Friday, December 31, 2010

Hot Summer Pavement (a working title)

It was hot. Bent over, eating a popsicle, trying to keep it from running down your arm hot. But apparently, Elizabeth Sparling wasn’t leaning far enough, she could feel the purple juice splashing on her toes. Catching her reflection in a storefront window, she saw that she resembled what her best friend would call “a hot mess.” Her bangs were matted to her forehead, and the rest of her long, dark brown hair was falling out of a sloppy ponytail.

This wasn’t working, she needed to find some relief. Some real relief. Taking her cell phone out of her purse, Elizabeth started dialing. There had to be someone that would want to go to the beach with her. Some ocean breezes and cool salt water were just what she needed.

As Elizabeth rounded the corner toward the parking lot where her car was, she stopped cold in her tracks. Lying on the pavement behind her vehicle was a body. She dropped everything she was holding, and started screaming. She didn’t know how long she screamed for, she felt as though she couldn’t stop.

After what must have been an eternity, someone came up and touched her shoulder from behind. She jumped, turned, and instinctively swung a punch in their direction. But the man had great reflexes. He ducked without missing a beat. When Elizabeth noticed who it was, she saw that it was a police officer. But not just any officer, he happened to also be her ex-boyfriend, James Caffrey.

Elizabeth was stunned into silence when his eyes met hers. Those familiar butterflies started flitting around in her stomach again. It had been more than two years since they had broken up, but all those feelings were still there. She was beginning to get lost in memories when Elizabeth realized why he was probably there.

Elizabeth glanced around and realized that, while she was blindly screaming, a small crowd had formed around the parking lot. In the middle of the crowd were more officers and three people whose jackets told her they were from the Coroner’s office. They were huddled over the body, deep in conversation. Her little Toyota had never seen so much action.

Elizabeth turned back to James, “What’s going on? What happened? Who is that?” The questions spewing out one after the other.

“I guess I’m supposed to ask you the same thing, Lizzie,” he answered.

“What? What are you talking about? I’m confused.” He was the only person that had ever called her Lizzie. Hearing his deep voice say it again made her heart flop.

“Well, when I showed up, you were screaming. Why don’t you tell me what all the screaming was about.”

“Um, I was shocked. All I did was turn the corner around the building, and I saw a body behind my car. The screaming just kind of happened.” Elizabeth put a hand to her forehead, and felt her sweaty bangs. Her mind rushed to how awful she must look, and she became suddenly aware of her toes starting to stick together in her sandals.

She winced, and of course, James saw it. An amused look flashed across his eyes before he started questioning her again.

“Okay, do you know who that is behind your car?” he asked her.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you,” Elizabeth answered. “I didn’t really get a good look. I mean, there was a person laying behind my vehicle. In the middle of the parking lot. I just remember seeing hair and limbs. Limbs bent in all sorts of unnatural directions.” She shuddered at the memory. “I remember it was a woman?” Elizabeth offered.

“Yes, it is a woman. Now, do you remember seeing anything else as you were coming around the corner?”

“No,” she told him, “I was actually pulling my cell phone out to make a call. I was getting ready to go to the beach, and was looking for someone to go with me. I didn’t see anything unusual. Is that bad?”

“No, it’s not bad,” James said, “but it doesn’t really help us, either. How about people? Did you see anyone that looked out of place? Did you see anyone at all?” He ran a hand through his short, dark hair in frustration.

“James, I’m really sorry. I must be the worst witness. I was completely involved in my phone. Even if I had seen someone, I wasn’t paying any attention to them.” Being questioned by her ex was starting to unnerve Elizabeth. The stickiness from her popsicle was starting to get irritating, too. She leaned to one side, and attempted to wiggle her toes apart.

James spied what Elizabeth was doing, and the amused look returned to his eyes. She started to blush, as a smile spread across his face.

“Lizzie, what are you doing?” There was that name again. The butterflies started to flutter.

“I’d rather not say,” She said, turning bright red now. “But, um, actually, I was eating a popsicle earlier. It’s really hot out, and, well, it started to drip, and now my toes are extremely sticky. And uncomfortable.”

James grabbed his stomach, and burst out laughing. “Only you, Elizabeth Sparling, would dribble sticky juice on your feet, and then happen upon a body in a parking lot. Let me guess, was it purple?”

“Wow, you remember?” Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised.

“I remember a lot, Lizzie,” he answered, his voice suddenly lower and huskier. His bedroom voice. The day just got about a hundred degrees hotter.

One of the other officers chose that moment to come and update them on what they had discovered about the body.

