Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
~1 Timothy 4:12

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

That's a Wrap...

Today is New Year's Eve. The end of a rough year for the O's (that's us). While my parents were here last week I remarked to my mom that Mike and I had only spent three weeks together since LAST Christmas; she,thinking I had to be wrong, went to the calendar to count it up. Sure 'nuff, three weeks. Do I keep harping on this deployment? I certainly think I do. Just one more reason I'm glad to ring in the new year. It's often said that we can't truly look forward without looking back to realize the lessons learned. So, with that, here are 2008's lessons learned for me:

1. You should always, ALWAYS ignore the screaming dude in the celica with the Tennessee plates in the WaWa parking lot. Because he's wackadoodle.

2. Neighborhood conflicts are best left alone.

3. Tornadoes are not,NOT your friend.

4. Wisdom imparted often comes from the children in your life, and not the adults.

5. You should never be afraid to have no idea what you're doing when the thing you're doing is seemingly the craziest thing you have ever done.

6. No matter how many times you steam-clean the carpet, you'll always have to do it again. And again.

7. Nothing is stronger than good prayer and good coffee.

8. The plumber can be your best friend. Especially if you call him three times in three weeks.

9. Nothing is sweeter in this life than simply being in a room with the people you love. Who cares if you're not doing anything at the time. Just breathe them in.

10. It all boils down to family. They are the Heaven God gives us here on earth until we get there.

That's it. Tomorrow will be the things I hope for in 2009. Here's to Hog Jowls, Black Eyed Peas, Cornbread and Boiled Cabbage. None of which I've ever eaten. I'm Southern...not crazy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cornbread Dressing, Gorgonzola Prime Rib, and Pumpkin Pie Fantasy

And that's part of our Christmas supper menu. The rest?

Spinach Salad with Feta and pears
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mango Cranberry Relish
Spirited Eggnog
Southern Iced Tea
Cranberry Prosecco

and for baking goodies for the neighbors and mailman and (yes) the trashman,
Peanut Butter Balls (not Buckeyes. Cover the whole thing in melted chocolate for cryin out loud. That bare spot is just a mean teaser).
Bourbon Rum Balls
Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

This is me trying to keep my mind on other things. Nine days ago my Grandaddy passed away after a ten year presence of Alzheimer's Disease. I drove home and sat with him in the hospital to give my mom a break, then after MUCH deliberation and convincing on the part of my family, decided to go ahead with Mike's and my trip to Las Vegas for the weekend (Well--LATE Thursday to EARLY Monday). His funeral was held the day we flew out. Hello, Family Guilt. Not that I got that handed to me; but it was I that felt guilty. But it was my mom's best friend who reminded me that I was there with my family when no one else was--when all the other family was elsewhere, and that my husband had been gone the better part of the year--that I needed to be with him and cultivate our marriage. She was so right. Mike and I had the most spectacular time. It was very, very needed and for the first time in a really long time, I found myself relaxing.

Now, however, it's "back to reality...whoops there goes gravity..." and the fall-out from my Grandaddy's death is beginning to rear it's ugly head. I'm not going to go into specifics here, but let's just say the Hatfields and the McCoys have nothing on us.

So, for that reason, I'm thinking on other things...things that are good, and pure, and right, and true and enjoying my darling, precious family. And I'm just thankful.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tomato Soup Cake and Lives Saved...

Ok, so this is to formally put any and all speculation to rest. Two of my friends who read my blog have asked me to explain Tomato Soup Cake and how I ended up saving Devyn's life twice. Now, I'm going to include a recipe for the cake; however, it's NOT the recipe my mother-in-law has perfected. I don't have that recipe because it has some secret ingredient in it and I think you either have to have kissed the Pope or been Brule by blood (my mother-in-law's family name), or to have been French Canadian by birth. So! Here we go!

Tomato Soup Cake is a very Southern dish. Go figure, because my mother-in-law is originally from New England, and hard-core Northern at that. Her great-grandfather was Whaler, and her mother still has the craziest strongest accent from Fall River, Mass, EVER. Anyway, she makes this cake once a year. It's a spice cake with nuts and fruit (raisins usually). It's ridiculously moist and although the name conjures up probably some really yuck stuff, if it's done right, it will BLOW YOUR MIND. Here's the recipe from

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup raisins

Combine the tomato soup and the soda in a bowl, and let it stand.
Cream sugar, egg, butter, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix in tomato soup and soda mixture, and then flour. Stir in the raisins, and pour the batter in a greased baking dish.
Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 1 hour, or until done. Cool the cake, and top with cream cheese icing.

Ok, I managed to save Devyn's life. Twice...
She was about ten months old and she and I were in the kitchen while I was making supper. She was in her high chair and was happily enjoying some Zwieback toast while babbling to me about what Elmo had done that day on Sesame Street. She pretty well stopped babbling immediatly and I thought something had caught her attention, but when I looked over, she was very slightly blue. I grabbed her out of the highchair and threw her over my knee and started doing infant Heimlich on her back. It took about 15 seconds before the piece of cookie that was stuck in her throat shot across the kitchen. So. That was experience number one. Experience number two was much, much more magnanimous...

We had been in London about two months and Mike was off playing soccer one evening (it was a Monday--how do I remember that?). Devyn was 23 months old and I was again, in the kitchen cooking her supper. She was having chicken and green beans. Again, weird how I remember that. Now, it should be noted that the temperature in London during the summer can reach about 99 degrees, no breeze. Oh and no one has air conditioning. Read: miserable. Because of that, we had both french doors open and our windows, which were not typical sash windows. These had a handle that you turned and the windows opened inward from a side hinge. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, Devyn walked past the kitchen and said, "Mommy, I go play, k"? and made her way into the living room where her toys and the t.v. was. I brought her dinner in about 5 minutes later and sweet girl wasn't in there. So, I thought she was probably in her room playing or we had just launched into a game of hide-and-seek without my knowing it. I started playfully calling out to her, "Devyn...I need my baby bug"! Five minutes goes by without her answering and I was starting to get nervous...I had gone into every room of our apartment, which added up to five without finding her. I decided to go back into our bedroom and as I'm walking past our master bathroom, I hear her little voice..."Bye bye Mommy, I go fly now". I swear it was like slow motion. I looked in the door of the bathroom and there is sweet girl, standing in the open window (there was no screen) waving to me. We were on the third floor. She was standing on the outer ledge of the window on brick, three stories above concrete. I don't have to tell you that my heart stopped. I very, very carefully and calmly told her to look at mommy and stand as still as she could. I made it over to her (only about four steps, but honestly, it felt like a mile), managed to grab her wrist and pulled her as hard as I could. She fell onto me and we both fell back onto the tile of the floor. I held her more tightly that I think I ever had.

She was afraid of windows for a long time after that, but thankfully has no memory of the event. I however, will still close my eyes sometimes and I can see her falling out of the window, even though, praise the good Lord, she never took that fall. Mike thinks I had some post-traumatic stress afterwards and maybe I did. Whatever the case, God allowed me to keep my calm and keep her safe twice.

Ok, story told. Or stories apparently!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving...and all it's drama...

Seriously. Madness. My poor sister-in-law-to-be. My poor little girl. The following is a SHORT account of Thanksgiving weekend...proceed with caution...

Friday, 4:30 pm
Arrive at my in-laws for Thanksgiving with the whole fam--anticipating Tomato Soup Cake (doesn't appeal? Fine. More for me. You don't know what you're missing!), copious amounts of Sweet Potato Souffle, NCAA Football (yeeeahh, Hokies!), good, family bonding and just generalized relaxin.

Friday, 4:59 pm...
Hell is about to be unleashed...

Friday, 5 pm.
Hell, unleashed. There is a bark from the family dog, a horrifying scream and Mike grabbing Devyn and sprinting to the bathroom.

Friday, 5:01 pm.
Realization that dog has bitten Devyn. Square on her face and caused a rip on the bridge of her nose about 1/2 an inch from her eye. Subsequent injury to the side and underside of her nose.

Friday, 5:05 pm.
We whisk Devyn off to see Mike's aunt, who by the grace of God, is a plastic surgery nurse. Sweet Aunt cleans Devyn's wounds and fixes her up with six or seven suture strips and Derma-Bond. We go to Mike's family's home and eat a lovely dinner of Italian food. I collapse at the end of the night, exhausted, physically and mentally.

Saturday, 7:45 am
I start making two loaves of Pumpkin Bread. Which. Was. Wonderful.

Saturday, 9 am
Soon to be sister wakes with a killer stomach ache, which turns into poor girl in bed all day, fending off the demons of a possible stomach flu or food poisoning.

Saturday, 3 pm
The Hokies win the Commonwealth Cup, beating UVA. Yeah Hoos...Hoos your Hokie now?

Saturday, 7 pm
Thankgiving dinner with the family, enjoying copious amounts of Sweet Potato Souffle, Fort (don't ask me to explain what this is--it's a VERY French Canadian dish that's a family tradition), Turkey, three types of peas (to please everyone) and Tomato Soup Cake. There was much rejoicing...

Saturday, 8:30 pm
Family dog lunges at Aiden. Family dog is removed for the remainder of the weekend into a back bedroom.

Sunday, earrrrly...
poor sister to be is in the bathroom all night, probably pleading for her death.

Sunday evening...
We arrive back home, no worse for the wear (well, maybe I was worse for the wear), but ready to start another week. Sans drama.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ruby Friday...

