Friday, December 28, 2012

Another trip around the sun...

Wednesday was a cold, wet dreary day.  While delightful, Christmas day had been a very long day and we were all worn out.  The boy and I were still feeling cruddy.  All I wanted was to clear out all of the Christmas decorations, get the house back to normal and get us all back to being healthy.  The last thing I wanted to think about was the fact that not only was the next day my birthday, but that I had to get the house somewhat presentably clean...not Company clean, but at least Family clean (floor swept, dining table cleared off, toilet paper in the bathroom).  

Then Thursday morning my little family allowed me to sleep in and I woke up to blue skys and sunshine.  Still cold...but I wasn't planning on going outside anyway.  Kiddos and I lounged on the couch most of the day enjoying a Mythbusters "007" marathon on the Discovery channel.

By the time my parents and my sister and her kiddos arrived I was feeling mostly human.  Himself had brined half a cow of ribeye steaks earlier and then grilled them to perfection.  My mom showed up with a bowl of my aunt's freshly cooked collard greens.  The only thing worthy of topping a birthday dinner like that was the cake that followed...


My precious son, months ago, declared he wanted to make my next birthday cake.  You make cakes for everyone else, and I want to make a special one just for you.  

I told him that maybe that was something he could talk to his grandmother about when they came back for Christmas.  And so he did.  The two of them conspired, planned and created this amazing cake!


Jacob did a lot of the piping.  He helped with the baking.  He placed the final decorations on the cake. Even wee Kyleigh had a hand in the creation...she helped with the baking and with the choosing of the images.  My cake business may just have to take in a couple of half pint partners soon.


Somehow they figured out I was a Batman fan.  

I'm still not so sure how I feel about this new number.  I don't mind the getting older bit...it does beat the alternative.  But with cakes like this and families like mine, it's difficult to act my age.  Then I think, do I really need to? 




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

And then it was Christmas...

It was a smaller tree this year...last year's threatened to run us out of the living room.  There weren't a lot of presents under it.  But the ones that were there were carefully and thoughtfully chosen.

The boy was diagnosed with the 'flu on Christmas Eve and an unplanned trip to Target pharmacy gave me a look at late shoppers.  I quietly sat on the bench at the pharmacy and waited for the boy's Tamaflu prescription to be filled.  There was no way I was going to venture out into the hoards.

Himself was called in for Christmas day duty.  But we were together as a family last night and we had Christmas morning together.  The kiddos and I will head out to spend the rest of the day with my parents and my sister and her family.  Still so much to be grateful for.

Even with being sick, their dad having to work and not an overload of gifts...both children declared this the best Christmas ever.  I can't ask for more than that, really.  My heart is full and overflowing.


From our family to you and yours...Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tonight...

I decorated a pretty cake for a friend's birthday party tomorrow.  I lost myself in the classical music playing and the beauty of the sugar coming together to form Art.

This afternoon I finished a cake for a special little 3-year-old who wasn't expected to make it beyond his 2nd month.  Even though his party was canceled because he woke up from his nap with a fever, he still got his birthday cake and made sure "Dowey" knew he loved the tractor.

This evening I hung out in the kitchen with my kiddos playing with modeling chocolate.  Teaching my son how to make a ribbon rose.  Though they both ended up making volcanos out of what they didn't eat.  And then eating the volcanos.

There were extra long snuggles.  Extra good night kisses.  And when the boy came back downstairs with his nightly "I can't sleep because..." excuse, instead of telling him goodnight again and merely sending him back to bed I went with him and tucked him back in.  With one more good night hug and kiss.

I made no attempt to hide my sorrow, my heartbreak.  I will never lie to my children or hide the truth from them.  The boy and I talked a little about the events of the day.  He had already heard some and he'll most likely hear more.  It's important that he is not scared to return to school on Monday.  It's also important that he knows to take their lockdown drills seriously and to also have a course of action should something ever happen at his school.  Knowing my child as I do, he'll have more questions tomorrow.

But tonight, my heart mourns for the families forever broken.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Standing her ground...

Last week the wee girl had her every 4-month pediatric ophthalmology appointment.  Due to her particular form of arthritis she is at high risk for eye inflammation   If the inflammation is not caught and treated immediately, permanent damage could ensue.

Being a pediatric specialist office, the staff is quite used to interacting with wee 5-year-old girlies.  Normal ones, that is.  Our children never stood a chance of being Normal.

