Monday, May 30, 2011


I had tequila yesterday for the first time in ... oh ... probably since wearing my Lilith Fair T-shirt, or more specifically, wearing it when it fit. The husband and I had an impromptu outing to a restaurant sans dependents and it was grand. I ordered the second one in the glow of the first and felt tipsy before it arrived. It had the potential to get ugly. I had the potential to get ugly but cut myself off at the rum saturated cherry stem. My poor husband winced a bit while I chair danced (or swayed against the beat if remember correctly) to Cee Lo's Forget You and mumbled out all the wrong lyrics while the responsible one paid the bill.

Super fun and a small victory for a mom who has a hard time unwinding lately.

I strongly recommend the Dirty Mai Tai for the squeaky clean mom.

Just make sure you can stop at the speared pineapple chunk if you start to feel the Rhythm of the Night in your shoulders. Otherwise you too may have to sleep with a Spiderman blanket wrapped around your head until sobering up well enough to take your children to a local carnival.

Let's just say Mommy did not ride the Tea Cups that night.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remote Control

Part Two of the Homecoming will be postponed until I can get back to my original computer that has the pictures on it (read: if there was a fire I'd be hoisting that puppy on my shoulder along w/the kids and the dog). I'm working remotely from a different computer and will soon get my other one back up and running. Sorry for the cliffhanger tease. To put any wandering minds at ease, we're still married. He still likes us. And the dog has not packed up her water dish in a small red handkerchief to depart for parts less sonic boom loud.

What I can remark on without too much visual documentation is the fact that reintegration is one big fat King's Dominion roller coaster. One minute you're tick tick ticking up the ancient wooden planks of the Grizzly and the next moment you're crashing down into the fake blue water of the fake blue pond. It's all enough to make you toss your cookies but we are pulling through and getting in line again, like the best roller coaster goers would.

The good news is that it's totally normal and very typical for post deployed families to experience these highs and lows of reintegration. These are wrinkles that come with the territory of two (very separate and helloooo black and white) worlds colliding. Knowing this has made the transition smoother. Experiencing it has made me laugh (fine, and cry). It's like watching a movie unfold except you already know the outcome. The main characters still go through their histrionics of alpha this and beta that but somehow the movie ends and you're still going to the Giant for milk but picking out his favorite candy (caramel creams).

So, I guess we didn't really need a Part Two after all, did we? Still, I promised you pictures to illustrate what a family reuniting looks like and I will deliver...just in a few days. Thanks for bearing with me. Until then, I will pop in from time to time on my remote computer and chat you up with other non-Marine wife related topics.

Did I just hear a unanimous sigh? You're over it?

Yeah, me too.

Here's to moving past it all.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homecoming Part One: The Pickup

Saturday Morning:
The iPod wakes me up with an airy bounce of xylophones (marimba setting maybe?) at the quiet hour of 5:40 a.m. I take a look around and soak in the last morning we will have alone.

My bed suddenly seems large and luxurious.

Dresser suddenly seems cluttered with stuff I don't need and will never use.

Dog seems nine almost ten instead of eight almost nine.

Fingernails suddenly look boyish and unpainted.

Alarm iPod sounds off again. It is time to shower and get on with our last morning flying solo.

I shower then dress myself all up in the bird dress, stretch into some pantyhose (wow, didn't miss those), and latch my shoes. Jewelry is next, then the ironing of the hair (I'm sorry, hair.) Finally, makeup and a dop of my favorite perfume to the wrists and a little underneath the earlobes. Maybe he will notice.

Finally, I am ready.

Or am I?
(A little nervous, OSMA??)

The phone rings. It's his cell phone number. A number I haven't seen on my caller ID since last October.

"Hi. You've already landed?" I whisper into the phone. Kids are still asleep.
"Hi. Over an hour ago. We left Kuwait early and got here really fast. Don't rush. I'm going to grab a cup of coffee and wait for you outside. You have to go to the International flights. I forgot to tell you that part. International arrivals, okay? Hello?"
"Hi. Yes. Okay. International arrivals. Got it. I will see you soon. We will see you soon. I'm so glad you're already here."
"Love you, Honey. Drive carefully."
"Love you too, I will try."