“Hey Caffrey,” the officer began, “this is what we know so far. The victim’s name is Genevieve Anderson. She’s got an apartment a few blocks down from here. Coroner says from internal body temp that she’s been dead at least eight hours. And from the lack of blood on the scene, this isn’t our initial crime scene. She was dumped here.”

A lump had formed in Elizabeth’s throat. “Did you say her name was Genevieve? Is it really Genni? Oh God!” Her knees suddenly felt like rubber. Elizabeth was having trouble standing. James sensed it, and caught her before she could fall.

Genevieve and Elizabeth had been friends since grade school. She was actually who Elizabeth was getting ready to call and invite to the beach. They had spent weekends and summers together. Had graduated high school together, and had even attended the same university. Genevieve Anderson was her dearest, closest friend.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010

Okay, so Christmas was a few days ago, but I always seem to be fashionably late. So, I won’t hold this tardiness against myself. We had a nice, quaint Christmas this December, to reserve ourselves for a much larger celebration in February after we move back to Iowa.

We had several gift exchanges with our closest friends, and a small dinner at the Flowers’s house. We baked cookies for Santa Claus, and opened the few gifts we bought in the morning. Luckily for us parents, our children are still too young to get so excited they wake up at six in the morning. We didn’t unwrap our presents until almost nine o’clock. It was wonderful!

The coming and going of Christmas brings us closer to the close of the current year, and the start of the next. Like most people, our family is excited at the promise the new year will bring. We’ll be closing the book on Jesse’s Active Duty enlistment, and moving back to a place that we’ve only visited a handful of times in the last four years.

It’s exciting to wonder how much the places and faces may have changed in our hometowns. But there are also trepidations. We have no clue what the employment outlook is there, although Jesse does have a job lined up at the warehouse where he used to work. We aren’t sure where we’ll settle, but we do have temporary housing set for us. And since we’ve moved, many of our family and friends have also grown and moved on. I’m not sure how strong my support system will be.

I’m going to miss a lot of the people that I met here at Camp Lejeune, and throughout Jesse’s entire enlistment. I’ve made many friends along the way, and thankfully I keep in contact with almost all of them. They saw me through days and nights when I was bored, lonely, nervous, and even at times on the verge of a breakdown.

I couldn’t have done what I did, survived what I experienced, and become the woman that I am without everyone’s support. I didn’t attend college, so these ladies (and a few men) are my sorority sisters. Sisters in silent arms. I wish that I could just package all of them up and take them along with me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Next Chapter

It’s almost time to turn the page, and begin the next chapter in our lives. My husband has decided not to re-enlist, but to separate from the Marine Corps. The thing about starting new chapters is, all the thrilling action in the preceding pages that makes us both look forward to and dread our next steps. Everything that could possibly happen in the last six weeks, seems to have happened.

I’m not going to bore you with details, but, long story short, Mama’s so stressed the dogs are shedding, and have stopped eating. The kids are acting out, and not sleeping. And my husband is complaining that I don’t like him (which is a polite way to say that I won’t let him touch me). Whoever wrote, “When Mama aint’ happy, ain’t nobody happy,” knew what they were talking about. Because my whole house is walking around on pins and needles.

There is still a month left before we hook up the trailer and drive off into the noontime. Which means we are in moving limbo. “To pack or not to pack,” seems to be our motto. What do we need, and what can we live without for the next month? We want to get a head start on the packing, but also don’t want to go without or feel like we’re living in an empty house. The result so far has been a lot of half-packed boxes. Our house is definitely in the “mess before progress” stage.

Oh wait! Did I forget it’s the holidays? Thanksgiving out of town, Christmas with friends, the Battalion Christmas, Family Christmas, New Year’s. My head just started spinning again. There are meals, and baked treats, and presents. Blah, and blah, and blah!

Oh! Oh! Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! O-H! Guess what my brilliant husband did! He scheduled a pre-move inspection for December 27th. Yup, that’s right. December 27th. Two days after Christmas! So, on top of the holiday, and family back home stress, we have to add cleaning stress!

Let the nervous breakdown commence ...

By the way, if you know of someone in the Cherokee, Iowa, area that has a three bedroom, two bath rental that doesn’t mind dogs, please, let me know. We might need a place to live when we get there. Ugh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stop the Ride, I Wanna Get Off!

Ugh. Things have been what seems like a nonstop party for this entire month. The problem is, a lot of work goes into hosting parties. Every weekend there is an event for something or someone. Throughout the week, there are babysitting kids, house cleaning, volunteer commitments, and commitments to my husband.

