Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Brother Abroad Meets Quote of the Day

"They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment."

The above quote was taken from Tim O'Brien's acclaimed novel The Things They Carried. Though I read the book many years ago, it is one of the few I can't shake. Right up there with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Sound and the Fury, it is not a book I would list among my favorites....just one that kind of haunts me; the kind that I can distinctly remember finishing and not ever wanting to read again. These books are very well written, very riveting, and very disturbing all the same.

Of course, I highly recommend all three.

This is Day 90.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dear Cat Lovers:

One of my favorite people in the universe, Karen Basu, is currently in the middle of a desperate search to find a kind, loving family to adopt her two, very friendly, very affectionate cats.

They are truly members of her family, but that family has recently learned that their little boy has some serious allergies; most notably, he is allergic to their cats!

So, sadly, Karen is now faced with the unfortunate predicament of finding someone to care for them (or a no kill rescue facility). The sweeties are 4 years old, declawed, and very sweet.

If you are at all interested (or know someone who is), please shoot me an email at:

Thanks so much, in advance, for your consideration!

A Brother Abroad

In case your screen doesn't display the full image, the scripture reads: "Greater love has no one than this, That he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

This is Day 89.

Why I am Awful???

When I mentioned Chuck E. Cheese in the previous post, the obvious pitfalls probably came to mind (losing a child, allowing my child to enjoy the abundant germs, interactions with demon like children, etc); however, none of that actually pertains to this story.

We never even got to Chuck E. Cheese.

My mother-in-law had promised to take O to the Cheese when I put Joseph down for his nap so that she could have some fun and I could get some work done. Unfortunately, for the second morning in a row, my little miss refused to eat breakfast.

Not a bite!

Now, the magnets usually work well, but there are days when they definitely do not. So, when refusing to coorperate becomes an issue, all I usually have to do is issue an ultimatum: If you don't eat breakfast, we don't go to the park. It almost always works.

However, the threat of keeping her home from Daddy's work yesterday fell on deaf ears as she refused to eat the pancakes SHE asked for. Knowing that some of the women at the office had gone to great lengths to put the day together, I still let her go, well aware of the impact of idle threats.

Once again, today's threat of not letting her go to Chuck E. Cheese also fell on deaf ears.

This time, however, I was determined to follow through (despite the fact that I needed to get work done, and Grammy was looking forward to the time with her). I gave her three chances to pick up the spoon to eat the cereal SHE asked for, and she refused.

She talked about the cereal, she stirred the cereal, and she pushed the cereal away.

That was it. I calmly informed her of the consequences of her decision and, for dramatic effect, picked up the phone right then to also inform Grammy.

There were tears, there were promises to NOW eat, and there was even an attempt to offer up hugs and kisses to change my mind.

I stuck with it....and now, I am the meanest mom there ever was.

Sorry, Chuck.

I Am The Worst Mother Ever

Evidence to come (and it involves Chuck E. Cheese)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Brother Abroad

This is based on an actual radio conversation between a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier (U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln) and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995.

(The radioconversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on 10/10/95 authorized by the Freedom of Information Act.)

Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid collision.

Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

This is Day 89.

The Evidence

The above image was taken of the gifted shirt I previously mentioned in a post, not because I didn't appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift or the giver, but just because I was surprised it made through design stages before being disseminated to various merchants.
Now, I am certainly willing to overlook the mistaken comparatives (a lot refers to amount, while better refers to quality/degree), but the misspelled word, although a very common one, is kind of shocking.
To be clear, if you send me an email with a misspelled word, I DO NOT CARE. I misspell words all the time; however, before I designed, printed, and sold merchandise, I'd probably take the time to edit it and encourage the editing of others.
Am I crazy to have a hang up about putting it on my child?

Mama Fashionista

Though I initially swore that I wouldn't go near this season's all too hot maxi dresses, I can't help but stare longingly at them....they're so pretty and flowy.

What this means is that I must confront my deeper issue: my problem does not really lie with the shape and length of the maxi dress, but with its awful name.

I still hate gladiator sandals.

Question of the Day Meets Confession Time

Though I have never been one to put make-up on for a trip to the gym (which makes sense, since I don't go to a gym), I do perform odd behaviors that are as incongruous as they are absurd.

Example 1:

I clean before the cleaners come. This may seem silly, but I don't want them wasting time to attend to clutter or superficial cleaning.

