Sunday, November 6, 2016

Deployment.

First my confession: When Robert told me he had been selected for this round of deployments, I wasn't exactly thrilled. I, just like most military wives (I suspect), went through a gamut of emotions. Some of them weren't so pretty.

Deployments stink for many reasons - the time apart, the likelihood that there's no family close by to help, the stress and worry about someone you love being in a danger zone, the mental strain of going from a dual parent household to a single parent household and then back again. It's basically a huge period of coping and adjustment followed by another huge period of coping and adjustments.

Unhappy woman
Photo credit: emmatiebens.com
However, we are pretty fortunate. At least Robert has a military job now that doesn't require him to be gone very often. In 13 years in the Air Force, this is his third deployment. It's the first time he's been sent to a combat zone by the Air Force and this is the first time he's missed Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Army life was, by far, much harsher. And that's considering that we weren't even married when he was in the Army. 

Once I had moved into the acceptance stage of the reality of this deployment, I started trying to think of something I could do to let Robert know how much he is valued and would be missed by the kids and I.

I had an idea of writing him a letter every day - something grand and kind of old-fashioned -- like you did before email and technology and whatnot. I guess I'm too used to the instant gratification of technology and social media, because in thinking about it, between the cost of stamps and the time delay of getting from here to there, I decided to email every day instead. It's not the grand romantic gesture I first imagined, but at least he gets a letter of sorts every day from me.

And as deployments go, this first part has been okay. The kids and I are staying busy and we are still around everything safe and familiar so we have the easy part. Plus, we have had neighbors and friends make sure we know they are there should we need anything. I cannot express how grateful we are for all the love and support. I know that it puts Robert's mind at ease as well to know that we have support at the ready. So from the bottom of all our hearts, thank you for the love and words of encouragement we've gotten. Here's hoping the rest of this deployment goes as well as the first part and that at this time next year, it's all a hazy memory.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Start of a New Era

::taps mic::

Um, hello. Is there anybody out there?

(FYI - Now I have Pink Floyd lyrics in my head. Earworms.)

It's been almost seven months since my last confession blog post. I'd say I'm sorry, but you know? I'm not really. Life happens and that's okay.

There have been so many changes. I am in the process of growing a spine, and while it's been slow going and more painful than expected, I feel like I'm finding my way back to myself again. That's good. I've been lost and pretending not to be for ages. I finally got tired of the charade.

Image result for getting my life together memes
Trying to get my life together. Credit: Memes.com
Robert is currently away on his last military deployment. There is a lot of unknown stretching out in front of us for the next year, but deep, deep down inside I am at peace with all the change. That's something new and different for me. Usually I fight change with every fiber of my being.

I spent a lot of time volunteering last year. A lot of time. I learned many valuable lessons. I met some incredible people. I also met some assholes, but that's just life, kids.  This is all going to tie together in the next little bit, so bear with me. I'm normally super long winded (Universe: Duh! Me: Cut me some slack, willya? Universe: *fake snoring*) but I am trying my best to keep this short and to the point.

After much obsessive over-analysis, elliptical therapy, therapy in general, and a genuine desire to get my shit together for good, I have come to the following conclusion.

I am not willing to be afraid of life anymore. It's time to dive right in to the ocean of life instead of sticking my big toe in once every three to twelve months. It may be messy, it may be hilarious, it will probably be a big ol' hot mess, but it's gonna happen.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Thanks for reading. See you soon.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why, hello generation gap

The other day Sara asked me if I've ever heard the song Me, Myself, and I. I told her yes, which started the endless repeat of this song in my mind.

Not too much later, I figured out we were talking about different songs. She meant this one.

Do we even want to talk about the difference in the messages?

Image result for funny memes about musicI played De La Soul for her and to her credit she listened to it with me. It finished, she thought for a moment, and then said, "That is the worst song ever. Please never make me listen to it again."

#ParentalFail

Because of my love for all kinds of music, I really thought I would remail at least fairly up to date until the kids were well into their teens. But then it hit me, I rarely listen to the radio any more. It's not possible to be familiar with something you never hear.

Image result for funny memes about generation gap musicSo for my New Year's Resolution for 2017, (and yes, I'm calling it now), I will be listening to more radio. And then I will try to figure out a way to bleach my brain from all that noise they are passing off as music.

Oh God. Forget turning into my parents, I'm turning into my Grandparents.

'Tis a sad day, indeed.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Exploring Minot

When we lived in Asheville I had two years and a grand plan to explore and take pictures, then blog about it. It never really happened. I became a bit of a hermit (still don't regret it),  and when the four of us left Asheville for good, it was with much more relief than regret.

But, that was then, and this is now. (Hello, nice to meet you, I will be your Captain. Captain Obvious, obviously.)

