Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Objects in mirror are not what they appear

Holy cow, what a summer. And what a glorious life I'm living. Yes, I'm going to brag just a little. It's healthy to be happy, dammit!

We've all made it to Okinawa after a July from hell where I nearly die from a diseased gallbladder and abscesses, where the Major flies back on emergency leave to literally save my life by helping me stabilize enough to get out of ICU, and then help me hobble around with a stomach stent in my chest to drain out the infection. (Bleargh). After we survive August with a horrendous flight from Seattle to Okinawa in a cramped and screaming-baby-filled airplane for 18 cruel hours. Though the boys liked Seattle and we spent some amazing time with friends Ken and Kelly and Heather! (Thanks for the hospitality, lovelies!) I showed the boys all my favorite places and they still talk about it.

We are here and loving it! The boys are able to talk to their family back in Oklahoma almost every day and I'm glad of it. (Thank you, Facetime and Vonage!) They are doing well here though there are adjustments. The oldest is in a more challenging school and though a middle schooler, is taking two high school level classes. He puts a lot of stress on himself, unfortunately, and is too much like his mama in being the perfectionist. Being with friends is helping him though. SOOO much better than last year when he struggled to fit in and couldn't make friends.

The youngest has taken to the place like he's never lived anywhere else. It's amazing to me. He's grown two inches and gained at least five pounds on his skinny frame. He's now reading books like the Harry Potter series and I can barely get him inside until it's dark outside. A group of boys his age keeps him busy.

The house is nearly unpacked after three weeks. I can't believe how well it's coming along! I'm so OCD about it and want it done two weeks ago but it's not realistic. I'll be lucky to get pictures up in three weeks and I'm almost okay with that.

I just want it to feel like home. For me, for the Major, for the boys. And we've almost succeeded.

For me, I'm keeping a positive attitude. There are those who criticize, who've called me selfish, mean and can't understand "why I would take the boys away from their family and friends." Sorry, but it's an opportunity for them to grow outside that small-town mentality. To see the world and the people in it. To have their eyes opened but still have roots. Because they deserve to see the beauty of the world and LIVE it, not just visit it.

I'm keeping it positive for myself as well. There are too many horror stories of spouses who never leave base in their egocentricity. Who mock and demean everything different about their host country, simply because it isn't like home. Isn't like America. Isn't like their rose-colored vision of small town USA. I've found amazing people here.
This is an actual sunset I saw on Sunday at Araha Beach, Okinawa. ©
Seen the most gorgeous sunsets I could imagine. Learned to drive on the opposite (NOT the wrong-) side of the street in a tiny car down streets I can't pronounce much less read the letters to which make up their names. I've felt a sense of accomplishment, of growth, of expansion into a greater self. And I was scared shitless the whole time. No, really. I got a stomach-ache later that day from venturing out into unknown traffic, buying produce in a store where no one spoke English using strange currency, and still managed to make it home.

Only once have I broken down, sobbing, missing my friends and family more than I could bare. Watching my nieces and nephew grow from so far away is hard. I can't just go to my mom or my best friends and have a hug because I need it. And I'm not good enough friends with folks here to do that. I've been so busy setting up house and running around with the family, I've lost more weight. I don't recognize myself as the chubby bunny anymore and it's weird. I have a bit of homesickness but it isn't something to dwell on. It's natural and I get melancholy sometimes. (Meg knows what I mean.) I have the most amazing friends and I just remember that I'm adding to that bunch. The spouses group here is so fun and I'm learning the lingo. The Air Force Ball, which I FINALLY get to go to!, is this Saturday. And I'm going to have a grand time with my love. I'm keeping this face because the mask is off.

I'm happy and nothing can break me down. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled summer

I wouldn't have given up the last weeks of May, first of June for anyone. Including Mother Nature. And she tried really hard.
May 20, the day before we left for Italy, I had a panicked call from the Oldest who was using someone else's phone, about 45 minutes before the end of school.

"Are you coming to get us?!"
"Not until after schools, why?"
"Have you checked the weather? There's a tornado in Newcastle and it's headed this way!" 10 miles away.

Superhero Mom mode, engage! Checking the weather, which by myphone app said it was only a thunderstorm, I then turned on the local news and the weather guys were going nuts. Just a few days prior, a tornado ripped thru a tiny town south of us. Living in "Tornado Alley" during the spring and summer is always eventful. But this year, we lived in a city that had been hit time after time, with devastating results. To make matters worse, we were without a storm shelter. Just the little area under the stairs we affectionately called the Harry Potter Closet.

Throwing the dog into the garage howling, just as the sirens started, I drove like a maniac to my children a mile away. It was the slowest mile EVER. I could see the storm building just southwest of us and the hail had already started. Rushing into the school, there were other parents and teachers hovering in the hallways, closets and tiny bathrooms with kids as this was the only safe place for them. Don't get me started on how asinine it is that Oklahoma schools don't have mandatory storm shelters! Demanding my kids come out, we covered our heads and ran for the car which was getting beat all to hell with hail.

