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15 posts from October 2012

October 31, 2012

Boo...was supposed to be

the title of this post, but sadly the surprise was on me.

This Halloween started out as a gorgeous day, considering the recent weather.  My mood is significantly improved over recent years, and while I wasn't quite ready to decorate for Halloween on Labor Day, I certainly came around in the past few weeks.  Our abode was strung with lights inside and out, candles everywhere, scary skull and spider banners and, my ulitmate thrift shop find:  an awesome black candelabra complete with spooky candles in place.

The kids planned their costumes, as usual, and did a fantastic job.  Cait was a last-minute Batgirl, Kelsey a vampire (with makeup help from Cait) and Nick was a knight (I think he was jealous of his buddy, Nate's cool costume).  By the time the first trick or treaters rolled around, I had the candy ready, Halloween music going, the lights flickering upstairs (go eco-friendly light bulbs!) and the pumpkins lit. Nicholas happily doled out candy to the first few sets of children and couldn't understand why they should *only* receive two pieces.



In Jack & Janet's Halloween decoration extravaganza.

The Little Guy and Kelsey lasted (as I expected) about three streets (and not even complete ones).  We had an additional destination, an annual visit to our friends in Alexandria, so Cait continued to hand out candy while we were gone.  Jack and Janet always have a most awesome display, and even with the hurricane threatening things, Jack did a bang-up job getting everything ready in an afternoon.  Sweet Kelsey even offered a bag of our candy when she heard they were *running low* after, what, 640 visitors?!

Enjoying their hauls...


Bestest candy-hander outer ever!

All in all, Halloween was awesome. Not what you expect when you are a single parent and feeling like you roll from one holiday to the next.  This was fun and easy (probably as Kelsey did an amazing amount of decorating) and I really got into the spirit this year.  Perhaps the only sad part was the phone call I received this afternoon...


And I knew...I knew what it was...it happens quite frequently, when I just *know* what the bad news will be, whether or not it is expected.  And this was not expected...yet...but today, my grandfather, affectionately deemed "Grandpere" by my grandmother upon my birth, died at the age of 99.


Grandmere et Grandpere circa...1988?

99...seriously, 99 years.  I am sad that he is no longer with us, but amazed that he had so much time. He knew all of his grandchildren and met all 4 great-grandchildren.  He came to my baptism, my first communion, and my wedding.  He was completely different from my other grandfather (as grandfathers should be) but amazing in his own way.  So quiet much of the time, yet he exuded the sort of companionable silence that is never uncomfortable.  


Grandpere with a newly born Cait, September 1998.

Nick and I will be off this weekend, once I can work things out for the girls.  We will go for the celebration of Grandpere's life and remind ourselves that even though he is gone, we did have so many special times together.


Missing you, Grandpere.


Your Sport Buddy (a somewhat ironic nickname given my athletic *ability,* but I loved it)



October 30, 2012

It's almost over....and then I swear I'll

shut up and say thank God it's November.  Yes, the month of October is winding down and hopefully, we will see a lot less of *this* stuff out there.


I was actually admiring this soy candle at Great Country Farms until I saw this label on the back.


At a book sale;  I certainly understand why this was donated.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I loathe the pink ribbon. If I never see another one, it will be too soon.  Why?

  • There cannot be people not aware of this issue where pink ribbon items are sold.
  • Just because there is a pink ribbon, does not mean money is going to your organization of choice.  You need to actually read the fine print and see if it is indeed benefitting a non-profit (and we know the K group...well, not a non-profit in my mind).
  • Ask yourself, do I *need* this item?  If not, why not just make a direct donation to the organization the funds are benefitting?  I guarantee, a direct $5 donation will do a lot more good than 30 cents from the purchase of make-up that likely contains carcinogens or other nasty ingredients.
  • Think about those who have been affected by breast cancer.  Do you think that 30 cents would be well spent on that make-up/pink pot/water bottle, or could you use it towards a lunch out/card/coffee treat with the person?  
  • Last, but not least, there is SO much pressure out there regarding breast cancer awareness. Yes, be aware, buying a cruddy water bottle is not going to make anyone else more aware (except that you've likely paid too much for said bottle).  Don't forget other diseases and worries exist and they need your attention, too.  What about lung or pancreatic cancer? Childhood illnesses?  Food and shelter for those who don't have it?