I love living in Minot. So today we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather (58!!!!!) and explored downtown a little. I even had my camera! So, without further ado, here's a little Minot for you!
Sara was in the mood to have her picture taken, so I took advantage. 

A man comfortable in his own skin will carry his daughter's purse if she asks him to. 

Love the colors in this one!

Looks like a place to revisit minus the kids!

Downtown Minot. I love old buildngs!

We found a cookie shop! 

How can you not take a picture of something like this?

I think this is my favorite shot of the day. I have no idea why, though. 

More buildings

A hearse. Just because it was there and I had a camera. 

Heading back home. There's also a lot of nothing around here. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I Make Myself Tired

I'm tired.  I mean, I am when-I-sit-down-and-get-still-I-fall-asleep tired. Every time I sit. Every. Time.  I've also been wanting ice, so I wonder if my iron level is low again. I wish they had a home testing kit for that, like the ones to check your blood sugar. Actually, I wish there was a device like in science fiction movies or series that could just scan you and tell you what was wrong. :beep beep beeep beeep: Your iron is low and you are not getting the required amount of rest. Please eat some spinach and take a short nap. Beeeep:
www.brainlesstales.com

Of course I also wish I could just swallow a nutritional pill and not worry about eating because deciding when, what, how much of it and how often is frankly just about a full time job when I'm trying to eat clean. Which, yes, I am trying to do and which, yes, I am failling miserably this week.



Healthy motivated me: what's for breakfast?
Unhealthy unmotivated me: Cupcakes. Lots of 'em.
Healthy motivated me (HMM): no, no. That's not even a little acceptable.
Unhealthy unmotivated me (UUM): Fine. Then have some Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
HMM: What? No way! Protein, protein is what's for breakfast.
UMM: (snorts derisively) Girl, please. That means cooking and ain't nobody got time for that today!
HMM: Psh. It takes three minutes to cook an egg.
UMM: (in a singsong voice) But then you have to do diiiiiishes. If you eat pop tarts, there are no diiiiiishes.
HMM: Oh stop it! No pop tarts!
UMM: Chips?
HMM: NO! Stop it right now!
UMM: You know, there's probably some Halloween candy around here somewhere. OOORRRRRRR, you need to go to the store. You could just get yourself a little treat....like a Kit-Kat because you DESERVE a break. And maybe a Coke. You drink a lot of water, just drink more water today and flush that right outta your system.
HMM: Arggghhhhhhh! Shut up already!!!
www.quotes.lifehack.org
UMM: You know what, it's already lunch time in Europe. You should just make a pizza. You could even make it a breakfast pizza if you are going to be a stickler about sticking to proper meals at proper times. Yuuuummmmm, pizzzzzaaaaaaa.
HMM: No, NO, NOOOO! No pizza, no soda, no candy, no junk. Stop trying to push me off the wagon already.
UMM: (Laughs heartily) Oh, that's cute. You think I'M pushing you off the wagon? You have been dangling off the wagon since you halfheartedly climbed on. Did you not have a burger for dinner last night? Hmmm?
HMM: Yes, I did have a burger. I eat well a large percentage of the time, I am allowed to have a burger from time to time.
UMM: How do you explain those fries, then?
HMM: Um...actually, that's a good point. The fries were unnecessary and a very bad decision.
UMM: (Smugly) See? You've already ruined this week. It's Thursday today, you may as well just eat whatever you want today and start fresh on Monday. You don't have to tell anyone. It will be our little secret. Come on, you know you want to.
HMM: Of course I want to! My relationship with food is unhealthy. Always has been. But I can do this. I am going to do this. No matter what you say or how much  you try to get me off track.
UMM: Keep telling yourself that. This conversation is not over, but it's boring me and now I'm tired. I'm going to take a nap. You should take a nap too. You know you aren't sleeping well at night. What time did you go to sleep last night? 2? 3? You should take a nap and then eat something good, something that will get you going, make you feel better.
HMM: Yes, like a protein. I will have almonds.
UMM: Sure. Have almonds. I'm sure you can eat a 'healthy' portion right out of the bag without over eating. At 200 calories an ounce, mind you. 200 calories. And that food isn't even a true handful.
HMM: I am counting them out. I have a plan.
UMM: So you say. So. You. Say.


On second thought, no wonder I'm tired. I'm fighting myself all day long. Good grief.

Friday, November 27, 2015

In This Edition of Robert Was Right...

I love to bake. I find it relaxing and fun. While the outcome of my efforts is generally pretty tasty, I definitely don't have a decorator's touch. If my baked goods had a tagline, it would pretty much be: Not much to look at, but tastes delicious.

A few weeks ago, my friend Michele and I decided to combine our families for Thanksgiving. She is an incredible cook and baker, so I was pretty excited about this. I offered to bring mac and cheese, my step-mother's sweet potato casserole, and my mom's chocolate cake.

