Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can't no body take my pride--No hail gonna hold us down, oh no!

I'm linking up again with
for the "What's Your Song?" Link-up

I had already picked out this song in honor of my mom. She had her double knee replacement two days ago. She's one tough cookie! This is another one of my favorite songs for many reasons. It has brought me through deployments and trials of grad school. Beyond the metaphorical sense, however, I think it is quite appropriate for my mom in the physical sense--as she struggles to stand and move on to a better life.

BUT, now this has another meaning. First of all, my heart goes out to all of the people devastated by last night's storms. The people in Alabama, in particular. My family is so lucky that we are dealing with headaches--instead of heartaches. In the midst of a very stressful time (including mom mom's surgery, a stupid sinus infection and the end of another semester) we were touched by this devastating storm. Again, we're the lucky ones...


 Hail
 Our siding
 Hail in K's hand--an hour after the storm
 More (or less) of our siding
Hood of Buzz's car
My windshield
 Our driveway
 Our street
 Hail (last night)
 More hail (last night)
Our first step outside after the storm last night...steamy with a strange smell--very creepy

So, in pursuit of putting back the pieces to our possessions (which I am so very thankful that's all we have to do) in the midst of an already stressful time...in honor of my amazing mom...in honor of the people who are dealing with so much more than we are from this natural disaster...and for anyone who needs a pep talk, the words of this song ring clear and true.  STAND!



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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Preoccupied

It's that time again...to
I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately with everything going on, but I can usually find time to
pour my heart out...

Papers need to be written, presentations need to be prepared, assignments need grading, the summer course needs to be prepared, dissertation work is piling up, that comp exam is right around the corner, the house needs to be cleaned, I would like to write a blog, the dogs need to be walked, I haven't spent enough FUN/play time with K, the grocery store trip has been put off too long and the list goes on...

Why am I so non-productive?  Writers block?  Generally.  Lack of motivation?  Most of the time.  Lack of coherent thoughts?  Always.  Lack of energy?  Uh, maybe.  Guilt?  That's the result from not being able to play with K as much as I want.  Laziness?  Could be.

But what's the REAL reason NOW?  Preoccupation.  My mind is elsewhere...

My mom had her double knee replacement yesterday.  Was I there?  No.  Guilt consumes me.  She says it is okay that I'm not there--my dad and my amazing aunt have been by her side.  But it's not me.  I'm getting stories and updates second-hand.  I will be there in a couple of days...but my mind is already there.  I want so much from this...for her.  My mom was never able to get down on the ground to play with me.  She couldn't run around outside.  She couldn't go for long walks on vacations.  I always wanted her to do these things with me.  Now, being a mother, I realize how difficult not being able to participate in those simple things must have been for her.  She is always there for me and is an amazing mom...and now she is also an amazing friend.  But I want so many things for her.  I want her to stand up without pain.  I want her not to struggle to walk.  I want her to go for a long walk on the beach, go to the zoo with my daughter.  I want the pain to be gone.

But for now, the pain is here.  It is incomprehensible to me.  She has lived with a level of pain that most people never experience on a daily basis for so long.  But now, it's a new chapter of pain.  She knows she must work through the pain and mental and physical hardships to be able to, for the first time in her adult life, do what most people can do without a second thought.  She will learn to walk again.  She will have to stand first.  It will be painful.  It will be hard.  She will overcome.  But I want to be there.  I need to be there.  I am trying to tell myself this is not what she needs me for.  She needs me to be there later...when we are walking at the zoo, when she can keep up with us without us slowing down.  When she can "show off."  I want so much for her.  But, for me, I want to be there...now, not Friday, now.

But I'm here.  And, in the meantime, I will look forward to phone updates from others and brief phone conversations with my mom.  And I will try to check off some things on the to-do list.  But I will remain preoccupied.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Best Day...or, should I say Best Friday Night

In the past, I have written about how I could learn from my daughter, to dance like nobody's watching...even if they are.  Well, I'm feeling bold this week.  Yesterday I poured my heart out about something I haven't dealt well with for a while...Today, I am posting K's and my dance party from this past weekend (that Buzz videoed while laughing at us--in a nice way).  The song is "Best Day" by Taylor Swift.  If you haven't seen the actual video, you can watch it here.  It's a GREAT video, but break out the tissues--it's awesome from the mother AND the daughter standpoint.