She was wearing one of her favorite Threadless tees...


Each and every staff member complimented her on it...

I like your shirt! You must really love animals! 

By the third or fourth compliment on her "animal" shirt the girl had had enough.  And with an eye roll only an exasperated female can pull off...

It's my Harry Potter shirt! I like Harry Potter!

That's my girl! 

And her baby blues are still perfectly healthy.  Must be all of the eye rolling exercises...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Overheard around the Christmas tree...

The adoring husband, watching me secure the Christmas tree's tethers:  "What? You don't have any faith?"


Me:  "There are very few things in this life that I dogmatically believe in.  One of those things is that nothing is above the law of gravity.  And have you met our animals and children?"

AH:  "True..."

Me:   "Besides, *you* weren't home for the Great Tree Falling incident last year!"

dramatic pause...

AH:  "Wait...how did one innocent question turn in to it being my fault?!"

Me:  "Again...Hi! Have we met?!"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jinglin' in December!

Our most recent family tradition of participating in the annual National Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell 5k continued this morning!  We had an amazing turnout.  Fifteen team members and of the eight runners, four placed with medals!  

Arthritis is personal with our little family.  The wee girl has dealt with it for three years now...we just found out that not only is her body no longer responding to the anti-inflammatory medication, but more joints are being effected as well.  Her dad lives daily with arthritis pain in every single joint in his body.  There is no cure.  I find that unacceptable.  I was raised by school of "if you're not willing to do anything about it, then don't complain"...so we do something about it.

(picture courtesy of my wonderful big sister...
who I will never be able to keep up with on a run!)

This year our little team managed to raise $760 for arthritis research!  We also had the largest team we've had in the three years we've been doing this.  To say that I was/am overwhelmed by the amount of support from near and far would be a massive understatement.  


The boy was determined to run the 5k with me this year.  He did well...he didn't run the whole way, but he finished!  I'm so proud of him.  


Having a dad who was more than willing to don a Santa suit and join in the festiveness of the event was the extra dollop of whip cream on top!  (And, yes, there were a fair number of little ones who thought he was the Santa.) This was the first year my parents were able to participate in the race...Kyleigh was delighted to have her very own Santa escort for the mile walk!  After the race we all sat back, thankful for the warmth of indoors, and enjoyed being together as a family.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Perspective...

This morning we welcomed a new 3-year-old boy into our classroom.  He and his mom just moved back to the area from Sweden.  His dad passed away in September from a massive heart attack.  He was 47 years old.  I actually met her (and the boy) in the parking lot, introduced myself and we all walked in together.  She asked if I was aware of the situation.  I told her I was and that we would do our very best to give this precious child a sense of security and routine.

Tonight my cousin lies in ICU, attached to a breathing machine and monitors, as his doctors wait for him to wake up.  Once he's awake they'll begin to assess brain and kidney damage that might have occurred due to his aorta rupturing yesterday.  Going into surgery to repair the rupture his doctor said if he made it through it would be a miracle.  Joke's on him...we happen to be a family who believes in miracles.

Just like that...the things I've been whining about, the mountains I've been facing, have all been reduced to mere annoyances and molehills.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Early start on the gifts...

My 17-year-old sewing machine finally bit the dust. I was able to coax it through the kiddos' halloween costumes by threats of violence and much muttering and cursing under my breath. Anyone who has been around here for more than a minute or two knows how much I use and rely on my sewing machine.

My brave and wonderful husband waded into the Joann's Black Friday crowd at 7 this morning to pick this up. Just remember...not all heros wear capes!  

(Funny little side note...he purchased the previous machine as well.  Most of our friends then wouldn't have placed bets on us making it through the weekend, let alone outliving a sewing machine.  Quite a delight to prove them all wrong.)



As I pulled it out of the box a wave of memories washed over me.  This is so much like the machine my mom sewed on for years...it followed us around Africa and back again. I learned how to sew sitting beside her on a stool.  Watching.  She taught me how to carefully snip the inside of a curve so it wouldn't bunch when turned right side out.  How to always stitch two lines of a basting stitch for a gather so if one broke, there would be another. Then, sitting at the machine on my own and, ever so proudly, sewing clothes I had designed for our Barbies.     Using this machine makes me feel closer to her, almost like I'm 10 years old again and she's sitting beside me telling me I'm doing just fine. Funny things, memories. 

