Thursday, June 29, 2006

Leave Bwitney awone!

I'm sorry, I just can't resist. She cries about her privacy and then poses nude a la Demi Moore.

"Take my picture!"
"No, don't!"
"Take my picture!"
"No, don't!"

Either you want publicity or you don't. Don't you think posing nude is going to bring unwanted attention from the Papparazzi?

And the other big news about Star Jones, (no pun intended) ? I was surprised to hear that she was being replaced by Rosie because frankly I'd rather watch Barbara Walter's bathe than watch Rosie on The View. Of course they'll have to change it to Rosie's View. Not that I watch that show anymore (Ellen is kicking their butts in the ratings I think) but really I think this whole mess is a little unfair to Star. Yes, she's an obnoxious diva but to tell her to lie about her departure then get pissed that she announced she "decided" to leave. And THEN replace her with another token black co-host who played a lawyer on TV? C'mon!!!! I'll tell you one thing, I'll be watching NBC in the mornings. I miss Meredith :(

And now I'm part of the machine....

But just to prove that I'm not entirely shallow, I just scored 95 percent on the "Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test?" Whoo hooo. I only got #19 wrong, which, ironically, is "19. What INS form is used to apply to become a naturalized citizen?"


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My good deed

Well, school's out. Cry with me.

Having Gabe home all day, everyday, is fun for the first few days when you get to sleep in, but after getting up at the oh so leisurely hour of EIGHT O'CLOCK ( a whopping 30 minutes later than the school season schedule :) I realized that all I was getting was more mess to clean up after the boys made their own waffles. In the living room. With lots of syrup.

Gabe has swimming lessons for the next four weeks, four mornings a week and although they're not until 10:15, I still manage to be late. This morning I had a really good reason. I saved a turtle.

As we were driving off, only 10 minutes behind schedule at this point, I noticed a small turtle, strategically placed in front of a car tire. I immediately pictured the tiny thing getting crunched, and I kind of panicked. I slammed on the brakes and pulled to the side of the road. I didn't know the owner of the car but that didn't stop me from knocking on a couple of doors to find out who did.

First door, no answer. Second door, I hear a window opening. I look up and don't see anyone but I hear a voice, "Yes?" I'm thinking of that new monster house movie, but a turtle's life is at stake here! Cowboy up, Monique!

"Um, hi, I'm your neighbor," I stammer, trying to figure out how to explain why I'm apparently waking someone up from a drunken stupor. "Is that your Honda?"

"Yes," replies the voice.

"Well, this is going to sound strange, but there is a small turtle right next to your wheel and if you go anywhere, you're going to kill it. I just wanted to let you know."

"Um, ok. Thanks for letting me know."

Of course a normal person would just move the damn thing, but I am NOT an animal lover (not a hater, just not a lover) and especially not anything green, slimy or that I've recently pictured getting crushed into green slime. I know, I'm a big baby, whatever.

But I don't stop there. I see a woman smoking on her front porch and since she's the only one around I say, "Are you averse to touching a turtle?" (I know. I have such a way with words. I can't believe anyone ever paid me to write.)

I get the expected, "What the F***?" face and I quickly explain the question. She says, "No, but I know someone who will." And she actually called someone from inside her house, on her cell phone and had them move the turtle to safety.

Isn't that cool? Now I want to find the little punk who put it there and kick his butt. But I felt so good that even though Gabe was late for his lesson, we did something good. And I actually taught him something about compassion and priorities. That feels good.

How I will explain being late for the other 15 lessons, I don't know.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Meet the President? Check

Yup it's true. We were invited to the annual Tball game on the South Lawn and got photos, autographs and hugs from the president. (I swear, this is not a cutout. :) I only wish I didn't look so frazzled. My hair was a sticky mess by the time we met him and I had straightened it that day (normally it's curly) and the humidity did a number on it.

