Friday, November 30, 2007

The Down Side

I just discovered the down side of being a girl who drives a pick-up truck.

I just spent $82 to fill the tank with regular. And that was on base!

It's time to buy a book about my van and try to replace the thermostat myself. Or I can take my husband up on his offer to just go out and by myself a new car.

It's so, so tempting.

But you know what I want more than a new car? Money in the bank.

I'm funny that way.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Girls Who Drive Pick-Up Trucks

I was talking with some guys recently who were joking about girls who drive pick-up trucks. Actually, they were saying that back in the day, those were the best girls to date.

Hmmm. That's funny. When I first started dating my husband I only had a learner's permit. But once I got my license, I drove my dad's old green Ford F-150 truck.

In fact, I'm driving a new green Ford F-150 truck right now!

Okay, so I lose some of my pick-up girl cred because it is my husband's and it has a DVD player, but still.

Not only am I driving it, but I fixed it myself. I worked under its hood! I got grease on my hands!

My husband's poor, overly expensive truck had sat in front of our house undriven and unloved for so long that the battery needed to be replaced. I kept procrastinating about it but when my mom came to visit, I realized that we needed two cars.

I hate to admit it, but I did the stereotypical thing that most women do when they are faced with a car problem. I turned to men. My husband had advice. My father had instructions. Even Patrick helped.

Before I got started on my little mechanical project I turned to my mom and said, "Well, it took three men to get us to this point. And the only one who was really helpful was the gay guy!"

Yes, of all the men I turned to, it was the gay one who was smart enough to suggest I get a book and follow the instructions.

The hardest part of the job was finding all of the tools. Somebody needs to invent a system that forces (straight) men to return their tools to the proper tool box when they are finished using them.

A few years ago I got fed up with always having to solve the case of the missing tools before I could complete any job, so I bought my own set and wrote my name all over the box. Who wants to place bets on how many of the tools were missing when I opened the box to fix the truck?

Anyway, when I told my husband that I had replaced his battery and got his truck running he asked me, "Aren't you proud of yourself?"

"No," I answered. "It wasn't a big deal. Although I did feel kind of like a magician."

But the truth is that I do feel pretty darn proud of myself. And I've been driving his truck for a couple of weeks now to ensure that is stays working.

Now if I could only learn to fit it through the Starbucks drive-though without hitting a curb or taking off a fender I'd feel really proud.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My mom read my blog!

I got an e-mail from my mother.

"I have read some of your articles today and I am so proud of you. They are very interesting and loving. I love you, Mom"

When she was here before Thanksgiving break and helping out with our school's Grandparents' Luncheon, my friends all told her that she really needed to read my "other blog". My "other blog" is rated PG and is highly sanitized, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

But yesterday I got a phone call.

"You smart alec, you!" was my mom's greeting.

Yes, she actually says things like "smart alec" instead of "smart ass". Clearly I was switched at birth.

"Um, what are you talking about?" I asked.

"I just spent a few hours reading back on your newspaper web thing." Then her speech started to rush together. "You know, when you hung that quilt in the dining room I thought it was because you really liked it. I didn't think it should be hung up. I didn't even make it, you know. A customer did. The only quilt that means anything to me is the one in the hallway."

She said all of this in one continuous breath. And she had more to say.

"You son of a gun! I had to laugh when I read about how you hate the quilts and you know you don't have to have them out for me. The only one that means anything to me is the one in the hallway. You son of a gun."

"Mom!" I had to yell to interrupt her. "You need to take it all with a grain of salt."

She had read a story on my "other blog" about how my kids had managed to tear a quilt hanger down off the wall and if I just left them to it, I could eventually and finally be free of my quilt decor.

Of course what I was thinking was that now I could take down all the quilts in my house (except the one in the hallway) without having to confront my mother about it.

It was a little awkward because my mother went on and on about how wonderful, funny and touching my writing is and how proud she is of me. It's pretty rare for us to have those kind of exchanges. I wasn't really sure what to say except for my muttered, "Thanks."

Now I can't help but think of every little thing I've written there and how my overly sensitive mother (my daughter had to get it from somewhere) would perceive it.

All I can say is that I'm glad she's not mucking around here. Oh sure, in the last few months I've been tame and boring, but there are some doozies in the archives.

Maybe it's time I started writing some non-mom-appropriate stuff here again.

