Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Tradition

My favorite Christmas tradition is one that is no longer an active tradition. I can't remember exactly which year this ceased to be our tradition, but it was bound to end at some point as I grew older...and to be honest I'm not sure what year it actually started, I just remember the tradition itself and the fun memories made as a result.

When I was a child my dad worked, a lot. He worked a swing shift as an electrician for the Timken Company so if dad wasn't at work, he was trying to sleep. Thank goodness he could sleep through anything, even a limb falling off a tree right outside the bedroom window, because in our house full of girls we weren't exactly quiet. My dad also ran a lawn care business as well. So he was busy with that from about March to November each year mowing lawns, landscaping, trimming shrubs, raking leaves and cleaning out gutters. Shrub trimming days, landscaping days, and leaf days were when I was able to go along and "help," but those are stories for another blog. The previous explanation was to give you an idea of just how busy my dad was when I was a child. He tried to make time as often as possible for the big events~concerts, field days, and soccer games. I can't recall him ever missing one of those events...he may have, but not often enough for me to remember.

Anyhow, this tradition started as a way for my dad to spend time one on one with each of his girls. So one Christmas it became a tradition for my mom to give dad a list of a few items she would like, things that my sisters and I could pick out. One by one we each had our date with dad to go pick out a gift for mom. Our date consisted of a meal typically lunch or dinner depending on dad's schedule and what time of day we went out and then we went shopping for mom's present. I remember dad reading me the things on the list and asking which one I would like to find for her. I always picked the most practical item on the list, something like slippers or pajamas. Always. Even now I pick out practical gifts for everyone. If it doesn't really have a purpose you won't be getting it from me. I'm just a bit too practical I guess. It was fun to have dad time though. It also depended on his work schedule and how much sleep he had as to how far from home you were allowed to go to shop. Sometimes you only made it into town (Salem), but I remember one year I was allowed to go all the way to the mall (Canton). I think I may have made him eat at McDonald's each time we had our date too. I love McDonald's french fries. He would tolerate eating there just because he knew it was my favorite. Also, as part of the tradition we would rotate out who was able to go shopping first with dad. I don't remember why it was so special to go first each year, but it was. Special memories.

There is one particular year that each of us remember for no particular reason other than the story behind the gift bought for mom. It was Maggie who purchased this gift with dad. They went shopping at the Joshua Tree in Salem, which is no longer there, and Maggie found her gift. It was an old style glass Christmas ornament of an angel in a white gown. She found it and said something to the effect of "oh it's beautiful, Mommy must have this." So they bought it for mom. It wasn't anything too out of the ordinary, but "mommy must have this" so it was cherished. A few years later (I can't remember when exactly or how) the ornament was broken. Each of us was saddened by its loss and the search began to find another ornament like it. A few have been purchased that were similar, but nothing else has been found that was even close until this year. This year my mother found what she calls "the closest thing to the angel ornament I've ever found." I think I'll stop my search this year since she has found something close. Maggie always picked the fun gifts. She still does. I think Katie falls somewhere in the middle of practicality and fun.

I've thought of this special tradition many times this Christmas season and I do every year. I think it is a very special tradition that should I ever have children I hope to continue with them. Special time to spend time with a parent. (In talking with my mom about some of the details of this tradition she said that she thinks it was started as something she read by Lou Dobbs [scratch that, not sure where Lou Dobbs came from but it was Dr. James Dobson] about dads spending time with their daughters, just the two of them and how important it was that dads spend time with their daughters. It is important. That relationship between father and daughter influences so many things you don't even think about or realize until much later in life.) I'm glad we had this tradition growing up. In talking with my sisters I've realized it wasn't just special to me, it was special to each of us. It is one of the biggest significant memories we have of time spent with our dad. We don't remember the details so much as just spending time with him. Just the two of us.

Merry Christmas! I hope all of you enjoy time spent with your families this year. Also, please take a moment to say a prayer for our military families and their family members serving far from home this Christmas so that we can enjoy time with our family.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care

Besides my Christmas ornaments that hold dear, sweet memories I also love my stocking. I cherish my stocking because my Granny made it for me. I have never had a store bought stocking. It has always been my handmade with love stocking that "Santa" filled with goodies. Typically I would get some kind of candy-I especially remember a life savers book in my stocking each year-and some kind of necklace or piece of jewelry, socks and/or underwear, and a few other random things in my stocking. Also, the things that go in my stocking were always wrapped. I was surprised last year when Dave put unwrapped things in my stocking...and it was just candy. Apparently that is the Bivins tradition. Dave received some candy, but he also had some undershirts in his stocking. Funny how families have their own way of celebrating. Wonder what he will put in my stocking this year? Hmmmm...

Anyhow, back to my original thoughts on this topic. My handmade with love stocking. My sisters also have stockings made by Granny. Katie has one with her name on it, but Maggie's stocking has hearts on it because it was a second stocking I had received from Granny. Maggie was born after Granny had passed away so the heart stocking became Maggie's. We didn't have a chimney in the house we grew up in so our stocking hung on the wall. One year my Grandma and Grandpa made a Santa shaped board with hooks for our stockings to hang from. I loved it! (I kinda miss seeing it.) From that year on our stocking would hang from the Santa. So our first year of marriage I decided that Dave needed a stocking. It couldn't be a store bought stocking, it just wouldn't do. My mom guided me through the process of making Dave a stocking. This was the example we had to guide our project...


Our first step was choosing some Christmas print fabrics. I found a few I liked, but wasn't really liking all of my options. Since the USMC is such a big part of our life I also chose a patriotic blue with stars print. (There is also a coordinating red and white print as well.)


Once we had gathered and chosen our supplies it was time to actually create the stocking. (We do have some excess supplies that have been saved "just in case" we decide to add to our family with some human children and I need to make them a stocking. Their stocking would then match their father's. I just creeped myself out. Pausing for just a minute...Ok, moving on.)

It took several hours. I fought with the sewing machine just a bit on sewing things straight. I had to rip out a few seams since I like to sew crooked. Finally it was time for the finishing details...

This is mine.

This is Dave's.

His says Bivins b/c that is what I called him for the first 2-3 yrs of our relationship. Now he gets called Dave, Biv Biv, and Bivins. Did you also notice the turtle? Yeah, turtle is his nickname from high school so everything we own has been invaded with turtles.

This is where our stockings currently reside. I have little stocking hangers I bought at the dollar store a year or two ago, but we don't have a mantle or a shelf for them to sit. I must look into finding/buying/making a stocking hanger for the future.


The pictures above our stockings are something my mother-in-law made for us one Christmas. (I think it would have been Christmas 2006 when we had just moved to NC.) One has pics of Dave when he was younger at Christmas and the other has pics of me when I was younger at Christmas. Mine has one picture in particular that I love. It was taken at my Nana's house and my sisters and I are in pjs in her dining room. Katie and Maggie are playing with the nativity scene she had set up on the window seat and I am seated on the floor next to them wrapped in a blanket reading to them. Love it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not Just Cats

If you say they're just cats-you're wrong. They are cats, but they are ornery cats. Most people don't really believe me when I say I have my hands full at the moment so here are a few stories to let you know only a bit of what goes on in this house of 2 cats. Most of these stories center around Zeus, but Zeke is just as ornery.

Christmas Tree~Each December (ok, really only 3 Decembers now) I worry about what my cats are going to to do the tree and/or my other decorations. The very first year we put up a tree Zeus decided to chew on the lights. Seriously. Both of them decided to try and sleep in the tree, which may not have been a bad idea, but we bought a pre-lit inexpensive tree and so the branches weren't real sturdy. They bent. A lot. Some branches still have not made it back to their original height, but with careful and artistic arrangement the tree doesn't look like it has been attacked by two cats.