Men/husbands/boyfriends/significant others, my advice during this gift giving season and beyond:  Listen, observe.  Pay no attention to what ads and stores and co-workers tell you you should give.  Pay attention to the one you're giving it to.  I can guarantee the gratefulness will be far greater for it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Talk...part IV (ish)

The boy lost his second tooth in two weeks this evening.  Just fell on out.  Unlike the previous one he started yanking on whilst waiting for his little sister's pre-K Thanksgiving play to begin...blood everywhere and all I had was a snot filled tissue I had just used.  Great moments in Motherhood right there!

The "tooth fairy" kinda sorta fell asleep on the job for the last one.  The lad met me at my bedroom door the next morning holding the tooth container still containing the tooth...doing his very best to keep the tears out of his voice as he pointed out that usually the tooth is replaced with something else.

I consoled him with hot chocolate...explained that Tooth Fairy was probably pretty tired from the day before and was just running late.  And then went in search of money.  My wallet contained a $5 bill.  Tooth fairy wasn't feeling that guilty.  His dad's wallet yielded a $1 bill.  I took it, folded it in half and made a little paper airplane.  Reaching around the corner I tossed onto the boy's lap.  I came back around the other way with my coffee and his school bag and sat down, completely ignoring him.  I glanced at him as he was unfolding the dollar.

"Whatcha got there, son?

"I think it's a whole dollar!"

"Where did that come from?!"

"I don't know! It just flew out of nowhere.  I think you're right...the Tooth Fairy was just running late!"

Yeah, I know.  Best Save Ever.

On the drive home tonight he made the statement that he hoped the Tooth Fairy wasn't late again.  His little sister piped up...

"Mommy, is the Tooth Fairy real?"

We've never even attempted to make believe Santa was real.  They've been raised to know that the idea of Santa Claus is based on a true story about a man who lived a very long time ago...but no one is watching them while they sleep, keeping tabs on them or breaking into our house via the chimney.

So why play the Tooth Fairy?  Because they've heard about it from their friends, they've read about it in books and it has zero to do with behavior control.  It's fun, it takes their mind off from the trauma of losing the tooth in the first place, and completely non-controversial (at least I don't think it is...feel free to enlighten me if I've missed out on the Great Tooth Fairy controversy).

Meanwhile my 5-year-old daughter was waiting for an answer...

"Do you want the Tooth Fairy to be real?"

"Yeah..."

"Well...then...there's your answer."

I think Neil Gaiman explained it best when he was asked whether or not fairies were Real.  He answered that if they are Real he'd rather not annoy them by claiming they weren't.



**So...after writing down all the above and assuring my son the Tooth Fairy would be on time? Um...yeah, well...she forgot.  However, she happens to have a most excellent and equally crafty Partner in Crime who hid a dollar bill in his cub scout book.  Way to go, Daddy-o!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Someone should work on their "people skillz"...

After three weeks of dealing with whatever this crud is that's attacking my body, I finally hauled my butt into Doc-in-a-box.  Where said butt was severely chewed out by Hilda the residing MD.  She did say that it was a pleasant change to have someone wait it out and not come in with the first sniffle.  But perhaps I had waited just a little too long.

When I made some feeble excuse regarding schedules she reminded me that they were open from 8am to 10pm every. single. day.

I work a job and a half.  I have two small children.  I'm married to a police officer whom I've barely seen since September due to election campaigning.  I've had obligations, scout meetings, and Things That Couldn't Wait.  They could be open 24 hours a day and I still wouldn't have had a chance to come in until tonight.  For the love of everything, woman, stop yelling at me!

As she's typing out my prescription for antibiotics for the raging sinus infection I now have, I proceed to cough up half of a lung.

Turning and glaring down at me she asks if I'd like something for the cough as well.

"Yes? Please and thank you?"

Let's just assume that I already feel like warmed over dog poo and please don't fuss at me anymore.  And I promise to take my medication like a good girl.

Please don't thank me...but don't take that to mean I'm not thankful.

I tend to shy away from Veteran's Day festivities.  Being thanked for my time in the military makes me a little uncomfortable. There are real military heros out there, but I'm not one of them. I spent four years keeping the planes flying so others could do their job.  I can't think of one single thing I sacrificed in order to be a member of the US Navy. In fact, I think I gained far more than most... four years living in the south of Spain, health care, a house on the beach, friends I still hold dear, not to mention the greatest bit of all...meeting and marrying this amazing man I've shared the last 17 years with!