On the drive back to the house, the kids were watching the tornado increasing in size. The stuff of nightmares. Stuffing them, the dog and every available pillow and blanket under the stairs, we waited with our bicycle helmets on. I'd been texting the Major who was trying his hardest to get home to us but didn't end up home until 5 hours later, when the power went out.

The E-F5 tornado that struck our town that day, a mile and a half passed our home, has been recorded as the worst in history. 20 people died, most of them children who were huddled in their school, like my boys had been, while the twister literally ground their school to a pulp around them. We heard the roar of it from our house, sounding very much like a freight train and could see it from our front windows after it had passed far enough east for us to get outside of the closet.

My last text from the Major was that he was along a road heading south as fast as possible. A road the tornado was headed straight toward. Thank God for social media as a FB notice later showed him safely to the south of the damaged area but streets and highways were now impassable. What a way to begin a honeymoon!!

We felt guilty leaving the next day as friends were trying to clean up the disaster. We donated everything we could from water and baby goods to money. It will take years before things are back to normal. Of course, we would be moving to the home of typhoons.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer of Love, part 2

Coming home from Italy was stunning. I wanted to move everyone I love there with me and stay for the rest of my life. I'd get the language books and CDs and become fluent and have the best prosciutto and pecorino Romano every day with fresh olive oil. But the summer needed to move on. We have lots to do in a few months!

With a only a few days to wash clothes and repack plus get the boys packed for the next adventure, I concentrated on the tasks at hand. Then it was OFF to DISNEYWORLD and Universal Studios!! The last time was five years ago when my dad was dying of cancer but some incredibly generous souls from church and friends had gathered enough funds to send Maman, Daddy-O, our family and my sisters and bro-in-law to that wonderful, magical playland. Daddy-O rode every ride he could because as he said, "I already know what will kill me. Might as well have fun!" The boys were very small, 2 and 6, and don't remember that much so the Major and I had promised them we would be taking them back. This would be our Kid Honeymoon, a way to solidify us as a family unit before our move across the ocean.

The boys were nervous getting on the airplane but they calmed down a bit after the ride started. We didn't get into Florida until late since we didn't leave until the afternoon and nerves were running high. Arewethereyet syndrome. We stayed at the Coronado Springs resort on property and it was well worth it. Early bird and late owl hours were available to us at any of the parks and we had incredible service. We spent three days at Universal Studios and four at Disney. Yay, military discounts! Only sad point of the trip was the Oldest hurting his ankle and having to be in a wheelchair for most of the trip, hobbling around. But bright spot meant we got to the front of the line!
Harry Potter ride at Universal was probably one of the best rides we've ever seen! This was in the waiting area and the pictures conversed with each other. Definitely try the Butter Beer. SOOO tasty.

Our hotel, Coronado Springs on it's own little lake. Great waterfall swimming pool too!

Jurassic Park! My dad would have loved this. The ride was fun and the kids got to explore the exhibits.

The Major got to be in a movie! This ride at Universal was set up to take people as actors, make the worst B-movie possible and act as a ride at the same time! Yours truly even got to add her scream of terror!

Most wonderful Lego Store! Giant store with every color, size and shape you can imagine at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Tubs were available to play on boards set up around the store. A barefoot parent's nightmare.

The best way to watch a Disney parade is from the shoulders of a strong man.

The amazing dining room of the new Beast's Castle. The windows were digitally mastered to look like falling snow. The cherubs on the ceiling were pics of actual babies of the engineers who built it. The trick to getting in there is walking up and asking if anyone dropped their reservation. We got in immediately and were even offered specials because of the Kid Honeymoon. Wonderful French cuisine. SOOO worth it.

We WOULD have to pick a trip during Star Wars Weekend. Thousands of extra visitors to Disney Hollywood Studios flock to the park to see reenactments, actors from the movies and animated series and dress up in costume. It's like ComicCon for LucasFreaks. We LOVED it. The boys went to Jedi training school and fought some of the Clone Wars characters! We have tons of pics of those. 

Much of the first part of the trip was spent in the rain as Hurricane Andrea hit Florida. That just meant shorter lines for us and cooler temperatures. We had umbrellas and ponchos and survived by running in the rain and laughing about it. :)

Of course, Star Wars Weekend participation included making our own droids! From left to right: Major's, mine, Youngest and Oldest. You could mix and match legs, heads, bodies, and hats! 

The light and fireworks shows at all the parks were just spectacular. We stayed to watch the Magic Kingdom show twice. It was that good. 

The T-Rex Cafe in Downtown Disney was booked for months out. On a whim after a very wet day, I walked up to the desk, asked if there was a table for four anywhere in the restaurant and we got in within 5 minutes! A-Maz-ING! Definitely try to get in here if you can. Every 15 minutes the entire place saw an asteroid shower and the animatronic dinosaurs all over the place roared! The food was awesome too!