This year I discovered my darling Zeus has been snacking on my tree skirt. I love my tree skirt! It was one of the things we received as a present at the Ohio wedding reception. I couldn't have picked out a prettier tree skirt if I tried. (It is red silky type material with silvery trim and little flowery bead designs every so often across it.) Well, my little orange furball has been snacking on the beads. I heard snap snap and looked down just in time to see him cut the thread with his claw and swallow a bead. Grrrrr! So I swatted him on the head. He looks at me and moves on to the next bead. So I squirted him with the squirt bottle and he ran. I won that battle, although I think he may be winning the war as fewer beads are left on the tree skirt. My mom was highly concerned about Zeus' digestive abilities and the beads. Please don't worry they are very small beads so he should be fine and if he isn't I've decided he shall just suffer as punishment for eating my tree skirt. (It should be noted that if he was truly suffering I would do something about it...but for now since he is not suffering I say he can explode for all I care.) It was after this story that my mother said "you don't have cats, you have toddlers." Yes. I do, very furry toddlers.

What is that noise? - A few weeks ago I was enjoying my day off quite nicely. I had cleaned a little bit, done some laundry, emptied the dishwasher, and had just settled down on the couch to watch a movie when I hear "bang, bang, bang." (Not like gunshots, but like someone beating on something.) I thought "what are those neighbor kids up to now?" because they were out playing in the yard. I hear bang, bang, bang again. that sounds like one of my cats is trying to get into the childlocked cabinets. Sure enough I get up and see Zeke batting at one of the cabinet doors. I am just about to yell at him when I see an orange paw dart out in the small space between the door and the cabinet. Zeke was apparently trying to help Zeus out of the cabinet. Zeus had climbed in while I wasn't paying attention when I was putting dishes away. Silly Zeus.

Zeus & The Water ~ Zeus loves to play in water. He's a bit daft in case you didn't know from the two previous stories. The automatic water bowl is a constant source of entertainment for Zeus, especially when it has just been filled. He loves to try and stop the water from filling up the bowl and in the process can soak a floor pretty well. (Their water bowl now sits on a towel to prevent this.) Well, he has also discovered our bathroom sink. You simply must watch the video...(facebook users must view original post to get the video)

Now he will hop up on the sink and flurf at you to turn the water on so he can play. Ugh.

Vet Trips ~ Zeke & Zeus made their yearly visit to the vet yesterday. Zeke now weighs almost 17 lbs and Zeus weighs almost 14lbs. They are rather big cats. They rival the size of most small breed dogs. They only go to the vet for their yearly vaccinations. They didn't even see the vet himself and our total bill was $248 for six shots (3 each) and 3 months of flea protection (6 vials of Revolution). It was fun trying to get the boys gathered up and to the vet. It is a two parent job because the carriers we bought when they were kittens aren't real sturdy when it comes to a 14 or 17 pound cat so they make the trip with harnesses and leashes. (Even in carriers it would be a two parent job b/c you can only safely carry one carrier at a time.) So I got their harnesses and leashes on and took them one by one to the truck. They sat side by side on the passenger seat the whole way to the vet's office. Dave followed behind about 5 minutes later in his vehicle because he had to go to class shortly after our visit. He wasn't there when I got to the office so I juggled holding 2 cats and my purse on the way into the office. (They don't really walk on a is more to ensure they don't run off.) The poor boys were very disgruntled at being carried in such a way. Zeus meowed as soon as we entered the office (that oh no this isn't good kind of meow) and I told him to hush. When I set him down he immediately hid under a chair. Zeke followed right behind him, but not before they tried to get me tangled up in their leashes. Luckily, Dave arrived and he took over one cat while I had the other. They got their shots, we paid the bill, and then the boys got to wait in the car while Dave and I had lunch before his class. (It was a nice day, a balmy 59 degrees or so, and I opened the window a bit for them.) They were grumpy anyhow so waiting in the car only made them more grumpy. (They are very social cats so being kept away from visiting angers them.) I'm just glad I don't have to juggle taking them to the vet again for another year...barring any digestive issues with Zeus. So far so good.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Really Good Day

Yesterday was a really good day. Dave and I both happened to have the day off and we didn't have any obligations at all. Days like those are rare. Mostly because we typically have a to do list a mile long when we have a day off together.

We started the day by sleeping in. We both actually slept in, another rare occurrence because Dave rarely sleeps late. It was so nice. We finally got out of bed and watched an episode of LOST. We finished watching the first season on Netflix. (I have seen a few episodes here and there and Dave watched all of season one when he was deployed with the MEU.) Then Dave went to change the oil in one of the vehicles while I decided to shower and get ready for the day. Our next stop was BassPro Shops to pick up Dave's paycheck and then off to the bank to get it cashed. We decided it was time to stop for dinner at El Cazador before heading up to Trussville. In Trussville we went to Best Buy because Dave has some reward coupons to use. We meandered around TJMaxx as well and I found a clock and two more things to finish up the redecorated bathroom. (The only thing it still needs is a curtain for the odd sized window. I'm going to have to sew one. I must sew one soon...) We hit up PetSmart to get some goodies for the boys. They needed a new scratch box, some treats, nail clippers, and some food. It was really wonderful to just meander around without any real time crunch.

We gave the boys their new scratch box when we got home. Zeus absolutely loved the catnip we sprinkled in it too. He decided he loves to sit on the scratch box and sniff it. Poor dear.

About 11pm or so I decided to finally put up our Christmas tree. I had so much fun decorating it. This is the first time in two years I have decorated our tree. (I boycotted a tree the year Dave was deployed.) I thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping the ornaments from many years ago and those from the recent past. I would exclaim with joy "cookie monster, oh how I missed you" and "yay, the butterfly ornaments" and "oh, the turtles ornaments." I decided to take a few pictures of some of my absolute favorite Christmas ornaments that I look forward to seeing each year.

My First Christmas


I love this ornament because the bear comes out of the cradle. I loved to play with this little bear. My mom has stories I am sure. I remember getting into trouble for stealing the bear out of the cradle.



My kindergarten teacher Mrs. Dickey made this for me. She was one of my favorite teachers.



I have a thing for mittens...I love them. All kinds of mittens, even mittens attached by a string. I admired these mittens on both my mother's and my grandma's Christmas trees. When my grandma heard how much I love them she gave me a set from her tree and I treasure them. (Actually, she gave them to a boyfriend of mine at the time to surprise me.) One of the mittens has a penny in it. It was how I knew which pair belonged to me when my set hung on my mom's tree.

Red, White & Blue Heart


I know this is a newer addition to our collection, but I can't quite recall how long we have had it. There is also an eagle with an olive branch that matches it. I am 99% certain Mrs. B bought them for us our first year in NC, but my memory can't quite remember. I love it because it, along with so many other ornaments on our tree, remind me of our time spent in active duty USMC life. It also reminds me to pray for those currently serving-here and farther away-and their families.

This is what out tree looks like this year...


Shortly after I finished decorating our tree I realized it had begun snowing outside. So we rushed outside to play while it lasted. God must have known I needed that snowy reminder to make it feel more like home here. .oO(Where I grew up a December without snow is rare. It happens every couple of years or so, but not too often.) So it was a really, really good day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

News of the Day

It is 1:45AM according to the pc clock. Why am I still awake? WHY!? Eeek. Good thing I have a closing shift tomorrow or else I would be in t-r-o-u-b-l-e. Here are some random thoughts I had about posting as my status for Facebook at this lovely hour, but decided to blog instead.

