Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Upside of Down

Instead of whining about deployments all the time, I thought I'd bring to light the positive side to them. Let me give it a whirl...

  1. Dinner? Hahahahahahahahhahahahahaha.
  2. 6:30 p.m. means nothing anymore to you or the dog.
  3. Nobody gives you sh*t about all the plastic McDonald's smoothie cups in your recycling bin
  4. You can go months without replacing toilet paper or paper products in general.
  5. You can stock every bathroom with foamy soap that smells like cherry lip gloss and/or vanilla sugar cookies.
  6. There are no more unflattering double chin photos of you when you think you looked cute that day.
  7. Your half empty bottle of Ginger Ale is still there on your bedside table waiting for you three days later if you darn well please.
  8. The children are very in tune with your "hormonal shifting"
  9. So is the dog
  10. Nobody comes home late, leaves early, or needs 30 minutes alone in the downstairs bathroom.
  11. You don't have to wear a bra pretty much ever.
  12. Receipts? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
  13. When you hit "last" on the remote it always goes back to Watch What Happens and never Ice Truckers
  14. Nobody really expects you to host a party, a playdate, or join a Book Club
  15. Hell, nobody really expects you to answer the phone.
  16. You will never have that mommy guilt about not spending enough time with your children when they were small. You wore your freaking children for several months when they became extra clingy, missed Daddy and showed it through more physical contact than your tired person could possibly wear.
  17. People are compassionate and tell you how they completely understand what it's like to have a husband deployed because theirs has been on travel for two weeks in a row.
  18. People are compassionate and tell you they would leave their husband if he ever had to be gone for more than two weeks in a row.
  19. People humble you and write heartfelt letters and emails about how they appreciate your family's sacrifice so theirs is safe at night.
  20. You constantly think about those who are making a larger sacrifice than yourself and feel guilty accepting any accolades for such a short deployment period, regardless of logic.
  21. The pediatrician makes you suddenly burst into tears when she says, "Thank you," after finding out your husband has been in the Middle East for five months.
  22. People you least suspect or even hardly know will become your strongest network of support because they have walked in your shoes and remember how much those shoes did sting and gave them blisters or just because they know you're not as "great!" as you say you are.
  23. You can add or subtract eight hours with perfect accuracy to any time of the day or night for the rest of your life.
  24. You will move on from the deployment once it's over but you'll always remember to help someone else through their own journey of misery when theirs begins.

Since You've Been Gone...

I have been...
  • sleeping on your side of the bed to fill in the empty spot
  • keeping the house in tip top shape at all times so that you'll be proud of how we've done when you come home
  • throwing all Jos. Alexander, LL Bean, & REI catalogs away immediately. Having them around sucks
  • throwing away some (all) of your hunting magazines. What?
  • storing each and every "report card" from Grayson's preschool so you can see how your son's first year of school went for yourself.
  • wearing your socks
  • crushing boxes with my feet while wearing your combat boots in the garage
  • noticing my hands are getting older looking by the day
  • hoping yours have been too
  • not cooking steak or salmon or much pork now that I think about it
  • desperately needing to clean out our van before OSHA puts yellow tape around our driveway
  • quite social, proud of that yet exhausted from forcing conversation when all I really feel like doing is curling up in a ball to sleep for months on end
  • trying like hell to not live in fast forward but instead remembering to live in the moment for our children's sake
  • not doing so well on the above
  • missing contact with your beating heart even though I get to see you on Skype almost every week
  • having a hard time getting used to seeing you wear glasses
  • "filing" all our paid bills in one huge drawer without any sort of system
  • letting the kids watch much more TV than when you were home
  • not eating ice cream too much because that's your thing and we'll wait
  • wearing your T shirts on the weekends to differentiate Saturday and Sunday from M-F
  • hugging and kissing on the kids extra long at night while telling them "Daddy sends his love" because you always ask me to
  • not sleeping with sheets on our bed since maybe November. I'll explain later.
  • trying to remind myself that we're nearing the end of this even though every day feels harder, longer, and just flipping lonelier
  • making new friends who I can't wait to introduce you to because they are already like family who feel like they know you through me
  • wearing jewelry and boots!
  • praying
  • tickling our children until they can no longer breathe at least once a day
  • edgier than ever at night
  • watching our kids grow into these little independent people who have their very own volition and their very own way of interacting with the universe. You will not believe your eyes when you come home
  • getting supremely impatient for spring
  • loving that we can see flowers budding here already
  • dreaming of picking out a "homecoming" dress to pick you up from the airport
  • realizing it's almost time to go shopping for that dress