I feel as though I have been trying to keep a lot of people happy, but not one of them is me. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing everyone. I love having a house full of people. I love the energy of all those people having a great time. But, at some point in time everyone has to go home. This month is seems like there hasn’t been any point in time when we haven’t had a visitor, or I haven’t had a meeting. Or both.

My girlfriend decided to sell Pampered Chef. So there was an open house at her place, and, of course, I hosted a party at my house. And for some crazy reason, on the day I hosted her PC party I decided to have a garage sale! Oh, not just any garage sale, but a multi-family garage sale. Yes, I brought other people’s junk over to sit among my gathered crap.

I’ve had Family Readiness meetings and training on base on a few separate occasions. Those are fun, but we only have one vehicle. I have to get up extra early in the morning to get myself ready and to take my husband in to work, before I can get where I need to be. That means the kids are all at the secondary babysitter’s house about an hour longer than necessary.

For some mixed up reason, I decided now would be a good time for me to start a new business venture. Yeah, what was I thinking, right? I am now a Tastefully Simple Independent Consultant. I love the product. It’s food, it practically sells itself! But as with any direct sales, I have to put myself out there to succeed. That means more parties! Now I’m not just having them at my house, but I’m messing up other people’s houses, too. Yay! Did I mention we already had a business meeting?

As the month draws to a close, my husband and I are going out of town on a weekend retreat. Just the two of us. No kids, no dogs, no guests. What are we going to do without distractions? I’m not sure we’ll be able to sustain conversation! When we return to civilization, I’ve booked family photos. It’ll be Halloween, and we’ll be attending (not hosting!) a party and then taking the girls trick or treating.

But the holiday season is just starting! There is the Marine Corps Birthday. Veteran’s Day. A girlfriend’s 21st birthday soiree. Battalion events. Thanksgiving. Christmas parties.

Did I say Christmas? You know what that means? Oh, the Christmas present shopping! The Christmas cards and newsletters. Post office shipping deadlines. Ugh, my head is spinning. Stop this ride, I’m getting off!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to Work, Please?

It’s been two months since my husband stepped off that bus. I’m ready for him to go back to working a full day. I spent six and a half months pining after this man. Now after eight weeks, I can’t wait to get rid of him again!

Why is it we miss them when they’re gone, but all it takes is the pressing of that power button on the Playstation for us to become annoyed again? There are some days when I want to throw another hairbrush at the television. (That’s another long story.)

In all honesty, my husband does ask first when he wants to play Call of Duty. And, yes, I tell him that it’s okay. But that’s only because he’s been around the house day in and day out for weeks now, and I don’t know what else to do with the man!

The “Honeymoon Phase” did not happen for us until after he returned from a visit back to our home state. When he first returned from overseas, our alone time was cut short by the fact that we have young children, and dogs, and I have a job as a babysitter. So, as I was running nonstop, wiping noses and behinds, my husband was playing video games, smoking, and playing with the dogs. Not to mention napping on the couch in the middle of the day. Yes, I did start to resent him.

He went back to Iowa for a week, to visit family and get away from the Marine Corps for awhile. I suddenly wanted him back again. Ah, how distance makes our hearts grow fonder. Late night phone calls, flirty text messages, he even had flowers delivered. Who was this new husband of mine?

He returned to North Carolina, the flirting (and such) continued, and then his leave was over. Something about clocking in from 0730-0930 (tough, tough schedule those first few weeks back) made him restless. He has rearranged the living room with me. We’ve bought new furniture. My husband even became so bored as to sand and repaint a couple end tables for me.

Now what? He’s reached Prestige three times. He shuts off the Playstation, because he gets “sick of playing.” I don’t have any more Kilz for him to repaint more furniture. I’ve even got him unloading the dishwasher, but there’s not enough room for both of us in my kitchen. Someone take my husband, please!

But don’t forget to return him, because I will miss him. Then, you can take him again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I Write