#1. The number of people I know in the married without human children group is growing smaller by the day it seems. (Or in some cases the unammarried or divorced without kids group members too.) My friend Anna and I are trying to give each other some moral support with our "we're not ready for kids/it would be crazy to have kids right now" issues. .oO(Oh how I miss my Anna who lives in Savannah.)

#2. Headline of the Day: AMC Theaters is banning outside snacks from their theaters. When in the world did this become news? I thought outside snacks were always outlawed in the theater. The article I read about it was highly enlightening. Apparently people decide it is a good idea to take Burger King, Taco Bell, or celery sticks into a movie. What? Celery sticks? You mean you eat those on purpose? Oh right, anyhow...back to the issue at hand. Really this is news people? Oh my.

#3. Another Headline of the Day: Obama is upping troop numbers in Afghanistan. Oh this brings a bit of fear to my heart for those troops being sent. Say your prayers people, every time you see a headline about this say a quick prayer for those being sent, being prepared to go, those there ad last but certainly not least those left behind to wait and wonder. And still, knowing all that I know I still have the gall to secretly wonder if it will mean the USMC recalls Dave. .oO(And I get a little excited and then I think "WHAT??" What is wrong w/you?) ...I just want him to be happy. {Huge sigh}

If you already read the note on Facebook about things you WON'T see in the news you can skip this last part, but I felt it fitting to include in light of #3. These are the kinds of things that make a Marine happy and are considered all part of the job, nothing unusual about this at all. (It was originally posted in a newsletter from and made me smile...and cry a little so grab a tissue.)

2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines
Messages from the CO

28 October 2009

Sometime tonight our first main body flight should be departing Manas Air Force Base in Kyrgyzstan in route to Hawaii. They will be followed, hopefully in short order, by the remainder of our main body flights as we return home. We are making every effort to communicate with our personnel in Kaneohe to provide as up to the minute information as possible regarding flight manifests and times. Occasionally higher priority missions result in reassignments or flight changes, please be assured that we will make every effort to get that information to Kaneohe for distribution as quickly as possible.

This is a bit of an odd update I'm afraid. It isn't my intention to talk about Afghanistan or our mission here, but instead to address just what incredible men your Marines and Sailors are. I doubt that I will ever be able to express the extent of the respect and admiration I have for your loved ones in this Battalion. I can use words like dedication, courage, honor but in the end words don't quite cut it. So let me tell you what I have seen:

I saw a LCpl bring in his buddy's gear following a horrible IED strike and practically beg to go back out so he could get back in the fight.

I saw a Marine leaning out over the edge of a roof in the middle of a firefight, leaving himself in the open purposefully in order to tempt an enemy RPG shooter to break cover in order to end him.

I've seen numerous Marines standing a lonely post in the pre- dawn hours, keeping watch carefully and correctly even though no one would know if they cut a corner, but doing it right because they were responsible for their buddies' lives.

I watched a Sailor calmly grab his gear and run out in the open to a casualty who needed him, he never asked "How bad is he hurt?" or "How much enemy fire is there?", the only thing he asked was "Where's the casualty?" then he went. Because Corpsmen always come when they are needed, always.

I watched 19 and 20 year old men, who a mere few years before were undoubtedly typical self centered teenagers, earnestly try to make a young child who has only known poverty and war smile. I even saw a very imposing Marine in this Battalion who, frankly, scares the heck out of me, see a little girl off to the side of a group of kids with nothing in her hands so he very seriously went around saying "Somebody give me a teddy-bear, who has a F-ing teddy bear?" until he found one and presented it to her. The only person there with a bigger smile than the little girl was the Marine. He then went right back to chewing on his squad to keep their dispersion and move faster.

I watched FST medical personnel try every desperate measure to keep a good Marine with us, to the point of opening his chest and massaging his heart for what seemed like an interminable time. At the same time I saw a line of Marines and Sailors and Soldiers forming outside to donate blood, we had enough donors to transfuse all of Hannibal's elephants but they all wanted to do something and at that time the only thing they could do was give some of their blood.

I watched an NCO very patiently sum up all the complex nuances of counter-insurgency warfare to a young Marine while both were being pummeled with stones and physically knocking intruders off our wall from a mob threatening to breach the walls of our police station; "They want us to shoot them, so then they can make us all look like bad guys." So we didn't shoot, even though we had more than sufficient justification, and in the end what could have been a horrible incident broadcast around the world actually became a positive as the locals started talking about the restraint of "their Marines" and became angry with the rioters for their "un-Islamic" behavior.

I watched a Marine, with excruciating slowness and superhuman patience, lead an Afghan Policeman through a patrol brief. And I saw the pride in the ANP officer's face when he lead his patrol out the entry control point, in his town and in front of his people, with the Marines trailing along behind in case he needed some help. I also saw an Afghan Policeman's face when I told him that the Marines thought highly of him and had told me that "Spider" (his nickname) was a good guy to have alongside you in a fight. He sputtered a little bit then said something short and stared at me very intensely, the linguist told me "He says he is just so very proud that the US Marines think that". Once Spider was sure that I understood that he meant it, he strutted away like he had just won the world's highest honor. And perhaps he had.

I know that for the rest of my life I will cherish this period in which I had the honor to spend my days among such incredible men. And I know that it has been your sacrifices that have made it possible. I thank you for allowing me this time with your loved ones.

We are coming home.

~Welcome Home 2/3! Job well done. ~

That is all. I have nothing else to say at this time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dreaming Big

Well, I'm dreaming big. I was searching for jobs the other day and found one with the Department of Education that looked like it might be fun. The job is located in the Office of Non-Public Education. One of the requirements was a year of teaching. Been there, done that. So I procrastinated, I mean worked very hard (yeah, battling self doubt) and submitted my application. I spent a day getting my resume in tip top shape. I spent another day answering 3 questions that you had up to 8,000 characters to respond. (I think my longest answer had 3,000 characters including the spaces so I hope they are ok with that.) I submitted my application online Sunday night and faxed my transcript yesterday. I'm dreaming big here because I'm not certain they will think I am the most qualified for the job, but I thought I would never know unless I tried, right? (I'm taking the fact that I heard the song Shimmer by Shawn Mullins playing on the radio at Office Max while I sent my fax as a good sign. It is the #1 song on my blog playlist.) So I'm dreaming big and hoping it pays off. I'm hoping they at least want to interview me. Eek. That would be scary...certainly I could wow them in an interview, right? Right. Go away self doubt! So if I've seemed a little preocuppied lately it was because this oppurtunity has been looming at the back of my mind for several days now. I've done all I can do and now I must wait. (This could be a long wait though. The last govt job I applied for took 6 months for them to send me a letter stating that they decided not to fill the position.) So here's to hoping it doesn't take that long for feedback.

Happy Belated 24th Birthday Husband!

I've been a bit busy the last few days so I haven't been able to get the birthday blog ready, it is a day late. So in keeping with the tradition last year I am going to try and think up 24 reasons why I Love my husband or things you may not know about him. It should be noted these are in no particular order either.

1. He wanted to meet Sarah Palin yesterday at Books-a-Million to have his book signed. She is apparently a hot politician. (I think he just likes the fact she totes a gun sometimes.)

2. He did get his book signed, but did not meet Mrs. Palin. He ended up giving his book to a friend to have them get it signed for him and was perfectly happy with that.

3. He supports me in my dreams, no matter how big or small.

4. He bought a cowboy hat last night and wore it in to work today. It made me laugh when he came to give me my kiss goodbye with it on.

