About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pet Names

Occasionally it occurs to me that I hardly ever call my husband by his name when talking to him.  When I'm talking about him I do, or I call him Dada and Daddy, depending on what I'm saying.  But when I'm talking to him I rarely call him Scott.  I call him Love, Sweets, Sweetie, Honey, Hun.  He rarely calls me Annie either, but uses mostly the same nicknames for me.  And when I write him it seems odd to sign my name.  I usually just sign "me."  After all, after the content of the message, it's not like there's a question who the letter or email is from!  Right? 

I like pet names.  Not only do I use them with Scott, but with a lot of others too.  Gracie has been Sweet Pea or Sweetie.  Jace often hears, "What, Bud?" when pestering me.  Tyler started the monkey moniker that now refers to all the kids.  I also call him Linus sometimes and Snuggle Bunny other times.  It's quite cute, though - he usually says, "No, me Lyler."  He's most definitely my little Lyler! 

It's not just my immediate family that gives and gets pet names.  One of my oldest friends often calls me Gorgeous!  I mean, really?  Can you beat the feeling of that little window opening on facebook with the words "Hello gorgeous?"  I don't think so.  And she's not just saying it.  She truly believes I'm beautiful.  And I feel it when she says it. 

Isn't that what pet names are about?  Bringing out feelings of joy, being special, feeling loved?  I gotta tell you...when Gracie calls me Princess (although I've never considered myself a princess) I feel special.  And when Scott calls me Ann Marie (which is technically my actual name) that feels incredible warm and loving.  Even when my sister calls me sister, it's a special thing for me. 

So, it's obvious that I'm loved.  It's obvious that I feel it.  I don't really think the power of all that joy and the depth of these relationships are really in the name calling...but the words we share certainly help give all those emotions life. 

Do you have any little names you share with a special someone?  I hope you feel just as happy, cared about, and comforted as can be when you hear your pet names.

Friday Fill-In #28

1.If you were a famous movie star, what types of movies would you star in?

I think I'd fit into a chick flick best.  My comebacks are quick enough for comedy and I think I'd be scared doing thrillers!  But predictable drama with a "happily ever after" ending...I'm in! 

2.What is a vacation you would like to take if money were no object?

I'd love to travel with my family.  If money was really no option then none of us would have to work and we could spend a week or two here or there...seeing the sights from coast to coast.  Going abroad would be fun too...and incredible to see buildings that have been standing for longer than the US has existed.  But, I really do want to visit each of our 50 states...each one has so much to offer.

3.Did you have pets growing up?

yup.  When I was little (single digits) we had cows and horses.  Even after we got rid of them we had cats and dogs.  My favorite little doggy was Benji, who looked just like Benji - the famous dog.  He hopped through the snow and we called him snow bunny!  He was so fun!

4.What do you do for exercise?

not enough.  We walk and are trying to do that more.  There are other things I'd like to do...but we know that as military spouses it's not always easy to get time away from the kids and I don't necessarily want to pay for a sitter and pay for a workout.  So...much of my exercise goals remain goals.  But we are walking - did over 2 miles today!

5.What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a MilSpouse?

"It's written in jello."  As in nothing is in stone in the military, dates can change, home for dinner might turn into, "Don't wait up."

That's what I have to say...want to read other milspouse answers?  Wifey's got em!  Go...go!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Looking Up...Looking Forward

So, I've written a little bit on here about the difficulties of being a military spouse to a submariner.  I've told about the effects of mixing the Emotional Cycle of Deployment with PMS.  One post I just talked about how I do it, and should probably add that there are many other paths out there.  There are lots of ways to be a spouse, with or without the military mixed in to add stress.  And there was the post where I pointed out that I'm not single

I think all those posts have merit, but I also would like to say...take anything I say with a grain of salt.  I'm not perfect.  I have days, weeks, possibly months where I'm anything but perfect.  The last few weeks probably fall into that category more than any other. 

With all my positive words and encouragement of others I was really focused on one day at a time.  We've been busy, I've been tired and irritable and sad.  I kept telling myself that one day at a time was fine, just life as it was going to be for now.  And we'd get through. 

Then a few different things happened over the course of a week or two.  First of all, I spent a night with some girlfriends.  We all have kids around the same age and after we tucked them all in we had plenty of time for wonderful chit chat.  It was great.  I felt refreshed, better but not "my old self."  I'm a planner.  I'm always looking forward.  I wasn't there yet.

Then I had some blood work done and found out my vitamin D levels were low.  Not terribly low, but low enough to take a supplement.  Talking to my personal phone-a-doc friend I found out that one possible side effect of low vitamin D can be mild depression. 

When Scott first left I had trouble falling asleep, which eventually turned into just not even trying to get to sleep until much later than I probably should have been staying up. 

So, to sum it up...not enough sleep, low vitamin D, just a touch of stress...I don't know if I was actually depressed but I was definitely low.  And I didn't even realize it, just thought it was life.  One day at a time. 

Then Sunday I ran into a friend I haven't seen or talked to in over three years.  We were at the grocery store and the kids were crazy.  She and I chatted a while and she even suggested talking to a counselor if I needed to.  How had I not thought of that?  If you don't already know, I have a Master's degree as a therapist.  Going for help when I need it isn't a scary thought for me, like it is for some.  It just never crossed my mind.  I didn't even think about what I was going through being anything out of the ordinary for someone in my position.  And maybe it isn't.  But it's no way to live.

The last two nights I've gone to bed earlier than I have been, still not my regular time, but an improvement.  I've gotten outside with the kids.  I haven't had any caffeine, other than a little chai (stimulates the mind not the nerves), no sugar that doesn't occur naturally.  I feel so much better.  Already I'm thinking of what we're doing later this week, next month, this spring.  I'm me!

I'm me. 

So, I don't think I need to see a therapist right now, but for me just having an enemy (depression) gave me a problem to tackle and helped me make the changes I've known needed changing for weeks. 

