Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lion's Ass

When my husband's battalion got a new commander, one of the first [non-essential] things he did was create the Lion's Ass Award (a little back-tracking: their unit... mascot?... is a lion. Obviously). The award is like the Stanley cup (that is the hockey one, right?) in that it gets physically passed around every Hail and Farewell(that is how it works, right? Well... this one is the same "trophy," passed around to the new winner from the old one). Nominees are selected based on their "that guy" moments, and any of the battalion members in attendance can nominate someone and any of the officers and senior NCOs can be nominated (though, as far as I know, no NCO has ever been nominated, much less received the ass).

Anyway, the nominator has to explain why they are nominating the nominee (how many times can I write some version of the word nominate in a sentence?), but their story only has to be 10% true. This leads to some pretty amazing stories, most of which include the executive officer (XO) running around training fields naked, Captains shattering windows with broomsticks while attempting to prove their Olympic javelin skills, LTs borrowing their buddy's sweaty gym socks...

My personal favorite was when my husband was nominated last month. Apparently, he took the elevator to the bottom floor of a two story building to get a Snickers bar, and when he came back up the elevator got stuck. Of course, he was getting that candy bar because he forgot to bring the lunch I had packed and reminded him 3 times to bring that very morning. And it was the fifth time in a row he forgot his lunch. He was trapped in there for 3 hours, and ended up getting dehydrated and nearly passing out. Thankfully, they were able to bring in the Army's version of elevator Jaws of Life, and tore him out of the sardine can.

Moral of this story: if it's only 13 steps, take the stairs.

*The above was a round-a-bout way of me telling you that I am now going to employ similar tactics from here on out. Only 10% of my blogs will now be true. Or not. Just to keep you guessing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Don't We Ever Go To Sizzler?

We had a great time over at some friends' house for dinner tonight. S's best friend M mentioned that he is an avid reader of my blog (not that you would know this by my comment section!). However, he finds that I am too depressing, and that all my talk of adoption is boring. Sorry, M.

So, I thought the only logical course of action would be to write a blog just for M. Well... with keeping M in mind. (I suggested his own wife write a guest blog, since she, too, is a QM wife, but she said the world isn't ready for that, yet).

Anyway, S brought up that we bat around the phrase "Why don't we ever go to Sizzler?" You have to say this in kind of a dopey, nasally voice (think Milton in Office Space), but it is exactly what S asks me every time we pass by Sizzler and exactly how he says it. We don't go to Sizzler because I am a snob. I have very specific ideas about what is good, socially acceptable food, and Sizzler is not it. Ruth's Chris? Yes. Mellow Mushroom? Yes. Waffle House? Yes. Sizzler? No.

Also... we don't actually go out to eat very often. For one thing, there aren't that many great restaurants around Fort Lewis. And those that are good/look good are expensive. I can go home to Ga and get vegetable fajitas for $8.99. In Wa, vegetable fajitas at the Mexican restaurant around the corner are $14.99. I don't understand... Also, as an officer, he is expected to go to so many unit social events, it's just nice to have time at home together.

Wow. I digress. Well, so my husband really wants to go to Sizzler. Lucky for him, we get coupons in the mail for their establishment at least once a week, and I do believe they make gift cards. I have really been struggling with what to get him for the holidays this years, and I do believe I have found the perfect solution: A trip to Sizzler.

Honestly, I am pretty nervous about going, but I do love the man, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices for those you love. I just imagine that the moment I step into Sizzler, Volcano Rainier will explode, and I will not only die, but I will die in a Sizzler. Can you imagine a burial site any more depressing?

Old Country Buffet? Well... yes. You got me there with that one.

So, wish me luck. And send me suggestions for new ways to show my husband how much I care for him once I have succumbed to the ultimate act of love.

*BTW, my husband has never asked why we never go to Sizzler in a serious manner, and he also doesn't sound like Milton. Leonard from The Big Bang Theory, maybe...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You're Eating Your Cake Wrong

I have visual instructions on how to go about this the right way, just for you:

(For best results, use a frozen Costco All-American Chocolate Cake)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Draught 1 of Manuscript: Done!

I finished last night at around 9pm. I'm not going to lie: the last couple chapters need a lot of work. In fact, the whole thing past about 40,000 words needs a lot of work (that first portion has been rewritten several times, and even bits of it have been work shopped). I've compiled the whole thing, and will be working on the editing bit while I am visiting my parents. Then, once I receive some feedback from a few people, I will begin query letter writing (also, going to talk to a friend of mine who worked in publishing about that bit... I am hoping she has some fantastic pointers, because, well, I need them!)

So, how did I celebrate this momentous occasion? you ask.

Well, I started writing the prequel. 2000 words in, baby.

I know, that's probably not Kosher, but I need to step away from the first manuscript for a few days and get my thoughts for the second one down before I forget. It's fun, it's exciting, and while it isn't new (like the first, this storyline has been mulling around my head for at least as long... perhaps longer), it's fresh.

And because I'm excited about it, I'll give you a little taste of what all of this is about:

Manuscript 1, which I have tentatively entitled The Blood Child, takes place thousands of years in the future. The world has greatly changed, the carbon cycle decimating civilization as we know it, and setting humanity back greatly.  New "peoples" have evolved from homo sapiens in this new environment, but the humans remain at the top of social hierarchy. Humanity has replaced deities with worship of a human man, known only as the High Ruler. This man, who is said to be all-knowing and all-seeing, the protector of the realm over which he presides, has become corrupt, and encourages discrimination of the Other Peoples.  A renowned prophetess  predicts the end of the High Ruler's reign at the hands of one with blood-red hair... And that's where the story begins.