5. He keeps trying to buy me a gun. (I don't really want to tote one around, but he just wants me to be protected is all. Sweet really.)

6. He knows I am the organizer of stuff. I know where things are kept. He asked me yesterday where his black sweater vest might be located and I had it for him in less than 3 minutes. He wouldn't have found it that quickly and may have given up the search since it was in a box of winter type clothes.

7. He will wear a sweater vest. It looks handsome on him.

8. He always has a weapon, even if it a plastic sword that had the olive for your drink, at hand because you never know when someone might attack.

9. He loves to eat at Mellow Mushroom. Yummy. We had a birthday dinner there last night.

10. He always has to be somewhere early. If we get there on time we're late. (I'm always on time or late.)

11. He loves to socialize with friends. (It makes me less of a hermit sometimes.)

12. He has been obsessed with anything pomegranate lately. Juice, the actual fruit, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, and of course pomegranate alcoholic drinks. (They're pretty yummy. We mix vodka, lemonade, and Cranberry Pomegranate juice and maybe some other secret ingredient.)

13. No matter how many times I tell him I will not write his papers for English class he still asks me. (No no no no no. Academic integrity people!)

14. If I needed to gather a militia for something then he would be the head of my militia. (Not sure why I would need a militia, but anyhow...)

15. He told me last night that having a book and never reading it is like buying a gun and never firing it. It's just wrong he says. LoL. (Having a book and never reading it is a waste though.)

16. He was more excited than I was to wear his Max suit for Where the Wild Things Are.

17. He has more product that any man I know. And by product I mean body wash, shampoo, cologne, shaving cream, etc. I think I started buying more in self defense, lol. He always smells good though.

18. He can cook. He cooks yummy, yummy things too. He will just throw stuff together and it is yummy.

19. Did I mention he cooks?! (I know it is cheating to use this twice, but I think it should count for two because it makes my life so much easier sometimes when he cooks.)

20. Our house always smells good too because he buys candles, air freshener automatic sprayers, scented plug-ins, and anything he can find that smells good. (Our apartment in DC had plug-ins in it before we even moved our stuff in.)

21. He will play video games for hours, especially if his Marine buddies are online to play games together. It is fun to listen to them coordinate tactics.

22. He would love to live in our old DC apartment too. (Seriously people, I think we're both nuts about this apartment.)

23. He's starting to act like a member of my family. I can't go into further detail for fear of self incrimination, but we're a crazy group of girls who have enticed him to the dark side, lol.

24. He feels that Arlington National Cemetary is a peaceful place. I totally agree. There is a silent peace there that I haven't felt anywhere else.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Musical Band Aid

(I'm going to apologize now for my typos. I've indulged in 3 doses of a tasty alcoholic beverage and my brain and my fingers are no longer on the same page.)

I'm listening to my blog playlist and it makes me happy. I said in my previous blog post that one of the songs was like a musical band aid, but really the whole playlist is like a band aid. Each song on my playlist plays a different role in the healing process. Some of them simply cover the wound, others are like a salve put on the wound to make it feel better, some are like the feeling you get when you get to take the band aid off when the wound it healed, and yet others are simply the fun you are having before you end up wounded. (Wow, I sound really damaged don't I? I guess as I reminded my husband the other day "we're all broken, just in different ways.") I've been a bit obsessed with the concept of a musical band aid all day. I'm weird, it's ok.

Darnit...I forgot what else. Hmmm...

Things That Make Me Happy:
1. Thankgsiving is only a week or so away! Let's hear it for a guilt free indulgence in food.

2. That also means Dave's birthday is only a week or so away...must go shopping...

3. I'll get to bust out my Christmas purse soon! (I live a life governed by my own silly rules. See later in the blog post for more abou this.) But, the purse is reserved for the time period after Thanksgiving until Januaryish. This is so that I don't wear out the specialness of my pretty red Christmas purse by using it all year. It gives me something to look forward to.

4. I get to put my Christmas decorations up. Oddly enough I am excited about this. Typically the holiday season is merely suffered through (with the exception of family gatherings...I am sooooo weird, right?) but I'm kind of looking forward to getting all my stuff out this year. It has been two years since I have decorated my house for Christmas. (I boycotted decorating the year Dave was deployed. It was just too crazy and I was headed to Ohio for Christmas anyhow. Last year we got out a few ornaments, but most things stayed in storage.) I'm especially excited to get out my stocking and Dave's stocking~they're both handmade.

5. Dave has been having fun with his new video game. Last night he was able to game online with some of his Marine buddies. It wasn't quite the same as having them all in my living room, but it was still fun to listen to them play and talk to each other. (I cherish the fact that these boys included me in their fun times during all of their gatherings. I guess the fact that I wasn't all drama queeny with them made it easier to include me.) I am really hoping that come March (Spring Break time) I am struggling with figuring out how to rearrange all my furniture to make room for a houseful of boys (and some of their ladies). It would be so wonderful. I know they would all love to be here too for some Marine time. We have one confirmed reservation for two so far.

6. Getting to know my Alabama girls just a little bit better each week. I'm so blessed to have this group of ladies. Really blessed. I can't wait til our New Moon midnight premier adventure this week.

My Silly Rules: I have very strict personal rules about some things. Some are rational, others not so much.

~Pumpkin Rolls may only be made between the months of November and January.

~The Christmas tree & decorations may not make an appearance in my home until after Thanksgiving. Not a minute before. No excpetions.

~The Christmas purse may not make an appearance until after Thanksgiving either. This yeas it has been tough to hold off on bringing it out of hiding, but I keep reminding myself Thanksgiving will be here and gone before I know it. I simply love my red purse. After 4 years of love it may need to retire this year and be replaced, but we'll see if it can make it.

~You can only eat chili when it is really, really cold otherwise it is a waste.

~No gathering is complete without a camera. (Except Friday Nights, we're too busy having fun to pause for pics.)

~Cats do not belong on tables and counters (although they aren't convinced and climb there when I'm not awake/home) and no one should know you have cats until they see them. (Which they see them the minute they walk in the door 'cause ours are friendly.)

~Books may not be written in (unless it is pencil), they may not be dog-eared, the cover may not be bent back thus creasing the spine, and you simply cannot throw a book away-it must be passed on to another good home. (Seriously, I sound like a librarian-right? I had books that received water/mold damage once and it nearly killed me to throw them away.) Ugh.

I know there are more, but those are the ones I can think of right now. I'm off to bed.

Week Update

There have been many points I have thought about blogging this week, but just didn't get a chance to sit and let the words pour out. So here is my week in review.

Monday~Dave and I spent the day together. It was wonderful. We didn't go anywhere 'til about 4pm and that was a mad dash to Wal-Mart to get some snack foods. Noah and Tyler came over for dinner, drinks, and a few rounds of Apples to Apples. We had a lot of fun. We really need to schedule these gatherings more often.

Tuesday~At midnight Dave picked up his copy of Modern Warfare 2 and that has been all I have heard since then. Also, it was the 234th birthday of the USMC. Wonderful.

Wednesday~Another day spent together because he didn't have school since it was Veteran's Day. I was lucky and didn't have to work. We spent the day sitting on our respective couches. I watched tv on the pc and he played more Modern Warfare 2. (Yes, like any good vet mine was playing war games.) We then went out for dinner and did some actual grocery shopping. We tried to take advantage of Applebee's free dinner for vets, but there were way too many people there se we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. (I would love to get a glimpse at their profits for that day though by just offering vets a free meal. Other restaurant parking lots were nearly empty and people were circling the Applebee's lot looking for a space.)