Despite several years of working for Disney and visits to both DisneyWorld and Disneyland, this is the only time I've gotten a picture with the main character. We went to the Lilo and Stitch breakfast Luau at the Polynesian Resort.
Love the Mouse!

We closed out every park we went to every night. Which meant sometimes staying up until 2 am to see everything.

The Major loves us. :) Special package ready for us upon hotel entry. He put so much thought into it!

The trip was so much about the food too. Every day was centered around the places we would eat as well as the rides. This was the crabcakes at Captain Jack's. God, I was stuffed. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Viva l'Italia! - Summer of Love part One

What a whirlwind summer! We've been everywhere and doing everything to go on honeymoon, go on kid honeymoon, move to Okinawa, etc, and I've barely sat at the computer!

Italy now ranks as my Number ONE place to go. At once beautiful, serene, colorful, and passionate, it's no wonder it boasts as the most romantic country to visit. I had a little bit of a problem getting started thinking about Italy because in early May, after some stomach issues which have plagued me for most likely years, I had hernia surgery. I'll spare you the details but it's rather weird to feel your intestinal wall as bumps in your skin! Mesh is keeping it all in now, though backpacking thru Italy was rather difficult with the weight restriction of 10 lbs or less. Seeing the Major's oldest graduate in a small ceremony overlooking Rome, visiting sites I'd only dreamed about in my Latin classes, being waylaid by gypsies in train terminals. It was truly the most amazing and gorgeous honeymoon a girl could want. I can really only show you in pictures. And these don't even do it justice. All were taken with an Android cell phone and no editing by me. (Copyright.)
Our itinerary:
Rome for three days
Train to Ferrara for one day
Train to Venice for three
Train to Florence on the way back to Rome
by featherann.com
A very happy featherann eating a snack before catching a train. I got good at
asking for items and paying for them. Though the Major speaking Italian helped.

By featherann.com
The teaming Tiber River in Rome. It'd been warm and rainier than usual so the algae was up. But it made for such a beautiful picture! Our bus tour of the city was worth it.
One of my favorite shots of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Off to the right of the bridge, where those poles are, is a little unused gondola stand. We had the most romantic picnic there with items we hand selected from the little grocery store topped off by a Chianti and chocolate. Magical!

by featherann.com
Pigeons and seagulls were everywhere! This was a funky little light just outside of San Marco's Square in Venice.

by featherann.com
The Pieta. What more could I say? I sobbed in a corner alone upon seeing it, so struck was I by it's simplicity and realism. As if Mary were indeed there in front of me, crying for her Son.

Property of featherann.com
The romance of a gondola ride. Even better to see it cross under the windows of Marco Polo's house! I'll be enlarging this to hang in our home. Our ride was late at night so there was no one on the canal. Truly private and romantic beyond words. The Major outdid himself. 

by featherann.com
Nothing to see here...but the POPE! Conducting a special service which we didn't know about as we climbed into the top of St. Peter's Basilica (you can go all the way to the top!) We were very surprised to see this while in the upper dome.

by featherann.com
Darling little girls of Ferrara, a medieval and wonderful town with the best little bar around, XI Comandemento. Tell Tommy that Gonzo sends his love.  

by featherann.com
Every little church we visited was ornate, beautiful and colorful. Truly works of art.

by featherann.com
Florence was artsy and gorgeous and funky door knockers were on every house, each unique. I took 20 pics of them!

When in Italy, one MUST have authentic gelato. I ate my weight in it thruout the trip.

by featherann.com
The Duomo, Florence. Ivory, Jade and pink marble covered every inch of this ancient church. Gorgeous!

One of the fashion capitols of the world so of COURSE I had to find shoes. These just happen to have removable lipstick too. Versatile!

by featherann.com
By far MY favorite shot I took of our trip. It epitomizes everything about Italy I loved: the color, the vibrancy, the food, the romance. It was also my first view of Venice with the love of my life beside me. 

Thank You, Major. For loving me. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Transplantation takes care

I haven't written for the last month as I wanted to concentrate on issues close to home and telling the world about my problems is too public. My social media interactions are already being monitored by well-meaning but misinformed people who would love to twist my every post. At the least, I hope I've been entertaining for them. At worst, boring, so they'll stop.

Life. It's finally going somewhere. That first somewhere is Italy.

The Major and I had thought about a trip to Rome to see his oldest son graduate from a university there before the planned wedding in June. As those plans were drastically changed , we've decided to make it a honeymoon instead! Very soon, we'll be on a plane crossing the Atlantic and I'm excited-scared-giddy-worried. The closest I've been to out of country is Montreal, Canada, and the island of Barbados. Not exactly foreign. In Montreal, I was alone at a conference, and though it's a great place, it's not quite as fun without someone to share the experience of travel. My ex and I went to Barbados for our honeymoon but he got the flu the night before we flew out and stayed in the room most of the time. I saw the beauty of the ocean for the first time in my life while he languished in the hotel. I spent the majority of the trip, once again, alone.