But when my son asked if I would come to the Veterans' Day assembly at his school, how could I refuse? They had invited parents, family and community members who were vets or active duty. He asked me to go because he wanted people to know that there were girl veterans too. When they asked for all of the vets to stand, I was the only girl. When the 5th graders sang a song about us being their heros, I got a little choked up. Among those of us standing, four wars were represented. The oldest was a Korean war vet, another was one of the last ones out of Iraq. I was in good company.

To the ones I stood side by side with, I'd do it all over again in a heart beat. To the ones I met along the way, I'm ever so glad I did. To the ones whose stories I grew up with, thank you. To the ones still serving, thank you for keeping the watch. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A fine All Hallow's Eve...

The wall between the worlds was indeed thin tonight.  
But we managed to fool the fay once again...


A superhero princess and a fierce werewolf*...


No one suspected they were just out for the candy...


Apparently, they fooled everyone:


Though, the "other side" can't be all that brilliant if boots 
constructed of fabric and shiny tape managed to fool them...


Our two weeks of partying between the wee girl's birthday and Halloween 
has come to an end.  Like always, it was a lot of fun but I'm ever so grateful it's over!  




*And, yes...I made both costumes! Though the werewolf is really last year's Ghost Pirate repurposed with fake fur bits.  He had wolf ears, but the hat made them flop down like donkey ears and neither one of us was okay with that. And a tiara is part of my daughter's every day wardrobe.  Because, really, why not?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How I've been spending my free time...and the evils of Pinterest.

I think it really first began when the wee girl talked us into getting her a Barbie...because then her growing Barbie/Princess family needed a place to live.

Then I came across an ingenius idea on Pinterest (evil, evil time sucking place...but a good kind of evil) where a mom had turned four 3-ring binders into Barbie house rooms and made all of the furniture to go with it.  She was kind enough to include tutorials for the various bits of furniture.  Everything looked simple enough, I decided I could do the same thing.

And then I kept seeing old, discarded dressers, armoires and shelves being repurposed into play kitchens and doll houses.  Since there was a birthday coming up (tomorrow) I was on the lookout for a cheap shelf to use instead of the binder idea.  Also, because I'm apparently a masochist. 

One Saturday morning, about a month ago, I was out for a run.  On the street back behind us I passed an elderly lady bringing items out to the front yard for a yard sale.  I stopped and helped her carry out an old desk shelf.  It was scratched up, dusty, covered in cobwebs and paint stains.  She told me I could have it for $5.  Sold!  I finished my run and drove back around with the Jeep.  


The next day the kiddos went to the Y with their dad and I pulled the shelf out of the shed and had it sanded, primed and stashed back in the shed before they got home.  The remainder of the house had to be completed inside the shed...a dark, smelly, smallish shed.  A lot of afternoons with big brother as a look out.  Though we did get her help when we were priming the new backerboard.  She had no idea she was painting her own birthday present!


Ta daa!  The only furniture I didn't make was the bathroom set.  But I found it on sale for far less than the materials to make it would have cost.  And I bought a couple pieces of foam for the beds, sofa and chair.  Everything else is made from bits and pieces I already had.  I printed out pictures of the items I didn't have room for...the dressers, bookshelves, stove and refrigerator...and glued them to the walls.  The wallpaper downstairs' rugs are scrapbook paper, the bedroom rugs are dollar store placemats. 

I kept track of what I spent.  Total cost for the project was right at $40.  A store bought, solid wood, furnished doll house of this size? $300.  Wee girlie's reaction?  Absolutely priceless:


Happy Day Early Birthday, Kyleigh Gray!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let me sum up...

Since I don't even know what I last wrote about I figured some sort of update was required.  Even if for little more than a space holder.

Our brilliant and highly active boy child is finding himself even less challenged in 2nd grade than he was in 1st.  Either that or he's being given less wiggle room to read or draw or write his stories once he's completed an assignment.  This is leading to Issues.  Issues that, we hope, are starting to be addressed by various parties.  I've learned over the past two years that sometimes we are our child's only advocate.

On top of classroom behavior issues, he's also dealing with one boy who refuses to leave him alone.  He's talked to his teacher.  He's asked me for a little more time to try and resolve the issue himself.  My son knows me.  He knows that it doesn't take much for me to go all Mama Lion on whomever is bullying my cub.  I assured him that I would let him go through the proper channels...he's taken it upon himself to set up an appointment to speak with the guidance councilor.  I know her and I trust her to listen and to take the appropriate steps and to know when to let me get involved.  I can't even begin to express how proud I am of this small little human I'm blessed to call my son.