Manuscript 2, the prequel, is about how civilization came to be destroyed and how humanity manages to survive it. It starts in the present-day United States.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rethinking Adoption in an Unconventional Way

I don't know why I have been the biggest blog slacker in the history of the world, but I have been. I'd love to blame the fact that I am finishing the last chapter of the novel, but that's been just as slow-going. I blame S and his 3-day weekend--wonderful to have him home and around, but it really messes up my online-routine. My friend Kerry just bought her domain name, something I have been contemplating doing, and I wonder if that would give me the push to be less... douchey about my blogging.

Yesterday, we had our final yard sale; it was also our most lucrative. E and I went to a birthday party, and while we were gone, S brought in about $60. We got back, and he made another $15-ish, bringing our total yard sale earnings somewhere near the $100 mark. I'm a little disappointed--I would have thought we would have done much better, especially with the baby items we had. No one who came by even looked at the two strollers we had, much less the toddler clothes we had with the tags still on. Unused jar candles from Yankee Candle and Bath and Body works? All now at Goodwill. I would have sold them for $1 each, but no one wanted them...

Oh, well. Hopefully, Goodwill will be able to do some good with them, and when I write it off my taxes, I will just put that money in the adoption jar.

Blogger refuses to make this photo right-side-up.... which it is everywhere else. Oh, well... E goes shopping. Ironically, she is doing to with 2 Victoria's Secret bags that were free-with-purchase on Black Friday and were some of the only items we sold (they were tagged as being $75... but... yeah).

Having finished up the yard sale, we had some quality adult time after putting E to bed last night. It gave us a chance to talk about adoption, our plans, etc. Part of this came up after S learned some new information pertaining to his own adoption. I'm sure I have mentioned it before, but he was adopted as an "older child" through the foster care system when he was about a year-and-a-half-old. He has an older biological brother and sister who were adopted by a different family, but remained together. We found them about 7 years ago, and they have all struck up a sort of relationship. What little information he knows about his biological family has come from them and the snippets his own parents have released, which isn't much at all. Very recently, the three of them have gained some additional insight into the events that led up to their adoptions, and to say that it was the complete opposite of what everyone believed is a bit of an understatement.

Anyway, that's his story to tell, not mine. I would love for him to write a guest post or two about his own experiences as an adoptee, one with attachment issues, and what it is like to be an adult adoptee... Whatever... But I'm not sure he'll do it. We shall see, shall we not?

Back to my point. So, while talking about it all, I asked if this changed his mind about adoption at all. He said yes; that it made him more certain that he does not want to do a domestic adoption. This came as a surprise to me since only a few hours before he heard "the news," he had said he wished domestic adoption was a more attainable option for us as a military family, since it was how he found his family. I'm not sure what his reasons are for feeling this way, and I don't wish to speculate, but the whole thing has me considering the whole process in a less than glamorous light.

It's easy to get caught up in the idea of  "saving" an orphan. Articles like this one make it easy to forget all of the stuff that led a child to become an "orphan," and that all of that just doesn't "go away" when they are adopted into a new family. Even when a child is as young as a year-and-a-half, their past will come back to "haunt" them, whether it is in a good way or a bad one. Living with S has shown me that, and even then, it's easy to forget. "Saving" a child from a future that is not much of a future is only a small aspect of adding them to a family.

Because the family they had before doesn't just... disappear. If we adopt from Eastern Europe like we plan, it is very likely that child will have other siblings, whether they know it or not. It's very likely their parents will still be alive, that they were released from their biological family for similar reasons as my husband was released from his. It's likely that we will never have much information on that family to give to our child. We'll also be taking them from the only family they are likely to know--the other children and caregivers of their orphanage. And that must only add to all of the fear an anxiety of being an adopted child.

So... yeah. I don't know how to end this.

I'll go with a question... Do I order another Wittlebee Box? Or not? Because I really can't decide...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Money Makes the World Go 'Round

I'm pretty sure that was the title of my "textbook" for economics in college... It either made a huge impression since I remember the name of the book 9 years later, or a bad impression (I am pretty sure I nodded off in that class on more than one occasion... per class meeting) since I remember the name of the book 9 years later... You choose.

I just updated our little "adoption fund" meter over there on the left. Almost $133. On the one hand, that's a lot of money. In fact, that is, give or take some, how much I spend on my major grocery shop on pay day (this includes all dog food, cat food, S's Coke Zero addiction, and staples like pasta, cheese, and a mountain of produce). I can do a lot with $133--fill up my car at the gas pump 4.5 times, buy E an entire wardrobe for a year, do all of my Macy's Black Friday shopping (Macy's gets a lot of business from me... a LOT). But then, at the same time, $133 is not a whole lot. $133 isn't even half my car payment. It's an amount easily blown at Costco. I can't even buy a plane ticket home with $133... It's especially depressingly low when stacked up to the $25,000 goal (try: only a little over half-a-percent!).

It's funny how that works, isn't it?

Either way, we have quite a ways to go, don't we?