I wonder if the product researcher actually uses this stuff?

Or does she read the ingredient list and know better? Scary, huh?


In fact, the commercialism regarding this issue just makes me sick.  It's pushed, pushed, pushed and the reality is that there is a lot of crap out there that could kill us.  Yes, there needs to be research on it, but there are other issues that need dollars thrown at them, too.  Breast cancer is neither pink nor pretty.  Let's all stop buying into the hype now and put our money where WE feel it should go...not what some corporation wants.


A cobb salad will not save lives...and I don't even want to think about what's in the dressing.



I rarely shop at Safeway anyway, but stunts like this just ensure I won't be back.

I will very glad to not be hassled at the cash register anymore, either by the machine OR the clerk.  No, thank you, I do not want to donate to *breast cancer.*  Seriously?



October 29, 2012

Hanging in there?

Yeppers, we are.  We had had somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 flickers, but no *outage* lasted longer than 5 seconds.  Yes, I realize we are still in the middle of the whole thing, but, here's the deal:

this is taking me right back to our last year in Reykjavik.

Remember this?


Cait & Josie investigate the remains of the trampoline.


Gale-force windstorms on a regular basis that shook the house...the wind whistled around what felt like an aluminum foil construction (in reality, a bit stronger) for hours.  In fact, the destruction above took place the night before Nicholas Quinn was due (due...not born!).  The kids can thank (and Pete can blame) the same winds for their only day off from school in 3 years.  No snow days (nope, not even with a foot or more of snow...but guaranteed sledding at recess), but they did get 7/8 of a day off in December 2007 when the winds were so high that flights were canceled out of Keflavik.  Now, if you want a windy day...well, if Icelandic pilots aren't flying, that's some weather craziness!

The winds have officially reached the point where they remind of that winter.  The house is quite sound and we don't hear that much, but the dog's extraoridinarily quick sojourn tonight was enough to give me that familiar feeling.  You know, the one that says it's time to skedaddle inside now?

Am I worried or scared?  Nope.  We dealt with this on a weekly basis, if not more, in Reykjavik that last year.  However, I'd also add that I won't be venturing outside for a long walk until the winds die down just a bit.  I'm grateful for my warm and cozy house (still with electricity!) and think I will enjoy the excuse to spend another day hanging out in my jammies.


I'm fairly sure fort-building was all the rage today....


October 28, 2012

Sandy is coming....

and we are ready....I think.

We have an abundance of food, mostly fruits and veggies, stored in the fridge that should last for several days even without power.  I have bags of ice and empty coolers ready to go.  The car is gassed up and I've done tons of laundry the past few days.

We have a gas stove.  Barring a gas outage (which we have not had to date...knock on wood it won't happen), we will be able to cook.  I loathe electric stovetops and vow never to have one again if I can help it (and being able to cook during a power outage is invaluable).  


See? Is that prep or what?!


I have the car-jump thingy that can also charge my cell phone ready to go and oodles of candles and matches.  Kelsey has flashlights galore, Nick has tons of energy and Cait has volunteered to sleep through the whole thing, if need be (you have no idea the sacrifice).


Might as well enjoy the autumn scents...


Of course, we have water, and I won't have to worry about oodles of empty bottles in the recycling bin.  They claim recycling and garbage will be picked up tomorrow, but I genuinely hope they change their minds if it's remotely crazy.


Yep, I know...a water crock and stand just scream Foreign Service and to think I thought about donating them!


Last, but not least, perhaps the most important items that will help me through the next few days...


I swtiched to a dripper years ago, so only need hot water for a good cup...

I think given they canceled school at 2 p.m. today...well, the need for this goes without saying.


And if things get really bad?  I'm safehavening myself in the basement with my iPhone and Halloween candy.   Hopefully, this will all blow over very quickly, but if not, and you need me....just look for that trail of the candy wrappers....

(I'm not worried about us...but, seriously, folks anywhere near us...please be safe!!).

October 26, 2012

{this moment}: Foreign Service Friendships Rock

{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.

Cait & Heiða, friends since our move to Iceland in 2005.

This photo says it all.  Well, almost all, you can't see the two bags of kleinur (now 1.5 bags...) Heiða brought us.  Yum!

