Thursday, December 31, 2009

December, fast-forwarded

The month that I wanted to drrrraaaag on flew by in a furry. I can't believe the time is almost here. It's been a long ten months of work-ups and underway time, I'm begging the next 6 to fly by.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

James' Accident

The evening of Thanksgiving my cousin James and his childhood friend, Anthony, decided to head in to Zephyrhills to catch a football game. There wasn't a good reception at the camp ground so they went to a local sports bar to finish watching a great game. Around 10pm the boys headed back to the park, along a dark stretch of Highway 301. The two lane highway is notorious for claiming lives. In fact, 5 years ago, almost to the date, a close friend of the family was killed on 301. She was just 18.
According to the five wittnesses:

There was a car in front of James going an estimated 15 miles below the speed limit. It seemed as though James was attempting to pass the car. As he was pulling in front of that car he somehow lost control. His car veered in to the empty oncoming traffic lane flipped approximately three times, hit multiple cypress trees and then came to rest along the driver side (on it's side).

The next car passed, then stopped when it realized what happened. After that, Anthony passed everything. The road is so dark, he couldn't see what the car looked like. Anthonly called James' cell phone and when James didn't answer he turned back around. When Anthonly arrived a minute later, the passers-by had called 911. They tried to keep Anthony back for fear of the car exploding, but the 6'3" boy ran to James. James was alive. Anthony instructed him to cover his head with his hoodie and then punched out the back window of the car. He sat with James in the back seat, reaching over the front seat to hold his hand. During that time, James was responsive and very much alive. Anthony asked James if he was in pain and James was able to tell him that just his legs and his arm hurt. It took responders about 30 minutes to arrive. In that particular part of the county, most are volunteer departments and I really don't feel that they are as efficient as a metropolitan department. Say what you will, but I know he'd be alive if Tampa Fire Rescue were involved.

When rescue had arrived, Anthony was forced from the car. At that time, he called his parents in a panic. His parents, called my Aunt and Uncle. The accident was just 100 yards from the park entrance. When Linda arrived James held his hand up. She screamed to him and then the crew started cutting.

The car was so badly damaged it took an hour to remove the entire top of the car and then to remove James. His mom sat in horror as she watched. Once James was in the ambulance, she was informed they were going to the nearest trauma unit. Not five minutes later, they stepped back out and said they were taking James to Zephyrhills Hospital and were "doing everything they can." Linda later told me it was at that time she realized he was gone. Zephyrhills had no trauma unit, only an Emergency Room. The ambulance drove off, lights flashing, in to the dark.
James' offical time of death was 11:45, November 26th 2009. He was 21 years, 4 months and 4
days old.

Days later, the coroner called. There was no alchol, drugs or anything else in his body. The offical cause of death was blount force trauma to his chest and abdomen. He bled to death. Every limb was broken and there were hematomas from his neck to his legs. Just one tiny scratch on his beautiful face.

During the week that followed, my dad and Anthony's dad (Danny) went to Orlando to empy out James' room at his shared apartment. His senior year of college would never be finished. My dad and Danny also returned to the scene to retrieve a laptop and papers and pictures scattered in the ditch. There was also small bible with sticks and glass in it that James kept in the center console. After they were at the scene, Dad and Danny had to go to the impound where the car was being kept. Seeing the car, my dad said he knows there was no way anyone in the driver seat could have survived.

No, Thanks -giving (part 2)

I was so exhausted from the last two days' events I crashed early. Apparently, there were some great football games on so John was up at 11 pm when the first phone call came. It was my dad. My 21 year old cousin, James, was in a horrible car accident.

My first question, obviously, "Is he alive?" My dad could only answer with an "I don't know, we're driving to Zephyrhills Hospital right now." Now my heart starts racing and a million questions make their way to the functioning parts of my brain.

About an hour later, I call my dad back and here's what my exhausted brain hears: "Nell, he's pretty mangled. I'm sitting with him now because Linda doesn't want him to be left alone."

Me: "Oh, ok. Well, call me if you need to."

By now I'm finally in touch with my sister, who is hysterical. "If anything happens to him, I will really collapse. He's my boy, Nellie." My sister and James are close in age and have really hung out through their teenage years. Stacie has just experienced way too many deaths in her short lifetime, including the suicide of her childhood friend Nicole just a month ago.

I do my best to calm her down and tell her to just text me with an update. At this point, I think she's on her way to the hospital to visit. At 1am the house and cell phones start ringing. I told her to text, but she's calling. Weird. I drift back off to sleep.

I call my mom as soon as my eyes open. She's delirious and I can't understand her. I call my dad's cell and reach him. "No, Nell, he's not ok. He's dead. Babe, I thought I was clear last night."

"Uh, no, Dad. You weren't." I'm crying now. Turner is asking what's wrong. How do I explain my tears to him? Oh, my God. The day got worse and spilled in the next...

My family has camped during the week/end of Thanksgiving at the Hillsborough River State Park for 50 years. Immediate and extended family sleep in tents and campers all parked in a row. The kids and adults play all day and I know everyone looked forward to it throughout the year. It was our time to touch base with second and third cousins, great aunts and that lady who is related to your dad's uncle and twice removed (Katie Ogden may respond with an actual answer!). Thanksgiving day we'd scurry around and cook on the fire and tiny electric stoves. Football was broadcast on teeny tiny TVs with rabbit ears and everyone just enjoyed a slower week. The turkeys were usually cooked in someone's home -Mammer (my grandmother) would stay home to make hers and then come out to the park. There were odd pies, sweetpotatoe casseroles, dips, and sauces galore. Any and all Southerners' favorite foods were piled on mis-matched tables in the pavillion by the Hillsborough River. The staff at the park would even ask if so-and-so was coming because they've not yet reserved a spot.

The first time I ever missed a Thanksgiving at the park was college. I was devistated. The first time my family missed the park was when they travelled to Charleston, SC for my wedding. After that, John and I never got to go back. We toyed with the idea this year, but decided a quite weekend at home was needed. I regret the decision and probably will for ever. I know you can't change the past but to see James' smiling face or get one of his signature hugs would have lasted me a lifetime.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

no, Thanks -giving (part 1)

It's taken me a few days to muster up the courage to write this, as well as get caught up with all the other things I'm supposed to be doing...

The kids had been passing around a mystery fever. Wednesday, Eli's got up to 104 so just to be safe I took him to the Naval Air Station clinic (like a mini ER/urgent care). Of course, the fever broke at the clinic and then he was cranky and covered in a head to toe rash. I decided to be safe and wait to see a doc even though I knew it was nothing since he was acting fine, otherwise. We made it back home and I tried to get him to sleep. Something at the clinic spooked him. Maybe it was the bitchy nurse that wanted to be home baking pies or the kid with whooping cough. The poor guy just couldn't sleep. After two hours of consoling, rocking, holding and exhaustion we finally got him down.

My Bon Appetite Thanksgiving wasn't even prepped for. I threw in the towel and went to bed.

Thursday I started cooking/baking/sauce making immediately. I was really on a roll until my beautiful double Kitchen Aid ovens stopped working and LOCKED MY DAMN PIES IN THE OVENS. Seriously? The day was getting better. Eli was still cranky from his missed sleep so I put him on my back and dealt with hair pulling. We had invited a single sailor over for dinner so I could not jump ship. I made John call him and push dinner back a few hours. My ovens were still locked and, unlike the Turkey Hotline, there is no one working at Kitchen Aid on Thanksgiving!

I haven't even prepped the turkey when I realized it was all just coming apart at the seams. Since I'm cookin' a bun in my own oven the smells were all over-powering and I wanted nothing more than a cup of tea and to go back to bed!

Hours and hours later it all worked out. We had a wonderful meal for 16 (?!?!) and all on time. Well, the second time.

Later that evening, John cleaned the house. The dishes were done and I was in a non-alcoholic coma. I thought that was the end of the worst Thanksgiving in the history of this Baggett family.

Boy, was I wrong...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Family Readiness Group

By default, I am the FRG's Treasurer. Interesting. I have no idea what I'm doing and just figured out what the acronym meant about a month ago!

Tonight was the Boone's second FRG meeting under our new presidency. The Family Readiness Group is a command sponsored group of volunteer spouses who try to provide morale building activities for all family members and service members. We plan parties on the ship for the kids, try to have a Mom's Night Out, fundraise, build relationships so the family and service members of the Boone can meet the challenges of Navy life.

