My brother's first deployment to Iraq was a seven month tour, primarily spent at Al Asaad Air Force Base. His existence consisted of his work on the base, numerous outings to unnamed, unsafe places, and his room, known as the "can", where he existed off hours.
He is once again at Al Asaad, this time for an entire year, and once again he finds himself in another "can" all his own. It is like a can too. Cold, barren, and completely devoid of anything that feels like home. For that reason, he is anxious to get things from home that might make his aloof walls more comforting. Things like artwork from the kids, words of encouragement, pictures, and more all do just that.
In the meantime, he immediately busied himself with unpacking and moving things around. It was during this process that he noticed some familiar marks on the wall.
It seems he has returned to the exact same room where he spent his previous tour.
My son fell asleep at 11:55 on our way to pick up O from school.
He's still sleeping.
I transitioned him from car to crib without a peep; the cleaners came with broom and vacuums creating a cleaning cocophony (shout out to Pinky Dinky Doo), and he barely stirred; his sister has had lunch, snoozed, and is now painting next to me and still no noise.
I keep checking on him and he's snoring.
Is this crazy or am I just in for a legendary growth spurt?
The following poem has been forwarded to me more times than I can count, and it certainly enjoys some indulgences, but in its plainest of verse, it reveals a plain truth.
The Marine stood and faced God, Which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, Just as brightly as his brass. "Step forward now, Marine, How shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't. Because those of us who carry guns, Can't always be a saint. I've had to work most Sundays, And at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I've been violent, Because the world is awfully rough. But, I never took a penny, That wasn't mine to keep... Though I worked a lot of overtime, When the bills got just too steep. And I never passed a cry for help, Though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God, forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears. I know I don't deserve a place, Among the people here. They never wanted me around, Except to calm their fears If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand. I never expected or had too much, But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne, Where the saints had often trod. As the Marine waited quietly, For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Marine, You've borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets, You've done your time in Hell."
The idea for this week's poll was inspired by the enviable experience enjoyed by Chris F. who got to meet Grover (yes, that Grover) at his place of business, which also happens to house the business of Sprout. Though the picture will certainly earn Chris some major props with his little angels (and Susan), the best part of the story has to be when Chris declared to Grover that he'd been waiting 30 years to meet his blueness. Hearing this Grover could only respond as Grover would, by calling Chris a "procrastinator".
Let me begin by saying how sad I am for Fozzi Bear who received no votes and, much like his always maligned comedy act, fails to connect with any kind of audience. Dr. Teeth, on the other hand, will probably be fine with it.
He's that kind of monster.
The rest of the votes were not at all surprising.
First place turned out to be a three way tie between Miss Piggy, Grover, and Kermit the Frog. My own vote went to Miss Piggy since I consider her to be my personal mentor, but I have always loved Grover, loved my Grover doll, and the love one of the most engaging children's works of the literary canon: Grover Plays Hide and Seek. Of course, I also feel much love for Kermit whose succinct surmise of life helped me endure freckles as a teenager in California: It ain't easy being green.
Is there any question of Jim Henson's gift to humanity?
Second place went to Elmo, a vote that may have as much to do with his cuteness as the way in which he entertains our children to no end (I have a friend who could only trim her son's fingernails if he was in a hypnotic state induced by Elmo).
Bert and Ernie tied for third with Big Bird in recognition of their timelessness and likability....and rubber duckies will never be looked at the same.
Finally, Animal earned one vote and whomever cast it must be compelled to look within and consider the subconscious, psychological implications of such a preference. Anyone want to come clean?
Regarding yesterday's post about my daughter's tribute to Martin Luther King, I have scanned the honorable Reverend's likeness for all to admire.
Though, in truth, this seems to bear a stronger semblance to another more infamous leader who shall remain nameless (it rhymes with Laddom Bupain), this one has already joined the countless other masterpieces in the my "Binder of O".
During yesterday's inauguration, President Obama proved once again why he is a master orator. Of course, for the purpose of this particular post, I have one specific excerpt in mind:
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
My daughter came home from school yesterday with her latest work of art, a finger painted picture of a man with dark hair, a dark mustache (like Poppy's), and the words "Martin Luther King Jr." written at the bottom of the page (by her teacher, not O).
Me: Look at this picture!
O: Smiling broadly while swaying her hips (a new thing) Me: Who is this?
"Everyone should have kids. They are the greatest joy in the world. But they are also terrorists. You’ll realize this as soon as they are born and they start using sleep deprivation to break you." -- Ray Romano
Keeping true to our family promise to send my brother a care package a month, my little man and I headed to Target to choose some choice items to warm his heart and let him know he's always in our thoughts.
Deciding what to get to do that was a different story?
As we meandered down aisle after aisle of arbitrary items, I was struck by two things:
1) When did Target stop become a store for bargains? 2) Aside from sports and raising children, I was really at a loss as to what he might want.
I know he likes sweets, but what kind would travel best? I am sure he doesn't enjoy many comforts, but how would bunny slippers go over at Al Asaad?
I settled on some ageless taffies, Nerf basketball for his tin can of a room, some magazines, and a Starting Lineup statue of A-Rod as a rookie (donated by my husband).
As a little boy whose hair grows so fast I can actually watch it, we have to head to the local cuttery every few weeks for one of the few mother and son experiences I seriously dread.
I realize comparing the experience to Linda Blair's head spinning performance in The Exorcist is hackneyed, but that is the clearest comparison I can draw.
He screams, he spins his head in every possible and impossible direction, and I have witnessed stuff come out of his mouth. It's awful and I always tip the poor hairologist 150%. (Again, feel free to revive my husband if you are near him.....we are in a recession).
It is so bad I am about to refuse going altogether and either go for the Slash look (he's got some curls), or rest the responsibility solely on my husband's shoulders.
