Friday, April 29, 2011

Princess Fever

Amelia would give her right arm and probably an eyeball to be one of those bridesmaids.
She'd commit murder to be Kate.

Amelia: Mom, are princesses real?

Me: Yes.

Amelia: Where do they live? Do they have castles?

Me: They live all over the place. Lots of countries have kings, queens, princes and princesses. And yes, some live in castles, but they're not like the castles you're thinking of.

Amelia: I want to see a real princess.

Me: Well, actually there's a girl who's going to marry a prince next week and she'll become a real princess.

Amelia: What?! Really?! SHE'S SO LUCKY!!!!!

(And then she ran off to play Barbies or something and the matter was forgotten. Until this morning when the royal wedding was all that was talked about on the radio.)

Amelia: Mom, is the wedding on TV?

Me: Yes.

Amelia: Can I watch it?

Me: Sorry, you have to go to school.

Amelia: I don't feel good. I think I need to stay home.

Me: No.

Amelia: My head is burning inside.

Me: No.

Amelia: I think I have to throw up.

Me: No.

Amelia: My leg is broken.

Me: NO.

Amelia: If you make me go to school and I throw up on the floor my teacher will be mad at you like the last time you made me go to school and I threw up on the floor.

Me: You're not going to throw up.

Amelia: Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaasssseeee can I stay home?

Me: No. But if you can be good at school, I'll let you watch it when you get home.

Amelia: (High pitch squeals that only wild boars and five year old girls can make).

She's been watching for an hour. I've never seen her so entranced.

At least it's keeping her quiet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Enough already!

Sorry, internets. I haven't been deliberately not blogging. Life has just been...interesting lately. Interesting is usually good for the ol' blog, but not this time. This time it's just been draining and time consuming.

First, storms. I won't whine too much because, hello, we're alive and our house is intact. I lost a trampoline and some tulips. With nearly 300 confirmed dead from these storms, and whole neighborhoods completely leveled, a trampoline is a minuscule price to pay. However, as grateful as I am that our area was mostly spared, we still had tornado warnings night after night. And spending those nights wedged into a tiny bathroom with three kids and no sleep was less than pleasant. I was pretty much a zombie--a scared-we-were-going-to-die-in-a-tornado zombie--most of the past week. Wait, can zombies even die in tornadoes?

The storms left many county schools without power and roads too debris covered to drive on, which meant that for two days my kids were unexpectedly home from school. And on a third day they had a delayed opening and an early release because of the severe weather. You know how I feel about my kids being home when they should be in school.

And because this seems to be the storm that keeps on giving, today I was informed that my neighbors want me to pay for damage to their siding. The people renting the house told the owners that they were "pretty sure" our trampoline hit the house and ripped off siding the night it ended up in my front yard.

While I can't be certain that it didn't fly around and hit things before eventually catapulting itself over my house, neither can they be certain it did. There were numerous foreign objects strewn around both of our yards and the street in front of us that morning. Lawn furniture, whole sections of privacy fencing, trees from the other side of the neighborhood... There's no knowing what hit their house. And we had 65 MPH winds that night. Just the force of the wind could have been enough to peel away siding. So, while I feel bad for the owners, I'm not paying for damages that no one really knows how they came to be. I've had a visit from both the property manager and the insurance adjuster today. Both essentially said I should just pay for it to help out the owners, and insisted I was a bad person and would create neighborhood animosity if I didn't. I was polite at first, but eventually ended both conversations by firmly telling them that unless they could produce unequivocal proof that it was my trampoline that did it, I wouldn't be paying a cent. I may need to speak to legal, though, just to cover my bases.

And non-storm related, but equally as inconvenient, Ben was suspended for three days. He had been fighting daily in the bathroom and finally got caught.

I would like someone to please explain to me how a suspension punishes the child? Because I'm pretty sure it was more a punishment for me. Sure, I made life as unpleasant as is legally allowed for him for those three days, but doing so created more work and stress for me. Essentially, I was forced into being a prison guard at a hard labor camp and a home schooler all at once. So, I may have shiny bathrooms, windows, floors and base boards courtesy of his punishment, but I also have a forehead tic and extra gray hairs.

And then rounding off this magnificent couple of weeks is my new and improved terror that Will is going to get blown up and/or shot. He's in a war zone, so that's always a niggling fear at the back of my mind. But the reality has been that he has a pretty safe job. He's not out in the villages. He's not riding in convoys. He's mostly in his safe little office getting his geek on. He occasionally hops a helicopter to smaller bases to fix equipment, and those little trips terrify me, but really, he's pretty safe.