October 25, 2012

Being that

Grandpa Kirk was in town last weekend, we felt it only proper that we do a bit of the touristy thing.  Well, truth be told, we'd planned this agenda item ages ago, as it is fall in Northern Virginia and we cannot pass up a trip to Great Country Farms.

Did I mention Saturday was utterly gorgeous?



It is the third year in a row we have managed to spend the day out there with the Salty Dog Crew (and extended family) and it was, of course, a blast.  We didn't manage every single activity, but Nick and Kelsey finally got to see P-Rex eat a pumpkin, Kelsey did the swing-thing, Nick hung out with Nate and Dad and I thought the place might shut down with Nick and Kelsey still on the bouncy pillow thing.

Oh, and Cait?  Yep, she went and had a blast hanging out with Nate in the playground and the cow train.  However, she also took some private time to read in a quiet area and I can't say I blame her, as it was the perfect day to read and laze a bit while everyone else runs around.


Of course we took pictures by the giant pumpkin and the ruler. I've posted pics from last year, as I simply cannot believe this is the same little guy from a year ago.  His face has changed so much and, seriously, when did that happen?


October 8, 2011

October 20, 2012....Seriously, is that the same Little Guy?!


My Kelsey D., just a wee bit taller (okay, several inches).

She is actually 5'8". The sign is tilted, so she doesn't get her full height credit.

And if you are wondering, I just didn't have the heart to tell Kelsey there is likely not a Great Country Farms in Managua.  Guess we will just have to make do with a weekend at the beach instead!


October 21, 2012

{this moment}: Little Teachers' Night

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (two days late, sorry). 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.


Little Teachers' Night at Nick's Montessori.  Grandpa came along...what a special treat!

Idea courtesy of Soulemama.

October 18, 2012

I've got class!

No, really, stop laughing, as of January 2, I will begin Spanish at FSI!  Just an 8 week Fast Course, but given that I don't see myself debating foreign policy in Spanish, I will probably be set with that and maybe a follow-up distance learning course.

I cannot tell you how happy, happy, happy this makes my little heart.  Why?  Well, I've probably never blogged this story, but I have not had as much Spanish instruction as I would like.  Yes, I can say "creespy cheecken streeps" with the best of them (how you HAD to order chicken strips at the Friday's in Caracas), but that didn't get me too far in political debates with my housekeeper.  Then again, she was a Chavista, so that was a no-go to begin with.

So, back in 2000, I was all set to take Spanish.  Peter had signed me up for an early morning course, as I was no longer working full-time and we did not have the extra $1000K/month just to put Cait in daycare so I could go to class.  We only had one car, so it was already going to require careful coordination for me to get to class, back home, and get the car to Peter.

I was STOKED, though.  Any class was better than nothing, right?  So, I showed up bright and early at the proper location at FSI on the first day of class.  I gave my name and pertinent info and was promptly told, "Oh, that class was moved."  Oh?

Yes.  They moved it to Main State.  In the city, with no parking and rush hour traffic.  Fabulous.  I slinked back home and realized it would be self-tutoring, remembering one year of high school Spanish and classes at the Embassy, if I was lucky.  As it turned out, I did quite well with that and other than the cheese guy not understanding me when I clearly said, "cheddar," I had no issues.  I could communicate with my maid, get the meat at the butcher and the grocery store was a lesson in and of itself.  My past tense sucked, but my vocabulary rocked and that's all that mattered to me.

Fast forward 12 years (gulp).  Peter's out of the country, all three kids are in school and no one else is vying (yet) for the use of the car.  So, yippee-skippee, I am going to rock the heck out of that 8 weeks of Spanish!  I think I've earned it! 

And while we are on the topic of State again, I'll throw another tip (you know, tip #1:  you can survive on one year of high school Spanish in Caracas, even though you shouldn't have to do so).  I've been hearing again that not everyone is aware of certain *benefits* (if you will) of an unaccompanied tour.  Now, mind you, this does not include those on UTs who are doing them voluntarily (e.g., for educational or other reasons).  However, if your spouse is overseas, say in A, I or P, and you are in the U.S. or on virtual ISMA while overseas and have children who would like to meet him or her somewhere, they are allotted one trip per year to see said parent.