I never been involved in this sort of thing before kids. I was on my own and didn't really feel the need to be a part of something like an FRG. Now, though, I think it's an important way to not only to show support for the ship and your husband but to just get out there and do something. Why not do one more positive thing to make deployment smooth? As the boys get older, I want them to see that I didn't sit around and grumble about underway time and deployments (even if I do!). It's so important to me to show them that they're not "entitled" to anything just because we uprooted them every 18 months.

This was the last (it better be) underway before deployment so the FRG is gearing up for all sorts of fun stuff. I'm hoping that we can make this a great experience for everyone involved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh, Boy!

...or girl. Yep. I'm pregnant. OMG. WTF?

I'm taking a deep breath and just trying not to have another panic attack, but it's the truth. I'm about 7 weeks now. I'll go and see the midwife December 11th for my first appointment.

Right now I'm nervous, ambivalent, annoyed, hopeful, doubtful, scared and stunned. I mean, obviously, I know HOW it happened but it doesn't lessen the shock value. The reason I am all of the aforementioned feelings: John is leaving for deployment not to return until the week the baby is due in July. After that, we will be moving to our next duty station in August where Turner will start preschool.

I can't believe all of that is going to happen in the summer of 2010. I'm scared the boys will react adversely, Turner will hate all the associations, Eli will become even crazier and a third child will never get much but dragged around. I have two hands and am, at most, a married single mother. I can't believe I'm going to have to explain where daddy is to three little faces.

As much as I want to cry and sleep, I can't. I have a job to do and I intend on doing it well. While John is gone, the boys and I are going to make the most of the time we have together and I'm going to do everything in my power to be so organized (muah hahahaha) that we have a smooth transition from a family of four to a family of FIVE.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mario & Luigi Hats

While the kids are little, I like to think I can choose what they'll be for Halloween.
I mean, come on, a monkey and a banana...
How cute!
For this year, I really wanted a "brother" costume idea. I settled on Mario & Luigi.
After searching, I finally figured out how to make the hats! I found this blog and made the hats in 10 minutes, total.

At JoAnn Fabric I bought 1/2 yard (1/4 for each color) fleece fabric, sheets of brown, black and white felt and two pairs of white gloves for $7.40.

Double the fabric, and trace a circle at least 12 inches in diameter. I had a mixing bowl that was the perfect size.

Cut out the two circles and keep the scraps as it will be used to make the bill of the cap. Next, trace a smaller circle on one of the circles. I used a small snack bowl. The fleece has a bit of stretch to it so I chose this based on a toddler head size.
I cut out circles on the white felt to make the emblems that go on the front and then cut out letters from the black felt. Then, take two scraps from the larger circles and make a bill by taking the obvious parts (that fits like a puzzle piece against the rounds you cut out) and cutting it as large or small as you'd like.

Now, for the next step I wish I could say I got all Martha but I didn't. I was going to sew the hats and have fun "make believe" toys for the boys' stash of stuff...but...

I hot glued all the parts together! Lame, but it worked! Glue the edges of the largest rounds. Flip "right side" out. Then, glue the bill, flip it "right side" out and glue to the edge of the small hole in the hat. You'll get the idea when you see the hats and read the blog I linked to!

Eli had a pair of overalls and I stumbled upon a pair of overalls for Turner at a local resale shop for $5.99. Top it off with two Granimals brand Wally World shirts for $3.50 each! Oh, and the brown felt is to make little shoe covers and attaching at the back with a hairband. We'll see if that works!

So, for about $20 I've got Mario & Luigi!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Our little vacation to Lynchburg, VA, for Chad and Kate's wedding made me keenly aware of the fall we'll be missing out on this year. Those first cravings for chili, sweaters and all things cozy will likely be forced here -in the name of fall! On the flight home, I was thinking of all the falls I've experienced.

My childhood falls were filled with camping, playing even harder ouside since it was not as hot (note: I did not say cooler). Pumpkins were picked in a "patch" at a church or along side the road and it was imperative that Halloween costumes were light weight because it was almost certain that it would not be cooler than 75 degrees. There was nothing spectacular about fall in Florida. No peak foliage, no scarves, and no bitter good-byes to flip flops. I never knew any different until we started travelling.
Japan was much like living in Virginia, I'd say.
A mild fall, where the leaves changed and you got cozy in your sweaters and scarves. It wasn't the fall I had dreamed of as a kid. I always imagined the epitome of fall to be a magical event that only happened in Maine. I mean, I know it's gorgeous elsewhere. But, Maine...
Our next duty station was Monterey, CA. Fall in that part of California was still on the edge of an Indian Summer. I wasn't complaining, considering the other 10 months of the year it was cold and damp. We did get to experience our first real pumpkin patch! It was neat to pick out a pumpkin that was sitting in the exact spot it grew. After Monterey, we were lucky enough to be in New England.

When fall came it just made me melt and fall in love with Rhode Island. The smells, the feeling of that crisp air and the ambiance (is that true of nature?) make you feel like a kid! I'd give anything to be there right now with the boys the ages that they are. There really is nothing like warming up to soup or cuddling up on the couch and actually needing a blanket. Did I mention that Fall means LAAAHBSTAH?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Run Report

Note to Self: Remember to eat! Poor nutrition is not only going to make for painful runs but will also contribute to injuries. There will be NO injuries while John is gone and I am training for these races. NONE!

Today was my first "long" run. I say "long" because it was just 3.75 miles. I am sticking to a Runner's World training program and just running 3 days a week. It's a great way to stay focused but not stuffing the kids in BOB to run all the time. Most important is going to be my long run and, since it's probably going to be the only time I'll run alone, I have to make sure it's good.

I haven't paid attention to time, yet. I'm just working on getting my form and pace back down. I feel like I made great time today but we'll see next time when I run with a watch on.

This week is an off week since we're leaving for Chad's wedding Thursday morning. I'll be running 3-4 miles Monday and Tuesday and crossing my fingers to get 5 miles in after (if) John comes home Wednesday. I don't want to count on getting out for a run in Lynchburg since it's our famly vacation before John leaves for deployment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Situation Normal

The boys and I had the most wonderful day. It was absolutely normal and boring by most standards. And I have no husband to share that with.

I took the crazies to the gym to see Ms. Debbie, worked my shoulders, did some training stuff for my legs, stopped in at the children's museum to play, came home and had a nice quick lunch, they both took short naps and woke up we headed to the zoo, ran in to a detour on the single road that goes to the zoo, drove around north Jacksonville for an hour while Turner told me it was ok that I was lost (who said I was lost? my GPS/phone kept telling me that the road I was on didn't exist), made it to the zoo at 4:53 -7 minutes before closing, ran around the zoo (literally), ate dinner in the back of the car, decided to go to Chick-fil-a as all those calories burned and impending Auntie visit made mommy super hungry, ran around like caged animals in the super awesome play area with no nasty ball pit, came home and took a warm bath, snuggled on the couch, put Eli to bed, and then snuggled even more with super silly Turner.

I hate not telling him the details of the day, like when Eli got the attention of everyone at Chick-fil-a because his squeals (aka high pitched screams) seemed to interrupt peoples' dinners. Or, that Turner reminded me that you can't see Daddy from the bridge on the way to the zoo because the ocean is in the other direction and that we're crossing a river.

It's hard entertaining the thought that there will be 7 (give or take) months of not sharing details. Oh! I tried the most wonderful drinking chocolate, I'm seeing a nutritionist/trainer for my race training, I let Eli get too big and wasted a brand-new-never-been-worn pair of Riley Roos, I scared the kids when I clapped really loud, Eli said "Hi Daddy!" when we went over a bridge and saw water, I found the missing orange baba, John's ribons came in for his super spiffy mess dress, I found outfits for the boys to wear to Chad's wedding and I decided that they're going to be Mario and Luigi for Halloween.