I wasn't sure how to put this all out there for you all.  I wanted to share because I don't want anyone thinking I'm some super woman.  I love hearing that I'm transparent on here...I want to be.  I want my vulnerability to speak to readers and say that their imperfections are perfectly acceptable.  We all have down days, weeks, maybe months...but there are ways to turn it around.  Just don't give up...keep looking for that way out, listen when it comes calling, and ask for help when you need it.  It's there.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Submarine Study

So, it's been a while since we've completed a study, right?  Well, there are all sorts of excuses...holidays, life, blah, blah.  Don't fret, though, I don't think kids know how to not learn, so even when we didn't officially have a unit focus we were still reading and experiencing...and climbing trees!  Very important skill.

That's Jace's head sticking out the top of the tree.
But, over the last few weeks we've been working on getting back into the swing of our routine.  The kids were very interested in learning more about submarines, with Dada being on one and all.  When we were in Georgia we visited the submarine museum there and the kids really enjoyed it.  They even remembered some of what we saw and learned.  Love when that happens!  We intended to go to the sub museum here in Washington as part of our study but never made it.  There are excuses for that too...blah, blah, blah!  We'll get there in the next few weeks...sometime.

So, what did we do?  As always we read a lot.  Our three favorite library books were:
Submarines: Underwater Stealth, by Michael Teitelbaum
Nuclear Submariners, by Antony Loveless
Submarines, by Kevin Doyle
They had great pictures and lots of information.  And the information was broken up into short segments not long, boring paragraphs.  We also spend possibly too much time at Barnes and Noble.  Tyler loves the train table and there are lots of books to read and look through!  They had a great one there, Submarines UP Close, by Andra Serlin Abramson, with even more pictures...some at actual size! 

We also made some drawings, went and looked at the submarine monument on base (again, we looked at it during our monument study too), and made a flip book.  Here are some pictures of the kids working of our submarine fact book...

After writing this is doesn't seem like our (what turned into a) three week unit was all that meaty.  But the kids really did get a lot out of it. The reasons it took more than the original one week planed were two fold...there was a snow day and I could see how much they really wanted to read more and more.  We read each of our library books more than once and they loved it.  Jace read them on his own too.  I'm sure it helped them feel closer to Dada.  But they also learned a lot about how submarines work, the different types of submarines, what the submariners do out to sea and during off crew.  It was a great study!

(If you'd like to read about our other units...check here for a list.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Things You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know

I might be something of an exhibitionist.  I don't run around exposing me body to others, but here I am on my blog...exposing the rest of me!  Or not.  I might be looking at this a little more deeply than I need to.  Such is life. 

Anyway...every so often I feel the need to share randomness about our lives.  Sometimes I let you know little things the kids have said. 

For example, as we were leaving Barnes and Noble the other day I asked Jace to get the door.  His response was, "I don't know how to undrill it."  Before I responded with, "What are you talking about?" I let it seep in for a minute.  I often have to do that with him.  His brain is much more complex than mine.  Did you get it?  I did, after he added, "Besides, it's too heavy to carry."  So smart.

Other times I present a list of little known facts, like this:
  1. Cleaning hair out of the drain is one of my least favorite tasks.  So, I wash my hair and catch as much hair as possible on my hands and stick it to the side of the shower wall.  When I'm done showering I throw it away.  I hope this doesn't gross you out, but I prefer it to long hairs clogging the drain. 
  2. I get overly excited when I finish a bottle of shampoo, lotion, soap...anything!  I love getting to try a new scent.
  3. Tyler has started sleeping in Jace's bed with him most nights.  They actually sleep and don't play and Jace doesn't mind, so I let them.  Mama's sweet boys. 
  4. Almost every day I have an egg over easy with bacon.  I eat it out of a bowl with a spoon.  I add leftover veggies, brussel spouts, avocado, mushrooms, onions, and/or salsa.  I could probably eat this twice a day...but that seems like a bit much.  So good.
Today I'm also going to update and/or remind you of a few things.
  •  I currently have 44 followers (yay!).  When I reach 50 there will be a giveaway.  So, tell your friends!
  •  I added music to my blog, pretty excited about that.  Enjoy.
  •  The kids started off great with our Help Wanted Poster.  The last few weeks, though, they've totally lost interest.  I've taken out all the recycling and they haven't wanted to do anything else on the list for money.  I'm a little bummed, because they were being so helpful.  Gracie still loves doing dishes with me, but that's not even on the list!  I reminded them today, though, so we'll see what happens.
 So, there ya have it!  A whole mess of this and that!  Hope it completes your lazy Saturday like nothing else could.  If not, how about this?

St. Augustine, FL
April 2010

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fill-In #27

1.What do you usually want to know about someone when meeting them for the first time?
Honestly, I don't think I want to know anything specific the first time I meet someone.  I just want to visit, let the conversation flow.  But the second meeting...that's when I start to pry!  Not really.  But based on what happened at the first meeting, I may have some follow up questions at future meetings. 

2.Would you rather know everything about your spouse, or be regularly surprised?
Can I say both?  Scott and I grew up together, there isn't much we don't know about each other.  But there are still surprises as we grow even more, together and individually.  I like knowing we can always discover new things and have a solid foundation together.

3.If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would you live?
Isn't that the million dollar question?  Scott and I have thrown around many ideas and still don't know where we'll retire to after his Navy career is over.  We're not even sure when that will be...but that's another question.  There are things we love about Washington and talk about retiring here.  The one big thing it's missing here, though, is family.  And we like our family...so we'll probably head back to New York.  We may settle someplace in the Rochester to Syracuse to Adirondacks area...is that specific enough?

4.When you go out of town, what one material thing do you ALWAYS take?
my purse? 

5.Using no more than 10 nouns, and ONLY nouns, describe yourself.
I really like this twist on describing myself.  Let me see...