So, without further ado, here is my dancing-with-my-daughter-in-the-dining-room-on-a-Friday-night debut.  :)




Head on over to

to hear some great songs and stories and add your own!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Deep Breaths and New Beginnings

I have been holding all of this in for the past 7 months.  I am still so very uncomfortable with the thought and I have stewed all day about whether to hit "Publish Post" or not...but I think it's time to pour my heart out.

Here's the Cliff's Notes version...

"She got the call today, One out of the gray.  And when the smoke cleared, it took her breath away.  She said she didn't believe, it could happen to me, I guess we're all one phone call from our knees..."  --Mat Kearney

The Call
September 15, 2010, approximately 8:30 am...I dropped K off at school and, for the first time, she cried when I was leaving.  It was hard.  I had a "female doctor" appointment and was heading home to shower and get ready for that lovely experience when my cell phone rang.  It was my mom--from her cell phone.  I was confused but so upset about the experience with K I didn't freak out or anything.  We made small talk for a few minutes before she told me my dad was in the hospital.  He had a heart attack the night before and they were awaiting results to know if surgery was needed or if some stints would do the job.  Buzz, of course, was in Norway.  I took a deep breath and pushed through my day.  I told my mom I would call her after my doctor appointment.  (Deep breath)  I called her from the parking lot and heard the news--he needed bypass surgery.  (Deep breath) I told her I was on my way home.  Luckily, I was able to get Buzz on the phone.

The Drive Home
Thank goodness for my amazing friends!  One took me to the airport to get Buzz's car (which is much easier to travel in with K and the dogs) and another friend picked K up from school.  I haphazardly packed and we loaded up for the four hour trip.  (Deep breath) Thankfully, we were not too far away.  But it was enough time to reflect on how all of our lives changed that day.  If you follow my awkwardness, you know that I have issues with emotions.  I HAVE them, but EXPRESSING them appropriately is not my forte.  I reflected on my love for my dad even though we don't often exchange heartfelt words.  I reflected on the strength it must have taken for my mom to drive him to the hospital, listen to the news, and call me.  (Deep breath)  I shared the news with K.  She was worried and concerned...she has my heart and soul.  (Deep breath)

The Visit
Seeing my dad in the hospital before his surgery was hard.  He is not one to be bed-ridden or slow down for long periods of time.  He never had any major medical problems before.  And he had to wait a week for surgery--they gave him blood-thinners at the hospital because he was not "showing" the severity of the blockage in his heart so they thought they would just put stints in.  Not the case.  (Deep breath)  They had to wait for all of that medicine to get out of his system before (deep breath) performing open heart surgery.  In true-my-dad-fashion, he was actually able to go home for the weekend between the admission to the hospital and the surgery.  I think this was good for everyone.

The Surgery
(Deep breath) The day arrived.  Luckily, Buzz was able to get home from Norway.  I estimate he arrived at my parents' house at approximately the same time my dad was going in to surgery.  When I woke up that morning I kept repeating to myself "Deep breath.  New beginnings.  Have faith in others.  Repeat."  This was all I could do to calm my mind knowing (deep breath) that my dad's heart had stopped and a machine was breathing for him while they performed (deep breath) what would turn out to be quintuple bypass surgery.  (Deep breath)  The surgery took between 4 and 5 hours.

The Walk
My mom and my aunt sat at the hospital during the entire surgery.  My mom, bless her heart, had stayed every night with him at the hospital.  And my dear, dear aunt was there for her from the time they took my dad to pre-op until the afternoon after the walk.  I made it for about the last hour or so of the surgery.  I was having a very hard time thinking of the whole stopping of the heart thing.  We made small-talk--my mom held it together very well.  My mom was facing the walkway and she stopped mid-sentence and her whole face changed.  I turned around and it was the heart surgeon, standing at the other end of the room.  He was probably about 30 feet away but as he slowly walked across the room with no expression on his face, it felt like the walk took 10 minutes.  Then, he stood there, still expressionless in front of us--and finally told us things went well, and he bypassed 5 arteries.  (Deep breaths)  The tears started to flow from my mom.  I have never wanted to cry so bad in my whole life and been able to keep it in.  (Deep breath)  My mom was soon able to go see him in recovery.  (I couldn't go because I had a sinus infection...but I did see him the day after--it was tough.)  (Deep breath)  A new life had begun...and there was a long journey ahead.

Deep Breaths
I had to remember to breathe.  To keep myself together and calm.  I still do.