Gabe was asked by our group to present the President with a tshirt from the organization we were there with. (I was so honored by that request I couldn't believe they asked Gabey to do it. ) Gabe and I stood at the rope waiting for the President to make his way down the line and I was sweating like crazy. I bent down to Gabe and said, "Now remember, don't be shy, just say 'Mr. President, I would like to present you with this tshirt.' ok?" He nodded. I think he understood who this person was. So he walks up to us and my adrenaline just kicked in and I said it for him. I know, I know, I'm an attention whoring mother. I couldn't help it, we were so rushed and I was so nervous, but Gabe did hand it to him, the President said, "Oh, a tshirt" wondering who the hell we were and handed it to a secret service guy! :)

Then I said, "Gabe's dad is deployed to Iraq and he'll be home soon." Why did I say "Gabe's dad"? I don't know. I always say it like that, I guess I want people to see it through the eyes of a child without his father. Anyway Freudian slip. Then I asked him to take photos with us and sign Gabe's shirt.

What I WISH I would have said is, "Mr. President. Will you send a message to my husband Capt. R?" while videotaping and "Please get rid of the Widow's Tax" and "Please shorten deployments for Reserve component troops." But, like a job interview, I didn't say all the things I wish I would have.

President Bush was friendly and took every photo and signed every autograph requested of him, which wasn't many since it was a pretty small crowd being on the South Lawn of the White House and all, but it was scorching and he was sweating when he finally made his way back "home." I was disappointed not to get a photo with Mrs. Bush, I am just as fascinated by her as her husband :) By the time she said goodbye and I swung around to take the photo I only go the side of her face :(

The two inning game and meet and greet was followed by a picnic, "Refreshments provided by the White House" it said on the information sheet we were given prior to the event. A three piece Marine (?) band played cool summer music while we ate hot dogs, pretzels, peanuts, fruit, cookies and just about every beverage (non-alcoholic) that you can think of.

We also go to meet the lead pitcher for the Nat's, Mike O'Connor, and some of the staff at the White House.

Amazing doesn't begin to describe it!!! That's one item to check of my
"Things to do once in life" list. Don't get any ideas people, I'm not well connected or rich, just an average military family who got some good fortune thrown our way for a fun event. I should really buy a lottery ticket...

Monday, June 19, 2006

HIPAA my butt!

Am I mistaken or didn't Congress pass some bill that led every health care provider to ask me to sign a paper stating that I've "read" their 24 page, size 2 font privacy practices, in an effort to increase the security of personal health information such as what exotic diseases I may have had in the past or that I'm flagged at the ER for possible child abuse for the sheer number of visits I make there? Didn't they?

I thought so.

So tell me why a pharmacist would think it just fine and dandy to shout to me from across two counters:

"Um, yeah," is my uncomfortable reply.
"The XANAX? You didn't pick it up last week?"
"No." I feel heat rising to my face.
"So you need to pick up the xanax? You're sure you didn't pick it up?"

I want to ask her if it's standard policy to let the entire store think that I not only have temporary psychological problems (there are only two pills in the prescription, which she also made known to the world) but I'm possibly an addict, trying to scam an extra dosage. Like your average sane person quickly evaluating whether or not it's worth it to pick a fight with the woman who controls my birth control and antibiotics, I decide just to pay for my XANAX!!!! and scurry home.

But it gets better. My copay is only 40 cents. I only have a credit card because I walked there in 90 degree heat, three miles, with Asher in the runner (so I actually do look like your sweaty, middle-class suburban housewife feening for a fix.) I don't want to use a credit card for a 40 cent transaction so I ask if they billed both of my insurances. Now I look high AND cheap.

I mention my other insurance, which requires my husband's social. So what does she do? Shout for it!

"So you're the spouse?"
"Yes!" I shout back.

"I'm an unemployed, overeducated housewife with a deployed husband who I depend on for life, limb, and healthcare! Are you happy now? Do you SEE WHY I need the xanax?"

Ok so I didn't say THAT. But I did give a really pissed off nod.

"What's his social?"

I open my mouth and think better. I push my military ID card across the counter and say, "It's on the back."

Turns out it's more expensive to bill both insurances and, like an erstwhile abs-of-steel popstar who broadcasts to the universe her downward spiral into Redneck-dom, she redeems herself. She walks around the two counters leans and whispers, "Just sign for it, you can pay for it later."

Aww. Thanks peaches. *Air kisses*

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gabe's questions

Tonight Gabe came downstairs crying. He said something about daddy dying.
"Why did you picture daddy dying, Gabe?" I asked.
"Because I was watching Asher sleeping and it looked like he was dead, and then I thought of daddy."