In the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions for survival????
I'll be the first to admit I have a terrible memory. I forget birthdays, people's names, even places I've been, which is all the more frustrating when you consider how much useless stuff I remember (the dating lives of meaningless celebrities, lines of poetry, the history of the Phillipines....please let that be on the Jeopardy! test, please, please).
The good thing about having a terrible memory is that life is full of surprises. Things I completely forgot about suddenly return with new renewed happiness and excitement unlooked for and enjoyed all over again.
An example of this would be pillow people.
Born out of an idea to combine the comfort of a pillow with likeable pals, these toys of the 1980s topped my list to Santa one year and I can't for the life of me remember why. Did I play with it? Talk to it in my sleep?
I have no idea and I wonder what other useless toys I once craved are still buried in my mind.
I can't imagine how, but my address has managed to find itself on the mailing list of every major (and minor) catalog company known to man. Things to Grow On, Pottery Barn Kids, Sensational Beginnings, Crew Cuts, Hannah Anderson, and countless others (and those are just the ones related to children).
I just cannot imagine how that happened.
So, the other day I received a mailer from one of the more extravagant merchants whose beautiful dresses for little girls had me swooning. The dress above (minus the wings) caught my eye right away....and then it caught my breath.
It was $348.
Do you think they have a lay-away plan?
And do you think someone out there could revive my husband....?
I just registered to take the online Jeopardy! test for this year in the hopes that I may happen to get a group of questions that all have to do with Shakespeare, linguistics, green tea, and pop culture. I may even pull in my Grandpa as a ringer for the inevitable Bible category, but if it's opera, I may not have any hope. Damn that Puccini!
Honestly, I have never been called, but this will be the first year I cannot blame my failure on pregnancy or lactation fatigue. Was that too much information?
Anyway, there's no committment to join and if you do well enough, they call you in for a personal interview.
If you're interested in trying out for the show, or just want to go through the fun of playing, click here to register for the test, held on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 PM for East Coasters.
Among the many great questions confronting growing families, the decision to expand the brood often has a lot to do with gender. I know tons of families who have two and three children who are all the same gender, and debate whether or not they should "go for" the girl or boy.
One of my friends in particular (a mother of two awesome little boys) told me that she'd love to have a girl, but wouldn't want that to be a sole motivation for ever deciding to have another. She would decide when some time had passed and if her feelings were for a baby, any baby (with a secret little hope that pink was in the future).
Regardless of the gender make-up of your family or your decision to expand, a controversial new study suggests that a woman's diet may influence the gender of their child. This is yet another theory that has people buzzing, much like the Shettles Method that is advocated by everyone from American Baby to Dr. Oz.
What does the new study assert? In a nutshell, if you eat a lot of breakfast cereal, salt, and potassium, you are apparently more likely to have a boy.
Though this theory has gained a lot of attention, it contradicts the entire scientific community's belief that the man determines the gender of the baby; the mother is simply the carrier.
To read more about the study, click HERE.
Personally, I don't buy it, but I do know that the timing discussed in the Shettles Method does have a lot of proof behind it....in case you're interested.
Finally, this leads us to a great question of the day. You actually can select the sex of your child (through some pretty invasive procedures). The question is, would you?
Beyond rational belief, last week's Guess Who? has been correctly identified by Chris F. as Spencer Elden, the infant who appeared on one of the most memorable album covers of all time, Nirvana's Nevermind.
Now 17 years old, Elden experiences the natural anxiety a teen might feel from having such a picture taken, but not nearly as much anxiety as I would have felt in allowing any infant of mine to be dropped in a pool of water.
Either way, nine million people bought that album, and yes, Elden is a big fan too.
According to him:
Elden said he is a true Nirvana fan but has never met any of the bandmembers. He's had a platinum record for Nevermind hanging in his bedroom since his first birthday. But Spencer hasn't seen any royalties from the record's sales; his parents were paid just $200 for allowing him to be photographed.
"My dad went to art school over here in Pasadena, and while he was going there, he had a good friend named Kirk, who was, at one time, a Navy Seal and an underwater-demolition expert," Elden, who is often asked to sign copies of the album, explained. "And so, to go to art school, he gave up diving. One day, he and my mom were sitting at the dinner table during a party, and my mom actually came up with the idea. He was saying how he missed scuba diving, and she said, 'Why don't you just do underwater photography?' When he graduated, the first gig he got was the Nirvana album, and he needed a baby. So they just threw me in the pool, snapped a whole roll of film in like a second, and that's how it happened."
The idea of dropping a baby in a pool never struck me one way or the other when I was a freshman in high school....I just thought the band was really cool. Now, as a parent, there is no way I would let one of mine be dropped in a pool, even if it was for a matter of seconds.
Am I alone on this? I guess the whole water birth theory contradicts me, but I wouldn't do that either.
From every news airing to newspaper, the coverage of Barak Obama's assent to the presidency is almost as unprecedented as the very fulfillment of his office. Given the history making achievement, coupled with the Abraham Lincoln emulated inaugural train ride and the timing in relation to Martin Luther King Day, symbolism abounds and cannot be lost on anyone, least of all the media.
If you haven't had a chance to read Obama's letter to his daughters (and to all American children), the moment and all the great expectations that come with it are not lost on the president-elect either. While the letter echoes the emotions of both Lincoln and King, it is also very much in the tone we've come to expect from Obama and his call for change, hard work, and a committment to our country. A call that is not at all lost on me. It is as much a responsibilty we owe to our children as it is a debt we owe to our fallen soldiers. In it he writes:
Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.
Regardless of who you voted for, our country has reached a pivotal chapter in its history and while our children and grandchildren will learn all about it in their future history classes, may they also learn of this great privilege they've inherited from America's bravest sons and daughters.