(I lost the the chance to buy this one. It is from a boutique and since I literally only shop at Target did not realize the time sensitive nature of boutique items. It's okay though, not sure a girl past 35 should be wearing ruffles on her bumbum. On to the next homecoming dress!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Before the Big Flu of 2011 took my legs out from under me (see below), I took the kids to a local petting zoo.

(No legs llama.)

It couldn't have been a prettier day. Lower 60s, sunny enough for squinting, and just ridiculously lovely outside.

Abby charged right in with the feeding of the goats (sheep?).
She would've stuck her little hand in there even if there was a fire breathing two headed purple hela monster on the other side, I think.

Thank goodness they were neither fire breathing, two-headed, nor purple.

Although one did scream at us like he meant every word. Whatever infraction we were committing, it was evidently inconceivable in the goat world (Sheep world? I give up.) because this little brown baby let his displeasure known until we backed far away toward the outside exit sign.

Outside wasn't so bad, what with more hungry critters.
Big bro was not to be outdone by his fearless little sis.

And of course we already knew I couldn't keep my grubby little paws out of the mix either.

We were all about feeding these billies.

Some of us were quite proud of it, in fact.

My little cowboy wannabe was certainly getting in touch with his natural side.

Thanks for your patience, Ladies. Even you, little pissed off Brown One.

A few steps outside, Abby decides to take a powder up and away from us.

But she comes right back so we were okay.

And of course there were the obligatory kids-sitting-on-animal-statue-so-Mommy-can-have-a cute-new-Facebook-picture series

Which produced more silliness than profiles but who could care with smiles like those?

We didn't stick around too long to watch these guys. Alligators (crocodiles? I really should've paid more attention in kindergarten.) creep all of us out so we hit the stage for a quick number instead.

Here is where I was seen doing The Dougie in public. Badly. Moving on to Abby's impersonation of an ostrich. Or was it an ostrich impersonation of an Abby? Not quite sure.

Whatever. They were both spot on. An hour or so into the trip, we spotted this little monkey.

And he spotted us right the hell back.

Abby gravitated toward this little nonworking merry-go-round immediately.

And had to try sitting on each animal before we could move on toward the bathrooms for a potty break.

Which was digitally documented too, of course.

(I think I'll do this jungle theme in our next house.)

Minus the overflowing disgusto wastepaper basket and repulsive staph infection galore floor. P.S. Could Abby be more tired?

Snack time!

Someone perked up for Teddy Grahams and Mommy's Sun Chips.

Ten minutes before closing time, last call for goat alcohol!

And Abby returns to her one true love for one last hurrah as well.

No wonder this is what I saw behind me for the entire ride home. It was a very good day. One I can now look back on and thank the flu for knocking me to my keister on Sunday, not Saturday.

The End.
C'est tout.
I'm going to bed.
You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
Or you can.
I should be back for posting more regularly now and since the kids no longer love me, I mean nap, I am taking an hour each day to visit with my bloggities because I've missed you. I've really missed you. Goodnight, you guys. And for the love of God and billy goats, stay away from local petting zoo bathrooms. Or at least bathe in sani-wipes if you must.

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Sympathy

On Sunday, I got the flu.

It did this to me for 5 days.
(I checked myself into the ER on Night Two believing full hog I had to have contracted West Nile somewhere in my son's preschool. Maybe the water fountains? The elevator button? I don't know but that little devil was hiding somewhere and pounced on me like a bloodthirsty tick on a coon hound. PS: There is a funny ER story I will share with you resulting in me going to my nurse's wedding. Not really but I totally know where she's getting hitched and I'm considering crashing it because now I'm dying to see her dress.)

That's me "smiling." Grayson said, "Say Ice cream sundae pizza Sue," to get me to smile for the camera and I almost threw up on my pillow.