See? That's a whole lot of detail for one day...and that's not even the half of it. You may be asking yourself (probably not, but let's pretend): Why, with technology, won't you be in much contact with your sweet husband? Well, that's the beauty of his ship. It's the second oldest in the Navy...and it shows. It's like trying to upload picutres if you're on dial-up. All but impossible. Yay. Go Navy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That Kid

Turner is the most gentle boy I'll ever know. He spent 45 minutes "brushing" and "styling" my hair tonight. If I looked down, he'd tell me I needed to look up and then he'd say "Wow! You wook weewly gweat!" It feels like such a guilty pleasure for me when I let him stay up past his usual bed time.
I am so grateful to spend so much time with him. The good and the not so awesome all end the same way. With one sweet little toddler comfortably residing in my bed at night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Heather Greene Hinckley (wife talking about her husband’s return from Iraq): “It was like heaven for about two to three weeks, and then it was like the largest black cloud known to man came floating over our heads. I hated him and wanted him to leave again. He was angry with me because he didn’t have the same role as when he left. Thank God we have the relationship that we do and we were able to weave together, work together, and talk together to get through.”

I'm not sure if civialian wives will fully understand this quote. I mean, I know any wife (ahem, spouse) can relate to being some sort of angry when their husband says they'll call and he doesn't, or the garbage didn't get taken out. It's probably hard for most, though, to imagine that life can some times be more difficult when their husband is around. I mean, can you suppose doing every single thing your way and then having your husband back after more than half a year? How much do you change (for the better, obviously!) in 6 -8 months? Can you imagine your husband having been gone so long he had to take a class to learn how to "reincorporate" himself in to his family's life? Military wives will understand The Cycle or ECOD (Emotional Cycle of Deployment). Even if a military wife has never had a name for it, she's felt all of the emotions. Military wives don't mean to feel anger, but think of missing out on more than 6 months of speaking to your husnbad. Missing his touch, hearing his words, smelling his scent, watching him play with your children. Anger just happens.

It's hard thinking of this, in advance. To most, it's "early" but we really don't have much time. John is underway here and there and then it's "time." I'm starting to get things in order: ordering Daddy Dolls, planning trips, thinking of crafty ways to bide our months, and realizing it's all true.

Emotions run high (I CAN DO THIS!) and low (OMG I HAVEN'T SPENT ONE RESTFULL NIGHT WITH MY HUSBAND...THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HURT OUR MARRIAGE). Emotions. Emotions. It gets blurry. What am I supposed to feel? Who the hell has time to "feeeel" with two toddlers, a house, and extra hands around to help? WTF are feelings?

According to most sources, there are five stages of the ECOD. However, with new Operation Tempos (OPTEMPOs) from the past few years seven stages have been identified for military families.

They are:
Stage 1 – Anticipation of Departure
Stage 2 – Detachment and Withdrawal
Stage 3 – Emotional Disorganization
Stage 4 – Recovery and Stabilization
Stage 5 – Anticipation of Return
Stage 6 – Return Adjustment and Renegotiation
Stage 7 – Reintegration and Stabilization

Stage 1- Anticipation of Departure: In this stage, spouses may alternately feel denial and anticipation of loss. As reality sinks in, tempers may flare as couples attempt to take care of all the items on a family pre-deployment checklist, while striving to make time for “memorable” moments. In the new emotional cycles of deployment, Stage 1 may begin again before a couple
or family has even had time to renegotiate a shared vision of who they are after the changes from the last deployment.
We are --->here. One minute I'm Rosie the Riveter, the next I'm an emotional wreck. I cried when, two days before we left for Lynchburg, I realized my favorite camera lense was broken. What if I missed one of the boys' last Daddy memories? It's a horrible stage, but expected.

Stage 2 – Detachment and Withdrawal: In this stage, service members become more and more psychologically prepared for deployment, focusing on the mission and their unit. Bonding with their fellow service members is essential to unit cohesion, but this may create emotional distance within the marriage. Sadness and anger occur as couples attempt to protect themselves from the hurt of separation. In the new emotional cycles of deployment, as this stage happens more often and more frequently, marital problems may escalate. When a husband or wife must repeatedly create emotional “distance”, they may gradually shut down their emotions. It may seem easier to just feel “numb” rather than sad, but the lack of emotional connection to your spouse can lead to difficulties in a marriage.
We experienced this while stationed in Japan and I know it will happen again. Not the "bonding with fellow service members" but the "protecting yourself" part. You have to protect yourself and your children and this creats a severe line. An inevitable but sever scar. It will always be there, but you'll always be able to look back on it and remember the shit you waded through.

Stage 3- Emotional Disorganization: With back to back deployments, one might think that this stage of adjusting to new responsibilities and being alone would get easier. Although a military spouse may be familiar with the routine, (s)he may also be experiencing “burn-out” and fatigue from the last deployment, and feel overwhelmed at starting this stage again.
I am already emotionally disorganized so this will be intersting!

Stage 4- Recovery and Stabilization: Here spouses realize they are fundamentally resilient and able to cope with the deployment. They develop increased confidence and a positive outlook. With back to back deployments, however, spouses may find it hard to muster the emotional strength required, but many resources are available to provide needed support.
When you realize how much you can do on your own, you can't help but stick your chest out and be proud. But, have you ever been the man and woman of your house? It's hard on the hubs when he comes back from so many months of gogogogo and realizes he has no "job" at home.

Stage 5- Anticipation of Return: This is generally a happy and hectic time spent preparing for the return of the service member. Spouses, children and parents of the service member need to talk about realistic plans and expectations for the return and reunion.
What do you think? Trench coat with nothing under it or super sexy sun dress with nothing under it? ;0)

Stage 6 – Return Adjustment and Renegotiation: Couples and families must reset their expectations and renegotiate their roles during this stage. The key to successful adjustment and renegotiation is open communication. Families also need to be prepared to deal with the effects of combat stress on the returning service member. Such stress and trauma can be difficult to deal with. Troops with combat stress are often irritable, guarded, and want to be alone. Some may use increased alcohol or drugs in a failed attempt to “numb” the emotional pain they are experiencing. Attempts at renegotiation may result in increasing marital arguments.

Stage 7- Reintegration and Stabilization: This stage can take up to 6 months as the couple and family stabilize their relationships anew. As noted with Stage 6, the presence of
combat stress can severely disrupt the stabilization process. Reintegration and stabilization can hit more roadblocks when a family must make a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move immediately upon the return of the service member. Back to back deployments create stress as families stabilize only to begin Stage 1 once again.
This will be the case. We'll be up for orders in Jan/Feb and then, as John returns home I will begin the move process with the boys.

For me, being separated by an ocean or a contenent isn't tough. I've been there before. Explaining where Daddy is, day after day, week after week is heart-wrenching. At times, it seems like I'm the only one but I know better. There are Daddy's that don't come back and marriages that don't survive. There is always someone that has it worse.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Channeling Michelle Duggar

Yes, I'm a lame TLC addict. Whatever, you can come out of the closet too. I bet I could tell you those jeans were not a great fit because of Stacey & Clinton or that Kenadie Jourdin-Bromley is the smallest person in the world. The new Monkey show won't be in on my DVR list, neither is Toddlers and Tiaras. I digress...Barack who?

I, most certainly like you, am oddly intrigued and repulsed by the Duggar Family. 19, amost 20 children from the same woman? No, thank you. I have time enough with two. I mean, really, Michelle, you proceeded to have sex with this man after the 4th or 10th child?!? No, thanks, Jim-Bob (WTF kinda of name is that?) I don't want a dose of your super sperm tonight. Tee hee hee, I said sperm. I wonder what she calls it. Godly love fluids? Bleah.

All craziness aside: Michelle Duggar lives in a state of zen. How does she do it? Herbal supplements? Drugs? What is it?!? I want to know. No, no. I NEEEED to know.

The boys are great, they're wonderful...but they're also 3 and 15 months. I really try, everyday, to make things as engaging and awesome as I can. I always fall short, but that's not the hard part. It's the days I fall short (everyday) and also have zero patience that are the absolute worst. Not only do I feel bad for not giving the boys everything I possibly can, I also feel crappy for losing my temper.

Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow I will channel Michelle Duggar's patience...just not her uterus.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Deployment Schedule

As if I won't be busy enough with just life, here are my runs:

FL Challenge 1/2 Marathon -Tampa 1/31/10
ING Miami Marathon -Miami 1/31/10
I can't decide between these two. I may take the boys down to have a night with Noni & Pop Pop and drive to Miami, see my SIL and run the ING. Not sure.

Breast Cancer Marathon -Jax 2/21/10
This is a definite. I've wanted to run this since the inaugural year and now have the chance to do it.

Guana River 50k Train Run -PV Beach (Jax) 3/28
The piece de resistance! Yes 30 miles. Once you get up to 26.2, who's counting?

