Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanksgiving...Christmas...Asher's birthday

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at the home of an Army family we have come to know. Actually she is the XO of another brigade but they've adopted me since the families in my unit don't live near by. Her sister took photos of us while we were there.

I might use this one for the Christmas card. Aren't they sweet?!

mmmmm dinner...I think. I didn't really get to eat since I was running interference for Asher.

This is such a sign of the times. Terry was able to "attend" Asher's birthday party last Sunday via the web cam. He was like this computer head that chimed in here and there with, "move the camera I can't see" or cracking a joke or something. Asher would run up to the monitor every few minutes and say, "dadda, dadda!" It was bittersweet and he had a few tears, missing the boys.

We set up the tree! I bought a fake since we need it to last for a couple of months. We're leaving it up until Terry comes home on leave in January. I have to say it looks pretty darn good and we got a 71/2 foot tree for only $59. Gotta love Home and Garden on base! Gabe was so enthused about decorating. Asher's wheels were already turning, "what could I do to really shake things up around here, moohhahahahahah"

I had to rearrange the living room to make space for the tree. I think I'll leave it this way even after the tree comes down...

I just love this photo because Gabe is such a big helper for me. He puts Ash in his highchair and feeds him! I am blessed. This holiday season I am thankful for my husband's safety, and my two healthy, lovely boys.

Kids Say...part V

This should actually be titled, "Kids DO the darndest things," because Asher managed to figure out how to lock one of our televisions. This means it's basically frozen on the channel and nothing can be changed.

I'm half asleep on the bed and Asher is watching Elmo when suddenly a small red key appears on the screen. I try to change the channel to test my theory that it is indeed, stuck. I'm right. I do what every IT department is paid to tell employees to do - reboot. I turn it off then on. Little red key appears. Ok, I'll REALLY reboot. I unplug it. Waiting ten seconds. Plug it in. Turn it on. Nothing. Arggggh.

This is the point where you are frustrated and mad at yourself for getting frustrated.

After several attemps it finally turns on. Hello my little red friend.

I run downstairs and look for the manual I know I just saw and probably threw away because the DVD function on the TV is broken and assuming it is permanent I toss the manual. I'll just wait for the entire system to break and then get a new one, I'm thinking. Well, now I'm irritated because I just fell victim to Murphy's Law #112.

I turn to my last resort. Google. I find the manual on the manufacturer's website and this is what it says:

Child Lock
The Child Lock feature prevents unauthorized viewing of the
TV. To activate, press and hold the F key, and
then press MUTE. You should
see a key symbol appear on the screen. This will lock out all remote
(except for Standby). To unlock the TV, press and hold the F key
and press MUTE. This will unlock the TV.
Please note that the only way to
activate or deactivate the Child Lock feature is via remote control -
insure that it is stored securely.

Now, I ask you. How in the hell did a two-year-old figure that out?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Terry sends me photos infrequently, so I'm sharing them here with you. I find these photos comical because he seems so awkwardly posed with the children. I'm sure they react the same way we do to his corny jokes - blank stares and polite smiles : ) (Just kidding baby, you know we think you're funny!)

This photo is from a friend - Which way to the USA?

I know it's rather stalkerish, but I love taking pictures of my kids when they're sleeping. I think it's for a number of reasons. 1) They aren't driving me crazy. 2) They are peaceful, but I guess that's too similar to reason number 1. 3) No cheesy poses. It doesn't get more natural then sleep...

Asher will be two on Sunday!!!

Gabriel and his soccer trophy

Silly boys at a soccer party

Gabe, Vets day show

I debated about putting this up. I took it at LTC Wren's burial at Arlington. They are pulling the cart carrying the flag draped coffin. I find reverance in it and there is no direct shot of here it is. I took a few good pictures for his wife, which I'm sending to her.

Please take a moment to thank CPT Swisher, whom my husband knew in Iraq and was killed in October. Photos from his funeral are here

Tuesday, November 22, 2005



This picture just says it all. Has Bill Gates been this happy since he met me all those years ago? Heheheehe. You all are suckers for rushing to buy this at full price. I know I know, I'm married to one, but that doesn't make me a sucker too!

Have fun gamers.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Hi everyone. I saw this on Learning to Live's blog. There's a bill that needs support. It's for surviving dependants of war vets click here. It's really easy, just type in your zip code and enter your contact information.