So my sweetie friend Stacy was a lifer. A Pregnancy Lifer, anyway, or so we thought until this past Thursday night. See, she was POSITIVE she was going to be pregnant FOREVAH with their third baby. Thursday night at 6:56 pm, our phone rang, and it was Stacy, "Yeah, well, we're going to go to the hospital" (read the non-excited tone in her voice--they'd been four times prior in pre-term labor). But there was definitely something different in her voice this time; maybe it was nervousness, maybe it was anticipation. Whatever it was, I knew that this would be THE night.

I should interject here that Stacy was graciously going to allow me in the delivery room with her and her husband due to the fact that I'd had two babies the using the surgical method (i.e. flat on your back, covered in a sheet, while people use instruments to remove said baby) and I'd never witnessed a "Push Em Out, Push Em Out, Waaaay Out" birth. Mike and I sat through the evening most likely watching football, although I can't really remember and no phone call. Then, 10:31, the phone rang. It was her hubby, "We're going to the fourth floor. Wanna come"?

I got dressed probably quicker than anyone has EVER and drove through the dark coastal Virginia night to the hospital only to wait in the waiting room with TWO screaming children until 11:30 pm because Pregnancy Lifer was getting her epidural. Now, WHO in their RIGHT MIND brings a ONE YEAR OLD to a maternity waiting room at darn-near-MIDNIGHT to witness the miracle of his screaming mother bring his sibling into this world? Holy smokes. Said child was EXHAUSTED. His aunt was CHASING him around the waiting room and three women whose water had just broken while he cackled into the Fox News Channel filled room. Anyway, I digress...

We thought Stacy would deliver relatively quickly because her other two had come shootin out of her like bullets out of Annie Oakley's gun. Not this stubborn baby. After 5 hours of no sleep, ice chips, vomit, poor hubby trying to sleep in a chair, iv's, internal monitors, Turbutalain, Pitocin, rapid heart beats, water breaking and taking guesses at what the baby's weight would be, at approximately 4:01 am, Stacey started pushing...

and at 4:09 am, a little face was staring at me while I watched her amazing mama push her the rest of the way into this world. It. Was. Spectacular.

Ruby Eileen weighed a healthy 8 lbs, 2 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. And she was TICKED OFF. She was MOST unhappy to have to come out of her nice warm sauna and she made sure everyone knew it. Mike always joked that she would have to be born on a Tuesday so he could call her "Ruby Tuesday". Sorry honey. She was most definitely a Ruby Friday.

I walked out of the hospital at dawn to go home and promptly called her Daddy. I'm sure he thought I forgot something. Not really. I just wanted to tell him to be sure and tell Ruby that it snowed on the VERY early morning she was born. It never, hardly ever snows here. Just another miracle to add to the one God had given her mommy, daddy, and me by letting me witness her birth thirty minutes before.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

99 Things...

So my girlfriend Nash, who is, without a doubt, the POO (meaning good!) has this listed on her blog; because it's been a bit of a stressful day (more on that tomorrow), I'm taking it easy tonight and simply keeping in the spirit of Nash's blog. Thanks, Sweets, for the award! Youdabest!


Here is a fun game I found at Nash's blog -

Play along if you want -

Bold the things you’ve done and will admit to:

1. Started your own blog - duh!

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world - Disney World, a few times.

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis - don't kill them, it's against the law.

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped (never!)

12. Visited Paris --twice!

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child - no, but I am one!

16. Had food poisoning - yes, from homemade ice cream when I was 18. OH. My. LORD...

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train .

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - oh yeah.

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon (ha!)

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice--amazing! Thank you Marco!

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Yes--Italy and Germany. Breathtaking!

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (who does?)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris--twice--once in July when it was SLEETING.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching--does dolphin watching count?

63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma--can't--we lived overseas and now we're "tainted".

65. Gone sky diving (yeah right!)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check embarrassed...

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy Absolutely--I'm crazy sentimental!

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial--I think it's in a Virginian's birth certificate that one MUST. Many, many times. Love the Jefferson Memorial too!

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating --sort of--I used to help my dad skin his deer when I was little for the program he participated in called Hunters For The Hungry.

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life --my little girl's--twice.

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby (

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We did it...

It's over. Completed. Done.

24 hours from right NOW I will be leaving to go pick up my best friend, my love, my sweet husband from the airport.

We did it.

Tomorrow, when I finally hug my husband again, it will mark nine months to the day that he left. Nine months. It has been a long road, one marked with tears and struggles, but just as many smiles and happy moments--only now, the happy moments will once again include Mike. I cannot convey in words how crazy proud of my family I am. Devyn and Aiden have endured the last nine months with patience, humor, sometimes (lots of) tears, and love. They have made this time THAT much easier for me and Mike and tomorrow they will get the best surprise of their little lives....

They don't know, yet, that their Daddy is coming home tomorrow. My reasoning for this is quite simple: if something happens, and Mike's flight is delayed by a day (or two), I don't want them to go through the devastation of knowing their Daddy could be home, but isn't. The surprise will come tomorrow morning, when they're dressed to for church and we just happen to drive by the exit to church...they'll notice, I'm sure, and only then will I reveal the news.

If you've read this blog since it's inception nine months ago, thank you. Thank you for the supportive messages and the prayers you've offered our way. My husband will be home safely, and if you prayed for him, you had a direct hand in that. I will continue to blog about our military life, and I do hope you'll come back, because this is in no way where our story ends. There will be more deployments, the next one beginning next September, but I'm not thinking about that now. Now,I'm thinking of the following things:

1. Finding the adorable handmade bow to match Devyn's dress she'll wear tomorrow.
2. Having dinner with my girls tonight at Abuelo's in celebration.
3. Watching my little boy's face as he realizes he's looking at his best buddy again tomorrow.
4. Holding onto Mike's arms and knowing he's really here.
5. Praising God for bringing us through.

24 hours, 12 minutes, and we will be a family again...

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It's like an episode of the 100,000 Dollar Pyramid. And the answer is:


Seriously. Could these last few weeks move much slower?

I haven't blogged lately for several reasons:

1. Three sets of house guests for three weeks. Loved 'em all.
2. Continuously trying to clean my house. It never ends.
3. The Boy's birthday party that went off without a hitch.
4. Still trying to kick anemia's butt and finding that it's kicking mine.
5. Four hours last Friday in the dentist chair. I don't want to talk about it.

And honestly, just watching the clock tick...t.h.i.s.s.l.o.w.l.y...

I don't have a date yet for Mike's return, but it's all I'm thinking about these days. I can tell you this much: three weeks from now, more than likely, my husband whom I haven't laid eyes on in 8 months and 10 days will be with me again. It's like that line from a Fighting Gravity song that keeps playing through my head:

Why do days just creep along when times flies by so fast?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The perfect hero

This is the week that tests my humanity and sanity. Truly. In the past five days, I have:

1. Been diagnosed with anemia
2. Bought four baby gifts, and three birthday gifts
3. Planned one birthday party (for my sweet boy)
4. Sat through a nor'easter yesterday and LOVED every second of it
5. Paid a plumber a good sized bill to fix a pipe that flooded my garage
6. Seen the most gorgeous pictures of my friend's honeymoon in Tuscany (hello...SO going to Montepulciano)
7. Come down with a massive head cold-allergy-sinuses of death thing

WHAT IS GOING ON!?!!! Done now. Perfectly, happily done now with all the junk. The junk has my permission to end. NOW.

So here I sit, on a Friday night contemplating a cup of tea from the tea arsenal we brought back from England and watching the second season of Friends on dvd.

You know, I use this blog as a vent--a way to express my feelings, thoughts and emotions surrounding this whole deployment. However, it's all about me. I rarely have expressed what my husband goes through, because honestly, I don't have any idea and it pains me to think about it. I can't imagine...I can't fathom not seeing our children for ten months. I can't process not holding them and having them hug me back, or reading my paper in the morning. It must be so incredibly hard; harder than anything I've ever been through and I think that needed stating.

Mike, I know you read my blog and I need you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for us. I appreciate the sacrifices, daily, monthly and by the minute that you make for our family in order to give us what we need. Thank you for doing this job that at times is miserable and unimaginably ridiculous. You are, and always will be, my best friend and my most perfect hero.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buy something made with love...

Buy handmade this holiday season and support an artisan or craftsman!

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

My handmade website:


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sweatah Weathah...

I love, love, LOVE Autumn, Fall, whatever you want to call it. I LOVE IT. I love the cooler weather, the crispness in the air, and everything that comes along with it. However, I have some new favorites that just happen to coincide with the season. Because I'm a little bored, and a lot tired, I'm going to list them tonight...

1. The new Ralph Lauren fragrance, Notorious. Ralph and I have a thing, in that, the man fits me. His jeans fit me better than any jeans I've ever, ever owned (and that's not an easy task). His swimsuits look better on me than any other, and his perfumes just smell like a can of heaven exploded in my bathroom (which happened once, when I accidently broke a bottle of Glamorous and our bathroom smelled like Heaven exploded, for like, oh a MONTH). I LOVE RALPH. And I love this new perfume, Notorious.

2. Cinnamon Swirl Folgers.

3. Mad Men. Seriously. The best show on tv. Period.

4. My other favorite new fragrance, Burberry London. Smells just like London does. Honestly.

5. The fact that I have now learned how to make Burgundy Beef Stew.

6. Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks.

