28 January 2010

It's been a rough day

And it's only 12:30. I've got the whole rest of it to go.

Started out bad when kids again dragged their feet til Screaming Mom rose to the surface. I dig the whole ScreamFree thing, but some days it just ain't happening around here. They piddle around and drag their feet until we have to leave in 10 minutes and then it's an EMERGENCY. But MOM! I haven't eaten breakfast! I'm not DRESSED!

Um, yeah. I noticed that.

But these are not kids who are getting ready for their first day of school, and maybe they're not familiar with the routine yet.

No sooner did I get home from dropping all the kids, dressed and fed, off at school, than the older boys' school called and the oldest dude had thrown up. Can I please come get him?

So off I go, in the middle of a conversation with a really good friend, who I called for a verbal hug. In addition to the lateness issue, there has been some other drama going on round here this week, in relation to the adult child who has been living with us. 'Nother story for another day. Suffice it to say, I was feeling really crappy this morning. Bad parent, bad person, deserving of all that is evil in this world. But her verbal hug was just what I needed.

He and I sit on the couch and watch cartoons for a while, and he is sick a couple more times. The dog needs to go out, so I put her on her tie-out in the backyard, thinking she could use a little play time and the ground is frozen (so I thought) so she wont' be too dirty from digging. When it's time to pick up the little dude from school, I leave Moe on the couch under a warm blanket and go get the dog.

Covered. In. Frozen. Mud.

How did she DO that? Never mind, it doesn't matter, because the end result is still that I need to clean her up. Ugh.

Tie her in the garage, go and get the little guy. Must run warm water in the tub so she can be readmitted to the interior of the house. Walk in the door to run bath, and Moe is hunched over the garbage can in the family room, getting sick again and crying, "Thank God you're back Mom!"

Dog acts as though bath is Chinese water torture and glares at me with death in her eyes the whole bath. Tries to jump out three or four times. Finally stare her down and get her to cooperate, and Moe comes upstairs naked from the waist down, his stomach bug having moved in a different direction, that the poor child was unprepared for. I tell him to toss his dirty clothes into the laundry room and try to get him in the shower. Which he hates. Give up and settle for bullying the dog.

Dry dog off, get her to see things from my point of view, and go back downstairs. Now must find and fix lunch for Curly, who is not sick to his stomach. Then, do the pile of laundry that has magically appeared, find time to work out and get the endorphin rush that will make all of this go away, and do homework so that I can relax and enjoy my vacation next week.

Why do these things happen the day that Dad leaves?

On the bright side, I did get a new laptop this week. My last one died suddenly and my wonderful tech geek husband found a great price on a groovy MacBook. I think the Apple/Mac transition is complete.

I hate to admit it but

I'm an Apple geek.

Shh. Don't tell anyone.

25 January 2010

I miss

Having a best best friend. Like in junior high. Someone you could call 14 times in one day and they wouldn't get tired of you. OK, maybe not 14 times every day.

But still.

Oh, I have tons of acquaintances. People that, if I call them or see them at church or school, seem genuinely pleased to hear from me or see me. But our phone is not exactly ringing off the hook here at home. We're not turning back s flood of invitations.

And I'm just feeling sorry for myself today, for some reason. I'm a social person, I like to be busy doing things, seeing people, out and about. And that hasn't been happening much lately and it's bothering me. For some reason.


On another note, I had drill this past weekend and I heard something that has really given me something to think about. I thought I knew where I was going with this history degree, and that I loved my job in the reserve as a historian. I do love what I do, in theory at least. I love history and I love the task of documenting things and writing things down so that people will know what we did, what we accomplished. That is so important!

But at the same time, it sure doesn't feel like anyone gives a crap about my work. Unless the history is late...then when the commander and the MAJCOM is breathing down our necks, yeah. But otherwise, no one seems to care all that much. And, I am in a position to never get promoted again.

The way manning works in my unit, there is one historian authorized in my office. That would be Cathy. And she'd have to leave and vacate the position for me to slide into it and be promotable. It's a MSgt slot and she's a SMSgt while I am a lowly TSgt. I get it. But I'm what is called an overage, and as such, I'm an extra person. Extra people should quit complaining and be glad they have a job. It can be pulled out from under you at any time. In theory, anyway. There have been people in overage slots for years and years and they never get pulled. But, it could happen. Extra people also can't get promoted. Even if they deserve it. I get that about being an overage. I've pissed and moaned about it often enough, I get it. If I love what I do, it shouldn't matter to me about what rank I hold. Right?

Except that it does.