These are the races I've found and am interested in so far. By the time March comes around I am assuming a substantial break will be needed, there will be sparse races in the south and I will be house-hunting for our next duty station!

My goals is to run and complete these races. I am setting these goals not just for myself but for the boys, too. I will start this deployment-with-kids-stuff off on the right foot. It's important for my kids to understand that life doesn't stop with daddy's gone. I want them to see that not only can we survive (my back up plan) but we can thrive and succeed in living a great life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stand By to Stand By

I haven't been in the blogging mood. As soon as I'm "done" for the night, I just crash. John has been working a lot, finishing up all sorts of inspections and certifications. After six months of absolute chaos, it's over. He is finally done. To prove it to us, he went in for a meeting this morning and then came home! Seriously, just a half day at work. It feels like a Saturday on a Friday.

I feel like a new woman...almost.

I am resolving to get back on the wagon and post regular updates. I think it will be important for deployment time. John explained his internet connection like as pretty archaic. Sweet. The way I fiugure, if he's got a second, he can long on and find the blog *hopefully* updated.

So, to my loyal few friends, stay posted. Things may actually get interesting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Sweetest Boy in My Life

My sweet, kind hearted little man is 3. Most days I can't believe it's been 3 years. Some days I know, without a doubt, he is in the throes of toddlerdom.
John and I had no idea what we were doing when Turner arrived. We were squeaky clean, brand new, parents. Looking back, I can say he is probably one of the most easy-going babies I have ever met. He rarely cried and, when he did, he was actually hungry or wet. His first full-blown, on the floor, tanturm didn't occur until very close to the age of two.

I look at him and see an 80 year old man in a 3 year old's body. Turner is gentle and kind-hearted and the warmest spirit. If he is cranky, there is almost always a reason. In fact, it is so out of character that John and I often have to remind ourselves that he is just a three year old. Some days it's hard not to expect perfect behaviour because we see him as years beyond his age.
Just when I don't think I can possibly love him any more, he says "Wow! You look so handsome today." and I fall in love all over again.

I love you, little buddy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

You Can't Control the Wind, But You Can Adjust Your Sails

It's not often I get the chance to meet other CHENG wives. They are usually holed up somewhere, holding down the fort. I did, however have the chance to meet one about a week ago. She was so sour and spiteful she had a puckered up look on her face. I had to stop for a minute and realize we were both in the same boat with the difference being she's just been at it about a year longer.
Wow! Does a year make that much of a difference? Am I just going to let myself be a hateful, spiteful bitch to the world because I don't like my husband's job? I really hope not. What a waste of energy. Have I been looking all stick-up-my-ass-ish?

To the Other CHENG's Wife: It might be the crappiest job in the Navy, but at least your husband is safe on a ship. Hell, at least you still have him around to be a father to your children (when he's home). At least he's still on a boat, and, at that, not even on the top side. You know, Other Cheng's Wife he could be in Iraq or Afghanistan leading an EOD squad but he's not.

How about you have a nice cup of STFU. It'll do ya some good.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jacksonville, round 2!

When John and I got married, we agreed the plan was to get to as many duty stations as possible before we were told where to go. As luck would have it, we're repeating here in Mayport just 7 years in. It's alright, though, as it's been a blessing in disguise to be in a comfortable place with John gone so much. I think it means we've come full circle Navy style so now we're free to get on with the show!

I honestly never could have asked for such a beautiful, fun (read: crazy), loving family from a chance meeting at Beef O'Brady's. We had as much fun as two people, head over heals in lust (ahem, love) could have in just two months. Romantic walks on the St. John's, nights on the beach, dinners at anywhere from the Chart House to the Ale House, bar hopping at the Ritz, The Pub and so many more other random places.

Never did I realize where the Children's Museum was, or the book store with the coolest train table, or the best kiddie care at the gym was. I had no idea what the name of local hospitals were, or the mommy's group or even why people bought memberships to the zoo. Now, I know.
It's been a wild ride and I expect much more for the future!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Baby is 1

I can't believe how my sweet Ollie suffers from 2nd child syndrome and he has no idea. It is two weeks after his birthday and I've finally had the chance to take a minute to remember his first year.

Weighing in at 21.2 lbs and measuring 31.5 inches, Eli has made his mark in a year. He is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, I actually felt his craziness acknowledged and thought "FINALLY!!! Someone really sees it!" The doctor that saw him started with the normal "So, is he walking?" My automatic reaction was to laugh. Um, how about running XC? Yeah.

Next question: "Does he have many words?" What doesn't this kid talk about? All day long is chatter, chatter, screaming, grunting, chatter. Aside from "Mama, Dada, Turtur (which he always whispers for fear of being pummled, probably), Pop-pop, Non (Noni =Grandma), dog, woof (does that count?), bup (up) and dow (down)" his all time favorite is "liiiiight." He loves to say light, point at the light source and then just do this cute little attached-too-close-to-the-gum tounge roll. For the past two days, he's been obesssed with a picture of John. He stands at the wall and just babbles and says "Dada." Tonight, he said "luh loo" (we've been practicing love you). I about fell over...and then cried. Apparently, his Daddy was the same as a child.

Mr. Elias is passionate, fierce, loyal, destructive and opinionated. I can't believe I know all of those qualities exist in a one year old. He is everything I am not and I love that. I really see all, or most, of the qualities I love about John in Eli. It makes me happy that those qualities will some day shine down from the White House. What? A Mamma can dream...

Every day this child, wanted or not, makes me a better person. He tests my limits and warrants patience the most gracious Southern Belle would be jealous of. He makes me more creative, efficient and loving.

He is, by far, the one person in my life who makes me a better mom daily.
Happy Birthday, Olliewog!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Married Single Mother

A friend made the comment that she was a "married single mother" while her husband was on a 6 month cruise (I use that term loosely as it means deployment!). At the time I thought "I have no idea what I'm going to do when the time comes!" The kids, the housework, the absence of showers, down time, and not having family or many friends in the area. What in the world do I do every day with two toddlers?!?

Well, it might not be a deployment, but it's been a long month. I've done little things like drive the three hours to my parents' for a visit, grocery shop, run errands. Today, though, I decided I was going to take the kids to the beach. Just us on a quick trip to the beach on base. The heavily life-guarded strip of beach on the back side of Mayport Naval Station. Finally, something out of my comfort zone. The big Atlantic ocean that could swallow a child whole and all that sand. What else am I going to do, though? Wallow in my sorrow? It just makes the kids whine more.

Getting out like that made me realize that I can't wait for John. I already knew that, right? I mean, in San Diego and Japan I learned to go to movies, dinner and just explore on my own. Sometimes I still expect John to come home by 4 like in Monterey and Newport, but it's more like 10 (or not at all) these days. I feel like the initial shock has started to wear off, but I would never wish the "single" parent life on anyone. It's hard work. At the end of the day, I feel like I've walked around Disney 10 times. BUT...I'd never want to be on the other side of the fence. I'm pretty sure John's job, especially being away from his buddies, is even more difficult!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Beginning of Summer!

((This blog is called "OH! The Places We'll Go..." because I want(ed) to chronicle the craziness of our Navy life. The moving, the travelling. I didn't name it "OH! The crazy kids I complain about on a daily basis..." With that said...))

Growing up in Florida, I never really understood what the season of "summer" was. The seasons were hot, hot, hotter and hottest. We were out of school for a few weeks but it sure was hot down that dirt road. We didn't bother to get to the beach much because we could lay out in our back yard (on the black trampoline for that matter!). Who cares about ice cream? We ate it year round. Tank tops and flip-flops? Psssshh! Year round! Summer wasn't about 'dogs on the grill, baseball games, and deck parties. It was about staying indoors, avoiding the insane rays and catching up on all those lazy Saturdays you missed out on during the "fall" and "spring."

Living in New England, I realized what summer is all about. It's about waiting for the last weekend in May - Memorial Day weekend. This sacred last weekend in May is, of course, about honoring our fallen soldiers first and foremost but it's also the unofficial start to Summer.
Cue Jerry Mungo "In the Summertime" song! dee dee dee dee dee dah dah dah dah dah...