7. Fuzzy slippers, like the ones I found today at Target, even though I'll probably always be a socks girl.

8. Aiden's new slippers. Giant, white Speed Racer racecars on his feet. Wearing them, he's either going to fall over from being bottom heavy or if he goes outside in them, ducks will notice and follow him around like he's their Mother Ship.

9. Igor. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! Best kids (and adult) movie I've seen in a very, VERY long time. FABULOUS!

10. The fabrics I've found for my handbags. The most gorgeous ones I've seen in a long, long time!

11. My renewed love for fabrics and design and creating. I have an internal need to create--I've always known that, but I put it away for a long time, thinking that I needed to focus on being a mama (and I did, and I love it). However, feeding this need I have to create something with my hands that incorporates my heart and soul and is very, very me, fulfills a place that I hadn't filled for a very long time. If you're so inclined, check me out at

Here's to hot cider, fuzzy socks and slippers, Ralph Lauren, and Sweatah Weathah (lifted from Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph from an SNL sketch)...

The North isn't all bad...wink, wink...

My sweet friend Nash sent me this! How cool is she?!! You can check out her blog at

This doll is proof that good things do, from time to time, come out of the north! She has got to be one of the coolest people I've never met--in person anyway. Thanks Nash!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Today is day 213, and the seven month marker of this deployment. Seven months ago today, I kissed my husband.I watched my children hug his neck tighter, I think, than they ever had before. I looked in his eyes and told him that he was going to be ordered to do a lot of things but his one order from me was to "Come home". I stood helplessly as he tried to keep it together while he held his children. I listened as one of his chiefs told me kindly as they walked away, "We'll take care of him ma'am". I heard myself respond, "You better". I held my two sweet little ones as they crumbled in the parking lot. I felt the cutting wind on my face as we walked to the car, and I drove away slowly, staring at the jet that would take my husband, my best friend, away from me for a time.

Looking back over the past eleven years that I have been with this incredible man, I sometimes think how my life could have been. See, I was that girl who came from a small town, who probably, if following due course, was never going to leave her town. I was going to raise my children and marry the safety net. The safety net has a name, and he was one of my closest friends for many years. He fit the bill...on paper. On paper, he was everything that would provide a good life. He came from a wealthy background, had a good family upbringing, had a good education and had his future laid out for him. I would never want for anything. But I did.

I wanted unpredictability. I wanted adventure. I wanted the most ground-breaking, passionate love that I had ever experienced. One man held that, and one man did not.
Enter Mike.

From the get-go, Mike was unlike anyone I had ever dated. He was daring, comical, gracious, and grabbed life by the horns. He was everything that Safety Net was not. He presented a life that would be changing, swirling, adventurous--a roller coaster versus a merry-go-round. I fell hard for the roller coaster. The thing is, when you take a ride on a merry-go-round, once is usually enough, and you're done. When you take a ride on a roller coaster, with it's speed and dips and hills and crests, you want to go again and again and again. Once is never enough, at least it's not for me.

Marrying Mike was probably one of the tremendously scary things I have ever done. I knew that it would mean countless days and nights apart, navigating a marraige where we would be apart more than together. It would mean learning how to not just be a wife, but a Navy wife--something infinitely more insane than just being a wife. I didn't know what was going to happen to us, but looking back on it now, I realize that I didn't want to marry a safety net--I wanted to find safety in someone amazing. And now, even when he's 8000 miles away, I've felt safer than I ever have in my life because I found safety IN him, not BECAUSE of him.

Seven months. 213 days. 5112 hours. Only a bit more to go...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Whooped Cookie... exactly what I am. I have been through nearly every possible event during this deployment. I've survived projectile child-vomiting, fevers, raging nightmares, tornadoes, tornado warnings, a tropical storm/hurricane, varmints, critters, soccer season, ballet season, one vacation by myself with both kiddles, and countless other things. I had hoped I'd seen the worst of it. Not so. Sickness. Illness. Massive allergies. Me. Ugh.

It happened Friday night when I started feeling icky. I was pretty sure it was allergies--I suffer from SUCKY seasonal allergies--but when I woke up yesterday morning, my head weighed more than my body. Mis.Er.Able. I spent the whole day in bed, except for the 40 minutes the kiddles and I loaded in the car and went to Costco specifically to buy Claritin which usually helps. Popped one while standing in the line waiting to pay for the thing. It. Didn't HELP!!!!!! How is that possible? The one thing that always works, failed to work, on the one day when both kids were at home and wanted attention and I couldn't give it to them. I tried, and I kept trying but I knew things were going downhill quickly when Sweet Girl looked at me and said, "Ohhhh Mama. Just go to bed". So I did that, and then I did that again on Sunday. And this morning after taking Aiden to school. And it's only 2:30 pm. I'm definitely coming down with something...

Oh...the humanity...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Open House...

Got this idea from my buddy Nash. Thanks girly!

Listening to… Wedding Crashers, the movie.

Thankful for…my dear girlfriends--my sisters! My sweet girl who looked after me today in my yucky state of sick.

In the kitchen…two fish, Rockstar and Irene.

Sewing… CarryCarrie Distinctive Handbags. Check out my website at

Reading… Royal Affairs: A Romp Through The Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy (Leslie Carroll),A Covenant Marriage (Gary Chapman) and as always, my Bible

In the yard/garden…grass...bunnies, squirrels and doves.

Praying for… my love, my children, and November 4th.

On the iPod today…Big and Rich, Pat McGee Band, Fighting Gravity, Blue, Westlife, Matt Nathanson

Thinking about…my whole head aching,my nose not working properly, and how I hope Qatar is pretty cool...

Looking forward to...NOVEMBER!

Hoping…my head doesn't explode and we can make it to church tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I stay out of political discussions regarding this war. I have many emotions and feelings regarding what we're doing in Iraq, and they have been magnified greatly over the past seven months based on my family's very personal connection to one serving there. Tonight, I had the experience of describing to my daughter why her class observed a moment of silence...why the flags were flown today at half-staff...and when she asked me why some people would be so awful to do what they did to people who didn't do anything to them, I didn't have an answer. But then, my sweet girl responded:

"That's what my daddy's over in Iraq for isn't it? He's trying to protect people who don't have anyone to protect them from the bad people." Before I had a chance to answer, she said, "I hope my daddy know how good he is and how much I'm sure those people and kids in Iraq need him and his friends. I hope they get their freedom soon".

And isn't that what it's all about? I know there are lots of people in this country who oppose what's going on regarding our involvement in the Middle East, but I wish people could understand that when they fail to support the sailors' and soldiers' missions that they are actually failing to support the troops. You can't have it both ways.

In 1964, my daddy returned from two years in the Army in Germany. His tour had ended and he left Munich two weeks before his batallion reported to Vietnam. He landed at JFK Airport (back in the day when you actually walked from the plane across the tarmac to the terminal) and walking in his uniform, thrilled to be back on American soil, he felt something hit him. And then something else. And then something else. It was rotten tomatoes. And rotten potatoes. And corn cobs. And rotten melons. He walked through it, all of it pelting him, protestors spitting at him, calling him a murderer, a liar, and a coward. He said nothing. He held his head high and walked through it. He's only told me about it once, and not since then, but I know it damaged him. How could it not? How could that not scar someone?

I wish people who are not in the position of the military family could walk a mile in our shoes. I wish protestors could experience not holding their babies, their little children for 6,7,9, 12,15 months...or more. I wish they could live the life we live, not because I don't think they shouldn't protest, but perhaps they would change their tone. Perhaps they would know the pain we feel, perhaps they would understand the sacrifice we make...but I support them. My husband supports them, because he fights for them. His guys fight for them, and our family sacrifices for them. I just hope they can truly appreciate it, and appreciate the freedom they have to do so.

I'll never forget the searing fear and pain I felt on this day seven years ago. I remember so clearly the attitude of Americans was to get the bastards at any cost. But when that doesn't happen as quickly or as swiftly as we all would like, we bail.

Anyway...we need your support. The servicemen and women need your support--in every form. The families need your love and your help. After all, we're just doing our jobs.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Main Entry:
alteration of vermin
circa 1539
1: an animal considered a pest; specifically : one classed as vermin and unprotected by game law

Let me note at this point that we do not live in the country. You know the country (otherwise pronounced "cuuuntrrryyy" by good southern folk)'s the place where the stars are so bright you can nearly reach out and grab them in deep, dark, cuuuuntryyy's the place where the homemade lemonade is SO good you can basically chew the sugar that's in's the place, that hallowed ground, where people sit on their porch on a swing and watch the day yawn into the evening dusk, and it's the place that comes with names that you only hear in books like Spoon River Anthology. It is ALSO the place where VARMINTS reside. I grew up with varmints like possums (and no--it's not o'possums), minks, foxes, weasels, beavers, ground hogs, and BIG VARMINTS--deer, bear, wildcats and the like.

However, there's something strange in the water here in the CITY. We. Have. Varmints.

Last week, while sitting on the porch in the evening with my neighbor, a FOX a-scampered down our street. Apparently, he's out every night just roaming the neighborhood. Doing what? Looking for chickens in Ma Kettle's hen house down yonder? I walked out three nights ago to get something out of my car and a skunk was staring at me. Needless to say, I sat in my car until Pepe decided to mosey on down to another yard. And last night, I was peeking out the front window when I saw some BEHEMOTH animal varmint cat puma fox thing wander onto my neighbor's porch across the street. It was dark. It was large. It was a dark, large mammal and it was nearby. I watched in a stunned stupor when my neighbor pulled into her driveway and honestly, it was like something out of a B movie--there I sit at 9:30 last night talking to the window: "No! Don't walk up on that porch! There's a critter on that porch"! However, said critter had apparently left already, because my neighbor walked into her house, unharmed.