Yep, I kid you not.  I didn't believe it at first, but it is true.  It is very clear in the FAM and is allowed due to the nature of the circumstances.  Let's face it, Dad isn't over there yukking it up and having a fabulous time and you might be here getting a little stressed out over being a parent 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year.  So, if you decide it's easier for one R&R to be somewhere in the middle, voila, the kids' airfares are covered (yours is not, but still...).  

Only cost of the flight is covered, but that alone can be a huge help.  Mind you, this applies to those who are in the States or who have PCS*-ed overseas and are receiving virtual ISMA.  If one decided to remain at a previous overseas post (via TDY**) while the other parent embarked on the UT, the children would not be eligible for said travel. Another issue to ponder while already making a tough decision.

And before anyone gets their panties in a wad, remember, when the officer serves at an unaccompanied post, the whole family serves.  Something like this can make a year of hardships a tad bit easier.  Where will we go?  Only time will tell....

*Permanent Change of Station

** Temporary Duty



October 12, 2012

{these moments}: Fall for Peter

{these moments} - A Friday ritual. Four photos- no words - capturing moments from the week. Simple, special, extraordinary moment. Moments 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.



Peter saw a photo last week of turning leaves and gasped, "Is it fall there already?  I miss the leaves!"  So sending a bit of autumn spirit his way. Idea courtesy of Soulemama.

October 11, 2012

When I can't think of anything good to do

I Google things I shouldn't.  I also do this when I have weird pains and I utterly convinced that my arm is about to fall off due to a sydrome that I don't have but feel the need to stress about anyway.  

Tonight I had a few aches in my hand and despite doing 60 kettleball reps yesterday and a vigorous rowing workout today, I assumed the worst.  You'll have to guess (or make something up) if you don't know what it is that is worrying me as I can't even type the word...the thought of it ever happening worries me that much.  Anyway, I hemmed and hawed and finally Googled my symptoms and the worst case scenario...and

of course they don't match up.  Duh.  I knew that.  Guess what though?  It hit me that I had not Googled anything related to you-know-what in AGES. (Other than the non-medical blog stuff).  Go, me!  And, yes, it sounds silly, but a few years ago I was driving myself insane with Dr. Google.  Now I am looking up normal stuff like "awful black looking allergy thing on eye."  (Poor Pete has some awful bug bite/allergy thing going on...).

So, while I was stressing about that which I don't have, Nick reminded me just how adorable age 4 can be.  He knows Pete is coming home at Christmas, and has already secured an appointment for a post-gift opening light saber fight.  However, he forgot once again how long Pete will stay.

"So, Dad is coming home to open gifts and then is going right back to Afghanistan?"

Nope, he is going to stay for several weeks.

"Oh, GOODY, then I can sleep next to him that night!"

If THAT doesn't tug at your heartstrings, I don't know what does....that Little Guy...too awesome for words.


October 10, 2012

I know I should just say no

and leave well enough alone, but the pink ribbons are about to strangle me.  Every time I read yet another article on awareness or see more frosted pink cookies in the grocery store (cause that's prevention right there....of what, I have no idea), it reminds me of another topic.  It's a word overused and abused in my opinion and I'm going to have my say and be done with it.

I will add the caveat that you can feel free to disagree, however, unless you have been in the *exact* (and I mean EXACT) same scenario, it can be very difficult to understand how another feels.  So, the word of the month that I will be thrilled if I never hear again, lest it be in relation to a reality show that I've never watched?  

Yep, it's the "S" word:  Survivor.

I would like to make one thing abundantly clear:  I do not now and never will, tag myself as a survivor of breast cancer.  I no more call myself that than I do a survivor of the flu, chicken pox or 5 years of strep throat (seriously...that was brutal).  Yet, from the day of my diagnosis, without my permission, doctors, nurses, and the like slapped that word on me faster than you can say #thinkbeforeyoupink.  

I called and left a message for someone about an exercise class (called "Pink Ribbon Pilates" no less) and got a return message for the "breast cancer survivor."  Except there is one problem:  I was never in any danger.  I had a lump, I had it removed, I did the radiation (the jury is still out on that one) and that was that.  My breasts did not try to strangle me, I did not hover near death during the surgery and I never had any intention of not going back to my old normal.