Oh, and my mother's one other comment about the "other blog"?

"You use a lot of big words, you know. I'm gonna have to look some of them up."

Yup, me and my mom. We're two peas in a pod.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Apart at the Seams

I feel like I've been holding myself together pretty well, all things considered. I think after all these years I've learned how to keep my outer shell very well preserved.

I am a strong woman. I can get through anything, mostly because I have a tremendous amount of love in my life.

Or at least that's what I tell myself.

But lately I've felt like my tough outer shell is starting to crack. Today I felt like all this rain has seeped into those cracks. And for a moment today, I felt like the cold had turned that rain to ice and my tough outer shell had shattered completely, falling away from me piece by piece.

Nothing big set it off. That's not usually the way it happens.

Today I bit my lip.

That one moment of pain made my eyes tear up. But once I had let go of that tiny bit of control, all of the pain I've been burying came pouring out.

I had myself collected and patched up again within five minutes, but it was a little scary to realize just how tenuous my control really is.

My husband has been in Iraq for over five months now. His return date has been pushed back to mid January again. I've been noticing how much the little things are slipping away from me. I've forgotten to pay certain bills. I can't remember appointments. My son has been more than a handful lately. I get mad at the drop of a hat.

And just when I'm really starting to enjoy my little pity party, I'm brought back to reality.

This is hard to explain, but first of all, I feel a lot of guilt over my husband's service. I can't help but think about the families whose loved ones are deployed for fifteen months, or more, at a time. I can't help but think of all the service people who never come home. I can't help but think about the danger that so many military folks are in every day.

And my husband only has to go for seven months. And he was lucky enough to get pulled off of a convoy unit and into a leadership position. And yes, he's been deployed four times, but never for more than seven months.

I feel a tremendous amount of guilt that my life is so easy! It could be so much harder.

It might not be rational. But it is the way I fee.

It will take more than a little ice in the cracks to permanently destroy my outer shell. It's too important to too many people that I stay strong.

Seven months apart really isn't a long time when you're in your thirties and you know you have many happy years ahead of you. I certainly haven't lost anything. My husband and I share a bond stronger than ever.

Its' a bond strong enough to hold my outer shell together. No matter what the weather. No matter who tests its strength.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Race to Deliver

On Sunday morning, the kids ran a race in Central Park to benefit God's Love We Deliver.

Between the two of them they raised $2,395!

I'm so proud of them, but I am also completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family. Their response was amazing.

Thank you to everyone who supported them and helped raise money for a very worthy organization. You all rock.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Price of Things

Remember that really bad thing I did?

I spent $600 on two Hannah Montana tickets for my mother and my daughter.

As soon as I hit the "submit" button I felt like I was going to vomit. But I was feeling so bad that my daughter wouldn't get to see The Little Mermaid on Broadway because of the stage hand strike. I made an impulsive, bad decision.

I was wracked with guilt all week long. Even though my husband told me, "It's only money, honey."

When I told her about the tickets, she sort of said, "Oh."

So I told her, "I paid a lot of money for these tickets. And there are a lot of girls who would love them. If you don't really want to go, I can sell them."

"No, I want to go. A lot of my friends will be there. They love Hannah Montana."

"But, do you love Hannah Montana?" I asked her.

"I don't love her, but I don't hate her," she replied.


But last Thursday, after her homework and violin practice were done, my mom took her to the concert.

She loved it. I felt slightly better.

Last night I was talking to my husband. He's actually in another Middle Eastern country this week for a conference but he's heading back to Iraq today. Unfortunately, he had some bad news.

He won't be home before the new year. He won't be home until mid to late January. His replacement has been delayed.

"It's okay though," he told me. "We can use the extra month of tax-free income. I have to stay to pay for those Hannah Montana tickets."

Yeah. He's a laugh riot.

I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing about those Hannah Montana tickets for a while.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

On Our Way

Once a week, my son's class publishes a little book. Each child contributes his own page.

This week, my son expressed his enthusiasm for our Thanksgiving vacation plans. He couldn't be more excited about going to his house for a "Thanksgiving feast" if he tried!

Monday, November 12, 2007

And Another Mistake!

I've been very mistake-prone lately. Let's chalk it up to the unavoidable pitfalls of being a waiting spouse, shall we? I'd hate to have to admit that I'm just a complete flake by nature.

