Sunday, July 31, 2011

AND..... We're Back!

Whew.  I just enjoyed a thoroughly lovely week in Michigan.  Without internet.  Or should I say, without reliable internet.   Being "unplugged" was fabulous and annoying.  Fabulously Annoying, or Annoyingly Fabulous?  I'm not sure.  But clearly, I'm giddy to be back on-line.  

And so... back to our regularly scheduled program.

Our family vacation was quite a classic.  We headed to a smallish lake in Michigan where I spent one week every summer from 1981 - 1993.  My lake memories are 99.9% great and honestly, I can't even remember the .1% that was not great.  I used to build sand castles, read, swim, make-up dance routines with my sister, eat "fluff-a-nutters," nap in a hammock, and get a fantastic tan.  This year's vacation was really great too, except not exactly like I remembered it.  Turns out when I am the Mom... it's not as vacation-y.  I had to clean up the sandy swimsuit bottoms, worry about wee ones drowning, endure hours of pretend shows (although K and I did make up a short synchro inner-tubing routine!), make the sandwiches, and worry about getting enough sun screen on the kids.  Ah, responsibilities.  

However now we are home, well-tanned, sort-of rested, and happy to have spent so much time together. It's nice to be home with so many soul-satisfying memories tucked away.  Tomorrow is Monday and we get back to the real world.  Tonight I shall enjoy my last bit of vacation... and maybe eat one last "fluff-a-nutter."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Infinity... and BEYOND!

I am Beyond.......

Beyond Behind-Schedule: I had intended to blog much more consistently. Ten days with no blog. Boo. Maybe the following Beyonds will explain what I've been up to.

Beyond Thrilled: The waiting is over.  We found out we are going to be moving to California in approximately three months!  Getting stationed back out West was what we were hoping for and having three months to plan is more than I had hoped for.  Great weather and great friends await us.

Beyond Denial: The move means saying good-bye to good friends here.  The move means leaving our most-wonderful pre-school and finding a new one that will not bust our bank but still give our kids a good foundation. The move means a deployment is in our near future.  However, I'm really not paying attention to any of these facts.

Beyond Busy: This week is filled with jam-packed days.... we have swim lessons in the evening; pre-school, plus dentist appointments, and teaching at the gym are booked in the mornings.  We are leaving for our summer vacation on Friday evening, which means I get to do loads (and I mean LOADS) of laundry, pack for three kids and myself, run to Target to get the stuff we need - only to come home and realize I forgot the thing we really need - re-run to Target again.  Sprinkle in some obsessing about where to live in California, gazing at, and making lists [oooh! that will be my next blog topic!].  I do not mean to complain at all.  I am fully aware that it was I, who made my schedule, who thought swim lessons were a good idea, who put off all that laundry until it piles high, who continues to google things about California.

Beyond Thankful: I very recently heard some encouraging news about a very dear person's health.  You know who you are, you.  I'm thankful that after a few months of not-so-good news, there is a glimmer of goodness... a really bright glimmer!  I know that these health issues have ups and downs, but I will be thankful for this up and will worry about the downs another day.

Beyond Blessed: I really am.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heading "Home"

I'm getting ready to head home to Illinois this afternoon.  I realize that I don't really consider Illinois to be Home, since my own little family isn't there.  I don't really consider Maryland to be Home either, although that is where my own little family lives.  We've been here for three years, but are preparing to get "on the road again."

I have developed an attitude of like and dislike for every place the Navy has sent us.  I'm pretty sure I have unconsciously (consciously now, I guess) decided that to like a place a lot would be to guarantee heartache when it's time to leave.  However, I can't hate every place we live because that would make for some long tours.  I'd like to think I have a pretty optimistic view of most things... try to see the glass as half-full, but when it comes to places where we lived for 6 months to 3 years I'm pretty sure I maintain a half-full/half-empty balance.  Such is the life of a military wife.

The funny, or not-so-funny, thing is that at our current location, I've had a hard time seeing that glass as half-full.  I've met a handful of GREAT people, we bought our first house, and we had our third baby here, but overall I've been mentally refilling the cup only to find it empty a few days later. Bah.  Maybe that's why I'm so anxious for these next orders; a fresh start, a clean slate, a unbiased viewpoint... that's what I need!

So as I head home-that-used-to-be-home-but-really-doesn't-feel-like-Home-anymore, I know that my true Home will always be where ever my husband and children are.  (Awe, cheesey.)  But I know if you have been transient you will know what I mean despite the cheese.  My heart is most happy, content, safe, and secure when I'm with my life-long pal and three munchkins.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Little Post-Fourth of July Post

So yesterday was the Fourth of July, which is always a great holiday for us Americans.  I do think of myself as  above-average patriotic.  I think I'm patriotic almost to the point of cheesiness.  I like me some Americana country songs and even get a little teary-eyed when I hear them.  I dress myself, and now my family, in some sort of red, white, and blue, every year on Independence Day.  USA!  That's me.