So, anyway. We have varmints. And yes, I do know those places I spoke of like the ones in Spoon River daddy grew up in mom lived in Sugar Tree Hollow (pronounced, with pride, "holler"), my grandma was from (beautiful) Goshen Pass, and my grandaddy came from Eagle Rock. I am a proud conglomerate of all of those. Holler!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Save the drama for your mama...

I have a sign on me, I'm convinced. It says, "If there is drama involved in your life, lay it at my feet because I will swim in it". Seriously. It's either Neighborhood Drama, Life Long Friend Drama, and to add to the vat o' drama, there was Husband Drama yesterday; nothing serious--he injured his ankle while at work and it was all swollen and elevated last night. Still though, that counts I think.

Our neighborhood is having issues. I am friends with two women in our neighborhood, however, they are not friends with each other. Apparently, there was a throw-down at the bus stop today (I wasn't present for, but WOW did I get the 411 on it). Then, after I got home from dropping Aiden at school, one member of the throw down showed up on my door to tell me her side, while my mobile phone was ringing--the other member of the throw down was calling to tell me her side. Ho.Ly.Smokes. I left high school, oh, about 15 years and 3 months ago. Enough!

On top of that, my closest childhood friend is going through some major relationship drama and I hear about it. A lot. Not that I don't want to help her, and listen to her, but it's getting to the point where it's a bit much.

This is one of the joys of deployment. Not only does everything hit the preverbial fan, but the fan is buried in it, and can't rotate. It's madness. It's also expected. With every deployment, it's basically six plus months of Murphy's Law. However, enough complaining. Below are some good things that have happened this week:

1. Devyn and Aiden love school, and I'm so elated for them!
2. I am not yet tired of making lunches.
3. The new 90210 was not as bad as I thought it would be.
4. Sarah Palin.
5. Sarah Palin.
6. Sarah Palin.
7. Hurricane Gustav spared Nawlins.
8. I found a Gymboree outlet close by. Must.Stay.Away...
9. I got all the laundry finished. Almost...
10. The dvd player is working again!

And to end on a funny note, Aiden introduced me to two new little friends in his class on Tuesday. Two sweet, lovely little girls. He asked me in front of them if he could have a playdate with them and I said we'd have to talk to their mommies. They jumped in and said ,"Oh no, we want to have a sleepover with Aiden"! Again, I said I'd have to talk to their mommies. So we got in my car to drive home and I asked him, "What do you think Mama would say to you having a sleepover with two girls"? He said, "You'd probably say that's not a good idea". I told him that was right, and then I asked:

"What do you think Daddy would say"?

"Daddy would say...Way to go"!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The MOST wonderful time of the year...

I've been singing all day. Scratch that. I've been singing since last Monday when the end was blissfully in sight. And now it's here! The MOST wonderful time of the year!


I love, LOVE being with my children. I love it. I love summer for the relaxed feeling, the lack of schedule, the lazy days and heading to the beach. However, I LOVE Back to School. I love shopping for new lunchboxes, bookbags, the school supply list, packing lunches and writing little love notes to the kiddles on them and yes, I even love waking up at 7 am. However, there is that pang of melancholy that my babies are growing up, one school year at a time...

Devyn will begin third grade tomorrow and I still so clearly remember her first day of preschool and peeling her little fingers off the doorjamb. Here we are on the eve of Girlfriend stepping into a new frontier of elementary school. To top that, she trusted me enough to pull a baby tooth tonight (note: this was not a pain-staking process--said tooth was hanging on in there by nothing more than air, I'm convinced). She is growing up and quicker than I'd like.

Aiden will start pre-k tomorrow and is THRILLED. He can't wait. He picked out his clothes tonight and chose khaki shorts with little green frogs on them and a green t-shirt with dinosaurs on it. He's ready, to say the least!

With that, here's to the new school year!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Part Two...

We were whisked up to the delivery suite only to know that we wouldn't deliver there; our baby was breech and soon enough we'd be in an operating room. We finished up signing papers, most of which read something like "we promise not to sue this hospital if either mother or baby perish". Riiight. Contractions continued during this time and I clearly remember clutching Mike's hand while he dialed my best friend, who then asked to speak to me...I think I got two words out before I couldn't talk anymore and had to hand the phone back to Mike. It was at that point that the nurse came in and wheeled me away and told Mike she'd come get him one "we were set". I so clearly recall being on that operating table and feeling completely surreal and out of place. I wasn't ready for this, and it certainly wasn't how it was supposed to go in my head. I had this all planned out, and so far, none of it had gone according to plan. I started to panic a little when I saw my sweet husband's (calm, but freaked out) face and I managed to calm down a little.

He sat at my head and stroked my hair and I think I told him to talk to me about something...anything, I didn't care. He chose Monty Python. ??? It worked, because it did get my mind off the task at hand...

It took about 20 minutes and I felt this little pop and then there she was, this little teeny (really! only 5 lbs, 11 oz) and Mike and I were unbelievably overcome and overwhelmed. I got to quick her for a very quick second before Mike and the nurse took her to the nursery. I went into the recovery room where 15 minutes or so later Mike appeared at the door and asked me "Would you like to meet your daughter"? That very question terrified the poo out of me, but at the same time, I couldn't say no. I'd never in my life wanted to hold anything more. He brought her to me and there was this amazing, perfectly peaceful little rosebud of a girl wearing a little pink and white knit hat. I believe (and I don't exactly recall because I was out of my mind on painkillers) the first words I said to my little girl went something like "Wow, you're so pretty and I like your hat"!

That day is burned in my memory. There have been many days that will stand out and have stood out since then, but the only other one that even comes close is the one when Aiden was born. It's special for so many reasons other than the obvious ones, but those are deep within my heart and they'll stay right there, but I will end saying this:

This sweet girl is my first born. She is one of the most beautiful creations I've ever laid eyes on and continues to be so. She's special for so many, many reasons, but perhaps she's most special because of one very simple reason: She made me a mother, and she's blessed me beyond explanation.

Happy birthday Ladybug!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eight years ago...part one...

I was, exactly at this time, sitting on our couch, watching the finale of the first season of Survivor. Mike had duty, and thus would be spending the night onboard the ship, so it was just the tv, the cat, and one very, very pregnant me. Mike called about this time and he was watching the finale as well and asked how I was feeling. I think my response was something like:

"What do you mean, weird"?
"Dunno. Can't explain it. I just feel weird".

I didn't feel sick, or tired, or even achy, just weird, as if I felt this looming feeling that something big was about to happen.

I woke up at 1 am the next morning STARVING. I went downstairs and ate some chips and salsa and happily waddled back to bed (I think it took a solid five minutes for me just to make it up one flight of stairs). I went back to sleep, only to wake up very early (like 7:30-and yes, that's VERY early for me) feeling like poo. I felt like I was getting the flu, or at the very least, a summer cold. I called my mom from bed and told her how I felt and she said, "Call your OB". To which I bristled, because after all, it was just a cold! However, to make my mom feel better, I did call my OB and talked to the nurse:

"I have a cold".
"Ok, describe this cold". (??)
"I feel like I have a fever, my back is killing me and I have a sore throat".
"Hmmm. (pause). Carrie, have you had any contractions"?
(pause....longer pause) "Um...yeah! (and that's me just now realizing that I had) I have! About every eight minutes or so"!
"Ok, you need to come to the hospital. NOW".

I called Mike and of course couldn't get in touch with him, so I asked to speak to a friend of ours who was on the boat with Mike. Here's how THAT conversation went...

"Hi, Jonas, it's Carrie".
"Ohhh...Heeeey...Caaaarie" (in a very laid back manner) "Whaaat's uuuup"?
"Jonas, I need you to find Mike. I think I'm in labor".
"'re in labor...cooool".
(pause. me--WHAT?)
and then Jonas...
"Wait. Labor. LABOR? HOLY CRAP"!
and hung up on me...

We lived about 20 minutes from the base. Mike was home in about 12 minutes flat. We got in the car, and started driving to the hospital...I think I looked at him at one point and said, "If this isn't IT, I'm really, really sorry..."

Our doctor looked at us at the hospital and said, "Well, we're going to have a birthday today"! That's when I knew...this WAS it...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bars, Beam, Floor, Vault...

Today, in an attempt to channel Girlfriend's never-ending energy, I scheduled a "try it" class at our local gymnastics gym. (Is that what it is? A gymnastics "gym"? Wouldn't that be redundant)? Anyway...I digress...

I was sure Girlfriend would freak out. In fact, I was so sure she would NOT even ATTEMPT a cartwheel, that I would have placed money on it. I. Was. Wrong.

Baby Girl RAN down the steps to the gym...had more determination on her face then I think I've ever, EVER seen and started stretching...from there she went to work on the uneven bars--she swung and got her legs into some contorted position that actually had her legs then over the bar and swinging...

from there she climbed the rope (I felt kinda when I used to climb the rope in gym class...sorry, random Wayne's World reference) and she got almost to the top--eight times!

