31 August 2010

A Man Who Knows His Math...

My husband commutes an hour each way to the base every day and he likes to use the time to gather his thoughts about what he needs to get done that day and what his priorities are as well as what was done and what still needs to be done. We have often talked about the kind of traffic he runs into everyday and I marvel that it doesn't seem to bother him.

He emailed me the following post as a light hearted joke to me and I would like to share it. (Warning: this is humor and NOT meant to be taken seriously)


(NOT ME, BUT SOMEONE JUST LIKE ME ~ my husband's addition)
I was riding to work yesterday when I observed a female driver, Who cut right in front of a pickup truck, causing the driver to drive Onto the shoulder to avoid hitting her.

This evidently angered the driver enough that he hung his arm out is window And gave the woman the finger.

"Man, that guy is stupid," I thought to myself. I ALWAYS smile nicely and wave In a sheepish manner whenever a female does anything to me in traffic, and here's why:

I drive 48 miles each way every day to work.

That's 96 miles each day.

Of these, 16 miles each way is bumper-to-bumper.

Most of the bumper-to-bumper is on an 8 lane highway.

There are 7 cars every 40 feet for 32 miles.

That works out to 982 cars every mile, or 31,424 cars.

Even though the rest of the 32 miles is not bumper-to-bumper,

I figure I pass at least another 4000 cars.

That brings the number to something like 36,000 cars that I pass every day.

Statistically, females drive half of these.

That's 18,000 women drivers!

In any given group of females, 1 in 28 has PMS.

That's 642.

According to Cosmopolitan, 70% describe their love life as dissatisfying or unrewarding.

That's 449.

According to the National Institute of Health, 22% of all females Have seriously considered suicide or homicide.

That's 98.

And 34% describe men as their biggest problem.

That's 33.

According to the National Rifle Association, 5% of all females Carry weapons and this number is increasing.

That means that EVERY SINGLE DAY, I drive past at least one female that has a lousy love life, thinks men are her biggest problem, has seriously considered suicide or homicide, has PMS, and is armed.

Give her the finger? I don't think so.

22 August 2010

Depression.... Or The Evolution Of Lemonade...

Time, like the tide, waits for no one. It will continue relentlessly on whether you notice it, or not. Whether you want it to, or not. Depression steals time away from the unwary traveler of life's roads. It is a thief of time.

I have felt the touch of the thief. The sadness, the despair, the discouragement and the bereavement. I have felt the self-loathing, the guilt, the lack of confidence and self-esteem. I have felt the need of withdrawal from everything and everyone. I have felt the never-ending pain of not being omnipotent enough to change the past. Of not being deserving of a future.

Depression is a harsh master that will control you if you allow it to. It will continue to steal from you if you do nothing to stop it.

But a tiny, fragile flame still burns as long as there is life and, if you nurture it carefully, it can become a raging bonfire. A beacon of light to guide you. A light that, if tended, can become a star in the heavens to shine down upon you, your family and friends.

I sometimes have to fight for every breath, every smile, every second because I can't change the past and I'm exhausted from fighting a sadness that is dark and crushing. I have been here before and now I know from experience that I must
choose to either mourn the past or to chart my future. I must choose to give into the sadness and crushing darkness or continue to fight with a spirit that feels weighted down with lead.

The tide has yet again changed. I choose to chart my future. To set my path. If I sometimes get lost and lose my way, it's ok. No matter how many times I am stopped by a listless ocean, the deafeningly silent wind, or a raging tempest... I am my own Captain and when the deathly stillness or storm passes, I will find my compass. I will map another course. I will not give up.

The future holds sunrises, sunsets, distant shores, soothing coves and safe harbors. It holds the cool breeze of friendship on the hottest of days, the warmth of family in the coldest of nights, even when I am too numb to feel it. I KNOW it is there just out of reach. I just have to keep striving for it.

