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22 posts from June 2012

June 30, 2012

It's like a sauna in there....

thus we are no longer at home.  In fact, we are in a hotel in Chantilly.  I reserved a room out of sheer desperation today after realizing that not only are we not going to get power for a few more days, but apparently, I have a low tolerance for 90 degree days IN my house.  

Ironically, we lost power in the craziest thunderstorm I have seen in years only 3 hours after we returned home from our week long sojourn to Memphis.  I was juuuust about to pat myself on the back for the fact that we all survived (and did fairly well) on said trip. (Okay, I know 3 kids, one parent, two planes and 3 airports is not much to brag about, but I have good reason, I promise...).  The house even seemed relatively cool when we arrived home, despite me not setting it too low while we were gone.

Then the flickering of the lights started just as the girls and I were settling down to watch a movie.  It kept up and within minutes, turned into a 100% blackout.  By morning, we had lost phone, too.  Mind you, all those nasty winter storms?  Nope, we didn't lose one lick of power.  Smooth sailing...well, guess it's our turn now!  So, I thought we could tough it out and then I realized...that's just stupid.

Our house is as hot as the 9th circle and won't be getting cooler for several days, as power is expected to be out until at least Monday, if not later.  I held out on the hotel thing and finally, this afternoon, realized that was just dumb.  I have three kids who were sweltering last night (sleeping in the basement, mind you, with only the screen door closed) and it's just not worth it to be miserable.  While we can cook, it seems our fridge is warmer than our house and let me tell you, coming by a big ole block of ice in NOVA?  Not gonna happen.

I ended up getting what seemed to be the last hotel room on the planet and had grand visions of a fabulous stay...until we arrived and realized the last room is a smoking room. Yuck.  It's not as bad as it could be, but I instantly scanned the Marriott site, found plenty of places with open rooms for tomorrow night, secured a room for two nights (just in case) only 15 minutes from our house in a non-smoking hotel, and then canceled the room here.

Call me a wimp, but it's 73 degrees in my stinky smoking room and I'm nearly delirious with delight.  I'll be even happier tomorrow night in a less stinky room, but I'll take what I can get for now....

June 29, 2012

{this moment}: My Big Backyard

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Taken in My Big Backyard at the Memphis Botanic Garden.  Where was this place when I was a kid?  It is such a creative idea, I only wish we had more time to explore it. Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

June 28, 2012

Dear Atlantic Magazine,

Thank you for the interesting counterpoint to the previous article re: having it all.  What a novel idea, pitting two women who have both worked for State against each other!  Fabulous, right?  

Well, not really.  In this last piece, we get to read about a career Foreign Service woman who has, by her definition, had a full family life and career.  This is wonderful for her, yet once again, the entire article still focuses on the idea that one MUST work in an insanely demanding job outside the home and have children in order to have it all.

Why?  Why do we continue to fuel the idea that one must do both in order to feel happy and satisfied?  Do those of us who don't have lower standards or a lesser intelligence?  Do we not have that need to succeed?  Do our volunteer activities (which could stand in place of a full-time job) count for so little in others' minds?

Maybe it's just the timing is not right for us to try that 70 hour work week, in addition to a busy home life.  Or, maybe by virtue of our spouses's career, we are already working 70 hours (or more) a week simply taking care of things on the homefront.  Yes, we could try to work full-time outside the home, but that would add more stress, alleviate few issues and add complications to an already full and happy lifestyle.  

I have to say, by far, the most salient point in the second article is that the obvious point that Ms. Smith "chose" not to do a tour in Iraq for the sake of her family.  It must be nice to feel that you can make that choice in order to achieve family/life balance, but not all positions within State allow one to feel they can ignore the AIP bid list.  In fact, some of us have given up a year with our spouse TWICE.

Maybe it doesn't matter in our case, because the person going overseas is male, thus he already has it all?  FYI, anyone who thinks that needs to have his or her head examined, as spending a full year away from your family, no matter which member of the family you happen to be, is not defined as having it all.  Living in a war zone, working 16 hours a day/7 days a week?  No, I would not define it that way.  Clearly the author of the second article understood that, since she *chose* not to serve an unaccompanied tour.   Maybe that is the creativity and ingenuity on her part that allowed her to have it all?