However, if you've been following the news lately, you'll know that Afghan soldiers/security force members have been blowing people up and shooting them. And this has been happening in what are normally considered very safe situations. Like meetings. We've lost 14 soldiers from here in two weeks to this. Nine of them were simply in a meeting in an office, and an Afghan walked in and detonated an explosive vest.

So, nowhere is safe now. And I'm pretty sure I'm getting an ulcer.

And while I'm whining, let me add that I'm tired of parenting alone. I have lots of offers for babysitting, and I'm really grateful for them. But babysitting is not what I need. I need a second parent. Babysitting just puts off the inevitable. I need someone else to dole out punishments once in awhile. I need someone else to feign enthusiasm over hearing Amelia read the same book 500 times. I need someone else to decide which tattles to act on and which to ignore. I need someone else to put them to bed, help Amelia wash her hair, get up on Saturday morning to get breakfast, keep them semi quiet in church, make sure homework gets done correctly, answer questions about photosynthesis and trim fingernails. Because it's wearing me down doing it alone.

O.K., I'm done. Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, but on the bright side, I've pretty much met my blog-whining quota for the year now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I've got this one in the bag.

So, this was in my mail box today.

Addressed to me.

Really, click on it and read it. It's worth your time--at least the first three paragraphs.

(Click to enlarge. You can click it again to make it even bigger.)

Guys, I think I can win this. I mean, I have at least 18 years on all the other contestants. And there's no swimsuit competition, so that gives me a leg up right there.

It's totally judged on poise, personality and confidence. How could I lose?

I am the epitome of poise, personality and confidence.

I mean, I know I could at least do better than she did.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That's it, Tennessee. We're fighting.

So, at around 12:45 AM my phone rang. It was Weather Call calling to inform me that a tornado was in my area. I always take their calls seriously, because they don't call if there's just a warning in my county. They only call if there's something in your neighborhood. Just as the call came in, the tornado sirens started going off. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my phone, and as I was sliding my feet into my slippers, I pulled the blinds apart to see what it looked like outside.

What I saw was my trampoline. Outside my bedroom window.

That probably doesn't sound like a big deal, except that my bedroom window is on the opposite side of the house from where the trampoline lives.

Also, my bedroom window is on the second floor.

So, I ran and dragged the kids out of bed and we rushed down to our "safe room," which is a tiny half bathroom on the first floor.

I turned the kitchen radio up so we could hear it in the bathroom, grabbed a couple of flashlights, and barricaded ourselves in the bathroom.

Ever spent 45 stressful minutes barricaded in an itty bitty bathroom with your three kids at one in the morning? It's super fun. They didn't care that our house was shaking and the power was flickering and the sound of the wind was like someone screaming. They were too busy fighting over floor space and whose pillow was touching whose.

At 1:30 we finally got the all clear and headed to bed.

I didn't sleep a whole lot at that point.

Anyway, here was the scene this morning.

My poor tulips and peach tree.

It flew all the way from the ground, up and over that section of the house.

And the most ridiculous part of all, the little two pound step stool the
kids used to get in and out of it didn't move an inch.

I'm really kind of tired of this weather, Tennessee. Consider us fighting.

Oh, and in the time I've been writing this, three people have come to the door to claim the trampoline as theirs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Going off the sauce for good.

So, remember when I told you that embarrassing story about getting caught with my tongue in a container of McDonald's sweet and sour sauce? No? Well since I'm too lazy to find the link, I'll tell you again.

It was about four years ago and Will was just home from his last deployment--I can't remember now if it was home for good or home for his two weeks of R&R--doesn't matter. The point is, he had been gone for a long time and was finally home. And that meant that I got to go my doctor's appointment alone. I'd had to fast for the appointment, so I was starving by the time it was over. There was a McDonald's on the way home, so I went through the drive-thru and got some McNuggets. I know, gross. Whatever. I weighed 300 pounds and I was frigging starving. Food quality wasn't a high priority.

Anyway, I realized that not only did I get go to my appointment alone, but I was at McDonald's alone. No kids bugging me or fighting or spilling french fries on the back seat. So, rather than taking my McNuggets home where they would likely be pillaged by my children, I pulled into a parking spot and ate them in the blissful solitude of my childless van. And when they were gone, I might have licked the remaining sweet and sour sauce from the container. Honestly, McDonald's sweet and sour sauce is the only reason to order McNuggets in the first place. I'm pretty sure it's laced with crack.