This leaves me feeling a little guilty. I follow a few international-adoption-focused blogs, and though I know their aim is not to necessarily make me feel guilty (maybe it is... but I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it isn't), I do sometimes end up in that place, anyway. It is never the "are you X's mommy/family?" that gets me--and believe me, there is a lot of that, especially with some of the sites that are dedicated to advocating for orphans. Maybe it's something to do with my cold heart, but that one just doesn't get me. But the children do (cue really dramatic, sad music here):
  • Jack's story. This one gets me every time.  
  • Tania, Jack's mother, has also stepped up to advocate, as well. Her most recent blog also pulls at the heartstrings.
  • Kasey's story. I think it speaks for itself.
  • Lora of My Camo Kids mentions the other children in her daughter's groupa many times, and it sort of just rips at your heart. 
There are more, I am sure, but these stand out the most to me. I hate that they are so desperate for a family and that so many orphans will probably never have one.  I hate that I fall a little in love with so many of them because of this desperation, and I can't do anything for them but tell other people they exist. I can't help but feel worried that the child we are meant to adopt is already out there, languishing and wishing desperately for a family, and all we have managed to do about it is save $133, $8 of it in pennies.

So, yeah, I feel a little guilty.

And a little pissed off that money makes the world go 'round.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Novel

I am closing in on finishing the novel. As of last night, I had 106,000+ words, and I still have some pretty major events/scenes to write. This is incredibly exciting for me; I have written two other novels, and neither of them have been this long, or this marketable (at least in my opinion). And, for the first time, I am actually thinking "this could happen. This story could make it."

So, I have been considering the next step, the difficult step... The one that is a heck of a lot harder than just writing the dumb thing and work shopping it... Getting it published.

The plan is, as of right now:

  • Finish the book this weekend (Argh!)
  • Workshop (I am hoping I can foist it on some friends for some good feedback)
  • Write a query letter (ugh)
  • Send out query letters (blah)
  • Hope for results.
If I receive no bites, I guess it's time to start attending writers' conferences (blah....). The big one in Seattle isn't until the end of next June, so I suppose I have plenty of time to get over my anxiety of A) going to that sort of event and B) having to act social.

Which means, in about a week, all of my anxiety can be focused on the query letter (I'll worry about the workshop business after I get some feedback). I hate bragging about myself, and I have no idea how to sell anything to anyone, much less a story.

Anyone have any suggestions? Know any agents who are DYING to get their hands on an epic fantasy? Publishers looking for fresh meat? If so... send them my way, and I will send you a box of kitchen sink cookies!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Can't Even Remember...

It's been awhile, hasn't it? Well... a few days, at least.

The oven-wave has finally passed. We went from 96 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday to a high of 67, yesterday. Unfortunately, along with the horrid heat, our Internet and cable decided to die. The phone, too, except we don't use that, so it didn't make a damn bit of difference.

The reason for my absence has been uncovered.

Anyway, the last few days we have been yard-saling it up, anyway. We really need to get rid of some of our HHG (House Hold Goods), especially the stuff that has been sitting in a corner of our garage now for over a year and a half! We figured we would give the yard sale thing a try, and anything we made off of it would go into our adoption fund. Some of our neighbors had some things they wanted to get rid of, and rather than take them to Goodwill, they brought them to us (we will take them to Goodwill if we can't sell them). So, we had a decent spread, although no furniture (I wish I could get rid of the pool table... Stupid thing takes up most of my family room... sigh).

So, got our permit (we have to get a permit to have a yard sale here... We also can have no more than 4 signs and they can't have any balloons or streams on them... In other words, Washington sucks for Yard Sales), posted our signs, gathered our stuff together, and geared up to sell some stuff!

Yeah. Yesterday? We made $3.50. $3 of that was from an item our neighbors gave us.

At 1 pm, we packed it in and headed out to our friends' vow renewal, with hope for a better turn out today.

Thankfully, we did do better this afternoon. We set up by 9 am, and sat for 3 hours with no visitors. Finally, someone came around while I was inside with E getting dinner ready (I smoked some pork for pulled pork, so it took awhile) and S was able to sell a milkshake... thingy (I have no idea where that even came from, but it was with our stuff) and some candles (we have A LOT). By the end of the day, we made $22.25.

And we have successfully made back all of the money we used to buy signage. It would have been so much easier to just not buy signs, and instead stick that money into the adoption fund (which is now, officially, at $135.94)... Best part? Only 2/3 of what we sold actually started out as ours.

So much for cutting down on HHG.

Tons of baby stuff... most of it not even origally ours!

Totally not everything... just the less crappy looking stuff.

We're going to try again next weekend. Some of our other neighbors are going to have one then, as well, and we already have a permit for those days. Hopefully we'll be able to get rid of some stuff... And increase that fund.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mandatory Fun

Tomorrow is S's unit's mandatory fun day... I mean "Organizational Day." I think pretty much everyone jokes about "mandatory fun," and we're no exception. If you aren't familiar with the term, essentially, a unit sets aside a day for "team building" with sports and games and food. Usually, families are invited, and everyone gets to wear civilian clothes, and just "have fun." Think of it as a civilian company picnic. I'm not going to lie... we usually do have fun. But it's just so much better to whine and complain about being required to do things you might actually enjoy.

So, S gets to start having fun at 6:50. E and I will wait until 10:30 to join the good times, which is good, because I need to stick my baked beans back in the oven for at least an hour.

Did I forget to add that we're having potluck sides? The MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. Don't ask me where the food service part of that fits in) will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, me thinks, and this means the rest of us were asked to bring a side. As with every other potluck, my husband asked that I make my grandfather's baked beans. No big deal, they are fantastic.

However, apparently, at about 6 o'clock this evening, one of the other lieutenants requested that I make pulled pork. I am incredibly flattered that my pulled pork was good enough to be requested (if you think back, you know I made 4th of July lunch/dinner for my husband's soldiers and a few of the other officers)... He told this particular coworker that I would have needed a little more warning than that to pull off pulled pork. Technically, I could have still done it, but I wouldn't have been able to start until at least 8pm, and I would have had to stay up all night while the meat smoked.