As always, go see what everyone else has to say...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mixing It Up!

So, I was perusing the new books section at the library last week and found a fascinating book called The Wisdom of Your Child's Face, by Jean Hanner.  What really caught my eye was the subtitle: "Discover Your Child's True Nature with Chinese Face Reading."  The Chinese face reading part wasn't anything I'd ever heard of, but discovering my children's true natures...that sounded great!  I mean, I spend all day, every day with them.  Knowing their personalities, tendencies, differences in what nature has provided them might come in handy. 

What have I discovered with this cool find?  That Chinese face reading probably takes years to master.  I've had the book for about a week.  I don't have it down yet.  Here are the basics, though...the Chinese believe that our faces give hints of our futures and tell the tales of our pasts.  In our faces can be seen our personalities, our hardships, our joys.  Some of it is a little hard to accept at face value, if you will.  But I love the idea of it. 

Chinese face reading uses the shapes of our eyes, brows, hairlines, ears, chins, noses, even the little spot between the upper lip and nose, which I learned is called the philtrum, to determine which of the Five Elements are expressed most strongly in us.  The book is broken into sections for each of the Elements.  Within each section, the writing begins with anecdotes of children whose personalities are of that Element then moves on to tell which traits can be seen in a child who matches up.  I found myself nodding as I read through a few of them...

"Yes, this is Gracie!"

"Oh my goodness...that's so me!"

"OK.  No question here...this is Jace."

Tyler was a little less clear, perhaps because he's so young yet.  But I still think I know which Element is his, at least for now.  Hanner states that one element may be stronger in a child's face and personality early on, but then may change as they grow.  Also, there may be more than one Element at the forefront of their personalities.  So, here's what I think we've got going on...

I believe I'm of the Earth.  That Element's temperament is mothering (duh!), stable, patient, and diplomatic.  I think that fits me. 

Scott is Wood, I think.  Wood personalities tend to be direct, focused, strong, hard-working, yet flexible. 

Metal fits Jace.  These people tend to be visionaries, determined, persistent, and organized.

Without a doubt, Gracie is Fire.  She's dynamic and bright free spirit and a lover. 

Tyler was a little tricky, as I said.  But I think he might be lean toward Water, except that he does not like to be in water, unless it's the tub.  In Georgia he'd stand out in that insane heat and walk around the pool while the rest of us cooled off in the water.  The traits associated with water, though, are flexibility and calmness.  I also see a lot of Fire in him too.  So, I don't really know.

Even though I don't have Tyler figured out for sure, I do know that we've got a lot of personality going on! 

And, what am I taking from this exercise?  Well, I heard one time that people who are great in their fields had parents who didn't hold them back.  What if Barbara Walter's parents had shut her up every time she talked?  Or Oprah's?  What if a famous dancer (I don't know any names off the top of my head) was told to sit down every time he or she jumped off the couch.  What is Bill Gates wasn't allowed to stick his head in a book or open his own lemonade stand?  (I don't know if he ever really had a stand as a child...just saying...)

Ever since hearing that insight I've hoped I'm not hampering Gracie's spirit when I ask her not to laugh so hard.  I hope I'm not holding Jace back by telling him that he's not going to have a slew of people join his adventure club.  Hanner's book gave me another lens to look at their personalities through, another way of understanding their true natures.  Hopefully with these new descriptions of my children I can support them even more...somehow.  I can allow Jace his dreams of inventing everything from jet packs to a make-my-parents-let-me-do-what-I-want-inators.  I can hopefully encourage Gracie's love of dance, gymnastics, singing, and, of course, dressing pretty.  Tyler just wants to "play all day."  Doable.

As always, I'm looking for little ways, new philosophies, ideas and suggestions...whatever can help me be the best mother I can be* right now for these incredible kids.  Knowing which of the Five Elements each of my children expresses is another entry in my bag of tricks.

*Um...yeah...I'm totally an Earth Element mama! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On a Tangent

Mathematically speaking, a tangent is the single point where a line intersects a circle.  I'm going through a tangent right now...but a pretty impressive one.  For the purposes of this post, let's say circles are synonymous with cycles and that my life is like a line.  So where does my life intersect two circles at the one place they meet?  Read on...

In life there are many cycles.  The two most prominent in my life right now are my menstrual cycle and the emotional cycle of deployment (ECD) (that I mentioned in this post).  I know, now you're totally nervous to read this post, aren't you!  Fear not, I'm not talking about anything that will make you squeamish, just highlighting where I am emotionally. 

So, as I was saying...my menstrual cycle...I didn't used to have all of the not so joyful emotional mood swings you sometimes hear about.  Until a year or so ago I floated through this cycle is my life without too much hassle.  I had friends who talked about how angry or sad they'd get during certain times of the month and I tried not to doubt them, but I had no idea what they were so upset about.  Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) wasn't something I identified with at all.  Then, after Tyler was done nursing and my period worked itself into a new normal cycle my emotions definitely started to fluctuate with it. 

At first I was a bit entertained.  How did I have so little control over the almost rage I'd feel surge over minor things, like realizing I'd forgotten my drink in the kitchen after I just sat down in the living room?  I wondered why I'd break into tears over nothing, like spilled milk, if you don't mind the cliche.  It was amazing to me but, month by month, became more troublesome and less fascinating.  I think I now know what PMS* is.  I'm pretty sure I'd rather have been left in the dark, wondering what the big deal was. 

(*Wikipedia says that PMS can also be called PMT - Premenstrual Tension. I think I like that better. I like feeling like I could relax the extremes away.)

Over the past few months I've found ways to manage my emotional messiness, but it's still there.  And I'm right there, right now.

As for the ECD I'm solidly in stage three - Emotional Disorganization.  (See where this is headed?)  My favorite line from the link provided says that, "Wives often report feeling restless (though not productive), confused, disorganized, indecisive, and irritable."  I have to laugh at that.  Is someone watching me right now?  And I love that they point out "not productive."  Sweet. 