Summer in New England is running after the ice-cream truck (the one that comes right at dinner time); wearing the least amount of clothing possible and not getting arrested for indecent exposure; soaking in as much of the sun as humanly possible; picking and eating blueberries as big as quarters; enjoying every minute of the bright green grass; grilling out every day; the sound of the A/C unit sitting in your wall; never complaining about the heat because you know the bitter weather that follows; swimming in any body of water that soothes the soul; eating dinner outside; enjoying an entirely fried platter at a clam shack; kids selling actual lemonade; sand between your toes; the smell of the grass in the morning; standing outside with your neighbors because it's not 16 degrees; big, patriotic American Flags on traditional New England houses; and absolutely savoring the season.
Yes! That's a QUARTER, not a nickle.
Before we lived in Rhode Island, I never understood what the big deal about summer was. In California, it was fun to have the "Indian Summer" and in Japan it felt like being in the South: sticky and miserable. Nothing is as sweet as welcoming in the giggly feeling of Frosty Freeze, Clam Bakes, welcoming people to your summer town and seeing your kids' ice cream faces.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A year ago today...

My baby bearing belly looked like this!I can't belive it's been a year. Wait, yes I can. It's been a long, yet rewarding year. I'm really looking forward to celebrating Ollie's Frist Birthday in a few weeks!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

See Mommy Run

My earliest memory of running is from Pine View Middle School. I joined the track team because my mom ran track and I thought it would be cool. I had no idea what I could actually do, so I tried sprinting. I completely sucked and threw up after the 800 during my first meet. At the next practice, I faked a pulled hamstring just so I didn't have to run fast (which I didn't do any way). The coach, Mr. Koop (aka the math teacher) told me to jog it out with the cross country team on their three mile loop in Lake Padgett. I thought I was going to die. But, I finished with my fake pulled hammy.

I loved running.

I felt accomplished. I felt cool. Like I was good at something.

Running in the rain could always cure my teenage angst. It was always a time when I could think straight through all the hormones. I loved hearing my feet on the dirt road.

Fast forward a few years. Running gave me something to do when John was gone for over 280 days while we were stationed in Japan. It gave me peace of mind when I thought I was going crazy with the "baby blues" and it made me feel like me again after having Turner.

It's been since February 2008 (ok, probably a few weeks longer) since I've been on a good run. Most people probably remember how long it's been since they've had a cigarette, eaten a forbidden food, or had sex. I, however, remember how long it's been since I've been on a good run.

I'm done making excuses. I'm running a 5k on Saturday. It's the start of my "run every race up to a marathon by February 2010" goal. Just to check my stamina, I set out yesterday and ran a 5k. Nice. I've still got it. I mean, not the time or anything -but my heart is still in shape. Let's not get on the subject of my flabby ass...

There. I've said it. I'm running a 5k on Saturday. Then it's a 10k, Tour de pain, half marathon and marathon. I've given myself a year because no one really runs these things during the summer down here. I'm hoping this will give me the motivation to remember why I love running. Just because I think it's cool.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friends and Frogs

Yesterday was full of "firsts" for Turner. It was nice to see him finally break free of the two year old and try to be three for a day.

We were at the smal park in our community and two boys came in the gate. He turned to ask me "Hey, what's hees name?" and I about fell over. This? From the kid who clings to my leg? Wow! I immediately said "I don't know, let's go ask them." We walked up to the two boys and I tried to get Turner to ask their names. He didn't, but their grandmother got the general idea. Not even two minutes later Canon and Turner were throwing a football! It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen. Turner would even say "Yaaaaay Cannon. You caught the ball!"

Canon and brother Mason (3 and 13 months) and Turner ran around and collected sticks to put in a pile. I cannont wait for Eli to run around with his brother. I hate wishing for time to go faster, but I just want to watch them run together!

We came home and along the way collected all the magnolia leaves we could find. It seemed like Turner still wanted to play so we went out back to play and investigate things. In the play house, there was a frog! Just a tiny little rain frog. Turner squated and said "Hey! What is that?" I said "A frog!" And out of nowhere, with Mr. Miyagi-like skills caught the frog with his thumb and index finger! I was so excited, I ran and grabbed the first camera I saw. He caught his first frog! Again, adorable.

After Mr. Froggie had been loved to death (I'm pretty sure he was just stunned.), it was time for a nap. I thought the day had already gone great. When Turner woke up we were talking about changing his diaper and about how big boys go on the potty. Out of no where, he said he needed to pee and he wanted to go on the potty. He went several times and then just didn't feel like it any more. I was caught off guard and didn't have any cool "potty pants" or special treats. I'm hoping when the time really comes it's going to be that easy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

Facebook has this little box that you can write something about yourself in. I've been staring at it for months. Who am I these days? I have no idea. Am I super mom? Uh, no. Hot mom? Eh, not too sure of that one. Awesome wife? I've been better. Am I Nellie? Still, nothing. I have no idea.

How to figure this out is something I've got to do. I feel like I've given up my body for long enough this time around. It's time to get my groove back. Groove? I'm not even sure if I ever had that in the first place.

I went for a run the other day, a la double stroller. It was tough (32lb stroller + 50lbs of kiddos -120lbs of me...give or take, depending on how much milk I'm packin'), but when I got back to the house I had that feeling. That little feeling that I love when I'm done working out. That little something that says you're better for doing this. That inner athlete feeling.

I'm pretty sure getting back in to running is a step in the right direction. The gym is a little tough for me right now. I think, though, in the coming months I'm going to check out the local gyms and the kiddie care they have. Especially when it will be too hot to run outside. I hate having the kids just sit and smolder in the stroller while I enjoy the wind. Something seems wrong with that.

That being said, I've picked out my first race. The Tour de Pain (seriously, that's the name) is in August. Honestly, I don't see it being all that bad from the cardio stand point. I can just imagine how sore you are, running 3 races in two days! There are also the logistics of training for a race considering the lack of extra hands around here. I can't depend on a schedule of any sort and I'm going to have to take what I can get!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Labor of Love

About two weeks ago, I noticed Ollie starting to refuse baby food. He would get distracted. I didn't want to force the issue because he had the "mystery illness." Last week, he quit the stuff -cold turkey. I thought he just wasn't taking solids from me because when he had been sick I let him nurse nonstop.

This week he's not the least bit interested in ANYTHING he can't pick up himself. It took a few days, but I'm over the shock. I milled T's food up until at LEAST 11 months. It was probably around the year mark that I let him start eating things on his own. I mean he wasn't eating pureed foods, but...

I just know how much nutrition I can shove in to home made from scratch baby food. It kills me that he's refusing the organic, wholesome, cubes I've got tucked in to the bottom drawer of the freezer. So....

There was an entire pot of beef (fillet cut, of course) and veggie soup I made the night before. I thought I'd try and shove it in to a pancake. Why? Earlier that day, John had given Eli one of Turner's pancakes (with spinach and blueberry). At first, I freaked out because it had chocolate and a bit of added stevia. But, Eli gobbled it up so fast I thought he dropped it!

Trader Joe's Baking Mix is my absolute favorite for making pancakes. I used the broth from the soup instead of milk, added some of the already pureed beef and finely chopped the veggies. So far, they're going over well. The way I figure, it's more than he'd be getting if he were feeding him self. There's no way he'd be able to chew up the beef with just two molars. I'm pretty proud of my little idea!

On the griddle right now: carrot, sweet potato and apple pancakes. In the dry mix is also wheat germ, ground chia seeds, cinnamon, allspice and ground ginger. I just tasted the first batch and they were super bland. I just added a bit of brown sugar (since my agave nectar, stevia and more random things are still somewhere in the garage in the missing food box). I also added a bit of milk because the chia seeds are soaking up all the liquid! Oh, the apple, sweet pots and carrots were cubes of food that were already pureed.

Next up:

Spinach & Blueberry with silken tofu, chia and wheat germ

Chicken -but maybe in a "crab" cake form?

Food wise, I'm just letting him test his limits. It's just hard, though, figuring out the finger foods or whether or not he's eaten enough x, y, or z for the day. I am still offering the pureed stuff, just because it's going to go to waste if I don't do something with it.

Sigh, pancakes are up...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Things I Need to (re)Learn to Do...

My neighbor came over this morning. Thankfully, she was in her bathrobe and sans makeup. I was equally as classy in my nursing tank, baby on me in a carrier and my '80's hair rockin' everywhere...

