Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seahorses slurp their food

Yesterday I finally made it to our local zoo. I've been wanting to take my daughter and my son since we moved out here. We used to take our daughter to the zoo in San Diego quite often, but as far as I can remember the only time my son went was when he was about two months old and my sister was down for a visit.

So, we packed up some cold ice water and sunblock (a day above 80, how exciting!) and headed out for a great day. I was able to find it fairly easy and we were considerably lucky finding decent parking. The sun rays shined down with considerable strength. My daughter kept calling them sun drops and made an attempt to stay in the shade. What I love about the zoo, at least the ones I've been to, is not only do you see some cool and exotic animals, but it always amounts to some level of exercise whether you were asking for it or not. We've recently ditched the stroller, so I knew that would make the trip more challenging but the stroller becomes a hindrance after a while.

Yes, I was the shameful mother who had her son in a harness, but don't be a hater. He is the perfect candidate for such a harness, since he wants to explore the world around him but has no understanding of danger or fear. He practically tried to jump into the water with the penguins, so that should give you an idea of his personality. The harness gave him a little wiggle room without getting too far ahead, and lost in the crowd, or one of the animal exhibits for that matter.

We made it in time for the wild animal show which turned out to be entertaining, and a smart way to wrap up our little excursion. My little guy giggled as the birds flew right over our heads. They also had a dog named "Harold" running back and forth across the stage which my son also took great delight with. When the dog made his debut, my son said, "Co-eee" which is what he calls our Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler, Chloe.

On the ride back, I ended up utterly lost and since my phone died and I didn't have the car charger, I couldn't stop and find out where I was. I suppose it would have been smart to get out and ask for directions but because I didn't know what part of Tacoma I was in and since my mom raised me to be completely paranoid, I didn't stop. I ended up down by the water on Ruston Way which I recognized (thank you God for a great memory) because I had a birthday dinner out there two years ago. After just a couple of minutes I was back on the familiar I-5 route and on our way home.

I'm really glad I took the kids to the zoo yesterday. It helped break up the monotony of our routine, which is important for all of us. It's just the way we live life when Ahron is with us, and 10 days into this deployment I'm trying my best to keep things normal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's getting easier every day

Today we are officially one week done with this deployment. My mantra is beginning to make itself known, loud and clear.
Put your big girl boots on!
Thank you, Jacey Eckhart

I have discovered something very helpful out here, shared with me by another mom I met at the Y.

The Child Development Center has drop off daycare.
It took me almost two years to learn this, but nonetheless, I am thrilled.

So, I'm making a movie date for my daughter and me to see the new Ramona and Beezus movie. These were some of my favorite books as a little girl. When I heard they were making a movie, I picked up a couple of the books at our local Goodwill (Goodwill is a fabulous place to find books from your childhood!) and I read them to her over a series of weeks.

I've asked my husband to contribute rules to a list I will type up and tape to the refrigerator. My daughter and Lord knows my son aren't able to follow them so well by sheer memory, so having a visual reminder should help.

A couple of things I've changed since he left. Bedtime is now at 9:00 since it is still completely sunny at 8:00. Very hard to go to sleep when the sun is beating down through the blinds. We've been cutting down on computer and phone time although we still have a long way to go. Once the computer's shut down it's hard to resist the urge to go look something up randomly, but I figure that will fade with time. Plus it forces the little ones to think of something (gasp!) creative and imaginary to do with their time.

Lastly I'm trying to change our eating habits again. The starter items are buying organic meat and dairy, and no soda. I'm taking a cue from something I caught on television the other day that said, "don't buy anything that has ingredients that you can't pronounce." I thought that was pretty sound advice. It's amazing how many things claim to have 0 trans fat and then you read the label only to find partially hydrogenated soybean, or various other kinds of oil. I'm not a health nut by any means, you won't catch me eating fruit for dessert. But I truly believe that small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Overall, it was a really quick week and I'm grateful that I've been fairly busy. That's one week closer to being done.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On Edge

I am on edge for a couple of reasons.
1. The chief results will be out in about three weeks. Every year for the past three years, my husband has been given the opportunity to take an exam that makes him eligible for the E-7 ranking. For those that don't know how the enlisted military ranking system works, you start out as an E-1 and work your way up to E-9.

More info here

Anyway, this is officially his second time being eligible to have his record looked at by a selection board out in Millington, TN. The chances are slim this year. They are only advancing 16 people in his rating. 16 people who probably have more years in the Navy then him (though that's not the only thing that counts), more seniority and more experience. However, he's busted his butt to make it this far in 10 years. Wish I could be on that selection board and that how you rate as a husband and father meant something. He would have made chief long ago! I'm dying to know the results and trying to remember that patience is a virtue. If we don't make it, fine, onto the next year. I just want to know already!

2. I can't believe it's happening but starting next month, we are up for new orders. Ideally, we'd like to stay here because our daughter is starting school and we just bought a house last year that we love. So, if a spot opens up for us to stay here we will take it. If not, we have an open mind as long as we can stay in the United States. But, again, not much we can do until August when we get our look at what spots are out there and can submit our request.