Then again, it really doesn't matter.  Atlantic Magazine really doesn't care about my thoughts, because unless I work full time AND have a crazy home life, I don't have it all.  I really wish, though, that they would have asked us first if we had it all, rather than publishing not one, but two articles that fuel the notions that we can or can't, AND that having it all only counts if one has what is considered a high-powered career.  There are plenty of stay at home dads these days.  Do they not have it all?  

Let's just stop already.  Let's quit comparing and deciding who does or doesn't have it all, and once and for all, make that decision ON OUR OWN.  Who cares what someone else does?  Atlantic Magazine, all you had to do was ask the right person...and, in my opinion, you missed the boat twice.

Sincerely,

Jen

It's been a

a slower pace this week for us, but we've still been busy.  We've been  enjoying Southern favorites like fried

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Lunch at the Dixie Cafe with Cait. Oh, the fried okra....


everything?  By the way, I ordered the *light* plate!

 

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Hanging around with cousins...

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all over trains

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and trees (at Oaklawn Garden).

 

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Switching gears,

 

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checking things out,

 

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and using the force to stop that loathsome paparazzi at the Children's Museum.

 

And all this activity?

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Just leaves us tuckered out.  Night ya'll!

June 25, 2012

We're not in Kansas, anymore, Nicholas Quinn

or Virginia for that matter.  Nope, we are in good ole Memphis (can you say going to overindulge on BBQ this week?) for a week or so.

 

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Nick was actually propelled out of bed when asked if he wanted to go see Grandpa today.

 

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The travelers with their mostly self-packed bags.


Nope, no emergency caused us to roust ourselves (well, myself) at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning (not that I could have slept anyway since the construction workers next door were already at work...), pack the car (the Civic), realize that not everything would fit, unpack the car, move the Odyssey, pack the Odyssey, and wake the remaining child, load him into the car with the waiting Sissas and head to BWI.  We followed this up with two plane rides and an extra special treat of Jamba Juice in the Charlotte airport.  Who knew that was there?!

 

 

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Nothing like fruit smoothies to boost a traveler's weary spirit!

 

Why did we do this?  Well, to surprise Grandpa Kirk at his 70th birthday party (which was also a surprise).  

I can't say it wasn't a long day.  After two car rides, two planes and three airports, I was exhausted, but we still had a party to get to!  We had a few minutes downtime at the hotel to get refreshed and ready and by 6:20 p.m. the entire Dinoia contingent was hiding in a bedroom in the home of the party's host, waiting for Grandpa Kirk to appear.

It's safe to say we surprised him.  We casually entered the room after the big surprise and he was still in shock from that.  After staring at us for a few minutes, it hit him who we were and I think he was quite taken aback.  We had discussed the girls possibly flying down and attending the party, but decided it was too expensive.  We also threw in a crazy story about Pete's R&R being frozen and he believed it hook, line, and sinker (whew!).   Given that he thought there was no chance the girls would show up, he never even considered the possibility that the whole family might suddenly appear.

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We did, though, and celebrated like crazy for a few hours.  I was grateful this was a very family-friendly party (many kids our kids' age) and they had fun running around for hours.  In fact, Nicholas was so exhausted, he easily slept 12 hours in a row which gave me time to get a good night's sleep AND have a whole hour to myself Sunday morning (normally unheard of).  

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We have since been enjoying family time and a chance to relax. We are here until Friday and trying to take in as much Southern hospitality and cooking as time allows.  If you are wondering, the weather is nearly the same as Northern Virginia (and actually feels LESS humid), so no adjustment in that respect.  It's a bit of a whirlwind trip considering we made reservations only a week ago, but fell together nicely.  We are, of course, a bit sad that Peter couldn't join us, but given that he will be home for his first R&R in 5 short weeks, I'm not complaining!

June 24, 2012

I'm thinking an Etsy store...

 

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The artist's self-portrait....

is it me (feel free to say yes) or are these THE cutest luggage tags you have ever seen?  Cait made these "Bag Tagz" for us the other day for our trip to Memphis.