OK, now I'm just being sarcastic.  But seriously, you see the tangent I'm in the midst of right now, right?  I'm irritable, indecisive, and not productive while reacting irrationally and extremely to most every situation.  I'm a riot! 

I see it this way, though.  If this is a true tangent (and I'm praying that it is) it shouldn't happen again.  Yes, I'll go through the cycle of deployment again and I'll feel the tension of my menstrual cycle.  But I really hope that they will not intersect in the same way again.  But, if you see me out in public in sweats and my unwashed hair in a frayed pony tail...well, I might be here again.  The good news is - I haven't bitten any one's head completely off.  Yet.  So you might be OK.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day Book (January 17, 2011)


Outside my window...it's dark and cool.  Night has fallen, but it is taking longer each day for that to happen.  Spring is slowly on her way.

I am thinking...that I should get ready for bed and follow closely behind Jace.

I am thankful for...loving children, good friends.

From the learning rooms...where are those again?  We've fallen out of practice a bit and are working on getting back into the swing of things. Today we did some verbal math drills in the car, does that count?

From the kitchen...our meals are wonderfully primal.  Our snacking is still out of hand, in part because we're not home for some reason.  But we're cooking together still and enjoying that experience.

I am wearing...my husband's Navy sweats, pretty much what I live in at home now.  I do have socks and a bright pink t-shirt on as well!

I am creating...space to play and read with my children without distraction.

I am going...several different directions.  Everything on my plate is important to me, and honestly I don't feel like I've taken on too much, but there is a lot there.  Don't worry, though...there's always room for dessert!

I am reading...The Wisdom of Your Child's Face, by Jean Harner.  It's fascinating.  Turns out that Gracie's full of fire!  No real surprise there, huh?

I am hoping...that the rest of the week isn't stressful with everything that's going on.

I am hearing...a commercial and the hum of the computer.

Around the house...Tyler is sleeping, Gracie is not, although she should be, and Jace is playing until his bedtime.

One of my favorite things...not feeling alone.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Probably the most exciting is that we're going to drive the truck this week, starting tomorrow!  Other than that we have meetings, errands, hopefully some school gets done. 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

A piece of artwork created by a friend of mine from high school, John Paul Gelser.

Military Monday Blog Hop

Another set of questions (love them) and another way to meet more military families online (love that too).  Welcome to Military Monday Blog Hop!

This little festival of friendly fun is brought to you by
     and     Photobucket

I, however, learned about it through one of my favorite, peace filled, and thought provoking sites:

So, visit them one and all!  Join in the blog hop (that's always fun!) or just find new people to follow, laugh, and cry with.  Either way...enjoy your time here and I hope to see you again soon!

Now, for my Q&A.

1. Tell us about the name of your blog...
I enjoy writing and I'm pretty transparent.  My blog title, Live it. Love it (or not). Write about it., reflects those things.  You can find posts on here about everything from our Navy life and how we raise our kids to eating and living healthfully.  I also do review of our homeschooling units and through in crazy things the kids say and do!   

2. Where are you from?
Born and raised in Western New York and married the boy down the road.  After spending the first six years of our marriage in Washington state, and being back here again, this feels like home too.

3. Why do you blog? 
Because I enjoy writing, sharing stories, and letting others know it's OK not to be perfect!  I try to write about all aspects of our lives and maybe someone else reads something and they can identify with it.  I know I like feeling less alone in my crazy world, it's my goal to provide that comfort for others as well.  Plus, it lets our family and friends who don't see us all the time keep up with what's going on in our lives!
4. Do you have any blogging goals for this year?
Nothing formal.  I just want to keep doing it.  Maybe in a few years I'll want to make something more of this outlet, but for now it's a great release for me and not a job.  We'll see where it takes me...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just a Little FYI

So, I've been thinking for some time about doing a give away.  I still haven't decided what that give away will be.  But I have figured out when!  That's exciting for me. 

I just realized I have 41 followers.  Who knew!?  When I hit 50 followers I'll post the give away details!  So, tell your friends and lets see how quickly we can get to 50! 

(By the way...if I don't notice that I've hit 50 followers and you do because you're on the edge of your seat waiting to see what I come up with next...just send me a message or comment to draw my attention to that fact.  Thanks!)

Can I get a "Woo hoo!!"?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Fill-In #26

It's been a while!  Between Wifey's holiday and homecoming break and my bread for no good reason other than life took over...I haven't been very consistent with these little questionnaires.  But, I think I'm ready to be back at it!  Woo hoo! 

1.What are you looking forward to most in 2011? from Jessica Lynn Writes

Visitors.  As a family of five we're not going to be flying home (WA to NY) on a whim anytime soon.  So, I'm really excited to see the family that can come see us here.  We've got several on the books for March and April and hopefully some more this summer!

2.What is something random you do on a boring night when your significant other is away? from Lovin Ma Soldier

You mean other than answer questions on my blog?  Seriously, though, I do that even when he is around.  So, something I do when he's not around...I watch a lot of Dateline, 48 Hours, Real Forensics...that sort of thing.  They're not his favorites and I am simply amazed by how screwed up people can be. 
3.What has been your greatest adventure as a MilSpouse? from Misadventures of An Army Momma

I feel like right now is my greatest adventure.  Only recently have I realized that I'm in a unique position.  I'm an officer's wife, he's prior enlisted, and I'm on the FRG board.  Bottom line?  I have a lot of people to interact with and a lot of avenues to try when working towards improvements.  I don't fit a stereotype (that I know of) and that's perfect for who I try to be. 

4.What is the ugliest fashion trend you ever bought into (I’d like to make fun of you, so can you please provide a picture as well)? from More Than An Army Wife

I don't know about ugly, but perhaps behind the times.  In middle and high school (early and mid 90's) we were reluctant to let go of the 80's and boldly blended our grunge with our leg warmers! 
5.What was the high point of last month?