Now, I am kind of wishing I did have everything to smoke one of those bad boys, just to make the people happy...

And now I feel like Monica on Friends.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Higher Education and the Military Spouse

Every few months, I toy with applying to a PhD program. Having those three letters behind my name has been a personal goal since as far back as I can remember, but in more recent years, it's held less... appeal. PhDs are good for researching and teaching, and I'd probably much rather teach than research, but after working for a university, I have found I have little taste for the politics that go with such a career tract. But then I think back to my time in writing programs. I will always regret not sticking to creative writing for my master's degree, and I will probably always wonder why I didn't pursue a creative writing undergraduate degree. Because I really learned so much in those programs, and they were some of the most fun I ever had.

I could do that on a daily basis and be happy, I think; workshops and writing exercises and thinking creatively. I could do that. But there are so many reasons for not going after it:

I can write without a PhD. I can write without my M.A. and I can write without my B.S. I don't need any of those degrees to be a writer, though I am sure they contribute greatly to my craft. All I have to be is a great writer (and an even better query-letter author).


There are very few Creative Writing PhD programs.


There are even fewer Creative Writing PhD programs even remotely close to Army installations. As in: one (on a good day).

Number three? Yeah, that's a huge issue. It's really difficult to pursue a degree when you can't physically be there to pursue it. And the U.S.? Not so much with the distance learning PhD programs, either. Or even reputable universities who offer distance learning to graduate students. Period.

My Ga Tech graduation in 2008
My M.A. graduation in 2010 (that's my boss shaking my hand)
As a military spouse, I feel I am inundated with "higher education" opportunities in all aspects of life: email, Internet, on post, everywhere. Would I like higher education opportunities? Hell yes! Are any of them geared towards the military spouse who has already been awarded a Bachelor Degree or higher? Um... Not so much. Are any of the geared towards a military spouse who is married to an officer? Hell no. I very much appreciate all of the hard work and focus that has gone to educate military spouses... I just wish someone would recognize that there are some of us that don't fit into the "bubble."

I think some reputable U.S. universities could really take advantage of an untapped demographic if they marketed a hybrid/distance-learning program to military spouses who are looking to complete a master's degree or higher. It's possible to do--I've found several in the United Kingdom that would suit my needs (and are actually more affordable than a required-residency program here in the U.S... No, I don't get how it's cheaper to be an international student, either). The University of Lancaster and the University of Birmingham (Birmingham 1.0, that is) both offer distance learning PhD programs in Creative Writing.

Am I considering one?

Maybe. We'll see how number one works out for me. And what kind of funding I can get... Cause this having 2 degrees and no college loans whatsoever? Totally working for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Communication is Key

When S was deployed in 2006, we had amazing communication. I wrote him at least 2 letters a day, usually more. We emailed, instant and video messaged (these were the days before Skype, so it was on horrible, yahoo or Aim chats), and talked on the phone everyday. He bought an Iraqi cell phone, and my parents added an international calling plan to their service (did I mention I was living with them and commuting to Georgia Tech at the time?); I was able to call him to wake him up in the mornings, and he could call me before he went to bed in the evening (if there were no communication blackouts, that is). We talked all. The. Time. I used to joke that it is what kept us together, but as more and more of the other couples in his unit began to break apart, that may have rung true.

We're still pretty fantabulous, but not like we were, then. Then, we survived on communicating well with one another. As we've moved to adjusting to him back in the US, adjusting living with one another, adjusting to him leaving the Army to become a student, moving into our own house, graduating, getting a big girl job, graduate school, becoming a family... that ability to communicate that way has been tested. It's sometime much harder to actually talk to someone, especially when letters and email and instant messages have defined the way two people "talk" to one another for so long.

The first time I think we struggled--really struggled-- to communicate was about six weeks after he returned from Iraq. He had flown home to Georgia for the holidays, and we were driving back to Oklahoma to end [his] terminal service (ETS). I'm not going to lie: I was in a funk. I am still not sure what was wrong with me, but I was having a very difficult time with the transition. Perhaps part of it was the fact that we left for Oklahoma the morning of December 26. Perhaps it was missing out on "key holiday time" with my family to spend fourteen hours in the car to go stay with people I didn't really know. Or perhaps it was fear, that, for the first time, we were going to be living--actually living--together. We had been married for a year and a half, and the most time we had ever spent together at once was 2 weeks. And I found I couldn't really talk to my husband, and I didn't know why.

Eventually, we were able to get through that. And a couple years later, we were enjoying the best communication of our relationship. We had recently moved into our first house (yes, we lived with my parents for quite awhile--a combination of being poor college students and the fact that S wasn't receiving half of his education fund, which led to 2 years of appeals processes), and were able to exist comfortably. I can't remember how it started, but we began just sitting outside that summer and spring, sipping on Scotch Whisky while S smoked a cigar. We talked for hours, about everything, and it was probably the healthiest our marriage has ever been. We were completely in-tune with one another, and it was pretty awesome.

Then there was a commissioning, the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BLOC), a baby, moving cross-country, hypothyroidism. The wires slowly met a disconnect, and communicating with S has become less seamless than it once had been. Don't worry, we're still pretty fantastic at talking with one another, but it seems less... natural. More forced. And I find that sometimes, I just don't know what to say--or how to say it, perhaps--like I did a few years ago.

