Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A promise is a promise

So, in my last post I promised to write about whoever was insane enough to read my ramblings and be my 3000th hit.  I have been reminded by my awesome (and I'm not being sarcastic, she really is!) mother-in-law that I made this promise and Mr. 3000 is still waiting on his post.  So here it goes....

I'd like you to meet my friend/relative/step-uncle-in-law, Tom.  It's complicated.  I could try to explain it all to you, but, like most families, trying to line it all out for you would just confuse you.  All you really need to know is that Tom is cool.  I'd post a picture, but for some reason I can't find one of him in all of my files.  Perhaps it is because he suffers from the same disease I do.  You know, that one we like to call stuckbehindthecameraitis.  See, Tom is an avid photographer...and a good one.  He took engagement pictures for Mr. Smartypants and I.  I tried to talk him into taking our wedding pictures too.  He was and is (as far as I know) smart enough to avoid taking pictures for Bridezilla.....did I mention he's smart?  He's also an active member of his local Citizen's Police Academy.  But the thing that always brings Tom, and his sweet wife Kathy, to mind is their love of dogs.  Especially these dogs:

This is a Kerry Blue Terrier.  And like many dog breeds today, these beautiful creatures are being bred in puppy mills all over the United States.  Tom and Kathy, along with many other volunteers, work tirelessly to rescue these dogs and find them homes where they will be loved and properly taken care of.  So, in honor of Tom, my 3000th hit, I want to bring attention to Kerry Blue Terriers and rescue efforts of this breed and others.  To find out more about Kerry Blue Terriers, click here.  To find about puppy mills, rescue efforts and how you can help all breeds, click here, or here, or here.  I ask you to think twice before buying a dog.  NEVER buy a dog from a pet store, and always do your homework if you're considering a breeder.  My best advice and honest opinion?  You should just adopt one through a rescue organization.  They'll match you up with your perfect pet.  One that will move into your house and your heart permanently. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

People actually read this garbage??

Right now, as I type this, my blog is dangerously close to 3000 hits.  WHAAAAT?  My little ol' blog, really?  There are that many of you out there that have nothing better to do with your time than listen to some crazy woman who moved her four kids half way around the world??  You need a life as bad as I do.  I could tell you to go get a life, but then who would listen to me wax crazy poetic.  So as I chase Itchy and Scratchy up the stairs to the bathtub, I'm taking the time to stop and say "Thank You" to all of you who read this hot mess.  I hope that you at least get a smile out of our day-to-day antics.  I honor of the 3000th hit, if you are it, take a screen shot and email it to me.  I'll drag you into this crazy mess by posting about it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Today marked a shift in the tides, a time of change, a day of new beginnings for Mr. Smartypants, and me, too.  Today we said goodbye to a pair of good and faithful friends of my husband.  I "inherited" these "friends" when I married Mr. Smartypants almost 6 years ago.  I am not nearly as fond of these "friends" as Mr. Smartypants is.  He loved his "friends".  They were comfortable.  They knew him well; he knew them well.  I, on the other hand, had more of a love-hate relationship with them......


You may remember them from this post

Today we said goodbye to these horrendous lovely things.  Mr. Smartypants, always the practical, undramatic type, uncerimoniously walked into the living room, dropping them in the floor, and said, "I'm gonna have to throw these out.  They're done."
"Really??"  My head snapped up from the computer screen my eyeballs had been glued to.  "Are you serious?"
"Yup, they're shot."
"Can I do it??? PLEASE?"
With a chuckle and a nod from Mr. Smartypants as he disappeared up the stairs, I snatched up the shoes and ran outside to the trash container, but not before I grabbed my camera to document this monumental occasion.

I'll refrain from showing you the inside of the trash can....there are just some things that one shouldn't share.

I considered humming Taps or something equally respectful, but since I was paying my respects alone, I figured why bother.  I threw the dueces (that's flashing a peace sign with my fingers as a sign of my exit for those of you not in "the know") and walked inside.  Goodbye, Ugly Shoes, Goodbye.