Last month had a high point?  Honestly it was a rough month.  I don't even want to think about it long enough to pick out a high point, so I'll just focus on the future. 

Don't forget to go check out other people's answers and join in yourself!  See ya next week!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quotes From Today

"But, Mama...we're always touching something."


"We are not a family of petite feet.  Sorry."


"Why is Tyler crying over getting a shot?  It's not like he's getting shot by a gun."


(Recognizing the number 3)
"This is three like me."


"I think I just saw our gymnastics teacher in the awesome store."
(This is how Jace refers to Victoria's Secret.)
"Very nice.  We're not going to say hello."
"Why not?  Is it because she's looking at underwear?"
"Yes, yes it is."


"Don't tell Dada we're having ice cream for dinner.  He'll be mad."
"No he won't!  He'll be jealous.  We still shouldn't tell him."


"You can't have alcohol for snack."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lighthearted Randomness

I realized today that I've been pretty heavy on here lately...all this talk of missing my husband, helping the kids deal with patrol, matters of faith and heart...

It all has it's place, but it's time for something to maybe leave a smile on your face, and mine.  So, here are some random facts or realizations from our recent lives.

1.  My random number of exaggeration has been 42 recently.  I'm not sure why but I keep hearing myself say things like, "I've already told you 42 times..." or "I'll be right there.  Just give me a minute or 42."  I don't know the significance of it.

2.  String cheese gets stuck in the barrel of a Nerf gun.  The good news is that putting darts in and pulling the trigger repeatedly will dislodge said cheese stick, at least if it's not a whole one.  A whole one might require more.  But pieces are dislodged, shot across a room, picked up and eaten. 

3.  Massages that require icing afterwards not only leave you sore, but also have you sitting up straighter, meaning you need to adjust the rear view mirror before driving.

4. Increased water pressure and too much toilet paper can lead to overflowing toilets.

5.  It takes approximately 42 days for mail to get from GA to WA.*

*I may be exaggerating slightly, but probably not all that much.  Seriously.

6.  It is possible to return a book to the library and for it to not get scanned in, even though the librarian I spoke to thought that preposterous.  But when she came back on the phone and admitted the book was on the shelf, she found this situation so amazing that she suggested I buy a lotto ticket - I was that lucky!  I didn't.

7.  Apparently parts of the recliner I'm sitting in are held together with Velcro.  Tyler's found it.  Lovely.

8.  Preparations have begun for birthday celebrations (May and June).  Tyler would like a Dukes cake or Thomas cupcakes.  Gracie would like a Fancy Nancy princess cake and a horse for a present.  Jace would like either a cake shaped like the General Lee or a Navy SEALs cake.  He's leaning toward the SEALs cake with water, land and "little cake guys with M20 rifles."  I should be thankful he's not asking for helicopters in the air too.

9.  Gracie can come up with a new ailment every night in order to get out of bed and get me out of my chair to check out what ever's wrong.  Here are some examples...toe hurts, foot hurts, knee hurts, throat hurts, bottom hurts, head hurts...yeah, mine too.  Go to bed.

10.  Many people ask for more hours in the day.  I think I'd like less.  If there were more I'd need to function for longer, fit more in, get more done.  I definitely think fewer hours are in order.

There you have it...a little peek into our world.  Hope you have a wonderfully random, short day, filled with dreams, cheese, and Nerf guns!

Monday, January 10, 2011


"Be still and know that I am God."  ~Psalm 46:10

I don't think I realized that this psalm was probably in my heart when I picked my theme word for 2011.  

A little back story...I went to college at St. Bonaventure University.  Associated with the school was Mt. Irenaeus, a mountain retreat run by some friars and open to everyone for prayer, reflection, peace, and always a good meal!  Fr. Dan Riley is one of the friars who not only helps keep the Mountain be everything it can be, but he also is involved with several programs on campus.  He was a mentor of mine in many ways and even married Scott and I.  And he has been known to quote this psalm and break it down. 

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still

So, there you have it...God's speaking to me using fond memories and new technology.  He sure knows how to get to me, doesn't He?  Especially when I'm not even looking for it. 

So, I want to focus on being this coming year, including being more present and intentional in several aspects of my life...like my writing, my children, my faith.  So, how'm I doing? 

Well, as you can see...I'm writing.  I'm not sure "how'm" is really great writing, but it's what you're going to get these days!  Seriously, though, I haven't done anything to be more present and intentional in my writing.  To meet that goal I like to begin writing for publication and submitting.  Without those two steps, I'm never going to get published.  So, I'll get a move on...some time.  Not yet.  And I'm good with that.  I can only handle so much at once and I'm handling a few other things at the moment.  I'll be more in my writing before the end of the year.  Promise.

My children...well, I think I'm doing pretty well there.  We've sat and watched movies together, without my being on the computer.  We've turned off the television and played with toys or read books without distraction.  We've gone a a few family walks.  Things are improving there, not huge differences, but subtle ones that mean something to me. 

My faith is still a work in progress, as faith often is.  I don't know what religion I identify most with.  I actually took an online quiz to see where my beliefs placed me.  I know...pretty sad, right?  But the thing is that I kind of feel like I've tried to squeeze into the rules of Catholicism and it hasn't fit right for a long time.  So I thought I'd go from the other direction.  The top three answers I got were Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, and Neo-Pagan.  I haven't done much with that yet...but it's a start. 

I do have to say, though, that today's realization that Fr. Dan's breakdown of psalm 46:10 tells me something.  I'm not sure what, yet, other than He's listening.  He's there.  He hasn't walked from me and knows I haven't walked from Him.  I also think, maybe, God's telling me it's perfectly acceptable to only tackle what I can handle.  I might just be reading into things since this is one of those weeks where I'll be taking one day at a time...looking too far ahead is stressing me a bit.  So, in terms of my faith...I think it's OK with God if I'm simply at be and not sure what my path is to "Be still and know that I am God."

