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8 posts from December 2012

December 28, 2012

{this moment}: First Batch

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - only a few 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.



Kelsey has been aching to make sugar cookies.  We finally found a good recipe and the dough is being transferred to the fridge as I type this post.  I have not helped other than to buy ingredients and be the official dough taster.  Given the perfection of the dough, I can't wait to sample the finished product.

December 26, 2012

And MED says....

Class 1, baby!


Yes, perhaps the biggest Christmas gift of them all showed up in Peter's inbox today. No fuss, no muss, just a Class 1/Worldwide Available clearance for me.  I'll detail the process at some point, however, I have to say, it was not nearly as difficult or onerous as I expected.  Huge sighs of relief all around in our household tonight....


If you are completely and utterly confused, as you are new to the blog and can't possibly imagine why I wouldn't have a Class 1, you can review the beginning to the whole sordid story here.  If you have no idea what a Class 1 is or why one might want one, stay tuned.  More info to come in an upcoming post, but right now, I just need to celebrate before I'm out of date nights!

December 24, 2012

From our house to yours...


December 21, 2012

Status Quo

was the name of the game yesterday.  I had my annual exam with the breast surgeon and of course, my blood pressure was through the roof (124/69, if you must know...normally 90/69, white coat syndrome much?).   I was seeing a different doctor than usual (my breast surgeon was unavailable) and that just added to my stress.

The good news?  I nearly forgot about the appointment, as I've been so busy.  The bad news?  Well, there wasn't any.

In fact, I received compliments galore (again) on my skin care.  The new doctor was very impressed with the way I have taken care of my post-radiation skin and found nothing at all to concern her.  The only huge issue of the day was the proposed MRI.  The onocologist asked about it in August (no, I don't see her again until March), and it was basically up to the breast surgeon.  She was extremely ambivalent and finally said the decision was mine.

Given that I am lousy with decisions, I threw it back to her.  I said if she was fine with no MRI, I would be ecstatic with that decision.  Her take?

I'm just not high risk enough and there's a good chance insurance would deny it.

Good enough for me.  So glad yet another person feels like this is just a fading blip...and Merry (early) Christmas to me!


December 20, 2012

122 Days Later

Good thing we had the Peter D. Tracker in high gear, as his flight landed 27 minutes early.  Given that he refuses to bring anything other than a backpack, he generally flies through customs and is in the arrivals area in Dulles in no time.

He was not expecting me.  I swore up and down I would not pick him up, in order to throw him off my trail.  Meanwhile, back in October, I secured Dr. Salty Dog to come over at o'dark thirty so the kids would not be alone while I made the trek to the airport. As IF I'd let him rely on a taxi to get him home after 122 days away (but we did NOT count...well, the kids didn't).

I hid behind a pillar the minute his flight was said to be in customs.  Within minutes, he came out of those double doors and looked right at me, only to look away.  I stepped out, he looked back in my direction...and, oh, the waterworks that would have started had we both not been utterly exhausted and in a not-so-public place.

So, after 4 months of ups and downs, crankiness and utter joy, the kids being saints...and the kids being kids, Peter arrived safe and sound.  And, I have to say, the timing was impeccable.

Just last week, I was berating myself for not having our holiday cards ready, for being behind on Christmas (not totally, just a bit), for not having completely renovated the house while he was gone, for my crankiness (okay, that I earned), for everything.  Then, over the past few days, it really hit me:


Forget the gifts.  Forget everything else.  Our little family is together for Christmas and especially this year, after Peter survived another 4 months in a war zone, that's ALL that matters.  Not the perfect tree, gorgeously wrapped gifts or a table groaning with Christmas treats.  Nothing else matters but that we are together, safe and sound as a family.  Everything else is irrelevant.

We are so grateful to simply be together as a family at long last...truly the most important gift.


December 19, 2012

Forget about the NORAD

Santa Tracker, because we've got the Peter D. Tracker in high gear.  We aren't counting, but according to the Dulles website, his flight is scheduled to land in 6 hours and 32 minutes.  While for the most part, the time has been flying, I can't admit that the past few days have had the patience meter at an all time low (sorry, kids) and the stress level a bit higher.

I was even a bit worried that perhaps that might lead to that eternal problem of the days dragging immediately prior to a loved one's arrival.  However, I forgot that we had not one, but TWO Christmas parties today and that is in addition to all of the other insanity.  We have been so crazy lately, that I even let the girls each beg out of an activity on Sunday.  Sometimes I just can't do the work of two parents. Today, however, was not too shabby.

We started off with Nick's Montessori Christmas party.  Crafts, a holiday puppet show (apparently last year's recycling puppet show, which I loved, was not seasonal enough), a sing-a-long (yes, the boy sang), more Christmas cookies than you can shake a stick at AND...a visit from the big man himself. Yes, Santa Claus.


Thinking about it....


Combination of "No, way" and the *look* I get for taking a third photo. (Yes, this is my favorite :-)


There has been a lot of introspection at our house this year about Santa, as well as baby Jesus.  Are they real?  Are they spirits?  Even St. Nicholas was not left out of the discussion and while we have not come to a definite conclusion, suffice it to say, Nicholas thinks deeply on these matters...and I find that so heartwarming.

Now, as for Santa...while we normally discuss him, Nicholas has had zero (capital Z) interest visiting with him in the past.  We did not push him as we figured that either it would interest him at some point, or we would save a boatload taking *Santa* photos (yes, with someone else's kid) from 40 feet away.  Today I asked off hand if he wanted to see him and imagine my shock when he said, "Yes."

Nick decided that he did not want to sit on his lap, simply stand within the vicinity (so I could snap a photo) and close enough so Santa could hand him his treat.  He took the vicinity part very seriously and was quite literally an arm's length away from the mythical creature.  He took the gift, made no mention of desires and allowed me 3 photos.

