing the line at putting their presents under their own trees! 

I've never been one who follows tradition for tradition's sake.  But I love that our little family is creating our own traditions and that these are things my children can look forward to throughout the year.  However, the tree falling over on us before we get a chance to tie it to the wall?  That doesn't get added to the list of traditions we carry on.  Everything else can stay. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A geek's best medicine...

Wee girlie's cold settled into her lungs and now we're dealing with our second case of pneumonia this month.

Last week was insanely long, emotional and trying.

We've always fallen back on irreverent humor to get us through the toughest times in our lives.  So why should now be any different?

Fair warning...I laughed so hard at this I do think I may have peed...just a little.  And I heart my fellow geeks!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A long December...

I don't deal well with being cold...and being cold at Christmas time only intensifies my longing for home and for Africa.  I can't layer up enough to keep my equatorial bones warm and still manage to remain mobile.

Clearing out the attic recently brought into clear focus the fact that I've been in this house and in this town longer than I've lived anywhere else in my entire life.  There's an itch to give away all the things and move on.  The inability/impossibility to scratch that itch is making me grumpy, cranky, moody and an all around bitch to live with.

It's going to be a loooong winter.

And, if you could, please...when you think of my very understanding and long suffering husband, say an extra prayer of peace for him.  He'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why my head hurts...

Actual, honest-to-goodness conversation with my daughter just now:

Her:  It's not very nice of somebody to make fun of my pretend baby sister.

Me:  Who makes fun of your pretend baby sister?

Her:  My pretend baby brother.

Me:  Your pretend baby brother makes fun of your pretend baby sister?

Her:  Yes.  And that's not very nice.

Me:  You're right...that's not very nice at all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Because there's always room for more crazy...

Two hours at Kid Med (pediatrician urgent care), a couple of chest x-rays and the Boy was diagnosed with pneumonia.  He was home all last week with a nasty cough that just wasn't getting better.  Yesterday afternoon he looked pale and blue around the eyes and mouth.   We're not the sort of parents who rush off to the doctor's with every little sniffle, but that sight had the Boy in his booster seat within five minutes.  

I learned a few things.  Passing four other urgent care facilities just to go to a pediatric specific facility was worth the extra miles.  I need to have more than two books actually loaded on the Kindle Fire since it's wifi only.  "Sponge Bob Square Pants" is stupid.  And nothing perks up a lousy feeling 6-year-old faster than being able to see his own x-rays!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Over communicating...again.

Me:  So a while ago there was this huge uproar over a toddler pageant mom dressing her daughter up as Julia Robert's hooker character in "Pretty Woman"

Him:  Okaaay...understandable.

Me:  Putting the whole "toddler pageants are creepy and should just go away" argument there's a picture floating around of a little girl dressed up as Audrey Hepburn's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"...and they're all...that's so cute, so classy!

Him:  Aaannnddd....

Me:  Holly Golightly was basically a prostitute as well.  And married.

Him:  I did not know that.

Me:  I don't know what bothers me more...the hypocrisy of the same people being outraged at one but charmed by the other or the fact that they're charmed and clueless regarding what they're being charmed by.

Him:  Um...I've never watched the movie.  You do know that, right?

Me:  But it's over there in the cabinet...

Him:  I'm not saying it doesn't exist in this house, I'm just saying I've never actually watched it.

Me:  So we're never going to be able to sing that song to each other, are we?

Him:  Please stop.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on...

In light of our recent bout of the plague there's been little time for the gathering of thoughts and coherent thinking necessary for a blog post.  Sorry.

However, the wee girlie did provide us with some hope of her not being turned completely over to the Dark Side (the Dark Side being, of course, all that is Princess and Pink and Girlie.)  And it was worth noting here.

Yesterday morning whilst zipping up her fleece before heading out the door for preschool she let out a massive belch.  And then busted up in 4-year-old giggling.

Wowie!  What are you supposed to say after you burp?

Good one!

Or...or...maybe, "Excuse me"?

But that's what Jacob always says!  

Fine.  New rule: From here on not repeat anything your brother says.  And don't take your etiquette cues from your dad.  Or your mother.  Really, you're on your own on this one.  Because I still laugh uncontrollably at the poop jokes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All quiet...

