An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

My last few posts have been negative, and I am trying to concentrate on the positive. Overall, things have been well, but I have a tendency to fixate on and obsess about small errors and injustices.

So, here are ten things that have made me happy recently.

10. Double Chocolate Milanos dipped in caffeine-free chai.

9. The PX had REALLY good pears and I made a pear and Parmesan salad.

8. I got my award for volunteer of the year from my Brigade.

7. An event I planned about Healthy Snacking for my volunteer organization went well.

6. I have started up tutoring again for the AVID program at the high school...and they asked me a math question and I actually knew the answer.

5. Calypso has been sitting on my lap a lot lately--her attention span is really short so she does not stay long, but it is nice to have her visit.

4. So many of my (Texas) friends are having babies.

3. DH has been getting a lot of positive feedback "at work."

2. I saw Baby Girl in 3D and was able to share this with friends and family.

1. DH Called!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Local Service Rant - 3D/4D Ultrasound

Do NOT use Dr. Kemper in Metroplex for your 3D/4D ultrasound/sonogram in the Central Texas/Killeen/Ft. Hood area.

Use Miracle in Sight in Round Rock.

Dr. Kemper's office in Metroplex was rude, unhelpful, and unprofessional.

1) They did not tell me this but they charge $25 extra to charge on credit card.

2) After THEY changed my appointment (which I made a month ago and for which they charged my card with a $25 deposit), I show up at the new time (25 minute drive each way) and they say, "He can't see you now." He MAY be able to see you at 2 or 3pm (about four hours after my scheduled appointment) if his scheduled inductions do not go into labor.

When I express disbelief at this unprofessional behavior, they say, "Well if you argue, he won't want to do it at all for you."

They called around 2:30 and said, "He is in surgery; we will refund your deposit."

I told a friend about this, and she said another woman in my battery was kept waiting for 2 hours and then rushed thrugh a 12 minute session.

I called Miracle in Sight in Round Rock and they gave me a better package for the same price. When I told them about my experience, they said, "You are the fifth or sixth person who has mentioned that type of experience with Dr. Kemper's office to us."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Now that a couple of days have passed, I feel like I can blog about my stress without it bothering DH.

I feeling FINE now, Love...really...I PROMISE!

So, the first thing I notice when I get out of the cab from hell is that my lawn looks like a jungle. I knew that was was still not growing when I left, but I had seen the weather report.

Then I saw the boxes on the porch behind my garbage can. HEAVY packages.

I grabbed a notice--the pest service had sprayed but could not access my locked backyard. Another thing to schedule.

Temporarily ignoring the boxes, I opened the door, greeted the cats, and dropped off my heavy bags.

Calypso acted like she did not know me (this only lasted five minutes, but it still hurt).

I went back out for the packages and dragged them inside as slowly as possible, to add to the pile of boxes my house-sitting friend had brought in.

On the way out, I noticed something the pest people missed...a HUGE wasp nest (complete with huge wasp) right outside my door. Fun.

On the way back in, Loki ran out. I waded through my jungle lawn to catch him and bring him back inside.

Then I began sorting through PILES AND PILES of mail, most of which was bills. Every quarterly and bi-annual and annual and semi-annual bill that DH and I was apparently due this month.

Of course, I had just taken a vacation and spent tons of money. I did not work during my vacation, so I did not have much coming in. There were some checks in the mail, but I would have to play the, "This will probably clear before the bill is due."

I want to add right now that it was not a DIRE situation. We had money in another account, but DH was planning to invest that soon...and I am proud that with one exception I have een able to cover the bills with what I make writing and DH's salary has mainly gone towards savings.

So, not an emergency, but a pain.

Also, just seeing all those bills was a bit overwhelming.

There were also all sorts of random issues--like DH's home town still thinks he lives there and wants him for jury duty.

Well, I was on a deadline, so I had better try to get to work.

Nope, internet not working.

Then, while I was on the phone with tech support for the second of what would be four times, *BOOM!*

What the heck was that? Sounded like a bomb. Actually, it was just the LOUDEST thunder I have heard in my entire life. Seconds later, horizontal sheets of rain are whipping across the road outside. I thought, well at least I got back in time.

Freaked Loki out so badly he left a huge scratch in my wood chair--fortunately it is just a cheap Target chair.