But I had a pretty sweet nursemaid with one dread lock who had a terrific bedside manner.

And the other orderly with a very pale face fed his sister Pop Tarts for two days while also bringing me Cheeze Its and a cupcake on his very own Spiderman plate. All that special TLC (and the fact that Nammy grew wings and flew down here in an impressive record breaking three hours to care for me and the children didn't hurt either. God bless The Nammy. She has a heart of gold and let's all pray an immune system made of machine guns.)

All that care paid off, though, because here I am....sitting up and able to eat more than Ritz crackers and Gatorade! In fact, doubt Ritz crackers or Gatorade will show up on the grocery list for years to come. And probably not Twizzlers either. Lord, what was I thinking with the Twizzlers?

Thanks for sticking by me and my blog but I would feel remiss to exclude one important factor in this whole ordeal that would not allow me to accept or deserve your sympathies.

I did not get a flu shot this winter.

And yes. I learned a valuable lesson.

Next year, I will the poster child for flu shots and probably volunteering at my local CVS to hand them out to the "too busy, I'll do it later" Moms who inconvenience a large tribe of people by becoming so sick and flat busted for about seven days.

There's even a new butt dent in my mattress.

But it's a smaller butt dent than when I was preggers so that's good news, right?

Happy Friday you guys. May the weekend be filled with health and wellness for us all.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I found her.

I found the other mom who proclaims to be a playdate hater too.

I knew this day would come.

I found her playing with her little boy when we stopped at the park today (I should've known she'd be at a park). She stopped to ask me where I take our lab to the vet (Unbelievable...we just got back from the animal hospital, saw a new vet who is super sweet and looks a lot like Roberto from Bachelor, she'll thank me later) because her lab is neurotic and has skin issues. (I should've known she had a lab and possibly a neurotic itchy mess of one at that.)

We talked while my children bayed at me like hungry wolves to leave, play, give them sunglasses, candy, chocolate milk, and I'm pretty sure I heard Abby say money.

She never once stopped to judge me with her eyes as I explained to my wolf children about being polite and not tugging mommy's arm off with their teeth.

She even had a cool laid back edgy vibe that always makes me envision an interesting life of questionable content and great literature before she had kids. And I spied a little silver hoop earring up high on her ear that shows me she still has a voice. (I should've known she'd be pierced.)

At one point in talking with her I reached over and hugged her on the shoulders like we've been chummy for more than 12 minutes. I know, I probably have a restraining order awaiting postal delivery but still.

I found her and I hope to see her again at the park with our neurotic labs and our mutual disdain for organized children's gatherings. (Maybe she even eats raw cookie dough.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Internet Chalkboard

I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.
I will not blog instead of run on the treadmill.

There. That should guilt me into at least 20 minutes on that conveyor belt of pain.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sadie Sense

The only time I'm not rushing is when I pet Sadie. For some reason she has the magic to make me slow down, press my face against hers to take in that sweetly dirty fur, and be wholly occupied with nothing else. I am happy in that moment. She is so happy that she yawns, stretches and walks away to eliminate the closeness I have created with a species who needs forward motion instead of overbearing people love and face smooching.

It's no secret that moms are busy. But in all my busyness as a mom I've been trying to slow down my thoughts. Let my body make lunch, wash sticky hands, open the mail, and sweep the most recent village of crumbs off the kitchen floor simultaneously, but my mind? I want her remember what it was like before multi-tasking became her only way of life. Before Rockville Pike became the autobahn.

So I took Sadie for a walk today without the kids. My ninjas had the children and were trying to get them down for naps so I figured lots of shows were being watched (my kids are masterful at stalling) or they were sleeping and I could guiltlessly take my time walking Sadie.

We went to the park and I kept track of my thoughts. They were all over the map. Stuttering even. Power bill - ack...we're out of checks, I forgot to find them in the house. Grayson's fever still up - call doctor or let medicine work for another day? New Wacky Walker leash probably will live longer than I will...what kind of horrible twisted thought is that ya big downer? Oh look, crocuses! And so on.

I forced those thoughts to sort themselves out a little. Money - outstanding bills all on office table. Relax. Health - children are built for survival. Grayson has an ear infection, not bubonic plague. Relax. Mortality - take a hike, I didn't need you then and I don't need you now. Five Senses - Oh look, crocuses!