It seems like every time our little household starts to settle into a rhythm, something comes along and knocks us out of sync again.  Like some dysfunctional jazz medley.

The wee girl's birthday is rapidly approaching.  I think I've finally nailed her down on a party idea.  And explain to her that, no, she cannot invite everyone in her class.  That should be a fun conversation.

Now to carve out precious time to prepare as well as finish her doll house in time.

Both kiddos have actually remained pretty decisive regarding their Halloween costumes.  That's a miracle in it's self.  Typically I'm scrounging and sewing the night before.  Pinkalicious and Wolfman will be prowling the streets of our neighborhood come Halloween night.

My own job continues to be delightfully challenging.  I continue to be baffled by this perfectly fitting niche I've found myself in.  The fur beasties are slowly adapting to being left alone every morning.  Actually, I think the cats just sleep through it and only notice I was gone once I come home.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hazing...preschool style.

My first day at work I was thrown up on.  Earlier this week I demonstrated how not to check for a dirty diaper. This morning I was peed on.

I'd like to think my initiation period is over.

On the shiny side, my combined college and military experience actually managed to train me for something.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I miss the rains down in Africa...

"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?" 
~ Karen Blixen (Out of Africa)

My parents are moving...again.  They're moving from South Sudan back to Tanzania.  This will most likely be their final move as active missionaries.

Tanzania will forever hold a piece of my heart.  I owe my entire childhood to that amazing and beautiful country.  It's a part of me I need so desperately to share with my own children, as well as with this man that shares my life.

The day my dad told me they were moving we made the decision to make a trip happen.  Not an easy task for a family of four.  (We're giving ourselves a year to plan--and for both kiddos to move out of carseats.)  My own passport just expired, his passport expired last year and the kiddos have yet to be issued their own.  But we're going.  I'm adding a page link following our journey--the prep, the trip, all of it.  Because it's going to be Epic. E-p-i-c.  And since we're of the "go big or go home" mentality, I'm doing my best to work in a Kilimanjaro climb for myself, my mom and my husband.  We'll see how that goes.

Since my heart soars with the mere thought of going home, I wanted to share our plans.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Conversations "normal" families don't have...

Me: "Um...what the holy weird stuff is that in the sink?"

Him:  "Bits I salvaged from the cannon balls..."

Me:  "And why are there cannon ball bits in our sink?"

Him:  "So I can clean them up and shellack them before they corrode anymore."

Me:  "Of course.  Because that's what our decor had been missing."

Obviously I had him explain what all of the bits were and the differences in a couple of them.  It's not every day one gets to see the inside of a cannon ball.  And, you know, still live.

7-year-old ears picked up that conversation from all the way across the house...

"We have a cannon ball?!"

4-year-old...

"Can we play with it?"

Oddly enough, they've been back in school for an entire week and we haven't had one single phone call from the school.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

News flash...

Third Culture Kids do not handle social functions well.

Tomorrow is Parent Orientation with the preschool.  I meet the parents of my students.  I have to talk with the parents.  Make small talk.  Chit chat.  I don't do Chit Chat well.

Tonight I'm grateful for the doctor who had the foresight to prescribe me stress meds.

On the shiny side...I'm really excited to meet the kiddos I get to spend the rest of the year with! 2-year-olds rarely judge me for my oddness.  Just the opposite, in fact.  I'm thinking I'll wear my Wash dinosaur shirt just for them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Brain dump...

Tomorrow is the boy's first day of 2nd grade.  When the hell did he get old enough to be in 2nd grade?!    He's beyond excited.  Mostly about the fact that he now gets to play on the Big Playground and that he actually has a new backpack this year.  But mostly the playground thing.

I start my workweek at the preschool.  I've been The Mommy for seven years.  The stay-at-home mommy for the past five.  Even though we've been a part of the preschool since the boy started pre-k there and I've subbed in classes, volunteered for all sorts of things, dreamed up and instigated their Annual Field Day and even assisted in the toddler room a few days a week last spring...I'm a little nervous.

Re-entering the Working World is a massive step.  Massive.

My co-workers are fantastic. I'm excited to be a part of the preschool.  I'm excited to spend my mornings helping a new crop of wee ones learn and explore their world.