Thursday~I cleaned the house a bit. Then I headed to work.

Friday~Hmmm...laundry and work. No Friday night tonight, which was good b/c I didn't have to feel bad for working.

This has been a pretty good week. I've been able to spend some quality time with my hsuband, something I don't get to do as much as I would like. (I know, I least he isn't deployed.) Seriously though, I can't believe how difficult it is sometimes to schedule some "us" time. I almost think it was easier to schedule that time when he was active duty. Sad, huh? Oh well, such is life sometimes.

I know there were other things I was going to blog...but darnit I can't remember what it was so I guess I'll go to bed now. Hope everyone had a good week!

P.S. I finally added a playlist to my blog. These are songs that take me to another place, time, memory, or simply make me happy. Shimmer is one of my favorite songs "We're born to shimmer, we're born to shine. We're born to radiate. We're born to live, we're born to love..." Beautiful message. Lullaby is another favorite b/c it helped heal some harsh wounds..."everything is gonna be alright" and it makes me mellow out, kinda like a musical band aid. (Not the band aides we had in high school band, but the "I'm stuck on band aid brand cause band aid's stuck on me" kind of band aid.) So listen friends to my lovely music. (If you're reading on FB you'll need to "view original post" to listen.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 234th Birthday Marines!

I love Marines. I'm just sayin'. Today is the 234th birthday for the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was born on November 10, 1775 in Tun Tavern Philadelphia, PA (the city of brotherly love-how fitting). I have read several lists of "reasons to love the Corps" and while I find myself smiling, laughing, and tearing up at the list I thought I would make my own list of reasons why I love the Marines Corps and "my boys." (But just in case you're wondering what the "official" list says you can click HERE to read it.

This is a pic of Bivins, Volkov, and Combs during their MEU deployment in 2007. (Spain)

1. One word ladies~Blues! A Marine in his blues is doubly handsome as a Marine in cammies.

2. Two words ladies~white trousers! {Sigh} A Marine in a blues blouse and white trousers is just plain HOT! Whew! (Bivins is the hottest of course, but you can't deny that all Marines look more handsome in white trousers.)

3. Evening Parades (Friday nights at 8th & I, Marine Barracks Washington late May-late Aug) They are an amazing display of the Marines Corps. 8th and I Marines are often known as the pretty boys of the USMC and aren't always taken seriously in the fleet, but man can they put on a show. (And let's not forget that if a Marine is posted somewhere there is a reason!)

4. Sunset Parades at the Marine Corps War Memorial ~ Another amazing display of USMC pride, ceremony, and honor. I have only had the honor of seeing one parade, but it is something I will never forget.

5. Brotherly Love~ A Marine loves his fellow Marines like brothers and as the wife of a Marine I know that should I ever need anything from them, "my boys" would be there to help me in a heartbeat 'cause that is just how Marines are. (Ill never forget that as tears were running down my face as I watched the bus leave the parking lot with my Marine and his buddies-half of my family- another Marine-one I knew- who was kept home from deployment hugged me and said "if you need anything call me.")

6. Family~The USMC is like a family. We all serve a purpose in the family and are there to help each other out no matter if we have known you for 5 minutes or 5 years. Even those of us who have left the active duty family still experience the family love of the USMC.

7. Corps Values~The Corps has values, thus Marines have values. Honor. Courage. Commitment. 'Nuff said.

8. Marines run to the sound of the guns. ~If there is a fight to be had a Marine is ready to go and already in it before it starts.

9. It is all true.~I've said it before...everything I have ever heard about Marines is true. All the good and all the bad, but I love them anyhow.

10. History~Marines live, breath, eat and sleep their history. They can tell you all kinds of random facts about the Marine Corps. They know that their part of Marine Corps history will be taught to Marines in the future. (The more I read about the making of Marines, the Marine Corps, and Marines at War the more I am amazed and awed.)

11. Never Forgotten~As part of that living, breathing, eating and sleeping their history no one is forgotten. Marines remember each other and those who came before. No one gets left behind either. It is part of Marines taking care of their own.

12. Once a Marine, Always a Marine~A Marine is born after bootcamp. One a boy/man becomes a Marine he is always a Marine. You can't ever change him back to what he used to be before the Marine Corps. (This is what causes a lot of problems in relationships that begin before the USMC...sometimes it is hard to adjust to the Marine who emerges from bootcamp. I don't have that problem.) I don't know why you would want to try to change a Marine to something he was before the Corps. (Although this is also what makes life after the Corps so challenging too.)

13. Crazy~Marines are crazy. Anytime you get more than one Marine gathered hilarity will ensue. Especially in alcohol is involved. I also can't promise they won't break something, set something on fire, shoot something, offend someone, get in a fight, or any number of other things that may cause a problem. (I have many stories and some of them I have blogged about. Others I have suppressed.)

14. The mind of a LCpl~ Oh the mind of a LCpl. I know it well and yet I don't know it. I have even started having some LCpl thoughts at times. Perhaps this is my own form of PTSD from life after the USMC. A LCpl just has a different perspective on life... (much less annoying than the perspective of a boot.)

15. Perfection~The Marines have rules about things. They follow them or they suffer the consequences. One of them is that their uniforms are perfect (no ip's here). An example...Bivins tried on his blues blouse tonight just for fun and when he had all the buttons done he began to fix and straighten them so they appeared just right. It was such a Marine thing to do.

16. Ooo-rah!

I have many, many more reasons to love Marines and the Corps...

In case you wanted to watch the Commandant's USMC Birthday Message...

17. Valor.

Happy Birthday Marines!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Walk in Closet

Spoiled. Tremendously spoiled. Our first apartment has the most amazing closets. I had places to hide all kinds of junk (I mean valuable stuff) that I didn't have to see it lying all over my house. We even had a closet that we saved all of the boxes from our move so that we would have them when it came time to move again. (Such is life in the military. You are always prepared for the next move.) I miss those closets. Tremendously. They were ginormous. I would move back to that apartment any day. Yes, I certainly would. Although the closets were a huge selling point that apartment had other selling points, like its proximity to DC. {Sigh.}

Our walk in closet in our bedroom was my favorite. I really miss it. I remember how all of my clothes (and Dave's) fit nicely in that closet. I could go hide in that closet whenever I needed "space" and find my sane self again. There are times when I travel to that closet in my mind and it sort of helps. (Yes, I'm crazy. I'm ok with it. I think Bivins is too.) Oh to have a big closet... If and when we ever own a house I just want a big closet. I really love closets. {Sigh}

Friday, November 6, 2009

Buckle Your Seatbelt

It's going to be a bumpy ride....through the ramblings of my mind.

I'm rereading the Twilight saga...currently on Breaking Dawn. I didn't read through it quite as fast this time and it is evoking all kinds of emotions and memories I had buried. Buried securely for a reason. Since I read the books at night before falling asleep it leaves for some strange and restless dreams. I've been waking up feeling like I'm in a fog. (Although I take some sinus meds and the fog dissipates.)

Dreams: Had some weird ones lately. The weirdest one I remember though is shoe shopping with my sister Katie. I think we were shopping for shoes for her wedding. (She isn't engaged or getting married anytime soon-as far as I know-so I'm not sure why we were shoe shopping, but we were.) The problem was that we had to find freakishly small open toed stiletto's in white or silver that didn't look like stripper shoes. (The freakishly small must have been my take on the size of Katie's feet. She wear a size 8.5 and is several inches taller than me...I wear a 9.5) I asked her "so where are we starting with this shoe shopping adventure?" She replies "I thought we would go to DSW first and then go from there." I remember sighing and thinking I'd rather be doing something else. Poor Katie. I promise when the time comes to shop for shoes for your wedding that I will work up a little more enthusiasm about it as long as you promise not to make it take allllll day. OK? We'll find the perfect pair of open toed white or silver stiletto shoes to go with your wedding dress with pockets.

