Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Academic and The Marine

I'm linking up again with

First of all, did not have this song, so I had to rely on YouTube again.  :) 

I heard this song (on my iPod) a couple of weeks ago while traveling and I hadn't heard it in a LONG time. 

Buzz's and my life TOGETHER has still been lived largely separately.  His career drives him to places I can't go and takes him through experiences I will never understand.  I had hoped I would be able to slip into a role where I was able to completely devote myself to his life--to absorbing myself in his life with his chosen career path.  I couldn't do it.  I tried, but I just couldn't do it.  It's not me. 

I was still so desperate to define myself individually, beyond his career.  I need that part of me--to be a good wife and mother--I need to be able to still work for goals that separate me from him.  This has no bearing on my love for him.  He is "the one" for me--but I must still be true to myself somehow.  It's been a difficult journey thus far.  It's not easy to make a decision to pursue something that only about 1% of the population tackles--a doctorate degree--especially when your husband's job is so demanding and you have the #1 responsibility to a child and your family.  But I knew it was something I needed to do for me, and for us.  It's challenging in every definition of the word, but mostly because even during the time that Buzz has to devote himself solely to our family, I am often still swamped with additional responsibilities.  Our schedules do not always allow for a substantial amount of "downtime" for both of us at the same time. 

Military marriages and academic marriages fail at higher rates than that of the general population.  I can see why.  So, putting these two "at risk" categories together was bound to bring tough times.  But, for us, it works--and it's doing nothing but making us stronger individually, as a couple, and as a family.  It's unconventional.  We are often following our own paths, but (as my FAVORITE part of this song says):

"Every now and then, he offers her a shoulder.  And every now and then she overflows.  And every now and then, a bridge crosses over.  It's a moment that every lover knows."

Thank God for bridges.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Almost 9 years

I will spare you my "I love my dog" speech.  (Feel free to check out my insane love for all of my dogs as chronicled on this blog.)  I know everyone loves their pets--as they should!  But my love for my dog Sampson goes beyond wagging tails, sloppy kisses, and long walks.  Sampson makes me who I am as a person--I don't care if I sound crazy (since I'm pouring my heart out and all).  And my love for him goes deep...into my bank account.  I cannot even fathom the amount of money we have spent on this dude.  Sometimes, I think of all of the things I could have if he wasn't so expensive.  But then, I realize I don't care.  He is worth every penny--hell, I can't even count pennies with him anymore because that unit of measurement is too small--he's worth ever hundred--every thousand--that has been put into his care.  (My husband may or may not agree with me fully.)  After losing our Angel-girl a few years ago, I KNEW that we would continue to do everything within our means to give Sampson every healthy, happy day he has in him.  The only solace I got from losing Angel was that I knew we went to every length humanly possible to give her the life she deserved to live from the day we brought her home from the boxer rescue.

Today, we went back to Sampson's integrative medicine doctor at UT.... 

Sam the Man riding shotgun to the vet
It was an amazing visit.  I am so scared to even give too many details because I'm a bit superstitious and seriously scared of jinxing things.  Let's just say that both the doctor and I teared up as I left--with happy, proud tears.  Sampson, God-willing, will turn 9 next month.  There was a time I did not believe he would make it this long.  No, I'm not living in a fantasy world that he will live FOREVER and I know (as hard as it is to think about) his natural lifespan is reaching a limit quicker than I would like.  But "9" means so much to me right now.  Along this journey, there were procedures and medicines I almost did not try for him because I worried it was a lost cause.  It wasn't. He's still here. Before his exploratory surgery, I made a deal with him.  If he promised me he would keep on fighting while he could AND if he promised to let me know when he wasn't ready to fight anymore so I would KNOW when he was ready to go, I would do my best to give him all the care he needed and give him a walk most days (even if it's a short one).  So far, he's kept up his end of the bargain--and I have continued his top-notch care and done mostly a good job in the walk department (with LOTS of help from Buzz).  He's amazing. Even his doctor today said he is different from other Boxers in 1. that he is not dumb as a box of rocks and 2. his sensitivity.  He has emotions and feelings--he has empathy, I swear.  He is just the best.

I feel like dogs have the ability to bring out the best in people.  Somehow, at least for me, they have the ability to literally touch my soul.  In the past almost 9 years, Sampson has been by my side for all of the changes, ups and downs, military life-issues (including moves, deployments, various separations), newlywed issues, motherhood issues, graduate school issues.  You name it, he has been there.  He has shown me unconditional love and friendship every step along the way.  He has taught me so many things (including a lot of medical terminology and how to squeeze the most out of a dollar).  He has been the sloppy kiss when I needed it most but least expected it, given me a kidney bean dance when I needed a partner with whom to celebrate, and been a silent shoulder when I needed a friend to listen or just to be there.  He's watched over my daughter when she's been sick or sad.  He's licked away the tears of every one of my family members.  He has truly warmed my heart on so many levels.  I can't find the words to adequately pour my heart out beyond these words written by Richard Biby:

From time to time people tell me, "Lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "That's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and, in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

So for me, and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a human."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog," just smile....because they "just don't understand."

I used to care when people thought I was crazy for going what they considered to be "overboard" for my dogs.  But the past nearly nine years have thickened my skin to others' words on the topic.  Now, I just don't care.  These almost 9 years have taught me so much about myself and the world around me--not only through Sampson, but just in the path which my journey has taken me.  Having him by my side has certainly made it all better.  Cheers to my 8 and11/12 year old Sampson, who is SO much more than "just a dog."

Monday, March 28, 2011

You can't spell EmpaThy without E.T.

Empathy-the experiencing as one's own of the feelings of another; also: the capacity for this (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, New Edition, 2004)

I have always felt like a very empathetic person.  Even as a child, I always felt like I hurt for other people who were going through things I didn't understand.  I always anthropomorphized my pets, other animals, and (at times, as embarrassing as it is) my toys.  I think an abundance of empathy is a gift posing as a curse--or maybe vice versa.  I think it is important to feel for our fellow humans--and animals--but sometimes feeling too much can be detrimental to one's mental health!  This is why I chose the field I am in--I tried the one-on-one types of career paths--of helping others who I know need my help on an individual level (i.e. working with deaf kids or kids with disabilities).  I couldn't handle any of that.  I empathized too much.  It consumed my life and made me feel way more depressed than I can handle.  So, I'm taking another route--one in which I can help people, but from a more removed level, if that makes any sense.  And the one-on-one interactions I have with teaching college kids (or adults) is better for me.  Even the students with what I consider to be "sad" stories I am able to deal with because I know that they are in college and doing something to better their lives--and the gratification that comes from helping them on that step of their journeys vastly outweighs knowing of hardships for me.