By my own inaction, I have allowed the thief to take something from me that I can never get back. Pieces of my life. Pieces of the lives of my husband, children, sisters and parents. It does not steal from only me. I have allowed it to steal from my entire family.

I feel such anger and frustration at the time that I have already allowed to be stolen from me and my family. I want to hoard what time is left, but alas, time can not be held or changed. It is what it is. And so to save those pieces of me and my family, I try to remember the sweetest of times. The milestones. The thought provoking ironies. The laughter.... ah the laughter, that is the true slayer of the thief. If I can just turn more of the stress, the sadness, the anger, the worry, the depression into something joyous or even bittersweet.... My recipe for lemonade has evolved over time. It has been tested. It has been tasted. It has been shared.

I have, finally, found that if I write the recipes down, the thief can't steal them. He can't touch them. They can remain cherished memories to share with those who will come after. They can light the way in a storm and someday, maybe, they can light the footsteps of my children. I hope I leave a better legacy than the past. A legacy filled with love and the ability to slay the thief with laughter. For laughter in the heart is one of the fuels of the fragile flame. The other is courage.

QOTD: "Nothing we can do can change the past, everything we do changes the future." Ashley Brilliant (1933-) American Writer

21 August 2010

'The Look'...

When we go out en mass as a family there are times when getting seven people to fit in a small location becomes a little challenging.  This last time Erin was disgruntled at having to sit between her father and I.
Her father, "You have to sit next to me."  Putting his arm around Erin and hugging her close he said, "Hey, how's my deodorant working?"
Poor Erin just gave him 'the look' and rolled her eyes.  Yep.  All the women folk in this household have perfected 'the look'.  Mostly because it's used so often on my husband....

QOTD: "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." ~ Robert Brault

18 August 2010

For Want Of A Sock.... Continued...

The old Lemon Stand blog from 20 Dec 2006 [This post is strictly for AFW.  Just in case she ever has a Very Bad, No Good, Day...

Some things in life are too special to ask, "Why?" about. I started blogging purely by accident and the very first blog I ever read happened to be, 'Air Force Family'.  Sometimes I feel like we live in a parallel universe because our families and situations seem so similar that I keep waiting for the theme song to "The Twilight Zone" to start playing in the background.

For those of you who miss reading Air Force Wife, you can still catch her (and some other superb writers) over on the incredible new site Spouse Buzz.  I just happened to be looking over there last night and caught her latest post, 'For Want Of A Sock'.   I'm nodding to myself through the first couple of paragraphs and then started laughing. (and looking around for Rod Stirling...)

Immediately I felt the need to continue this story so before I go any further, go read For Want Of A Sock and then come back... I'll wait...

::chuckling to self::

::looking at my watch::

::still waiting for the Twilight Zone music::

OK. You're back? Doesn't she have a terrific gift for description?

Reading her post, my first thought was: Yes, they tell everybody in basic training that. I remember putting a white sock with blue and red stripes on my own duffel bag in basic.

I got to the part about socks and kids and had to laugh at the descriptions because I think we have all of those socks too... right down to the striped socks from Hot Topic. (Although, I must confess, those were not mine...)

Air Force Guy, I must admit, dresses up his luggage a little classier than my own husband who usually forgets to 'Tag' his luggage until the trip home and then he looks for whatever is handy. I have seen the 'safe arming flag' or 'remove before flight pin flags' waving cheerfully from his bags on more than one occasion. (These are bright flags that are put on various parts of a plane. Although, now that I think about it, I haven't seen those in a while.)

My husband was telling me how there were all kinds of surveyors tape around on his latest excursion to the Iraq . You know the phrase 'Great minds think alike?'  Well, imagine, if you will, 399 great minds thinking alike (at the same time) on the trip out of Iraq... Picture in your mind, a sea of green duffel bags on the tarmac, all tagged with a strand of surveyors tape... Rachel asked her father what he'd marked his bag with...