Dave's Latest Rumblings: One night this week I awoke to Dave reaching across me towards the table on my side of the bed. I asked "what are you doing?" He says "do you have my gun?" I mumbled some response of "no" and wondered why he was asking me. He then said something about it not being on his side of the bed, but he rolled over and went back to sleep. (Wow. Even if I did have his gun I wasn't about to give it to him when he was sleep talking. The things I manage to survive amaze me, lol.)

Another night this week as I was lying in bed reading Dave wakes up and starts lifting up the edge of my blanket (we each have our own...I'm a blanket hog) and was searching for something. He tells me "when you move I keep hearing something that sounds like the rounds I dropped earlier." So I say "you dropped rounds earlier?" He says "yes, have you seen them?" Uh, nope. (We talked about it in the morning and he said he had no idea what that was about. Me neither.)

Days off: On my days off the previous weeks I haven't accomplished much as far as housework and anything else goes. I managed to watch a few shows online and read. I'd do a bit of laundry or clean a room and that was it. (Dave would come home and say "so what did you accomplish today?) Yesterday I managed to clean our bathroom-scrubbed the toilet, cleaned the tub, scrubbed the sink and counter, cleaned the mirror, and swept and mopped the floor. Then since I already had the bucket and mop out I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. (It makes me crazy! I can clean it and it still looks dirty. Ugh. My OCDness freaks out about it.) I then decided I was going to start reclaiming the flat surfaces in our house. They are all covered with junk. It makes me crazy. I can't stand it. Yet I can't seem to stay motivated long enough to declutter them all. So I managed to focus long enough to clean off the kitchen table. Dave came home and saw the cleaned off table set for dinner and said "did you have too much free time on your hands today?" Ugh. No! I am reclaiming the flat surfaces of our house! Sort of. Hoping that my table stays cleaned off. Eating dinner at the table will help me keep the living room floor clear of crumbs longer.

Perimeter Protection: Remember the floors I mopped? Yeah so does Zeus. He thought it might be fun to take his dirty paws onto my freshly mopped, still wet floors. Not a good idea Zeus. We played a fun game of "keep Zeus out of the kitchen." It involved a lot of yelling ans swatting at Zeus. My mom thought it was hilarious when she heard me stop mid sentence on the phone with her to yell at Zeus "get away from my kitchen floor!!!"

Ft. Hood~Wow. There aren't words for the things we are learning about that situation. Dave and I talked about it a bit last night. I just can't imagine being in the families shoes who have lost someone. I said I think it is one thing when you have said that final goodbye to your loved one deploying and knowing that they might not come home, but knowing you've said that goodbye. I can't imagine them going for their predeployment checkups and stuff and not coming home from that. Granted that isn't the only situation occurring, but it is the one I thought of the minute I heard it was a processing station for the final paperwork and medical stuff before deployment. I pray that the families of all directly involved find peace and I also pray that all those working and living on or near Ft. Hood find peace too. They won't easily put this situation out of their minds.

Hmmm...ok you can unbuckle your seatbelt. The journey is over today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Living Far Away is Hard

Living far away from your family is hard (even when you have family really close by too.) I've lived at least a few hours away from my family for many years now. The past four years I have lived at least 6 hrs from my family and 9 hours most recently. Nine hours doesn't seem like a long time does it? Really not more than a days work, but it really is far away when you consider a 9 hour drive. It always seems to me that somewhere is a lot farther away when you add up how many hours it takes to get somewhere.

Most days it isn't too bad living far from my family. I think when things are going well and people are enjoying happy moments it is fun to share in those moments via telephone conversations, e-mails, blogs, facebook, snail mail, and espn (yeah that is what it is). I wish I could be there for those moments (and I make plans to make it home for as many of the big events as I can), but it still tugs at my heart a bit that I can't be there whenever I want.

Some days it is downright difficult to be so far away. This past weekend brought that point glaringly into the forefront of my mind. Saturday I found out the one of my best friends in Ohio lost her mother after a lengthy health battle that spanned a few years. Nope, she isn't a blood relative-but she is my family. I love Chantell like a sister (and I already have a few of those so I'm extra choosy in who I include). We have a special friendship that no matter how long it has been since we've seen each other we can pick right up where we left off. A few weeks ago I knew it might not be long before Chantell would have to bid her mother farewell and I remember waiting intently as my own mother texted me updates about how Chantell's mom was doing in surgery and shortly thereafter. I wanted to be there with my buddy, holding her hand as she patiently waited for news-but the best I could do was sit here miles away, wait and offer my moral support via telephone. It was a long and restless night as I waited to find out if her mom was going to make it through the next 24 hrs. She made it and continued her fight a bit longer, but she finally had to give it up. Her body just couldn't take any more and her daughter is left missing her. I am left missing her and wishing I could be there to support by best friend. I wanted to hop on a plane immediately so I could be there with her. Instead, here I sit thinking of my friend and knowing that no words can make it better, but knowing she knows I support her and would be there if I could.

Also, on Saturday night my own mother was feeling terribly ill. We thought it was the flu, but couldn't quite tell if it was something more severe or not. After several phone calls all around the sisters determined if she wasn't feeling better by Sunday morning she was headed to the hospital whether she liked it or not. (I do mean several calls...Maggie to Katie, Katie to Me, Katie to Dad, Maggie to Dad, Me to Maggie, me to Mom...I think you get the idea...and trying to sort out exactly how mom was feeling, her symptoms, her temperature, etc.) Thankfully she was feeling much better Sunday morning, but once again I was left feeling helpless many miles away.

So yeah, living far away is hard...

Friday, October 30, 2009


I love fall. The beautiful colors, the cooler air, the smell of the great outdoors. Yummy. I also love the upcoming events in the next month. So here is a list of things I am looking forward to:

1) In 11 days the USMC will celebrate another birthday. I love it! Not sure what our plans will be, but I'll find a way to make it special for my Marine. Never did make it to a USMC ball...oh well.

2) Veterans Day is the day after the USMC birthday (which is November 10th btw) and I look forward to celebrating another year with my vet.

3) New Moon premier! (It is the second movie in the Twilight saga if you are unaware.) Been planning on this one for awhile too. I look forward to a night of fun with my Alabama girls. They are my sanity in a place that has taken a lot of getting used to for this Northern girl. I'm so thankful for each of them.

4)Turtle's birthday is coming up and for a few short months he isn't that much younger than least by the numbers anyhow. Better start figuring out a way to make it special.

5)Thanksgiving! I love this holiday (not as much as the 4th of July, but it is still cool) mostly b/c you make a lot of food and you eat and celebrate with friends and family. Ever since we moved away from my blood relatives my friends have become my family and I am happy to say I have family spread across the US at this point. What a lucky girl I am. Truly. This year we have plans to help a friend celebrate his first Thanksgiving as a US citizen. .oO(Wonder if this means another trashcan turkey?)