THIS time, the Major and I will be seeing Rome, Ferrara, Venice and Florence together. Super romantic! I'll save you the mush-talk, though I may post a few pics later. Not THOSE kinds of pics. Sick people.

The second somewhere is DisneyWorld!

We had promised the boys a return trip there that they could actually remember. The last time, we went with my ex, sisters and parents and bro-in-law just before my dad died of pancreatic cancer. It was a disaster at first with the airline misplacing my dad's luggage with his chemo meds in it, late and missed flights because of storms that morning and every single person in our group getting airsick and puking from turbulence. But it ended on a beautiful note. My Daddy-O, determined to have a great time, wanted to ride every single ride he could. And he DID, saying, "I already know what will kill me. I might as well have fun!" The sound of his laughter and cheering on that crazy roller coaster still rings in my ears.

The third somewhere, ultimately, is Okinawa.

As some of you might know, we've had a bit of custody issue on whether the boys can go with us. In the midst of all the moving and paperwork required for the military plus me having hernia surgery, we've been going to court. Their wishes were that they WANT to go, so the judge is at least honoring those wishes; allowing them with us the first semester of school and we'll revisit the case when we come back at Christmas. Here's where I'm supposed to stay quiet about all of it, though I'd love to clear the air of some misconceptions old friends seem to have but haven't bothered to ask me directly about. Just know the Major and I will be keeping all the promises we made from the beginning to have the boys keep in touch with their family and friends here.

So until the move itself next month, we're planning for some fun times first. Lots of love and laughter together as a little family, wishing the Major's boys could be with us too. It's time to move forward in life. To grow and change together and not stagnate. Roses may have thorns but they deserve lots of sunshine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My friends, my mother figures

Needless to say, I've been a bit busy recently! To my readers, I apologize for not keeping you more in the loop. I'll catch you all up tomorrow. Today, I want to reach out to some incredible people.

My friends, my mother figures on this Mothers Day 2013.

I have friends who have never known the sweet feeling of a baby kicking from inside them. Of knowing you're inextricably linked to another human being for all time. Others were close but that sweet feeling was yanked from them when it was in reach. Some of my friends have felt this cruel trick of fate a number of times. But they keep going.
You are a wonderful mom.

I have friends who saw their children born and for whatever reason, God had other plans in mind for these little ones. These moms barely felt the softness of their babies skin and smelled that precious smell that only comes from the downy scalp of a newborn before an achey emptiness filled their arms and forever filled their hearts. An emptiness that will never go away.
You are a wonderful mom.

I have friends who have chosen not to have children of their own for religious, personal or medical reasons. Or they just haven't had the chance yet. But, they are some of the most caring individuals you'll meet. They take care of their friends and family like their own kids; who would do anything to make sure their comfort was first. Some became teachers to guide others or nurses and doctors to heal.
You are a wonderful mom.

I have friends with hearts big enough to encompass the world. They may have children born of their wombs or those born of their hearts, men and women alike. They've adopted lovely little ones who someone else couldn't care for; who were literally and figuratively left out in the cold. The gay couple who have nurtured a teenager who's bounced around from foster home to foster home because his own mother is in jail for drug abuse. The straight couple who have flown thousands of miles back and forth to India and brought home two of the nicest kids you'll meet who seamlessly fit into their All-American family.
You are wonderful moms.

I have friends who've adopted furbabies too; abused and neglected animals that needed love as much as the cutest puppy. Who lavish affection on a living creature that no one wanted which will now fiercely defend their "moms" to the death.
You are wonderful moms.

I have friends who, once their own babies were grown or gone, took on the task of being moms to the rest of mankind. Who became leaders in their communities or took on organizations to foster compassion and success in others. The former pageant director who is like my second mom and still rocks out to Led Zepplin. The friend who served as our officiant and who has the best hugs and can be relied upon to give excellent advice. My own children look up to her. The owner of her own online company who will drink and laugh with you but also doesn't take any BS from you when she sees it.
You are wonderful moms.

I have friends who've tried their best to raise their children to be loving and respectable people. But those kids somehow lost their way or got in with the wrong crowd. Those moms could only painfully stand by as their children made horrible mistakes which will follow them the rest of their lives. Moms who are vilified for giving up their children because they simply were not able to give them a good home at the time. Who so desperately wish things could have been different and happiness could have been theirs.
You are wonderful moms.

I have a mother-in-law who is scrappy, funny and a diamond in the rough. She may not have much but she shares nonetheless. Her tiny house was, and still is, a refuge for the Major's and his brother's friends, even to the point of letting them live there for a bit when they were on the outs with their own parents. She cares for a young man who has trouble leaving alcohol alone and lives in his van. But he looks up to her as his own mother. She lives every day in severe pain from an injury she sustained as a nurse but by God, she will do what she can to make sure you're comfortable. She offers the food in her fridge, the hot water in her tub and a spare bedroom to strangers and friends alike. She's straightforward and plain spoken and some people don't care to hear the truth from her. But I adore her for it.
You are a wonderful mom.