The Boy boarded the school bus a while ago.  No one else is up.  The wee girlie is still fighting a cold...and several days of late nights/early mornings have caught up with her.  Himself has been mostly dead for the past two days.  But that didn't stop him from insisting I open my anniversary present when UPS dropped it off yesterday.  

Our anniversary is just over a month away.  I know--the man is precious.  And yes, I'm spoiled rotten.

So I'm sitting here enjoying the rare quiet on this cold, wet Autumn morning getting to know my Kindle Fire just a little better.  And so far? Love it.  Don't get me wrong...I still love books, real paper books...the way they feel, the way they smell, turning pages, flipping back through to read a part again...and I typically have 3 or 4 going at the same time. We will be buying books until the day they stop publishing them. But I fell in love the digital reader sitting and waiting all those hours at various doctor's appointments with the wee girl.  This reader is the perfect size and fit for me.  I'm looking forward to seeing what else this nifty gadget can do!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


My big sister just ran her first 8k this morning.  In 30 degree weather.  In 47:37 minutes.

Why, yes...she is awesome!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I am...

The granddaughter of a Sailor...

The daughter of a Sailor...

I am a Sailor...

And the wife of a Sailor.

Today we honor the ones we walked with, served with.  
It was an honor to be a member of this nation's Navy 
and to be a part of something bigger than myself. The friendships made during that time are lasting...obviously at least one more than others.  

"Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Freedom."  
For those still standing watch...I salute you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Those crazy genes again...

Not too long ago (shush, dear're still older), 
I was a four-year-old with long flowing locks...

(somewhere near the Grand Canyon)

I was even known to wear a crown every now and then...

(Ocracoke Ferry)

Then one day we learned we were moving to Africa.    
Apparently it's Hot there and long hair just would not do.

 (Rockin' our jumpsuits and taking in the sights of London...Parliament, Big Ben)

Of course, it was my sister's idea and, since she was The Coolest Person I knew, 
I had to follow along.  

 Years later...I too have a daughter with long flowing locks of hair...

Two ponytails...rarely will she let me get away with just one.

She was quiet and occupied this afternoon.  I thought she was coloring.  
Imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen and discovered a trail of hair...

She did attempt to pin the blame on her brother.  Except he had an airtight alibi.  
We were in the other room killing zombies.

My first thought was to simply trim it up a little.  Then I got a better look at the damage.  Loaded everyone up in the Jeep and headed for Super Cuts.  Because Daddy's working tonight.  Of course.  

It's obvious a hacked hair cut isn't about to diminish the Cute or the Adorable.  There were no tears...we made the entire trip into an adventure.  Besides...I kinda like it.  Short hair will certainly be simpler to deal with on this wild and crazy twirly girly! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Honesty...on Perfection...and accepting help...

Everyone is watching.  Don't forget to be perfect.

That's a lot for a 4-year-old.  And then even more as she's growing up.

Sit still.  Stop fidgeting.  Don't fight with your sister.  Everyone can see you.

Preacher's daughter.  Born and raised.  Missionary daughter since the age of 4.

We expect more from you.  Better.

Church school disciplinarians were always disenchanted to discover I was really a normal kid after all.

Boarding school with all of it's rules.  If only I'd remembered to be perfect.

Years of freedom helped me discover the me buried deep inside the resentment and the anger.

I forgot again in my attempt to be the perfect wife, perfect mother.  And it almost all fell apart.  The fact that it didn't is a testimony to True Love and tenacity.  

Last September I made, and kept, the commitment to run a 5k.  Then signed up for a 10k and dropped out due to a back injury.  In May I signed up for a half marathon and started my training.  Training for the half marathon was grueling.  Especially in the summer.  With two kiddos and a husband whose work schedule refused to conform to my own needs.  I was at the Y two afternoons a week running 5-7 miles on the treadmills then dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 on Saturday mornings to be able to run an hour, two hours before the heat and humidity became unbearable.  By mid-August it all became too much.  My body literally gave out on me.  Ovarian fibroids developed into a cyst and ruptured.  A persistent pain in my side and an odd numbness in my neck and along the side of my face.
I ran the half marathon doped up on naproxen and Tylenol.  And puked my guts out at the end. 