Two hours later, the internet is working, but I am just wiped out and cannot deal with anything.

I would say I crashed, but that would imply a decent night's sleep. Baby is finally big enough to wake me up with bladder issues and a sore back. I wake up about 5 or 6 times a night.

Rested, but not refreshed, I awoke the next day to tackle various problems and annoyances.

First, I went to my midwife appointment. On the way there, I noticed none of my gauges were working. I rapped on the plastic and, thankfully, they snapped to attention.

Once home, I tracked down an insurance answer about a volunteer event I somehow ended up organizing for the next week. Without the proper insurance, the entire event would be off! I followed up on corporate sponsors and took care of some publicity issues.

I called the county office about the jury duty.

I scheduled the pest service.

I balanced the check book, made deposits, and paid bills.

I answered e-mail.

I updated the FRG website.

I checked my various meetings and appointments (dental, midwife, FRG social) for the next week.

I wrote thank you notes.

I started in on my work.

I'm sure there was more, but I've blocked it out.

Meanwhile, heavy boxes kept arriving, a la the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I appreciate everyone's generosity but how am I going to move and assemble all of this stuff???

All this amidst the paradoxical relief and let down of no longer being the center of attention. While in New York, I had to be "on" all the time. Everyone constantly looking for signs that I need help, that I am unhappy, that I am not handling the deployment and pregnancy as well as I seemed to that they could be supportive. At the same time, it was nice to not have to cook and clean and deal with all the usual everyday nonsense.

At some point, DH asked me to start looking for some records. Without going into detail, there is a possibility that DH could be charged a good deal of money for items that were technically, and literally, no longer in his control. Everyone who has been involved with the military for any length of time has seen this happen or almost happen many times.

I was not too stressed about the possibility of the cost, although losing money through no real fault of our own would stink--money is, after all, just money. However, it really bothered my that DH's little downtime was being wasted searching for these items. I want him to be rested and focused--not distracted and stressed for this nonsense. The injustice of the system also just grates on me, no matter how much I try to ignore it.

Hours of searching through closets, file cabinets, and the garage (did I mention the spiders? I hate spiders), and I came up with nothing.

DH followed that news with the information that he heard there had been a rash of break-ins in our neighborhood. He told me to spend whatever I need to feel safe. Heh. I am paranoid. I only feel safe with protection that money can't buy--DH is the only one who ever makes me feel safe.

Then DH told me approximate leave dates, and I started to obsess about his leave being too early. My fear is that he will miss seeing baby girl entirely while on leave...or that I will still be in the hospital when he has to leave.

DH reassured me that this was the best option--that there would be the possibility of seeing the birth if she was not very early, and the likelihood that he would have at least a few days with us, unless she is very late.

It all just felt so overwhelming and out of my control...and I just felt so lonely and helpless.

Fortunately I was not on the phone with DH (we were IMing), because I just lost it for a few minutes.

I cleaned myself up and forced myself to go out to the FRG social. I'm glad I did because I really like the commander's wife. Also, hearing how her daughter had taken special care to coax my little prima donna Russian Blue kitty out from under the bed and make friends made me smile. I brought presents for the kids and their mom from Italy and I included an extra tip in their payment. After hearing that story, I am glad I did.

I felt a little draggy the next few days, mostly due to lack of sleep, but eventually I got back on track.

How can I be sad with such a great hubby? And a baby girl growing inside me, too!

Tomorrow: more about my renewed good mood.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Shower Me With Love

Here's a little about my time in New York.

My friends were amazing.

Two of my friends organized a shower for me. They spent way too much money (my mom and mother-in-law helped with the financial part, too) but more overwhelmingly they also spent way too much time and effort.

Both women are very busy professionals and yet they made this amazing brunch for me. One of my friends was especially driven to make everything perfect. She claims there is a "mother network" and that mothers talk...and she would not want to embarrass her mother by throwing a less than fabulous shower.


So, she baked a 3-D rubber ducky cake. For the first time.

She baked cupcakes.

She (and her poor husband) cut thousands of rubber ducky confetti.

I also stayed with this friend several nights. She would not allow me to sleep on the perfectly comfy pull out couch. Instead, she and her husband camped out there and made me take their bedroom! I tried to insist--her husband goes to work early and should wake up in his own bed!!!