He's early. He's already here? Oh.My.Heavens. It's finally here. He's finally here. He's going to come back to our fold and be here with an HOUR?!?

In our very near future, we all will be picking up a man in civilian clothes carrying three black pieces of luggage and one small camouflage bag from the airport.

Nobody else will know that he just spent over 200 days in the Middle East working on important things for our national security while making himself spaghetti and meatballs at least once a week to remind him of home.

Nobody else will know we just spent over 200 days celebrating holidays, birthdays and milestones without him.

Nobody else will know.

But we will.

And that's all that matters.

He's home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Girls

Little girls like hair bows

and pink nail polish...

...that they do all by themselves.

Little girls like to work on art projects in the garage

as long as they get every inch of themselves

smeared in paint.

and on the dog, too.

Little girls look up to their big brother

and hold his face in her tiny hands.

Little girls are very busy eating lunches,

and sharing them.

Little girls like fitting in small places,

and spending quiet time exploring nature alone...

or with friends...

Little girls like to go to "the beach"

and poke around in the sand.

Little girls like to make music

and to wear pretty shoes.

But most of all this little girl likes to make other people smile.

and she's good at it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Mamas

Mother's Day rocked, you guys. As much as it can rock without the man who helped make me a mom in the first place. Boo that part. That part? A wee bit sad. I didn't hear from him all day long but realized he had left messages on our computer so it was really me who fell quiet on the Mother's Day front. If you're reading this from work, Honey, I'm very sorry I live from iPod alone these days. Can't seem to get behind command central to save my booty.

Getting back to today. Such a nice afternoon! Got to see my mom & T, brother & sister-in-law, and little nephew who gets flipping cuter every time I see him. He is this wind-up ball of energy that wickets around the room or the yard like he might fling off into the air if he had that choice. He and Grayson had a good time wrestling with each other while Abby enjoyed spooning three different kinds of soups from Panera into her mouth and onto her shirt. Girl has her priorities. Broccoli Cheddar first, headlocks second.

So we had a nice visit outside under a sky filled up with cartoon clouds and a sun that never hid. But it went all too quickly. I no sooner laid eyes on my family then they all had to pack up and ship out. I am grateful but too soon was our happy house empty of familiar inhabitants again. Not wanting to dwell in the aftermath of such a good time, I somehow convinced my kids to nap so I could take it all out on the treadmill (third time ever).

After my jallopy run/walk thing was through, I noticed the house still eerily quiet. So I did a few horribly incorrect stomach crunches (second time ever). Then some bicycles that felt great but looked more like I was trying to zing pooh off my shoes. Kids were still sleeping. Dog was nowhere around to fawn over so I rotated my feet around in air circles while laying on my back because well, try it, feels damn good to those old ornery ankles. More silent minutes ticked by and kids were still asleep (and I was bereft of any desire to start making dinner) so I pittered around and checked some home phone messages. To my happyface surprise, there were several I had missed from dear friends who remembered I was solo and wanted to wish the three of us a Happy Mother's Day.

Curious, I checked my cell next. Six missed text messages from friends all over the U.S.!! Then, I checked emails to find about three more messages from more dear friends who took time away from their own special day for another mama out there about whom they worried wasn't going to get enough love and support today.

Finally, to top off an already pretty spectacular show, I got a surprise at my front door. Three doorbell rings and through my front window I spied a pretty blond head ducking behind my minivan. Checking through the peephole, I noticed some flowers, something wrapped, and a card. I opened the door to find my friend and her daughter giggling on the lawn at their sneak gift dropoff coup.

Well guess what?

Best Mother's Day ever.

Because of everyone's thoughtfulness and generous spirit, I was not only remembered but I became next to spoiled for Mother's Day. I felt more loved, honored, and supported in their texts, messages, and status updates than I had any right to be.