New Beginnings
My dad gets a second chance.  I get a second chance.  My mom gets a second chance.  It is an ongoing process, but so far, so good.  My dad's health is amazing.  He is healthier than he has been in years.  He looks stellar.  I am never, ever going to take any part of any second with a loved one for granted.  Less than 2 months after my dad's heart attack, my best friend's dad had a heart attack--and did not make it.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law died young of heart disease, 58 and 64, respectively.  We are the lucky ones.  The pain was bad for my dad.  I know it had to be tough.  He was strong but I can't begin to imagine the physical pain.  I remember telling my mom a line I heard on Grey's Anatomy (I know, but I love that show)--This was healing pain.  This means we won.  They have had many hurdles to overcome and have faced each of them with strength and have overcome every obstacle in their path.  They both are amazing.  Did I mention, this means we won?

Have Faith in Others
This is hard for me.  As a control-freak, I don't like to rely on others to get anything done.  But in this case, it was not about me.  I had to have faith that other human beings would come through--that the surgeon's hands would work magic; that my dad would move forward and make the healthy choices he needed to make.  They did.  We won.

Moving Forward
My mom was scheduled for a double knee replacement 2 weeks after my dad's heart attack.  Obviously, that got postponed.  Next week, she will have the surgery.  I'm scared of surgery--all surgery.  But I am working to turn my perception--this life-changing event spilled past my dad.  My mom is healthier--she eats heart-healthy now, too, which is good for the whole body.  Her perspective on life has changed, too, I believe.  I'm ready for another new beginning for her.  She has struggled her whole life just to walk.  I am working now to (deep breath) look past the physical and emotional toll this will take on her.  I am looking to another new beginning--where my mom can walk with my dad (he walks most every day now--he's so amazing) and where she can go to the zoo with K and me.  Where she can park her car and make it to the store, work, wherever pain-free.  But (deep breath) I must also have faith in others, again.  I do have faith that she will do what she needs to do and push through the pain until that goes away and the pain-free future, her next new beginning, takes hold.  I am working to have faith that the surgeon will perform his best surgery yet.  I must put the past emotional toll of my dad's ordeal behind me.  We won.  I am working to be optimistic.  I am scared of the pain my mom will endure but I am hopeful for all that she can do once she has working knees.  (Deep breath)  I must breathe through until the next win is on the books.  (Deep breath)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life in the 'Burbs: Dressing your mailbox for success

Welcome to the first (I think there might be more) installment of "Life in the 'Burbs" where I contemplate the strange things in suburban life that are so foreign to me.  I didn't grow up in the suburbs.  When I first got married, I jumped between apartments and base housing...much different from the suburbs.  When we bought our first home it was in Jacksonville, NC--I suppose it was TECHNICALLY in the suburbs, but it was a neighborhood of Marines and their families, so it was pretty much still like base housing except with more bills and less rules.  When we moved to TN, we bought a house in the suburbs--the REAL suburbs...where people act differently than all of the places I have lived before.  I love it here, but as a sociologist, it brings about a lot of questions.  I notice some quirks that I suppose are normal for suburbanites, but I'm not a native.

There was a time in my life, before I moved to the 'burbs, when I thought that mailboxes were merely receptacles for receiving mail delivered by the USPS.  How silly!?!  Mailboxes are not just for getting your mail...apparently they are for showing off your landscaping skills (or, more likely, the landscaping skills of the landscaping company you hired to dress your formerly naked mailbox).  I don't know if status-symbol is the right word, but mailboxes in my neighborhood have something to prove!  I was thinking, while walking the dogs today, how humorous it is that people have taken this necessary, government-mandated box and turned it into a fashion statement of the front yard.  All mailboxes (and their surrounding areas) are not created equal.  But what makes a good mailbox?  I truly have no idea...but I did take the opportunity to walk just a few houses up the street to document some of the mailbox ornamentation in my little neck of the 'burbs.  Please forgive the lack of quality in these photographs...I felt a little silly walking around taking pictures of mailboxes so I was trying to be inconspicuous.  (On a sidenote, I think this would be a great idea of a coffee-table book--I called it.  Can I get a copyright on that?  I'll get to work as soon as this pesky PhD is out of the way.)