Mr. Smartypants informed me that the lovely shoes had been in his possession for 12 years, that would be 6 before me.  NO wonder they were so nasty.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stealin' a Peek

Our new home in Germany is equipped with a kitchen window to die for:

And it just happens to overlook the neighborhood playground.  While doing dishes this afternoon I glanced outside to see the most wonderful sight, a little girl and her daddy playing on the swings.  But this wasn't just any little girl.  You see, my next-door neighbor's husband (well, I guess technically he's my neighbor, too...but he wasn't here when I moved in so...well get what I mean) had been deployed for the last 12 months.  And he came home today.  My neighbor has been a flurry of activity for the past couple of days as she has worked hard to make his homecoming special.  And the little girl out my window, well...that was her 4-year-old daughter, swinging with her daddy...who just came home from war.  So I picked up my coffee cup and watched out the window, hoping not to be noticed, but enjoying the sweetness of the moment.  A princess and her knight in camo armor, swinging in the park.  I don't have a picture of it, but I think taking a picture of it would have somehow stolen the intimacy of the moment for them.  I felt bad (if only just a little bit) for even stealin' a peek.  But I just couldn't help myself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I am standing on the 50 yard line...

It took almost ten years, but He. Is. Dead.  Osama bin Laden met the same fate as so many of his victims.  Like Mr. Smartypants likes to say: "Keep runnin'.  You'll only die tired."  Well, this weekend, bin Laden died tired.  But the game isn't over.  That wasn't the Hail Mary pass that won the game.  It might be the touchdown that pushes us to a win, but there is still time on the clock.  The enemy is still on the field.  We can't celebrate yet.  It's not over.
For the last 10 years, I have sat in the bleachers and watched the game.  For the last six years, I have sat on the front row, right at the 50 yard line.  It has been a nail-biter, I promise.  Every newscast is carefully listened to in our house.  Every move our government makes affects us.  My husband is in the game and he doesn't sit on the bench.  There have been men down on the field that won't be rejoining the game.  Their teammates won't forget about them and play all that much harder in their absence.  There have been touchdowns: the fall of Baghdad at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the fall of the Taliban.  There have been times we thought we might have blown it: Abu Graib, the Korangal Valley.  But here we are, still in the game, still fighting to win. 
Many Americans watch from the comfort of their living rooms, content to be a Monday morning quarterback.  Some come and sit in the stands to watch because the players on the field make it personal for them.  Still others of us stand on the sideline right at the 50 yard line where it's almost too close for comfort.  But we do it, because for us, the game is personal.  That uniform out there, well, under it is the man we love.  So we beg of you, just because we scored another touchdown, doesn't mean the game is over.  Don't pack up your bleacher cushions, or get up from your armchairs.  It's always the last part of the game that your team needs the most support.  Don't forget that the game isn't over. They still need to hear you cheer.  I'll be cheering.  Join me.   I'm the one standing on the 50 yard line....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unaccompanied Minors

This is what happens when mommy leaves a camera within hoof's reach arm's reach of any member of the Herd.

Banana anyone?

Arm chair aerobics

Glad to know the lectures on how crack kills have worked.

This little piggy went to market...this little piggy stayed home....this little piggy stole mommy's camera....

We love our AFN tv!


More of "This little piggy"

Proof that mom really is a prison warden.

Noodle's homework

A super-spy shot of Mom.

Really, they even had proof that I was doing something else...I was in the kitchen, cooking!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yup, it was the Ugly Cry

As a military wife, I'm often asked, "How do you do it?"  Most days my response is "How do I not do it?"  Meaning simply that I don't feel it is a choice to do what I do every day.  This is my life: deployments, seperations, weird work hours, extra dirty (and often extra smelly) laundry...all the things that come with being an Army wife.  In the words of a popular athletic apparel line, I "just do it".  Because I don't have an alternative.  Because the alternative would be to Not do it.  And that just isn't good enough for me.  Mr. Smartypants jokes that he tried to warn me, that he tried to convince me to run the other way (he really did, on day three, but that's another story).  I like to put on my "tough Army wife" face when people ask me that.  Like it's no big deal.  Like they just asked me how I tied my shoes this morning.  But the reality is that it's hard.  Some days I fight to put one foot in front of the other.  So for all of you who have asked or want to ask, how I do it, how we do it....this post is for you.