To my own mother. My Maman. The strength of our family. (great, now I'm tearing up before I even write this section.) I get it now. The fear that wakes you in a panic that you'll lose the babies sleeping peacefully in the next room. The fear that you haven't been good enough, that you wish there had been a manual on raising kids properly. The gut-wrenching sadness at watching them make mistakes and fail or getting their hearts broken and you can't make it truly better because it's something they have to go through. The heart-bursting joy when the little one commands you drop everything you're doing in that very instant, simply because he wants to give you a hug. The frustration of disciplining your children but they must grow up to be self-sufficient and caring human beings. The exhaustion of trying to do everything possible when there is just too much to do and you aren't even physically capable, but the happiness of your kids and smooth running of the household demand it. Thank you for standing as an excellent example of these teachings to me and my sisters. I love you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happiness is Furious

What's to tell? I've been swamped physically and emotionally for the last month. So much going on I can't wrap my mind around some of it. All I can do is hope everything turns out for the best in the next couple of weeks and life will finally move forward. Ever had that feeling of limbo? Where one thing can't be done until this other thing is done first but then you have three other things that require that first thing? But I'll be damned if those three things don't require something of the second thing too. Yeah, swampy limbo.

At least the passports, both military and civilian travel, have been filed and I'm just waiting for them to arrive. The dog is up-to-date on shots and micro-chipped. All the medical histories have been collected and sent, ID cards, insurance and dependent care done.  Most of those were contingent on me getting my taxes done and THEN changing my name legally with both SSN and on my driver's license. Holy hell, that's a LOT of paperwork!! Thru the grace of God, I'm getting a little money back from last year since I basically lived below the poverty level. The majority of that will go to paying back some bills I accumulated during my last marriage. I hate owing.

Speaking of owing, I'm owed an apology from a few people but I have to try to forget that. Some people you just feel sorry for because their hatred is sadly misplaced. The mistruths they tell will come out in the end and it makes me sad. (Yes, I know I'm digressing from my usual happy, go-lucky but this last month has brought out the beast in me. The Major keeps me from baring my teeth too much, luckily.) A lot of my anxiety is self-imposed. I'm scared to death of living overseas. Of living in an unfamiliar environment and what happens if the Major is deployed while we're there? What happened to those friends I thought I'd have forever who suddenly don't have my back? Thank God we have base sponsors and there's a strong spouse's network. I keep reminding myself that I won't be alone, that I make friends easily and my will to be happy is stronger than my fear of the unknown. C'est la vie.

For now, I'm going to be #FuriouslyHappy. (<-- I wish I knew The Bloggess in person. We'd have lots of wine slushies, talk snark and pound the table in laughter.) Because the Universe can suck it when it tries to bring me down. I have love, wine and my family and friends. God evidently loves me because I have all of these in my life in abundance.

So neener, neener punkin' eater. No more whinin', ya big baby. This mama wants no more drama! But I do want glitter. LOTS of it. Plus jazz hands because the Universe better start doing a tap dance while I aim both barrels at its feet. I'm about to blow the lid off a can of whoop-ass.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eye of the Tiger

I've been busy having fun during Spring Break with my kids at the zoo, doing model rockets, movies and tons of other things. No time to write but lots of quality time. Showing them more stuff about Okinawa and praying for peace. Also, I used disinfecting solution yesterday instead of contact solution so I've got a slight chemical burn in one eye. I'm typing this with one eye open and a massive headache building. SO, here's a little video for your enjoyment. *smirk*

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To my son, with love

Twelve years ago at this time (1:45 pm CST) I was hooked up to monitors at a hospital 40 miles from home, listening to the steady thrum-thrum-thrum of a muffled heartbeat. Nurses periodically checked in on me, taking vitals, feeling for changes. (That one with the particularly large and knobby fingers was NOT welcome again after her first visit. I'm sorry, but NO woman should be subjected to that while in the throes of labor! Witch.) I had worked the day before, a Monday, feeling a bit worse for wear and achey. My husband at the time had had every one of his wisdom teeth removed that day and was loopy as a doormouse. I had gone to bed around 9, very tired and somehow knowing I wouldn't get much sleep for the next 40+ years. We weren't expecting this little bundle for five years but he decided the combination of antacids+ the Pill after too much tequila+ Mexican food on the Fourth of July was the perfect time to make an appearance.

At 3:30 am, the H got up to take his dose of painkillers. This was also the exact time I woke up, gripped my stomach and gasped. The constant Braxton-Hicks I had felt for several weeks was NOTHING compared to the tightening of my entire body and losing my breath in pain. Quickly remembering lamaze techniques, I went into laser-focused Feather mode. In crisis or extreme stress, my sense of clarity is crystal and I begin planning/implementation processes. I also tend to be a bit short with people. (No height jokes, thank you. Yes, I'm little. :-P) We hadn't quite planned for this little one to come two weeks early. I couldn't very well drive myself to the hospital in another city and neither could H since he was on painkillers. A quick call to a good friend had her at our house in a few minutes and on our way to be parents.