It's not bad, it's just frustrating. I am trying to figure out how to get back to "that place"--the one we had when he was deployed, and again a few years later. I'm not really up for recreating a deployment, but I would love to recreate late-night chat time. I am hoping now that his unit's mission is over for the summer and the Olympics have officially come to a close, we will be able to have some real adult conversation time once E goes to bed. I think we have a lot to talk about, a lot that I am holding back because I just don't know how to go about saying (maybe I can draw pictures!), and it needs to come out!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Someone's Missing

You know how a Simpson's episode always starts off with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode? That's how I am going to play this blog.

Last night, I hit 100,000 words. When I started writing this particular story, my goal was to write something that was 100,000 words, total. Well, I think it's pretty safe to say I am going to exceed that (especially since I currently have 100,013. Oh yeah!). For the longest time, I was convince I would never be able to make it to 100,000 words, but I have done it! I am a little proud of myself, even though I have no idea what is going to happen next (well, I do, but how it's going to happen... well, we'll just have to see what the characters do next, I suppose).

That accomplishment totally reminds me of the fact that we were able to acquire the very last under-30lb life jacket at Costco... That's quite an accomplishment, too, you know (if you didn't get it, I'm going to tell you: this is my horrible attempt at a segue). We needed that life jacket for E, because our friends (and neighbors!) asked us out on their boat this afternoon! We had a blast, and just as I knew he would, as soon as we got in the car to leave, S said "we need a boat."

Well, rest assured, no boats in our near future. I am not averse to getting a boat, especially when we are in the Chesapeake Bay area (in fact, it just might be a requisite to living there!). But we had a really great time, and I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that we were with friends!  We got the kids in the water and did some swimming (E.... not a fan). I was surprised at how un-lake-like the lake actually was (we were out on American Lake, which borders Fort Lewis). It had no lake smell and the water was very clear! We then rode around the perimeter and looked at all of the houses. E loved the wind in her hair--it had me on edge, because she kept trying to stand up to get more. I was continually yelling at her to sit on her bottom. Then they broke out the knee board. The adults all had a go... with the exception of me. After watching everyone else, I recognize that would not be  my shining moment, and they would have to rename the activity "face-boarding," so I declined. But they did talk me into tubing (we doubled up) and that was great, if also excruciating on the hands. Wow!

It really was fun, and I am so thankful we got invited to go. Thanks, M-family!

However, while the boat was skimming through the water, E cuddled up on my lap, wind in our hair, this feeling that someone was missing washed over me (get it... water? wash? Har har.... man, I am so NOT funny. Anyway....). It was like we had forgotten someone, our child--not E, but another one--and she just wasn't there. Like she was somewhere else, just not with us. It made me sad and anxious. Where is she?

She... that's weird, isn't it? I don't know why I thought of a she. It was just the image that I saw (not that there was a face...) and felt. We're missing a little girl somewhere, and after doing some reading these past few night (I know, I am bad!) I am afraid we won't find her or we'll be too late. I'm afraid we will wait too long, dragging our heels waiting for the right time. She could be out there right now, desperately wishing for her mama and papa, while we are talking about everything falling into place for us.

So, if you're someone who hopes or prays or crosses fingers, perhaps you could do that for us? Hope I can finish my book and find a publishing house for it quickly. Hope that we can do that so we can find our girl, wherever she is, and bring her home before it's too late...

Wittlebee Box

After much drama, we finally received our first Wittlebee box in the mail this afternoon.

S thinks it's great. I'm a little more on the fence. We ended up with a purple t-shirt (top left), a nightgown with butterflies on it (top right), polka-dot dress (bottom right), flowered dress (middle), and then a pants/capri outfit (left).

I ended up getting the above for $20 with some rewards (click on either of my links to get a $10 reward for yourself!). So, that came out to just a little over $3 per item. That's about what I would expect to pay per outfit at a consignment sale--so pretty good. However, I'm not entirely sure these outfits are what I would have picked out at a consignment sale. I I really like the flower dress and the pants outfit, but I'm not sure that I would have brought home any of the rest... Nightgown maybe. T-shirt probably not.

But, either way you look at it: $3 dress: good. We'll see what we think once E tries some of them on!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Don't Read This

I don't know why,but I have this huge urge to adopt sooner rather than later. I don't know why I feel there is such urgency, other than I feel like our child is out there, and we are just not doing what we are supposed to do to find him or her or them. That sounds so cheesy--believe me, I feel cheesy for writing it. I am not one who really thinks in terms of a higher power pulling the marionette strings or fate intervening or whatever you want to call it. I'm not opposed to that possibility, it's just one of those things that greatly confuses me, leads to philosophical discussions I would rather not debate, and sends me scrambling for the science books. I like science--unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of math, and typically, those two go hand-in-hand. Bummer.
Anyway, I can't explain the emotional draw I have towards adding to our family through international adoption. I can feel myself "looking" for our child[ren], desperate to find him/her/them, and it just isn't happening. And then I begin to wonder if I have in fact found them, and I was just too "blind" to see. I try to take a step back, look at the logistics of the matter--the money, the Army, the paperwork--and at how this will change the family dynamic--mostly how E will be affected, how my day-to-day responsibilities will change. For a few minutes, I get scared off, but then I come around and am right back where I started.
I don't think S understands this. I don't know that I actually understand this, but I rarely understand much of anything when it comes to the crazy/totally rational notions that enter my mind. I told myself I was going to stay away from Reece's Rainbow (and not just because the religious background--even though they are not a religious organization, if that makes any sense whatsoever--but because, well, I knew THIS would happen), but I just couldn't. Every day, I am drawn to their site like kudzu to a lamp post. I make the rounds, see if any new families have committed to one of the many children listed there, pretend not to see the newly listed children link, and then end up there, anyway. I'm not going to lie, there are several that I find myself checking up on. I feel pulled to those children, but i don't know that it's in a I'm-your-parent kind of way. It could be... but it could not be, as well.
Reading through the family profiles (I may have read through them all a time or two), I notice that the parents have an immediate connection to the child they commit to; they know that they have found their child. I haven't had that immediate response. But I also didn't instantly fall into a haze of love and rainbows and white fluffy bunnies when E was born. I loved her, but it took me a couple weeks to fall completely in love with her (if that makes sense). It makes me wonder if I am capable of that love-at-first-sight emotion so many others encounter, or if I am just one of those that has to get to know their someones first...
Either way, it's driving me crazy in a good-anxious, I-wish--knew-what-the-hell-is-happening sort of way.
And the worst part is, because S knows me so well, he won't engage in these conversations with me. Not because he isn't interested, but because he knows that if he allows me to get going, I will not shut up about it. He's smart, but in an incredibly devious kind of way (I am saying this totally tongue-in-cheek for those of you who can't read my tone). I want to talk with him about it 24-7 so badly, but he just gives me that really?-I-am-the-one-who-has-to-be-ridiculously-rational? look, and I have to slink back into my corner.
I don't know where I am going with this... I think I just needed to get it off my chest. So... Yeah.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cats Really Are Disgusting

