Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Brother Abroad

"The number of medals on an officer's breast varies in inverse proportion to the square of the distance of his duties from the front line." -Charles Edward Montague

This is Day 84.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Brother Abroad

This is Day 83.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

As we prepared to head out for a playdate with one of Joseph's friends, O misheard me and thought we were going to the house of one of her classmates: Lucas.

We were not.

Her unconcealed disappointment surprised me a bit, as he was not one of the usual names she is prone to mention among her usual crew of preschool cronies.

"Who's Lucas", I asked.

"Lucas is from my school and he told me he loved me and that I am beautiful."

"Oh, that was nice. And what did you say?"

"I said thank you and said he could come to my house to watch Pinocchio."

That sounds like trouble.

A Good Read

Unlike a lot of English teachers, I am not a novel snob. I love short stories just as much, expecially since they require a more technical craftsmanship. I live for my weekly subscription to The New Yorker so I can read the newest short story, the poems, and of course the cartoons.

Needless to say, one of my favorite short stories of this season is "Girls in Their Summer Dresses" by Irwin Shaw. I used to teach it to my older students and let the battle of the sexes begin.

It is so startling realistic in both its characterizations of men and women, as well as in its understanding of the nuances in communication. Anyway, if you'd like a great, quick read, I highly recommend reading it this weekend (along with your spouse) and have a go at it.

Oh, and let me know your thoughts too, especially regarding the obvious question:

Will he cheat????

To read the story, click HERE.

I Could Not Be More Hard Headed

All that sleep served me so well yesterday; why wouldn't I just do it again?

I. Am. So. Tired.

Picture of the Day

What is grandparent love?

Hosting the annual egg dye for her grandcchildren with a smile (and a stiff drink later).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Brother Abroad

This is Day 82.

American Idol Results

I did something unbelievably crazy, at least for me: I applied reason in a decision and it worked!!!

Last night, my little miss was suffering from gravel voice and a scary cough, which led me to astutely hypothesize that she might be up throughout the night. Therefore, instead of staying up entirely too late (as is my practice....I need the me time even if I need sleep just as much), I fell asleep at 8:50.

And thank goodness.

Though O slept solidly until about 6:20 (a miracle in our house), my little man was up quite a bit with what I think is the emergence of his final tooth!

Needless to say, I am feeling good about my little case of reason, even if it did mean I missed the Idol results.

And how about those results? I awoke to learn that I was wrong to ignore my instincts since Matt Giraud did garner the least votes. However, since the judges finally used the gimmicky "Save" option, no one got voted off this week....leaving two to leave next week.

Should I be so bold as to go ahead and predict that Matt and Lil will go home next week, even before their performances might prevent that very occurence? What if Anoop picks some erratic, girating abomination of a song and throws the entire voting theory off.

It is Disco night....

I'll save my predictions for post-show Tuesday night.

My Little Girl

O managed to catch a nasty little cold at the exact moment I was beginning to think she'd made it through the colds season unscathed. The sounds of a tight, barking cough woke me from my sleep and I sighed as I tried to figure out which one had decided to wake up sick.

The pitter patter of feet told me it was O (fortunately, Joseph has yet to find a way out of his blarma, no blarma) and as she climbed into bed with me, she confirmed the truth with a horse "Good morning" coupled with some additional coughs for good measure.

So, we made an easy day of things and did not venture out (it was cold and raining anyway, which made the decision simple) and I watched and waited for any signs that a doctor's visit might be in order.

There were none. She played, she sang, she gave me a hard time about finishing breakfast...the usual stuff. And, as the morning folded into early afternoon with not a single cough or gravel voice, I was actually contemplating allowing her to go to dance class.

Well, I'm still not sure what adventures she found in her naptime dreams, but she awoke with absolutely no voice. It was so odd. My little chatterbox was silenced and Joseph and I didn't know how to handle the quiet.

There were puzzles, too much television, and lots of reading....but there was no Oisms for the better part of an hour....and it was so sad.

As much as I'd love a quiet moment to get lost in my thoughts, I missed my garrulous girl. Like a city person itching for the sound of an ambulance or gun shots while visiting the serenity of the countryside, I was eager to have her voice return.

As with everything after children, even the rhythms of my syncopated rhythms of my day have changed....and for the better.

Picture of the Day

Even Papas play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Brother Abroad

A few people have asked me about corresponding with soldiers in order to send along their support and well wishes. I have to say that, though most of those deployed overseas enjoy the benefits of email and even web cameras, there is simply nothing like receiving a care package from home or an actual, tangible letter from a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger. recognizes the positive impact of these gestures on morale, and has taken every step to encourage people to contribute. Chief among their many offerings, the site offers a simple form to fill out with plenty of room for a letter that they will then print and deliver on your behalf. You don't need an envelope, a stamp, an address, or even uncertainty about how to go about formatting your just write what you are compelled to say.

I would encourage anyone who sees value in the kindness of words (in among the more unkinder places) and take just a few moments to send some thoughts overseas.