This is our mailbox, poor thing.  The mailbox landscaping came with the house.  But the box itself is falling over and is being overtaken by that bush that we keep trimming back but won't let up.  That little dogwood looks like it might be on its last leg, or should I say branch.  Those white flowers are pretty, but they are taking over, too.  We have a single tulip holding down the perennial fort.  Some of the monkey grass is new since we've been here.  We have no idea what to do with this thing.  We really need some fresh mulch, though.


This, I think, represents a mailbox that has it all.  Residents are obviously well-read (note the newspaper-box-thing).  You also have your classy Japanese Maple, some tulips, some irises (I think that's what they are) and some monkey grass...all encompassed in nice rocky line with mulch.

Here we have your big-time-mailbox-landscaping example.  Look at that mailbox, standing strong on a freshly-painted post-thing.  Complete with your colorful flowers, complimenting the landscape of the larger yard, and your bold monkey grass, all held together with rock and mulch.

I feel like this mailbox landscaper came from our school of thought.  I'm not sure that they knew exactly WHAT to do with the mailbox's yard, but they knew it was something.  So they planted this azalea (I think) around the mailbox and let it be.  Notice the symmetry with a similar bush on the other side of the driveway.

Similar to the specimen two pictures above, this mailbox landscaper went bold, but held off on the color.  Strong, upstanding mailbox in and of itself, it is complemented with a couple varieties (careful not to overdo it) of greenery with some new mulch and brick fence.

A fan of irises (and difficult to contain monkey grass), this mailbox landscaper also welcomes visitors with the garden flag--nice touch to make your mailbox feel homey. 

Woah!  This mailbox landscaping is in need of some TLC (I think--but of course it is quite possible I'm totally wrong).  What probably began with some crisp and defined greenery is spilling over a bit.  I picture the different plants fighting for the attention of the mailbox.  Clearly, this specimen has potential but needs some control.

A common sight in our neighborhood...the brick mailbox.  These pieces of yard ornamentation allow for additional landscaping around them or for the mailbox to boldly stand on its own, as if saying "Dude, I'm made of brick.  I don't need no landscapin'."

Now we move to the somewhat common "there's supposed to be something here, but what?" mailbox landscaping.  I'm glad our little area was filled in when we bought our house...otherwise, our mailbox would likely fall into this category or be extremely tacky with mis-matched plants because, again, we don't know what to do with these things.  I'm thinking of suggesting an HOA meeting on the topic.  People need to know what's expected of their suburban mailboxes.

Oh...this poor guy didn't get the memo. 

Am I the only one dorky enough to notice these things?!?  This is important stuff here.  Urban sociologists, move over--I'm going to dive into the subfield of SUBurban sociology...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Baby Guitars, Stolen Pillows, and Odometers

This week has been INSANE.  I need a moment just to reflect on some randomness and happiness from the past week before I go back into study-mode.  So here are a few of pictures from the past week that make me smile.

Last week, after returning from our latest too-long road trip, my parents met us at our house to return our dog-children (they are the best to us and their grandpuppies for watching them when we go out-of-town where doggies cannot go).  Anyway, K has been obsessed with my dad playing music (even more than usual--it's all she wants to listen to in the car) lately and, while we were at my parents' house on our latest trip, she kept playing my old, cheap ukulele.  So, my dad and Buzz conspired to get her a REAL guitar of her own...a Mini Martin.
There's nothing like the gift of music.  LOVE it!


A couple of nights ago, I go to get into MY bed on MY pillow and THIS is what I find:
Yep, that's my human child and my dog-boy snuggled up on my pillow together.  Wouldn't trade it for the world.  :)


Today, my hard-core, tough Marine husband comes in and tells me he's a dork and I HAD to see something in his car...
I thought it was broken...but he just happened to have ALL 8's on his odometer when he pulled into the driveway.  Dork alert for both of us...I had to take a picture.

Back to studying...Happy weekend!  :P

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The F-word

FAILURE

That word terrifies me.  It's a big, scary word that brings about big, scary emotions.  The fear of it has kept me from taking so many chances in my life.  I didn't continue playing the flute in any big capacity in my teen years.  Despite the fact that I was often selected for "special" programs and was told I "had what it takes," I was scared of any try-out process where I might not make it.  I didn't try out for softball in college.  I was scared I wouldn't make the cut--despite the fact that the assistant coach was my coach from high school and the head coach was my mom's boss's husband...and, objectively, I probably had the skills to make it.  But that fear of the f-word held me back from even trying.  That fear of the f-word almost tricked me into not applying to graduate school.  While I was waiting on the decision I convinced myself that I didn't really want to go, so I wouldn't be so upset when I didn't get in.  (In hindsight, that would not have been the WORST thing to happen.  Grad school sucks.  Hahaha!  But I digress, as usual...)