 

Oh, yes, we are in Memphis for the week.  Kind of intentionally didn't mention and there is a blog post in progress on the whole situation.  The trip was very quickly initiated for a good surprise and thus far has been a lot of fun for all involved and only a few minor travel hiccups.  

 

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Kelsey

In fact, this crazy trip had us all up, the car packed and in said car at 7:24 a.m. yesterday, ready to head to BWI for a day of travel one-third of the way across the country.  We are all still exhausted from the trip, but thus far have had a very good time and I even got NINE hours of sleep last night.  I shouldn't brag, but after 5 weeks of the UT thing (and little sleep), it was a welcome respite. 

 

 

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Mr. Quinn

Back to the bag tags:  Cait wanted a way to set apart our luggage from other bags and loves to draw.  She has a very unique style and came up with the idea, drew the pictures, scanned them, printed them out, laminated them and attached to the suitcases.  The only problem is that they were attached with ribbon and three went missing during our travels. They can be easily re-created, though, and we may add more info on the other side and use those vinyl ties instead of ribbon.

 

 

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Me

So, what do you think?  Oh, and for those who think it might be *too* personal, remember it's not an exact likeness and it could always be changed according to your specifications....thinking perhaps this could be her summer job!

 

 

June 23, 2012

Maybe we do have it all

after all.

There was an article today in the Atlantic that gained quick momentum and was shared on Facebook once, if not hundreds of times.  I shared it, too, not because I agree with it, but because it did make me think:  maybe I have all I need.  

Can you imagine that? I'm not working a high-powered job, I'm a SAHM who enjoys writing but could not survive on what she makes in that endeavor ($250/year...not so much).  I don't have an overly fancy car, but can't imagine I'd enjoy the upkeep required if I did.  My lack of a high-powered job means I don't flit here and there all over the country. My flitting and floating is limited to local volunteer opportunities and that's fine by me...well, until we move next year.

I'm not super-glam, nor do I care to be.  I'd love to be a master gardener, but saving that for when we move to Nicaragua and I have space to grow more than herbs.  My house, while not exactly what I want, keeps us safe and generally warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Since I am at home (or rather, available) for the kids, we have more flexibility in our lives.  When Peter is in the same country, one of us can always make an appointment (school, doctor, dentist..) if not both.  We can generally take vacations (okay, maybe a week at the beach each year), when we want and we have real downtime (especially when Peter drops his phone in the Bay...true story!).

Maybe having it all isn't having an overwhelming job, social commitments, oodles of perfect children, and the right house and car.  Maybe having it all means coming to the conclusion that no one has it all, and perhaps others just don't dwell on it as much.  Maybe it's realizing we have what we need and that is all that truly matters.  

Quite honestly, I felt sorry for the author in some respects.  So many accomplishments and she thinks we still can't have it all?  No, thank you, I do have it all:  my all is just different from hers and that is fine with me. 

 

June 22, 2012

{this moment}: Care Package

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Who doesn't love a box stuffed with treats from Trader Joe's?  Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

June 21, 2012

Self-portrait of Nick

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and his version of his Dad-Guy:

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I can definitely see the family resemblance.... 

June 18, 2012

My children

amaze me at time with their wisdom and their ways of entertaining me during what could be a crazy, bizarre and scary year with Peter away.  It is definitely crazy and odd at times, but also amusing when we have conversations like, 

Nick, "Mom, do you miss Daddy?"

Me, (not sure...do I say a lot...a little..what's the right answer?), "A little bit, I guess.  Do you miss him?"

Nick, "A little bit."  He waited a beat and then said, "I was just copying you!"

Oh.

Then I was fretting over a rather large decision which seems to have no right answer.  I tried to get Kelsey's opinoin, but she was extraoridinarily non-committal in her answer.  As I bemoaned my inability to get an answer from her, she shouted from the living room, 

"I can't solve all your problems for you, you know!"

Sigh...but if only.  

 

June 17, 2012

I was only half-kidding about

wishing Pete a Happy Father's Day.  After all, he is still waaaay over there and we are over here, thinking about celebrating Father's Day by our lonesomes.  We have decided on a Mexican brunch and Chinese take-out for dinner (Peking Gourmet Inn, anyone?).  No, I'm not cooking this weekend, as I have cooked nearly every weeknight since Peter left (whether I was home to eat the food or not) and I need a break, too.