You see, mamas are mysterious mythological creatures. You don't even need to have children in some cases for me to consider you a "mama." It's a term of endearment I use when I have let you in past the gargoyles. I may not talk to my "mamas" every day or see them very often but a mama knows when one of her own is licking her wounds. She rallies around her to help make her strong enough to fight her own battles again or just until her wingman arrives (Soon, you guys. As in could conceivably eat leftover curry chicken soon!)

Today I learned a lot about mothering. The greatest asset of mothering, for me, is knowing other amazing ladies who are givers. Mothering feels like arriving at a place in life where it's okay to confess you're weak and just as okay to admit when you're strong. Mothers always make the time to keep track, check in, and take care of each other because we know like the day is long nobody else will sign up for those tasks.

So it was no coincidence that all my friends today are my "mamas" reaching out to their fellow mate who is making her way to shore after some time on a beaten up dingy. They all had me somewhere tucked in their thoughts as they celebrated their own special day with their own families.

You will not find that anywhere else. You will not find that on July 4th. You will not find that on Christmas. You may or may not find that on Thanksgiving depending on where the turkey's being cooked that year. These women remembered me on Mother's Day because they are "mamas" who always watch out for their own even on a day when they had every reason not to.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My One Thing

The day opened up like a good book with a coffee stain on its face. Little feet pointed and waved at me while tiny noses sighed in unison - an effort to greet the sun but not quite yet. Even Sadie somehow managed to make a tight U-turn around Abby's head which was oddly but perfectly so, at the foot of my bed. Grayson stole my spot which relegated me back to my usual 2 foot by 2 foot square inch of mattress space below a pillow I never use that much.

We all woke up together, flipped through some channels and silently all came to the same conclusion we were more hungry than we were entertained by Little Bill and his serenely patient grandmother.

We three climbed down the stairs together, put breakfast food in bowls and on plates together, and dipped tea cookies in my one cup of warm orange spice water together.

Then I asked the kids the million dollar question. "What should we do today?"

"I think we should..." Grayson started out, "...finish breakfast, get dressed, take Sadie for a walk
and play in the backyard before you have to take me to the doctor's."

That was a sound enough plan of action for Abby and me so we set out to unjammy ourselves, brush our teeth and our hair, and then bumble down the stairs in one tangle of ankles and socks. I had started the night with these children, slept through the night with these children, began a new day with these children, forecasted a new plan for and dove into another day with yes, with these very same lovely children who were literally having an argument about a pig flashlight while underneath my legs at one point in the trajectory.

I was running out of air.

"Hey. Why don't you guys give me one second. I forgot something."

I ran upstairs alone.
Sat down on my bed and closed my eyes.
"No, Sadie, go downstairs. Please go?" I can't think when the space between me and other breathing dependents is begging for direction to make their lives meaningful. It's all a bit crowded in my brain. My thoughts feel sticky and overlappy like crayons shoved in front of each other in the crayon box.
N-e-e-d A-i-r ! ! !
Sadie lowered her gaze and turned to go out the door.
I sat there, finally completely alone.
I closed my eyes again.
I pictured the day going well.
I envisioned me having the patience of Little Bill's grandmother.
I saw the grass getting mowed, the children playing nicely in their sandbox or sketching lines with sidewalk chalk, and all of us making it to two o'clock in the afternoon without anybodyusing the "F" word (Abigail).

"Okay," I say to the kids as I resurface to the downstairs again. "All set! We can go now!" I announced with a shred of renewal that fooled only the under five crowd.

The rest of the day went as Grayson planned and I executed. There was a "down moment" when the children detached their persons from my person and went about living non-symbiotically for a few minutes. Abby padded around snacking in new cozy places all over the kitchen (her new thing is denning, I'm convinced she's part husky) while Grayson masterminded some elaborate trap to catch Max and Ruby with two red buckets, one Nerf sword, one turkey baster filled with pepper, and five unpeeled carrots.

I grabbed my iPod touch and fell into an adult swim of Facebook updates, American Red Cross emails, and a few quick e-notes from my wayward husband.