Amazing, right?

Yet there was more to come for the day.  Despite the fact that I am a bit, well, exhausted (not sure that is strong enough), we had yet another holiday party.  We had once again been invited to the annual Unaccompanied Tour party at the State Department.  It is always held in the Ben Franklin room, with sweet treats galore and a visit from the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  Nick and Kelsey love to go each year, if for nothing else, to clean out (I mean, peruse) the candy bar and take a glance at the Washington Monument (spectacular views from the balcony).


Like Halloween in December....

He never tires of this view...

We took our time today, sampling the treats (and creating *care packages* for our loved ones overseas/on a plane home), skipping the photo booth (for the time being) and enjoying the brisk weather and amazing views outside.  As we came back inside for a warm-up, we were led into the Ben Franklin Room for the show.


I could tell there was a buzz in the air.  There was a brief welcome and with little to no ado, the musical act was introduced.  Who was it?  Oh, just...James Taylor, his wife, and Owen Young, his accompanying cellist.  Get out, right?


Yes, this UT Holiday Party quite literally rocked.

Seriously.  The kids were maybe 8 feet from him and sat there entranced for the entire mini concert of 5 songs.  It was amazing, beautiful and uplifting.  I think most of us forgot why were were there for a minute...mostly because at least a few of us were thinking, "Hello, James Taylor! A private concert with James Taylor!!"


My kids...James Taylor...my kids completely, utterly and totally captivated by James Taylor.

We did not end up getting to hear Secretary Clinton speak, but certainly understandable given the situation.  Her thoughts were read by Pat Kennedy, as he spoke following our mini-concert. And after?


Kelsey created mine and surprised me with a delightfully decorated red velvet cupcake.

Well, there was cupcake decorating courtesy of Charm City Cupcakes , a photo booth (the aforementioned that Nick was determined to avoid....), more yummy treats and, duh, friends!  My kids and I were thrilled that Jill and her kids were there, I had a chance to visit with my friend, Jen (and meet her gorgeous girls) and met my friend Hannah's husband.  Sadly, I have yet to meet Hannah in person, but hopefully we will rectify that situation soon...perhaps with barbeque and a lot of Pancho's?


The photo booth photos...ignore the tired looking lady behind the curtain!

All in all, a supremely good day...one that left me a little tired, but in a good way...because in fewer than 6 hours, I will gladly be turning over the dishwashing, toilet cleaning and general household management to someone who I have a feeling will be very, very happy to *only* do that for the next few weeks.

But really...I'm still stuck on a private concert with James Taylor...a-freaking-mazing!  Maybe I'll have a listen to my complimentary cd (and did I mention the iTunes gift card?) while I'm spending the next few weeks in my recliner....


December 15, 2012

I have a Christmas wish

And it's entitled, "Let's cut our kids a little slack...because it's Christmas."

I KNOW!  The HORROR!  It's almost Christmas, those little elves are supposed to be ratting everyone out (while they dive-bomb the chocolate bowl) and Santa is making his list, right?  Or is he making a list of parents who are so tired and can't get their sh*t together that they resort to bribing their kids with regard to the Big Guy and his flying menagerie?  Cause, you know, that engraved iPod Touch can't go back to the store, so Johnny's gotta get his act together, right?

Or maybe, we, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, you name it...maybe WE need to get our act together.  Quit being so selfish and thinking that our kids have to be perfect.  Quit insisting they need to be little robots and perfect in everything from school to chores.  Quit insisting after a long day, that another party/conversation/event is just what they need instead of some quiet play time.

Maybe realize that the excitement they have about Christmas, whether it is about the Baby Jesus' birth or the Big Guy in Red, sometimes leads them down a not-so-primrose path.  They are so overwhelmed by the events, the go-go-go of Christmas time (or Hannukah, whatever you celebrate) that they get a wee bit excited.  

How about giving kids a break when their family life is a bit stressed, whether it be from a parent being overseas, numerous deaths in the family, or the state of craziness in the nation weighing them down?   I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes, I think we've lost sight of the holidays.  We worry more about where we can get the best deal, instead whether we are all sitting down together for dinner at night.  We fret if stores aren't open late, and we worry about quantity vs. quality under the tree, instead of being grateful that we can have a tree and presents.  Most of all, though, we spend entirely too much time worrying, and not enough time enjoying the existence we are lucky enough to still have.


December 05, 2012

It's been over three

months since I wrote the post about how I thought time *might* fly between now and Peter's next R&R.  In fact, it's been going so fast, that I've been wondering how to slow things down.  It seems just as we wrap up one holiday, the next is upon us.  And as I type this, I realize two weeks from today the entire family will be back together, as it should be.

We are already nearly 7 months into Peter's tour and instead of being stressed about him being gone, I'm stressing about the move!  It seems like we have so many things up in the air (schools, actual date of departure, when/where to buy our next car), that I have little to no time to actually miss him.  And the kids?

We are still on the Skype twice/month plan.  Even with phone calls, half the time when I ask Nicholas if he wants to talk, "No, thank you, " is the answer.  This doesn't bother me as to me it means the kids have adjusted well to his absence. They do miss him and talk with him, but given the time difference, it's not surprising they don't want to do it on command (and it would be a bad, bad idea to make them).  

Once Peter departs after his second R&R, we will only have about 4 months left in his tour and 3 weeks of that is his third R&R (yes, it's true, don't tell Nick, but we are likely doing Disney in Orlando).  After that, it's home leave which will encompass pack-out time and then our departure.  Last year, at this time it seemed like forever until we would leave for Managua.  Now I wish I could get the days to slow down just a bit...even with Peter gone, as there is just so much to do before we leave...well, at least we aren't bored...and in two weeks, together again, even if only briefly.