So anyway, at Commanders' Call yesterday, the recruiters got up to give a presentation, and I would never have thought of myself as recruiter material, and maybe I'm not, but there are some really good things about it: it's an AGR tour (basically, it's active duty) for 4 years (a FULL-TIME job!), there's a position that covers the area where I live so I could possibly work right here in town, AND the best part....I could do four years, retire at the end of those four years, and get an active duty retirement. That's huge. I would start collecting my retirement immediately instead of waiting until I'm 60.

I've got a call in to the guy here in town to find out more.

Why is that stripe all of a sudden so important to me? Why am I allowing that stripe to define the character of my service, the worth of my almost 20 years in uniform? I don't know, but it sure feels like it matters a lot right now.

20 January 2010

Good news

I'm happy and relieved that Scott Brown won in Massachusetts last night. No one, but no one could have predicted this a month ago.

In the news, all the pundits and analysts are saying that it's a referendum on Barack Obama, and his administration, or a referendum on health care. I'm not so sure.

In my humble opinion, I don't think it's so much about President Obama (although I'm sure there's a segment of the voters who would disagree and say that it was very much about him) but overall, I think people are sick and tired of the president telling them how it's going to be, and not letting them express their opinions. People were sick of George Bush shoving his foreign policy down our throats whether we liked it or not, and now people are tired of Barack Obama doing that very same thing. He has said over and over, in many different ways, that come hell or high water, there WILL be a health care bill passed. Nancy Pelosi has said the same thing. Weren't they listening last summer, when all the representatives and senators came home and held all those town hall meetings? People don't want reform like this.

And before anyone gets their dander up and assumes that I am some heartless, soulless pig of a Republican who wants to see people die for lack of health care, let me disabuse you of that notion. It's not that I object to health care. I object to the way they're going about it. First of all, health care in and of itself IS NOT A RIGHT. Let me be clear.


It is a commodity, which you can choose to purchase, or not. Now, I will agree that ACCESS to that commodity should be equal. I can get onboard with that. Everyone ought to be able to buy good, reasonably priced health care insurance for themselves and their families. Beyond that, get the government the hell out of my health care decision. Don't force me to buy it, or limit my options.

If politicians are serious about real health care reform, they need to have an open discussion about tort reform. Gajillion dollar settlements for hangnails are a huge part of how we got to this place, where premiums are astronomically high. Yes, I'm exaggerating to make a point. But hear me out. An honest mistake by your doctor should not entitle you to a million-dollar payout. When mistakes are made, and they will be, everyone runs straight to the lawyer. In some cases, I can see this...if the mistake that the doctor makes is serious enough to create more health problems that will cost more money, then absolutely, reparations have to be made. A patient can't be expected to suck up the costs incurred by a doctor's mistake.

HOWEVER, comma, not every mistake rises to that level. I read a story about a woman who won a multi million dollar payout from an insurance company, because her doctor misdiagnosed her with breast cancer. She chose to have both of her breasts removed as a preventive measure. Then they discovered that the doctor was wrong, so she sued him for millions, and won. Tell me how having $73 million dollars makes up for that mistake. Really? The doctor (or the insurance company) can pay for reconstructive surgery, sure. But what purpose does it serve to bankrupt him? And what about the fallout, that affects others? Like making premiums go sky high. Now everyone has to pay for that award. And it's like a ripple effect...a couple of crazy-high awards like that, and the company has to raise premiums to stay in business.

My OBGYN told me, when I was preparing to download my third, that he was considering quitting delivering babies, because he just couldn't afford malpractice insurance. His malpractice premiums went up 300% in one year. He also told me that an OBGYN can be sued anytime until the child is 18, and that OBGYNs can expect to be sued an average of three times during his/her career, whether the suit is warranted or not. Even if the suit is frivolous, it still costs money to settle it and make it go away. Where do you think the money comes from? Not to mention, if a doctor gets sued, it makes people leery of going to him....they think he's not a good doctor.

Another thing they'd bring up if they were serious about reform is allowing consumers to shop and buy insurance across state lines. Let the companies compete for business, and costs will go down. That's simple Econ 101.

Another thing I object to, is lifting the restrictions on using federal money to fund abortions for poor women. And if there were to be a public health care option that covered abortion, we'd all pay for them. I object to that with all of my being. Abortion is legal in this country. OK. But if that is your choice, YOU pay for it. I don't want any part of anyone's abortion, not paying for it, not supporting it, not encouraging or advocating it.