I think I've passed this empathy on to my daughter--not sure if it's biological or social--but it's there. Last night, we watched E.T. as a family. I was a little hesitant at first.  The last time I saw any part of this movie was in 7th grade, the day after my first pet (a cat) died and I sat there and bawled my eyes out as it played on the small tv at the restaurant where my family and one of my closest friends were eating--waiting for the SPCA to open so I could adopt another cat.  So, I figured my memories of the movie were overshadowed by the sad memory of losing a pet as a little girl.

But, K's empathetic nature went into overdrive. She cried and cried.  She even started crying again when she went to bed, saying she didn't want E.T. to go away.  I reminded her it was just a movie--she said she knew but talked about how it made her feel sad.  And this isn't a child who doesn't know what it means to leave a friend.  She's a Marine's daughter--she's left friends, watched friends move away.  She understands and she handles it very well--taking it all in stride.

But her feelings...her feelings are so strong and so REAL. 

So I spent the night feeling guilty for encouraging her to watch the movie.  But then, I had to stop and realize that it's not so bad.  Empathy is not inherently a bad thing--it's a good thing if "used" appropriately.  Now my challenge is to help her use that empathy positively and not let it consume her and bring her down.  Since I don't fully know how to do this myself, it will be a big challenge.  Right now, I'm proud and humbled that my little girl, barely 5 years old, can feel so deeply for another.  She shows this on a daily basis, towards other humans, towards animals, even towards the Earth.  It was just not until we watched this movie together that I truly realized how deeply her feelings run, how she can relate on such a passionate level to "others," no matter who or what those others may be.  And I am hopeful for all that her empathy may lead her to positively experience and the ways it may help her change at least a little corner of the world--she's already changed my whole world for the better!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

USMC Fashion--Awesomeness...and PT Panties?!?

It seems like everyone talks about fashion on their blogs. I don't "do" fashion, myself--I'm a jeans and t-shirt type of girl (much to K's dismay--she tells me I dress boyish--for the record, I did wear a dress to her latest birthday party per her request).  I have no fashion authority because I have no fashion knowledge. I may not be up on what's "in" regarding the fashion world, but I do have some opinions on a certain "line" of clothing...

I love, love, LOVE Marine dress blues.  K calls Buzz's blues his "prince costume."  I love them.  Nothing makes me happier than being able to dress up in something fancy and have Buzz dressed up like my prince. 

2009 Ball--Buzz in his Blues and me in my favorite Ball dress ever
Now, these happy, nice pictures prior to whatever event requires Dress Blues usually turns into my irritation with too much drinking and hanging out with the guys, but I digress.  I also love the Alphas or Deltas--or whatever these are called (I can't remember which is which with the long sleeves vs. short sleeves and the big green hat vs. the little green hat vs. the white hat--I mean COVER--and the jacket vs. no jacket and the blue pants vs. the green pants)..I am talking about the uniform with the khaki-ish shirt.  Not as flashy, but nice, nonetheless.  I do have a slight problem with that banana-hat-thing, but I can deal with it.

Windy day in NC, prior to Iraq deployment #2
I even like cammies.  It might just be that I like that the guys call them "cammies."  Maybe because they remind me of homecomings?  I don't know.  But overall, I think the USMC has picked some great fashion choices for the Marines to wear and us to enjoy.
Homecoming 2009
 Now, where this gets thrown for a loop is when we get into the PT gear.  Those little silky-skivvy-thingies...really?  I mean, really?!?  Some friends when we lived in Florida introduced us to the term PT panties.  What a great term!  It sums up this insane piece of anti-fashion perfectly...

Where did these things come from?!?  Why wear anything at all?  I still think these things equal indecent exposure.  Seriously.  Buzz still thinks they are awesome.  I admit, they are comfy to sleep in--for ME when I am NOT going outside of my home.

There are some other versions of the PT shorts that are not as offensive, in my opinion such as
or even

But not the PT panties.  Just to reiterate, these things...

But I do have to wonder, since I am seeing more and more of the more appropriate shorts, are the PT panties phasing out?  My husband joined the Marine Corps in he's been around for a while.  Do the new guys find the attraction in these things as the 30-something-year-old Marines do?  I know Buzz's friends still like them.  I know Buzz still likes them.  (sigh)  Is this more evidence of the changing nature of the Marine Corps?  Are our young Marines becoming modest or more aware of PT fashion?  Is the "trend" of PT panties leaving us?  In some ways, I hope so because of their utter inappropriateness.  But, in another, more personal way, I hope they are here to least for a while.  Why?  Because Buzz will not let them go.  He will continue to wear them. And I don't want to be "that girl" whose husband is the only one out there in PT panties--and when I mean out there, I mean OUT THERE because these things leave nothing to the imagination.  :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

In-between deployments

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles.  It empties today of its strength."

I'm a worrier.  A BIG worrier--about everything...and I do mean everything.  Life in the Marine Corps is a big source of my worrying.  It's HIS job, but it's also MY life.  I complain.  I feel like I have done way more than my fair share of complaining and whining about hardships and obstacles brought on by his career.  I feel bad for that, but I think sometimes we just have to let it all out.

I also have a bad habit of ALWAYS thinking the "next step" in any tough situation is going to be easier than the present.  I guess it's a coping mechanism to get me through whatever stuff I am going through in the moment.  I think that next semester will be better in school; next week I won't have so much to do; next summer vacation I WILL read those novels.  And one of the biggest thinking faux-pas has to do with Marine wife life.  If I can just get through this separation/once we get to the next duty station/once he's promoted...  The list goes on.  Specifically, through our last duty station of 2 deployments in about 2 years, I kept thinking "if I can just get through this deployment things will be better" and "once we are out of this unit things will be fine...afterall, he won't 'deploy' there." 

What I failed to recognize was how much we had changed during those two years.  I also forgot to think about the fact that just because he doesn't "deploy" doesn't mean his job is any less demanding--it doesn't mean he won't still be gone a lot of the time.  Sure, his longest trip in one shot is about 6 weeks here--but add that up a few times, plus a week or ten days here and there, a month every summer and the long weekends all the time and he's STILL gone months out of the year.  This is not "normal" in any sense of the word.

But who am I comparing myself to?  Civilians?  Students?  I have no idea.  And it doesn't matter--it's just part of that purposeless thinking and worry I impose on myself.  Now I am kicking myself for diving into a PhD program during this in-between-deployments-time.  But, I know I wouldn't have been happy if I didn't and would have just complained that the Marine Corps was putting up another barrier to my success.  And that would have been all in my mind, too.