Yet, from day one I was tagged and labeled.  I couldn't escape it anywhere I went.  I was supposed to jump up and down about being a survivor.  Oh, gee, goody, had part of my chest removed, 3 painful surgeries to replace it, loads of nasty doctors appointments, and I'm supposed to be esctatic that I got through all of that and do a pink ribbon happy dance?  I'd rather just not have done it all in the first place.  However, many of the doctors and other staff using the term don't seem to think about how they would feel if it affected them.  They just stamp it on your forehead and go on their merry way.

As does the media.  In fact, I actually found someone to blame for this whole debacle a while back.  I won't drag his/her name through the mud, but apparently a few years back, someone decided that the word survivor was appropriate for anyone and everyone.  Even though each person's experience is different and some might have a cakewalk compared to the next person.  

So, without so much as a "how do you do," I've had the word bandied about like it's a compliment.  Well, to me, it's not.  It's just another reminder of a few months that I would rather have never experienced. Having to not go to our follow-on post?  Forcing my husband to curtail his tour of duty?  Losing part of myself and feeling pushed and pulled in so many directions with regard to follow-up?  Not something I really want to focus on.

More to the point:  I hate labels. HATE them.  If we insist as parents that it is a bad idea to label kids, why do we suddenly think adults will appreciate it, especially when it is a reminder of a not-so-stellar time?  Well, not all of us do.

I'm not asking anyone to radically change their vocabulary.  I'm not asking anyone to give up the label survivor, IF they are okay with that. Some people might well be and that is fine with me, as they may well have endured much, much more and truly feel they have survived something.  However, that is not me.

I am Jen...just Jen. I had breast cancer, it's gone and that was that.  Now, if you want to label me as a survivor of anything, it's not that....the Foreign Service lifestyle?  Maybe...but not breast cancer.  

That's all....


October 08, 2012


The LG is so insanely curious lately.  He has questions about everything from anatomy to geography and then we end up discussing how many former presidents are still alive and isn't it funny there was a president named Garfield?  He will decide he is from Africa, then ask where it is and a new geography lesson begins.

Two nights ago, he surprised me with the deepest question of them all.  We've been talking a lot about death lately.  Well, not me, he has been.  He is fascinated with the topic, I think because we discuss Grandma Kirk (my mother so much) and quite obviously, she died well before he was born.  He asks repeatedly how she died, what it was that hurt her and has it stuck in his mind she is buried in Chincoteague (we headed there right after we stopped at the cemetary).  He trips over the words pulmonary embolus and then I find myself explaining how blood clotting can be a very good thing ...or a very bad thing, depending on where it happens.  On the skin...a good thing...inside a leg or lung?  Not so much...

If you are curious, it does not upset me.  It would upset me more if he was afraid to ask me or if he thought it would worry me.  Instead he questions me without fear, and that is something I know my mother would love.  She was always very open and honest with me, and it was always so comforting to know I could ask anything without fear of reprisal.

Oh, but the deep question:  he wanted to know if anything ever happened to him, would I get another little boy to replace him?

I squeezed him tight, told him no (because how could I?) and wondered where this could have possibly come from.  Then I realized it didn't matter...because he is so curious now and even though the topic was not especially cheerful, I felt so glad that he felt he could ask me.  He was not afraid or upset, merely curious.

I only wish Peter was here for some of it.  We tend to have these conversations at night, snuggling after we read stories.  You can't duplicate that quiet tenderness during a Skype conversation, especially while you are also trying to get the dog to dance or the cat to sit (even more amusing) for someone who is watching 7,000 miles away. 

Hopefully, he has a few questions saved up for Peter...because he is just growing up so quickly.


October 07, 2012

7 weeks have passed

since Peter went back and to say the time is flying is not an adequate description.  It's already October and with a very few exceptions, our days are almost too busy.  Between school, volunteer commitments, the dog and my exercise schedule (with required recovery time), I'm lucky to find time to sleep.  However, thanks to the creative and strenuous workouts with my new trainer, I'm finding myself going to bed early by virtue of utter exhaustion.  

While I'm not going to say each day is super easy, we seem to be falling into a pattern.  The kids still fight over who takes the recycling to the curb, Lego bricks are still as fascinating as they were two months ago and the dog is adding a certain calm to our household.  The Little Guy is uttering things I swear he shouldn't as a 4 year old, but then again, he is 10 in his mind, so it all works out.