From there it was onto the trampoline, the floor and handstands. I couldn't believe it. I sat there with my mouth open, just sure she would balk at something, but no. NO! She revelled in it. She soaked it up. She LOVED it. My mom called while we were there and when I told her where we were, she went into the Retro Zone, recalling my five years of gymnastics. "You were a natural" she said. Ha. I DID love it, but the balance beam scared the dickens out of me. Are people aware that that thing is FOUR INCHES WIDE? I was honestly scared to death. I can still recall being 8 years old and doing a back handspring on the beam and almost pooing myself because I was so dang scared of missing my footing on the beam. That's all it took for me. I knew that going further in gymnastics meant facing that fear and at the time I wasn't prepared to do that. But enough about me. Come to find out, Devyn's friend Sara is in Gymnastics at the same gym and Devyn would be in her class. We're talking about it...Devyn made a list of pros and cons and then we'll talk to her Daddy about it. I know this much, though. Sweet Girl walked in that gym and it was like she had found her niche. Maybe I'm being naive, but it looked to me like Devyn had found her home...

A p.s. to my Sweetie--Happy Birthday my Love! Here's to a champagne-worthy 34th year. I love you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Methods of Survival...

I've always said that those involved in a deployment get through it anyway they know how. Some spend insane amounts of money...some journal...some turn to other members of the opposite sex other than their spouse, and even some turn to members of the same sex to, well, yeah, I've known those too. August has been a hard month thus far. We celebrated our ninth anniversary (I spent the day cleaning the house), Mike's birthday is tomorrow and Devyn's is parents were here for two weeks, my granddaddy is not doing well, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I could honestly yap all day long, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I try to focus on means of survival. I've always had three: prayer, coffee, and red wine. Good red wine. Life is much too short to 1)not pray, 2) drink bad coffee and 3) drink bad wine. Of course, the kids help me get through, but those are my little joys I look forward to--the coffee and prayer every day, several times a day, the wine about twice a week. I have a new method of survival. I'm even slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I do have a certain level of pride about the whole thing as well. I now, since yesterday, am the proud owner of one kangaroo Webkinz.

So here's how it happened. I started helping Aiden play the games in order to teach him how to do it and I started thinking that the games would actually relax me and take my mind off things. Before long, I was playing the games with no child in sight. To beat that, I started playing all the"daily activities" on their "pets". The kiddles got annoyed. Told me to "get my own". So I did. Now don't go thinking I sleep with it and make little houses for it and what not. It ain't like that. It's just something easy to do in the evening after my brain is goo. I was asked today when I told someone about this new venture, "With all the games on Yahoo, you actually purchased something so you could play your own games and daily activities? On a four year old's website?" Yes. I did. No apologies. Casper and I are very happy together, thank you very much.

You think that's bad? There's still three months to go. Just wait until November...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Alex P. Keaton, circa 2008

Two nights ago, my brother-in-law proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes! I'm not surprised in the least; he is an amazing guy and she is equally so. I'm thrilled that they have found each other and that she makes him so blissfully happy. He has that look on his face (probably permanently) that just sings of complete contentment. So yesterday when he called to talk to The Kiddles, I kind of knew what was up...

Devyn started right in and asked if she could be their flowergirl. She's been doing that for the past three months I think and I've been trying (fruitlessly) to impress upon her that she doesn't just ask for such an honor! Although apparently her boldness worked in her favor because they did ask Girlfriend if she would be so inclined. You know that cartoon where the cat in on the ceiling, hair sticking straight up it's so wired? That was Girlfriend. She was screaming. Then, my brother-in-law asked to speak to Aiden. What follows is an account of how that blessed event went down (keep in mind I'm just hearing one end of the conversation):

Aiden: Ring Bearer? (pause) Ring Bearer? You want me to be your Ring Bearer?
Wow! Cool! Yeah, I can do that.
Wait. Wait. How much does it pay?
(Brother-in-law: How...How much does it pay?)
Oh, I don't know. I don't like pictures so much.
Oookkk. I can do thaaat. Thank you for asking me.

As soon as we hung up, Dude looked at me and said,
"I cannot do this job".
(Me: Why not?)
"Because. I'm not a bear"!
(No, no Sweetie, you don't have to BE a bear or dress UP like one!)
"Well, what do I wear then"?
(You'll wear a tuxedo).
"Ohhhhh NO"!!
(What's wrong? You'll look great!)
"I won't be a bear, but I'll be a penguin"!

So when I told Mike this morning on the phone about Dude's comments, he said, "Oh my gosh. You know who he is right? He's Alex P. Keaton with that 'How much does it pay' remark"! It's actually not a bad idea--both he and Devyn are so darn cute I'm thinking about renting them out for weddings as the Ring Bearer and Flowergirl. It could work!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Original Lindsay...

Eleven years ago, a dirty, cleat-wearing, adorable athletic chick walked into a dorm room to find a spastic, prissy southern girl lighting up a lightbulb in a microwave. These two girls were introduced to each other and each was thinking, "Oh. My. Lord. This is my soon to be roommate? You've got to be kidding".

Four months later, these two girls moved into their apartment together, not really knowing each other at all. The bonding didn't happen right away, but one afternoon, the adorable athletic chick (no longer dirty) asked the spastic prissy girl if she wanted to go to WalMart with her, so they rode to the only Wal-Mart in town into the adorable girl's Volvo (appropriately named Swedish) and thus began a friendship that the likes of which has not been seen since, and will probably never be seen again.

The adorable girl is my Lindsay. We have been through a POO LOAD of shtuff together and she is and forever will be the closest thing I have to a sister. There are two women in this world I truly consider my "soul mates" and she is one of them (Amber, my lovie, you're the other!).

Lindsay is one of those people who will answer the phone at any time of day and listen to absolutely anything I have to say, gripe about, yell about, yak about or just whine. We have a lot of differences, but she must be my yin and i must be her yang. I really don't understand the yin and yang thing ,but I know that they're opposites ( I think) but that they balance each other ( I think). Either way, we're sometimes very opposite, but we balance each other greatly. She has stood with me at the most important moments of my life:

1. She held my head and hair back the one and only time I got a little drunk (or a LOT drunk) in college when I was praying for my death over the toilet and promising my Lord and Savior I would never drink to that extent again.
2. She celebrated with me during a most intense academic situation my senior year and had chicken nuggets and a frosty with me and my parents the day it was all resolved.
3. She was my Maid of Honor and cried more than I did on my wedding day.
4. She was the first person I called (after our parents) when I found out I was pregnant--I still can hear her VERY acute screams over the phone.
5. She held me and let me cry profusely in the days prior to us moving to London because I was going to miss her so much--and she was the strong one, telling me it would all be ok.
6. She fed a squirrel some Icee off a spoon in Regents Park in London when she came to visit.
7. She survived a looming hurricane with me in Miami and only told me to "Shut your Pollyanna mouth" once when I was being a bit TOO positive about "at least having 42 hours of vacation" as opposed to 4 days. I totally needed to be shut up. Love her for that!

We have been through so much more and she honestly (I think) saved my butt this Spring by doing a most amazing thing for me when she witnessed me at the end of my deployment rope. I will forever be grateful and indebted to her for that. There are just a few things that I look back on my life on when in times of crisis, people have selflessly and unbelivably bailed me out--she did that for me.

Last night was one of those moments at 10pm when I called her about something that was bugging me and in no time she had me laughing and realizing how insane the situation is. She just gets me in every way. I am so very thankful to my Lord for her and what she has brought to my life. She is a gift in every possible way and I hope she knows how much I treasure and love her.

Lindsay. I hereby promise to never buy you a bird as a pet. I promise to never sneak orange flavoring into any food or drink you may consume. I promise to defend your right to think that a cat's tounge is gross (even though you're wrong). I promise to always sit with you however long it takes for you to pick out a Burberry hat. I promise you that you will forever and always be The Original Lindsay and to take our little silly secret stuff to my grave. I promise you that even though we don't get to see each other as often as we like, that you will always be my sister and I will love you til I die and beyond. Youdabest Baby!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I'm not jewish, however, I firmly believe in the power of the oy. The kiddles and I spent five lovely (HOT) days in Florida and got back to our lovely home tonight. OH! My ear just popped from the last flight--love that! We spent one day with the Mouse--one day because I honestly think that's all we could stand from the heat. We did get to do the things we missed out on last year including:

1. Stitch's Great Escape
2. Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
3. Aladdin's Flying Carpets
4. Mickey's Philharmagic
5. Cinderella's Golden Carousel
6. Tom Sawyer Island
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
8. The Haunted Mansion

Now, it should be noted that The Haunted Mansion is, hands down, my all-time, whoop-it-up, shamalamadingdong, slap your mama favorite theme park attraction. EVER. I love the kitchiness of it and have since I first rode it when I was seven years old. Last year it was closed for refurbishment (funny how something that's "in shambles" needs refurbishment, but I get it) and I missed out on taking my two little sweeties to my most favorite thing at WDW. This year, however, I made SURE it was open. We got off the monorail and made a BEELINE to the back of the park to blissfully find that it only had a ten minute wait! I nearly cried with glee. The Girl and The Boy went in and throughout the ride, Aiden was stonefaced. Not an expression, not a word was muttered from that child. Devyn was a little more vocal, but seemed to be enjoying herself. THE MINUTE we stepped off the ride and into daylight, Aiden had a total meltdown, screaming and crying about what I had just "made him endure" according to him. I will say though, that that special moment I will always remember as one of the worst (but a little humorous) moments of my parental life was when he looked at me and told me, "You've actually ruined my perfect life"! Oh, the humanity...