Originally written on 22 Oct 09 Thursday

I write, because at times it is safer than speaking. I write, because it is always easier than saying things out loud. I am terrified of public speaking. I write to love. I write to hate. I write when I am afraid. I write to feel brave. Writing feels safe. I write to be close. I write to keep my distance. I write to entertain, to create laughs and giggles. I write to inform. I write to communicate. I write an annual "family newsletter." I write for celebrations. I write to express condolences. I write to see inside my own head and heart. I write to keep things to myself. I write to cook. I write to clean. I write to be dirty. I write to be naughty.... I write, because it can be dangerous. I write to feel free, to spin around in circles, arms outstretched, face turned up to the sun. I write to feel passion. I write to inspire. I write to remember to be inspired. I write for sweet smelling flowers. Sometimes I write numbers. I write to pay bills. I write, because I didn't go to college and get my own career. I write, because I don't want to go to college. I write, because my husband can't spell. I write, because I love the melodic flow of my pen across the paper. I write, because I love words like "onomatopoeia." I write colors, smells, sights, feelings. I write, because that is what I'm driven to do. I write songs. I write emotions. I write for the public. I write for the utmost privacy. I write respect. I write compliments. I write scathing insults. I write for spite. I write hugs. I write kisses. I write "dot dot dot." I write flowing brooks, rustling leaves, and pungent aromas. I write driving rains, ominous clouds, and foreboding fogs. I write on the run. I write in the sand. I once wrote on my desk at school. I write expressions. I write meditations. I write dreams. I write heartaches. I write loving memories. I write for the love of friends. I write for my children. I write for my husband. I write for the ones I love. I write, because I love.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Almost Homecoming

Homecoming is right around the corner for us. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared shitless, because I am. I have no clue what to expect from my husband. He has seemed to be “normal” for most of this deployment, but the last few times I’ve talked with him, something changed. He’s not the same guy that I remembered. I could almost hear something that sounded like defeat in his voice.

He’s also started being a bit insensitive. It hasn’t seemed as though he was taking my feelings into consideration. I understand that he’s got a lot on his mind, but he does still have a family back home, and a wife that would like to hear that he still loves her once in a while. There are days when it gets very hard to keep my frustration in check. Those are the days when he is very lucky that I can’t call him, and give him a piece of that frustration.

This is our first deployment. I find myself often with my arms outstretched, palms facing upward. Hoping for an idea of what I should be thinking, and feeling, to come to me. There are days when I think I know what’s going on, but lately those days have been few and far between. For a time, I was going through the motions: feed the children, feed the dogs, clean up after the children, clean up after the dogs, bathe the children, bathe the dogs. Day in and day out, until suddenly I realized that it was already July.

An unexpected shake up finds me expecting my husband home a couple weeks early. There are parts of me that are ecstatic to see him, and others that would rather I had that time back to prepare. Or even longer. I feel guilty for not being completely over the moon to see him, but everyone keeps telling me that he’s going to come back a changed man. Will it be good, or bad? And if he does change for the better, will it stick?

What about the kids? The children are now 2 and 3, they know that Daddy has been at work for a very long time. He’s been off helping the good people, and fighting the bad guys. I have finally told them that Daddy will be home soon, and that we need to get ready for it. But, how do you get toddlers ready for homecoming? Is the youngest going to remember him? Or run screaming for the hills when this stranger in cammies comes at her and asks for a hug?

And the dogs, oh the dogs! Anyone that’s been to my house, knows how my fur-children react to strangers. They have been Momma’s girls for the last six months, who is this guy suddenly trying to discipline them and telling them when and where to poo? I think that will be a very loud reunion.

On the flip side, what if they all completely take to my husband’s return? I have been caring for all of them for so long, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the crown just yet. I like being the ultimate force in the house. Now I have to share that power? I don’t know how I feel about that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I’m looking forward to. I miss having someone come home to me everyday. I can’t wait to share disciplining-that is tiring after a while. We have some very headstrong princesses in our kingdom. I am so looking forward to having someone to pick up the dog poo. And of course the intimacy, he he he, the intimacy.

This is a very scary place to be right now. Do the positive and negative possibilities cancel each other out? Will everyone behave? Will the flights land on time, and will everything run smoothly so that I’ll get him back when planned? Did he actually shave off the Afghanistache?

My husband and I have never been apart for this long. Very soon we’ll know if we were successes, or otherwise. He’ll see all the things I changed in the house. All the events that were held in our home. He’ll see the ghetto dog kennel that was erected in our backyard. And hopefully, he’ll see just how much we missed having him home with us.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our Marine Corps, Our Family

They say that the Marine Corps is a family, and I’d like to believe that. And, there is no better time to witness the Marine Corps family in action, than during a deployment. I know that were it not for the support of my sisters in arms, I would have gone mad by now.

First of all, it starts with our wonderful Family Readiness Officer, Mrs. Mary Mathews. She has been given the responsibility of overseeing the welfare of not only the Marines of the unit, but also their families. There are somewhere around 700 Marines in my husband’s unit. That’s a lot of guys, and then you add in the spouses, children, parents and whoever else the Marine chooses. It’s enough to make your head spin!

That woman deserves every penny of her salary, and then some. She has even helped friends of mine whose husbands are not in her unit. And for the first four months of this deployment, she did it all on her own. She had absolutely no volunteers. Give that woman a medal! And some cherry cordials, they’re her favorite.