Coincidentally enough, as I was thinking over the past few weeks how things have eased up and the UT (Unaccompanied Tour) is stressful, but not, I received some interesting advice.  I read it, choked on most of it, forwarded to Peter, obtained his opinion and then realized I was not alone in thinking that quite a bit of it was, well, not pertaining to our situation.  Is that a nice way to put it?

Actually, I'm not even sure I want to be nice at this point.  My kids get medals and a free trip to see their father somewhere.  Peter gets awards and pats on the back because he is sacrificing a year for his country and living and working in a danger zone.  I get piles of laundry and dishes that make my head spin.  I spend a fortune on babysitters (whether bribing my own daughter or someone else's), have to keep 4 schedules straight in my head and there darn well just better not be any emergencies, because my main emergency contact is 7,000 miles away.  

Imagine my surprise then, when I read this advice and find tidbits that, if employed by me, would likely find me on Divorce Court.  I'll just tackle a couple of items, in the hopes that others reading the same information are not feeling that one has to follow that information or they are doomed to the worst UT ever.

1.  Apparently, we are supposed to understand that what is happening overseas with our spouse takes precedence over issues here.  We are supposed to understand that their job and needs trump ours and they are dealing with much more important issues.  Not only that, we need to remember that complaining about issues here is a waste of time and will not help with our communication.

Seriously?  Now, if I followed that advice, I would have 400% more work instead of 300%.  Peter may not be here physically, but I'll be damned (yes, you heard me), if he is going to quit being involved in our lives for a year just because he is over there.  He has a phone and knows how to use it.  He has time during our day (when I don't) to follow up on insurance issues, cable problems (he even ordered us a new box from Verizon) and appointments that will happen during his R&R.  Do you know what this does?  It keeps him involved!  

What may *seem* like a petty issue, if not discussed, could grow and fester into something huge.  So, yes, sometimes I complain and rant to him...and in turn, he might do the same.  Just like if he was home, so it feels normal, sane and neither one of us bottles up stuff that we need to just get out in the open.  And, I don't hesitate to let him resolve problems (that he can), since we know I am doing the bulk of the work.

In short, TALK to each other.  Ignoring a problem, no matter how small, will not make it go away.

Now this next item was not in the same exact milieu, but in related information and along the same lines.

2.  Rather than teaching your children how to call your loved one at post, you are to instruct them that the phone number is for "emergencies only" and if they want "to call to complain, they should send an email instead."  I will get Nick RIGHT ON that email business.  While he may be an expert at tweeting Lego You Tube police videos to my Facebook status, he has not quite mastered emails that don't look like this:  "yoiuiud....sdoiufdsoiu iouohklkjl catoiupoi."  So, I have to say, I would file that under useless to downright silly.

Instead, let's look at the reality that many times (not always, but sometimes) kids have to be reminded to call...or they don't feel like talking when you may have said parent on the line.  Other parent (the one at the overseas post) knows that each child is different and may not want to chat when others are listening and/or simply may want to talk when they want to talk (generally how that whole phone thing goes, you know?).  So, rather than assuming the child will abuse the phone privleges, since we are asking them to, oh, give up a year with said parent, assume that they can handle calling and chatting on their own?  And, maybe if dad or mom says it's not a good time, gasp, the parent can call back when it IS a good time.  I mean, kids aren't stupid and they don't always call to complain (shocking, but if you have kids, you are aware of this fact).

We actually have a rule in the house (and Peter, yes, really, Peter came up with this) that the kids can call whenever they need to do so.  Yes, really.  If Nicholas has a nightmare and wakes up at 3 a.m. and suddenly wants to talk to Pete, I call him.  The reality?  The kids Skype maybe twice a month and talk on the phone 3x a week (and that's probably a stretch)?  The hours don't always line up in their favor and when Pete calls, they don't always want to talk.   We don't force it (If you have ever seen a forced Skype conversation, you know it's not pretty) and then they are far more eager to talk when they are ready (and tend to have a lot more to say).  

The reality is that a UT can be a really crappy time.  (And that's not to say we are having a bad time right now, just that given the circumstances, a UT could be a very tough time for a family.)  While it can be hard on the spouse at the overseas post, the spouse at home generally has way more to think (and stress) about.  Let's not make it worse by offering advice that's rooted in some sort of twisted 1950's Mad Men/Stepford Wives scenario.  Give those of us on the Homefront credit where credit is due.  Trust me, we've earned it!