6) Spring Break 2010!! (March sometime) I can hardly wait. We already have a confirmed reservation from Combs. Wooohooo. I think my dream tradition may become a reality. (I don't know if I want to talk about it just in case it doesn't happen....eeek.) Invites have been sent out to all "my boys" and we have tentative acceptances from a few others. I hope that my boys can gather here in Alabama for Spring Break. Even if we just get Combs here it will be fun, but oh the fun we could have with the whole crew. I already told Bivins I was taking the time that the boys are here off from work. I don't want to miss out on a minute of the fun. I can hardly wait. .oO(Think about the Disneyworld commercials of the kids and parents being "too excited to sleep." Yeah, that will be me when plans are a little more solid and March is a little closer.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where the Wild Bivins' Are ~Commentary

Facebook Readers: Please scroll to the bottom and click on "view original post" so that your reading enjoyment is enhanced by getting the full picture of this post. Facebook doesn't always import links and videos included in my original blog postings. I apologize now for the length of this post. It took two days to create and I became rather verbose.

Ok, many of you know that I have been counting down the days until I could go watch "Where the Wild Things Are" in the theater. Since I saw the first trailer in March I have been reading and viewing anything I can get my hands on about its premier. I became a fan of Where the Wild Things Are Movie on Facebook so that I could see all of the updates. I watched all of the trailers numerous times in sweet anticipation. I was truly excited about this movie and after viewing the movie I am happy to say that I still am. If perhaps you have been living under a rock or your own Wild Things world then you can click here to see the original trailer. And it is obligatory that at the end of the trailer you raise your fist in the air and howl, understood? Ok, good.

My love of Where the Wild Things Are began in elementary school. I loved the story of Max becoming King of the Wild Things and all of the imagined adventures he had as such. (Let's be real people...Maurice Sendak's book is only 10 sentences long so the only character really developed is Max's and the Wild Things are merely shown in pictures.) I remember loving the beautiful illustrations and thinking how fun it might be to be a Queen of the Wild Things. I also remember how much fun my teachers had with this book. I remember truly amazing wall and door decorations created by my teachers, often during Right to Read month (the month of March by the way). It is a book that I feel sparked my imagination about a world of fun that every child would love to disappear into at some point. A world where only fun exists and no adults, because let's face it there are many times during childhood (and adolescence) where you feel like life would be sooooo much better without adults around.

I loved this book then and I love this book now. Although now when I read this book my adult mind analyzes it in ways that my childlike mind never did. When this book was released it was surrounded in controversy and oddly enough the movie has been too. I never really understood why people get so hyper about books-so hyper they advocate for books to be banned from school libraries and curriculum. What are you teaching a child when you ban a book from their library? (Seriously, if you have an answer I'd love one.) Banned books are typically fictional stories-or at least the ones that receive the most publicity in the process of becoming banned. I can understand not wanting your child to read a certain story until they reach a certain level of cognitive development. I'm with you on that, but to ban a book entirely seems like such a waste. Teach your child to analyze what they read and the fact that there isn't any harm in escaping to a world of make believe in a book, but that reality does in fact exist. *Ahem,* I'll get off my teacher-wanna-be-librarian soapbox now. Sorry for the mini rant. I just don't get it, never have.

In watching the movie of "Where the Wild Things Are" you must understand that this movie isn't going to merely bring Sendak's 10 sentences to life. If you want a movie that does that you should probably stick to watching Reading Rainbow. If you want to watch a movie that takes the heart of Sendak's story and melds it with a deeper look at childhood, families, adolescence, and so many other things then this is a movie you will love. If you're ready to take that journey to a world of Wild Things only to realize that even there life is troubled then this is a movie for you. I truly LOVED this movie. It transformed me back into a carefree kid ready to tackle the world, all the while knowing that life isn't always perfect-people get mad, you hurt other people's feelings, and people leave, but oh the joy that comes from running, jumping, building a fort, putting holes in trees, and throwing dirt clods at each other. You can count on me owning this movie when it finally comes out on DVD. The Wild Things are so beautifully crafted and watching Max interact with them you become part of the story. Below is Sendak's thoughts on his book and spike Jonze's interpretation of his book...pretty interesting if you ask me.

Should you take your kid to see this movie? I don't know. I would say it depends on how old your child might be and how discerning a viewer they are. There is definitely an undertone of sorrow in this movie. If your child is enthralled with happy endings and is sheltered in the bubble that life is perfect-nope your child shouldn't see this movie. If your child is old enough to realize that life isn't always perfect, heartbreak happens, and sometimes no matter how much we want it to a happy ending isn't going to happen then I think your child would love this movie. If you're still really worried then do that thing you do as a great parent-view the movie first and then decide or talk to a parent whose opinion you trust who has seen the movie, duh.

And now *drum roll please* on to our adventure in going to watch "Where the Wild Things Are." Our night began by meeting up with Noah, Tyler, Lezlie, and Marilyn. (Noah and Tyler are Bivins' friends from high school and Lezlie and Marilyn are friends of Noah's we met that night.) We started out at Buffalo Wild Wings so that we could grab some dinner before the movie and still be close to the theater. Bivins, Tyler and I were the first to arrive so we grabbed a table and some drinks while we waited. Finally, Noah, Lezlie, and Marilyn arrived and we ordered dinner. I was hungry by this point because all I had eaten that day was an apple fritter at 9am and it was now 8pm. (Not by choice, I just didn't have time to eat anything else all day.) Halfway through dinner we realize we need to go buy tickets for the show so Bivins and Noah head over to the theater to do that. They stop at the car along the way and pick up Bivins' Max suit. They come back into BW's and the crowd begins to stare at Bivins. I wish I could have taken a picture of the man across from our table because he openly stared with a "what on earth" kind of look. Apparently he wasn't a Where The Wild Things Are fan. (This was really preparation for the movie, becoming like a child again where all of the adults misunderstand you. Yeah, that's it.) Bivins has had enough beer at this point to feel 10ft tall and as such decides to go to the bar to order a drink in his Max suit. (This step isn't recommended for those under age 21. Mmm-k?) I, as the dutiful wife and ever diligent record keeper, sent Noah along with the camera. This event must be recorded! (It should be noted I wanted to wear my Max suit to dinner, but I knew there was no way that the waitress would believe I was legitimately 27 years old in a Max suit and I knew I really wanted a beer so I left my Max suit in the car.)


Pause for Bivins' silly story: He goes up to the bar to order his drink and is apparently standing in front of some guy's chair. The guy is kind of irritated and says "excuse me." Bivins moves so the guy can sit down. There is (in Bivins' words) a kind of hippie type chick sitting across from this guy. She is sitting on her stool indian style with her legs crossed (criss cross apple sauce style, yanno?) The guy then says "what are you anyway?" and Bivins reply is "I'm f*cking MAX!" The guy kinda rolls his eyes and the chick says "Like from Where the Wild Things Are?" (in a super excited in the know kinda voice.) And the guy takes his drink and walks away. Haha! The chick and Bivins proceed to have a conversation about the fact he is headed to the movie since it came out today. (See the guy seated in front of Bivins? Yeah that's Mr. Cranky Pants and the girl across from him in the flowery shirt? Yeah, that is hippie chick.)


Ok, so the boys return to the table and we finish our drinks and head over to the theater. The rest of the story shall be told in pictures...

We're HERE!


The Whole Gang of Wild Things!




Awwwww, new kissy pic!

Ok, in case you are still debating about going to see the movie you should read this article. Once you are watching the movie it is truly important that you allow yourself to be absorbed into the world of the Wild Things. (I wanted to reach out and pet the Wild Things.) And again, you must raise your fist and howl when the Wild Things and Max all do so at the edge of the cliff, ok? It is vital to the enjoyment of this movie. (Ok, maybe not, but it still makes it a lot of fun.) Enjoy and "Let the Wild Rumpus Start!"