I'll work my way there though, in time.

Be still
Be still and know
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I am God

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Do You Do It: Missing Dada

Yesterday I wrote a post about how much I love my husband, Scott, even though he many not be Prince Charming.  Today I thought I'd focus on his role as daddy, or in our house - Dada.  He's pretty special there too.  All three kids love their father.  Tyler even admits it sometimes, but not always.  He's probably more like Scott than either Jace or Gracie, and he gives him the hardest time.  It's quite humorous from the outside.  And I don't think Scott takes it too personally.  Thank goodness.  But, when a father is loved, picked on, and looked up too so much, how do you handle a patrol? 

For those who aren't submariners or family members, patrols are about a three month period where Scott is basically out of touch.  He isn't gone for a year or 15 months, like some deployments overseas.  He's not even gone for six to nine months, like surface ships and their fleets.  The biggest difference, in my opinion, is that we have no contact with him.  I can send emails.  They go out and might get to him, might not.  He may or may not have a chance to send a quick note back.  But, there are no phone calls, no regular contact via email or postal mail.  And we're in the midst of a patrol now.

So, how did Scott and I prepare the kids for missing Dada? 

Some families actually video tape bedtime stories or hello messages.  We didn't do that, but we did get a recordable book called All The Ways I Love You, that Scott recorded for them.  We read it twice the first night he left and several times since.  Gracie and Tyler have each pulled it down on their own and read it.  Jace hasn't, that I've seen, but he will go sit next to the other two when they're reading it. 

We got a selection of cards for the kids to open up every week or so.  They're in the "missing you" and "thinking of you" vein.  Today we opened out first and it talked about sending a hug for every day of the week.  The kids are saving up hugs now for Dada when he returns!  Hope he's ready!

I got the kids "daddy" shirts to wear when they miss him. 

"Navy Kid
Toughest job in the Navy"

"My daddy plays in the water"

"Sailor's little girl"
 They love their shirts.  Before the next patrol we night need to get another option because I'm doing a lot of laundry making sure their shirts are clean and ready to be worn!  

And, tonight, Jace and I made submarines for dinner.  They were messy, but totally fun!  Basically, I cooked up some link sausages and let them cool enough to touch.  Jace mixed up some pancake mix, but didn't add all the liquid.  We then smooshed the pancake mixture around the sausages and baked in the frying pan.

What do you think?  We only made eight and they made the rest of the batter, with added water, into regular pancakes.  The submarines were messy to make! 

But they were totally fun to eat!  Jace thought it would be fun to get a black edible marker and paint them black like a real sub and then write "730" on them!  (The USS HENRY M. JACKSON is #730 and is Scott's boat.)  I think he's quite creative, but I'm glad they're nicely browned and not black!

So, that's what we do...not too much, not too little.  We talk about Dada all the time.  We look at pictures and share memories about him, much the same way we do with Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, friends.  We have a lot of loved ones who don't live near us...we make them a part of our lives in little ways, even if they don't know it!  We do the same for Scott.  We joke about what he might be eating for lunch when we go to the mall and get Kataluma Chai shakes.  We wonder if he gets to watch Dukes of Hazzard at night.  And we make plans for when he gets back...hiking, playing choo choo, cuddling, reading books.  Sometimes we laugh.  Sometimes we cry.  All of it's perfectly acceptable here. 

We miss Dada.  Nothing wrong with that!  And there are lots of ways to miss him, but this is how we're doing it.  How do you you handle your kids missing their loved ones?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Prince Charming

A friend of mine recently mentioned arranged marriages.  The first thought I had was a comment my mom made when I was in 5th grade.  I'd never thought of it as her arranging anything, but she definitely put the thought in my mind and if my parents had been in the business of arranging marriages, they may have actually chosen the same way I did.

See, in 5th grade I liked two boys: Joe Marcin and Scott Gebel. 
It depended on the week who I liked more.  But one day my mom and I must have been talking about who I liked and she mentioned Scott and I said, "What?  Scott?  No way.  He's too boring.  I like Joe."
I don't think I could see Mom's face, but it was a while ago so I can't say for sure.  But I feel like I heard her smile more than I saw it when she responded, "You're probably going to end up marrying Scott."

I don't know how the rest of that chit chat went.  I probably said, "Whatever!" and walked away.  That sounds like something a pre-teen would do.  Most likely I rolled my eyes too.
A few years later those swimmers shoulders and too-tight jeans had my attention.  Joe was still a good friend, but never anything more.  But, Scott...he became more.  He probably was way back in middle school when Mom first planted that seed.

In the movies Prince Charming often wears armor or a cape.  He's riding a brilliant steed or driving a fancy car.  And always...he's charming.  Scott is many things...but charming probably isn't one of the adjectives others would use to describe him.  He's direct, honest, confident, loyal, smart, strong, motivated, loving.  He's more than I could have asked for.  In fact, he's more than I thought I was getting!  He's incredible, truly, but not necessarily charming.  He'll likely never think of a candlelit dinner as his ideal date night.  He rarely buys me flowers or jewelry.  And I'd have to really beg to get him to take me to a play. 
Perhaps he's not Prince Charming.

I did fall in love with him over pizza and wings and Euchre games.  He did smell like the farm for many years and break up with me days before our senior trip.  He may like to watch Two and A Half Men because Charlie makes him look good.  This is the man who chose me. 
 Or, as my dad is fond of saying, I chased him until he caught me. 

Even though he may not be Hollywood's idea of perfection and charm...he's mine.  There's not a better match out there for me.  There's not a man who could hold my attention like Scott does.  No matter what you call him, what adjectives you use, he's my match, my mate, my friend, my love. 
My husband.