I have received I don’t know how many calls from women, not because they were in the hospital or having an emergency, but because a friend was. And if for some reason that young mother needs to stay in the hospital overnight, there are a number of people ready to step up and babysit.

This sisterhood that was formed the day that our Marines left warms my heart. I spoke with Mary once (after yet another crisis had occurred) and asked her, “has anyone ever had a deployment this eventful?” She answered, “With this many trips to the hospital, I don’t know. But, they definitely have more wife drama!” And you know what? As much as I don’t wish anyone to the ER, I prefer this to the drama.

I would rather us banding together in times of need, than stabbing each other in the back. Our men are overseas fighting for freedom, and to make sure the fight stays over there. And back home, the women have nothing better to do than to say bad things about each other, and call one another names? I have a problem with that. You ladies need to find a better use for your time.

Not to say that this unit is without its drama, but even that showed our cohesiveness. When one person tried to stir the pot, it made the rest of us even closer. We learned who are friends were, and what was good for our group. We stood together proud of ourselves, proud of our Marines, proud to be Marine wives, and not afraid to tell the world.

We’re closing in on homecoming now, and it seems the chaos has changed type. Plans are being made by wives not in the area, to move here. Parties are being held to make banners for loved ones. Baby showers are being thrown for little ones that just can’t wait for daddy. Wives are reuniting and resparking friendships. Or meeting for the first time, and finding kindred spirits.

Pre-homecoming Meet and Greets are in the organizational stages. And I’ve already had more than one wife (or mother) tell me that this isn’t their first deployment, but it is the first get together of this type. I would love to meet the person standing next to me, waiting to charge the busses, before that day. To have a chance to share stories in a more relaxed setting. (Of course, preferably one where I’m able to stuff my face.) So that when we’re standing there Homecoming day, I’m not afraid to spark a conversation and make the time fly by faster.

It’s been a long week, I’m quite tired. But I find comfort in knowing that I have a telephone full of numbers that I can call to find a sitter if I need a moment. Or if I need someone to listen as I vent about the week’s hardships. I also relish in knowing that all those people in my contact list, or out in the Facebook world, know that they can call on me at any time. Be it at 1430 or 0230, I will always answer.

I could not have made it through this deployment without the constant support and reassurance I get from those ladies. Thank you CLB-6 sisters, for reminding me that not all the horror stories about us are true. The Marine Corps is a family. A small, at times, very tight knit family. And it’s almost time for a Family Reunion.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


My little princess turned two today. It was so sweet. Her Daddy sent me a text from Afghanistan a minute after I updated my Facebook status. Thank you Facebook world, for wishing my baby a happy birthday. She appreciated each and every comment. Ha! If you believe that a two year old really gave a whoot who said what on my Facebook, you’re seriously deluded.

Obviously Daddy was not here for the festivities--hence the text messages from abroad. He said he didn’t have time to call, but I was glad to hear from him today, one way or another. He told me that he had received the most recent packages that were sent to him. Including the ones for Father’s Day & our wedding anniversary, and his birthday. I am very proud of those care packages, thank you very much. I worked hard on them.

Between two boxes, I sent him ten greeting cards, two books, cupcakes, candles, army men, novelty t-shirts, and one hot pepper necktie. Oh, and one package of thirty-six noisemakers. I wanted to make sure that my husband could celebrate with all the fan fair that I would have given him if he were here. I would like to think that he also groaned at all the fan fair just as he always does when he’s home.

We’ve reached a very pivotal point in the deployment. I like to call it Homecoming-limbo. Most of the deployment is over. I have a generally-specific idea of when my husband will be arriving. The banner has been ordered and received. I’ve taken care of my end of all the special homecoming projects. I have the outfit, even.

But, we still have many moons to wait until the hubbs returns. I can’t do the psycho-Homecoming clean, my children will mess up the house in less than a day. I can’t shampoo our carpets, the kids and dogs will create more stains within a week. We live on base, so no travel plans to make. I’m hard-pressed to find things to keep my mind occupied for the next **** weeks. (ah ah ah ... OPSEC, I can’t tell you how many weeks are left, sillies!)

Now, I’m sitting here blogging. Editing, writing, cooking, eating and entertaining. Yet, my mind still has time to wander and think about the fact that Homecoming is getting closer, but is still so far away. The only thing left to do is to fall back on a classic. I think I’ll head to Youtube and do a search. “Bored Marines” sounds about right, should keep me entertained for at least a few days.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Papi

Today is my husband’s birthday, and I’m not going to be able to spend it with him. I don’t even know that I’ll be able to talk to him at all. The strange part is, I’m okay with that. It’s not that I don’t love him, it’s not that I don’t care, but I know that he is extremely busy right now. He’s taking care of what he needs to, so that he can come home to us safe, and in one piece.