The rest of the time spent in Florida was spent at the pool at our hotel and one day spent at the Downtown Disney Marketplace, where upon leaving said Marketplace and returning to where our shuttle would be, I realized that our shuttle had LEFT US, an HOUR AND A HALF EARLIER THAN THEY SAID THEY WOULD. Here's what was going on to make THAT moment even better :

50 mile an hour winds
sheets of COLD rain
CRAZY Lightening
Black skies

THANK GOD for my friend Lisa who informed me that the shuttle had abandoned her and her husband too. We managed to hail a cab, but only after my two sweeties were quite literally shivering and trembling and all of us looked like we had just jumped in the Seven Seas Lagoon. And what's better? Her sweet husband paid our cab fare ($40!!!) because in his words "Your husband is fighting for our country. It's the least I can do". Love him!

All in all, it was a good trip. We are beyond tired and spent, but I am so thankful that I have two little good travellers who listened and paid attention to me, and beyond thankful for a husband who supports me doing crazy things like taking two small children to a crazy place by myself. I'll end on a funny note: everytime I've gone to the Magic Kingdom, I've seen some mad crazy stuff. This time was no exception: the first was the man in front of me at the entry gate who had his head shaved into the silhouette of The Mouse several times over, and the other was the dude riding the Teacups wearing a shirt that said "I'm in love with a stripper".


Friday, July 18, 2008

Me, Two Kiddles, and A Mouse...

No, we did not have a mouse in the house. Tomorrow, the kiddles and I will leave for five days in Orlando, hence "a mouse" being THE Mouse. Since we did Disney last year with the family, the kiddles and I will spend one day at the Magic Kingdom doing the things we did not get to do last year for one reason or another. Normally, I wouldn't undertake something of this magnitude--a vacation with two children completely on my own--BUT...I work for an amazing company that offers the reward of a paid all-inclusive vacation for hard work and I earned it in April! So...that brings in the decision to take the kiddles with me to Florida. The only thing I'm really worried and concerned about are the flights. The kids will do fine--they've flown several times before and Devyn's an old pro at flying by this point, but my concern lies in transporting two children by myself through three airports. Yeesh...

It will be fine. I've got good little travelers with me. The house has been cleaned, the last load of dishes is in the dishwasher, I managed all but one load of laundry, the cat is taken care of, the bags are in the car and I'm finally relaxing by watching Project Runway (a rerun from the other night, but it's always better the second time around). 7 am will come early!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

35 minutes...

Today the kiddles and I spent 35 wonderful minutes in an office at the base talking to my amazing husband through a video teleconference. I was a little hesitant about this whole thing because I felt like it would be like it must be in a prison--in that we would have a pane of glass between us and we would just not have a connection. I couldn't imagine what we would have to talk about for 3o minutes because it's been so rare that we've been able to talk that long in the last five months. I was apprehensive but excited. I didn't know what to expect...

I walked into that office today at 11:20 and saw my precious husband sitting 6207.90 miles away. I didn't make a lot of eye contact with him initially because, in all honesty, I had to compose myself. I didn't want to cry in front of him, or seem sad at all. That's not what I was there for. The only thing I wanted to do was somehow morph myself into air and travel through that tv screen to where he was. Even though that wasn't possible, I was determined to make those few moments we had the best few moments we'd had in the past five months. It went too quickly. It seemed like almost as soon as it began, I was told we had two minutes left. How do you convey the love you have for someone in two minutes? How can you tell the person you love more than anything in the universe that you're miserably sorry that you argued yesterday? How do you apologize and not close it by hugging that person so tightly that you can feel their breath on your hair? How do you let your eyes speak what's in your very soul and somehow let them know that nothing else in this world matters except being with that person? How do you show the joy in the moment that you're with that person and not show signs of the constant stomach ache you carry until that person returns? I suppose it's impossible not to. I can only hope that Mike saw the sheer bliss I had at seeing him for the first time in five months.

Five months tomorrow. One hundred and fifty some days. One hundred and fifty days in which I have slept alone, fixed an alarm clock, drank over one hundred and fifty cups of coffee, shorted out the microwave about five times, gotten my hair cut twice, hosted friends and family in our home four different times, sat through two nights of projectile puke with Aiden, sat through three different fevers through the night, finished two school years (one with each kiddle), attended two soccer parties, one ballet recital, been nearly killed on the interstate by crazy drivers four times, hired a lawn guy, earned a trip with my company, had three doctors appointments, washed approximately 18,000,000 loads of laundry and painted and redecorated one bathroom. Through all that, I have grown more in love with my husband, questioned my own strength and sanity and managed to not get liquered up every evening. It's been a long road thus far, and I don't expect it to get any shorter quite honestly. It's going to be a long road even though (hopefully) we're more than halfway through at this point. The end result is what's important and that's all that matters right now...making it through the next four months and watching a plane carrying my husband land and feeling his breath on my hair again. That's the goal. One hundred and twenty days...

Sunday, July 13, 2008's a vicious circle...

So. The littlest kiddle had two birthday parties to go to this weekend, and his big sister was invited to the one today, which gave me a nice two hours to scarf down a sandwich and a cup of coffee and go back and get them. Big Sister and I had a nice time out on our own yesterday while Aiden was at the first birthday party. Now, let me tell you...this birthday thing is getting a tad out of control. It's like the ante is up and you never know what you're going to get when you walk into the home where the party is being held, which has likely been transformed into a five year old's dream come true on crack. It's madness. And then you travel to the backyard. Walt Disney wouldn't have even come up with something like this. Everywhere you look, there are bouncyjumpyhouseythings and bouncyjumpywaterslidethings and swingsets and a freakin smorgasboard of every possible food imaginable--everything from gummy bears to macaroni salad, ribs and a kegger for the parents (because let's face it--that's the only way most parents get through these things--good and liquered up)...children are running manically around in the accepted uniform of swimsuits and swim masks and everyonce in a while a child will randomly launch him or herself off the top of the blowupwaterslidethingy to the shreiks of the parents who scream through the kegger induced haze "HEY! WAAATCH IT!". I kid you not. It's a sight to behold.

Now, because I'm one of "those" parents (read=annoying), I drop off said kiddles at these parties so as not to lose what's left of my mind. It just ain't my thing. And I fully expect when it's my children's parties, that those other parents will feel free to drop off their children for two hours and go maintain some sense of adulthood.

So, after my two hours of sandwich scarfing and coffee guzzling, I returned to said homes to pick up the kiddles. What IS it about the "gift for coming" thing? I'm all about the goody bag--you get like a Twizzler, a sheet of stickers, a punch balloon and a whistle. Heck, when I was a kid you didn't even get that. You took your gift, ate some cake, pinned a tail on a paper donkey and left. Now, it appears, things have changed. Drastically. Yesterday, Aiden came home with a baseball bat and a ball. At first I thought he had nicked them off the birthday girl's big brother, but, um, no. They were his. GIFTS. Um. WHAT? Seriously? Geez. Fast forward to today. Upon leaving, Aiden, my polite, uber-good with manners says to the Mama Host, "I'm leaving now. Thank you for having me. Can I have my present now"? I nearly puked in the macaroni salad. As I was leaning in to tell him "Sweetie pie, we don't ask for gifts. You have a very nice lollipop right there", Mama Host says "Oh! I almost forgot! Here you go, Doll". A beach towel. A Brand New Beach Towel from the Disney Store. Was she kidding? I was praying she was kidding. But no.

Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not being ungrateful. I just don't understand where this is coming from--this "thank you gift" bit. It's like the $30,000 gift bag the celebrities get who present at the Oscars. We're now in the Gift Bag Game of preschool, and if you ask me, it's out of control. Who sends the thank you note in that case? The kid who got the birthday gift or the guest who got the gift for coming? And then where does it stop? Do we, as the receivers of the bat, baseball, and beach towel now have to reciprocate with a more mamajamma gift? If that's the case, by the time they're twelve, we'll have basketball hoops and jacuzzis in our back yard. Maybe it's not such a bad idea after all...

Either way, both my kids guests at their birthday parties this year will get gifts as well. A little goody bag, complete with Twizzler, a sheet of stickers, a punch balloon and a whistle.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Glitch...

There's now a glitch in the plan. The original plan was that Mike would be home in the early fall, putting this at a seven month deployment. Scratch that. I found out on Monday that the plan is now that Mike will be home closer to the holidays at the end of this year. Mike was the most upset I've heard him while we were on the phone talking about The Glitch. I, while not surprised was definitely sucker-punched by this news. It was something that I knew was a strong possibility, but I couldn't think about it. I had to get through the moment at hand, although an extension was always in the back of my head.

So. In all honesty, I've spent this week being slightly sick at my stomach. The kids took The Glitch remarkably well--they honestly taught me a lot about faith and grace in the moment. They were much more concerned that Daddy would come home safely rather than when he would come home. I thank God for those two every day--they are the sweet in what has been a very bitter week.

I am very blessed with wonderful friends. As soon as I sent out the "FYI email" to our close friends about The Glitch, I got a phone call from one of my dear friends--her husband is currently deployed also--and she was honestly sick at the stomach FOR me. She's just too sweet! My best friend was angry and just very clearly ticked off at the government and I love her for that. I know that I could call her in the middle of the night if I needed anything from her. She's amazing. Our families are just upset. There's no other way to describe it. My daddy told me the stories of him praying every day not to be extended during Vietnam, my mother-in-law was speechless, my brother-in-law was angry, and my aunt-in-law was just over it. It's so nice to have people who are sad for us, as well as for themselves.