Then I moved forward with Sadie as we both walked with purpose. She sniffed the underside of a leaf pile. Then got really interested in something heckling her from inside the grass. I just watched her do her dog thing. It was quiet for a few seconds when my thoughts tried to barge back in, those effers. I managed to hold them at bay by touching a spiky red leaf and plucking it off its branch of neighboring green leaves. I wonder if you had much longer to go before you fell off, I'm sorry I just ended you. And look at those little spines, what in the world are you so afraid will eat you to have been born with all this protection? Deer, I bet it's deer because nothing else can really reach you up this high. Ahhh, that's more like it, brain. You go with your single thought self.

I let the leaf helicopter down to an early grave when Sadie yanked me toward the bridge. She loves to check out the ducks in the water. There weren't any around so I let her go. I followed her upturned tail and watched as she capsized stones and piles of leaves with her nose. This dog was in sensory heaven. I took notes.

Smell: Fresh amber bark of a tree recently chopped up into round sections. Mix between Miller Lite and Home Depot
Hear: Water bubbling white over itself to get down the stream as fast as it could. Reminded me of first dates.
See and hear: Three young men pitching baseball in the field. One's voice was very much the coach - authoritative and serious even though they all looked to be the same age.
Oh look, the ducks! The shiny green neck of the mallard wiggled as he scooched himself onto the bank, away from the rushing water. The no nonsense bill swung right to stare at Sadie when he heard her feet gallop over the wooden bridge. "I won't let her see you, don't worry," I tell the duck with my eyes but Sadie had bigger fish to fry. She had locked on to to a squirrel that dared her to leave the edge of the wooden bridge. A brief delivery of mayhem ensued before the criminal squirrel shot up a tall tree and Sadie's back legs planted themselves against the getaway vehicle. She barked out a warning, a lie really, that she would surely tear its guts out next time it showed its ugly maw 'round this town. Sadie has never gotten a squirrel in all the eight years of being with us. She's practically vegan.

See? She makes us all forget about thinking too much. She's magic that way, I tell ya.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Called Out on the Carpet

The other day my son ran over to me practically breathless and beside himself. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! Come see, I have to show you, come see now, I have to show you. You're going to be SO surprised. You're going to freak out, come see now!" Of course I one hundred percent believed he was about to lead me to a leaning tower of coffee mugs or a sink filled with shaving cream and red hots (again). But no. This time, I really was surprised. I really was going to freak out. I really didn't love it.

"It's YOU, Mommy!" Smiles. Smiles. Hopping. Smiles.

"It's...................... me?" It was like looking into a mirror.

"It's YOU! Aren't you surprised? are your arms, your legs, your nose holes, your eyes..."

"And my hair?" I say pointing to the rug where half a French beret was teetering on my bald nugget head. Ooooh la la madame.

"Yes!" he decides to throw me a bone, "and these are your legs but... I forgot your feet."

"Nice Bud. You got me. You really captured my essence. Especially the hair. That is me in a nutshell. Well done!" Seriously, especially the hair.

"But I forgot your feet." He looked absolutely crestfallen.

"Ah, whaddaya need feet for when you're a shapely baked potato? Feet are overrated. Those stick legs will do the job just fine." Definitely generous in the leg department, there is that.

"Okay Mommy. I'm sorry I forgot your feet." Really? Are we not going to discuss the portly beige elephant in the room?

"No way, I LOVE not having feet. I won't have to worry about putting my shoes on the shoe rack ALL day!" Take the high road, Mom. He's only a child. He's not your husband.

Two high fives and one great bear hug later and I really am quite psyched to be the Lady in the Carpet wearing a few nose holes, Picasso eyes, and shopping in the elastic waist department.

Sh*t. At least the round blob of lard in a pool of Jello shots is smiling. I am a happy little porker, aren't I?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rainy Sunday

Grayson's sick. Fever of a 103.2 without Tylenol. Hovering around 100.5 with. Abby's not far behind him showing signs of not feeling awesome. N&P are here for the weekend (let the angels rejoice!) so although the kids are feeling punk, they are happy and warm in the wings of their grandparents.