October 05, 2012

{this moment}: Blast from the Past

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (a day late, sorry). 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.


I didn't find *the* photo from this week, so thought I would search the archives.  This photo was taken 4 years ago on October 4, just a few months after we moved to San Ramon.  Wow...  Idea courtesy of Soulemama.

October 01, 2012

I walked into my new favorite coffee shop today,

and was hit with the realization that it is once again that time of year.  No, not Halloween or Christmas, or even just lovely fall decor...I was lightly slapped with the pink.

If you remember from this post, I am not a fan of a certain large corporation (let's face it, that is what they are) that claims they are racing towards a cure (while suing small non-profits that dare to use the word "cure" in a campaign and giving their top dogs rather inflated salaries).  It dismayed me to be diagnosed with bc during the month of "Pinktober" (now apparently an official Hard Rock Cafe term - triple vomit) and have to deal with not only the pink crap being thrown at me right and left, but the stuff being sold everywhere in stores in the name of a cure.

The only problem?  The stuff being sold is junk...t-shirts, pens, mugs, "Pink Ribbon pasta," pots, pans, Kitchen-aid mixers (really?!, okay, the mixer isn't junk, but the color...) and all are huge reminders to those of us who have dealt with this issue, that we are nothing more than pawns in a giant movement and poster children for a few CEOs.

When I was diagnosed, I was in the opposite camp already.  I was predisposed to loathing the "K Kulture" and figured I would deal with the whole thing and go back to my normal life.  This is great, except that then the Pink Ribbon business started to ramp up even more.  More junk appeared in stores, I received more requests for money (cause we weren't paying enough for treatment and other related issues?!) and I realize that many were blinded by the whole awareness thing.

Here's the deal:  if you have even thought about this issue, you are aware.  The whole awareness thing, excuse my French, is a load of crap.  Awareness did nothing for me.  I still lost part of myself and spent 3 painful surgeries getting it back.  It took me 8 months to go from feeling like I didn't want to get out of bed to realizing that my life was not over.  You know what have really helped?  Not more awareness of bc, but more awareness that the best thing you can do for yourself is to get back to what makes you tick, what makes you happy, what makes you...YOU.  For me, that is not bc...not now, and it never will be.

I think if I had to guess, there would be many out there who feel the same way.  I am fairly sure if I had to deal with any other type of cancer, I would not have had to feel like I was supposed to be part of a new and sexy (vomit...it's hardly sexy, trust me), cause.  There  wouldn't have t-shirts with insulting sayings bandied about everywhere (own a Pink Ribbon t-shirt with any slogan and you want to support me? Turn it into a dustrag!), items made from cancer-causing ingredients and you know who (the leader of the K culture) standing up saying how much good her corporation is doing (wow, last year they spent a whopping 15% on research awards and grants according to Reuters...and how much was on pink porta-potties and t-shirts?).

Now, I must admit today I was not nearly offended as I could have been.  Instead of being assaulted by the Pink (like in last week's trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond), I was only lightly slapped.  Caribou coffee did have a few items, but not shockingly pink and the display was dedicated to employees who have dealt with the issue.  Even better?  Last week, Caribou announced they were splitting with the K Kulture and will be donating to CancerCare instead.  Go, Caribou, and many thanks to Sarah Novak for introducing me to the fabulousness that is the 'Boo!

So, this?


Would you ever see a man wearing shorts that say, "These are fake, the real ones tried to kill me?" I didn't think so.

A perfect dustrag.






Even worse....

And, my "favorite" the pink ribbon pasta with God knows what in it....

So, in light of all of this, what should you do if you really feel you need to do something?  Well, put the money back in your wallet unless you feel like donating to an organization that truly cares (like CancerCare). Do what my friends did for me and just help take care of someone dealing with bc, whether by cooking dinner, taking them out for coffee or just calling them on the phone and not discussing the pink elephant in the room.  

Even better?  Get out, enjoy the month and the changing of the seasons.  Enjoy October for what it should be...leaves, hot cider, pumpkin patches and warm sweaters... not the massive consumerism mess it has become, thanks to the Kulture. 

This just in...

Oh, NO, they didn't...


Someone tried to pink my pumpkin! It. Must. Stop!