On the way to the hospital, I had the same sense of calm as when I recently married the Major. I breathed regularly thru each contraction and smiled, knowing I would soon hold a little bundle of awesome. Over the years, he's shown me how wrong I was. He's way more awesome than I can say. He reminds me so much of my dad, and not just because they have the same eyes and name. This incredibly talented and smart almost-man is as tall as I am with one of the kindest hearts I've ever come across. When the Major is TDY, the J-Meister takes his job of "man of the house" very seriously, watching out for his momma and little brother. His insight is scary sometimes. He knows if I'm not fully telling him the truth, if I'm trying to protect him from certain things. I swear he's like a sponge, absorbing all that life has to offer and learning everything in sight.

This morning, I kept a tradition alive my dad started with me and my sisters when we were little. I finally found a little mom and pop donut shop that made specialty donuts. Most of the shops around here have their donuts shipped in from a bakery. Sure, they may have been made late last night but they couldn't compare to the smell of baked goods wafting from that kitchen. The owner even made a special sprinkles and M&Ms one just for the birthday boy. The kid was stoked!

Sgt. Frog or Keroro Gunso
about an alien frog who tries
to take over the world...badly.
Now, his life is about to change and I'm so proud of how he's handling everything. Looking thru every website he can about Japan and Okinawa. Watching Japanese cartoons (which are HIGH-larious, dubbed in English, btw. They even thru in a "I'll have what Meg Ryan is having." joke!) and asking a million questions about how all of this affects him and his brother. He's an amazing boy and I'm so proud to be his mom.

Happy Birthday, my oldest! I can't thank God enough for putting you in my life!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Drowning in papers

Whew. What a busy weekend! Baseball season has started which means I barely get to see the kids alone, what with all the practices and games. Each moment is precious though. We're in the middle of planning for not only the Okinawa move but also a trip to Europe in June to see the Major's oldest son graduate college in Rome. As I've never been out of the country, this'll be an experience.

Who knew there was so much paperwork to fill out just to get a passport?
"Fill out form DS-### along with Form DS-#### plus provide 3 types of ID as verification, photocopied and notarized, (etc, etc three pages of instruction later) plus your firstborn's umbilical cord and hair samples..."
Okay, so the last part is made up but STILL! Several pages plus notarized consent forms of my ex just to take the kids. Woof. I can't finish MY application until I get my taxes done and then change my name legally on my SSN. There goes my last paycheck into someone else's pocket to pay all the fees and taxes. *sigh*

I'm not thinking entirely clearly this morning because of the time change. Daily Savings Time is archaic and barbaric. I am not built to be up before the buttcrack of dawn. Thank God for K-Cup quickness.

Much thanks to new readers in the following countries!:
South Korea
Palestinian Territories
And of course, regular readers in the US, UK and Canada. xoxo

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Give til it hurts

Thought of the day:

So, near the highway by our house, there are a couple of men who stand on the corner with homemade signs. These say "God Bless. Anything helps." to "50 Cents? Hungry and homeless." I wonder as I see them panhandling if they really are poor or playing a part. There have been stories in this city of several people making upwards of $60K plus just begging for change.

But here're my questions:
What would you do for a few dollars to keep yourself and kids fed? 
Would you dance on the corner if someone asked you to, just for 50 measly cents? 

Because think of it like this (IMHO. Don't get mad): Your dignity is already gone if you are reduced to standing on the street in the cold and the sun, the wind and the rain, holding up a homemade sign from the cardboard in the dumpster. It's humbling and humiliating to show the public you can't support yourself for the moment. That you are dirty, hungry and depressed about your situation.

If I were in their situation, I would beg. I would dance for dollars. I would sing, albeit off key, whatever was requested, even on the corner. I would entertain, offer hugs, learn card tricks. I would do whatever was needed to get my kids fed & clothed. But I would also go thru agencies who help the poor. This is why I continue to give to those charities. Why it makes me so angry when agencies and organizations who rely on donations & federal/state funding have to close their doors because some ass in government decided his thoroughbred paddock was so much more important than whether some kids get take home food on a weekend from school so they don't starve. </rant>

So what would YOU do? Keep your dignity? Or resort to desperate measures?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Side-boob and cute doc- FTW!

I admit it. I'm a bit of a flirt. But I don't WANT people I flirt with, not sexually anyway. (Trust me, the Major keeps me quite happy, tyvm) I just do it as a joke, to make them feel good about themselves. Humans deserve to feel good and be confident. Human beings fascinate me to no end. I love all kinds of people. What makes us tick? What makes us smile? What makes us cringe? Admittedly, a few well placed words can either cause a smile, a blush or a withdrawal.