Any way, she came over to let me know something was wrong with a sprinkler. Upon reluctant investigation, it looked like a water main break. We were spewing gallons and gallons of restricted water all over the driveway and in to the street. Ah! I don't even know how to turn off the stupid water. Sad...

So, here's my list of things I need to learn to do before John starts getting underway.

Learn to:
1. Turn the sprinklers off.
2. Take the trash out (3 glorious years of barely touching the bins -but, this was after 14 months of meticulously separating EVERYTHING in Japan)
3. Quit having an adrenalin rush every time something goes bump in the night.
4. Make dinner and feed myself. Yes, actually eat dinner and not yogurt or cereal...or wine...
5. Find a plumber, the gas man, and all the other men in my life.
6. Change a tire in a shorter amount of time. As in, under 10 minutes so the kids to freak out. Is that possible?
7. Exercise my Second Amendment right. Well, at least have a legal firearm with proper protection and education. I know all about it, Southern style...
8. Make time for myself.
9. Stop "treating" the boys to make up for the fact that Daddy's not here. It's just a fact. We have to live with it and it does not mean I have to buy cars every time we're at Target!
10. Regain the hand over the finances. Shore tours, it's John's job. Sea tours, my job. Ah! Excel...

There are probably more things I need to (re)Learn but I think that's a lofty (enough) goal for now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Running in SloMo

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a movie. The character is running but the film is in slow motion. Slow blinks, one foot in front of the other and then BAM the fricken light post. I mean, I'm living. I'm loving staying at home with my buddies, but life just seems to be one big stretch of a running scene in slow motion. I've barely been running!

I try to remind myself, every day, that the kids are only this little once. In a year, Turner's not going to be telling me he's "gonna dit" me, Eli's not going to be nursing and sticking his fingers in my mouth and up my nose. Turner won't be listening to my heart with his Cookie Monster stethoscope or asking "Tan you tiss it?" I will sorely miss these moments...


Some days. COME ON!

Wait, I just reminded myself to stop. One day, I'll be rewinding home videos wishing I was looking schleppy and enjoying my babies. Hopefully, Ollie won't be biting my boobs. My hair won't be pinned up and this huge zit won't exist because I was able to wash my face regularly!

Ok, I feel better. I'm in regular motion now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Whatcha Doin'?

Turner had been playing with this magnifying glass the entire time we were at my parents' house. He was "inbestagating" everything.
I got this shot and asked him what he was doing. Very seriously, he says "I lookeeing for my penis. Ok, Mommy?"

Thursday, April 9, 2009


This week was CA-RAZY! We had John's Hail & Farewell Saturday. When we got home, I noticed Ollie still felt warm. From there, he had a high fever for three days. Two trips to the urgent care at the hospital at the Naval Air Station and one well baby visit later we still have no idea what happened. I attribute it to Ollie always wanting to keep things fresh. He'll be a great interior designer one day...

The menu this week ended up being that of survival. I am trying to use all the groceries I bought on Sunday but I'm not going to beat myself up. I did end up with $42 in savings. I had a few great coupons...

Tonight is the first night I've not had to nurse Ollie for hours on end. Holy molars and mystery illness!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grocery Goods

This week's savings at Publix: $45.37. I was pretty excited about that.

$5.50 in vendor coupons, $4.00 in store coupons (actually, they were Food Lion coupons -one included $2 off a purchace of $5 or more in produce!), $34.78 in advertised special savings and $1.09 in advantage savings.

My greatest purchaces this time around: B1G1 Olive Oil and $1.99 Contessa Meals (for John this week)! The best was the deal on jars of Earth's Best Organic baby food. I make all of Ollie's food, but I picked up a few "just in case" jars. I found a $1 off 10 jars coupon from the Earth's Best site, then I had a $1 off 6 jars from Food Lion. It was B1G1 so the total for 10 jars was about $3.40!


Last week's cilantro/lime/beer chicken was the best chicken I've ever made! Here's the "recipe."
whole chicken, cleaned, patted dry
1/2 stick butter, softened
handful cilantro
s & P
red potatoes cut in to quarters

In a glass pan (or roasting pan if you're special), toss in potatoes and whatever else you decide must go in.
In a bowl, combine butter, cilantro, cumin, paprika, garlic. Rub S & P all over outside of chicken. Cut tiny holes (two on breast side, two on back side) in the chicken skin. Shove your fingers in there...lovely...and separate the skin from the muscle. Put some of the butter mixture under the skin and massage until you use it all up. I wipe my hands all over the outside of the chicken when I'm done. Gives the skin some goodness. Oh! and toss some of that beer in the pan.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Menu Saturday

I'm tired. So tired.

Garlic/lemon/wine roasted chicken (69 cents/lb) with asparagus and red potatoes. The plan is to process the herbs and place under the skin -using as little extra added fat as possible. I was going to stop doing this whole roasted chicken thing but it's so easy...

Sunday (duty day):
Cheesy Chicken & Mushroom Lasagna -probably adding spinach since I have a bag and like green stuff

Spring Soup (recipe to follow if it all works out!)
Ingredient Ideas: leeks, peas, asparagus (1/2 the bunch from Saturday), stock from scratch, bits o' chicken, carrots, Arborio rice, herbs

Veggie Pizza John picked up from Fresh Market

Wednesday - Friday: taking the kiddos down to LOL for Grandma's 87th birthday

Baby/Toddler Food:
ORGANIC carrots; apples; root veggies (carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes); green beans
Turner's Meatballs

Trying CVSing this weekend. Finally. I've really wanted to see what I can get with the extra care bucks since I got my card in. Hopefully, I don't flake out!

Um, Hello Iced COFFEE!

THIS rocks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The End is Near

The end of my rope, that is. I'm getting there. Eli can't nap on his own. My hips and back are killing me from wearing him all the time. I'm really happy my body has finally gotten used to the lack of sleep. That helps with day to day functioning.

I understand his needing me at night. I don't mind now that he actually sleeps from 7:30-8 until 12 or sometimes later. Four hours or more to myself. I go and get him, bring him to our bed and pray that he just nurses and sleeps until day break. Most of the time, it's peaceful. This isn't the problem.

Nap times are turning in to nightmares. Around 9am he's sleepy. He can fight all day, but he's sleepy. I wear him for about a 45 minute nap from 9-9:45. I've tried putting him down and he cries in his crib. It's out of desperation. I'm there. He cried for about an hour for over 7 days in a row. I went in and got him. Nursed, comforted, etc. Around noon, we did the same thing again. Seven days in a row. So, without any naps, he trudged on.

Finally, I would make John take Eli and Turner out for a stroller walk. All of Eli's crying got Turner all cranky. After a week or more of craziness. I finally decided to just working on separating at night. Ollie goes down okay now. I mean, he still wines. There is no crying. It's just all out yelling at me. If you go in 45 minutes after it all started there's not a tear to be found. He just yells at me. Angrily.
John's back to work, so there's no break. I am just at a loss. It's absolutely ridiculous that he can't nap on his own. I truly believe you have to teach them these things. Obviously, I have failed. I just had such horrible PPD with Turner, I thought with Eli I'll just gobble every second up. In doing that, we never put him down. Not for a second. Well, crap.

Eli needs the sleep. He's so busy. He's tired in the morning around 9-10 then, again, around 12-1. If he didn't get a great nap -which is not unusual- he needs another 45 minutes in the evening. I've tried putting him down at different times, in a dark room, with normal living room noise. He just flat out refuses napping on his own. What the hell do I do when my back gives out? I have no idea where I'm going with this. I'm just so frustrated. John is a great support at night, but he's just as clueless as I am. Well, he thinks it'd be a great idea to just put Ollie down and let him yell to sleep for a nap. I'm not opposed to the yelling. It does not bother me anymore. No one understands when I say, "HE WON'T FALL ASLEEP IN HIS CRIB DURING THE DAY. PERIOD." He would rather be miserable than abdicate his position on this issue. I love the willfulness, but, damn I'm tired.
Even worse than being tired: Turner is super bored! I feel horrible. He's constantly trying to get my attention when Eli is in the mei tai. It's heart-breaking when he says "Fawn (c'mon) Mommy, pay wif me in my woom. Come sit." I can sit sweetie. If your brother wakes up right now he's going to be a wreck.
Oh, and Eli's decided it's high time he started walking...a little

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mommy Spot

I had an "ah-ha," an epiphany, a revelation. I have arrived. I've learned the ultimate: inner peace among chaos! Finally.