Click HERE for the letter form, or visit for more information on letter writing and care packages.

This is Day 81.

Headline of the Day

"Yearbook Photos May Predict Marriage Success"

According to a recent study done by someone who has a strange way of passing the time, your likelihood of enjoying a long, happy marriage depends on how big your smiling in your yearbook photo.

Utterly skeptical and remarkably curious, I checked out our photos to see where our married future may lead us, which lead me to a question. If we both are smiling very broadly, but my eyebrows are hiding a small tribe of villagers and his hair has waves that would attract Greg Knoll...are we more or less likely to drive each other completely insane every time we try to complete a household project together?

For the full article, click HERE.

I Love Technology

As I mentioned yesterday, I am starting a rather large writing project and my subject hails from Australia. Normally that would make for some exhausting means and modes of communication, but thanks to the wonder that is Skype, I had a long chat with my newest mate like he was my next door neighbor.

We're separated by thousands and thousands of miles, 14 hours, and a gender and age gap that you couldn't leap over and yet, here I am working on my laptop in my kitchen with a cup of Green Tea and the all too conveniently located leftover Easter candy.


Wednesday by Julie

They're holding hands!!!

Opposites Attract

When it comes to my husband and me, he's the music and I'm the lyrics. He loves a great guitar riff and the poet in me loves to weep over lyrics (or roll my eyes at them....hey, party rap); regardless, his lack of interest in lyrics is reflected in his singing.

Last night, while cleaning up the dinner dishes, I caught him singing:

"She's my best dressed girl, and she used to be fine...."

Ric Ocasek would not be pleased.

I Watch American Idol: Feel Free to Hate on Me

Allison Iraheta: The background music didn't suit her rendition at all; and the overall performance was good. Having said that, if this was my first time seeing her I would have thought she was amazing....but I am used to her amazing now, but still my favorite. She MUST win!

Anoop: Still way too Lite FM, but supremely sweet. How can you not like this guy? Oh, no...don't point....he just pointed.

Adam Lambert: Fantastic vocals but I am still struggling with the self-love! Will he be the new Freddy Mercury? Perhaps....but I wouldn't by a record. I just get the phoney vibe (shout out to Holden Caulfield). I hated it.

Matt Giraud: John flipped to the Phillies game and I missed the beginning, but, does he have a cold? What's wrong with his voice? Not good.

Danny Gokey: Why am I tearing up??? Too sad, and sooooo beautiful. Jenny Garth is crying....oh hell!

Kris Allen: My favorite of the night by far!!!!! sweet and haunting- sometimes understated is everything. His best performance and further proof that his song deserved the Oscar (I posted it below).

Lil Rounds: Beginning was not great (like she was talking instead of singing), but I loved the gospelized version....a glimmer of her early Idol performances. She still may be in trouble because it still wasn't great.

My Top Three:

Allison Iraheta

Danny Gokey

Kris Allen

My Vote for See Ya:

I'm tempted to pick Matt Giraud, but I have to say Lil Rounds.

Picture of the Day

A Dentist's nightmare = A candy-filled birthday pinata the day BEFORE Easter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Brother Abroad

What is the best part of the whole dramatic pirate rescue?

The clear and present enemy.

There were obvious bad guys, a clear objective, and an unquestionable course of action followed by a win for the good guys. It was reminiscient of the Cold War when the US was good and Russia was bad. There were apparent adversaries and boundaries.

Now, as we battle a mindset, a culture, and a borderless, indistinguishable threat, the enemy isn't as clear, nor is the right way to deal with him. Everyone has a different perspective beginning with whether or not we should be in Iraq in the first place, to how we should carry out the mission and when we should pull out.

I guess there are just times when I wish my brother was just fighting pirates.

This is Day 80.

I Think I Must Like the Crazies

Despite swearing it off until at least one of my children is in school, I took on another huge writing project, which may influence my blogging frequency.

I know, I know....I should have consulting you first, but it takes place in Austrailia and I get to say things like "mate" and "footy" and it isn't just some bad impression.

In completely related news, I am not at all responsible for more appearance for the next two months....cheers!

What the ...?

I went to Hallmark to buy some sympathy cards and was actually horrified to discover that, despite FOUR comforting cards addressing the sadness of losing a pet, there were NO cards for the loss of a grandparent.

What the ?????

Another Milestone....Ugh

I got tantrum tag-teamed at the grocery store yesterday.

I am actually surprised it hasn't happened to me yet, but both kids had simultaneous meltdowns inside the police car cart while I was trying to manuever it down the check out line. O had NOT napped (remind me not to go grocery shopping after 4 on those days) and Joseph was feeling the wicked effects of candy withdrawal, which meant he was trying to reach for the stacks of gum while O was demanding to help load the food on the conveyer belt.

I was the mom everyone stares at and it had been awhile since that had happened.

I really didn't miss it either; those piteous eyes that are both judgemental and thankful at the same time. I came very close to shouting, "I'm kind of having a bad moment here, and your stares are not helping!"