So, the reason I refer to this majorly annoying moment in time as The Glitch is because it's just that and only that--it's a glitch and glitches get worked out. Mike will come home. Through all our deployments, we've now gone the longest amount of time without laying eyes on each other. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about him, wondering what he's doing. I'm a nightowl, so at 11:30 every night, I'm thinking of him waking up about then. The fact is, I will continue to think about him every minute for the next 120 (or thereabouts) days. I think I'm babbling I've said to myself many times over the past five months, this too, shall pass...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Holding on...

When I walked into Aiden's room last night to kiss him goodnight, this is what I found:

The giraffe's name is Zeebee (courtesy of Aiden) and the night Mike left, we put Aiden's favorite picture of him and his daddy in Zeebee's tummy. That giraffe has seen more love and affection in the last 5 months than I think it ever had before. He's never far from Aiden' side and you can see how lovingly Aiden hugs him every night. It warmed my heart, but pricked it a little too. I noticed last night for the first time how worn the picture is, the cracks that are in it and how many times it's been loved on and quite obviously talked to...

Mike, I know Aiden doesn't talk a lot on the phone when you call, but you can rest assured you are talked to every night...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A better day...

I am happy to say that today has been a better day. I'm very tired, but it's more from actually having a productive day than being emotionally worn out. The kiddles and I got the bedrooms and the den cleaned, I completed their July chore charts, and they got a play date with our neighbor's daughter when her mom and I went to dinner. Her husband is deployed as well, and it was so nice to sit down and talk to someone who just "got it". I got to talk to my dear husband, who was experiencing the worst sandstorm they've had there and ended the day reading to my sweet kiddles before bed.

More good days will follow this one, as will more difficult, trying days, but we can do this two and a half more months. We've done nearly five. How strange and bizarre it is to think that I haven't seen my husband, my best friend, in five months. How crazy is it to say that I have no idea of what my husband's living conditions are like? That's just nuts. It may be nuts, but it's our life. It's my life. As much as it's sucked, it has done several very key things for me and my family, and my marriage:

1. Mike and I appreciate each other (I believe) so much more than other couples might.
2. We have a level of communication that we might not have had if we didn't have the life we have.
3. We value the time we have together and with our children more than we might if we didn't spend substantial time apart.
4. We know, perhaps better than anyone what "alone time" actually is.
5. We know, perhaps better than anyone, that "alone time" is completely overrated.
6. I know that if everything I own on this earth disappeared this minute, as long as I still have Michael, Devyn, and Aiden (and yes, our kitty Tux), I would have everything I would ever need to make me fully content, and I wouldn't look back.

Here's to the next 2.5 months.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Warning: This post is intended to be a vent, and nothing more. It is not an attack on anyone, or any comments anyone has made to me. That said, enough said.

I am tired. I am done. I am tired and DONE. What, exactly am I tired and done OF? Well, let's just list it, shall we?

1. "Wow...this deployment thing must just suck for you".
Really? You think? No, it's actually fabulous.

2. " We just can't wait until Mike's home".
(and hearing that over, and over, and over again from the same people in a two day span). I want him home too. More than all of you combined.

3. "I don't know if you should be doing that".
(I've been managing this long...and with three deployments behind me, I can manage just find thank you).

4. "Can you call me? I have a huge problem and I really need someone to talk to about it".
(Great. I'm here for you. But understand that I might only have 10 minutes to talk before my kids need me. And don't get upset with me because I have to go).

5. "I know it must be hard, but at least you have the kids to keep you busy".
(Seriously? Is that supposed to help me in some weird way)?

6. " I would really appreciate it if you would talk to me about your problems, and not Mike. He doesn't need anymore stress".
(Wow. That's so RIGHT! How selfish I've been! Cause I'm just sittin here riding a great big cream puff of JOY for seven months without any stress at all and I can't WAIT for more time to try and do everything on my OWN).

7. And this one is my absolute favorite:
" How often do you talk to Mike"?
(I talk to him for about 15 minutes once a day).
"WOW! You're so lucky!"
(Yes, I get that we are very fortunate in that regard, thank you).
" Oh, I just pray for him every single day. He's always on my mind".

Period. End.

Wonderful. I covet prayers for my husband, but there is a huge, huge part of me that wants to say to these people (and I've heard that literally 6 times in the last 2 days), "I appreciate that so much, thank you. Are you praying for my children? Are you thinking of them waking them up in the middle of the night crying for their daddy? Are you thinking of me when I'm completely overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day because I'm just emotionally spent and don't know how I can keep this up for more, MORE months? Are you thinking of us then? Are you praying for US? I want to just scream that at those people.

My parents visited last weekend. I got to hear for four days how many people at home were asking about Mike, praying for Mike, wondering how Mike was, hoping Mike was ok, concerned for Mike, I GET IT. I'm overjoyed, truly overjoyed that Mike is getting so much emotional support. I flat out asked my parents if anyone at home is asking about me and the kids, praying for us, concerned for us....they honestly got it in that moment. The answer was 'no' and they understood.

Make no mistake, our soldiers and sailors and airmen need ALL the emotional support and prayers they can get. I have never, ever been in the position any of them are in and I don't envy them at all, BUT...

there are wives and children left at home who are forgotten. In praying for our troops, in putting that yellow ribbon on the back of our cars, we must remember that there is no ribbon that says "Pray for the families of our troops". There is, in most cases, no pinch hitter for the temporarily single parents that exist, or even the permanently single parents that have been created by this war. There are children who will wake up on their birthday with the missing link of having a parent missing. One of my children will experience that on this deployment. There are couples who will be separated, likely for more than the first time, on their anniversary. We will join that group for the third time through this deployment.

Everytime a ship returns here from a deployment, it is usually televised. Everytime, I cry. I don't cry for the one coming home. I cry for the one standing on the pier who has had to carry the weight of maintaining a home for their sailor to come to. I cry for the burden that has been lifted, for the little children who will have a "whole" world again, for the reconnection that will happen. I cry because I know that while they are coming home, somewhere else, there is someone who is just leaving to replace them, and their wife is hugging him goodbye, hoping to take in enough of the scent of him so that it will last more than half a year. I cry for that mother who holds her babies at night, even if her babies are eight and four when they don't understand their circumstances. I cry, because I understand.

Ok, enough. Vent done. No more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The gifts that don't come with bows...

I am a crazily upbeat, happy, person 99% of the time. My best friend has gone so far as to tell me on one occasion when we were trapped in the Miami airport with an impending hurricane upon us, to "Take your Pollyanna Happy Perky Attitude and Eat It". Probably the best single piece of advice I've ever gotten from her. However, there are those times when even I can't see the forest for the trees. Life is like that a lot sometimes, as in "Here's your dirt sandwich...would you like a mud milkshake to wash that down"? It's been like that a bunch lately. Through all the multiple goings-on with just keeping our heads above water in this deployment (or so it seems...we're really floating on the surface), it's been easy for me to lose sight of what's truly important. The best gifts in my life have been ones that were confusing, muddling, back-breaking, heart-breaking, and mind-blowing, and they've all been given to me by my most gracious God. There's a lot going on right now in our family, none of which I'm going to go into here, but it's caused me to take my focus off the vital: that through it all, God deserves all, ALL the glory. That has been my prayer through this deployment since it started...that Mike and I and the Kiddles would bring God glory, but I lost sight of that.

Then, today, after going through another one of "those" days and hearing that my sweet husband had gone through one of "those" days, I saw this, and everything changed. It's eight minutes, but it blew me away. Again, one of those gifts that I didn't expect but that got me back to the heart of it all:

Sometimes the things we want most in this world, and the things that maybe more importantly we DON'T, while those those are experiences we don't understand and don't accept, are the VERY things that will bring GOD the GLORY he so deserves.

This little, simple 8 minute video brought it home, loud and clear...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One fish, two fish...

I will, for my entire life, be a lover of all things Disney. Walt Disney World IS the Happiest Place on Earth. No question. However, the Anheuser Busch company is freakin amazing. We are very fortunate to live close to not one, but TWO AB Adventure Parks and they do this AWESOME thing...they give all military families (up to 4 people) free admission to one of their parks every year. On top of that, they give it to families whose Active Duty servicemember is deployed or serving overseas. A lot of companies don't give military discounts to spouses when that's the case. Don't get me started. Total discrimination. Anyway...