I wish we could share the meals together, but at least we know this time next year we will be celebrating as a family.  Actually, two months from now we will be together as a family, at least for a little bit while Peter is on R&R.  Or, as Nick likes to say, "home for a visit."  The Little Guy truly seems to grasp that Dad is going back and forth for the next 11 months between his job and home and for that, I am so grateful, as it makes this time much easier.

The part about having to pre-record the video because it is Sunday where Peter is (and therefore, Father's Day) but only Saturday here?  Yeah, that kind of went over his head, but still made for an interesting discussion.  So....

Happy Father's Day to all dads out there, but particularly to Peter.  He is a fabulous dad-guy who truly loves and cherishes his kids.  He helps with Algebra, makes late-night lunches just so for a certain Bento box girl and wrestles/fights like a Jedi with the best of them.  We love you SO much and miss you bunches!

 

 

June 16, 2012

I knew we'd need

something this summer to keep us occupied. In fact, several somethings would be ideal.  Not that we would otherwise rest on our laurels, but I was really hoping that Kelsey might consider a swim team at long last.  

 

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Grinning ear to ear after the 50 meter freestyle.


Up until now, she has enjoyed swimming and taken many, many lessons including stroke work, but had no interest in competition.  Cait had a very brief stint with it and decided it was not for her, so I didn't push it on Kelsey.  Plus, we would need to join a pool in order for Kelsey to swim with a team (our neighborhood only has a pool, nothing else) and that was an extra expense we couldn't afford to incur last summer.  This year, with Pete over there and the ISMA/danger/differential trickling in, it's a different story.

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We talked about the possibility many times and Kelsey decided she was ready.  I was so nervous she would jump in the pool and hate it, but I could not have been more wrong.  Her first practice was exhausting, but she was with friends from both Girl Scouts and school...and they were all tired and dragging a bit by the end of practice.   She then missed two days for weather and an event, but by the following week seemed excited about practice.  By the end of this week, she was happily realizing that her endurance was increasing and that backstroke is "so easy!"  Her only issue was too many swimmers in a lane, thus she could not go fast enough for her liking.

 

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There's that backstroke...she's the one with the arm mid-air.


Today was the big test:  time trials.  I worried about a repeat of Cait's aborted swim team attempt and shuddered in advance.  We made it in time for her to warm up and realize that everyone was just excited to be together.  The kids were great about hanging out together, getting their cards and making sure everyone was lined up as they should be.  Then the moment of truth:  she had the 50 meter freestyle to complete.

The whistle blew and off they went.  She was not the fastest, but she gave it her all and finished not far behind the others.  She got out of the pool and the first words out of her mouth were, "I finished!  I just kept going, I didn't stop and I finished!  I don't care if I am the last person, I am going to finish it!"

And there we have it:  We have just cemented our participation in the swim team because she is so excited about the opportunity and how she is a part of that and that she does her part...not whether she wins or not.  

Would I be happy if she won?  Absolutely.  However, I am even happier (and, yes, quite proud) that she is not bent on a trophy, but simply creating her own goals and following through.  She kept up the same attitude through the backstroke (which was even better) and left the pool after the trials tired but very satisfied with herself and eager to keep going.  Who could ask for more than that?

 

June 15, 2012

{this moment}: Rock the Mall

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

June 14, 2012

You guys

rock!

Each and everyone one of you who took the time to send a special message to Pete, to leave a comment here, to bake him a cake (yes, true story, is that awesome or what?!), post on Facebook  or call him, are fabulous.  He is normally a bit shy and retiring (just like me...two peas in a pod :-), but he was thrilled by the outpouring of birthday wishes and truly feels like he started off 40 in a great way.  Now if only the watch that I sent him (which arrived ON his birthday, miracle of miracles) had not been broken...

The watch business aside, 40 is looking stellar for Pete thus far and I have you  to thank for it. We have so much appreciation for each and every one of you for making us laugh, cry and feel a little less lonely on a special day.

Next assignment:  Father's Day! 

Just kidding (maybe)!