Ironically, he said, "Two strands, one on each end."
I had to laugh.

I told him about Air Force Guy's homecoming.  He laughed and said, "At least he didn't use her Victoria Secret underwear."

Neither has my husband.  I think that either proves that they are highly evolved, intelligent males... or they both are very wary of exactly what factors might peg the Welcome Home meter...

14 August 2010

If It's True That You Learn Everything You Need To Know In Kindergarten...

My husband is probably going to be irritated with me and the kids are probably going to say I didn't remember the event correctly, as always, but I just have to write the memory as I remember it down for posterity's sake.

As any parent with teenagers can tell you, when your offspring attains the age of about 12 (if you have not already scheduled their demise) your child revisits the developmental stage of the terrible two's, but this time around it includes added bonuses.  For girls, it's PMS.  For boys, it's testosterone poisoning.  Trust me on this.

So it is not any wonder that there was a particular day in which I needed my husband for a little tag team parenting.  The eldest three were behaving like hard core toddlers and not only did I need a break, I needed my husband to talk to them.  (all of the girls were 12 or older) Since all the girls are 'Daddy's Girls', I try to use this tactic sparingly.  I don't remember now, after many years, just what I was so upset and angry about, but whatever the 'problem' was, I wanted him to talk sternly to them so that they would understand how serious I was about my opinions of said 'problem.'

So the kids go off for a ride in the van with their father so that he could advise them on the 'gravity' of the situation (and I could get a little peace and quiet while the youngest was playing with a friend).

A while later, they all came back and instead of the subdued children I had expected, they were smiling, laughing and teasing each other.  
Before I could question my husband on just what had occurred on this ride, our daughter, Danielle, beamed at me as she said, "You don't have to worry, Mommy.  Daddy explained the four Laws of Life and we understand them all."
The other kids were looking looking as happy as Danielle and they were all nodding their heads vigorously as their sister informed me of their new found knowledge.

Knowing my husband, who, at the time, was standing a little behind them trying to look like his halo wasn't choking him (in my opinion), I immediately knew that something had gone awry in my intended communication with the kids.  I'm sure my eyes, almost instantly, started to narrow.  Seeing that I was not looking real happy with the situation, the kids all hurried to explain the Laws of Life and their meanings... according to Daddy.
"One, Never break more than one law at a time.  So if we were able to drive and had a tail light that was busted, we shouldn't speed."
"Two, Never bring along a camera if you are going to break the law.  That one was easy to understand so we didn't really need an explanation for that one."
"Three, Never try to understand someone else's 'kink'.  So we should just accept people the way they are even if we do think they are a little strange."
"Four, Never date your friend's spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends.  This is just not acceptable behavior and could get you into a LOT of trouble so it is just best to avoid the situation."
By this time I am staring at my husband who had been correcting the wording in their recitation of these laws.

I was pretty angry to start out with and I only got angrier because, darn it all, their facial expressions and the manner in which they spoke was pretty darn funny.  The problem was (other than my husband's humor) that I'm sure there is some unwritten rule out there in the universe that says if you laugh or smile while reprimanding kids, then they can't be punished for whatever their transgression had been.  I was trying really hard not to laugh but finally, I had to just walk away.  Defeated.

Our kids are anything but stupid, and they knew their father was joking with them.  They also knew that I was still pretty mad and the entire bunch played 'least in sight' for the rest of the day. 

At the time, I remember thinking that if it was true that you learn everything you need to know in Kindergarten, just what then, was my husband's Kindergarten class like?  With him in it?

Truthfully, though, we did teach our kids more than to just find humor where ever you can find it.  My husband and I are very proud of all of our kids and we wouldn't sell any of them... even on the bad days... even if someone offered us more than ten cents a pound...
QOTD:  If you have not bought, 'All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten' by Robert Fulghum, you really need to.  Especially if you have kids.  Especially if you have two year olds... or teenagers... or husbands...