But then there's all of the Stuff I used to get done during my mornings that now needs to be done at some other time.  Squished in and around all of the other Stuff that I do during the afternoon.  I realize that working moms have been dealing with the "not enough hours in the day" dilemma for forever, but I haven't.  We'll find our rhythm.  It just might take a week or two.  We all dance to a different drummer in this household. It might take a little longer...

No idea when I'm going to fit in runs and work outs.

Rhythm.

We're all going to have to find it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Be. Nice.

It's gettin' nasty out there.  And by "there" I mean politics.  Ginger over at "Ramble, Ramble" wrote a post that everyone needs to read.

I plan on respecting my friends and family the next morning--no matter who they vote for.  I also refuse to participate in the insults and mud slinging.  I ask for the same courtesy.  I don't fall under one label.  Very few do.  Respect that.  Thanks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And it's only Wednesday...

School starts next week.  There are things To Do that just aren't going to get done.  What was supposed to be a "normal" week for my husband has morphed into anything but that.  All adding to an IBS flare up.  Allow me to use Maggie T. Kitten to illustrate just exactly how I feel...


The kiddos spent the afternoon with me at the preschool while my co-teacher and I cleaned our room out.  We're taking over a space that had previously been used for the year-round daycare.  It's twice the size of our previous classroom--which is a good thing since we are getting emails daily informing us of an additional student!  

The preschool does not officially start until the 10th but have our work week next week.  This year parent/student orientation is Friday morning.  In the past it's always been the Sunday prior to the beginning of school.  Monday's a holiday.  Yesterday it hit us that we basically only had three days next week to get our classroom cleared out, moved around, in order, final bits of painting done, name tags up, and lesson plans in.  Hence this afternoon spent getting sweaty and dirty.  Even though it was a lot of work, it was also very exciting to take what was basically a blank (dirty and filled with someone else's left over crap, but blank none-the-less) space and create our own space, precisely to our needs.  

Now, we can walk in Tuesday morning, complete the finishing touches, get our planning done and be ready to meet parents and student Friday morning.  Of course, I'll have to excuse myself and run upstairs to attend my own parent orientation for the wee girl's pre-k since her dad will be off dealing with either NASCAR or politicians...or both.  

Tonight?  I'm done.  There's an Advil PM with my name on it...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Light hearted post for a rainy Saturday...

Thunderstorms outside, kiddos snuggled up watching "Chicken Little" and husband working on school stuff inside.  A large percentage of toys that are supposed to remain upstairs are downstairs.  And there's a load of laundry waiting to be folded.

This is my life.  It's not perfect.  But it's mine.




Friday, August 24, 2012

"Let it be..."

A friend stopped by yesterday morning to pick up our tent for their own camping trip this weekend.  As she was leaving we were laughing about the last time she was at my house.

It was after suppertime and she was picking up a cake I'd made for her daughter's birthday the next day.  Noticing the absence of the police truck she asked if my husband was still at work.  Kinda...he'd come home then been called back out for an abandoned box.  About ten minutes after she left I received a text from her letting me know they'd had to detour around one of the intersections because of where my husband and his co-workers were "playing".

Talking about it yesterday she commented on how she didn't know how I managed it.  Not necessarily the Job, but the call outs and the uncertainty of it all.

I suppose it does look pretty crazy from an outsider's perspective.  But this is our Normal and we manage just fine.  Not always gracefully.  But no one ever accused me of being Graceful in the first place.

When law enforcement families break up the knee jerk reaction is to blame the Job.  I think the Job can place extra pressure on whatever faults were in the marriage to begin with, much like having children or any other major life change would do, but at the heart of it all--the blame falls on the couple and how they chose to handle that stress.

I don't know if I've ever told her but the greatest marriage advice I've ever received was from my sister. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time.  Because I was 19.  And I rarely listened to anyone then.   Because at 19 I was Wise.  Full of fire and passionate about each and every opinion I had--and I had a LOT of opinions--and every Cause that spoke to my bleeding heart.  And I was Right and refused to back down.  Ever.  I also had a massive chip on my shoulder regarding being raised in a patriarchal  society that was hell bent on telling me where my place was.

I was visiting my sister and her husband.  They'd been married for a couple of years already.  A disagreement arose between them and, instead of fighting for her side, she let it go.  Later I confronted her about it.  Because the big sister I'd grown up with would have never backed down.  Her answer? "Does it really matter?" I think I looked at her like she had two heads.  Of course it Mattered! What's the point of having a different point of view if you don't do your damnest to convince others to see it your way?!