 

June 13, 2012

It's finally here...

the day you have been waiting for, oh-so-patiently.  You may remember reading about it last year and thinking, will this day ever arrive?!

Now, I know I was not aware at that time that our lives would change so much by now.  I had no idea that Peter would be somewhere over there right and had totally planned something different for this day, until the unaccompanied tour happened.

Since he is there,  we are slightly limited in the celebrating that we can do.  Therefore, I ask you to join in to help us make this day truly special for Peter.  As you did last year (and he LOVED IT!!), please consider leaving a comment on the blog, sending him an email, a comment or DM on Facebook...whatever makes your heart happy.  

Should you be working with him in the same general locale or know someone who knows someone who remembers meeting him, feel free to give a shout out.  I know he will appreciate it!

Now, why all of the attention?  Well, because....

 

Lordy, Lordy, Peter's 40!

Img001Yep, the sweet little guy above is now an awesome 40 year old husband, dad, and all-around fab guy.

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Here's to you, Pete.  I'm sorry we can't be with you today, so hopefully you are dreaming of happy times with Coldstone Creamery Oreo ice cream cake, balloons, festivities that will make your little introverted heart explode with craziness.  We wish we could be celebrating right along with you, but since we can't this will have to do for now.  We love you and miss you, but know what you are doing is so very important and we will have the bestest party ever on your first R&R!

Love, 

Jen, Cait, Kelsey, Nicholas, Bailey (who misses sleeping on your head & stoking your cat allergies), & Theo (the guinea pig butler)

The birthday message would not be complete without the following from Nicholas Q.:

 

 

June 09, 2012

Rock the

Mall took place today.  200,000 of those to whom Girl Scouting (and its 100th Anniversary) is very near and dear converged on said grassy spot to celebrate, sing and, yes, swelter (it is DC in the summer after all).  

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Kelsey's troop decided that arriving early was best and this was likely true.  We were able to snag a good spot not terribly far from the main stage and thanks to the jumbo size television screens, no one had a bad view of the stage.  Technically, the morning was the preview show, but events (such as the top seller tent!) were taking place all day long.  The afternoon was the main event (from 12 - 4 p.m.) and while I am sure it was fabulous, we bagged it at one.  Why?

It was just too darn hot and there were too many people.  

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While we brought plenty of water and food, the sun was just too much, and there was simply too little shade.  It was a gorgeous clear day, but no matter how much water was consumed, it seemed like we were all dragging by 1 p.m. (having arrived at 9:15 a.m.).  As much as we wanted to participate more in the sing-a-long, the swelling crowds and long lines began too be too much.  We finally opted out and let others take our place so they could enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

The best parts of the day:

  • Swaps!  The girls absolutely loved exchanging them and there were some darn creative ideas!  Props to girls in Florida (bags of sand & mini fake shells)  and in Maryland (Old Bay spices in a bag!).  Loved the creativity and only wish Kelsey hadn't possibly lost hers (holding out for a troopmate finding them).
  • The mood!  Despite the heat, other than a few girls cutting in line at the water fountain, everyone seemed in a good spirits and polite was the word of the day.  It did get very crowded, but leaders and girls alike remained civil and calm (not all Mall events are so kind-spirited), and with all of the people and the weather, I was surprised how no tempers seemed to flare anywhere (that's the Girl Scout spirit).
  • The location!  Really...it could not have been better.  What better place than the mall to have such a rally?  Despite the heat (perhaps earlier in the year might be better?), it really was a neat event.

Things I'm glad we thought of:

  • Bringing our own food.  The lines for food and drinks were insanely long.  The mall almost seemed to small today as so many converged on it at one time.  If you ever attend, it is well worth it to lug along a (small) cooler filled with cold water and nourishing food.  We never actually found the water stations, but did make use of a hidden water fountain (until the lines for that became too long).
  • Chairs!  It was a tiny bit cooler to sit in our camp chairs (when we had time to sit).
  • Walking shoes.  We walked A LOT on the mall.  Enough said if you know anything about the mall and how some areas are not so grassy.
  • Lowered expectations.  We weren't sure what to expect and given that 200K were slated to be there, we did not want to assume that we would hit every booth or see all of the  show.  This turned out to be best, as we stopped at the most important places and missed a lot of lines (not a bad thing at all).