But I didn't....instead I thanked the baggers for their swift work and tried my best to make a quick exit despite the squeaky cart wheel and screaming children heralding my exit.

Check, please.

Tuesdays By Karen

(Taken from papers written by a Class of 8-year-olds)

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.

A grandfather is a man, & a grandmother is a lady!

Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks..' They don't say, 'Hurry up.'

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie you r shoes.

They wear glasses and funny underwear.

They can take their teeth and gums out.

Grandparents don't have to be smart. They have to answer questions like 'Why isn't God married?' and 'How come dogs chase cats?'

When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.

They know we should have snack time before bed time, and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we've acted bad.

Picture of the Day

Pure, unadulteratred Easter Egg Hunt joy...
care of Bama's backyard and Uncle Mike's precise hiding.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Along with his Easter wishes, Paul informed us that, thanks to all the thoughtful care packages, he now has a three month supply of coffee.

I consider that a challenge for the next care package....I've got to get creative!

In other news, a special shout out to the Navy SEALS for rescuing the Captain and sending a stern message to pirates everywhere....arrrghhhhh!!

Not to make light of the whole thing, but my brother Mike told me the SEALS were swimming under the boat the whole time....and he should know; one of his last deployments a few years back had him on the Barbary Coast patrolling pirates (he flies the Seahawk) and when I would tell people that, they would always say, "Oh yeah? And what does he plan to do with all that booty?"

Funny, yes; but no one believed me when I told them that there's a problem with pirates. Now, I feel vindicated (and a little more certain as to where O is picking up her latest vernacular).

Aye, matey!

This is Day 79.

Sadness for the Phillies Phaithful

Legendary Phillies baseball announcer and coiner of the term "Outta Here!", Marry Kalas passed away today at the age of 73 in the broadcast booth before the Phillies game. Sitting quietly in his chair, the famed announcer was discovered by the Phillies director of broadcasting at 12:30 pm.

Having served with the team since 1971, Kalas was as recognizable among fans as the Phanatic himself.


Happy Easter

Despite some biting cold weather, a few egg dying debacles, and entirely too much sugar....
this Easter was lovely- hope yours was too!

Picture of the Day

There were FIVE tractors prepping the field behind our house for this season's peppers.
Joseph was out of his mind with excitement.

Another Road Related Question

Since the whole "Jake Brake" thing got cleared up, can anyone tell me what is meant by the "Escort Area" sign that usually appears around tolls?

I realize it probably has something to do with a police escort, but I can't help picturing a gaggle of women that look like they came right from a Taxicab Confessions shoot to troll for lonely truckers.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

One of my least favorite things about extended car travel is the necessary potty stops at wretched restrooms....the germs, MY GOD, the germs!

Nevertheless, I always come equipped with hand sanitizers and strict instructions that nothing is to be touched....NOTHING!

Of course, the return home trip from my parents' on Sunday night resulted in tons of traffic (as is's Sunday every year), and the inevitable pit stop.

While we cased the few, horrible choices, we ended up running into a well known fast food franchise that looked like the CDC might not have condemned it and went about the business of relieving my little girl.

She decided, after much prep, that she really didn't have to go, but should would like french fries.

Had I just been duped by a 3 year old???

What's worse, I reluctantly decided to take advantage of the facilities while we were there in order to avoid an unnecessary pit stop for myself. It was at this time that my daughter announced:

"Mommy, you have a big booty....and really pretty underwear!"

1) Do I say thank you?

2) And who taught her booty? We are a family that says "tush"!

Happy Easter everyone.

Mondays By Margaret

One of my favorite people in the world sent this along....and what better way to start off the week than with Richard Simmons and water sports?


Checking Myself

As I fully prepare to begin the usual whine that accompanies grandparent withdrawal (Who are these little people and where are my children?) I will stay true to my promise to keep things in perspective by thinking of someone else who has it much worse:

Namely, my sister-in-law, who is about to embark on a 6-7 hour car ride home with four children, two dogs, and not enough coffee in the world.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Brother Abroad

One of the many things this weekend of family togetherness afforded us was more opportunity to discuss the mid-deployment vacation. Though we are still unsure of what Carolina location we'll be securing, the dates are firming up....burglars plan accordingly.

Based on Paul's "probable" return, our week long vacation will actually land right on his birthday, which also happens to be our dad's birthday. It's actually a pretty cool and unbelievably coincedental occasion that a father would get his first born son for his birthday. Crazy, right?

It gets better. My mother was born on her father's birthday, and she was also the first born.

What's more, my brother Mike was born on December 31st, which is the last day of the year, New Year's Eve, and the most opportune time to have a baby in regard to tax benefits.

So, every member of my family growing up had something unusual about their date of birth except yours truly (unless, of course, you count that whole underground movement to have it declared a national's very, very underground).

Needless to say, the date for a vacation would be perfect, and provide one more thing to celebrate.

This is Day 78.