Yesterday, I made someone blush. Not really because I was trying. I was just being myself, which some find to be too forward and outspoken. Having three moles I was concerned about and a history of skin cancer in the family, I went to the base clinic. (Yay, socialized medicine!) The doctor who walked in was young, tall and handsome, which took me back a little. AND he was in a uniform. Sorry, but swoonage was in order. Capt. Herb was very nice and straightforward. As it was my first time in a base medical facility and I'm trying to learn the Major's sponsor number, acronyms and the million other terms the military uses, I was a bit nervous. "Welcome to the jungle," he said with a laugh. We bantered back and forth and I became more comfortable. Unfortunately for him, (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) two of the moles were under my left breast. Now, I know women who are very self conscious about visiting doctors. They would probably be mortified at showing where these moles were. This is silly. Hell, I had two very large baby boys and one of them decided I should be in labor for a full week before he made an appearance almost a month early. Doctors were all up in mah bidness for that, and also for complete reconstruction of my plumbing to even HAVE the second child and then after my hysterectomy. Plus I get regular waxings at a wonderful little place here. Shyness at this point is a moot issue. I think I earned the right to show a bit of skin and still look pretty good for my age. If a doctor will shy away from a little side-boob, he doesn't deserve to be a doctor.

As Nurse Kayona prepared the tools and pulled the curtain, I started stripping off my shirt and bra. I don't think she was prepared for my lack of modesty in a medical setting. Of course, I'm damn sexay in a surgical gown. *coughyeahrightcough* Capt. Herb removed the one on my back after an owowow painful lidocaine shot to the area. (Seriously, the deadening shots hurt worse than my tattoos!) Then I laid on my side so he could get to the other mole he could remove in- office. (The last one is actually a cyst to be dug out today and will require stitches. *sadpanda*) Pulling up my gown to show the area but cover my breast, it was difficult to keep the gown in place. So I said, "Screw it. I'm not that modest, you're a doctor and you'd better be able to handle seeing a boob." Off went the gown, blush went the captain. I guess there aren't a lot of women who will do that in front of him, except maybe his wife. (Sorry, ladies, he was taken.) But do you know what caused ME to be embarrassed? When he asked me to raise my left arm up above my head to stretch out the skin better. The first thing that crossed my mind was, "Oh god. Did I shave my armpits??" (yes.whew.)

Yeah, the weird things you think about when laying on a doctor's table. At least I got some pretty pink and yellow bandaids out of it. And a blush on a cute doctor.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Letter to a Bully's Parent

After yet another child died from bullying, I'm inclined to have certain thoughts, God forgive me, about the parents of these bullies. Please allow me this rant for a few minutes because I'm heartbroken.

Undear Parent of a Bully,

You may just be the reason your poor child has taken it on him/herself to pick on someone else for their appearance/race/gender/sexual preference/beliefs. Were YOU possibly the victim of such a vicious circle of hate as a child that you've passed it down to your own offspring? Because surely you would have seen the signs. Some kids are confident but some are just arrogant. Do you mess with the head of your own kid at home, thinking it'll make them tougher in life, or tell them they don't amount to anything, etc? This is wrong. On so many levels. You were given a child to love, protect, teach and be proud of, NOT belittle, taunt, disrespect and hurt. I've told my own boys that your kids may need some understanding. That your kids' life needs improvement because home sucks for them, for whatever reason. Your kids feel powerless against the misfortunes of life. Unfortunately, your kids don't really know the meaning of love and can't absorb compassion. So they strike back at mine when my boys offer friendship.

I've seen and heard grown women with the mentality of a classic Mean Girl continue a tirade against another woman and her son simply because the other woman's child was a bit younger and not quite to the level in sports that their sons were. And these same women professed to be Christian every Sunday churchgoers. It's no wonder other cultures/religions/atheists look down on Christians when YOU are the example they see. I've also seen grown men manipulate others thru guilt and intimidation to do their bidding. Your kids are sponges and WILL pick up on the subtleties, whether you think they will or not. They take those controlling influences to the playground.

You should be ashamed of yourself and held JUST as responsible for the death of a bullied kid as your children who beat/teased to death that 
precious child. I'm sick and tired of hearing another sad story in the news because you can't seem to be a grown up and teach your child the meanings of right and wrong. Parent of a bully, you SUCK. But I still love you and hope you can change.

Fed up Featherann

Sometimes, you just need a musical interlude in your life. And sometimes, that includes mashing some bubblegum pop with some metal. Oh, say like NIN's 'Head Like a Hole' mashed with 'Call Me Maybe'Admit it. You danced in your seat a little. ;)

Welcome to new readers in New Zealand and Australia (I'm going to visit there soon after we move to Okinawa!), India and the Netherlands! 

Monday, March 4, 2013


When I first started planning a wedding months ago before our actual engagement (hey, a girl was hopeful!), I began a few Pinterest boards. (Almost 1,600 followers as of this writing! Holy COW!) I had an affinity for Alice in Wonderland as a theme because the Major was so much the Mad Hatter. Quirky, funny and at times a bit off his rocker. But that suited me perfectly. And of course, when Downton Abbey came along, I was hooked into the Edwardian time period. Since that's when Lewis Carroll began his classic tome, combining the themes would be the ideal wedding. Classy and fun. As we know, the USAF had other plans, which the Major made incredible with a surprise flashmob wedding, with our own unique wedding vows.