John's grandparents have been here since Sunday afternoon. John's been at work from early 'til late. Turner has been excited and 2 1/2. Eli has been his usual charming but "passionate" self. Did I mention I'm here alone with 4 kids? Fay and Lola, though sweet and endearing, are like an extra set of toddlers. A million questions. "Can you make lunch? What's for breakfast? Is there coffee? After this car, can you go? Better hurry before the light turns.' A million requests over and over again. All in the most annoying (sorry babe) loud New Jersey accent.

It all came to a head today when I was trying to get dinner together in early in the afternoon. Eli had skipped his early morning nap (because Lola decided that, right when Ollie fell asleep, she would ask if he was sleeping...loudly), was super clingy and whiny and an eating machine. Turner was having melt down after melt down, wouldn't let me change his diaper and refused to put clothes on. Lola was sitting in front of the TV and hoarding "the buttons" and Fay was his usual adorable clueless self. Lola decided to come hang out in the kitchen. (My pet peeve.) The kitchen was a wreck because I couldn't seem to get anything done. Turner threw himself on the floor, Lola was standing in my way and Ollie just lost it. I was elbow deep in a raw chicken. Lola was blah blah blahing about how she freezes everything from deli meat to previously frozen turkies *gag.*All at once, everyone started questioning me about one thing or another and finally, it...happened...

I got to the place I've been searching for. The quiet among the chaos. The "I don't give a shit what your problem is, I'm here in my Mommy G Spot -don't bother me!" I did it. It was so movie-like. The screaming, the annoying outlaws, the babies, the mess, the oven beeping, the phone ringing. I was in a teeny tiny euphoric utopia. I just answered pleasantly the questions but was so disconnected. I didn't freak out. I just let it roll. I'm better for it. If I would have said what was on my mind many feelings would have been hurt. Turner would have been in a completely un-necessary time out and Ollie, well, he'd still just be sitting there stuffing himself with crackers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Menu Saturday...on Sunday

This weeks savings on groceries totaled $52 and some change. I just paid attention to the flier and used the B1G1's and coupons. It was actually kind of fun since I got to go by myself!

The Menu:
Saturday - Sorta Caesar Salad (sale on the lettuce and the mushrooms!)

Sunday -Bono's BBQ courtesy of the Grandparents-in-Law

Monday -beer and lime roasted chicken (69 cents/lb), cilantro rice, zuchini and tomatoes

Tuesday -chicken tortilla soup

Wednesday -fish, sauteed chard with garlic chips, simple risotto

Thursday -turkey and apple wraps with mixed greens, cheese and apricot/dijon sauce

Friday -parents in town, not sure what we're up to

Saturday -John's hail at the Captain's house

In all, I'm happy with how I've been paying better attention to the grocery situation. This past Friday I had a pity party for myself and went to Fresh Market. The $14 in savings from last week was negated by the $41 I spent on a pizza, wine and bananas! Oops.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Last night was John's first night of duty since 2005! When I thought about it, I really couldn't belive it's been that long. The last time he was CDO (the in charge person on the ship when the Captain isn't around) was November of 2005! How lucky have we been?
All week I'd been eased in to taking care of the boys all day -without the extra set of hands that have been around for so long. So, it wasn't all that bad. I took the boys out to the zoo in the morning. On the way back home, Turner tried to stay awake...until we got off on our exit. I tried so hard to keep him awake since it was only 11:30! He was talking all sorts of nonsense about blue monkies and Mr. Bear going down a slide. Poor kid, he just couldn't hang. We got home and the transfer from carseat to bed didn't go well. Nor did the rest of the afternoon. Hilights include when Ollie hit his head so hard he dented it, when Turner melted down and just couldn't keep it together and when I found Ollie noshing on a peanut butter sandwich and drinking milk. No one died, or was irreversibly damaged. I chalk that one up as a win!

It's 10am on Saturday and we're still waiting for CHENG to get home. Turn-over was at 0745. I have a feeling we're always going to be waiting on him!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Damage

My first Publix shopping trip after deciding to pay more attention yielded a $14.85 savings. Not bad for just two coupons! I actually looked at the advertised sales and checked out the "advantage savings."
Even though we don't eat that much chicken in a normal week, it was fun to see what we could do with a roaster. Publix had advertised "whole chickens .79 cents/lb" so I thought I'd get a sweet deal on a fatty. It wasn't mentioned, but the ad was for fryers -not roasters. I went for a roaster at $1.23/lb and was just fine with that.

The Chicken Experiment

Spent: $24.51

Roaster: $8.45

Addt'l groceries for CE: $16.06

Since strawberries are in season, I went for those but could have chosen apples or something similar for the salad. Also, I bought organic spring mix. The point of this, for me, was to cut corners where possible. Maybe if the Fresh Express brand is looking good next week, I'll use my $1.00 off coupon and skip the organic. We'll see...

I'm not a fan of eating food that's been in the fridge over, let's say, 1 day. It grosses me out. So, I opted to portion out the chicken, bag it (with some extra juice from the pan) and freeze it. Today, I took out the portion for the picadillo and just thawed it by placing it in cold water.

Speaking of, the picadillo was great! I would have never thought to use raisins and cinnamon in this dish but it worked. Well, John said it was great. I still can't taste a thing thanks to this cold and allergies. We should end up getting 4 meals (for 2 and a toddler out of this). It could have been 5 but we may have a guest over tomorrow for the chicken burritos and I didn't want to be left to make a $100 run to the store just to get an entirely different dinner.

Next week is to try and beat my previous record in savings, as well as use competitor coupons. I'm also going to try my hand CVSing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cutting the Bill

Tomorrow is my first experiment with actually paying attention to the grocery bill for the first time in a very long time. I'm starting out with the Chicken Experiment. I am modifying it a little bit. Here goes...

Lemon Roasted Chicken with parsnips, carrots, red potatoes, and onion

Chicken on mixed greens with strawberries, avacado and balsamic dressing

Chicken Picadillo

Chicken Burritos with Mojo

Italian Turkey Pasta

Prosciutto, pine nut and spinach pizza (our splurge of the week)

chicken stock from the roaster

The reason behind so much chicken this week is that I wanted to see what could actually be done with the bird. Really, can you get down that low with the bad boy? Also, John's returning to work and how easy could this week be?!? I'm using as much pantry food as possible. Next week we'll be back to our fish 2-3 times per week and not so much meat. I plan to balance out that cost by doing some other cheap -but healthy(er) eats.

I've spent two evenings really researching the couponing world. While I don't think I'll go all that crazy with things since I don't have 12 kids to support, I do think we could benefit from a few cents off here and there. Who couldn't?

A few great sites so far:
A Full Cup
Southern Savers -check it out for "how to's" -like couponing and "CVSing."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SAVE ME! ...from myself...

I have never been frugal. Target (before it was cool) was never my thing. I wouldn't have been caught dead wearing Old Navy (before it was cool), or shopping for shoes at Payless (before it was cool). I like quality and I thought you had to buy brand name to get that quality. I grew up down a dirt road in a house my parents spent a life time saving for and now are paying off. Money was an object, the heft of which wasn't really conveyed to me. Until later...

My parents worked hard to save money everywhere else, except for groceries. No lists were made, lots of produce was wasted, weird additive-ridden kid meals were eaten. My dad liked quality food; lots of veggies fish and meat. It was not uncommon to spend $200 per week on groceries. He never brought home doughnuts, but we did try foods from around the world (his favorite was to bring home "different" produce) along with brand name drinks, cookies, chips, junk...

When college came around, I was stuck paying for food with whatever money was left-over after bills. Once, right when I met John, I went to the store with $12 and a -$43.27 in my bank account (I saved the receipt because I hated that feeling of being in debt). It was the first time I actually paid attention.

Fast forward to 2009. I still hate coupons and bargain hunting but I can finally admit why. I don't know where to start. We move, have busy kids, I buy organic, you can't eat healthy on a budget, etc. Excuses, excuses. Thanks to the lovely Christine I found Cheap Healthy Good and a light switch was flipped on. If my food bills have been close to $200 (we just moved so there's an excuse!) for the last three weeks, what's it going to be like when my boys are teenagers? Good Lord!

My Mission: To see how low I can go. It's going to take a lot of planning but thanks to Southern Savers and a slew of other websites, the wheels are a churnin' and I'm ready to save some cash (so I can buy out Anthropologie...whole different post, I guess).