The health care debacle has enough problems to keep Congress busy for years. You're not going to please all of the people, all of the time. THAT, my friends, is what Scott Brown's victory last night is all about. A bunch of people who are NOT PLEASED. And when they decide to get together and do something about it, look out, Washington. Stop being so arrogant as to assume you know what's best. Listen to the people, your constituents...you know, the people you WORK FOR. The people who HIRED YOU to do a job. That old line made famous by moms everywhere...I brought you into this world, I can take you right back out, holds true here.

It will be very interesting indeed to see how things will play out in Washington now that the Democrats have lost their trump card, the filibuster-proof majority. Now you're going to have to play nice with the Republicans. You can't just ram legislation through, without consulting or considering the other half of the country.

ahem. I'll be putting my soapbox away now.

19 January 2010

No magic wand

The Geeks over at Geek Squad delivered some bad news this morning. Or good news, depending on how one chooses to look at it. My laptop COULD cost anywhere from $50-$350 to fix. And it will cost almost $100 just to send it out for repair, since they don't do power supply issues in the store. And if it's a motherboard issue, the cost is going to go up again. So, no magic wand, no cheap fix.

If I want a working laptop, I'm apparently going to have to buy one. The question is, how many computers are really necessary in one house? Do I really NEED a laptop? Not really. Oh sure, it's really nice to have one. But can I justify the purchase price, knowing full well I don't NEED it? Hmmm.

But if one wanted to be an optimist and look at the silver lining, it's a chance to buy a shiny new toy :) And I like shiny new toys as much as the next girl.

I'm hoping for some good news out of Massachusetts tonight. I'm surprised by how on-pins-and-needles I am. I don't live anywhere near Massachusetts and I only know 1 person who lives there. But man, I'm worked up. I just don't know how much more of Barack Obama and his far-left agenda this country can take before we just crack. I mean, absolutely running off the edge of a cliff. I hope that Scott Brown wins and can slow the freight train down. Michelle Obama may be proud of her country for the first time, but I'll tell you what....I'm SCARED of my country, and for my country, for the first time.

The polls close in three minutes...I'm off to watch the returns.

18 January 2010

Blue Monday

I read on my friend Martin's Facebook page that today is supposedly called "Blue Monday." I don't think I've ever heard of this, except in a song lyric, but it sure seems to fit. According the wisdom of Facebook surfers, it's called Blue Monday, because the holidays are over, most of the New Year's resolution are broken (see?! THIS is why I don't make them! HATE feeling like a failure!) and some stuff like that, that I don't remember. Just facing the rest of winter with nothing else to look forward to.

I'm not blue because the holidays are over. I don't think so. I'm not blue because of broken resolutions. Remember? I don't make resolutions.

But still....I'm blue. And I'm not sure why. I've been feeling a major funk for several days now, and I can't put my finger on the cause. The spousal unit is home, so it's not that I'm missing him or feeling overly stressed with kid duties. The kids are perfectly normal, it's not them. I had a break from school today (thank you Martin Luther King, Jr! For a lot more than a day off but that's another story for another day) so I don't think it's school. A big milestone birthday is coming up this year but not for a long time. That can't be it.

I think I have a deadline this week but I haven't heard from my editor despite sending a couple of emails, so.....not quite sure how to handle that. I'll submit the story and hope for the best, I guess.

I guess maybe it is just the rest of winter with not much to look forward to. I'm tired of school in general, and not feeling excited and motivated about it, which I usually am. I'm just tired of working at things, and not feeling like I have a dang thing to show for it.

Lessons in patience and perseverance. I am forever praying for patience. Well, I've found that when I do that, God usually gives me opportunities to practice being patient, and hone those skills. That wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but you know, it's like I tell my kids, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. Maybe I'm not praying for the right thing...maybe I need to pray for a new outlook, a new attitude. I mean, really, when I count my blessings, there are a lot of them. A lot.

So I'll have a glass of wine, and slog through a few more chapters of Machiavelli for my history class. I've stuck it out this long, what's four and a half more quarters?

Oh, and my laptop died tonight. Just went black. Hoping the Geek Squad can wave a magic wand and make it all better.

07 January 2010

The mom I am

I had the strangest train of thought today. I was in the kitchen doing the dishes and musing over the conversations that went on this morning. It's a snow day and we've been up watching the weather and school closing list since pretty early, so there've been several conversations to muse over.

My oldest spud is not one to try new things. Or new foods. Or new ways of eating old foods. Or anything new in general. He's recently been living on the edge by eating his breakfast cereal with a spoon and milk, rather than eating it dry, with his hands, and drinking milk separately. This is a departure for him, and not a small one. I told him after breakfast today, that I was proud of him for trying a new way of eating his cereal, since I knew that it was hard for him to try new things. It was funny, he lit up like a Christmas tree. Just from the few simple words I said. That I was proud of him, and that I understood something about him.