Two separate issues.

When I started consistently losing sleep due to being in pain, I sought professional help.  The doctor really thought the pain in my side was my gallbladder.  Abdominal study ultrasound showed normal organs all the way around.  A HIDA scan showed that not only was my gallbladder functioning, it was functioning at a level he'd never seen before.  So while there was nothing amiss with the gallbladder or any of the major organs, no one denying that there was, in fact, Something Going On.  He called me back in for a follow up.  More questions.  More probing.  More listening.  Tentative diagnosis...severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  And, yes, my loving husband has already run the "grumpy pants" joke into the ground!

It wasn't until the next morning that I was able to really dig and find out more about IBS and the medicine I'd been prescribed.  While there is a correlation between IBS and anxiety, it's not always related.  However, the medicine that is supposed to ease the muscle spasms and keep the intestines from seizing up is also combined with an anti-anxiety medication.  Just in case.

I've never denied the existence of stress in our lives.  Given the life we've chosen, how could I?  And not a week goes by when some new stress rears its nasty little head.  A husband with one of the most stressful jobs known to man as well as a chronic, possibly crippling disease, a daughter with the same chronic disease who, along with her brother is also in the High Spirited Child category. An old house that decides to be cranky every now and then.  And then running my own cake business on the side.  However, I would never think or admit that it's to the point where I/we need to talk to someone about it or that I would need help from an medicinal source.  It's not a matter of denial--more a matter of, at what point have I had two seconds to put the thought together that maybe, just maybe everything landing on my small shoulders might be too much?  Even during the years when I really should have talked to someone I didn't...because I was supposed to be Perfect.  Those were the years I attempted self medication.  With alcohol.  Not recommended.  But this amazing man who loves and supports me unconditionally walked beside me then and he's walking beside me now. 

Friday night was the best night's sleep I've had since the beginning of August.  While my neck and side are still stiff and tender, there is no longer the mind numbing-I'm-about-to-throw-up-then-pass-out pain I've been experiencing.  Saturday was an extremely productive day.  And Sunday I was drawing up plans for taking over the sunroom for my own sewing/craft/mommy space (I was shoved out of the office when the Boy took over my desk top).  I strung together entire, complete sentences.  Because I was no longer in pain.  And because I actually slept.  I have a feeling the entire family just might benefit from Mommy being on a mild Happy Pill.

I dropped the Girl off at preschool this morning.  Came home and set out for a two mile run.  It was going to be my first run in three weeks.  I almost cut it short thinking there was no way I was going to make the whole two mile loop.  But I didn't.  And I made the entire two miles.  Without my insides threatening to strangle me from the inside.  Logging the run on my training program I realized I tipped over the 100 mile mark for the year.  

My next 100 miles will be healthy and smart ones.  While I may not be the Perfect Parent--and I'm okay with that--I am the Healthy Parent in this family.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

The walls are thin this night...

We donned costumes in order to confound the fey..

A ghost pirate will keep us all safe...

And gain plenty of booty for his troubles...

A wee princess will enchant them out of their payment.

We're safe for another year.   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turn out the lights...the party's over...

One Sleeping Beauty cake...

One bleeding Eyeball cake, surrounded by brain cupcakes...

One very excited ghost pirate and his X-wing pilot pal!

Long day spent getting everything ready, cooked and decorated was worth it 
when both kiddos declared it the Best Day Ever.  This parent gig is pretty cool sometimes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Birthday Party Day!

And for my next trick...pulling off a combined 4-year-old princess party and a halloween party!

Princess the works
Bleeding eyeball halloween the works
Princess treats...check
Halloween treats...check
Pink princess napkins and plates...check
Black halloween tablecloth and napkins...check
Enough food to feed an army of costumed kiddos (and their parents)...check

List created of all things party that have to be transported to the church's fellowship hall because our ancient sewage drain picked yesterday to start spewing sewage back into the house...done and being checked off.  Yeah...yesterday sorta sucked.  But I can say that our bathroom has never, ever been cleaner!  So we've got that going for us.