S's cat just puked on my freshly-cleaned floor. Twice.

I told you not to lick all the plastic bags, you small, meowing douchebag.

Oh, well, I am sure one of the dogs will lick it up.

And if that didn't send you gagging, I'm going to just explain how incredibly insane motherhood can make some people. And by some people, I mean me.

So, tonight was coffee group. I am sure I have explained what coffee group is in the past, but I have no idea where, so here's a quick recap: the officer and senior NCO spouses get together once a month or so to socialize and discuss any upcoming events, business, what have you. They are typically themed, hosted by a different spouse each month, and really accomplish nothing but some good conversation.

This month, it just so happened that coffee night fell at the same time as a company social event S had to go to. Usually, when I have coffee group, she and S have daddy-daughter time, and all I have to worry about is me dying in a horrific car accident either to or from the event. But, as E was invited to neither event, so had to leave her with our neighbors for a couple hours (we trade off babysitting). She was totally excited about this; they have 3 girls and a giant playroom full of toys. I dropped her off, and she just said "okay, bye bye," when I asked her for a kiss and told her to be good.

Meanwhile, I was a puddle of anxiety five time worse than when I leave her with her father. Some of my mom fears:
  • She'll fall down the stairs and kill herself (she is getting pretty good with the stairs, but she'll still get excited sometimes and flail around like a little weirdo, and it scares the crap out of me)
  • She'll somehow maim herself all over the place.
  • I'll get in a horrendous car accident
  • S will get in a horrendous car accident.
  • Everyone will die.
  • Those who don't die will end up with some sort of traumatic brain injury.
Obviously, since I am now writing this (and glaring at the cat puke I will have to wipe up--stupid dogs), E and I made it out just fine. S is still out at his event, so I'll continue to agonize over him until he gets home. But, even though we both managed to make it home in one piece, I'm still going to continue to worry about things that are out of my hands: dying in a plane crash when we go to Atlanta. Dying on the way to the airport. Dying in a car crash, period. Dying on the way back from Atlanta. Dying, dying, dying, maiming, maiming, maiming. Her, me, S, all of us...

I'm not going to lie. I was a little over-dramatic before having a child, but the mom-hormones kick in and it's a little OMG all the time.

If you don't have children: consider this your warning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Army Future

S had his senior rater counselling this afternoon. For those of you who are not familiar, while in the Army, each commander he has will give him an Officer Evaluation Review (OER). Since his current company commander is leaving and a new one is coming in, he had an OER done recently and today he went over that OER with the battalion commander (he met with the company commander this past week). They each tell him how he is doing (wonderfully), what he can do to improve (small things!), and what he can do/expect in the future.

He was looking forward to the counselling because A) he already knew he was getting extremely positive feedback on the OER (that's my hubby!) and B) because it was an opportunity to speak with the colonel about switching over to Civil Affairs. If you remember, this is something for which he has considering applying. After his meeting this afternoon, he came home and said he is pretty sure he is not going to apply.

The other people with whom he had been discussing the branch  were all incredibly positive about it. And they should be--it's what they do, and they should love what they do. Those people made us aware of the negatives, but I think the battalion commander talking about it from a different angle really highlighted some of those negatives: being stuck at Fort Bragg, NC or Fort Hood, TX for the next 14 years and lots of deployments, even during peace time.

S said he just doesn't think he is up for either (obviously, there is only so much control he has over these things, but he doesn't want to go actively seeking them), especially since he really loves what he is doing now. I can't say that I can really argue--those two issues were what was holding me back from being incredibly excited about it (from my point of view, the positives are that it is a growing branch when the rest of the Army is shrinking and that the work sounds right up S's alley). So, it looks like he is going to be sticking it out with the QM.