Not that I have anything to complain about compared to those who lost their partner in war, but I need someone to talk to so blog world here I am.

I'm so tired! I really am. I sometimes wonder how it is that I can get so frustrated with my babies. I mean, I marvel at the fact that I am even a mother sometimes. I didn't really want kids and then I was blessed with Gabe, then Asher and yes, it was a choice to become a parent but as anyone will tell you it's draining. Today at dinner Asher dumped his entire bowl of soup on his tray and proceeded to throw chunks of it on the floor. He wouldn't eat anything else. It was like, "Why? WHHHHYYYYY? do you do these things?" I know. It's because he's two and that's what two year olds do.

I actually just got interrupted. Why? Because Asher has been screaming in his crib for a half an hour and Gabe walked downstairs all bleary eyed to tell me. Asher will not sleep. He sits on my lap and watches Las Vegas (there's nothing else on). I'm going to bed. I'm tired.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Deployment soundtrack

So for Christmas I made Terry a CD. It's the soundtrack to our lives up to this deployment. They're all songs that say what I want to say to him or what he might say to me. I put them in the order of meeting, falling in love, saying goodbye and reuniting..

Love at First Sight Kylie Minogue
Crazy for This Girl (Acoustic Version) Evan & Jaron
Brown Eyed Girl Van Morrison
Just the Girl The Click Five
Can't Help Falling in Love Elvis Presley
Kiss Me Sixpence None the Richer
Your Body Is a Wonderland John Mayer
Wink and a Smile Harry Connick, Jr.
If I Ain't Got You Alicia Keys
A Kiss to Build a Dream On Louis Armstrong
I Got a Woman Ray Charles
Here Without You 3 Doors Down
Days Go By (Acoustic) Dirty Vegas
Ain't No Sunshine Bill Withers
Come Away With Me Norah Jones
Cowboy Take Me Away Dixie Chicks
Return to Me Dean Martin
You've Got a Way Shania Twain

As you can see it's a good mix of everything. I'm sure I missed a lot of great "i love you, I miss you songs" but I like how it turned out. He already knows about it so I can post it here ;)

I downloaded iTunes to buy some of these songs, and I have to say this app is amazing! I only use Quicktime because my digital camera takes video that only plays on Quicktime, but usually I use Microsoft products. After using iTunes I am ready to buy and iPod! Seriously it's so easy to use and even the download and sign up was easy. Plus, they have just about every song you could imagine. But I was bummed that a couple of songs (Crash into me, Dave Matthews and Days Go By (the other version), Dirty Vegas) could only be purchased if you bought the entire album.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with it! What do you think?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"I was in the pool!"

I just had to say that because I watched that clip from Seinfeld.

I'm fascinated by my blog friends that love video games. I just don't get it. I wish I did, my husband and I would probably have a better marriage!!! We have played the occasional Tetris Worlds, but I can't get into the gaming thing. I used to love that 007 game but after I realized I can't shoot straight, I lost my drive.

My son, for all his genius, is quickly becoming addicted too. So much that even my husband had to admit we needed to wean him off the Xbox. Like HE should talk. When Terry was in law school, he, a friend, and a law professor actually played Xbox together at the law school on the massive projector screens there. I just stared at him like, "That's what a $90K education gets you? Cool screens to play Xbox on?" Ugh.

What's my weakness? Guilty pleasures like Desp. Housewives is a vice I suppose. Chocolate would definitely be one. But if I could take say, a month off to do anything I wanted, I think I would read. I know I'm such a geek, but I never get a solid block of time to get totally lost in a book. Asher needs a diaper change, Asher fell down the stairs, Gabe needs a microscopic Star Wars Lego guy's arm reattached, both boys want food...they're so demanding! Seriously though, Marie gets props from me for single parenting - it's exhausting!

Well, I just hope the 360 plays DVDs better. That's all I use it for....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

BCG's and other Army acronyms

Ok this is so funny. Almost ten years into my relationship with my husband and the Army, I'm still learning new terms. My favorite was the BCG's - birth control glasses. Wikipedia gives this definition: Birth Control Glasses/Goggles. This acronym refers to the standard issue glasses. The acronym is based on the fact that no one has ever "gotten lucky" while wearing them.