Example 2:

Before heading to the salon, I always make sure my hair is done and I'm dressed reasonably well. This may also seem silly, but (1) I want my stylist to see how I like my hair done in advance, and (2) most of the people who work there look sharply dressed and I don't want to feel like a slob in comparison.

Happy Birthday, Big Willie!

"What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculties.
In form, and moving, how express and admirable.
In action, how like an angel...
In apprehension, how like a God!"

It's That Time of Year Again....

Take your child to work day is a favorite event for our family: John gets to show off his little girl, said little girl gets to have her run of Wall Street, and Mommy gets some Mommy time with her favorite diminutive man. Hope you've found a way to enjoy it too.....

Hope you've found a way to enjoy it too!

American Idol Results

1) My eyes are burning and my ears are crying tears after the abomination that is Disco night. Who let these people out of Studio 54???? Put them back, put them back!!!

2) WORST lip syncing by the group performance ever....

3) WHY aren't people voting for Allison??? (As I ask that, I must confess that I have yet to vote for anyone).

4) Is David Archuleta the real Benjamin Buttons???

4) And....I am right again: Anoop and Lil are out!

Given my AI predicting acumen, feel free to contact me for any and all forms of advice because, clearly, I have a gift.

The Evidence

It is coming.....this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Brother Abroad

This is Day 88.

Happy Earth Day

Though we still have not invested in that wind mill, our family has made some changes toward green livin' since last year.

Chief among them:

1) Since water bottle usage was probably our most egregious offense, we now have a water cooler stored in our pantry and a Brita for our fridge.

2) I am more conscious of wipe and paper towel extravagance.

3) I make an effort to keep the lights out (though that has as much to do with my husband's obsession with the energy bill as it does our planet) and I've been including a "light check" as our morning routine with the kids (O is the biggest offender here...always leaving the bathroom light on).

4) With the approach of fall signaling the purchase of a new car (my current car is only four years old, but it was attacked by a shark and bludegeoned with a toy broom -shout out to Joseph) we are considereing a hybrid purchase.

That's all for now....anyone else emply easy environmental changes to their daily routine??

Name That Kids Show

"Toilet paper, light bulbs, socks for Rosie, crayons....."

I Watch American Idol: Feel Free to Hate on Me

The Save was invoked last week...oh, the drama....which means I have to pick the bottom two!

Here we go:

Lil Rounds: It sounded like she was out of breath from the beginning, but I have to give her props for the outift (I wouldn't have the guts or the butt to pull that off)...oh gosh, is that underarm hair?? No! Overall, it was kind of all over the place.

Kris Allen: I loved it!!! Who knew my cutie could do disco? And bongos!! Faboosh. Lil should take some cues from him on originality.

Danny Gokey: Tough to follow Kris Allen's performance, but he's adorable and his vocals sound so easy and his dancing is finally getting under control. The best part was when he actually sang with his back-up singers.

Allison Iraheta: Are you kidding me????? Who is this girl???? Once again, she's amazing and still my favorite. Incomparable.

Adam Lambert: Gorgeous vocals, but in all his stripping down of the songs, I just kind of feel like I'm watching a vocalist playing different characters. What kind of record would he make? Is Paula crying? He was simply amazing.

Matt Giraud: If this were a dance-off, he'd win. He sounded great and he moved greater....he needed this performance. Will it be enough? Could be. Loved it.

Anoop: He wins the cutest dresser award...but that won't win him American Idol. It was okay, and okay isn't good enough.

My Tops: Everyone but Anoop and Lil.

Setting up for see ya: Anoop and Lil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Brother Abroad

According to my mother, when I was very young (still in a high chair), a fight broke out at the dinner table between my brothers.

The argument that almost turned violent?

A disagreement over which one of them I smiled at.

A lot had changed since then.

This is Day 87.

Shocking News

I just don't have that much to say today.

Confession Time

Someone gave one of my children a piece of clothing as a gift a while ago (could I be more evasive?) and, as is the trend in tot fashion these days, there is a funny saying on it.

However, one of the words is misspelled.

Now, my blog is often riddled with typing missteps and poor proofreading (probably because I don't), so this is not some unrealistic expectation by a former English teacher. It's just that, if you are going to print something for the purpose of widespread circulation, wouldn't someone catch that?

Anyway, I can't bring myself to let the child wear it.

I think this means I have a problem.....would anyone else refrain?

Picture of the Day

I thought I could use this to make fun
of my dear Yankees and the start of their season,
but hitting isn't really the issue.....
Perhaps a phone call to #46 is in order?
As for you Red Sox fans,
insert personalized slams in 3,2,1......