As I was doing the dishes, I don't know why I had this thought, but it occurred to me that in March it will be 5 years that my dad has been gone. He died when the littlest spud was a tiny baby and I was still on meds for postpartum depression. My father, for better or for worse, is the most significant influence on my parenting. My sister runs a very close second. But they are polar opposites. My sister taught me how to love unconditionally and without limits, and how to have fun with my kids. My dad, well, let's just leave it with, he taught me what not to do, how not to be. And in that bass-ackwards way, he had a big role in shaping the mom I am. The mom who tells her kid that she's proud of him over something as silly as how he eats his cereal.

My sister has always told me, love them beyond reason, and praise them to the skies when they've earned it, but don't be afraid to scold and even yell when they've earned that. Speak to them with respect, apologize to them when you screw up, and let them know you understand who they are. And love them. Then love them some more. My dad actually, literally, rolled his eyes at me one day when I told him that some days all I did was sit on the couch with my first newborn baby, and hold him, because I was so in awe of him, and I didn't want to put him down.

I am by no means an expert, or a perfect mom who handles every situation well. I yell far more than I would like to admit, and I get impatient far more than I wish I did. I can be sarcastic, yes, even to an almost-ten-year-old, and sometimes I don't listen as well as I expect them to.

But I also tell them I'm proud of them. And I tell them I love them, many times each day. I hope, at the end of the day, it all balances out.

03 January 2010

New Year, old questions

It's a new year, a new decade. In some ways, it's like hitting the reset button. Or Ctrl-Alt-Delete, if you prefer. I like New Year's....I don't make resolutions, as I may have mentioned before. They usually just make me feel like I've failed, and I hate that feeling. Instead I recommit to doing the same things I always try to do: continue making my faith and my family my top priorities, improving my relationship with God and seeking His counsel in matters great and small, taking better care of my family and myself than I did last year, and being a better person today than I was yesterday.

I do have a couple of specific things I'm mulling right now though, but I don't think you can call them resolutions. I'm considering training for a full marathon this year. And I'm in the process of making what could be a life-changing career decision. On the first one, I need to decide rather quickly so I can begin training. I run regularly, but marathon training is a bit different. On the second, I have some time to think about it. That's where the old questions come in.

I'm coming to a crossroads with the military, and I'm considering a new career path that does not include a uniform. In September of 2011, I will have served 20 honorable years and will then be eligible to retire. I've always thought I'd stick around much longer than that, maybe even long enough that they'd have to kick me out for being too old. Also in September of 2011, I will have graduated from college with a brand new, shiny undergrad degree, that I will presumably want to use. I could go the "safe" route and stick with the familiar: stay in the military and be a reserve bum, working far more regularly and predictably for my unit until I get tired of it and "it's not fun anymore." That's what people start saying when they are getting short, and they're ready to hang it up. Ask anyone who's retired from the reserve how they knew it was time, and they will tell you, "It stopped being fun." Not many people count on the reserve as their fulltime bread and butter, unless they are a reserve bum. And even in that case, most of the time, you only stay while it's fun, unless you really have no other choice.

Or I could retire, take the LSAT and apply to law school. Ever since I can remember seriously thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I've always dreamed of being a lawyer. I like the idea of fairness and justice, and everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Not that you'd know it by looking around or reading the news, but still, the idea is good.

I'm certain the way will be made clear for me when it's time to really decide and start acting on the decision. But still, here I sit, chewing on it and considering and thinking and praying. New year, old questions. What do I do? Which way to go? Can I really do that? Will my family suffer? Am I smart enough? How will we pay for it? (That one is covered, I think, by the new GI Bill, but it's a legitimate question nonetheless)

I don't know if I'd be a good lawyer. I'm too wishy-washy and can't make a decision.

The other big question I wrestle with, and have wrestled with for a lot of years now is this: who am I, and what makes me unique or special, without the uniform? It's a huge part of how I've defined myself for a lot of years. I went through a similar identity crisis when I quit flying and quit wearing a flight suit to work. I switched to BDU's and instantly became invisible. That has been a tough struggle, and even now, 10 years after my last sortie as a loadmaster, I still feel a twinge when I see girls in flight suits, especially if they are loading airplanes. The fact remains that I did what was best for my family. I wouldn't make a different decision if I had it to do over again. But it was really, really hard.

So giving up the uniform entirely is going to be a difficult transition. One I'm not sure I'm ready to make. So, I'm kinda glad I've got another year or so to sit on it, and think about it, and pray about it, and then wait and see what life looks like in a year.