Little did I know that my husband, who dubbed my old baby blue, 80 something Dodge Aries (hey, I paid cash for it after I totalled my Celebrity) the Blue Falcon, was insulting me all this time:

Blue Falcon - "buddy f*****r" or "buddy f***," someone or something that screws others over.


Tell me if you can guess the meaning of these - NO GOOGLING! ;)


Hint: they all include the F-word, which my husband tells me is an adjective when he is in uniform :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In honor of LTC Tom Wren

So, today I went to the funeral for LTC Tom Wren. I did not know him, but he was a part of the 80th Division as my husband is. I went with my friend, wife in arms, Shannon. (Her husband is in Iraq as well) We vowed not to lose it during the funeral, and really just went to show support for the family as members of the 80th.

We arrived to the site early and watched a horse drawn cart carrying LTC Wren's body approach. I took a few pictures for his wife, on the advice of the woman who writes Learning to Live (linked on my blog). Shannon also suggested it. Her husband's West Point roommate was killed last year in Iraq. I never thought I would go to a funeral for this war.

As we walked to the actual grave site, I glanced at the white tomb stones (this is Arlington National Cemetery). They stood like soldiers at attention, bleached white, and they all read "Operation Iraqi Freedom." I sucked in the sadness that almost escaped my mouth, I just kept thinking about my husband, his men, our friends, Shannon's husband, Terry's late friend Tyler...

When Taps began I nearly cried again. It was all the more sad because just behind us another funeral had begun for yet another military man.

We didn't intend to go to the reception, feeling that was for close friends and family, but someone called to say they needed more food. We stopped by a store to pick up some cookies and ended up staying at the reception to help clean, express our condolences.

I asked Shannon to spend the rest of the day with me because I just did not want to be alone. We ran some errands together and ended up at my house watching TV and eating leftover Halloween candy.

I know it's so sad to think about all these incredible men leaving us, but we tell their stories to honor their lives because they're not really gone until they are forgotten.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I am up early and writing because I had a scary event this morning and I need to purge.

Gabriel woke me up with, "MOM we have to get out of the house there may be a fire." I jumped out of bed and asked him what he was talking about. Our neighbor had warned us that he had called the fire department after he smelled something in his townhouse (next to ours) and his smoke alarm went off. I threw a jacket at Gabe and sent him outside, grabbed Asher out of his crib and realized I was pantless. I slipped the nearest pair pants on and ran down the steps. (I did take the time to snatch an enormous booger from Asher's nose with a tissue.) My neighbor across the street came over and took the boys inside out of the morning chill. (We actually had frost on the windshields of cars). I walked with her since I've actually never been in her house before. As soon as I turned back around I saw a group of firefighters going into MY house. I ran back across the street to see if they would find anything, which of course scared the crap out of me because I FORGOT TO PUT THE BATTERY BACK IN MY SMOKE ALARM AFTER MY LAST COOKING DISASTER. I was just a weee bit scared that I very nearly died in my sleep.

I worried for nothing. They couldn't find anything and it taught me a lesson - I should never cook again.

Ok, I'll NEVER take the batterries out of the smoke alarm again.

Second scare of the morning:

Remember the sex offender in my neighborhood? He was going to our bus stop until I checked the registry and realized it was him? Well, Fatima, the one who pulled the boys out of the cold this morning, told me that his daughter was on her soccer team! The whole season (she coached) he was showing up to games.

She said he and his wife or mother of the child or whoever she is, were acting very strangely and the woman said that he didn't live with her, which is clearly a lie. Fatima has had this girl over to her house, the sex offender was making friends with other parents and, Fatima feared that one of the little girls was playing at his house with his daughter. I shook my head in shock.

She is planning on speaking to the girl's mother and asking her why they were never told of his status as a registered sex offender. And to think I was aprehensive about spreading papers with his face, charges and address to my neighbors.

Lesson number two. I will never hesitate or second guess myself with sharing this kind of information. I will always check the registry. I can only think that telling the neighbors about this guy, at the risk of him knowing I was scoping him out, is worth it. So many people were interacting with him that didn't know, all with children. That it's appalling.