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Provided below is an email written by a soldier with the 1-25 SBCT to his parents back when the war was still "new". His parents have given their permission to publish it.

0920 15 NOVEMBER 2004 -IRAQ

Mom & Dad,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. Yesterday marked one month since we left home. Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. Yesterday we laid to rest a brother in arms. He was just a kid, only 20, from Maryland. He was in B company, I didn't know him well, but I'd seen him around. He was the first KIA in 'Duece Four' in this war and, make no mistake, war it is. I couldn't tell you about him until after his family had been notified.

At 1400 yesterday the memorial service took place. The most difficult part was when his First Sergeant called the final roll. The First Sergeant called the names of each member of his squad and each answered in turn. Then his name was called once, no response. Twice, no response. A third time, no response. Then 'Taps' began to play accompanied by the '21 gun salute'. We then filed by his helmet atop his rifle, dog tags hanging from it, all of this behind his boots and a picture of him, and each of us, individualy, turned to his equipment and rendered a final salute.

I know this is probably harder for you to read than it was for me to write, hard to believe though it is. There are some things I have been putting off saying, something I can no longer do. I am a SOLDIER. I am sworn to protect and defend and I will do that until my last breath, be it in the military or after, that is my calling. I have no desire to lose my life, but it is a price I am willing to pay for 'putting foot to ass' for my country in the name of freedom. I love you all more than life itself, that's why I'm here.

Mosul is a cesspool of insurgents, they will give us no peace. Daily we bring the fight to their door. Before yesterday, even though we were here, it still wasn't real. We were still shooting at 'pop up targets' that can't hit back. Now they hit back. They screwd up. Our innocence is gone. We will fight with honor and obey the laws of war. We will go out of our way to help the innocent, but there will be no mercy for those who rise up against us or against their countrymen, for them hell will be unleashed.

I'm sorry that these things needed to be said, but you needed to know in case they ever call my final roll. I love and miss you all very much and I WILL be home before you know it. All my love, Dustin.

(Written by SSG Dustin C. Holcomb who is with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, WA, serving in Mosul.)

When will this dreary day end?

This may be the longest day ever. The rain, the limited options, and the constant television watching in between countless crafts.


In fact, it was so long and boring, these were the highlights:

1) O finally learned to snap. She's been trying for weeks and now, so pleased with her latest accomplishment, refuses to stop.

2) Joseph added "harvester", "cool", and "boogies" to his vocabulary. (I'm guess the last has something to do with my incessant fussiness over his nose.

3) I found John will be home early TOMORROW.

4) And, Joseph tried to pick the freckles off my face....mistaking them for either dirt or a late day snack.

Song of the Day

Pigbacking on Amanda-inthetrenches' blog post, this song has been in my head since Easter...that along with "Waltzing Matilda".

Shout out to Sanjay

So I awoke Sunday morning and settled in for some coffee while my husband managed to maneuver the television to CNN (the kids were distracted by the newly rearranged playroom....I organize when I feel anxious) and who was on but Dr. Sanjay Gupta!

And what was his unbelievably timely Sunday health story???

"What constitutes an emergency? When to take your child to the ER"

Perfect....just what I needed....yesterday.

Check out the clip below:

Raising Boys: Not for the Faint of Heart

Given the great weather and the tons of fun we had planned, this weekend had the potential to be supremely enjoyable. Unfortunately, I instead got a great lessen in what it truly means to raise a boy in contrast to the world of girls.

I recently took the initiative of completely cleaning out our cluttered, disgusting garage. I bought shelving from the Depot, and swept the floor to discover its true color, and I reorganized EVERYTHING.

I also made it much more kid friendly. I set up an area for their ride-ons, their gardening/sandbox supplies, their sports equipment, and even some bins for games, bubbles, and chalks. I now love it, and we have been enjoying the clean and manageable conveniences of a well-planned garage. Anything that might be considered hazardous was moved to either a higher place or a locked cabinet.

However, my husband took the annual ride to the farming store for fertilizer (only the good stuff for the ruralists) and returned to unload the purchases while the children frolicked in the grass and blew bubbles.

I was in the kitchen cleaning up after their lunch.

My daughter, a virtuoso bubble maker, accidentally spilled the entire bottle of bubble juice on the stairs and so my husband, realizing the hazard, started to head inside to quickly grab (ah, split infinitive!!! and it stays), some paper towels. As he headed through the door, he glanced back to make sure the kids were still safely at play when he saw my son heading for the lawn equipment organizer.