My Plan: To make my meal plans around what's on sale (no, I don't even do that!) without compromising my families desire to eat lots of organic items. We adhere to the organic meats, milk, and "dirty dozen" idea. The rest of our groceries will be conventionally grown. I'm going to post links and my meal plans. Later, I'll start posting costs, etc. Instead of just being for two adults, it will be servings for 4 with kids in mind.

I'm off to work on my excel sheets and lists before John gets back to work!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

All Babies Are Different

Yes, I know this. I just didn't know to what an extreme extent. Originally, I thought the differences in my own kids would be like a Gala and a Fuji or a tagelo and an orange. Same family, just tiny differences. WRONG!

Nern and Ollie's inherent personalities are polar opposites. Now, I'm not comparing them to see who's better at what or who reached what milestone first (Eli, hands down). I'm so absolutely, stripped down exhausted that I've nothing left to do but just that.

I see my personality in Turner. Easily flustered by small things -like messes. He's always saying "I made a mess. Can you kween it?" He's very go-with-the-flow about his goals. Didn't make it up the climbing wall? Eh, take the ladder. It's still climbing. He's a compliant, non-questioning, rule follower (for the most part). Never climbed out of his crib, rarely gets out of his big boy bed and doesn't question authority. The only reason Turner throws a fit is if he's tired and that would be our fault. He doesn't just melt down if things don't go his way. He's compassionate beyond words and has a need to fix things -meticulously. Turner is a sensitive soul and I'm pretty sure he will always be this way. I have to be careful when disciplining because I can hurt his feelings with just my tone of voice.

Eli. Oh, my sweet Elias. He is his daddy made over. Bull-headed, goal-oriented to the Nth degree, and non-stop. Up in his neck of the woods, John is known as St. John. Ne'er do wrong, could charm the knickers off a sweet ol' southern lady, loudly out-going, good ol' boy. If you blink, you might miss Eli. Yep, he just flew by. He can take two to three steps and crawl faster than than you can leap over the couch to save him from ripping the TV out of the wall. He's so sweet and charming and "says" all the right things. He's so outgoing he can make friends for his older brother. I first noticed Eli's iron will when, at two weeks he could keep his head up. He had to know what we were doing around the house. You can't tempt him with distractions, or re-direct his curiousness. He has to know the facts. How does gravity work? He'll test it by pulling up on our heavy metal and leather barstools and fall straight back on his hard noggin. How does electricity work? Hmm, stick a straw in the socket and see what happens. Knowing what he wants in life will not be Mr. Ollie's downfall, but being so passionate he gets his heart-broken will be.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pack Out # 6!

The packers are coming tomorrow and I have the least amount done, ever. I usually get all worked up that I'm not organized enough but, this time, I could CARE LESS! After the second kid, I think you just start letting go of anything you think you have control over. This is a good thing!

I did manage to get my bedroom-sized closet cleaned out. Anything we're packing and don't want the movers to touch we're stuffing in there. It's werid to see bags of snacks, laundry detergent, toys and the portable DVD player in there but it's the safest place in the house. These packout guys can get pretty careless. When we moved from San Diego to Japan, someone packed the bathroom trash can...along with it's contents. Lovely.

We usually get the cream of the crop in the moving world. When our driver for the move from Land O' Lakes to San Diego showed up he was alone. Yes, alone to move large items. Even better is that he had been in a previous "altercation" with the guys that were packing. Something involving guns...

The packers for San Diego to Japan were pretty stellar, too. They were not only lazy, but careless. Until I offered booze that could not be shipped and they shaped up pretty quick. They were stinky and fought with eachother the ENTIRE time.

Japan was out of this world! The packers showed up and took their shoes off EVERY time they came in the house. Carrying a couch? Take your shoes off! They even wrapped cushions. Oh, they were so wonderful. The took ONE break, to scarf down lunch. That was it!

The move from Monterey was an interesting one, too. One of the packers was a "shim." Turner saw her/him for the first time and said "look, a girl" because he was in the identifying stage. Yeah, honey, Mommy doesn't know what that is. The male packers, without being prompted, told us that shim was a female. In fact, she was dating the secretary. Yeah, we didn't need to know that. They took breaks like CRAZY and fought the whole time. The mover showed up with two guys he just hired. They fought the whole time and were so slow that we didn't leave until 11 pm!

So far, so good today. You can never tell until you're unpacking on the other end...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's Starting, Already!

Let me just say, I know I've been spoiled since returning from Japan in 2005. HOWEVER, it's never easy getting used to "ship" stuff again. John's class split up in to the "top sider/bottom sider" sections in December and ever since then I can't help but keep tabs. Our dining room window faces the street and starting around noon I see the other husbands start coming home. By 3, at the latest, most are parked in their designated spots. I still wait. By 4 Turner's ansy, by 5 I give up and put Ollie on in the Mei Tai so he'll sleep. I have to STOP. John being CHENG just means it's going to get worse, very soon. Gone are the days of ever counting on him to be home so I can make dinner. I have to suck it up and just be thankful for having him around for so long. (...deep breath in...)

With the orders modification, the ship he's going to is "in the yards" -meaning it's being overhauled (instead of being deployed very soon) . No water time for him. Just long work hours. I know he'll leave the house around 4 and possibly be home by 7ish. The "ish" meaning later.

I'm just so happy we'll be in Jacksonville, where I can count on getting out of the house every day! I think it will make a big difference -getting out to the park, going for walks and just not having to brave single digit temperatures!

The packers come Monday and Tuesday and I've got NOTHING done. I figure just survive and we'll figure it out on the other end!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Falling Short

It is really all I can do to keep up these days. I just feel like I'm in a hampster wheel running my ass off. In actuality, I can't even get out for a run...

Eli is such a sweet boy, but, man, he is non-stop. He has always had a strong personality but now he's starting to show (well, since 5 1/2 months) how quickly his motor skills are developing. He hits milestone after milestone. Just when I think "he HAS to have this week off from something" -he gets more teeth, or learns to clap. I have to change his diaper with his head/upper body between my legs just to get the dang diaper on half straight. He's very manipulative, and I fall for it. We've given up any hope for getting him to sleep on his own at any point right now. We've decided to wait until we get to Jacksonville to introduce him to Turner's crib. I need him to sleep for a few hours on his own. I'm going crazy.

Turner's starting to speak in sentences and I adore it! I love everything about the things he says. This morning, he had a motorcycle in one hand and half a banana in the other and says to me "Mommy! Which hand? The motorcycle or the banana?" It was so cute. Any time the camera is out he says "Mommy! Take a picture of me" and then makes the weirdest "cheese" face. It's hilarious.

The movers are coming the 9-11th and John graduates on the 12th. I'll be happy when this 3 years of schooling are finally over! When work is over, it's OVER! No more studying!! It's so hard when Turner's begging for Daddy to play but Daddy's working on flash cards.

I've been avoiding the gym with the excuse of not wanting the kids to get sick. EVERY time I go, someone gets a cold. I just can't deal with it right now and would rather deal with a giggly butt!

I guess when all's said and done and the boys are old enough to remember, they'll know their mamma played with them all day. Even if that meant the dishwasher never got unloaded and all the clean clothes are in a pile on the floor...

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So blah. I think Seasonal Affective Disorder is real now. I mean, I'm not depressed or anything but really feelin' the blahs. I'm ready to get to Flo-Rida! I need the sun!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

With a Bang

November was a rough month so I thought, for sure, December would be awesome. We'd get some sleep, enjoy Christmas and call it a year. December was not exactly that so I thought January would definately be the month Ollie caught on and started sleeping. I'm so tired, I'm cross-eyed...

Eli decided to really get the crawling thing down a little too well and the next day he thought it was high time to start pulling up on things. Within a few hours of one day, he figured out how to climb stairs. Just a few, but, still...

On top of that milestone, he got all four front teeth at once. We're still waiting on one, but the other three have required almost non-stop nursing. Especially at night. He's misreable! I'm so tired, I'm pretty sure this can't get any more ridiculous.

My New Year's resolution is (was) to start using more natural forms of sugar. It's day 5 and it's not happenin' so far. Tomorrow I'm picking up some stevia in powder form and date sugar as well. I think I'm going to try agave syrup. Everything sounded so good and postitve untill I started thinking about Bakerella's fun cake pops...