I would like to introduce you to the bane of the existance of my inner fashionista.  A.k.a. Mr. Smartypants' favorite pair of sandals.  Now, he has newer and nicer sandals that he wears at times (specifically when I give him "the look" or when he thinks ahead and knows that if he comes down in these things he'll get "the look"...and don't pretend you don't have one that your better half gets from time to time, all wives have one), but these are his favorites.  They rank up there with the (seriously) worn out Red Sox hoodie that is quite literally falling apart.  But I didn't put this picture in this post so I could pick on Mr. Smartypants.  The significance of this picture is not the shoes or their state of destruction wear.  The significance in this picture is actually the time it was taken, about 2000 hours, or 8pm for you civilian types.  On a normal night, these would be on his feet.  But see, that's not going to happen tonight, because he's not here.  He's off training up his soldiers so that they can live up to the old Army motto of "be the best you can be". 
It is a fact of military life that they must go off for training.  We certainly wouldn't want to send our soldiers to war without it.  But it means that even though our soldiers aren't deployed (or "down range" as we often like to say), they are seperated from us.  Generally it isn't months, just weeks, but seperation is seperation, especially when our time together is so limited.  And so his favorite sandals sit empty and unworn in our bedroom for now.  And tonight, seeing them there, without the feet that have worn them down, makes me a little sad, and a little lonely.  (It probably didn't help that I have been surfing the internet, reading some blogs of other military wives.  They often bring a tear to my eye.)

So I'll grab another piece of chocolate (thank you Easter bunny, please don't tell my kids), finish off the last drops of Dr. Pepper, curse myself for not making that shoppette run earlier to get more and tell you how I really do it
1. I eat chocolate...lots of makes me feel good.  I don't eat other things to counteract the caloric intake from the chocolate...usually dinner is the first to go.  But I eat chocolate, lest my butt decide to shrink *gasp, the horror!!*
2. I drink Dr. Pepper by the gallon *please see point 1 for application of point 2
3.  I stay up late and make blog gives me something to do when I suffer from insomnia let out my inner nightowl.

I had the joy of having coffee with several wives from our company today.  Many of them have never survived a deployment before.  It made me think about all the ways we react to seperation.  Some of us fall apart, some of us feel so out of control that we micro-manage the parts of our lives we can control.  Some of us eat.  Some of us don't eat.  Some of us lay on the couch for 12 months.  Some of us live at the gym, using the treadmill as our personal stress reliever.  Whatever we do, we each find a way to cope the best way we each know how.  Some of us miss our soldiers at night, when the bed is empty; some of us miss him in the morning when he doesn't come home to change after PT.  But we all miss our soldier.  Don't let our tough exterior fool you. 

We are a resourceful bunch, using the things (or chocolate stashes) around us to cope.  We live on our computers, our iphones and facebook.  Hoping that maybe, just maybe, he'll have time to call.  Technology is our friend, and our worst enemy.  We wait.  It's hard, but we do it.

Then, there are our children....I can't even begin to explain the impact seperation has on our kids...well, I could, but this military spouse blogger does a much better job.  Please don't ignore this link.  I beg you to go read it.  It made me cry, you know, the blubbery, nose-running, snot-flying UGLY cry.  And I don't ugly cry's ugly.

So the next time you ask a military wife, "How do you do it?" Just nod and smile when she answers casually, but know deep down, it's hard work.

Off to the Races!!!

So I finally braved the Autobahn this past weekend.  I must brag on myself and let you know just how well I did.  If you aren't impressed with my driving on a freeway as a 33 year-old American, let me share some information with you.


That's right.  This is not a myth, but fact. On most open sections that are non-urban areas on the autobahn there is no speed limit.  That means your nuts-o brother-in-law's uncle's cousin with the turbo-charged, nitro-infused, NASCAR wanna-be sports car can drive as fast as he would like (assuming he ships said car to Germany and gets an international or US forces in Europe driver's license).  This also means that Germans grow up cruising this limitless fulfillment of the need for speed.  I, however, grew up and learned to drive in the good ol' USA where there are speed limits everywhere...even the middle of nowhere West Texas.  So the idea of this kind of speed, in a MINIVAN no less, is a little daunting.  Smartypant's frequent caution about the dangers, snares and perils of the autobahn while he drives us around hasn't done a whole lot to boost my confidence.  Finally, after driving around locally for a couple of weeks now, I decided I was brave enough to give it a shot. 
I probably shouldn't have waited so long.  Getting the van over 35mph was toe-tingling enough at first because it's been a month since I have driven a vehicle at normal US highway speeds.  We were headed to another military base to do some shopping and were travelling caravan style with another family. Now our friend doesn't drive fact, he'll run off and leave you if you don't keep up.  He started out behind me but soon passed me and later complained that he couldn't take one more minute of following me because I failed to use my cruise control.  Whatever.  Anyway, I managed to get up to a good speed (somewhere around 85mph) and topped out on the way home at 95mph (although I chose not to maintain that speed).  Now this sounds pretty fast, but let me assure you that I was regularly passed by small cars that could pass for rollerskates.