Need I tell the Oprah story? Of the sex offender she caught by blasting his face on her show? He was caught by a neighbor who was helping TAKE CARE of him since he had an injury and couldn't work. This woman and HER DAUGHTER were spending a lot of time at his house cooking, cleaning and caring for a convicted sex offender. There's a reason they have registry lists. Check yours and if there's one in your area, for goodness sake, tell people! We have to take care of each other.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day...Still in our hearts

Gabriel had a Veteran's Day program today at school. They sang songs, gave speeches and even were honored with the presence of members from the local VFW. While the parents were slowly filing out the door, I passed the vets by, wanting to say something but feeling silly and well, without words. They were talking to the principal and other teachers so I just went on my way, pushing Asher towards the elevator.

My husband was getting to know another CPT, Tyler Swisher, and looking forward to remaining friends after they returned home from Iraq. Sadly, Tyler was killed, along with several other Marines not too many weeks ago. (They lost seven men that week, it was a bad one.) While I was reading about Tyler in the news link my husband sent me I ran across this tribute to one of the other soldiers killed in the same incident.

The following was written by Ben Cockerham, father of fallen Marine Benny Gray Cockerham III.

Gray died Friday in Iraq.

Gray is my favorite color. Every morning Just before the rising of the sun the world is Gray. Expectant and hopeful for opportunities; anticipation embodied. Half sunshine half rain, Poised to run either direction, the shape of things are formed with a shift of the wind.

The Clouds and Sun battle for the dominance of bright sky and dark cloud. On occasion, when the conditions are just right. Perfect balance is achieved and Gray is born.

It happened once on June 28, 1984 on a Marine Corps Base in California. The Navy nurse said, "Why would anyone name a child like this Gray. You should call him Sunshine." She was not present at the birth in the early morning. She was not present during the struggle of labor in the predawn. She was unaware that Gray is Sunshine and Cloud, the personification of this child.

Gray is the blur of perpetual motion, on to the next as the first is done. With fingers spread wide in the relaxed sleep of Angels, Gray is the color of Down, soft and peaceful readying for the next race. Always in a hurry, nothing left behind, no regrets.

Gray is the color of Ocean, reflected in the wonder of a child's eyes, the color of a Thunderstorm, adolescence in all its rage and glory. Gray is the clear gleam of Steel reflected from the determination and pride of a Marine's face. Gray is Smoke, rising form from a chimney guiding you home promising comfort.

On Oct. 21, 2005 in a place called Zaidon, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, protecting those less able, Cpl. Benny "GRAY" Cockerham III, USMC, became dark to Gray no more.

Gray is my favorite color and if you get a chance in the predawn light, as you wait with anticipation the coming day, look anew at Gray. When you do I hope this helps you remember to: Live life with wonder, ready to change with the shift of the wind. When you must fight, do so with all the fury you possess. Be in constant motion and leave no regrets. Truly relax when time permits for the next race must be run. Be determined in all you do because this determines your success. Appreciate the home fires; family should come before all things. Love unconditionally and sacrifice as if you were Gray.

Semper Fidelis,


To Tyler, Gray, and LTC Wren. We'll remember you everyday, not just Veteran's Day. To my husband; I miss you and stay strong. I'll never pass by another vet without a sincere thanks.

One of the songs the second graders sang today says it best, and brought many of us to tears to hear their sweet voices sing these words:

Still in my heart, you are
Still in my heart, you are
Still in my mind. Still in my dreams
Still in my heart. Forever.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kids Say Part III & IV

Part III
Gabriel: Mom, can there be another state added to the country?
Me: Yes Gabriel. Actually many people talk about adding Puerto Rico to the United States as a state instead of a commonwealth.
Gabriel: So then we would have 51 states?
Me: Yup.
Gabriel: But then we would have to go to the moon and put up a new flag.
Me: (laughter) yes, we would!

Part IV (this happened in law school when Terry was holding about 12 jobs down. Gabe was probably 4 years old.)
Terry: I'm so tired
Gabriel: It's ok daddy, I'll carry you

Switch gears

A family is mourning the loss of a father and husband. If anyone wants to send cards of condolence for this family, I've volunteered to be on the support team, you can send them to me and I'll deliver them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

80th Divison suffers a casualty

I'm so sorry for this family...brings a harsh reality of their lives in Iraq.