    ~ from the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten
    All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.
    ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

    Share everything.

    Play fair.

    Don't hit people.

    Put things back where you found them.

    Clean up your own mess.

    Don't take things that aren't yours.

    Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

    Wash your hands before you eat.


    Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

    Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

    Take a nap every afternoon.

    When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

    Be aware of wonder.
    Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
    Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die.  So do we.
    And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
    Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
    The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
    Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
    Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
    Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

© Robert Fulghum, 1990. Found in Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.

11 August 2010

The Army Camping Trip And The Unusual Dining Experience...

I have mentioned the differences between the service branches before but I was remembering a recent conversation from our vacation and a post I did a very long time ago and, as always when I think of these kinds of things, it made me laugh. So I am going to share the memory.

[As an aside, my first duty station had mostly officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Canadian military forces so my first taste of chow hall food was not a good barometer of what could be experienced by the average airman at a regular Air Force Base. Enlisted members of any service are not normally served food as well as the officers but that just comes with the territory.]
And so the memory begins with 'Once upon a time...'

When I joined the Air Force, I didn't have to worry about such menial tasks such as grocery shopping.  I lived in the barracks and ate most of my meals at the chow hall either at the military facility I had lived at or the different military facility that I had worked at.  At that time, I was blissfully ignorant of the fact that most chow halls of any service were NOT anything like what I was fortunate enough to partake in at that time. I was at a command level base and the food was plentiful, had variety, and was cooked right just about every time.

I got my first inkling of the differences when, after a couple of months of being stationed there, we had a group of Army soldiers visit our base enlisted chow hall for lunch. It looked like they had just come in from a very long exercise out in the field. They were muddy, tired and very, very hungry. (If you were one of those unfortunate souls that had been standing in line ahead of me that day, please forgive me for this description. You can't imagine how your conversations are forever permanently etched in my memory.)

Anyway, I was, of course, in line behind all of these soldiers.
As I am waiting for my turn, I hear, from the front of the line, an incredulous voice ask, "What do you mean 'What do I want?' You mean we get a choice?"
Wow. I'm thinking that maybe they only serve one thing at their chow halls, maybe they eat mostly rations... or maybe, their chow hall is more like a homeless soup kitchen?
My mind is imagining worse and worse scenarios when I hear (in an even louder, more astounded voice) "What do you mean 'How do I want it cooked?'"
Hmmm. Now I'm definitely wondering what kind of meals they were used to.
Then I hear the same soldier say, in what clearly starts out in an antagonistic manner only to suddenly sound like nirvana had unexpectedly been achieved, "Look, just serve me what you have the most of.  If I have a choice I would rather have something burnt than raw.  Wait a minute... is that a steak?
There was a split second of silence and then I notice all the soldiers were starting to look worriedly around like they were expecting to be reprimanded for some heinous crime.
In a much more respectful tone, the first soldier says to the cook, "Is this the officer's mess? Are we in the wrong chow hall?"
(The sight of these soldiers, standing with rapt attention on this one soldier at the head of the line, waiting to hear the answer to his question was what really burned this memory into my grey matter.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  It was like they were expecting to hear that they were in the wrong place, but the hope on their faces...  Well, I don't think I could ever adequately describe it.)

By this time the poor cook behind the counter was sounding more and more frustrated.

Offended, I heard him snarl, "You are in the right chow hall.  I do not burn my food nor do I serve it raw!  The steaks are medium rare and yes, you get a choice as long as you make it snappy!"
My estimation of the survival instincts of these gentlemen soared when, the lead soldier having finally come out of his stupor, hastily ordered a mound of food to be followed in what had to be the fastest moving line of soldiers I had ever seen. I caught sight of the first soldier reverently holding his tray up to his nose as he made his way to a table.

So I finally get my lunch and start heading to an empty table, sure that I couldn't be any more astonished, when I see a group of soldiers surrounding the self-serve ice cream machine.