And, by the way...I'm no princess. 
But today, tomorrow, and always...I'll be Scott's wife.

To Teach or Not To Teach?

A few months ago I attended a conference about unschooling.  I thought I wrote about it on here, but I've poured over my posts and can't seem to find anything about it!  Hmm...wonder why that is.  It might be because I was a little scared by the concept after I heard from the radical unschoolers on the panel. 

I went to the conference because I was intrigued by the idea of letting learning take place when and where it takes place.  Come to find out, there's a spectrum of ideas under the umbrella of unschooling, and my thoughts about it barely dipped my toes in the water.  The men and women on the panel allow their kids to choose what they eat and when they eat it, when they go to bed, or not.  In radical unschooling, "no" isn't heard very often.  I knew that that sort of thing wasn't my style and wouldn't work in our homeschool.  But I still liked the idea of letting the children's interests lead us.

I've said from the beginning that our style was interest led unit studies, so I guess the conference didn't change me too much, but it did make me aware of different styles out there and possibly more aware of all the things my kids pick up even without my trying. 

This past week the kids have shown how well they learn when they're interested.  Jace loves all things military these days...and the last several months, possibly years.  Anyway, he gets at least one book from the library every time we go on tanks, submarines, special forces, etc.  At a pancake breakfast a week ago he got all the kids together to form the KF, Kid Forces.  That way they could take us adults down if we got out of hand.  He's totally into it! 

So, this past week we've been learning about submarines.  Dada is out to sea and Gracie wanted to know more about his boat and I didn't figure Jace would mind.  We read about many different kinds of subs, some that carry SEALs, who then get out and swim to their destinations.  There was a little blurb about the SEALs.  I started to read it and then I asked Jace before I read it when the SEALs were started.  "1962," he said, without having to think very hard.  Then he went on to tell me that SEALs stands for SEa, Air, and Land.  Did you know that? 

And Gracie, may not have known that yet, although she probably does now, but she is picking things up too.  Her reading is improving by leaps and bounds.  In fact that seems to be how she makes her progress.  She seems really interested in reading sometimes and then looses interest for a while.  I haven't pushed it when she's been less interested.  This morning, out of the blue, she asked if she could read me a book, instead of her normal request for me to read to her.  I said, "Sure." 

She grabbed a library book.  It was one that I'd seen her with, but I hadn't read to her yet.  She sat on my lap and read me the book!  I was so proud. 

I think it just goes to show...schooling, homeschooling, unschooling...following a curriculum, preparing unit studies, or setting them free...teaching or not teaching...they'll learn.  I love it!  They're learning!

I get so excited every time I realize it over again!  They're really learning.  Probably not everything their counterparts are in Kindergarten and second grade.  Maybe not more, maybe not less.  I don't really know.  But they're definitely learning.  I'm giving their teacher a gold star.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Few Little Stories...

I haven't updated you lately on the kids.  So, I thought I'd give you a few glimpses into our life lately. 

Jace was reading a book he got for Christmas that tells how kids have played a part in history (Kids Make History: A New Look at America's Story, but Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock).  He asked me if I remembered anything about September 11, 2001.  Earlier he had asked if I remember 1963, but I set him straight.  I don't remember the dinosaurs either.  Anyway, I told him about my day on 9/11.  The short version is that I woke up here in Washington and turned the television on to news coverage of the towers going down.  I knew Scott would be busy at work and figured we were far enough from everything that life as usual would be going on.  So, I went to school.  I was in grad school at the time.  In our classes there we discussed all sorts of issues around the attacks and our feelings and fears.  Then, on my way home, Scott called and we went out to dinner and called our families to tell them we were OK.  We hadn't gone straight home because we lived on base and the lines to get on the base were crazy long.  After I shared my memories Gracie commented, "That was a long day!"

I replied that it was, "But, there were many people who had even longer days - wondering where their loved ones were or helping to search the ruins of the buildings."

Jace didn't skip a beat, "Yeah, but it was a really short day for the people that died.  The first plane hit the tower at 8:46 am."

Of course, he was right.


A friend off the boat was over last night and Gracie asked her, "Did you know my mom and dad have only been married for a decade?" 

My friend said, "Really?  Only a decade, huh?"


Tyler's talking more and more.  I'm understanding him less and less.  If he says just one sentence I can usually figure it out, most times.  But when he goes on and on, which he sometimes does when he's really excited about something, I just stare at him blankly.  When I do that though he gets a little exasperated with me.  He'll sigh heavily and shout, "Mama!  Listen me."  I'm pretty sure if he could snap his fingers he would.  Once he's gotten the glazed over look out of my eyes he'll start talking again.  "K.  Jay an Seesee play downstair with lo.  Day play with my Buzz Light lo and me want play.  Me go downstair play lo.  You play lo me?"  (Translation:  "Jace and Gracie are playing downstairs with Legos.  They're playing with my Buzz Lightyear Legos and I want to play.  I'm going downstairs to play with my Legos.  Do you want to play with me?"  And that was an easy one!) 

I've got some paperwork to fill out to get Tyler an IEP and an evaluation to see if he needs more speech therapy.  I'll keep you posted.


I feel like there are more stories to share, but I'm tired and need some beauty sleep, which is more for a pretty mood in the morning than anything else, but it's still vitally important! 

The kids are good...they're funny as ever and when not driving me nuts, keep my smiling. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Self-reflection and Thanks

Ladies, ladies...thank you so much for the pats on the back and the encouragement.  I really don't think I'm a horrible mother.  I do, however, think I have not-so-great moments.  I'm human.  What can I say?