It’s amazing how being married to someone in the military changes your prospective. Four years ago, I would’ve kicked my husband out for missing our anniversary. This year, I celebrated alone. I was traveling, actually. The girls and I were stuck overnight in Atlanta, and didn’t make it home until our anniversary. I knew that my husband was out on a mission, and I didn’t hold out any hope for a phone call. Imagine my delight, and surprise, when I received a text/email from my love two days later telling me how sorry he was that he wasn’t able to call on our special day. It blows my mind how this time apart has made my husband so sentimental.

My husband is, for lack of a better term, an ass. He has been called a jerk at times, also. He celebrates birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries because I make him. I remind him when he needs to call his mother on her birthday. Sorry Cindy, he still doesn’t remember, after being your son for 29 years, when your birthday is. I buy gifts and write his name on the card for him. Or, I hold out the card for him to sign, and then afterward he asks me who the card is for.

But since being apart, he has sent me flowers for Valentine’s day. Jesse let me pick out my birthday gift. He has sent me three gifts from Afghanistan. And he remembered our anniversary. Who is this man? And what has he done with my husband?

Apparently, this deployment has changed him.

This month has been a hard one without Jesse. I went home to Iowa on vacation. We were there for a week, and were part of a huge celebration at the Buddhist Temple. Jesse would’ve loved it. He loves to learn about my family’s culture and religion. Oh, and the food! I smile just thinking about the kid-in-a-candy store grin he gets on his face when he gets to eat asian food.

The anniversary of his graduation from Boot Camp is the day before our wedding anniversary. Half a week later was Father’s Day. Today is his birthday, and the month rounds out with Abby’s second birthday next week. All very special occasions for me. All times when I bribe him into a good mood with food.

I miss my other half. But I’ve learned that even though he misses all these moments back home, he is doing something much needed. If he weren’t off where he is, doing what he does, we may not be able to enjoy these birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. Since being married to my Marine, I’ve learned not to take the little things for granted. Because even when he’s “home,” he isn’t always home for the celebrations. He’s first married to the Marine Corps, and sometimes she gets all his attention.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What the H is on Your Face?!

The Afghanistache. Who told the men that when you deploy it is “the cool thing to do”? My husband looks like a cop from a bad 80s movie. Or an officer that was followed on COPS in the 80s. This thing is not just bad-it’s downright awful!

In the Marine Corps, the men are allowed to have facial hair, within reason. That means it has to be trimmed to a certain measure from the corners of the mouth, above the lip, and below the nose. On most Marines, it comes out resembling something from the Adolf Hitler era. And somewhere in the Guy-ble, under military, subsection deployed/extended training, it must be stated that the men must grow one of these hideous mustaches.

The Afghanistache was funny ... until my own husband grew one. It started out as a CAX-stache. He grew it when they were in California while they were out for pre-deployment training. Then, it looked like your average, hilarious Hitler mustache.

My husband is part Italian and German. He’s a hairy guy, that includes his face. Not much for sideburns but can grow a stache like no one’s business. His Afghanistache looks like one of those hairy brown caterpillars has taken up residence right under his nose. I think it catches the crumbs from his food. I’m waiting for it to mature enough to dangle from his left ear and make a cocoon. I hope it turns into a beautiful butterfly looong before homecoming.

We have been lucky enough to video teleconference with my husband for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Leading up to Mother’s Day, my husband had been repeatedly asking me to send him these tiny little scissors that he uses to trim his nose hairs. Yes, we’re so old my husband now has to trim his nose hairs. I couldn’t find them, so I never sent them.

He had told me that he had grown an Afghanistache before the teleconference, and I was dreading seeing it again. But, when we sat down in the room he was clean shaven. Silly me thought that he had shaved for the occasion. Oh how I over-estimate him sometimes. No, he didn’t shave for me. He shaved because he had to. His mustache had grown out of “regs.” Those little scissors? Not for his nose, but for the ‘stache!

At the Mother’s Day VTC we had an extensive conversation about how much I hated the “stache” and prefer him clean shaven. So, for Father’s Day, I assumed that he would shave again, so that I wouldn’t have to see the thing. Again, I overestimate my husband. I would like to say I don’t, but I do.

It was there. The Afghanistache. That thing is going to haunt me in my dreams tonight. Today, I was forced to face it live via satellite. It is so much more awful live. It wiggles when he talks. At times I felt as though it was going to jump through the screen at me.