EVERYONE has their struggles and hardships--not just military families.  Sure, ours are different, but it's time that I stop thinking that somehow I have it too hard.  I have an amazing family.  Sure, we have our problems and my marriage is far from a perfect story book, but aren't most people's?  It works for us.  Plus, I have an amazing opportunity to further my education and I wouldn't be able to do that WITHOUT my husband's career, that provides for us without necessitating that I make a certain amount of income myself.  We get to travel and meet amazing people all over the place.  I have it great...I am so lucky!

What I struggle with is the mindset of always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from underneath me.  When is all of this greatness going to come crashing down?  Right now, one of those issues is always feeling like my life is structured around deployments.  Now, I'm in-between deployments, yet somehow those deployments are still my reference frame and are still dictating thoughts, plans, and fears.  I have to get beyond that.  I don't know how, I just do.  So here's for trying to live for the moment, despite the fact I know the dirty reality of deployments will cast its dark shadow on us again...sooner than I wish.  But here's to trying to enjoy the present and finding strength in every day in-between.  When the time comes that deployment is upon us again, I work on finding that strength in THAT moment.  But for now, I'm just going to work on being thankful!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's your song? DANCE Par-tay!

It's time again for the "What's your song?" link-up with Goodnight Moon

I love 90s music--especially the cheesy stuff that reminds me of my younger, crazier days.  You know, the stuff that makes you want to get up and dance and not even care who's watching?  Or, nowadays, I just jam out in the car and not care if the person at the stoplight next to me sees or hears.  Well, last summer, I was in the car and "Faded" by soulDecision came on the radio and *boom* I'm back in college, rockin' out!  I went home, found it on iTunes, and put it on the iPod.  This is all happening as I am insanely cramming for my first (of 3) PhD comprehensive social theory (gag).  So, on my way to and from the library, I would listen to this song to keep me grounded, keep me awake, keep me bouncing, and keep me in as good of a mood as possible--it was one of the songs I was able to just enjoy without analyzing the lyrics with social theory.  (I know...nerd alert AGAIN.)  Anywho, on the morning of the exam, I listened to it on repeat the whole way to the university to try and keep myself distracted/calm-ish.  I listened to it the whole way home after the grueling 5+ hours.  And, after about a month of worrying, not knowing the results of this horrible exam experience, I found out I passed...woo hoo!!!  So, now, this song has even more special meaning to me.  I'm getting ready to embark on my second comp exam--in methods.  I started to break out this song again, but I want to keep it special for theory.  So now I'm in the market for *new* older, bouncy song to keep my spirits up on this latest chase of successfully completing another 6ish hours knowledge regurgitation...I'm open to suggestions for a methods comp theme song!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lonely only? (Pour Your Heart Out link-up)

I am linking up to pour my heart out with the blog titled "Things I Can't Say," so I am going to take this opportunity to let out things I can't seem to say in real-life conversations...

I am an only child.  I hate it.  I always hated it.  I started begging for a brother or a sister as soon as I could talk.  I remember being devastated when my cousins or friends got siblings and I was left alone.  I always wanted someone to play with and I felt very lonely a lot of the time.  I wished for another young person to play with on family vacations (though when I was older I was lucky enough to be able to take a friend).  I wanted to share a room--I wanted to share my toys...I just wanted SOMEONE who would always be there to share things with.  I wanted a sibling who would also get in trouble and not just me.  I was never a "bad" kid--I did great in school and never got into REAL trouble, I just talked back some and didn't clean my room very often.  I wanted someone who understood what life inside my house was like.  I never got it.  As my parents got older, I even begged them to adopt.  Didn't happen either.  By high school, I just had to accept it was just me...and I tried not to think about it anymore.  I hate it even more now that I am grown, my parents are getting older and have some health problems--my dad recently had bypass surgery after a heart attack and my mom is preparing for a double knee replacement (thankfully, they are both doing amazingly well).  It sure would be nice to have someone who feels what I am feeling through all of this...

I always said I would not have only one child--I could not do that to another human being.  But, to make a very long story very short, my husband's career and my desire to have a career of my own have changed my mind (along with a few other female-details, including complications after the last birth and endometriosis). To me, our family feels complete.  My husband never really wanted more than one kid, so when we had our amazing little girl, he KNEW we were complete from the start.  He says with one kid, we know we can give her everything she needs, most of what she wants (while teaching her to be grateful and giving, too, of course) and send her to college/help her out when she is on her own...but with two kids he would have to decide which one he liked the most and which one would have to join the Marine Corps.  Hahaha!  I don't exactly agree with that, but I see where he's coming from.  :)

The bottom line is, I feel like our family is complete.  I do not have a strong desire for it to grow in numbers--I'm not sure of the reasons behind that because I still feel very lonely in my only child life sometimes.  My daughter does not seem to feel the way I did at her age.  She always tells me she does not want brothers or sisters--that she wants to be the only baby that's been in my belly.  I'm not saying parents should base their child-creating decisions on what their current children want--I'm just saying she helps give me peace of mind that she is not feeling like I did as an only child.  She is much more independent than I was at her age; she's more independent than I was even when I was much older than she is right now.  She is very social and loves her friends, but she can entertain herself and enjoys alone time.  I think these are good traits! 

So, WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO GIVE ME THEIR TWO CENTS ABOUT THIS TOPIC?!?!?!?  It seems that almost everyone has an opinion on only children--particularly my family's decision to have only one child--and is willing to share it.  To me, that's just plain rude.  I have heard it all--she will be antisocial (she's not); she will be selfish (she's not); she will never learn to be independent (she's the most independent 5-year-old I know); she'll never learn how to get along with others (not true); she will always feel lonely (I don't see that happening); she will never learn to appreciate things (totally not true); she will be a spoiled brat (seriously, who says that to a mother?); you will give her everything (we don't); she NEEDS siblings (why?) etc., etc., etc., and yada, yada, yada.

I do feel confident in my decision, yet I still get so defensive when people start this mumbo jumbo.  I feel like they are attacking me and my daughter (and my husband but that doesn't bother me as much because he 1. doesn't care what other people think and 2. has no problem standing up for himself/telling other people what HE thinks).  I am worried that I am making a mistake...but don't mom's worry about this in every aspect of their parenting?  It's a scary job--because it's an important job being a mother!