It took years for what she meant to finally sink in.  It took even longer for me to sort out what truly Mattered from what Did Not.

My husband being called out at odd times, an uncertain schedule and the necessity of being flexible are all things that Do Not Matter.  They are pointless to fight against and about.  Doing so would be a waste of energy and time that could all be spent in far more positive ways.

We have friends whose marriages have recently imploded.  All law enforcement.  All blaming the Job.   Two, in my opinion (remember, I have those), were doomed from the start.  Occupation had zero to do with those implosions, no matter what the wounded party claims.

Another couple, however,  have kiddos the same ages our's were during the darkest period of our own marriage.  I remember that Dark.  The excruciating loneliness.  The despair of thinking that since I was basically single parenting anyway then I might as well make it official and do away with the pointless hope of having a partner who would actually be, well, a Partner.  I would rather leave with my children than remain and spend the few hours we had together fighting.

So how did we survive, bruised and battered but intact and stronger, when others do not?

First, we took the option of divorce off the table.  And then we remembered what Mattered.  We never went to counseling   We were our own councilors.  Not only did we talk, we also listened.  We listened to what mattered to the other one.

Late this afternoon I had a text from my husband.

"Going to be late.  I have a bunch of civil war stuff to blow up."

It's been a long, tiring week.  The least of it being I've ended up with supper duty every night this week.  I had chicken thawing for him to cook when he got home.  I read the text.  Took a deep breath...

"Dude.  You always get the cool stuff!"

Because what Mattered was that he knew I had the home front covered and that he wouldn't be coming home to a pissed off wife and stressed out children.   The rest?  I fell back on the immortal words of Sir Paul McCartney:  "Whisper words of wisdom, let it be..."

Then I called and ordered Chinese take out.



P.S...I was just reminded that I haven't cooked every night this week.  He did make burgers Monday night.  See?  Communication.  It's a two way street.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Once upon another life...

A tour across southern Spain and Portugal took two small backpacks, a tiny little rented Seat (Fiat), campsites when we could find them, hostels when we couldn't and we ate like royalty in little hole-in-the wall caf├ęs.  


Fast forward sixteen years...


One overnight camping trip requires a tent bigger than one or two apartments I've lived in, a loaded down Jeep Cherokee (in our defense, the only reason we had stuff up on the roof rack was to leave room for Bella T. Doggie in the back), cooler for pancake fixings and chocolate milk, air mattresses, pillow pets, stuffed animals and a handfull of bedtime books because one wee girlie couldn't choose just one.

I'm forever grateful for that other lifetime.  I carry many precious memories from then.  But I'm even more grateful for this one.  I still have that same hot man by my side so it's not like I've given anything up, really.  Just gained two more to share our adventures with!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

One for the Best Day Ever book...

We've been pretty vocal about the fact that our almost 5-year-old wee girl has arthritis.  We've also been fairly involved in our local National Arthritis Foundation chapter...raising money, awareness, running 5k's, sitting on committees...stuff like that.  But today was the first time we were able to participate in something set up just for the kiddos.  

There's a "club" just for all of the kids who suffer from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and it's called "Kid's Rheum" (See what they did there? Pretty clever).  They set up some pretty awesome events for all of these amazing kids to help them feel like normal kiddos.  They include the whole family so no one feels left out or slighted.  It also offers us parents a chance to be around others who Know. 

Tonight's event was a baseball game.  But not just any ol' game.  Free bat night, so both kiddos received nice wooden bats with the home team's logo.  Catered dinner in a luxury box suite game.  Right on 3rd base.  



Basically, all we paid for was cotton candy...


Apparently, $6 very well spent.


Nutzy the Flying Squirrel even made a visit to the box!  And, yes, hearing protection is the only way my daughter will attend any form of social function.  Or public restrooms. 


My son caught one of the visiting team's practice balls and the home team won in the 10th inning.

The beach on Friday and then the ball game tonight? Definitely in the running for Best Weekend Ever. 



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beach day...

A day at the beach with wonderful friends was just what we all needed!


Boogie boarding...sand castle building...


Sandy toes...


Watching barges in the background spinning in the current as they waited their turn in the harbor...


I'm a product of the tropics.  My DNA craves salt water, sand and sun.  
I also crave time with a friend who knows me better than anyone else.  
Therapy for both DNA and Soul?  Good day.