This enthusiasm for our country goes back as long as I can remember.  When I was 4 or 5 I dressed up as the Statue of Liberty for the town's Fourth of July celebration.  For the next decade or so, maybe not quite, I participated in the town's kiddie parade.  My sister and I would get up early on the Fourth to intertwine crepe paper in our bicycle spokes.  We would don every single piece of red, white, and blue clothing we had.  One highlight year, my cousins were visiting and they pulled me in a wagon while I sat on a rocking chair (on the wagon) dressed as Betsy Ross and pretended to sew the American flag.  I'm 99% sure we won an award that year.

The patriotism wasn't just a Fourth of July thing for me though.  Yearround I took great pride in being in charge of putting our flag out in the morning and taking it down after dinner.  I would gasp if I ever saw a flag touch the ground.  The Pledge of Allegiance meant a lot to me, and I really did love our country.  I grew up with idealistic notions that the rest of the world loved us, that the politicians were always looking out for the common man, and democracy was a smooth-running machine.

Obviously as I got older and wiser, the reality of foreign sentiments towards the US, politicians' creepiness and corruption, and a lesson in government (not in high school but that's a different story) opened my eyes to what was really going on.  The vibrancy of the red, white, and blue faded a little, but the underlying pride in our country and what we, as a nation, stand for is still deep in my heart.

I do not believe those who serve in our military automatically love our country more than the civilians.  I know there are many servicemembers who joined up for an opportunity to get a free education, see the world, etc., without a single glimmer of patriotism.  The military was a means to an end.  I also know there are many civilians who are passionate about the USA and are working directly or indirectly to improve the lives of every American.

Being married to a servicemember is one way my patriotism comes through.  Granted, I would have married my husband if he was a teacher, a garbage man, or a basket weaver, because I love the man he is.  I did not go looking for a Navy guy to marry.  However, I'm not sure I could get through deployments, living far distances from my family, saying good-bye to very dear friends every few years if I did not believe in the reason why we do those things.  I love our country.  I want it to be protected every day, in war or peace. When my husband leaves for weeks or months, I know we are not doing it for a bigger pay check or any other convenience, we are doing it to defend a country that I have loved and continue to love since I was a little girl marching around waving an American flag.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Vacation" Day - I recommend it!

Today being Day 3 in a 4-day weekend and my husband being out of town, I decided I would give myself a vacation.  I knew I would have to be creative about this 'getaway'; I have three kids in tow, ages 4, 3, and 1. The idea of packing us up in a car and driving didn't sound appealing seeing as how we don't have a huge surplus of funds, nor do I have a huge surplus of patience for a car-ride during a holiday weekend, nor does my youngest have a huge surplus of understanding the need to not unpack things while mommy is packing things.  No, an actual physical getaway was not in the cards.  So I opted for a vacation from full-time Mommy-mode.  The kids were always safe, but my "life lessons guard" was turned off.

The day went as follows:
Church: I let the kids bring... toy figurines (gasp!) to play with during worship music.
Lesson Lost: You need to pay attention during service and stand nicely with Mom while she is singing songs you don't know yet.
Sanity Gained: I got to focus on the songs, while the kids walked their figurines around quitely on their chairs without arguing.

Lunch: I let the kids watch t.v. while eating lunch.  I admit we used to do this ALL the time, but I've been working on not having the t.v. on as much anymore.
Lesson Lost: TV will rot your brains and cause you to overeat because you're not paying attention to your hunger level signals.
Sanity Gained: We had a quiet meal together and I was able to get the kitchen cleaned up while they stared at the TV is zombie-like fashion.

Nap: After putting S in his crib for nap, I let G & M play for awhile and then let them chose where they wanted to nap.
Lesson Lost: Our routine is important and life needs to be predictable for the kids.
Sanity Gained: We all did, in fact, sleep for a bit and I got an extra chuckle when I woke up and found Matthew sleeping on the floor right next to the couch.

Pool: I went to the pool without a plan for dinner and we shared a big snack of Goldfish even though we should have been eating dinner by then. Also, I put S in a float that is not Coast-Guard Approved (but perfectly safe) which is not allowed at the pool - although I had seen others do it too.
Lesson Lost: Again, the whole routine thing, healthy eating habits, and following the rules is important.  
Sanity Gained: We had sooooo much fun at the pool... and it wasn't very crowded because all the other families were at home eating healthy and timely meals. Additionally, I spoke to the lifeguards about the 'illegale' float and was encouraged that there may be a way for those floats to be used when the pool isn't too crowded.