But I didn't necessarily want it so lavish it would break the bank. After all, the Major and I would be paying for it all. Gathering our resources in friends and family, I scoured books, websites and picked the brains of loved ones for fun, inexpensive ways to pull this off. We had set it for our backyard and I began treating the grass, pulling a scrabbly heather-like weed out of the yard whenever possible, cutting back dead tree branches, planting, etc. Anne and I browsed thrift shops for old china dishes and teacups to use as placewear for the reception, which we had pared down to about 75 people. (Most cups were about 66 cents with plates upwards of $1.21 depending on wear) The checkered dance floor would go here, the croquet court (complete with flamingo yard ornaments!) over there and the Cheshire Cat DIY photobooth under the trees there. Even a Caterpillar Lounge with hookah water pipes on the patio covered with a tent for cocktail hour. At most, I was shooting for spending about $2,500, which is pretty damn cheap for a backyard wedding.

I began making paper lanterns to hang in the trees, for a whimsical look, with a bunch of old scrap paper I had, tied together with ribbon. The concept was easy:

Materials: Scissors, ruler, scrapbook paper (medium thickness or velum), glue gun and sticks, tape, paper plate, ribbon, lace or strips of old cloth.

1. Cut a hole in a small, sturdy paper plate.

2. Cut strips of square scrapbook paper into 1 1/4 inches wide, yielding about 15-20 strips per page. Cut each strip in half for multiple loops; leave uncut for longer lanterns.
3. (Save about 10-15 half strips for step 5, without looping them.) Connect strips end to end using Scotch tape or staples into loops. I found it made the lantern lighter when I used tape. Alternate patterns of loops for a mismatched look but keeping in the same color scheme.

4. Hot glue each loop to the next, about a fourth of the way down, adding loops to get the length of the lantern you want.

5. Make loops like the others in Step 3, wrapping them around the plate circle you made in Step 1. However many it takes to fill up the circle is how many loop strands you'll make. Glue loop strands to the ends of these. Allow to dry completely, laying flat.

6. Thread a piece of ribbon, lace or piece of cloth thru the bottom ends, tying the piece into a bow. Add a ribbon to the plate to attach to lights, trees, etc. Ta-DA!

Here is a finished lantern. Since we're moving though, I'll just have to pack it flat and bring back out for parties once we get to Okinawa. I still plan on having the Alice in Wonderland party but it looks like May or June, just before the Major leaves. We have to have the movers in before that happens. Anyone have a spare couch or bedroom I can crash for a couple months? :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Life break #1

We're in the bed with the ick today. I think the pressure and stress finally got to us. We're going thru the bajillion pictures and minutes of video footage to post soon. In the meantime, enjoy this:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Foodie in Peril

"Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare." 

Eat to live and not live to eat. 

I'm addicted to Italian and Asian cuisines. Luckily for me, we're moving to Okinawa where I can learn to make authentic sushi and other Japanese dishes. I've had a Japanese cookbook since before I was first married more than 15 years ago but I've never implemented it. Too scared! Though I love to eat just about anything. Even those tiny baby octopi in jaew-sriracha sauce...NOM! I've eaten an entire appetizer of these all by myself. Grossed my mom out at our wedding reception which was held at a local Japanese restaurant, Tokyo. My 4-yo niece ate the heads and I ate the bodies. *evil aunt grin* If I wasn't already a chubby bunny, I would have eaten the entire 100 sushi boat too! I'm always excited when my kids try something new and end up liking it, especially exotic (to us) flavors. My oldest has found he really likes sushi, with favorites being Tiger or Dragon rolls. His American tummy can't quite handle sashimi, though he doesn't mind the flavors. The youngest likes eel, teriyaki yakisoba and they both really like my grilled shark. (I'll have another post soon on some of our recipes.)

Mushrooms, red onion, pears,
yellow/red peppers, carrots and celery
Unluckily for me, I'm really, really hoping there might be a deli on the island carrying cappacuolo, salami in wine, prosciutto, mozzarella balls and flatbread. Because I'm seriously hooked on them. Nearly every day for lunch, since I work from home, I have these with some veggies or fruit. Dip them in EVOO with my homemade crushed spices and I'm in heaven! And I could watch the hell out of Giada De Laurentiis. She never ceases to amaze me at how simple the dishes seem to be, even those which use lots of ingredients. One of our favorites around here is just a simple puttanesca of grilled veggies over tortellini with sweet Italian sausage. The kids ask for it at least once a week. Or we'll throw shrimp and scallops in it instead of sausage.

See, I KNOW there's a BX at Kadena AB. I KNOW we can get all kinds of fresh veggies and seafood out the wazoo. What I'm not sure of is whether they'll have some of the usual staples we have here that grace our pantry. I may need to stock up and mail myself some at Christmas!

Anyone who's lived over there is welcome to comment below. What are your experiences at Kadena like with food?