This organizer is plastic, and meant to hold all sorts of lawning equipment, which includes more than a few medieval tilling and hoeing devices that are most notably charaterized by spikes and teeth. You can guess where this is going......

The problem with the organizer is that it was a bit top heavy, a fact that I had considered in the past, but then forgot about soon after deciding to find a better alternative. That was my first mistake.

Just as John was about to shout out his name, Joseph grabbed hold of one of the tool's long handle (no doubt to work like Daddy) and the entire assembly began to tip.

John screamed and ran toward him, slipping on the bubble juice, which caused him to take complete flight from the top platform of the stairs to the hard concrete below....missing the 3-4 steps.

For a second, he blacked out, but awoke to the inevitable crash.

Hearing the crash myself, I flew from the kitchen to the garage only to find the worst image I have ever seen in my entire life: my little baby trapped under a heap of corroded, terrifying tools with arms and legs flailing.

It was my turn to scream.

In seconds, John managed to get to the heap of tools and shelving and lifted it all in one felt swoop while I grabbed Joseph from underneath. He cried immediately (thank God) as I rushed him into the house, not sure what I would find.

A quick body check revealed a nasty puncture wound to the finger, which was already swollen and bruising, as well as an ever expanding knot to the back of his head, surrounded by cuts and red marks around his ear, his shoulders, and his back.

Thankfully, we live next door to volunteer ambulance drivers....did I mention how great my neighbors are?

After many tears (more mine than his), it appeared that we'd gotten off really, really lucky. He would be okay. His parents, who needed a stiff drink and refreshed evaluation of the home, were still reeling

But then comes the next question: What should we do?

Bandage him up and assume he's as fine as he seems? Take him to the doctor who could "fit him in" three hours later? Or, again head to the ER where all our fears would be alleviated and he'd get a definitively good bill of health?

We went to the ER.

Not only that, the same doctor looked over him!!

Part of me felt silly for going, but I know a bigger part of me would have been a ball of nerves if we didn't get him checked out.

And I was glad we did. Though he is completely fine, they did put him on antibiotics for something that never occurred to me. Given the fact that the tool that probably punctured his finger was most likely covered in dirt, fertilizer, or any host of chemicals, there was a good chance an infection would follow.

In the grand scheme of parenting, this was a very minor incident, save for the image I can't get out of my head. But, many lessons were learned: first, the importance of paying attention to that little voice inside your head that tells you something needs to be changed; second, to never get lax with examining your home for potential hazzards; and finally, to never, EVER think a little boy is not going to touch a tool within reach.

Picture of the Day

Mommy in Training

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Brother Abroad: Silly Sisters

As a young girl, I was never much of a crier. Really. I would go with friends to see some sad movie like Beaches or Steel Magnolias and, though I was moved by the dramas and the tragedies, I was inevitably the one passing around the tissues and consoling everyone else.

I'm not sure where that came from, and I would inwardly roll my eyes at their blubbering. It wasn't that I felt any disdain for people who cry (my grandpa is the most emotional movie watcher in history), I just kind of looked at it as a weak trait to have. To let fiction interfere with reality...there were far worse things in the world that deserve our tears than Shirley MacLaine demanding that Debra Winger be given her medicine.

But something has changed.

I can't exactly pinpoint when it happened, but I can be a regular old ball of emotions, susceptible to tears at any moment.

I cry at movies, moving songs, touching stories, losses endured by friends, and I'm still crying about Joseph's second trip to the ER...that story will come tomorrow.

I guess this change might have something to do with children, or an older, more realistic understanding of the world, but whatever it is, I'm not embarassed by it as I once might have been. Something about allowing myself to express emotions (even if it is prompted by a cartoon racecar pushing the other aging cartoon racecar across the finish line....damn you, Lightning McQueen!), it all makes me feel more human.

Is that weird? I actually don't care if it's what I do.

So, of course, when I had to say my goodbyes to Paul on yet another deployment, I was far from the strong sister you might expect when she grows up military.

I couldn't even get the words out....I was weeping. I think I said something about running if anything happens, just run, though they may have just been a line from Forrest Gump. What I do remember is driving away, my mother crying, Julie's face crumbling, and my brother smiling with an "Oh, geez" in his eyes as I tried to catch my breath, John rubbing my shoulder in reassurance.

Oh geez, I'm crying now.

This is Day 85.