And then you know how you sometimes get the feeling someone is watching you? Yeah, I got that feeling. And as I looked up, tongue firmly in the sauce container, I saw Marianne and her family waving at me from the parking spot next to me.

You know, I keep thinking that this story will get less embarrassing as time goes on, but apparently, not so much.

Anyway, fast forward to an hour ago. I felt my blood sugar start to drop rather quickly. In the time it took me to walk down my stairs, I was shaking and sweating and couldn't form a rational thought. Because if I had been able to form a rational thought, I'd have simply shoved a spoonful of plain old sugar in my mouth. Or guzzled some of the kids' apple juice. Or remembered the Starbursts I have stashed away for Easter baskets. But, as I said, I was beyond rational thought at that point.

I flung open my pantry and the first sugary thing I saw was some hot fudge sauce I'd bought for Ben's birthday. I popped the lid off and instead of grabbing a spoon from the drawer right next to me, I just started licking the sauce straight from the jar. And as my body started to recover and my brain function began to resume, I got that "someone is watching me" feeling. And I realized I was standing directly in front of my open sliding glass door. And my lawn guy was standing there, weed whacker in hand, watching me lick hot fudge straight from the jar like a crazed lunatic. (O.K., so that sounded way dirtier than it actually was. When I say weed whacker, I literally mean weed whacker. Pervs.) And so I stammered out something about low blood sugar but that I'm totally fine now! And then I ran upstairs and hid. Luckily I'd already taped his check to the door so I didn't have to talk to him.

And the best part? I just realized I have chocolate smeared on my chin and my cheek.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So, last night Liam asked me where he was from.

"You were born in Germany."

"I know I was born in Germany, mom. But I only lived there for two weeks. Where am I from?"

And then Amelia piped in with, "Yeah, where are we from, mom?"

Ummm....You're from nowhere.

How do military families answer this? I'd never really given it much thought. Even though we moved around a lot, I always say I'm from Maine. I was born there and lived there until I was ten. My family is all from there, and most still lived there for most of my life. Will says he's from Wyoming. He lived there almost his whole life, and his parents are still there.

But my kids? They're not from anywhere. We counted it up and all three have lived the majority of their lives so far in Maryland. So, for now they're from Maryland, I guess? But in the future, if we live someplace longer than five years, does that mean that they suddenly become from there?

It's sort of unsettling, the thought that my kids aren't from anywhere. They have no roots. No hometown.

Anyway, I told them that if someone asks where they're from, they can answer, "Everywhere."

It's less creepy than saying nowhere.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tweenage Dream

Eat your heart out, Bieber.

I'm feeling kind of old today.

Ben turns 12 in a couple of days.


He informed me that he didn't want any toys for his birthday. His list consisted of "designer clothes," a suit, and a razor.

And sadly, he actually has enough facial hair that the razor would be useful. His mustache is nearly as thick as mine.

Also? He has a date for the Spring dance at school. I mean, not a date date, but a girl from drama club asked him to go and they're meeting there and will presumably dance together a few times. You know, the awkward, arms straight out, woodenly rocking back and forth dancing. I'll be sure to take a picture so that someday when he's famous and finishing up his first rehab stint, Us Weekly can run it in an article about his very first co-star romance.

I'm not ready to have a kid in the shaving/going to dances/requiring deodorant stage of life.

Mainly because in my head, I'm still approximately only 17.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Furious George

So, I had Doritos for lunch today. Not Doritos with lunch. For lunch. That more than anything should clue you in to my state of mind right now.

In case you've been living under a rock, let me fill you in on the situation.

If a budget or temporary stop gap measure isn't passed by both the the house and the senate and signed by the president in the next 1 hour and 14 minutes, the military stops getting paid. It means a lot of other things too, and I'll get to a few, but the main thing to know right now is that as of midnight, our pay stops.

That means that our pay check on the 15th will only be half a pay check. And if congress can't pull it together by the 15th, we will get ZERO pay on May 1st. As in, ZERO.

Sure, we'll eventually get paid retroactively once a budget is passed, but that doesn't pay my rent right now.

So, here's a rundown of how the government is screwing people over:

1. No pay, which I just covered.

2. No death benefits if a soldier gets killed during the shut down. That means the family, who is already not receiving pay, by the way, has to come up with all the expenses for a funeral and burial, which for the military likely includes traveling to another part of the country and transporting the body there as well, out of pocket. You know, the pocket not getting paid.