So, here and now, I am saying something I can't seem to actually say but that I NEED to say to all of those people who criticize--SHUT UP!  You are all up in the Kool-Aid but you do not know the flavor!  (For the record, I LOVE when I can use that line.  Ha!)  Mind your own business.  I'm not out there criticizing your parenting decisions or your family composition.  My daughter has all the basics she needs in her life--she is very well taken care of here.  Yes, she has many luxuries, but she also has the biggest, giving heart I can imagine.  She is kind and sweet.  She is a good friend.  She is happy.  She is smart.  And she is MINE.  MY mothering is helping her achieve her potential.  And the fact that she is an only child has no bearing on that.  Stop calling me selfish.  How is any of what I am doing selfish?  Is it because you think that I MUST be selfish because I am an only child?  Is it because I am pursuing a career that I believe is good for me AND my family and you think that doesn't make for a good mom?  Stop with the sterotypes and let our actions speak for themselves.  This decision is my husband's and mine...not yours.  If you want to have lots of children, then you do that for yourself.  I have no problems with large families--I have no problems with medium-sized families--I have no problem with people who choose not to have children.  The point is, it is a personal, family decision.  Please, please keep your thoughts to yourself.  Better yet, why don't you hold off on creating those thoughts and opinions unless you can get a better grasp of what is actually going on here and have some basis in reality on which to form said thoughts and opinions.  Oh, and while you're at it, check out this article from Time Magazine last year before you start making antiquated assertions about only children.

Whew!  It feels good to get that out!

Oh, and as for that article in Time, Buzz saw that and bought it for me last year.  I know it's not an academic journal--I feel like I need to make that disclaimer, you know, being in PhD school and all.  :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To My Daisy Duke

Dear Daisy,

As my youngest "child," I cannot believe that you are turning 3 this week.  In honor of your birthday, I would like to write you a note expressing my true feelings for you.  I know that it often seems that I can't stand you--and I know most of the other humans in our life accuse me of not loving you at all, or at least not loving you as much as Sampson.  Well, Daisy, my apologies.  I DO love you...a lot.  But maybe those perceptions come from some of our more crazy adventures together.  Like when you provoked one of the most humiliating days of my life by eating the bathroom trash.  You had done this many times before, but you never took out an entire trash can in one sitting.  So, I had to take you to the vet to induce vomiting of some very personal products.  And then, after getting myself back together from that embarrassing trip, you ate Daddy's decongestant nose spray which required another vet trip less than a month later--thankfully when you ingested cough drops and my thyroid meds, you did not require medical attention.  But I forgive you.  I have just accepted that I am the laughing stock of our vet's office.  It's fine.  And I've forgiven you for digging, chewing up non-toy items, scratching our front door, scratching our family and friends in your excitement, busting humans' noses and lips from jumping in your excitement, nearly pulling my arm out of socket on multiple walks when you see an animal, excessive crotch-sniffing, barking at everything that moves within a 100 yard radius of our house, and for having to rush home from school after you killed one baby bunny and injured this one...(in your defense, those rabbits really should know by now to take their families elsewhere).

I've also come to accept that in order to play with Sampson or give him any amount of rubbing, I must lock you outside.  Sampson seems to have forgiven you for never letting him have a toy of his own.  I now accept that I cannot do sit-ups or push ups without the extra weight of your head or paw on my body.  I am glad that we have finally found the right dose of calm down pill for our many trips so you no longer vomit in the car over, and over, and over again.  I no longer mind that your hair fills up vacuum cleaners and weaves itself into my clothes...and food.  Speaking of vacuums, I have come to the realization that you may never stop attacking them when I am trying to clean--and that you may always attack toys that move. 

And, despite all of these issues, I am so glad you are part of our family.  I know your entrance into this world was rough--with a sick mommy who literally lived to nurse you and your siblings before crossing the rainbow bridge herself.  I'm not sure how you grew so big--we were expecting you to be so much smaller...but that's just more of you to love, right?  However, you are not lap-dog size...but thankfully our friends are dog people, too, and accept your massiveness lovingly.

I want you to know that I appreciate the love that you show us all, no matter how socially awkward and strange it may be.  It's nice that you come when called--or even when you hear your name spoken from another room.  It is so amazing that you "crate up" with no hesitation and seem happy to do it.  I appreciate that fact that you are protective of our house, even though your gentle-giant-self would be scared senseless if someone entered the house--particularly if it was a man since you seem to fear human males.  I am thankful that you allow Sampson to use your butt as a pillow on a regular basis.  I love the way you let K dress you up and never complain. 

I know I can enjoy quiet during your nap times from about 2-4 (which you never gave up when K stopped napping) and every night after you put yourself to bed at 9 pm (even if it is on the furniture or my bed--but I am glad you are polite enough to respect off-limits furniture). 

You are a good dog, Daisy Duke, no matter what I or anyone else says in the heat of irritation or any other time.  You are a unique--one of a kind--furry member of our family.  I'm sorry we can't provide you the hunting life you want so bad--I know you would be good at that, if you had the opportunity other than with the wildlife in our backyard.  Your pointing stance is excellent...even when sitting.

I can't imagine how boring our lives would be without you.  And please know that we wouldn't laugh at you if we didn't love you so's just the way we roll around here.  You know we've bonded over the #1 thing we have in common--our love for Sampson.  :)  He loves you, too...though he doesn't always show it.  Unless hiking his leg to pee on you is a sign of love.  Maybe he's trying to mark you as his territory?  Either way, Daisy, you have brought love, joy, and laughter into our lives.  You are sweet and cute--and if those things are overbearing, well, so bit it.  Happy birthday, my Crazy Daisy!  I DO love you!  ;)

(Baby Daisy-late 2008/early2009ish)

Monday, March 21, 2011

8+ years in the military life...and finally enjoying some perennials!

I've been married 8 1/4 years.  In those 8 years I have lived in 5 states, 3 base houses, 4 apartments, and 2 houses.  If you do THAT math, it becomes obvious that we don't stay in one place for long.  And that means we never truly get "settled."  To me, part of being settled is having things that I can enjoy over time in a place--like gardens and flowers.  The longest we have ever lived in one building is ALMOST 2 years--we lived in our house in Jacksonville, NC from October 2006 to July of 2008.  My husband was actually stationed at Camp Lejeune and we (mostly just K and me as Buzz was overseas most of that) were in J-Vegas until April of 2009 and those last months he was deployed, so we sold our house and moved on base for that--and we moved to TN 5 days after he returned that time.

We are getting ready to pass the 2-year mark at our house here in Tennessee.  We closed on the house on April 30, 2009.  This is the first place we have come even close to being "settled."  And I love it here, other than the allergies and the fact that we are way too far from the coast.  But I love the house, I love the neighbors, I love the area where we live.  It is the first place I felt like was more than just a house with walls.  And, though I often complain of not fitting in in this "civilian city," I know that our friends here are REAL friends.  They are not just friends with us because our husbands work together or because we are so lonely during a deployment (not that there is anything wrong with that at all and I have made some amazing friends that way--but it's just different and I always worry that people wouldn't be my friends if it weren't for our crazy situation).  But here, we are actually sort-of fitting into society...sort-of.