This cake is one of my favorite ones to make because not only is it super easy to make, it's light and fluffy and delicious.  Both Mom and I pair it with this yummy, fudgy icing that hardens when it cools. Not exactly a ganache, but pretty close.

I get up this morning and start cooking. Usually I make this cake in a sheet pan, simply becuase it's easier. But I felt all fancy today, so I made two layers instead.

The cake baked perfectly. While it cooled, I started the sweet potato casserole and the pasta, and whipped up a small batch of chocolate buttercream frosting to put between the layers.

Once that was done, I made the icing - combining butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and milk in a saucepan with a hand mixer. I poured it over the cake and smoothed it around the sides.

photo from www.gooddinnermom.com
It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was Martha Stewart worthy. It looked a lot like this picture.  

I was concerned about it setting up properly in the super warm kitchen, so I went to put the cake in the garage where it was nice and cool.

Robert offered to clear off a shelf for me to put it on, but I said no. The cake was on a tupperware base, and was stable, so I put it on top of the garbage bin. Robert, looking concerned, asked me if I was sure I wanted to leave it there. Sure, I said. It'll be fine.

Back to the kitchen I went to finish everything else and clean up. Once that was done, I went to peek at the cake. I open the door to the garage and......

photo from: www.kingarthurflour.com
There was no cake on top of the bin. There was no cake on the edge of the bin. The cake was on the floor. In giant, formerly delicious looking pieces. Sort of like this picture, except in the garage.

Oh no! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Robert hears my dismay and comes into the garage and then HE says, "OH NOOOOOOO!" Not "I told you so" or "You shouldn't have put it there", or "I was afriad of that". Which, let's be honest, I kind of deserved to hear.

It's just after 12 pm. We are supposed to be at Michele's by 2.  I used the last of my cocoa powder and the last of my powdered sugar making the beautiful, but now ruined cake. Now what?!?

Okay, what do I have that I can throw together that will be as good as the cake? Uh, nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. A big, ol' goose egg.

Think! Think, think, think!

Then I get the brilliant idea to call Antonia, a friend of mine that is also an amazing cook and baker, to see if she has any cocoa powder that I can borrow. She does and tells me to come right away. I throw on some shoes and my frazzled, disheveled, food splattered self jumps in my car and dashes over to her house.

But she doesn't just give me cocoa powder, she gives me Italian cocoa powder. Which, if you had asked me about before today, I would have said, "Cocoa powder is cocoa powder." Today, after baking with it, I can most assuredly tell you that there is a huge difference. HUGE.

Not only that, she MAKES me more powdered sugar. Like, produces it right in her kitchen like it's no big deal. I am grateful. Actually, grateful doesn't even begin to cover it.

I get the second cake done in time for us to make it to Michele's by 2. It's nothing short of a miracle. And, because I'm feeling a bit...sensitive about it, I have an overwhelming need to tell you that the second cake?  It was amazing.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Can I get an "AMEN!"

I have written before about being directionally challenged. I mean, I can eventually get to where I want to go. Eventually. But I think a GPS is flippin' great invention, and if I can get from point A to point B without having to ask for help? Well, then, I feel like a graduate of the  Charlie Sheen School of  #winning!

Image result for navigation (For those of you that read this that don't know me personally; yes, that was sarcasm.)

My husband and I are the perfect navigationally challenged pair. Drop that man into the desert, jungle, unpopulated anywhere and he can find his way out with or without a map. Will it be faster with a map and perhaps a compass? Um, yes. But drop ME in a desert, jungle, unpopulated anything and I will die. Either from not being able to find my way out (even with a map or a compass), from exposure or dehydration (starvation isn't really a factor if we are being totally honest), or from fright after either seeing a snake or any sort of predatory animal. Yes, I'm THAT much of a wuss. Don't judge.

Put my husband and I in a major city or highway and the roles reverse. I know it doesn't make sense. It does, however, make for some hilarious memories. The first weekend we spent together we planned to go to the Outer Banks. I asked him which way to go (before the GPS era in all fairness) and where did we end up? Hilton Head Island. Hey, it was still by the ocean and we had an amazing weekend. And, in his defense, he had just come back from 2 weeks in the field. He pretty much jumped in my car, pointed me to the highway, and then slept for the next 3 hours. 

So for our recent trip from North Carolina to North Dakota, we were sorta kinda better at planning. We had looked at the atlas for various routes, listened to the opinions of others that had traveled that general direction, asked Google's opinion, and then settled on a route. The fact that we didn't sit down until the night before we left and plot it out step by step is irrelevant. We had the general idea - go north or west while avoiding Chicago - and viola! Eventually we'd at least be near North Dakota.  Plus, we had a GPS in my car and we both have GPS on our phones. What could happen?!?!