Looking at the date, I can't believe it's only been three days since my husband left. Things are going okay so far. We're still trying to decide what to do to count the days. In 2008 we cut out hearts each week and glued them on our welcome home poster. My daughter is set on doing that again but I'm trying to convince her sailboats would be cuter. Looks like a trip to the craft store will be happening soon.

Friday, July 16, 2010


The sky above was clear and full of stars. Pretty unusual for Western Washington State. We lifted our sleeping children, warm from the comfort of their beds, and buckled them into their car seats. It was 3:25am. The drive there was mostly quiet, with a little bit of meaningless conversation. The fan blew cool air and we could still smell the saltwater from the Sinclair Inlet.

The drive seemed short in one way, long in another. Then, we arrived under the glow of the red Target sign. The carpool van grumbled to life, ready to make its' journey to Everett.

Ahron quickly loaded his seabag and sleeping bag into the van. He walked back to hug us. We hugged for a long time. After the moment, I sat into the driver's seat, and adjusted the seat and mirrors for myself and myself alone.

In their sleepy state, Miles whined, his feeble attempt at expressing his three-year old sorrow. Elaine's head dropped down, and she began sobbing softly. I drove home with blurry eyes. When we came home I put both of them in my bed and we talked about fun things we would do that day. Elaine sniffled every couple of minutes and Miles couldn't get comfortable. After about one hour, they finally fell asleep.
It was a sad good-bye.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fit for Duty

A lifetime ago I went off to Navy's Recruit Training Command (read: boot camp) and transformed into the best physical shape of my life. Now it's ten years and two children later. Plus 25 pounds. I could cry.

25 pounds on my petite 5' 1" frame is a lot of extra weight. One of the biggest blessings about deployment is I always seem to lose a little bit of weight running after two children and a very wild dog on my own. And, let's face it, we eat much healthier when my husband is not around. For all of the wonderful things he's provided our family, healthy eating is not one of them. He loves food. Rich, decadent, flavorful food, and he's sucked me into the void of gourmet eating.

The difference between this being okay for him and not for me, is that he is required to meet the Navy's physical fitness standards every six months. I don't have a recruit training commander shouting in my face to push me anymore. It's just me.

Being a military wife is difficult for a lot of reasons. Many of us sacrifice our health to take care of home and family first. So it's vitally important for me to have high energy levels to get through each day.

I want this deployment to be different. This deployment, I want to lose the weight and maintain it when he comes back. My starting goal is to lose ten pounds. No deadline. Just ten pounds. Most of all I want exercise to be the one thing I can run to when I am stressed. Having a new dog in the house has also helped. I'm looking forward to taking her and the kids on some easy hikes.

If you're a military wife looking to lose weight and be "fit for duty," my own personal advice would be to join your local gym, or better yet, YMCA. Find a gym with great childcare and programs for children. We are worth it to take good physical care of ourselves.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Memories for the long haul

We had the most incredible vacation together as a family this past week.

We didn't do anything extraordinary, or travel anywhere exotic. We didn't blow thousands of dollars on airfare, lodging or food. It was me, Ahron, our two children and even our rambunctious dog Chloe.

This vacation was about us being together as a family, enjoying each other's company, seeing the ones we love and for Ahron, saying good-bye for a little while.
We spent our first 3.5 days in Yakima. Ahron and I planned to go see a movie together. We started out at the Second Street Grill and ended up doing a wine tasting event at Gilbert Cellars. I think it worked out better then the movie.
We laughed after the server brought us each wine sample (bless her heart for putting up with our wine naivete), trying to figure out how each different wine contains notes and hints of seemingly absurd flavors like stainless steel, oak, bacon and stone. In the end I felt like the people who actually decide how these wines should be described may be suffering from pica or something.
On the 4th of July we celebrated with a good old-fashioned family barbecue complete with my mother's infamous strawberry flag cake. Like every exciting life event, my five-year old decided to sleep through the fireworks. We could not wake her for anything, so instead I was able to enjoy the excitement of my four-year old nephew as the fireworks lit up the sky.

Tuesday we headed out across the state to Long Beach, Washington. At 28, for the first time in my life I finally traveled through White Pass in Washington. The drive, though a bit windy at times, was incredible. It makes me realize how lucky I am to live in the one of the most scenic places on this earth. Makes everything painful somehow bearable.

We spent two wonderful days at a cottage in Long Beach. The weather was amazing. Food and drink were plentiful. Running around after our children and our dog on the beach was exhausting, but happy-exhausting. I loved watching their reactions and the joy on their faces as we built our first beach campfire, roasted marshmallows and watched fireworks shoot through the cold night air. I'm pretty sure Ahron felt the same way.

Now the vacation is almost over. Ahron's begun packing and it's hit us that this deployment train is leaving full speed ahead in just a couple of days. Though it's scary to know that hard days lie ahead, I feel comfort in knowing that our children know they are loved and that we will still be a family.