I have to say I was a bit disappointed that there was still so much trash.  Swaps were dropped, plastic bags were handed out by vendors (after Girl Scouts were advised NOT to bring bags), Dove was a corporate sponsor (huh?!) and recycling bins were few and far between.  All of that being said, probably still one of the cleanest events I have seen on the mall in ages and the girls had a really good time.

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Best of all?  Kelsey was able to use her all access pass to the top 100 tent!  Thanks to all of you who purchased cookies, Kelsey sold a whopping total of 907 boxes to people in over 25 countries and several states.  She had a chance to sit in the cookie throne, decorate special sunglasses with quite a bit of bling and take a break from the heat in the special tent (perhaps the biggest treat).  Oh, and yes, she totally plans on being at that tent next year, too.  

 

June 08, 2012

Another special moment

courtesy of the Salty Dogs.  This moment is truly amazing as so much love and hard work went into it. Please click over and see for yourself, but don't forget the tissues.

{this moment}: Reading Corner

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

June 05, 2012

I have been wondering the past few days

what to call my new 'look' if you will.  You see, I don't so much have time to glance in the mirror anymore and my judgment of how my day has been basically revolves around whether I made a decent dinner and the kids seem basically happy (good thing I didn't write this yesterday).  Not that I really stressed the mirror business before, but now it's really gone out the window.

ThenI happened to read this post today.  

Utterly hysterical and she describes me to a "T" when she mentions the whole "not minding leaving the house looking like a...."

I'm sure things will change.  I am sure at some point I might care (Pete's R&R?) what I look like (stranger things have happened).  However, right now I'm just thrilled that the kids are not wailing and gnashing their teeth over Peter being gone. It took Nick 13 days to say "I miss Daddy" the first time and he has a newfound love for brushing his teeth (formerly a nightmarish struggle), Kelsey has not only NOT quit swim team, but likes it (!), and Cait does not mind babysitting on short notice for lots of money. So, if I look like a wreck, at least it's for a good reason.

Anyway, go read it and have a good laugh if you are a parent, because you will SO get it.... 

June 04, 2012

Did you ever have that feeling

that you had finally done something right as a parent?  I don't mean to imply that most people don't, but I certainly don't always feel that I always do the *right* thing.  I might assume I am, but sometimes it seems as though it is years before I really know.  Yesterday, I knew.

I knew as this adult-like person marched out of customs into the international arrivals terminal at Dulles.  She pretended not to know me (I'd expect nothing less), and that was fine.  Why?  Because after a full week away, she came home wanting more adventure, not less.

Others straggled through customs and the gates.  They met their parties with tear-filled eyes and shouts of, "I never want to leave this country again!" (Really...I mean REALLY?).  I have a hard time comprehending that idea.  I understand being happy to be home, but never wanting to get out and explore again? 

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Cait did not disappoint.  Two hours of pictures, talk of things that had changed, things that hadn't, oodles of picture and new kids she met at the school.  It was then I truly knew.

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I knew that somehow, I, we had done something right somewhere along the way.  She went on this adventure with her own expectations and fulfilled them all.  She did it by herself at a far younger age than I ever would have conceived.  My doubts about my parenting skillz (or lack thereof) temporarily disappeared as I realized my daughter had successfully and happily navigated her first overseas trip. Yes, she had oodles of help from my friend, Berta, but she still had a lot to deal with on her own.  

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I'd like to think that whether it's us or merely our lifestyle and the way we deal with it, that somehow we encouraged this adaptability and flexibility.  The curiousity that made her not only enjoy living in a place, but want to go back with such a ferverent longing.  And the truth?

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I was nothing like that at her age.  I know my 13 year old self would be insanely jealous of Cait's ability to want to travel and navigate things on her own.  My 39 year old self?  I'm just very proud of of my 13 year old daughter and so glad that she has chosen to embrace what life offers her rather than just get through the different experiences and move onto the next one without looking back.  

June 02, 2012

Self-confidence is not

not my strong suit.  You may not know it, but I assure you it is true.  Each time I click publish on this little blog, I freeze and wonder if I am doing the right thing.  If pouring out my thoughts and feelings is the best way to share my voice or if I should just save to draft.  Would my writing really be missed?