My children are running the Race to Deliver in New York City next Sunday. They are extremely excited about running in Central Park and helping to raise money. And our friends and family have been extremely generous with their sponsorship donations. (Thank you, everyone!)

But what is it with old people? Why are they so freaking scared of the Internet?

My mother-in-law was especially generous. But she didn't want to make a donation online so she sent me two checks for five hundred dollars each made out to my children. My plan was to deposit them in my account and then use my credit card to make the donation online.

But I threw them away.

Yes, I threw one thousand dollars in the garbage!

In a frenzy of cleaning I threw the envelope containing the checks into my kitchen trash. I didn't realize what I had done until the next night when I was checking the kids' donation amounts online.

Of course, in my cleaning frenzy, I had also bagged up that trash and taken it to our outside bins.

I had to go out in the dark and root around in the trash bins with the lizards, and the bugs, and who-knows-what-else! I found the right bag and brought it inside. I sorted through all the garbage on my kitchen floor. And there, at the very bottom of the bag, creased but stain-free were the checks.

I deposited those babies as fast as I could before--I don't know--the dog chewed them, or they got knocked into the shredder, or I decided to use them as scratch pads!

I think this only goes to show you. It doesn't ever pay to clean in a frenzy. And writing checks is so 1990.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Damage Control

I did something bad. Impulsive and expensive and something I swore I would never do and bad.

I blame it on her.

But I'm kind of afraid to tell my husband what I did. He's gonna kick my butt. (Actually he'll shake his head, furrow his brow, and make a mad face...but still.)'m going to try and get on his good side.

Hi, Honey! I love you. You're so handsome. The picture you sent me made me swoon. I can't wait until you get home. You know all that stuff we've talked about that has been rated M for Mature? Um, yeah. I can't wait to do all of that stuff. All of it. *Ahem*

And, um, you know how I always harp on you about spending too much money on your truck and your hobbies? I'm never going to do that again. And you know that airplane you want to buy? Well, you just tell me where to sign. And you know that boat you want that I really don't want because I hate boats? Yeah, you can have that too.

I might even be persuaded to rub your back now and then. And visit you parents.

If all of that isn't enough, you maybe try to remember that I'm the mother of your children? Aren't they beautiful? You couldn't have made those beautiful, smart, sweet, bright, wonderful kids with anyone else but me.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Remind me to read this next Sping!

God, guys. I'm just so...stressed.

I'd like to say that this isn't like me. That I don't overreact to things. But I don't know. Maybe I do.

Maybe I'm just a big, ole' drama queen. (No comments from the peanut gallery!)

This year I took a volunteer chair job at the school that was supposed to be easy. My co-chair and I were just supposed to plan an annual luncheon for anywhere from 700 to 1000 people.

It's just a one day gig! Two hours long! These last two years I planned two eight-day long, fundraising food booths requiring over 200 volunteers and tens of thousands of dollars in supplies.

That was a piece of cake compared to this!

It's what I have come to call the bayou attitude that is driving me crazy. Everyone moves so slow. Everyone gossips about everything. Everyone complains about everything. Nobody takes any initiative or pride in what they do. And is it me or are people just extra stupid? Oh! And why is it that rich people are so fucking cheap?

When I found out my husband would be deployed I should have resigned my position. But I just don't play things that way. I can't (not won't or don't...but can't) back out of commitments or admit that I can't handle something. I'm incapable.

But I've been letting people roll right over me at an unprecedented rate. God, it's making me hate myself. Right along with everyone else.

Success or clusterfuck, it will all be over next Friday. On Saturday, we'll be winging our way to a Thanksgiving break in New York City.

I can't wait.

For the record, I'm never chairing anything again.

You might have to remind me of that this Spring when they ask me to volunteer trick me into volunteering again.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Luck (Alternately Titled: Sap)

Hey, guys. I actually have some deep thoughts brewing, but not much coherent thought is making its way out of my mouth or onto the page lately.

I've been damn lucky so far this deployment, but my luck finally ran out. I'm sick.

Being sick while my husband is deployed really sucks. I'm not ready to throw a pity party quite yet. It's not like I need to go to the hospital. I'm still faking it through my daily life.

But I do feel rather sorry for myself just because I have no one to complain to. (Hence the blog, or course.) I mean, I went out to lunch with my friends today. I could have garnered sympathy, but I don't want sympathy from them. I want camaraderie.