And the f-word brings on fears beyond just the f-word itself...like fear of the d-word.

DISAPPOINTMENT

When I was a kid, my parents didn't spank me or anything like that.  But I dreamed of that type of punishment.  I don't mean I wished for beatings, I just mean something shorter than the long lectures about what I did wrong.  NOTHING is more devastating than having someone tell me they are disappointed in me.  It is only rivaled by the disappointment I feel toward myself sometimes. 

Coming full-circle, sometimes my internal disappointment comes from not taking those leaps or trying out because of my fear of the f-word.  Seriously, am I some sort of nut-job?  :)  But where could I have gone if I kept playing the flute on a higher level?  How would my college experience have been different if I had tried out for softball?

And now, the fear of the f-word is getting into my head again.  Recently, I have had a few things showing me that I have chosen the right path for me--that maybe all of this grad-school-nonsense isn't nonsense at all.  Maybe there is light at the end of this stressful tunnel.  Great, right?  Sure...until the fear of the f-word comes creeping up on me again.

What if I'm not good enough?  What if I don't get a job?  (Seriously--big fear--there are a lot of student loans piling up that need to be paid!  I get so irritated that people must go into debt to better themselves, but that's another soapbox for another time...)  What if people think I'm stupid?  What if I say something wrong?  What if my dissertation flops?  What if I never get a publication in a top journal--or, even worse, what if I don't get another pub at all?  What if I can't get any grant money?

While all of my other "colleagues" are going around calling our professors by their first names, I am still walking on eggshells and wouldn't consider calling any professor with a PhD anything other than "Dr. [Last Name]."  What if I actually do make it to my own hooding but can never make the jump from student to PhD?  What if no one ever sees me as a figure with authority or someone with "real" expertise?  What if they all still see me as the quiet girl with the southern accent who is too afraid to speak up because of her fear of what everyone else thinks?  What if I DO get a good job...but then don't make tenure?

Yep, there are a lot of questions running through this brain of mine in addition to all of the ones I need to answer formally through this grad-school adventure!  I am sure many of these things are ONLY in my head.  I mean, worrying is my specialty--a forte I would like to overcome. 

So I am challenging myself to put the worry away as it is totally useless and nonproductive (though it's not likely to actually disappear) and focus on what I need to do to succeed.  I must focus on success--on the possibilities of what CAN be if I keep working hard.  The biggest tragedy will be if I let this fear of the f-word infiltrate my aspirations to the point that I don't shoot for my goals.  I've said it before and I'll say it again--the following quite is framed in my bedroom--it came from one of those daily calendar-things.

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

[Deep breath]....Eyes on the prize....

Do YOU remember young love...that lasts?

I'm linking up again for the coolest dance party in blog-land.  Head on over, check it out, and add YOUR song!


My song this week is "Do You Remember?" by Jack Johnson. As I've mentioned before, Buzz and I often communicate (through deployments) with music.  This was another one he introduced me to during Iraq deployment #1.  It's so cute...and it is SO US!  I have included the lyrics below...and the bold comments explain just why this song hits home this week, and every week, for *almost* all of the past 16 years.  (Holy cow--that's a long time!)



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Do you remember when we first met? I sure do.
It was some time in early September
Buzz and I met at the bus stop (how romantic) at the beginning of high school--my 9th grade his, his 10th grade year.
You were lazy about it, you made me wait around
I was so crazy about you I didn't mind
He totally wanted me from the beginning but I wasn't interested.  He got our mutual friends to put in good words for him and he had very "creative" tactics to try and win me over.  It took a while--almost a year and a half--before I bought into the idea.