They joked that they are responsible for me--and my husband knows how to use weapons. They also insisted that a pregnant woman should sleep in a bed.

They gave me mini quality toiletries--which they urged me to keep. A bottle of lemon water by the bed, too. I felt like I was staying in a four star hotel. I'd say five, but I have no experience for comparison.

They took me out to expensive restaurants and would only let me pay for pizza, take-in Turkish, and a couple of cabs.

Frankly, I am just indebted that they allow me to stay with them and spend so much time with me.

I felt a little awkward. I would always be happy to host my friends, but I would probably not be so extravagant with the extras...and I certainly would not kick my husband out of his own bed when a perfectly acceptable alternative existed.

All the more uncomfortable because, although my friends have a lot of income, I know they have a lot of debt and pay a high rent. I know that these are their choices and I'm not judging them, but I feel bad that they spent so much on me given that situation.

I constantly had to explain that I was pregnant, not disabled or impoverished. Still, they insisted.

After a week of this princess treatment, I had to return to ordinary life in Texas...which was both a relief in a way and a let down.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

To Whine, Or Not to Whine?

For the most part, I think I am a pretty happy pregnant woman.

In fact, if my husband were home, I think this would be the happiest time of my life to date.

Even without him here, I've been on a natural high from the pregnancy. These hormones seem to actually even me out.

Still, there are times when it all seems so overwhelming--even my *knock on wood* so far very healthy pregnancy has still included various aches and pains. I get frustrated when I cannot take care of heavy exhausting things and there is no one here to do it for me. There are days when the small annoyances just seem to pile up one on top of the other, and the deployment gremlins attack the car, the computer, and just about anything mechanical or electrical upon which I rely.

I have never been one to lean on others. My friends and family back home would not understand anyway, they would only worry. I am not close enough to my friends here to share these feelings.

There is nothing really to solve, either. Just little bumps on the road.

I just want to vent sometimes.

This semi-anonymous blog would be the perfect place...and I do want to present an honest portrait here for those who are curious or about to join the club...except DH reads my blog.

I would never ever hide anything from DH. I know some will have there doubts, but we are 100% honest and open with one another.

While DH is home, I try to be more sweetness and light than not--but he is also strong, generous, and loving during those "not" times.

However, I feel it is my duty (and privilege) to turn on the sunshine at all times for DH while he is deployed. I want him fully focused on his mission--not concerned by temporary shifts in my mood.

Just like his job as a soldier requires him to keep some details from me that he would ordinarily share, I believe my job description as an Army Wife means that I sometimes must do the same.

Although my anecdotes are not classified, I would never want to risk hurting his morale.

So, to whine or not to whine...that is the question.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Stressbusting baby!


It is too late to call NY and DH is probably asleep so I will share here.

I was planning a big post about the stress I've been under here and whether or not I should post such things knowing DH reads the blog and how DH and I hide nothing from each other but that I feel a duty as a military spouse to put on a bright and sunny face for him, blah, blah, blah... which I will no doubt post later.


Not a little popcorn popper kick but a knock your socks off, future soccer player kick.

I thought, "Maybe I can see it?"

Sure enough, she kicked again and I saw my stomach move! My baby kicked so hard I saw it!!!

All stress vanished.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Naughty and Nice

I intended to make this a post about how nice people are. Unfortunately, I have a bad story to add now, too.

I'll start with the bad.

I had an awful cab ride back from the airport today. I had called a cab (which was late) but the cab driver decided to take another passenger home as well. Okay. So, he turns on the meter and we go off. A little out of my way and putting me on a longer path home. When he got to the other gentleman's house, I asked if he was going to reset the meter.

He said, "no."

I explained that I should not have to pay for him taking me out of my way.

He got angry and finally told me that he would be reducing the meter by $2, the amount of our little trip down the back roads.

I told him that I was upset with the policy, not him. It was a little more, and was still a longer route, but I said fine.

He kept talking about how this is his cab and he will do what he wants and how I don't know aanything and he knows where he is going...etc.

I told him I would like to stop discussing this. He threatened to drop me on the side of the road and make me pay the current meter rate. I told him if he did that I would be calling the police. He was under the impression that the police would agree with his decision to kick a six month pregnant woman out onto the side the road in the middle of nowhere.