And one of the best parts of being at this house for an extended period of time (who outside of the military considers two years an extended period of time in one house?) is that I get to see my flowers come back this year for the SECOND year in a row.  WOO-HOO!  I have a secret desire to be active in gardening.  It hasn't happened yet because 1. we move all the time and 2. I haven't had the time to put into it (thanks to PhD school and the like) and 3. it would take a huge effort because I know nothing about plants.  But two falls ago, one amazing neighbor bought lots of tulip bulbs and another neighbor planted those bulbs in all three of our yards.  I remember the planting day...I was so excited that I was a part of some neighborly activity that did not include a deployment.  I felt like I fit in and like I belonged.  I became a real suburban homeowner in the who does these homey-things with her neighbors to make the street look nice.  In my head, it was awesome.  On the outside I just stood in my yard, made small-talk, and smiled.  On the inside I was doing cartwheels.

It was an exciting week last spring when our tulips started to bloom.  And we all talked about how pretty our shared tulips looked. This year, the tulips started poking through a couple of weeks ago...and my excitement began.  Late last week, the buds started getting bigger and this weekend the first full tulip opened up--ours was the first of the other shared tulips.  :)  And today, more are opening.  Something I didn't know before is that the tulips have TWO buds per bulb this year...and I am so happy I get to see it...and we SHOULD be here next spring to see my baby tulips have three buds. 

I know this is just a simple force of nature, but to me it is so much more.  It's symbolic of something I am experiencing for the first time in military wife life--staying in one place for an "extended" period of time and feeling like I fit in...and having my husband home to experience these joys WITH my daughter and me for an "extended" period.  (Though he's not nearly as excited about those tulips and K and I are.)  I'm enjoying it.  I know it's so simple, but I love to see these flowers open in the morning and close in the evening--the only downside is their beauty lasts only a short amount of time.  But it's here long enough to remind me of all for which I have to be thankful.

Here are some pics of the progression of the blooming tulips the past couple of days...and I've also put a link to another Sarah McLachlan song that sums up what is happening here--Ordinary Miracles, which are so much more than ordinary to me.  :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moon-Flavored Ice Cream

This evening, with the beautiful weather on our side, we decided to go get ice cream.  Buzz, K, K's friend, and I made our way to Bruster's.  YUM!  As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed the full moon rising and Buzz told me that this weekend the moon is brighter than it's been in 20 years!  It is BEAUTIFUL!  This excursion, of ice cream and moon-gazing, took me back...  Do you have any of those memories that are so personal and special and warm your heart?  Do they get triggered randomly and take you back?  I do.  And eating ice cream under the moon brings back two such memories.

How can the moon be personal?  In oh so many ways... When I was a little girl, I remember my dad taking me out to look at the moon.  It was one of our "things."  It was so simple, yet so special.  I will never forget that--just like I will never forget him throwing me over his shoulder and us arguing over whether I was a sack of sugar or a bag of potatoes, or him playing the guitar singing me songs on our front porch before I went to bed...

Then, when a special aunt moved away when I was a little older (she reappears below) she reminded me that we could look at the moon at night.  And, since we were both looking at the same moon, we wouldn't feel so far away.  When Buzz went to boot camp and OCS, we tried looking at the moon at the same time, but it wasn't always up in the summer sky.  So, we (well, I did--I'm sure his schedule didn't always permit) looked at the sky every night at 9 pm.  I remember times when I would be out and about with friends and realize the time and dart out the door to have a moment with the moon and/or sky--and, for that moment, we were together.

When Buzz deployed for the first time after we became parents, K shared this love of the moon.  I can still see her tiny finger pointing and hear her barely-1-year-old little voice yelling "moooo, moooo."  I cherished those moments, reminded of my special times with my dad and Buzz and my long-distance relationships.

So, the moon tonight was even more special for me.  I called it to K's attention, though she wasn't as excited over it as she used to be.  I just called my dad to make sure he sees it.  :)

That special aunt I just mentioned (B) moved to and from my hometown many times during my childhood--and so did her grandson, my second-cousin and best friend growing up (M).  One summer, both M and B lived in my hometown.  I stayed with my grandmother while my parents worked--after school and all day during the summers.  (My grandmother, for the record, is an absolutely amazing person...K is named after her.)  This particular summer when my aunt and cousin were in the 'Noke, M, M's mom, B, my grandma, and I went out pretty much every single day of the summer.  I have little recollections of exactly what we did--other than just being together and the fact that we ALWAYS went to Baskin Robins for ice cream.  We went there on the way to or from all of our other stops.  M and I always got this strange bubble gum ice cream and the other ladies thought it was gross and crazy.  I can't quite remember how we would chew the gum that was mixed in the ice cream while still eating that ice cream...but we did.  And I loved every day of that summer...we still call it The Ice Cream Summer.  It was a blessing, having such special people in my life--at the same time--every day.  I loved being dropped off at my grandma's excited for what the day would hold and what adventure we would go on each day.

That's it.  They may sound simple and these may be typical Beth-story-ramblings...but tonight, they were real again and to say those memories are heartwarming would be a huge understatement. 

The moon tonight from my front yard (I need a better camera)

The moon was but a chin of gold
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond;
Her cheek like beryl stone;
Her eye unto the summer dew
The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber never part;
But what must be the smile
Upon her friend she could bestow
Were such her silver will!

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament,
The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,
Her dimities of blue.

~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Soundtrack (and double link-up): The Better Ones Among Us

I am on my way out-of-town (again) for more dissertation research--which is another post (or 10) for another time.  But, the hotel where we stay has a very slow Internet connection, so I am going to try and get my song for the link up with Goodnight Moon up and running so I just need to link from the hotel.  I'm also linking up for the first time with Things I Can't Say for "Pour Your Heart Out" (which, by the way, I can't wait to do again).  Luckily, this post fits with both link ups this week--so I'm going to double-dip (hope that's okay) since I am so busy with work right now.  So, here it is...

(The video is a must-watch!  Great song with a great video message!)

My husband and I "communicate" through music while he is deployed. He sends me CDs with playlists he's made for me and I send him songs on the computer. He shared this song with me during his first deployment. (I could write a BOOK on the meaning of this song to HIM, but that's not my point here.)