3. I will have to pay full price for Liam's prescriptions if the government is still shut down on the 22nd. They're not carried at the military pharmacy, and our insurance will not be good at a civilian pharmacy (as in, Walgreen's) during a shut down.

4. Military members will not be authorized leave--not even emergency leave, not even in the case of the death of a spouse, parent or child--during a shut down. You see, paid leave (which is the only kind military can take. Unpaid leave is called being AWOL) is considered a debt to the government, and the government isn't allowed to incur debt during a shut down. Confused? Me too. Isn't the government incurring debt every second of every day?

5. Commissaries (military grocery stores) will be closed. Stateside, that's not a huge deal. Sure, a lot of things are cheaper there (like meat and paper products), but mostly the prices are on par with Wal Mart. It's a bigger deal overseas where it's the only place people can use WIC or often even their debit card. It's also a lot cheaper than a local grocery store. I did hear a rumor that overseas commissaries were going to be deemed essential and remain open. I hope that's the case.

6. Did I mention we won't get paid? Be cause we won't.

7. Government civilians who are "non-essential" are furloughed until a budget is passed. So, like us, they will not get pay. Unlike us, they will not get it retroactively. I was at the commissary buying meat like a hoarder today, and some of the cashiers were crying as they checked people out. One was sobbing, "I won't be able to feed my babies...I won't be able to feed them..." I hope that makes you proud, congress.

8. The military will be expected to continue to work, even though they will not be paid. Congress justifies this by saying that they are still "earning" pay. Congress can suck it.

9. Speaking of congress, they will get paid. As will the president. How convenient.

10. I just saw that this post is now obsolete. A shut down has been avoided. It's only temporary, but only because it will take a few days to draft the actual budget. Crisis averted. Let's see, they only have six months left until the NEXT budget is due.

11. Crap. We're stuck eating tuna noodle casserole for a month now even though we'll get paid.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why you should ALWAYS carry a Sharpie.

I can just see the thought process that went on here,
because it was going through my head, too.

I passed the first one and shook my head in wonder at how some people manage to get and keep jobs that require a basic grasp of the English language.

By the second one my wonder has turned to annoyance.

By the third one, it had become rage.

By the fourth one, I...hold on...what's this? YES!!!!
Whoever did this is my soul mate.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The wind began to switch, the house began to pitch.

So, I was going to post something earlier today. I don't know what, but something.
Instead, I spent much of the day on a chair in my half bathroom praying I wouldn't die.

You see, in addition to filth, heights and spiders, I'm terrified of deadly weather events. And today was one long tornado warning.

Most people around here shrug it off because it happens so regularly. They don't worry unless they can actually see the funnel cloud closing in on them. Others even enjoy the extreme weather. While I love a good thunderstorm or blizzard, things like tornadoes and hurricanes scare me. You can't curl up on the couch and enjoy a tornado. There's no "tornado sound" setting on your white noise machine. You have radio people urgently telling you to seek shelter immediately and tornado sirens blaring outside your house and the knowledge that your kids are crouched in a hallway at school with their arms over their heads. To me, there's nothing to enjoy about that.

In Georgia, we narrowly missed being directly hit by a tornado. The sirens went off in the middle of the night, and within seconds we heard what sounded like a train directly outside our bedroom window and the house shook violently. Even if we'd had a safe room in that house, we had no time to get to it. Less than two minutes later it was over. The next day we went outside and saw a trail of destruction just feet from our house. A tree had fallen and severed a mobile home in half, other trees had taken out roofs. The roads in our neighborhood were impassable because of debris. It looked like the apocalypse had happened. That's when I decided tornadoes were going right on the top of my list of fears.

I'm pretty sure today's storm was sentient. And evil. The three major things damaged in our area? The national weather service radio tower (so, everyone with weather radios were out of luck), and two 911 centers. In different counties! What are the odds that some of the most important things in a tornado would be the only three things taken out? It's like the storm went all Jaws 4 on us. This time it was personal.

Anyway, those of you who follow me on Facebook got to witness the stages of my freak out first hand as I sat, panicked, in the bathroom. I know, It was kind of pathetic. Especially in retrospect. We didn't even lose power.

But there it is. Now you know. I'm a sissy when it comes to deadly weather.

Also, I think I need a couch in that bathroom.