Finally he stopped and took me to my destination. I was stewing a little and still considering a small tip, hoping that perhaps this was just all a misunderstanding, when he called his wife, yelled at her, and said, "I don't need this attitude--from you or from the passenger in this car."

Uh, okay. No tip it is then.

I would complain, but frankly I am scared that this man knows where I live.

On a happier note, a few more stories:

1. My mom and I were walking through the Amsterdam airport to catch a connecting flight. There was an adorable small child, barely old enough to walk, toddling through the airport. My mom and I assumed he belonged to the woman next him. A teenage boy had more sense though, he asked out loud, "Whose child is this?" When no one responded, he grabbed the kid and brought him to the nearest flight attendant. What a quick thinking and responsible young man!

2. I was at the Harlem platform, and asked a woman (probably somewhere around 21-30 years old) where the ticket machine was. She said, "Downstairs." Oh, no! I barely made it upstairs once with my heavy bags. The woman said, "Some day I will be pregnant and someone will help me." She ran downstairs and got me my ticket so I wouldn't have to pay the fine. We chatted a bit more--she is a Columbia law student. She sounded Jamaican. What a nice person.

3. When I got to my destination station in Westchester, a man in a business suit grabbed my heaviest bag and brought it up the stairs and over the tracks for me.

4. I had the chance to return a little of this kindness today in the Houston airport. A mother went up the escalator with one child and then she realized that her other little girl was stuck petrified. Mom tried to walk down the escalator but it was going too fast for her. A guy in a business suit looked vaguely annoyed by the delay. I stepped in front of the businessman and asked the little girl to take my hand. I said, "Okay, let's go see mom now!" She stepped on the escalator with me and we walked up to her mom.

Overall, a positive balance sheet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yale Statement on Special Degree Program (Taliban-Related)

I will be back blogging on a regular basis soon, but this was in my inbox...

Statement of the President of Yale

The criteria for admission to both the non-degree and degree-granting special programs, as published on the web, are: “Yale seeks applicants whose academic background, work experience, and community involvement are particularly suited to study at Yale. All candidates must present evidence of high academic potential, maturity, and clear motivation for their proposed course of study.” It is also noted that “Candidates should have a compelling educational reason to attend as a non-degree student.”

The published criteria are adequate in some respects, but they fall short of the standard that we should require for admission to Yale College. In the process of admitting a regular undergraduate for four years of study in Yale College, we look for character and achievement sufficient to predict that the candidate will make substantial and meaningful contributions to the betterment of society. We seek to admit not simply candidates who can do the academic work required for graduation, but rather those with the capacity to lead and to serve society with distinction. Evidence of an applicant’s character, as well as his or her academic potential, is always given substantial weight.

Our review has raised questions whether the admissions practices of the non-degree Special Student Program have been consistent with the published criteria, let alone the standard that should prevail.

Over the years, both the non-degree Special Student Program and the degree-granting Eli Whitney Program have served many students of whom the University is justly proud. But, the initial review I requested concluded that both the programs suffer from lack of clarity about mission, purpose, and standards. As a next step, the Dean of Yale College, and I, as co-chairs of the standing Committee on Yale College Admissions Policy, will convene a subcommittee...


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Home Again, Home Again


Yes...I was away for fun reasons. My mom and I took a trip to Italy (my third, her first) before I got too big with baby to enjoy travel.

We had tons of fun--frenetic sightseeing in Rome, leisurely strolls from museum to church in Florence, and sailing through the canals of Venice.

Usually DH is my tour guide, but this time I led mom around through all of the streets, locating famous sights and some a little less well known.

My mom is almost 60 and I am five months pregnant--but the trip went very smoothly!

I am now making my way back home via New York (my hometown).

Being a military spouse even influences the way you take a vacation:

To prepare for the trip, I left Rear D with a full itinerary of hotels, phone numbers, and addresses so they could contact me just in case. This is SO important in case of injury or worse for your soldier. If they cannot contact you, the entire forward operating base (FOB) is on blackout and everyone else cannot hear from their loved ones. Fortunately, that information was not necessary while I was in Italy.

Cyber cafes allowed me to check in with DH almost every day. Although I know that casualty notification would find me just about anywhere in the world, it was still always a huge relief to see his e-mails at the end of my day.