As I continue down this tough, often frustrating journey of PhD school alongside everything else I am attempting do to do "well," I find myself taking on A LOT.  My first and foremost goal in my life is to be a good mom--which also includes being a good wife.  And this crazy decision to go back to school is related to that first goal...My goal with pursuing my chosen career path is twofold.  I LOVE teaching and think that having a job teaching at a higher level will make me happier and, thus a better mom.  But the research aspect is of importance, too.  There is so much sadness and suffering in the world that is really unnecessary.  Through my research, I hope to make a difference.  I know any difference I am lucky enough to make will be a small one.  But changing one life is an important change.  I want to help--I want to help give a voice to those who ordinarily don't have that luxury and I also want to help open opportunities for them.  As I have mentioned before, so much of my work is depressing.  I am working to bring POSITIVE RESULTS to a field where much of what we read and hear about is negative.  It's a tough process.  One of my favorite quotes comes from a sociologist/theorist: 

“…the evident genius of the human spirit lies in the hard fact of life that we, like our dogs…[are] limited in all the important ways… We cannot do all that our powerful minds trick us into thinking we can. In a word, this is the mystery of being human. Our finest nature is not our ability to think and do. It is that we do and think as we do in spite of the obstacles…On average, the better ones among us continue to think and do what they can with no assurance that solutions will be found.” --Charles Lemert

This is my life.  I'm working to be one of "the better ones among us."  I can't be sure (or even confident sometimes) that I am going to be a part of any meaningful solution to bring real change to better even a small portion of the world.  It sucks...sometimes it sucks more than other times.  I'm limited, but I don't think these are valid excuses NOT to keep trying. 

I used to want to change the whole world.  But, as this song recognizes, that's truly more than I can handle.  (And it drives me crazy just to think about it, so trying to work toward an unrealistic goal is a little insane.)  So, I'm attempting to use my skills, strengths, lucky opportunities, and blessed circumstances to reach beyond myself...and try to bring my share.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Soundtrack: My Home (has no walls)

This song has been stuck in my head (again) I'm writing about it. 

Don Henley:  Taking You Home

I didn't have a "real" wedding.  I mean, I'm really/legally married, but we did not have an extravagant wedding for a variety of reasons--not the least of which is the fact that the good ol' USMC doesn't always make it easy to plan such events.  So, we got married in the church where I grew up, with my minister, with our two best friends as witnesses.  Then, we had a relatively informal "reception" with family and close friends.  We dressed up--Buzz was in his blues and I wore a white dress.  (It was actually a very plain white bride's maid dress--the big, fancy ones didn't look right on me.)  Anyway, if we DID have that big, fancy wedding--this would have been the song I would have chosen for our first dance.

We had only one pre-marital counseling session with my minister.  I remember him telling me that I would have to redefine home.  Home was no longer my hometown (where I had been my ENTIRE life--same house other than dorm rooms and apartments at college).  It was no longer a place.  There were no walls and there was no geographic boundary.  It was where my husband was--i.e. wherever the Marine Corps took us.  That was such a tough concept for me to grasp at the time.  It was hard to accept when it really happened.  I've come a long way.

"Home" is now with my family--here, there, or anywhere else.  I quickly learned what my minister was talking about--as we moved twice in the first 6 months we were married...and quite a few times since.  And this "home" has become even more significant since K was born. 

To me, the most important lyric in this song is "In this love, I found strength I never knew I had."  Beginning with the marriage and the moves in my new life, I found a part of me I didn't know was there.  Through having a daughter and going through deployments and more moves with her, I found that strength I never knew I had.  When I get down and start go fret about the hardships that military life brings (or am just irritated with my husband in general  :o) ), I always have to stop and remember that without falling in love with my husband and embarking on this journey, I may never have found the strength that was in there all along--just waiting to find its way out.  It's still going to be rough. I'm already worried about moving next year and concerned about all that surrounds a new-PhD trying to find a job.  It's not likely I will be able to get a job where my husband and I can live in the same house.  And we don't want to keep moving K all over the place--and I need to get a job where I can HOPEFULLY start working toward tenure without having to move yet again.  So I know the possibility exists that K and I will have to have a house that is separate from Buzz.  I don't like that idea.  But, I know that my home will still be the same.  Buzz will likely be deploying on a regular basis once we leave this duty station--so it's not like he would physically be in the house that much anyway.  And our home doesn't change--it's not bound by walls or filled with furniture.  It's filled with "this love"...and I have faith that this love who brought Buzz and me together and Kaitlyn into this world will continue to fill us all with the strength we need to handle whatever our careers throw at us.  In the meantime, I will still try not to waste time away, but will still look optimistically forward to Buzz's retirement from the Marine Corps--when we can be sure that our home fits in one house again.  :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Day in the Life: Family Portraits

My daughter LOVES arts and crafts.  She does them all the time and asks me to join in.  I do--just not as much as I should.  It's fun.  It's an awesome break from whatever I'm working on in terms of school/work.  She doesn't even care that I am the least artistic person on the face of the planet.

I nurture her creativity.  It is beautiful in all aspects of the word.  I have decorated her room with her canvas art.  Our dining room has been transformed into an art room.  I figure it's those little things I can do to help her embrace something that she loves so much.

One of her favorite things to draw is our family.  That makes me so happy.  I believe you can tell a lot about what kids think by looking at their artwork and watching them play.  I am so thankful that she views our family as close-knit and full of smiles.  She often draws us holding hands and with hearts around us. Though all of the ups and downs the Marine Corps has taken us through and all of the separations, I'm so glad that we have come out ahead.  Not to mention, it's not as if my husband and I are sweet and happy with each other ALL the time, so I am glad that she sees the good stuff always shining through.  :)  And it warms my heart to see our family so full of love through HER eyes. 

So, today, I am sharing some of her more recent artwork of our family.  I love how she personalizes everything, even as she is just learning to write.  She likes to write our names--and she refers to my husband as "Buzz" though lately she has taken it upon herself to introduce him to others with his real name, even though everyone calls him Buzz.  Anyway, she always colors me in purple (my favorite color), Buzz in orange (his favorite color), and herself in pink (her FAVORITE color).  She also always draws high heels on the girls.  She also recently received a card where a friend drew a shooting star--so now she really likes shooting stars in her work as well.  I suppose like any great artist, she must go through stages and phases.  :)

Welcome to arts and crafts!

Here is our family portrait (note us holding hands and the hearts in between):

This is a picture of me:
And here is Buzz:

And here is my little artist at work.  :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The only thing that stays the same? Everything changes.

It's amazing how simple things bring back such strong feelings and emotions.  I went to the grocery store (and restocked my TP and paper towel shelves, by the way) and had a minor flashback.  I can't believe how different things are on this b-billet.  Buzz is home considerably more--he hasn't been gone for more than 6 weeks at a time.  That's a completely different life than our time at Lejeune.  In Kroger today, I thought back to Buzz's first deployment after we were married.  I had a one year old at home, was very new to the area, and pretty much freaking out but trying to hold it together.  On one of my first trips to the commissary after he left, I was walking through the soft drink aisle.  Back in those days, Buzz had some serious issues with Coke (as in CocaCola)--he could drink 10 cans a day sometimes.  It was insane.  Anyway, I always complained about buying those stupid 12 packs--they were expensive and I hated picking up the cans.  But on that day, walking through that aisle, I made the realization that for seven months I would not by Coke nor would I pick up an empty can.  I froze in the middle of the aisle with tears rolling down my face.  I had to get it together and get out of there, but that was the first time the reality of what was happening to me slapped me silly.