This is actually very good news, as it means I don't have to change my blog format for quite awhile and I don't have to change my url! However, even though this is no longer something about which I have to worry, over dinner, we did discuss making these changes:
  • QuarterMisses or QuarterMrs.
  • Quartermistress
    • S suggested this one. I pointed out that Mrs. is a shortened version of mistress.
    • I also told him I had originally considered this, but decided against it lest someone get the wrong idea.
    • He thinks I should make it Quartermistress, anyway, with the tag line "no, not that kind... Get your head out of the gutter!"
    • I would be lying if I said I wasn't considering it.
So, we can go back to plan A! To Virginia and beyond!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Like We're Real People

E and I have done a much better job being sociable these last few weeks. This is kind of hard for me, as I am a huge homebody. To give you an example, a couple years ago, when the university for which I worked closed for the winter holiday, S and I spent 3 weeks holed up at home playing Dragon Age (have I mentioned I am a huge fantasy RPG fan? Yes... I am a dork). I was perfectly happy doing this. In fact, I could have never left the house. It was amazing.

Anyway, so we are trying to be a little more outgoing. We have made more of a conscious effort to
see friends, make new friends, go to events, and just get out of the house in general. But all of that is relatively easy considering: it isn't raining, it isn't [as] cold, and it isn't dark.

This has me wondering what we will do when the cold and wet and dark returns. I mean, there is only so much A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s an adult can take. We are working on our Russian (I can assure you, we have a lot of work to do there), but I only get about 10 minutes out of her, if that.

There are some classes on post we can sign her up for. Of course, because she's so young, we are a little limited, and any activity we do, I have to do, too (oh... joy...). I am considering signing her up for tumbling or dance (aka rhythms and movement for young children, haha). I'm not really one for either of those activities (read: I am not terribly coordinated), but it really isn't for me, is it? I am sure I could sign her up for swim lessons, but having taught mommy-and-me lessons, I can safely surmise that I have a handle on that and I really don't need to spend the money. The down side to these activities is I have to get her signed up with Child and Youth Services (CYS) on post, and everything I have ever heard indicates this is a giant pain in the ass.

There is a center on post that is a young children's learning center. They have preschool like activities (parents are there to do said activities with their children), story time, craft projects, etc. It's not really in my comfort zone, but I guess I can put that aside...

Or, I guess there is the children's museum.

Who knows?

Anyone have any good suggestions for activities to do with my toddler this winter?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

WA is Trying to Kill Me

It was 93 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Lewis today. 93.

That's hot in Georgia. It's just hell on earth when it's taking place in one of the cooler places of the continental US. Why? Well, if you missed it the first 542 times I mentioned it, we don't have air conditioning here. Most people don't have air conditioning here--it just doesn't ever get hot enough to justify installing one, and no one installs windows that are conducive to window units. But, of course, on days like this, you kind of want to maim whomever decided all of that was a good idea.

So, in an attempt to stave off the baking, we spent most of the day in the water. We took E to the outdoor pool on post, and spent a good hour there--much longer than she has ever stayed in the pool. She did beautifully, too. She was kicking and pulling just like I would expect of one of the 3- or 4-years-olds I used to teach lessons. She's even blowing bubbles and putting her face down in the water. She can float on her back, but only if I hold her hand. We tried some passing between us, and she's close, but not quite propelling herself, yet. I'm impressed; she's frustrated. She kept eyeing the other children in the pool who were swimming around by themselves (mostly with the help of life-jackets... don't get me started on the ridiculous rules at the pool), and pushing us away, but that didn't tend to work out so well for her.

After pool time, S went to the golf course for 9 holes, and the girls went for a walk (we don't do the 10-15 miles/day we were doing last year at this time, but we get in about 4 these days) before it got too hot. When we got home, we celebrated by getting in the wading pool I set up on the back porch. The water was cold but it felt so good after baking in the sun. Nap time came, then another dip in the water when S got home. Dinner... And then a trip to the splash park.

And you know what? I still feel like I am going to melt. Outside, it feels wonderful--it's about 70 and there is a breeze. But my house? Still a sauna. I have every window open and every fan speeding. I'm not yet a puddle... But for how long?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Baby Fever... Fail

Baby Fever? Yeah. I don't have that, anymore.

This afternoon, we went to a birthday party for one of E's little buddies. It was fun, I think we all had a good time, and I am so glad E is finally getting out to play with little people her own age! She's not so good at it, yet (she and the birthday girl sat next to each other and chattered away for about 2 minutes, and that seems to be the extent of their interactions... Oh, wait, no, E also tried to sit on her friend a couple times. Weirdo).

Anyway, there was a baby-baby there. She is 4 1/2 months old, and super tiny and petite and cute. And she totally did not make me want to have another baby. Maybe it was the spit up or the fact that she couldn't do anything, or say completely ridiculous things... But the baby fever I thought would come sweeping over me... never came.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I kind of want to want to have another one. We planned that there would be one, we even discussed when. I have kept all of the baby clothes and burp clothes and gear just in case. I am afraid that I will regret not having one when we planned, or that we will get a few years down the road and decide I must have another baby and then we'll have them all spaced out weird (can you tell I am an overly-neurotic planner, yet?). And on the other hand... I'm just not feeling it.

I'm not ruling anything out. I did this before spawning E, too, and it came back... eventually. We (and by we, I mean I) decided we were having fall birthdays, anyway, so I have a few months...

In the meantime, though, I am trying not to let 10-year-old girls with heartbreaking stories steal my heart...

Post #90

Obviously, I have no good titles up my sleeve. Sorry.

I ordered my first Wittlebee box last night! If you have no idea what that is, it's kind of like Birchbox, but for babies/toddlers. Once a month, for $40, they will send you over $100 worth of designer clothing for your little holy terror/sweet adorable munchkin. You will be asked to fill out a style sheet, which helps them coordinate a box that will fit your needs (long sleeves, short sleeves, polka dots, lady bugs... you name it), and then you get a fun little surprise in the mail. I'm excited to see what we get this first month. Now, if you're anything like me, you're probably thing OMAGERHD, $40!?! Yeah... Well, if you use my link, you can get $10 (and I will, too, for subsequent orders!), and if you sign up, they will send you additional coupons. I was able to place my first order for just $19.99. If it's good stuff, I couldn't do much better at Gymboree or Gap (my usual baby store haunts).