I am very thankful that you all responded so quickly and with such certainty that my kids are in good hands.  Here's a little bit of an email my dearest friend sent me after reading my confession:

You want to know why you're a Super Mom? Because after you got done scolding your kids and making them pick up, you went upstairs and realized you'd perhaps vented a little misplaced frustration and realized that your kids are just being kids (and not bad ones), you cried because you're a Super Mom. Unsuper Moms don't realize those things. Unsuper Moms tromp upstairs and fume about their pain in the ass kids and absent husbands. If Unsuper Moms cry it's because they realize they can't off their offspring without being caught, and they're stuck with them for years to come, and it's only going to get worse. Super Moms accept hugs from their 5 yr olds and wonder if they're doing irreparable damage...which you're not. If your kids end up in therapy because of you, its going to be for something you do years from now....I can guarantee you haven't earned Unsuper-status yet and aren't going to any time soon. I'm betting on no parentally-earned therapy for your kids, period.
I love that she doesn't discount the idea that I could do something in the future that will put my kids in therapy!  Her support is laden with humor!  However, I think I might agree with what she's getting at.  I don't claim to be super anything, really, but I do think that there is something to realizing our mistakes.  Even in the moments where I haven't known what to do with a certain parenting situation and I thought I might be at my wits end, I haven't wanted to give them up.  I do love these three monkeys.  I do love their father.  It's a good thing.

And I like that I'm honest with the kids.  I think it's a good thing that I can admit to them when I've made a mistake or when the strength of my yelling wasn't quite proportionate with the transgression they committed.  I even think I'm getting better at letting go of the frustration and moving on to play Legos, read books, watch movies...have fun with the kids again.  I have noticed how quickly the kids move past being in trouble and I'm making a conscious effort (being intentional in 2011) to do so as well.   

I've always been honest with the kids about my emotions, which are many!  They know that sometimes I don't want to read a book because I'm tired and sometimes its because I'm lazy and sometimes its because I'm annoyed.  They also know that in five or ten minutes they can ask if I'm still feeling that way and I'm probably not and will likely read them a book.  So, even when Scott's gone, I'm not "strong for them," as some people try to be.  Instead, they know that I'm sad, that I miss him, and that crying about it sometimes is OK.  It's perfectly acceptable to wear our "daddy" shirts and talk about him.  It's also OK to have fun while he's gone and share those stories with him.  And we're all in it together.

Lastly, I'm making an effort to get to sleep earlier.  I'm currently trying to find the balance between a little kid-free me time after their bedtimes and the longer amount of time it takes me to actually get to sleep without Scott.  It's a tricky balance.  I am also over my cravings for Mt. Dew, which is spectacular to say.  I know some of you thought I was being a little hard on myself for having this one little vice.  But it wasn't little and it wasn't one.  It was a daily habit (often more than one a day) in a diet that is reasonably healthy otherwise.  And the cycle of caffeine, including the crash, was not something that I enjoyed.  I much prefer healthy eating, adequate sleep, and stable moods.  I'm sure the kids do too!  So, we're well on our way to "back on track" with that!

OK, one more thing...

I didn't write yesterday's post to fish for parenting compliments.  I like to be real.  I am real.  I want to put myself out there so other parents, spouses, whomever reads my writings know that they're not alone.  We all shine sometimes and we all need a lot of polishing other times.  Thank you for all rubbing you guys do!  Hopefully I can help you put a little gleam in your armor when you need it too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Tell me about your relationship with your mother..."

I know it's not always the mother that is the root of all mental health issues, but lately I feel like it is going to be me that the kids will have deep seeded issues they'll need to work out on some one's couch some day.  Does anyone still use a couch?  Probably...probably those that cost an arm and a leg...good thing Gracie has several jobs lined up and Jace is crazy smart and Tyler's going to be a robber.  That way they can pay for all the therapy I feel like I'm setting them up for. 

(For the record, I don't think Tyler's going to be a robber - Jace does.  I see him more as a cool high school teacher and coach.)

OK, I'm hopefully not really causing that much mental anguish, but I kind of feel like I'm a total wreck and, therefore, not being a great mama.  Last night I walked downstairs to look at the classroom, which I hadn't thought about in a week and a half.  I blew.  I yelled every one's name and scolded them for the mess and yelled at them to clean it up.  I made myself very clear that anything that was in my way this morning when I came down to teach them would get put in a garbage bag and thrown into the garbage bin.  Then I stomped upstairs immediately regretting the yelling, what I said, how I said it. 

Our classroom is also our playroom.  There are Legos (a lot of Legos) that are allowed to stay out and set up on a coffee table very near our classroom table.  So, obviously, when not kept in check, the little Lego men expand their lands under the table and on the table and wherever else they can think of.  It only makes sense.  And Gracie likes to color and those materials are in a cart right next to the table too.  So, again, when not kept in check, they'll get left on the table and dropped on the floor.  I haven't been checking.  The kids are 7, 5, and 3 years old...they haven't been caring.  Of course the table is covered and the floor is covered.  Of course. 

Of freakin' course! 

So I cried.  I haven't been sleeping well, although not for lack of trying.  I miss my husband more than I thought I would, which probably sounds bad, but honestly he hasn't been around much the last few months anyway, so I didn't think his not being around at all would hurt so much.  That probably doesn't sound any better.  Anyway, I'm also trying to kick the treats of the holidays and my old friend Mt. Dew to the curb and might be suffering from withdrawal.  Whatever the reasons...I cried. 

And Gracie came up from cleaning up the classroom and gave me a big hug, and apologized for frustrating me by not picking up her toys.  The first thing that came to mind was the fact that abused women often apologize to their abusers for 'making them' so angry.  That's when I thought that it may not always be the mom, but in our case it might be.

And, while I sit here writing this, Tyler is sitting next to me counting the letters on my shirt.  (I didn't know he could count to six!)  And then he asked me what my t-shirt says.


That's the shirt...and when I read it to him?  You guessed it - I cried!  See?  I'm a wreck!  I don't feel super anything...except tired.  That definitely describes me these days.  

So, what's my point?  I don't want to be the reason my kids seek therapy in the future, but I fear that life isn't always about what I want.  Bummer, huh?