I just sat there and held him. I wanted so badly to tell him his daddy would come home, to promise him nothing would happen to him. But I couldn't, because it would just be wrong. He's too old for that. But too young to be thinking about death. What a terrible thing for a seven year old boy to think about. It breaks my heart.

The only thing I could think to do was to watch video and slideshows of Terry. He watched clips of them wrestling when he was home on leave. He laughed hysterically, as if he was playing with Terry right then and there.

I thought the moment had passed but then he asked, "How many soldiers have died in Iraq mommy?" I was not at all prepared for that question.
"Some have died Gabey."
"But how many?"
"Just. A lot Gabe."
"No Gabey, more than that," I am wondering what to do. I really don't know what to say to him, he's never talked like this before to me. I'm trying to think how to distract him and I look for more photos.
"100?" I have a sick pit in my stomach at what two-thousand, three-hundred would sound to him. I know I can't continue this conversation.
"Gabe, Daddy is strong and smart and well trained. He's safe right now ok?"
We watch some more video and it's late. He has to go to bed. He has school in the morning.
"C'mon Gabe," I try to lift him out of the chair. He clings to me.
"Gabey, how about we find a picture of daddy for you to put under your pillow?"
We drag out the photo albums looking for a picture of them together. The first album we look at is from our college days. Then I start to tear up looking at Gabe as a baby, two, three years old.
"Why is daddy gone all the time!" he raises his voice. This anger has been creeping up lately. I say, "Gabey when daddy's not here, who is?"
"And remember when mommy was in New York? (grad school) Who was with you?"
"Daddy," he says.
"One of us is always here, ok? And soon we'll all be together again and I promise daddy will stay home more."

You know what's good about this? To see how deeply Gabe cares for his father and that he can give his emotions a voice. They've formed a bond that I hope will only get stronger when Terry gets home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

High, Low, High

I think I need medication.

Today was such a strange day, for no reason at all. Terry didn't call. Nothing major happened. I went grocery shopping and jammed to tunes in my car (that's "me time" these days) on the way from the commissary to Costco and suddenly in the middle of a song I thought about a conversation Terry and I had the other day. He said, "I can't wait to get back to my life again. I've seen people die, the faces of the dead, young kids too. I'm sure [a friend] would have loved to see his kids one more time, to kiss his wife one last time. I just know how precious life is now."

I listen in stone silence when he has these moments because I'm amazed that 1) he's actually been over there, and 2) that he can come back with such a positive attitude - to want make his life count for something instead of being totally depressed about it all. And when I think of these things, that men my age, Terry's age with kids OUR kids' age have died and taken their last breaths in such a brutal way, it kills my spirit. I have such a different reaction to his experiences. Not that he doesn't get sad, lordy he does, but I become momentarily paralyzed by the thoughts. I grieve for the men and women, and their families and it's hard for me to be happy and celebrate his homecoming knowing those who have lost so much and their lives have changed forever.

I wonder if I'll ever stop having these mood swings. I don't even know these people!!! I know of their families, but I didn't have any kind of relationship with them before they lost what they lost. I absorb people's pain like a sponge. I guess it's because of course Terry is still there. He's still not home and as much as I feel we are just around the corner from ending this - he's still there. And I think anyone whose soldier has been to Iraq or Afghanistan, etc, becomes bonded together by it. I've never felt like I belonged so much to a group of people as I have this year in the Army. You know how motherhood bonds most mothers together, as opposed to those who haven't had children yet? It's like that but stronger, for me at least.

So I'm at Costco and have another moment. Usually I avoid that place like the plague because when you walk through those large breezy doors that sound like a jet engine sucking you in, they laser beam a spending virus into your immune system. Suddenly you need a 60Gig Ipod, a grill that could swallow your kitchen stove, a hot tub, a loaf of bread the size of Texas and you somehow forget about the diapers you so desperately needed a year's supply of - so you have to back to get it and the cycle continues.

Anyhoo, as I'm pulling my hand away from the pack of 400 frames, I look around like, "Damn, American's have so much. Look at all the food, the gadgets, the WINE for goodness' sake!"[yum] - and I'm acutely aware of the disparity in the world (and how much we like to drink!). I'm grateful just to be a woman in America, to know that my ancestors had to fight for civil rights and freedom and I get to enjoy the bounty of it. So while I am sad (and depressed sometimes) at the unfairness of life, I also kick myself out of it, because what's worse is letting it hold me back and drag me into a hole.