I was late for class, I locked my bike to yours
It wasn't hard to find ‒ you painted flowers on it
I guess that I was afraid that if you rolled away
You might not roll back my direction real soon.
As I said, I wasn't a big fan of having a relationship with this *boy* at first but he wouldn't let up (and now I'm glad he didn't).  :)

I was crazy about you then and now
Yep, he was crazy about me then...and now (blush).
The craziest thing of all,
Over ten years have gone by
16 years! (With a little break during my college and his early Marine Corps years)
And you're still mine,
Still together.  :)
We're locked in time
We're still young at heart!
Let's rewind

Do you remember When we first moved in together?
The piano took up the living room
Well, when we got married, we didn't have a piano but we had the tiniest base housing--our living room didn't have much furniture but the place was so small that it was full.
You'd play me boogie woogie, I played you love songs
You'd say we're playing house, now you still say we are.
When we were newlyweds, on many occasions, I would say I felt like we were playing house--it all felt so strange, in a good way.  And, as I say, we're still young in our own minds, and now I still say it feels like we are playing house.  (But I LOVE it!)

We built our get away up in a tree we found.
We felt so far away but we were still in town.
Now I remember watching that old tree burn down
I took a picture that I don't like to look at.
I have to get a little metaphorical with this one, but here goes...We used to "get away" to random places.  When we were first married, we lived in Newport, RI.  I was homesick--very homesick.  We would go for drives to "calm me down" and get my mind off of things.  Buzz used to take me on what he called "the mansion tour" in RI.  (If you've never been to Newport, it has a couple of streets with INSANE mansions, including the one where The Great Gatsby was filmed.)  So, we felt very far away on these little get-aways, but we were just a few miles from our tiny base house.  As far as the burning down, the metaphor stretches a little further...I remember when Buzz started deploying after we were married.  I felt like all of those memories of random drives to calm me down just faded away--and it really did hurt me to look at pictures that reminded me of when he was there.  (I know, I'm a weirdo--lots of people hold onto things to make their deployed husband feel closer, but to me, that was too hard to do.)

Well, all these times they come and go
And alone don't seem so long
Over ten years have gone by
We can't rewind,
We're locked in time
But you're still mine.
With all the ups and downs, we're still together.  Lots of people (even us at times) thought it couldn't be done...but we're going strong!

Do you remember?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When I can't find the words...

My life often gets turned upside down.  Being away from home is a blessing and a curse at different points along my journey.  Luckily, I have been blessed with an amazing family--not the least of which are my uncle and aunt, Rex and Robin.  Some of my earliest memories are of Rex.  He has always been there for me--a man who always treated me with respect, even when I was a kid; a man who I knew I could turn to at any point in my journey and know he would lend me an ear--and take me seriously.  Robin entered my life early on as well and has always been a comfort and, in recent years, a true friend.  I was a flower girl in their wedding--I still remember it.  It was one of the first examples of being accepted into a "bigger" world.

Why am I introducing family members?  Because this week, my life has been turned upside down.  My grandmother--my hero--the woman I named my child after--is nearly 89 years old.  She is an amazing woman and has been through so very, very much in her long life.  She took care of me.  She took care of the rest of my family.  But, sometimes, SOMETIMES, it becomes the time that we (who have been so blessed to have experienced her amazing care-taking skills and her long, healthy life that is still moving forward) must adjust our roles in awkward ways.  It is the time that we must all bond together, as a big, amazing family, and take on caretaking roles ourselves.  Every member of Grandma's lineage has been touched by all of her amazing traits in countless ways.  We all love her more than words can imagine.  Yet, none of us can even begin to understand her almost-89-year journey.

So, on that note, I introduce my amazing aunt Robin.  She has found the words I have been looking for.  Check out her blog and this post (which I have copied and pasted, with her permission). 

"THESE FEET, AND THEIR 3 HOUR TOUR"

Life changes. Sometimes we see it coming. Sometimes it smacks us in the face.
Sometimes, it smacks us because we turn away from what we see coming because we don't want to accept it.
We've been smacked. It stings.

These feet...
decided to go out into the 86 degree heat and pull weeds
became disoriented
climbed up a steep hill to the alley
lost their shoes
wandered through the alley for about 3 hours
took several rest breaks
avoided the "scary dog"
finally asked a strange man for help
met a really nice police woman who made sure she got home
turned off the cabbage left cooking on the stove
laughed about how she could see the dandelions, but not her house
cannot explain how this happened

These feet.....
have walked our family into new territory. Territory many have trod before us, but uncertain and a bit scary for us.

These feet....
are forcing us to look at life straight on- no more turning our heads
are requiring us to make decisions, decisions that will bring us closer together as a family because in the end, everyone involved.....

love these feet
and the precious 89 year-old mom attached to them.

Mean People

I do my best not to ramble and complain on here, but sometimes, you just have to do it!  So I'm linking up and pouring my heart out today.