As I dogpaddled away from directing the Kid Show, I dove into an article that one Facebook friend posted. It was this interesting link about following your passion. This article professed it could help you find your passion in three easy steps. I had just enough time for three easy steps before someone needed me to find, fix, or prepare something. So I speed read the words and bounced them around the part of my brain not filled with apple juice.

After quasi-digesting the info., I was more confused than ever. What is a passion? (I had this same type of symantic crises years ago about the word "talent") Is a passion more than like but less than obsess? Well this is a tough call because I like a lot of things and obsess wildly over some of them at any given time but there is no continuity between them. Examples: I like to sing but that's only sometimes and very rarely outside of the shower anymore. I like to blog but can't commit to more time and better editing. I l-u-v to take pictures but again with the inability to commit to the time it takes to learn the craft and edit well enough to improve my skill set. So there I am, at the end of this easy breezy 3 step article to help pin point my passion and it's becoming clear to me that I don't have one.

The article didn't leave me hanging though. It was prepared for a problematic customer like myself. It had a backup plan and asked me to consider what I find to be the "world's greatest need." In however I answer that, I should come to see what my own passion is. Whoa. That's bigtime. A thinker. Education and tolerance? Yes. There's definitely that. But is it our world's greatest need? I'll have to get back to this one, Abby's cramming yogurt covered raisins by the dozens in her maw and is losing the war on swallowing.

And if I can't wrap my brain around the world well enough, the article throws me one last bone. Another quick and dirty way to locate your passion is by listing your three favorite movies. Then, all you have to do is figure out the common theme and thereyouhaveit: your pass-ee-ohn. Brilliant, right? Of course it is! So tell me why I stalled out after number one:
1.) Good Will Hunting. Best picture ever made in the history of Matt Damon (b/c any other history is irrelevant and dead to me.)
2.) ????
2.) Pretty Woman? No. That was a super cute film but most favorite? Nope, wouldn't watch it again if it came on Bravo.
2.) Love Actually? Maybe so but again, probably would flip channels if it came on again. What on earth would capture my soul so much that I couldn't possibly turn away and run to Tom Bergeron on my DVR?
2.) Man, it doesn't get better than Good Will Hunting. What a scene right before he goes looking for "Skylah". There was such beauty in the breakdown that all else around me fades away and I am in that room with Matt and Robin and those dusty thick spined books. I would watch that again and again and again.

And no, I never did come up with a number two favorite film. Even though now that I'm writing this, I can easily list Before Sunrise and The Family Stone as my faves. I would not change the channel on either of those. Well, so much for that exercise. I can make even the simplest task hard and this easy test designed to help me take a shortcut to locate my passion just confirmed to me that I need the long walk. Around the cul-de-sac twice.

Finally, this article threw me a last ditch effort bone. It stated that if you're still having trouble figuring out what resonates with you (Hello One-Sided Momma who can't tell her elbow from her earlobe) then ask other people. Yes, ask your friends what your "one thing" is. Call them, write them, ask them on your Facebook status and offer them chocolate and wine if they respond with something other than, "you're good at lots of things!" because that's not helping narrow down your passion that possibly you don't actually recognize anymore because you've been too preoccupied with the human pretzel that is your life.

So, I'm here asking you who know me and even some of you who don't.

What is my "one thing?"

For the record, I'm not having an existential crisis. That will come when Abby goes to school full time, obviously. This is just me trying to listen for the quiet that isn't going to be happening any time soon. This is me taking a self-serving shortcut with trusted friends who won't think less of me if I'm not over analyzing my feelings about Osama's recent demise. Also, for that record, I'm thrilled he's no longer a threat to anyone but I do not feel joyous in his death. I also do not judge people who are celebrating; I tend to exercise caution in this sea of unknowns because this war against terrorism will not end just because Osama's life did.

And also, if you're feeling fetchy...please write down your top three favorite movies. I want to know. Anonymous Commenters welcome. You do not need to come out from the shadows if you're happy there.

Thanks Guys,