Incidentally I have valium waiting for me at a local pharmacy. I didn't make it through my MRI. Turns out I have claustrophobia. Who knew? So the valium is supposed to help me get through it. I really would just rather be drunk. I can't drive anyway, why not make the most of it? :) Now that you all think I'm crazy...I'm NOT and I'm not really depressed either. I've made a lot of new friends lately and I'm still on a high counting the days till Terry gets home.....

Oh, and I downloaded the theme song to Team America. That always puts a good spin on American consumerism and war. It's so freaking vulgar...but so funny. We need to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

House cleaning sucks

This is what I did all day.

This is what my kids did all day (last year, but same actions)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Long day, long night

So another week of running around like a chicken, etc, etc. and tonight I am exhausted! We had a reunion briefing about two hours from where I live and there is another one near my home tomorrow, but I'm doing the childcare for it so I went to the OTHER one tonight. As much as they scared the hell out of us with visions of soldiers punching us out due to a flash back or attempting suicide - I'M STILL EXCITED AS HELL TO HAVE HIM HOME!

It got pretty sobering in there though, listening to the chaplain tell us what integration to real life will be like for them. They brought up things like understanding that they haven't had any real personal contact (or if they have they have a whole other set of problems :) in a year, so don't rush them, or the fact that American food will run through them after eating Iraqi food for so long, or just like not letting them drive too soon, or leave them alone with the kids right away, stuff like that. I don't think I fully appreciated what they've been through over there, even as a wife! It's so easy to get used to your normal routine at home that you forget how hard it is out there (well, except for the Fobbits, which Terry most certainly is not!)

Some of our guys have been through the shit and I'm worried for them. The Division that we replaced did have suicides when they got back. I don't take their warnings lightly, but if it's anything like his R&R I don't think Terry will be taking any swings at me in the middle of the night.

I had a good laugh when they said to keep them away from alcohol. Ha! That's like telling them to not have sex!!!! Puhlease! I plan to have the fridge stocked - the BEER fridge, mind you - ready for his drinking pleasure (0nly because I know he won't chug it all like he did the nights he was getting ready to go back to Iraq. Then he drank it all 'cause he knew I wouldn't and he didn't want it to "go to waste.")

I can't say exactly when he'll be back because frankly I don't know, I just know it's going to be soon ( as in, I could count the days in months, but saying "weeks" just sounds faster) and I can't wait to jump in his arms and know that he's out of that hell hole - and safe.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Wait, one more!

Sometimes it is so hard to get a photo of this kid. He can't quite smile on command...

That's the one!

Monday, June 05, 2006


I have been going 100 miles an hour since Memorial Day. I was determined not to spend it alone and sad, so we went to all the events we could handle.

Since then I've been living and dying by my "tasks" list on my Palm and it just keeps growing. When I've had a millisecond to breathe, I look around for more to do. I've stopped working out, stopped writing, and have been filling my days with everything from volunteering at Gabe's school to pack school supplies for Iraqi children, to finishing my Dreamweaver class, to coordinating this weeks FRG reunion briefings. Then I've had to catch up on my house cleaning, bills, personal hygiene, etc. When I look forward on the Palm, I see no appointments and I'm lost.

The strange thing is I feel like I have a purpose. I feel like I have JOB (that pays zilch by the way) but I'm exhausted - and strangely fulfilled. Gabe had three baseball games in the past four days. That alone has drained me.

Why is it that if we are busy we feel better?

For the longest time in this deployment the days just blended into each other. Now I'm energized by the busyness, probably because it's not just busyness. Would you believe I've put in about 150 volunteer hours to the FRG? That's really picked up because we're getting ready for the homecoming and people have questions and meetings, etc. Anyway, I do feel like it's a job. Even if I don't get paid, I know I've done some good and found some families that otherwise would have had no information source about this deployment. That's the Reserves for you [shaking head]

But I'm ready for it to slow down now. Gabe needs lots of reading help this summer and I want to spend my last few weeks as their only parent with quality time. I will be a tad sentimental when this ends because I've formed such a bond with my boys. Of course on nights like tonight where we had a baseball game last until 8:30 and they both needed baths and Gabe had chores to do...I'll be happy to have someone else do all that!