I told him he better shave that monstrosity before he comes home. He said he’s kind of enjoying it. I said he’d better enjoy the heck out of it for the next few months. If he steps off the bus with that thing still attached to his face, I refuse to kiss him. He thinks I’m kidding. Well, my best friend will be there taking photographs for us. I can guarantee she will see some of me running away from that thing.

Afghanistache. Ew.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Passport to Iowa?

I’m in Iowa for a week. I came home for a gigantic celebration at the Buddhist Temple that my parents are a large part of. The Asians have taken over Storm Lake, even more so than usual. It’s crazy Asian up in here.

I forgot what it was like to be in Iowa. As in, I forgot about “the smell of money.” I thought I was gonna die on the drive home from the airport. Once we got off a major highway, I was bombarded with a plethora of smells. Turkeys. Hogs. Beef. Chicken. Thank goodness we drove home in the middle of the night. I was able to bypass the stink during the hottest hours of the day. I threw up a little in my mouth, just thinking about it. Ew.

I am also a grown woman back in my mother’s home. I have not spent more than three days at my mother’s house in the last three years. This is so weird. Her house is not my own. My mother did not buy her current home until after I had already moved out on my own. So, I can’t really consider this coming “home,” either. The feeling is immensely weird. I pray that nothing ever happens to my marriage, because I don’t think I could ever move into this house, no matter how short the period of time. This place is just too weird.

Some of the members of our family are meeting Miss Abigail for the first time ever. Poor thing, she is Daddy’s little girl, and with him gone, she has literally attached herself to Mommy’s butt for the last five months. It has been an experience to try to get her to open up to all her aunts, uncles, and cousins. She has run screaming in between my legs at every occasion. Only slightly uncomfortable. There is one person she likes, though. Uncle Inpane. There’s something about that guy. He is the favorite relative of all my girls. They see him and automatically think to jump on his back and shriek, “giddyup, Uncle Inpane!” I love it! Grandma Tia’s just a little jealous.

Grandma has been spending almost all of her time at the Temple, unfortunately. They’re here, and my children still miss their Gramma. It is absolutely amazing what is going on out there. On the property, in the last couple days, a small village of tents and canopies has gone up. You can buy everything from Pho, to cheap toys, clothes, alcohol and spiritual healing. I have to admit, it is on such a large scale that I’m intimidated to be a part of it. My mother has asked me to be a “flower girl.” I don’t speak Lao, Thai or Hmong, not sure how I’m going to be getting donations from people that don’t speak English. Hmm ... I’m not sure what she was thinking, asking me, but I’m still honored to be a part of something so huge. Now, I just have to figure out where to put my phone and camera in my totally cute dress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Been a While

Been a While

Been a while now

Since I heard your voice

Been a while now

Since you’ve heard mine

Been a while now

Since I saw your face

Been a while now

Since you touched mine

Been a while now

Since you hogged the bed

Been a while now

Since I stole the covers

Been a while now

Since you took out the trash

Been a while now

Since I washed your laundry

Been a while now

Since I complained about your video games

Been a while now

Since you complained about my singing

Been a while now

Since you woke me up at O’dark thirty

Been a while now

Since I packed your lunch

Been a while now

Since I dropped you off

Been a while now

Since you kissed me good-bye

Been a while now

Since you first called home

Been a while now

Since I realized you were really gone

Been a while now

Since I went to sleep alone

Since I woke up alone

Since I started wanting you home

Been a while now

Since you called

Been a while now

Since you said you love me

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Lamphone,

I found a letter that I had written to myself as a prompt during a free write about six months ago. I’m thinking of printing it out and keeping it next to my computer. In it are my plans, some project ideas, and my ultimate goals and dreams. A lot of it comes down to what I want to do for myself, and not for my family or anyone else. I am a wife and mother, of course I love my husband and children. But like many other women, I always put them first, and my own wants and needs last. Way last. Way way last.

Not only do I want things, but I want to be able to look at something I’ve done that I am proud of. I want to reread something that I wrote, giggle internally, and say, “I wrote that!” And, actually, that letter to myself (from myself?) gave me that feeling. It was honest, encouraging, and dare I admit that I really like my own writing style?

That letter is a reminder of what I want. A private island? Where we can host a summer bible camp for kids? To foster and adopt kids after ours are grown?

It’s a reminder of why I want to write. Telling the world my mother’s life story? Writing fiction in a genre that is little represented? Finally putting all that goes on in my heart and head to paper, and sharing it with the world.

It reminds me who I’m writing for. For my husband, who worries that I don’t do enough for myself. For my friends, that want nothing but to see me succeed at something that I love. For my children, to teach them to follow their dreams. For myself, to learn to put my wants first once in a while.