I'll let all 4 of you who might care how it goes.

In other news:

  • I have a water baby! S got home early, so we took E to the splash park on post. It's kind of like Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta (for all of you who know what that's like), so there is no standing water, so it gives her some independence in playing in water. We have tried to visit a few times this summer, but today was the first time it was actually warm enough to allow her to let loose. She loved it and we had to drag her away kicking and screaming (literally. kicking and screaming).
  • We are learning Russian as a family. E: not interested. S and I are chugging right along, although neither of us are great yet (but, keep in mind, we just started re-learning yesterday). I am really hoping we can get E into it... It would be wonderful if she got even a little bit of another language (or two or three), just so it makes it easier to learn later in life. Besides, aerospace engineers need to know Russian--she's getting a head start. I am wanting to have somewhat of a grasp of the language for when we adopt sometime in the future.
  • I need to remember to add the $0.97 S put in the adoption fund jug this evening.
  • I have 96,000 words, but I didn't write tonight. I needed a break. I know what's going to happen next, I just have become too consumed by the Olympics to really get anything good down, so I just decided to take a night of rest.
  • It's going to be hot here in the Northworst this weekend: we're talking 90 degrees. That's hot in Atlanta where they have air conditioning. I'm going to just go ahead and let you know: if you haven't heard from me in the next couple days, it's probably because I have melted.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 3: Community

I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking when I came up with this topic. But, apparently, I have to talk about my "community."

To tell the truth, I feel pretty community-less. I would very much like to be a part of the military community here, but it just doesn't appear to be meant to be. I know I've said it before, but I just feel lost here. Our neighborhood is great, but I don't feel much like a part of their community (we're at least 30 years too young). We don't live on post, so we aren't really surrounded with other people going through the same things we are...

I am no longer working or going to school, so I am not part of academia. I can honestly say I don't miss that (with the exception of the daily social interaction with other adults). Students drove me crazy, politics of working at a university drove me crazy, and I just think I would have ended up banging my head against a wall until I concussed myself.

I don't have any hobbies. I don't go to any events (wait, no, I go to a unit event every month. score).

I just feel lost.

This fall, E and I might try some mommy and me classes/activities. They have toddler tumbling and rhythm classes. maybe there is something artsy. We just need to get out of our routine, I think.

So, there you have it. I have no community. I suck. I should become a hermit.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Living With E

E is a lot of fun... most of the time. We hit the terrible twos a couple months ago, so we have some days and moments that are less than stellar, but otherwise, she couldn't be any more awesome.

She says some pretty hilarious things.
  • "It's a penis!" I have no idea what this is supposed to be, but she usually says it while looking out of and/or pointing to the back picture windows. And quite honestly, I can't help but laugh every time she says it... I am fairly certain I have never burst out with "it's a penis!" so where she picked it up... complete mystery.
  • "Do you ya-ya?" We call her grandmother "ya-ya," and I frequently ask her "Do you want to call Ya-Ya?" She has shortened this to mean "give me the damn phone, woman, I need to call my fan club." (The "do you" thing works for all kinds of things: water (wa-wa), juice (joos), shoes (soos), just to name a few).
  • "Good kiss/Good kisses!" When she gives one of us a kiss, or her stuffed kitty, "Kitty," or her babydoll, "Bebies," we always tell her "good kiss!" She now praises anyone when they give her a kiss. With extreme seriousness.
  • Her new favorite: "Coookies." It almost sounds like the cartoon from the cookie crisp commercials (remember, coooookie crisp!). Any time I go to open the kitchen cabinet that houses the plates (where I put the cookies.... I really need a cookie jar, lol), she asks for one, points, and does a little dance.
She does some pretty hilarious things.
  • She would kill to get to "push" the garage door clicker.
  • She also goes crazy over getting to flush the toilet. Right now, we are working on letting that be her "reward" for using her potty.
  • Last Christmas, some friends gave her a play set of plates, flatware, cups, glasses, etc. She sets the dining room table with them and demands that daddy sit down and "eat" from them.
  • She has a shoe fetish.
  • She yells at the dogs when it's time for them to go out. She even singles them out by name when they aren't cooperating.
  • Her mission in life is to ensure all doors are closed.
  • She's a seat thief.
Some other random things that prove she is awesome:
  • Loves Lego's. She can build things for hours... and demand that someone build with her.
  • Huge fan of books. Sometimes she'll even sit through the whole thing before she goes to get another one. And when she doesn't want to be read to, she "reads" to herself.
  • Not interested in tv. She has stopped long enough in the last few days to catch some of the Olympics, but otherwise, she could care less.
  • Her favorite toy is a Jelly Cat kitty. His name is "kitty."
  • She knows where everything, and I mean everything goes/belongs. If she finds something out of place, she puts it back away... This is both adorable and annoying as hell.
  • She has a fascination with buckles... Loves to click things together. Puzzles, it would seem, are her thing.
  • She'll eat anything. Green peppers, broccoli, potatoes, fish, shrimp, you name it, she'll eat it. She will not, however, eat anything we are not eating. This means if I want her to eat a sandwich, I had better be eating one, too.

She's waking up, so I have to cut this short.

But in other news, we have over $100 int he adoption fund! Just over 0.4%!!!