Dinner: We ate fast food (okay, that's still kind of gross no matter what) and EVEN got milkshakes and EVEN ate our milkshakes before the 'healthy' food.
Lesson Lost: More healthy eating habits.
Sanity Gained: We sure did enjoy those milkshakes AND the kids did eat the chicken and fruit (and fries) after they finished their shakes.  "Really, Mom, we can drink these shakes before we eat?!"

Bed time:  Well, Sam stuck to his routine, but when G and M came down after 30 minutes of being in bed - which normally would have resulted in some sort of consequence and a stern talking to - I took them outside and we sat on the front porch and watched a storm roll in.
Lesson Lost: Bed time is important and Momma means business when Momma says it's time for our bodies to get much-needed rest.
Sanity Gained: It was so nice to not end the day with a bed time battle and even nicer to have a cozy time on the porch watching their faces light up in the lightning, talk about thunder, and see M give G a hug when she was scared by a particularly loud clap of thunder.

My vacation from always-trying-to-make-the-best-parenting-decision-to-ensure-my-kids-are-learning-important-lessons was a huge success.  We had such a fun day.  I am writing this with a smile on my face thinking of all the fun we had.  Certainly, it wasn't any kind of "big Disney World" fun, but it was Good Ol' Fun. I kind of felt like I was being a grandparent and got to "spoil" the kids.  Today's society puts so much pressure on parents to never drop the ball, keep up on all the new "studies" and compare yourself and your parenting style to those in your playgroup. That seems to result in many over-stressed, worn-out and bedraggled parents who are second-guessing most of the decisions they make.

Of course we always want the best for our kids. We want them to learn how to make good choices, and grow up to be responsible, kind, compassionate people.  But today's Lessons Lost were trumped by the overall Sanity Gained: Sometimes the best parenting decision is to just relax, have fun, and break a few 'rules' every now and then.

Friday, July 1, 2011


So... we're... just... waiting.
The infamous Navy Rumor Mill was in full swing today as many, many, many of us were waiting to see what our (husband's) next set of orders would be.  The NRM had informed us that we "should" know by July.  Or the first week of July.  Well, apparently not by July 1st; since it's a holiday weekend, apparently not by July 4th either.  So we are just waiting.

The following are a few quotes I found about "waiting" and my musings about each... you know, because I have all this time to spare while I sit around... waiting:

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
~Carl Sagan
For example, where and when we will move.  That IS incredible.  The options are few so the "where" won't be too incredible to us... unless it's overseas.  The "when" could be incredible either because it is so short or so long, and honestly you never really know what you're going to get.  Tied to both are many more Incredibles; upcoming deployment schedules, children's schools, future friendships, etc. all hinge on these orders.  Incredible, indeed.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. 
~Joseph Campbell
Ha. As a military wife of 10 years, I'm pretty sure I learned this lesson a long time ago. We, military spouses, can plan all we want... we can even base those plans on what the Navy has told us... but more often than not, things change.  Deployment dates shift, moves are rushed or put on hold, houing is available or not, planes are broken, leave requests are denied, etc. Essentially I HAVE let go of this plan already because I was planning on finding our our orders today. Ha.

It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it.
~Baltasar Gracian
I suppose we have done this the best as we can, as far as these orders go.  My husband has worked very hard, we have submitted our list of location preferences, and that's about all we can do.  In fact, a common phrase around our house is "set yourself up for success."  We've done our best (my husband has done his best... my best doesn't go into play when it comes to getting orders) and now... well, we wait.  The "luck" will come into play when we find out where our dear friends are stationed and if our paths will cross again someday. <sign>

I am also going to add my own observation that there must be some correlation between one's level of contentment in waiting and the amount of patience with which one waits.  When I evaluate my contentment with this particular situation, I'm pretty sure I have been waiting impatiently.  I do not have a problem with our future being in the hands of the Great Navy Machine - I'm used to that now.  My impatience comes from knowing that the Great Navy Machine knows what those orders say, and yet, I do not. I just want to KNOW.  Something to work on, I suppose.

So, in closing, for anyone else out there waiting... for anything... I  will bestow my wisdom upon you:
"When waiting, there is nothing you can do to make the time move faster.  So while you are waiting, blog about it!"

I'd like to add the caviate that I do believe God is the ultimate Producer/provider of "luck"/Great Navy Machine.... the whole "free will" vs. "God's plan" thing still confuses me... and I don't feel like delving into that right now, nor is that what I'm impatiently whining about.