(This is Buzz expressing his love for said product at Disney World last year.)

I survived that deployment, and another--and so did he.  Five days after he returned from his last deployment, we moved where deployments are a distant memory.  But I still have those moments where I can still feel those feelings.  It's not something you forget--the loneliness, the sadness, the fear.  And I dread the fact that next year, we will be leaving our little bubble and going back into that world.  I don't miss it.  I miss my friends and the support.  I miss the commissary because civilian store prices are outrageous!  But I don't miss much else.  I always joke that I have PTSD from those deployments.  I hated every second of them.

But I try to keep a positive outlook.  I said TRY--and I do it much better now looking BACK than I do in that moment.  But I do see this as one way that military families have an advantage (if you want to call it that).  Sometimes, when I am really annoyed or irritated or picking up dirty socks that never found their way to the laundry basket AGAIN, I take a step back and remember how I feel when I don't have those annoyances in my life.  It means my husband is not in my life on a daily basis.  And it sucks. 

So for now, I stroll through the expensive grocery store aisles knowing that I have someone else with me at the dinner table, that my daughter has her daddy to play UNO with, that I am not alone...and I am thankful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Grocery List

I am so overly behind with about every single one of my home chores and just about all of my schoolwork this week.  My husband had been out of town with his other true love (The Marine Corps) and my daughter has been sick.  Things are all off--not that we have a "normal" around here but I just feel out of sorts.  Anyway, at the top of the list of things to do is go to the grocery store...we are out of everything and have been eating out every meal since Monday, I think.  (NOT good for the bank account or for health reasons but whatever...)

So, I am preparing to grocery shop.  I hate going to the grocery store.  It's right up there with putting gas in the car of things that I have to do on a regular basis, aren't that big of a deal, but that I just can't stand.  And so the list begins.  You know, the grocery list that you try to stick to but you always end up buying more and forgetting one or two of the most important things on the you spend more money than you want and STILL have to go back.  [sigh]

I'm all about trying to save money.  I'm cheap, yet somehow we still never seem to have extra money.  I don't mind buying what we call "the bo-bo brand" (i.e. the store brand) of things, but there are some things that I buy where I MUST have the real-deal, expensive name brand.  Top among these are aluminum foil (it HAS to be Reynolds Wrap).  I just can't seem to deal with the bo-bo brands of aluminum foil--they rip too easily and aren't strong enough.  I also must have Silk soy milk--my daughter won't drink anything else.  I am starting to gravitate away from the bo-bo brand of paper towels, too.  Speaking of paper towels, I have another issue with grocery shopping...

I have a small fear of running out of 3 things:  paper towels, toilet paper, and light bulbs.  A light bulb just blew in our living room and I went out to our cold garage to the storage shelves where I keep a healthy stock of reserves of these items and HOLY CRAP, I'm running low!  We are down to our last roll of paper towels on reserve.  And, if you'll take a quick journey into that garage with me...
I am down to my last jumbo pack of TP...and it's OPEN!!!  Not only that, look...

The light bulb boxes are emptying out!  Oh, back to the grocery list--there are necessities that need to be on there!

I get it, I'm really not running that low.  I'm not sure where these irrational worries come from.  They are not major worries that consume my days, but when I recognize this ever-so-minor emergency is on my hands, I must take action.  These shelves must be filled again with their appropriate goods.

So, I'm wondering if anyone else has any of these random grocery shopping pet peeves?  Are there other must-have-name-brand goods where the bo-bo brands just won't do?  Am I the only one who feels the need to stockpile light bulbs, TP, and paper towels...or other random things?

Happy almost weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Marine Corps helped raise me, too!

I should be working on papers, reading, analyzing data, or studying now. But instead, I'm getting a jumpstart on the link-up with Goodnight Moon . This song (This Side by Nickel Creek) has been my "theme song" for life in the Marine Corps from the very beginning of my military wife life. I've included a *detailed* timeline for how this song fits into my soundtrack below. Hope you enjoy!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

>1995 (9th grade)--My Dad buys our first DVD player. It plays CDs, too. (This is important and will resurface again.)

>1996 (10th grade)--I start dating the "boy" who will one day be my husband.

>1997 (Summer before my senior year)--My "boyfriend" joins the Marine Corps.

(late 1998-mid "boyfriend" and I break up as he is stationed in California, I am in college in Virginia, and that doesn't really fly when you're 18).

>Jump to 2001ish--I discover Nickel Creek, thanks to my dad (who just happens to be the best musician on the planet. He taught me to love music and appreciate it. Music has always been a HUGE part of my life and I often see the world through the sounds of music, but I digress...).

>2002--My old boyfriend and I reunite when he comes home after his deployment to Afghanistan, which started out as a "simple" MEU float. Then, September 11 "happened" and they diverted (for lack of a better phrase). We date, get engaged, and get married rather quickly.
---December 22--Wedding.
---December 26--A young girl from Southwestern VA (that would be me) who only "went away" to college in the next city over moves away from everything she has ever known to Rhode Island. This was my first time away from home for more than a week or two, and my first taste of military life. I was welcomed with open arms, but I was very, very scared, sad, and homesick. Oh, and that "ancient" DVD player from dad gave it to us.

>Last days of 2002--My husband and I hook up the old DVD player. A Nickel Creek CD is in it--"This Side" was on that CD. We begin listening to it ALL the time.

---My husband always told me, especially through my anxiety and nervousness about entering my new life, that nothing good could ever happen unless you take a little risk and step out of your comfort zone. This new life as a military wife was WAY out of my comfort zone. During those first few months of my new life, I met many new people, experienced many new things, and started to change...the Marine Corps and the life it provided for me was changing me in ways I didn't know possible. This song was literally in the background of many of those adventures. (My husband told me to think of my new life in the military as an adventure. I didn't have to try hard to see it as such--it IS an adventure.) The words are so meaningful to me. I molded into a girl who you can take or leave--I'm still the same, even though I've become a bigger person. Military life, I believe, brought out the person I am meant to be but who was hiding deep down under my "old" life.

---The main way this song speaks to me is that it starts out by saying "There's no place to hide and I'm nothing but scared." This is exactly the way I felt in this new life of mine. But, as the song progresses, those words change to "There's no place to hide and I don't think I'm scared." This is my new outlook. I have jumped out of that small-town-girl-mold into someone who's not scared to meet this adventure head on!