"The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." ~William Wordsworth

Why are people so mean?  And why can't I just shake it off?  WHY?  This past week I have felt the meanness from a variety of sources.  Some mean encounters are worse than others--I think there is a mean encounter spectrum that goes from mildly annoying and hurtful to completely devastating.  Some of these recent encounters have come from people I am close to, yet continue to get the vibe that they think they are better than me.  These are merely annoying and hurt only mildly because I know they still love me.  Some come from acquaintances who think their knowledge is far superior to my own.  These don't really hurt but make me wonder why they would even open their mouths.  Did their mothers not teach them if they can't say something nice to not say anything at all?  Some come from complete strangers who mistake my identity for a fellow mean person (despite my attempts to prove the opposite) and ruin way more of my time than I should ever allow them to. 

I truly try to live my life to be the nicest person I can be--to everyone with whom I come into contact.  I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  But I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that everyone deserves some kindness and a smile--at least until they give you a reason to act otherwise. 

Apparently there are lots of people who do not share my feelings.  There are people out there who pride themselves on being jerkfaces and/or act like they have something to prove with their mean actions.  I guess there are people out there who lack empathy, compassion, and human kindness.  They seem to think that their evil exterior is attractive--or maybe they have something deep inside they are trying to hide.  Or maybe they don't know they are being mean (doubt it) or maybe they have just never been taught how to act.  I don't know what it is.  But lately I have been feeling very tested in my kind-heartedness.  I am appalled at the ways a stranger--a mean person--can push you down so far.  I am horrified at how others who may or may not know the real me can judge me so harshly.  I am sickened by the ways that chance encounters with mean people can throw an individual, full force, into undesirable situations that they have always been able to avoid because they think before they act and try to be a bigger person.

So what do I do?  I suppose I need to work on keeping my chin up and not let a few negative experiences overshadow the kindness and awesomeness that generally shines on my life.  I suppose I need to be the one to stop the insanity in my head of letting mean people bring me down.  I suppose leading by example is the best way to run with this--by practicing the Golden Rule.  And I will remind myself, and anyone else who ventures to read this rambling incoherent mess (rambling and incoherent because I'm at a loss for words because I am so unfamiliar with the insanity of being mean just for the sake of it), that a smile doesn't cost anything. Usually kindness is contagious but I am learning more and more that some people are just immune.  That doesn't negate its strength.  So, I will just hope the best for those mean people and turn the other cheek (now that I have gotten it out here).  I guess the best way to get over it is to know that they can't beat me or get me down--and not let the mean people win. 

"For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness."  --Author unknown

***UPDATE***
Let me just say that the first few comments these amazing ladies have left today have reminded me of all of the goodness that is still out there.  Thank goodness for NICE people!!!  Those are the people who truly deserve the recognition!  :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is ghostly white the new tan? Can it be? Please?

I have heard people say "White is the new tan."  I assume they say this because either 1. they are really NOT tan, or 2. they are making a statement about sun/uv-rays safety.  Either way, I want this to be true. 

I am pale...like, really pale.  And so is my little girl.  We're just pretty pasty.  I recognize this mostly the first few weeks of short/skirt/dress season.  And this week, I'm at the beach--there's no hiding it now!  I used to sport a nice glow in the summer...and winter because I would bronze myself at tanning beds.  This was, of course, when I was young and cared way more about appearance than I do now.  Plus, I don't remember all of the hubbub and mainstream media coverage of the dangers of that beautiful, healthy-looking tan.  If that was in my face, I am pretty sure I would have foregone the rays because, well, I'm scared of lots of things--not the least of which is cancer of any type--and now, the research speaks loud and clear to me.  (For the record, I visit the dermatologist twice a year because I worry about my bad tanning decisions of the past, but I digress...)

So now, I'm pretty conscientious about the health no-nos of having that amazing tan.  And I sport my pasty legs with pride--and, seriously, when I say pasty, I mean put your sunglasses on if you are around me in the sun because these things reflect the rays in a major way.  And, by pride I actually mean I'm a little embarrassed.  But WHY?  I am a generally health conscious person--I practice and promote healthy habits for myself and my family.  There's no shame in that!  So why is slathering on the sunscreen a problem in my eyes.  I guess it's not so much a problem in my eyes as I assume it is for the other eyes who catch a glimpse of these legs. 