I'm still momming and being nurse-maid but doing it in the background after stealing short respites for myself. Haven't done the things I should be: working out, buying clothes that can't also double as pjs, uploading/deleting pictures. Been mostly listening to old recordings (circa millennium) and dreaming of things I once loved like singing, live music, and Lord help me if I can't name one more thing it's been that long. Small children have a way of pressing the pause button on you for a few years...but only for a few.

I crashed out on the couch, not on purpose, for two full hours yesterday afternoon. Nam said she practically checked for a pulse, there was zero motion from under the blanket. The blanket may have been still but my mind was racing. You know the dreams you have when you're little? Indiana Jones dreams - snake pits, crossing beams, volcanic ash? That's where I was while my body rested. HayZeus it's hard to catch some rest when you're amped up and neurotic. Maybe the rain will calm my uncalmables. It always does.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Deployments are Weird

Deployments are weird. They have a way of forcing you into a time tunnel. Like time is trapped inside a shallow vessel, swirling around your head in a whirlwind instead of neatly pushing forward and away from you. Does that make sense? Moments in time seem to touch one another more often than they do before the deployment. Before, moments were stacked and organized and my mind could retrieve a memory by going backward for it. Now, to retrieve a memory it seems to get it from above, below, or from the side willy nilly...memories encircle now instead of make a road beneath and beyond.

Here's an example. This picture here was taken two hours before my husband was off to the airport for parts unmentionable. I remember everything about that day. It was sunny but cool. The breeze made the foliage dance and shush together like tap dancers wearing paper shoes. We all needed sunglasses and nobody had them. I was extra terrified Abby was going to run like Forrest Gump into the pond water and never come out. Two very nice strangers (neighbors, we later learned) took this picture knowing it was going to be an important memory. And it is. But it sashays around me and feels both very recent and very long ago; like it happened two weeks ago and 2 years ago all at the same time...I cannot retrieve the exact memory from the correct amount of time ago. I can remember my voice cracking as I told the couple photographing us that my husband was off in a few hours for the airport. It was the first time I broke. Before then, my emotions were hermetically sealed. I didn't cry once until 5 minutes before he had to go. Watching him say goodbye to our kids was so hard it still makes my chest cave in a little bit. Then we said goodbye to each other, had a good cry about it, then dried up. And man did I do a good job of that.

I can honestly say I haven't gotten emotional that much since he left. And when I did it was always because I was tired, worn out and had said something I wish I hadn't to our children. You know, gotten too grumpy and verbal about it. Since the last episode of tears I had with our son, I've completely sucked it all in and have steeled myself in a full body cast of armor. Nothing coming in, nothing going out. Just doing my job, laying low and getting things accomplished.

Great plan. Except for one thing.

I miss him.

It feels like an eternity that he's been away even though I can open up his closet and still smell his aftershave. It feels like I've forever been the one doing it all and remembering to buy stamps. It feels like I've always been the one making too big a deal out of dinner, organization, and cleanliness when just yesterday I was making fun of my husband for prioritizing those very same things. The day he left feels like yesterday yet I can't remember what it's like to have him at home. It's a very weird sensation and one I've struggled with a little bit until I realized this time tunnel has been a coping mechanism for me. If I keep all the memories of him and our life together moving around me in a shallow vortex of air then he's never very far for very long. A memory surfaces and he's not that gone anymore. And then he is.

Mostly, I am no longer a steel Roman. My armor is starting to chink.

I miss him in real time, not tunnel time.

I was walking with the kids and dog last night. The sky was turning dark but when I looked up between the black trees and deepening blue I could feel the warmth of his hand on mine like so many nights we've walked together, behind our little family, holding hands to keep them in. Strange that a color could evoke such a strong feeling but it did. That color blue - somewhere between river rock and oilspill- brought me right back to the way his hand found mine, laced into it perfectly, and then rested. And I missed him so much I had to look away from my kids who were racing Sadie on the sidewalk. I missed him being there with us, with me, for us, for me and I was tired of pretending I am so tough.

I am not so tough and I'm tired of pretending.

Deployments are weird. They play mind-games on people who have the strength to get along but not the heart to do without.