Then, about fifteen minutes ago, my husband called.

Our little talk between his rounds of watch reminded me so much of the many reasons why we are together.

No matter how many friends I have or how much love is in my life, nobody gets me like my husband. To fall in love with and exchange vows with a man who really gets you has got to be the luckiest thing in life.

I may still feel stuffy and feverish, but now I feel so much better. Just from talking to my man.

Monday, November 05, 2007


While Trick-or-Treating last week, my kids politely approached a grandmother-type with a young baby sitting on the front steps of a house handing out bags filled with candy.

When she handed my son his little bag of loot, he squealed, "Wow! That's a lot of candy! Thank you, Ma'am."

But my daughter and I both thought the same thing. She quietly said to me, "There's no way she's going to have enough bags for all the kids."

"Maybe they're new on base," I replied. "It would cost a lot of money to give that much to 500 Trick-or-Treaters."

But I had a feeling about those bags. So when we got home, I opened them up. Along with chocolate and lollipops, they had these.

Click to enlarge!


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ring! Ring! Libido Calling

My libido has been MIA for a loooong time, but all of a sudden, it's back. With a vengeance. What's up with that? I have at least 58 days until I can do anything useful with it.

First I happened across this hot picture of Adam Levine dressed as Brad Pitt a la Fight Club on about a boy and his briefs.

Then I though, Hmmm. Yummm. Adam Levine. Maroon 5. Yahoo Music. That might be good.

And then I spent an hour watching every Maroon 5 video on Yahoo Music.

Have you seen the new one for Wake Up Call?

Dayum, but Adam Levine is hot.

You know, I don't even think that he's really all that great looking. There's just something about the way he moves, and talks, and sings, and is that just drips sex.


Sex. Ah, yes. I remember it fondly.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Brag Alert! (Apparently)

So, apparently, my children are gifted.

It's funny. It's funny how we see ourselves so differently from how other people see us. And it's funny how we see our children so differently from how other people see them.

Or maybe that's just me.

My daughter got the equivalent of all A's and B's on her report card. I hate to admit it, because it shows how very much I am like my father, but I was disappointed. She's smarter than that. She's let her deplorable handwriting hinder her grades in both math and language.

My son's report card was excellent, except that he can't tie his shoes and has trouble with fine motor skills. And he has trouble relaxing. He's so intense. Usually intensely happy, but still intense.

Today I went to school for their Parent/Teacher Conferences.

While I've been caught up in my daughter's struggle to be neat and organized, her teacher is over the moon about how creative she is. All I can see is how my daughter doesn't apply herself enough and here's her teacher telling me that she is gifted.

My daughter is a gifted writer.

Who knew?

And my son, well I always knew that he was especially good at math, but apparently he really is gifted. But not just at math. No, he apparently excels at reading too. He's the "most expressive" reader in the class. There are certain concepts that he has been the only child in the class to grasp.

While I've been caught up in his bed wetting, shaky handwriting, and untied shoes he was busy being all gifted at school.

How could I not have realized all this? What does that say about me as a mother? Is this normal?

Above all else, both of their teachers couldn't say enough good things about their character. My daughter is apparently the sweetest, most polite, most consciences, most empathetic child her veteran teacher has ever had the pleasure to teach. My son is apparently the sweetest, most polite, most consciences, most empathetic child his veteran teacher has ever seen. And he's popular to boot. In fact they are both "very well liked" and "very happy".

I know I have good kids, but we have struggles. My son has been just awful at home lately. To hear that none of this has carried over in to school is a huge relief.

But my daughter's teacher told me something that almost made me weep with joy. Apparently the girl who cries everyday hasn't been crying at school. In fact, her teacher doesn't think she's overly sensitive at all. She said, "She hasn't cried once this year."

Are you kidding me? Whose child do you have mine confused with? She hasn't had one single break down? Really?

Could it be that she has finally grown up? Could it be that she has finally caught up with her peers? Could it be that the fairies came and switched the real human child to whom I gave birth back with their own changeling?

Now if she could just manage to pick up the ring of debris that her teacher says is constantly around her desk, I'll consider myself a not-horrible parent.

I wish their dad could have been here to hear all of that today. He would have wept in relief too.

My kids are at a friends house until after noon today. I'm going to take the next couple of hours and bask in this rare feeling of parental confidence.

Bragging complete.