Image result for wrong direction
Well, I'll tell you. Wrong directions happened, and plenty of them. We already knew from previous Honda GPS experiences that your best bet of getting a direct route to where you want to go is to have an address. This works so much better if you actually have an address. We weren't sure how far we would be able to drive each day, so we did not make hotel reservations in advance. Plus, in case of massive road construction or traffic jams, we wanted to be able to re-route without worrying about getting too off track. 

Day 1. We miss a segue from one major highway to another, which provided us the amazing opportunity to see some of Charleston, West Virginia in all it's edge-of-the-city glory. It was kind of like we were playing Pacman, but our cars were Pacman and the city was the level 7 board.  We also end up driving through a lot of rural Ohio. Very pretty. Probably not the most direct way, however. We decided where to stop for the night while having dinner, so we made hotel reservations (which gave us an address...score!) while eating and then headed for some much needed rest. We got another tour through a city via GPS routing so at least we knew where the gas stations were. 

Image result for navigationDay 2. Upon leaving the hotel, we realized that, had we gone several exits further on the interstate, we could have gotten to the hotel in 7 minutes versus the 23 minute through town detour from the night before. However, we knew exactly where to go to fill up with gas before we left, so it all worked out. We decided on the hotel for night number 2 before leaving the hotel from night number 1, so again we had an address.  Once again, the Honda GPS routed us through a 35 minute detour through one town, which was nice (we thought it was because of construction). However, had we stayed on the highway (where it turns out there was no construction), we could have saved 30 minutes. I'm not gonna lie, I was starting to think unkind thoughts about Honda and their navigation systems at this point. We get to the hotel with no problems at a reasonable hour and consider the day an overall success. 

Day 3. Once again, we realize that had we gone 2 miles further down the highway, our hotel would have been 2 minutes off the exit versus the 10 minute early exit route. I'm starting to become convinced that my in-car navigation system suffers from EES - early exit syndrome. Luckily, day 3 will be our last navigation day. I don't have the street address of the lodging facility on base, so I turn off my GPS once I see a sign for the base, and we find it without a single wrong turn. However, once again, had we gone to the second base entrance instead of the first, we would have been at lodging in 2 minutes versus the 7 it took us to navigate through the base. Oh well. The important thing is that we made it, right?!

Once settled in on base and starting to learn our way around, we decide to go see a movie in town. We know the movie theater is near the mall. We don't see it. So we program the address in the Honda navigation system. It takes us all the way around the mall, but we still don't see our destination, even though Honda says we have reached it. I pull out my phone and use my Google app, which apparently had gone completely insane from having to correct all the errors the Honda system has made in the last four days. The Google app directs us on a wide path around the mall perimeter and then gives up trying to navigate us at all, telling us "Turn right, then turn left. Turn right, then turn right. Turn left, then turn left." 

Robert is driving and is getting extremely frustrated. Since he's not too proud to ask for directions, he does just that. The very nice lady that helps us directs us back to the area of the mall parking lot where the Google navigation tells us to "turn right, then turn right. Turn right, then turn right. Turn right, then turn right." Because I've had four straight days of this nonsense, I am hysterical. I am laughing so hard that I genuinely cannot see (thank goodness Robert was driving). My stomach muscles are on fire from all the laughing. The kids are laughing, not because anything is actually funny to them, but because I am laughing so hard. 

People! I cannot stop laughing. Seriously, it's like a mini breakdown. 

You know  how some people will describe themselves crying when they are super upset as "ugly crying"? Well, I was ugly laughing. I'm snorting, eyes and nose running, gasping desperately for air....all while trying to explain to Robert why I think this is so funny. Because in my mind, I'm seeing some tiny little Google robot throwing up his hands and announcing that there is NO! USE! in trying to direct Robert and I anywhere. We cannot even navigate ourselves through a parking lot, for crying out loud. 

Robert's had enough of the nonsense and my hysteria. He parks, stomps across the parking lot and goes into the mall to see if the theater is inside the mall. 

It is. 

Image result for navigationHe's so over it all that he just texts me from the mall saying he found the theater. I'm still laughing so hard that it's 10 minutes before I can get out of the car, and even then, I am randomly breaking out into giggle fits. 

Even now, I'm still laughing just thinking about it. I laughed through telling Megan this story, and through telling it to my Mom. I've decided, it's one of those whole 'you just had to be there' stories. And you should have been. It was epic. 

Three days later and we are going back into town for an oil change for my car. I'm sort of sure I know where the Honda dealership is, but just in case I don't what do you think I do? 

Yep. I ask the Honda navigation system. This should have been a sure thing. All Honda navigation systems have a nationwide database of Honda/Acura dealerships programmed in. I chose the Honda dealership in Minot, ND and where do we end up? 

At the GMC/Buick/Cadillac dealership. 

Go home, Honda navigation. You're drunk.