One of them announced with an abundant amount of glee, "Hey, you can get chocolate and vanilla soft serve here and there are 'fixins' to make a sunday at the end of the salad bar!"
You may think I am exaggerating this story but I swear this is exactly what happened.  I was amazed.  I finally went over to the table where the lead soldier was sitting (staying downwind and out of his immediate reach). He was inhaling his food like it was his last meal, hunched over his arms wrapped protectively around his tray as if to defend it against any who might even look like they wanted to relieve him of it. (I was pretty sure if a limb came within his range, the owner of said limb would have been pulling back a stump...)  It turns out that these guys had been down range training for about a month without a meal that had not been eaten out of can or plastic pouch.

I didn't bother to tell him that the chow hall I went to at work was a joint officer and enlisted mess and that since General Officers (yes, the ones with the stars) went there daily, we could get often steak for breakfast, lobster tails and shrimp cocktail for lunch or dinner. (Among many other things) Why ruin his day?  I left him to enjoy his spoils of war, so to speak.

Years later, when I finally PCS'd (permanent change of station) to another base, I discovered how the rest of the Air Force ate.  I thought it still was a whole lot better than the Army since I figured we had at least two food choices and, for the most part, nothing was raw or burnt, but it was definitely not on the same level as the chow halls at my first duty station.

I think about this now when I have one child who does not like to eat just about everything I make.  Some days it makes me want to really encourage her to join the Army...

QOTD: “The army from Asia introduced a foreign luxury to Rome; it was then the meals began to require more dishes and more expenditure . . . the cook, who had up to that time been employed as a slave of low price, become dear: what had been nothing but a m├ętier was elevated to an art.” Livy (Titus Livius), Roman historian (59-17 B.C.) The Annals of the Roman People

05 August 2010

Moose, Wolves, Milkbones And Pork Chops...

My notebook is full of stray comments and stories just begging to be told but I don't want to give it all away in one very long post. These are things that I should take time to savor...

Actually, I'm just plain rationing myself so I can recall them through this next school year. All our kids are now living at home with the three eldest attending college so you can see where I might need the comic relief. Danielle and Nina have decided to go to Community College to get their basic courses out of the way while saving up for their last two years of college at the more expensive schools they were accepted by and really wanted to go to. Danielle, Nina and I spent the entire day from early this morning till this evening bouncing between offices and frantically filling out paperwork that had somehow been lost or forgotten about. Nicole at least seems to be handling the process in a much more organized manner than the rest of us.

A few witticisms to share from various relatives while on vacation... Who said what and to whom shall remain a mystery to protect the not so innocent...
"Well, I guess it's time to dress you in a pork chop suit and send you out into wolf territory."
"A word of advice, 'It's a dog eat dog world and we're all wearing milk bone underwear.'"
"She doesn't want to see, hear, or say anything unless it involves a side order of french fries."
"It's okay. There is no need to be afraid of the moose here. I've talked to them and they say that as a professional courtesy for a former herbivore, they respect you and wouldn't think of charging you... besides, moose will only charge you if they can't find an ATM..."
"Just step away from the bacon!"
"Could you go with your sister and take her for a walk... and maybe you could find a fire hydrant nearby... just in case..."
"You definitely lost that argument. You don't have a leg to stand on so just call yourself Gimpy, get yourself a cane and call it a day."
"My teacher has a way of dealing with immature boys. She wears earplugs."
QOTD: "Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake." ~ Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

To my niece Katie's two roommates... Katie gave me blanket permission to become my blog fodder on occasion, which, since you live with her, makes you a package deal. Just like Santa, I make a list and check it twice (I wouldn't want to leave anything out...). Still, I thought it only fair to warn you... and to figuratively throw Katie under the bus. :o) ~ Love, the Wicked Aunt...

(Katie and Rachel. Picture taken by Nina)

04 August 2010

My Happy Place...

You cannot imagine what paradise looks like until you've been to my 'Happy Place'...