---This song also speaks to a new way of thinking. The line "Climb up the slide and then slide down the stairs" also speaks to my new perspective on life. Sometimes, the unconventional route brings new joys, even if there are some challenges and risks along the way.

>Jump to 2011--I can't believe I used to think like that girl who was scared to leave her hometown! This song remains part of my soundtrack and has been one of the most important songs in my life. What I consider to be my motto (and what I have to sometimes remind myself when I start to curl back up in that shell of taking the easy road) is such a powerful line from this fun song..."Only the curious have something to find."

Semper Fi to all of my Semper FABULOUS military friends, I mean FAMILY. :)

(That's my "boyfriend" and me before the Marine Corps Ball, 2010)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Old Man

"Dogs' lives are too short--their only fault, really." -Agnes Sligh Turnbull

I used to only write about my dogs. Then, my life took a turn better known as PhD school and I got a little sidetracked. So, I would like to take a few moments to RE-recognize my best friend with four legs...My Old Man, Sampson.

Sampson came into my life in May of 2002. After graduating college, I got a wild hair to get a dog. And it HAD to be a boxer. I got the pick of the litter and I brought him home over Memorial Day weekend of that year. He fit in the palm of my hand. And so began our love affair.
In the early days, the old man was the puppy. He chewed everything from clothes (he had a special interest in my bras from the dirty clothes), door and window frames (in my first home after being married--good thing they were remodeling base housing that year or we would have been slapped with a BIG fee), and rubber balls from Petsmart (a 99 cent ball turned into a $1000 endoscopic surgery to remove said ball). He was social (he went to doggie daycare every weekday when I worked full-time before I got married) and friendly. He kidney bean danced and stole my pillows and covers at night. It was a match made in dreamland...and then the illness came. Even with his problems, he has always known how to party.

It wasn't until 2009 that we finally broke down and had exploratory surgery to find out what was going on. He has inflammatory bowel disease. It has been a long journey through that as well as the arthritis in his spine that is pretty much fused together. We have been creative with our treatment. Acupuncture and diet change has helped immensely.

Throughout our time together, he has been my comfort, ear to listen, and shoulder to cry on through deployments, various other military separations, pregnancy, birth, two rounds of graduate school, and every part of life in between. He has been a great friend. He's gained and lost one sister (our Angel-girl), gained another sister (Daisy Duke, AKA Daisy the Crazy) and has followed me through five states. Next month, God-willing, the old man will turn 9. In dog years, that's more than I want to talk about, especially for a boxer with lots of health problems. Luckily, our unconventional medical treatment has brought back some kidney bean dancing and playfulness that remind me of his puppy days.

I often joke (sort of) with my husband that Sampson is my true love. But who else could love so unconditionally?!? One of my favorite quotes is "My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dogs already think I am." What human could be there through all of life's ups and downs and give you a kidney bean dance and a big, sloppy kiss to cheer you up on the even the worst of days? He's licked my tears. He's danced in happiness with me after a deployment or after a rough week. He really is the epitome of a best friend. Despite the financial burdens he has brought us, I feel blessed that he is MINE. And I'm glad he is mine because a man with all that love deserves a family that will nurture him--bad tummy and all. He's worth it. So, here's to Sampson--my old man. And here's to hoping he will live (happily and pain-free) to be the oldest boxer on the planet. I will continue to cherish all of the moments that he is here on earth with my family and me. And I am thankful for all that he has brought to my life from puppy that fit in my hands, to a gray-faced, sleepy old man.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good deeds gone awkward--a follow up

So, if you scroll down and take a look at my attempt to "pay it forward" a while ago, you will know that I can be the queen of social awkwardness. (No, being a sociologist does not help me fit in any better in social situations. NERD ALERT!) Anyway, the men who I attempted to pay it forward to have appeared in my life again.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and one of his Marine friends grabbed a quick lunch at another restaurant on the UT strip. My husband and his friend (on their own) brought up my pay it forward adventure--and laughed at me, of course. Towards the end of our meal, who walks in??? The men whose breakfast I paid for at Panera during my botched good deed attempt. Oh the irony! So, I relived that little adventure, complete with heart palpitations, and went on with my day.

Fast forward to Tuesday (2 days ago). Buzz and I stop in that same restaurant for an even quicker lunch. And who sits down a couple tables over? Yep--those guys.

I am a little superstitious (not exactly the word I am looking for here but it will do) and I tend to think that things really do happen for a reason. So, why do these men keep appearing in my life? Especially since I am still dwelling on a 2 minute encounter that happened months ago? And my brain goes into overdrive... I feel like I HAVE to say something to them this time.

And, again, there I go with the heart palpitations, complete with sweaty palms. My husband even said if I didn't do it he was going to go introduce me. He puts my social awkwardness to shame--but he doesn't care. Plus, he kept saying it wasn't them. So, the pressure was on...

I walked over and introduced myself and told the outdoorsy man that he looked familiar and I think I met him on "Pay it Forward Day." He laughed and introduced himself and the gentleman with him. I told him how I felt so silly and he told me not to feel bad that it was a very nice gesture that meant a lot to him. He said he told some people about it and it was special. He told me it was even more special that I approached him in that context. We made small-talk for a few minutes, I walked back to my table, smiled and waved as my new friend refilled his drink and then I went about my day.

I guess that my social awkwardness isn't ALWAYS as bad to others as it seems to me. Or, even if it is, I guess it's not offensive. I have come to terms with just being "that girl" sometimes, more often than I would like or care to admit--the one whose heart takes over her brain function sometimes and makes a fool of herself in attempts to be kind. I guess being a big dork is just part of my "charm." :)

I think the most important thing I have learned is not to try to silence that crazy voice inside me that tells me to do nice things, even if they don't always turn out the way I envision them in my mind. Sometimes, a little smile, handshake,or gesture has the possibility to make someone's day, or at least make that minute a little brighter--and maybe an awkward payment of kindness can really have a positive impact on someone. And the fact that these might be small bright spots in others' lives makes them no less valuable.

On that note, when I walked into my parents house today after a 4 hour drive for a weekend visit, I saw a longer version of the quote below printed out sitting on the counter. Coincidence? Not in my mind.

"From the standpoint of daily life...there is one thing we do know: That man is here for the sake of other men--above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received." -Albert Einstein

They grow up all too soon...

Today, I am doing a link up with the blog Goodnight Moon at We are choosing a song that speaks to us this week. Since my little lady turned 5 this week, the same week that my best friend gave birth to her first baby boy, I have been thinking about how time flies and how important it is to cherish those moments when they are so "new." In honor of that, "Let them be little" by Billy Dean is my song of the week.