80th Division suffers first fatality in Iraq
Culpeper Star Exponent
Monday, November 7, 2005
Thomas A. Wren, a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel from Lorton, was killed Saturday in a humvee accident, becoming the Richmond-based 80th Division's first fatality in Iraq.
According to a military press release, Wren was one of four occupants in the humvee when it rolled over during non-combat-related activities in an undisclosed location. The cause is still under investigation.
The 80th Division encompasses the Army's 3rd Battalion, 317th Regiment, which is based out of Culpeper.
Lt. Col. Wren was the coalition base command adviser for the Talil Air Base and was assigned to the Multi-National Security Transition Coalition. He was a highly decorated, 24-year member of the Army, having served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Wren was also assigned to a variety of positions in the Mid-Atlantic, including stints in Alexandria, Charlottesville and Culpeper.
The lieutenant colonel, who was married over the summer, leaves behind a wife, two daughters (ages 26 and 12), three sons (ages 18, 16 and six months), a brother, two sisters and his mother.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Dottie McDowney of the Culpeper Unit Family Support will be assisting the family.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The rule of law or the spirit of the law?

So I am actively soliciting feedback from ya'll today.

But first, it was absolutely gorgeous outside and Gabriel had a fabulous last soccer game. He really got in there and fought for the ball. Go Gabey!! I hired a babysitter for Asher since the game was right in the middle of his naptime and oh what the hell...I prefer not to chase him off the field for the entire soccer game. Also, today was the last flu clinic at my local grocery store and although the boys got their shots about a month ago at the doc's office, I wanted to make sure I didn't get sick either. I'm a big wimp about getting the flu and I don't need to remind you all that I am A-L-O-N-E so I need to stay as healthy as possible.

So that leads me to my question. Here's the scenario. Still having flashbacks from the 3.5 hours I stood in line to (unsuccessfully) see Rosa Parks' body, I call ahead to the store to scope out the situation before standing in line for hours and hours for a flu shot. Turns out there are still some left and I can pick up a number. So, right before the soccer game I breeze in and snag number 133 of 150 shots. They tell me to come back in about an hour and a half and my number should be up. "Great!" I think. That's just enough time after Gabe's game to get back to the store in time for my shot. I secretly snicker at all the sad looking people waiting in line to get their shot and think I've outsmarted the system, only to come back an hour later and find the line exactly the same; different people, same loooong line.

I ask the lady at the end what her number is: 146. Oh, I think. That means I should be up there somewhere. The nice lady she decided not to cut because all these people have been waiting so patiently she thought she should wait her turn too. Now, I was told that I could jump in line with my number but clearly NOONE is doing that. I ask a few people what their number is anyway, and I find 134. I laugh nervously about finding my place in line and sort of scooch in there. EVERYONE is glaring at me. Gabe's complaining about the long wait ahead so I succumb to the death stares, inch away from the line and break out into a run to my car to take Gabe home to the babysitter. Needless to say I came back to a line that had not moved, reclaimed my place in line - at the end. I just couldn't handle the glares for an hour, which was how long the wait still was even with my number.

Should I have claimed my place as 133? Or did I do the morally correct thing by following the spirit of the system and getting at the end of the line. By the "rules" I could have jumped ahead. Tell me: what would you have done?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Iraq war movies

So I am reading these blogs discussing the two war movies being released; Jarhead and Gunner Palace. The obvious difference is they are about two different wars; Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Also, Gunner Palace, about the current war, is a documentary while Jarhead is a feature film. I don't know if I'll watch either one of them. I only get anxious and see Terry in all those boys' faces, but I digress...

Here's a link to Gunner Palace if you want to see the previews It think it deserves a plug since Jarhead is getting so much publicity. The thing about these movies is that sure, it may tell a bit of truth about war, but it always glorifies it just a little bit.

In other news. I'm going crazy and need a night of drinking and dancing. I'm going to a concert at the Kennedy Center on Friday with some friends. We'll see if that does the trick...:)

Happy Birthday to Marie

I used to have a link to the funniest person I know, and maybe "funniest" isn't the most all-emcompassing description of my friend Marie, but she is hilarious and she is incredible AND her birthday was a couple of days ago AND I missed it. So here's to you Marie. Here's to celebrating the day you came into this world and the point at which our paths crossed in sleepy ole Clarks Summit when I was blessed with the fun, empathatic, overcoming, inspiring person that you are. My group of friends would never be complete without a woman like you. I wish you all the best in the coming year and you'll never be old in my eyes. I love you!!!

Read more about Marie