I am a writer, but I have suppressed that part of me, in exchange for changing diapers and washing uniforms. That letter to myself demands that I take time (even just 15 minutes) to write everyday. It tells me that some (definitely not all!) of my ideas are really good. It’s a tangible item that I can look at, and remember those goals that I’m working toward. It’s a reminder of what I want to do, and who I want to be.

Dear Lamphone, you are a writer. Now make it happen. You can make it happen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some Assembly Required

Today, I purchased a six-foot tall kennel for my pit-mix, Daisy. She is such a pain in my heiny. I love my big baby, but (and there’s always a but) she is so much work! She was the product of a rescue. I say product, because Daisy was not a direct rescue, per say. We rescued Daisy’s pregnant mother moments before being taken to the local animal shelter. Three weeks later, we were the proud, second-hand, parents of ten puppies. Daisy was the third born, and she was my favorite from the beginning. We kept Daisy, and not her mother, because her mom was not well socialized with other dogs.

But I digress (and get easily sidetracked). Our base and community leaders have decided to ban aggressive breed dogs, and make those of us grandfathered in jump through major hoops and over huge hurdles to keep our fur-babies. The most annoying of which is this kennel that I assembled today.

In order to keep my chew-monger, I had to buy an outdoor kennel that she will almost never be in. It was a swift kick to the pocketbook. Acquiring and assembling this thing was, in a word, an adventure. I do not own a truck, so I had a friend take me to the pet supply store to buy the kennel. While waiting to order a couple Frosties on the way home, her husband called from overseas. I volunteered to drive home, because driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal in this state. I missed my off-ramp, and then in an attempt to go around to the next exit, I was stuck behind a funeral procession. On the highway. There are so many back roads they could’ve taken, but they chose the highway. On a payday and holiday weekend. Really? Someone wasn’t thinking when they planned out that route!

After finally getting out from behind the procession, I missed a second turn! Oh yeah, I was on a roll. We finally made it home, dumped the box in the backyard, and I retreated into the A/C to read the instructions. After reading all the English directions, I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I got this.” Ha ha! The adventure continues....

I was able to lay out the bottom, and the upright poles, and then I attempted the top. After struggling for a few minutes, my older daughter fully dunked her little sister in the pool, and I was forced to quit. A short while later, my best friend and her husband showed up.....

Someone cue Tom Bergeron, because I think we have a winner for America’s Funniest Home Video. We spent the next three hours attempting that stupid thing together. It completely fell apart about five times. We managed to screw up the nuts and bolts (Did you know there were two different sizes? We didn’t.). My best friend managed to get hit in the head with one of the poles, and did I mention her husband has one of his arms in a sling? Our hands were filthy from the metal afterwards, we’re all going to have some awesome calluses, but we are dang proud of ourselves! Oh, and who likes being in the kennel more? Of course the little, fluffy white dog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Empty Bed Syndrome

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. I wake up when I roll over, and I don't hit anything. I expect to smash into my husband, but he isn't there. It's a sudden reminder that he still isn't home yet. Where is he? He's overseas, in a hostile environment, fighting for me to have the right to continue to fill the world wide web with my babbling. Yes, my husband is deployed. Yes, I knew that he would leave home for weeks, and months, at a time when I told him that he could sign next to the "X." Yes, I worry every day for his safety. And yes, I couldn't be more proud to tell the world that my husband is a Marine.

He's been gone a few months now, and I'd like to think that I'm doing pretty well on my own. The kids are fed, bathed, and in (relatively) clean clothes. Our dogs are fat and healthy. The bills are getting paid. And Momma has been able to add some cute touches to the house and garden. I've been able to volunteer with the unit Family Readiness Officer, and even decided to start a blog (ta-da!).

But that doesn't mean that our days aren't without hiccups. The kids and animals test their boundaries constantly, because they know that Mommy's attention is pulled in about 15 directions at once-instead of only 5 or 6. It's taught me to find my inner strength, so that I can keep all the little ones in order. I've learned not to let my weakness show when the drama queens are screaming, the dogs are barking, and the phone is ringing. I put the kids in time out, the dogs in the kennel, and let the phone go to voice mail.

I save the emotions for late at night, when the girls are all in bed and my favorite movie is playing. When, after a long day of changing diapers, I realize that at 1800 no one walked in the front door. No one took Daisy out to play, and there are no new cigarette butts in the ashtray on the patio. I spend time on the computer trying to distract my brain, playing games until my lids won't stay open. Then I finally turn out my light and fall asleep. That is, until the middle of the night when I roll over and wake up when I don't hit anyone, or smash into my husband's back.
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