Way back in the day, being pale was a status symbol--it meant you could afford to work inside (or not work at all).  I'm not saying that is right by any stretch, but my oh my how far we have gone in the other direction from that perspective, huh?  Now, with all of the info on the dangers of the sun, why can't we embrace the fact that some people are just pale and that should be beautiful, too--it's HEALTHY.  And even if you are outdoorsy, you now have the option to protect your skin. This is good.

If you have read my blog, you know I am not a fashonista by any stretch of the imagination.  I don't "do" trends and I'm generally not "in" on anything except what is on sale.  And don't even get me started on my hair.  Other than being relatively thin, I don't have much in common with those ladies in the magazines or on tv.  Nope.  I used to be embarrassed, but I got over that for the most part.  My hair is big and curly (frizzy) and my clothes may be from 5 (or more) seasons (or years) ago.  No big deal in my book.  But I can't move past the tan-thing.  I've tried the bronzers--I guess I do something wrong because I end up streaky, splotchy, and/or some unnatural shade of orange-ish.  Not good--I prefer the paleness to the obvious fakeness.  I would go to those spray-tan places that are supposedly not so obviously fake but those things cost a pretty penny that I am not willing to fork out.

So, I am just going to social-psychologically construct my own reality and say that white IS the new tan.  I'm going to just run with it.  And while I'm running, if you see me coming, slip on the shades to protect YOUR EYES from the rays my pasty, sunscreen-covered legs may reflect in your direction.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Get movin'!

Yay for the dance party today with


This week I'm sharing one of my favorite songs to bounce to in the car, in the house, or in my hotel room right now (I'm in Florida for a conference...yay! Chronicles of this latest academic conferencing are sure to follow...)

It is all but impossible for me to listen to this song and not be in a happy mood.  It literally makes me bounce and bob my head...I've even been known to get the "I can't dance fingers" moving while sitting in the car when this is playing on the iPod in our interstate travels.  :)  Hope you enjoy as much as I do...feel free to bounce with me!  And head over to the par-tay at Goodnight Moon to listen to some other great tunes and add one of your own!

[Eric Hutchinson's Rock and Roll]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog Party

I'm linking up with the
to hopefully meet some new blogging mommies!

So, here's my deal:

This blog is my private-public journal of my adventures...which include my roles as mommy (first and foremost), military wife, PhD student, and crazy dog person.  It's my outlet for the ups and downs of daily life--a place for me to get out the things that swim around in my head keep me up at all hours of the night. 

So, what do I write about?

My amazing daughter, of course. 


Our two dogs.
Marine wife-life.

Attempts to balance my competing roles.


And all sorts of other randomness from music to my social awkwardness to sociology to whatever is going through this crazy mind of mine at the time. 

Thank you so much for checking out my little piece of blog-land!  I hope you'll follow me on this crazy journey.   And don't forget to link up at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Where do we go from here?

It's a full year (at least) until we move yet again.  But the talks and the hypothetical plans have already begun.  The what-ifs are piling up and driving me banana-sandwich (to use one of my fave Dane Cook phrases).  WHY are we doing this to ourselves?  And WHY can't we just be used to this by now?  Maybe because of my new position and need for a job--a career?  Maybe because we are hoping to retire in at least the general area of our next duty station?  I don't know why things seem more stressful this time--and it's not even "time" yet.  Good grief!

What worries me the most about all of this is that once we leave our civilian-town bubble again, I know what happens--the deployment cycle shows its ugly face again.  I can barely even stand the thought of that cycle becoming a reality...again.  I have never forgotten the challenges that go with every step of the deployment process.  Mostly, I can't shake the feeling of the empty tears that don't bring him home any sooner or how every time I say goodbye and drive home, I sit in front of our house bawling my eyes out and not wanting to go through the door because I feel like once I step foot into that house without him, it becomes real--I'm without him for far too long.

There are so many good things to look forward to in this next year and I'm working on living in the moment and soaking up all the togetherness that I can.  Unfortunately, there will still be a lot of separations during this time--as I write this I am in a different state and have been without him about 5 days and have a few more before we reunite.  No big deal--it's a week, right?  And we usually bicker a good portion of the time we are together anyway.  Hahaha!  But it's these separations (piled onto the dark cloud of the unknown of our future moves, etc.) that won't let go of those nagging feelings of being apart for so long.

[Deep breath.]  This only makes us stronger.  I think I can.  I think I can...