(Yes, that is one of those Smart Cars; yes, Germans seem to love them.  Might have something to do with the minature parking garages)

At one point I was passed by an Audi that was going so fast that the Herd-mobile shook and I felt like I was standing still.  He was easily, EASILY driving upwards of 130mph.  Not only was he driving that fast, but dude was changing lanes!  If you think it is impossible to get up to that speed on a somewhat busy highway or wonder why he would bother changing lanes, let me share some rules of the road here:
Never drive in the left lane.  It is for passing only.  This is not a suggestion.  The locals will ever-so-kindly let you know with a *ahem* polite honk of the horn that you need to move over.  The left lane is used for passing. Period. End of story.  So this means there is lots of lane changing going on.  So with the high speeds, changing lanes can be tricky.  The driver must be constantly aware of all cars on the road, even ones far behind you.  When you put your blinker on and start to change lanes, it is not enough to check your blind spot, because dude in the Audi may be 500 yards back, but he's moving at close to twice your speed.  Stay where you are.  Once he's done trying to single-handedly blow you off the road, you can pass safely. 

Of course, going that fast has it's consequences.  Most insurance companies will not pay if you have an accident going over a certain speed deemed "safe" (somewhere around 130 or 140 kilometers per hour, I think).  And, the faster you go the more horrific the carnage if you wreck.  So with all the freedom found on the autobahn, My lead foot and I are quite comfortable with our 80-85 mph mark.  I think I'll let Mr. Audi have his speed thrills and I'll sit back and enjoy the ride.

*all photos courtesy of that awesome thing called the internet*

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Calling it Home

So now we have a new place to call home.


Okay, so maybe this isn't the exact address we call home, but I can claim it as a neighbor....sort of.  Well, I'm not even sure it's in the same zipcode I'm in, but it's close enough that we loaded up the kids after school one day, visited, looked around and were home for dinner.  That counts as a neighbor, right?

So The Herd has stampeded it's way into Germany, stirring up as much dust as possible in our wake.  The Army encourages us to "blend in" as much as possible....which we all (meaning military families living overseas) laugh at hysterically.  Even without an Army uniform, we stick out like sore thumbs.  My sweet Scratchy tries to blend in even adding the neccessary scarf to complete the look:

Too bad that all the locals stop and stare and point at her neon red hair.  She can be quite the spectical walking in the market.

Itchy, on the other hand, is just herself...she's too busy to be concerned with what others think and that probably makes her blend in the best.

The boys have adjusted well, stretching their airplane-cramped legs in their new environment.

There isn't much that has slowed us down.  We're adjusting to the new environment.  New people, new sounds, new sights, new smells, and new tastes.  It is sensory overload from time to time, but we manage.  When we first arrived it was exhausting.  A couple of hours in the market downtown left me drained, mentally, physically, emotionally.  But now it's not so hard.  I use my handful of German words and the locals are kind enough to help me learn a new one or two and use their (pretty extensive) English for me.  I can buy carrots and potatoes from the market with no help now!  Ein kilo karroten, bitte!  (One kilo of carrots, please--although I'm not sure my German spelling is as high speed as my German speaking!)  Not bad for 3 1/2 weeks.  Scratchy and I even ventured downtown on the bus by ourselves to buy produce yesterday.  She loves riding the bus.  It allows her to people watch and see the city from a slightly different view.  I like riding the bus because it means I don't have to park the Herd-mobile in the (tiny) parking garages downtown.  I am legal to drive in Germany, as I passed the driving test.  I occassionally drive over to the S family's house (they live off-post) and I drive around on our post but I have yet to brave the parking garages or the autoban....both make me a little nervous.  We have friends here that drive a Suburban.  Yes, the giant tank of a vehicle can be driven over here, but they don't take it into parking garages (it wouldn't clear the overhead clearance rail anyway) but they park it (parallel, no less) on the street.  So I'm sure one day I will take the Herd-mobile into town and live to tell about it.  Let's just hope our insurance company doesn't drop us after a few claims from scraping the van up on the concrete walls in the garages...