My lack of belief in myself actually held up my writing for years.  I could write in class...high school, college, no issues.  However, generally only one person was reading and judging.  The works were not read before anyone, not published for the world to view.  If I received a low grade, I could blame it on a lack of sleep or not enough research.  It generally did not happen, since I truly love to write, but I felt I had an out if it did.

Yet despite deeply enjoying this method of self-expression, I completely feared the idea of ever sharing my thoughts with others.  I had grand ideas of writing a work of fiction that would rock the world, but couldn't get past the idea of submitting my thoughts to anyone other than my husband.  Then blogging came along...

I must admit, I dipped my toes in slowly.  I did not utilize it as fully at first, at least not on a regular basis and I rue that decision to an extent.  However, outside factors, such as Mom dying and frequent moves, worries about others reading my thoughts....all played into my decision to be more careful.  It was not as though I was not honest, just perhaps not as open.

Then things started to change...I realized when Peter was preparing to depart for his first unaccompanied tour that I could no longer hold back.  I knew that writing might be the only thing that got me through the year.  One quarter into the UT and the worst day of my life occurred (okay, several worst days).  My honesty became more intense as it was the only outlet that worked for me.  Talking, crying, screaming...none of that helped.  Writing?  If nothing else, it gave me at least one good night's sleep after a post.  The beauty of it?  I was so miserable and wrapped up in that misery that I didn't stress about what others might think.  I wrote because it freed my soul from the sadness that enveloped it so completely for months.

Then something magical happened.  I found the ability to write outside of the blog.  I realized that I finally had the confidence to let someone else read my writing and decide if it should be published.  Within a year, I had two articles published.  Not prolific, but for someone with a dearth of self-confidence, it could be worse.  And somewhere in there, I found my voice.  

I knew then that I could not only utilize the blog for catharsis, but perhaps to bring awareness.  In February, I penned this post regarding my feelings towards a certain organization in which I had completely lost faith.  It had been waning for years, but a recent decision by the corporation (let's face it, that's what it is) made me realize how angry I was.  This company theoretically should have been able to save me from quite a bit of agony.  Instead, they did nothing but solicit money from me, time and time again.  No cure, no offers of help, just more requests in the mail sandwiched in between the medical bills and EOBs.

The response to that post was overwhelming.  I knew I had touched a nerve and that people were waking up to the realization that there was more than enough awareness about my issue, but not enough action. It occurred to me that perhaps I should share the post on a greater level.  

I had bandied about the idea of attending something like BlogHer for years, but with my lack of self-confidence, the idea just scared me.  So many people, so many new people that I just couldn't fathom it, even for two days.  This year, however, it seemed different.  I wouldn't have to travel far, I'd likely be able to find care for the kids, and best of all, I might know a few people attending.  I then read about the Voices of the Year nominations, read that they were open and realized it was now or never.

I could attempt to share my post on a greater level or forever hold my peace.  Within minutes, I had purchased a ticket (nervewracking in and of itself) and then nominated my own post.  Odd to some, I suppose, but I finally had the gumption to try.  If I failed, no big deal.  I honestly didn't think I could win in any respect as there was simply too much competition.  So, I did the best thing I could do:  I forgot about it.

Then last night I received an email from BlogHer.  I was knee-deep in so many other issues, and didn't even think it might be an official notification.  I then read  and fully comprehended the message. I was stunned to read that my post was selected and I was officially an Honoree for the OpEd category of 2012 Voices of the Year.   

I had actually been debating until last night whether or not I should keep the ticket.  The beginning of Peter's R&R had been changed to coincide with that weekend and given how little time we have together, I wasn't sure I should leave.  However, now I'm viewing it as a sign.  I'm going to go and give it all I've got, no matter how much coffee it takes to make me less nervous.  Should you be there and see someone standing there quietly, quaffing several mochas and looking just one shade shy of a wallflower, please say hello.  I know I will be thrilled to make your acquaintance.

 

June 01, 2012

{this moment}: Kelsey D., Cookie Seller Extraordinaire

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.