Today I took the kiddles to one of the water parks near where we live. I had been there once before, when I was all of 15 with one of my girlfriends and her parents. I didn't remember anything about this park, least of all what they had to offer little children. I seem to recall being only interested in scoping out cute boys in Billabong shorts. I digress...we met my girlfriend and her two little girls there and spent the day in the water. The weather was perfect (and that RARELY happens around here in June)...85 degrees, zero humidity (sorry, Honey). I thought that Devyn and Aiden might balk at the big slides and choose to hang out by the kids activities and the wave pool. I. Was. Wrong. We spent the afternoon riding things called "Big Daddy Falls" and the "Aquazoid" and the "Malibu Pipeline". The floats were honestly bigger than you can imagine my sheer glee at seeing his Big Sister helping him carry his up the steps AND carrying hers at the same time. It touched me in such a huge way...she's always gone out of her way to look after him and make sure he's ok, but to see her barely maneuvering hers and then to see her take his on as well...well, it just about made me crumble on the spot. On top of that, both of them ended the day with going on the "Hubba Hubba Highway" with my girlfriend's daughter, who's also seven years old. Now, upon first inspection, this appears to be your everday, normal, calm lazy river ride. And The kids went in while I watched from the sideline and as they were coming around the last bend, I said "Ok...time to hop out". Of course I got the "Noooo. It's so coooool. We want to stay innnnnn". I disagreed and told them to get out at the exit that was coming up. I walked over to the zero entry exit to get them and there was not a sign of my two little fish and friend. I tend not to panic in those situations--well, not immediately panic anyway. I looked around (there's only one way out) and looked, and looked some more, only to come to two possiblities: they got out and I didn't see them and have disappeared, or they went around again. I decided to go with the second option, as the first one would put me into an absolute tailspin or panic. So I got into the water at the exit and waited. Five minutes goes by and my heart was beating faster now...and then, then I see this little girl about the same size as Devyn struggling against the current to get out. It should be noted that there are no floats in this particular ride--just you, your life jacket and yourself walking or floating in the current. I figured it out then--and just as I managed to breathe again, there come four little bobing heads with the MOST freaked out looks on their faces and all at once they see me and yell, "WE'RE SORRY"! As I pulled them out, they recounted to me how they all let go of each others hands to get out the first time and then the current maneuvered them back in. Devyn was most upset. She told me that she had let go of Aiden's hand to grab the wall and looked back and saw him floating away. She let go of the wall to go grab him and the current took them both. She looked me dead in the eye with more conviction than I've ever seen in her and said, "Mama, I HAD to get Aiden. I'd do anything to keep him safe! I'd give my own life for him Mama. I'm his big sister, that's what I'm supposed to DO". She floored me in that moment. I hugged her and told her it wasn't going to come to that, but I'm glad she looked out for him so much. Then, HE came to me and said "Mama, I couldn't protect Devyn! I'm so sorry Mama". Seriously, how did I get so blessed as to have these precious children? I remember thinking when I was pregnant with Aiden that I just hoped they would like each other even just a little bit. Wow...I'm so glad and thankful that it's more than that. That seemed a pretty good time to end our day there. We walked back to the Kritter Korral (yes, with TWO K's) and the kids played a bit while we got our belongings together and left the park, happier and wetter than when we arrived. I love days like that...ones you wish you could relive a million times over. There's a day like that coming sooner than's called Homecoming.

Beyond that, the day was wonderful, exhausting, exhilirating and exhausting. We are all worn out, but will happily sleep the night away. Oh, and Mike, the kids now know that the park is open through the end of September...and they have deemed it necessary that you go next. Aiden says "Daddy needs to go to Big Daddy Falls"!

On a side note, we have completed four months of this deployment. 120 days, 16 weeks. In some ways, it seems SO much longer and in others, it seems like it's flown...if the next 100 will go as quickly, that would be lovely. The four of us are four months stronger, four months more resolved, four months more tired of being incomplete and four months more in love with each other. Three to go...three...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Three Weeks Later...

Wow. Three weeks since I've posted. That's what happens when life runs away from you! Five days from now will mark four months since Mike left for Iraq. Four months...12o days...16 weeks, or there abouts. The last three weeks have been the hardest, the most emotional, the longest. It's been just generally madness. Hopefully the kids and I are through the woods and looking out to the other side. I keep thinking that one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, has it's very own definition of those "woods". If you've seen it, then you know I'm referring to the Theives' Forest with the R.O.U.S.--or the Rodents Of Unusual Size. Life, and deployment in particular have their own R.O.U.S. and they don't really need rehashing now, but things are better...

I am revelling in the fact that my sweet boy LOVES game shows. Praise the Good Lord. He and I have so loved cuddling up together on the couch in the afternoon and chilling with the Game Show Network. Whatever happened to great tv like the game shows of the 70s? Here's my take on things: if there was more Card Sharks, Let's Make A Deal, and Match Game today, people would be a LOT more relaxed. Seriously. People dressed like giant playing cards would get $50.00 if they could produce a paper clip on demand. Now that's some stress I could live with. Today, Aiden and I watched Gene Rayburn from Match Game try to kill a fly on what was then, live national tv. Haven't seen Mark Wahlberg do THAT on his show have you? The one where the person's life is ruined by being caught in a lie? I'll admit that I've been sucked into that one...but honestly...some things are better only known by those closest to you.

I remember watching game shows when I little during the day....that and those other wonderful shows like Kaptain Kangaroo and The Carol Burnett Show. Ahhh...those were the days...

All In The Family anyone?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time Flies When You're Really Freakin Blessed...

Six years ago today we landed in London to begin our tour at the office of the Commander in Chief for the United States Navy in Europe. I remember that day--it's etched in my memory...

We landed and met a driver from the estate agency that we were letting our temporary flat from...a quiet, brooding, Middle Eastern man named...something. Mike sat in the front seat with him as he whizzed from Heathrow into the West End of London and Devyn and I sat in the back seat, her in her carseat and I clearly remember thinking how surreal this all far away we were from our family, how Mike was just as happy as he could be, Devyn was completely oblivious, and I cried for the entire 20 mile trek into the city. I leaned over to Devyn, tears just pouring down my cheeks and whispered, "We'll be ok"...looking back I told her that to vocalize it--to convince not her, but myself, that we would be ok. I didn't believe it, but saying it outloud made it more of a possibility.

The flat at 79M York Street was teeny, as are most flats in London, but our bed, holy moses...that bed rocked. I have no recollection of what we did that day...I think we walked to a little market on Baker Street and bought the, creamer, cereal, milk (that the next morning we would discover was completely different from any milk we'd ever encountered because sitting on TOP of the milk was the cream...non-homogenized milk thank you very much). We went to sleep that night--or Mike and Devyn went to sleep--and I sat in the family room flipping channels and writing in my journal. I found Ally McBeal on the telly around 12 am and happily watched, thinking, "Ok, I've found a link to home...this is a step in the right direction". I called my daddy that night, crying the whole time, thinking how badly I wanted to go home. It honestly was an ache--a physical pain that just consumed me. I finally fell asleep that was a long, long night.

More days like that would follow where all I wanted was to just go home. Just get a cab to Heathrow and buy a ticket. Things slowly got better and I found little joys in random things--this yogurt I'd buy at the market that had yogurt on one side, and the most wonderful little "add-ins" on the other--the BEST was the Raspberry Pavlova--Raspberry yogurt with white chocolate bits to mix in. I found myself looking forward to those every night. Hey, you find happiness in little things, right? I remember after we'd been there for about 5 days, Mike was at work and Devyn and I ventured out--we landed at the Marylebone Train Station and wandered into a little store called Cards Galore--the British version of Hallmark. Of all the things we had packed, clothes, toys, neccessities to last us the 5 weeks until we got our stuff, we had forgotten a lovie for Devyn. She focused on this little tabby colored kitty and I couldn't say no to her--we were crossing Marylebone Road when I asked her what the kitty's name was and she proudly announced: "NUMMY"! Nummy has been her constant companion ever since.

Those first days and weeks and months in London were difficult for me at best. However, I would not trade them for anything this world has to offer. Those days caused me to lean on my husband, something I had rarely done, for support. Not once did he ever tell me to "Get over it" or to "Suck it up" when I was having "a day". That's one of the most amazing things he's ever done for me, and he's done quite a lot of amazing things.

I sat on the porch at our home before we left for England and looked at the dark Virginia sky and pleaded with God. I asked Him specifically, "What could you possibly have to teach us THERE that you can't teach us HERE"? Here's a hint: EVERYTHING. I learned a very important lesson through this (well, a lot of lessons actually): Don't ever ask God questions. He'll answer them.

I cried the entire flight from our home to DC where we boarded another plane bound for London. I cried the entire flight from DC to London. I cried on the ride from Heathrow to our flat, and I cried for the better part of the next six months. I got over it. There were a few moments, actually huge occurrences that God used to smack me in the head as if to say "Girl. Do you KNOW how blessed you are"? Thankfully, I got it. I fully realized how blessed I was and I got over it. And then, 25 months later, I cried on the way to Heathrow, and I cried on take-off. I cried throughout the flight, thinking how far we had come...we came to England a disjointed family of three, not really knowing where any of us belonged, and we perservered and not only that, we thrived, and fell in love with our home...we left England a family of four, a strong intertwined force to be reckoned with. Briefly, here's a list of things we took with us :

a love for fresh cod and chips
a love for Regents Park and specifically the Boating Lake and Queen Mary's Rose Garden
a love for Magnum Bars
a love for John Lewis Department Store (maybe that's just me)
a love for Hamley's Toy Shoppe (the craziest seven floors of controlled chaos one has ever encountered)
a love for Footie (soccer--and OH YES...Alan Shearer)
a love for 201 Waterdale Manor House, 20 Harewood Avenue, London, NW1 6JX ( our home for two years)
a love for our adopted homeland
a renewed love for our natural homeland
a thriving and living love for each other

I am so thankful for the past six years and specifically for those 25 months we were ex-pats. It was incredible and often I find myself longing for that time again, but I wouldn't trade our lives now for anything. We are where we are supposed to be, and I am thankful and beyond blessed.