P.S. One last thing. Zeke made a cameo appearance in the movie. One of the Wild Things is shown holding and petting a cat that looks like he could be Zeke's twin. (Can't remember if it was Douglas or Alexander. Random note: Sendak named each of the Wild Things after members of his family. Jonze's Wild Things also have names, but they are not Sendak's original names.) I think I better talk to Spike (who names their child Spike? no wonder he interpreted the story so well) about some royalty money...

Monday, October 12, 2009

To Be or Not To Be

What am I doing? Ugh. That is the question that has been gnawing at me for over a year now. I left North Carolina with 2 years of teaching experience and about 6 years of retail experience. I have gone back and forth as to which vocation I should plan to do for this next chapter of my life. I'm currently still undecided. I have been chugging away at my retail ventures here in AL until an opportunity arises in the teaching field. I have been frequently checking teaching job opportunities available in my area as well. (Since the day my certification arrived in the mail-back in Sept.-I have been checking the postings on a weekly basis.) Each time I check it I think, "I really should just get my Master's degree." Which brings up the question as to which degree do I obtain?

So, which degree do I obtain folks? Here are your choices: an English MA or a Special Education MA? An English MA would still allow me to teach reading & language arts for grades 7-12, but it also opens the door to teaching at community colleges as well (at least here in Alabama). I think I would enjoy teaching college students. The Special Education MA would pave the way for me to be certified to teach 7-12 Special Education (it may allow me to teach elementary as well, but I rather enjoy the older kids) and it more than triples the amount of job opportunities available to me. Case in point: There are currently 125 job postings in the state of Alabama for certified employees. Of those 125 jobs I counted 17 for Special Education, 1 for a Reading Intervention teacher, and 1 for an English teacher. It should be noted that the Reading Intervention and English teacher postings are for the southern part of Alabama.

I'm leaning towards Special Education, but I just don't know. There have been many things placed in my path to lead me towards Special Education. During my time as a student teacher (you know when you get to be the teacher, but don't get a paycheck), I had the opportunity to work with students who were identified as being exceptional students (students with disabilities-behavior or learning) and I really bonded with them. During my time as a substitute teacher I was sometimes asked to sub for the Special Education teacher. Again, I worked with the students very well. During my time as a teacher in NC I had two inclusion classes both years. An inclusion class is a mixture of regular ed and exceptional ed students and a Special Education teacher also joins the class. The idea is to differentiate or adapt instruction so that the exceptional students can excel, but those adaptations don't take away from what the regular ed students are learning either. (Well, in a nutshell that is what should happen anyhow.) Once again, I really enjoyed it. I seemed to really work well with my exceptional education kids. My first year the students with behavioral disabilities didn't act up a whole lot in my class...mostly because I didn't play along with how they wanted me to react to their behaviors. (It was my regular ed kids who gave me hell my first year...) I think one of the reasons I enjoy these students so much is that I enjoy unlocking the mystery to what makes them tick and what is going to work best to help them learn. When I hear Susie isn't doing x, y, and z I wonder why? Immediately I begin going through all of the things I have been taught and all of my experiences as a teacher to think of things to try to help Susie do x, y, and z. Regular ed students have mysteries too it is just that sometimes their mysteries are not as debilitating or as mysterious to unlock.

So I'm left with a choice: English MA or Special Education MA?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recovering Marine

As the majority of you know, Dave has been out of "active duty USMC life" for about about 22 months now. The adjustment to civilian life and no longer being an active duty Marine has been somewhat challenging to say the least-for both of us. There are a variety of reasons why this has been challenging, most of which I have blogged about before. No need to go into them now. If you know and/or love a Marine that is no longer active duty then you have a much clearer understanding of this process and can empathize with my current situation. I finally had an "ah-ha" moment while reading my latest installment of Sgt. Grit's newsletter. (Note: by clicking on Sgt. Grit it will take you to USMC paraphernalia heaven and by clicking on newsletter it will take you to the archive of this week's newsletter.) I love this newsletter because it has reminded me on every step of my journey as a Marine's wife that my path is not unique and humor is required to deal with life as such. This newsletter also has a tendency to make me cry on a regular basis because I am so touched by a story included. Ok, back to the story at hand...

There has been a continuing debate about what to call a Marine once he/she has left active duty life. The saying is "once a Marine, always a Marine" and it is very, very true in so many different ways. Again, this is where the knowledge of what it is like to know and/or love a Marine comes in handy. Do we call this Marine a Former Marine? Well, technically he's still a Marine so no former applies here. Do we call him an Ex-Marine? An ex is something you get rid of. Nobody gets rid of a Marine, he's always a Marine. This is why I have taken to referring to Dave as a Marine who is no longer on active duty. Finally, I have a more apt term to explain his current situation and status as a Marine. He is a Recovering Marine. Please read the following to understand why...

Sgt Grit,
Much has been written about being a Ex or Former US Marine, but after doing 4.5 years in the Corps, I am neither an Ex or Former Marine.

For I go by the title of a: Recovering US Marine and I am still in Recovery.

Since I am in Recovery, with some sort of Recovery plan to deal with my Marine Corps ways, for my family and love ones ... every day is a struggle for these good kind people. But with hope, kindest, care, happy thoughts, love, feelings, and other happy words & kind thoughts ... I will get over being a US Marine, someday, maybe, if I try hard, I can kick it, I know that I can. {Oh, how I love this part. As one of those good kind people left to deal with a Recovering Marine it is good to know my Marine is at least attempting recovery no matter how insurmountable that task seems.}

In the mean time I just tell people, when I am asked: are you an Ex-Marine, I say no, I am Recovery US Marine, I am still in Recovery. And some day, with time, hard work, doing some sort of recovery plan, that I will get over being a US Marine. Maybe, with time, it could take a while, I am working in that direction, I am trying, but someday I do hope, maybe with time to get out of recovery and no longer be a Recovering US Marine. {True Marine spirit hard at work here...never give up.}

So in the time being; I still ring the ships bell for "all hands man your drinking stations, this is not a drill", think fat kids should do rifle PT or throw square bales on a farm, my rifle is still my piece, if you say K-Bar ... I giggle or grunt, I still like M543s, still have a house wife, a rubber lady, can rant and rave on command, I go to the Chow Hall Store, the head is a head, the shower is the rain room, still sweep and swab, and I can still find my sea bag, I think. For the sea bag, may have to field day below decks aka the basement but since winter is soon to be in MN that could happen. {Well, the good news is Dave won't have far to look to find his sea bags. They're still full of his leftover gear from active duty life and easily found in our spare room.}

Recovering Marine Special T-shirt So, make a Tee shirt out of that! Recovering US Marine. Maybe I should have copyrighted Recovering US Marine, before I told you. But h&ll, I am still in Recovery!

Take care, Semper Fi,
Pete Berg
Deerwood, MN
73 to 78

We took your advice.. Recovering Marine T-Shirt

Semper Fi Sgt Grit

Sgt. Grit- I love the t-shirt. Can we have one for the wife of a Recovering Marine too please? It should come with a chocolate bar too. I hear chocolate relieves stress and I know my Recovering Marine causes me lots of stress sometimes. Thanks.

So henceforth and so on Dave shall be referred to as a Recovering Marine instead of a No Longer Active Duty Marine. Now if only there were some 12 step program with a proven success rate for kicking this habit we'd both be happier...that or we'd be knee deep in a 12 step program. In the meantime I will be living life with my Recovering Marine and in those especially trying moments when being married to a Recovering Marine becomes almost unbearable I will try to remember that I am not alone in my journey as the wife of a Recovering Marine.


Have you ever had one of those days you just wanted to press rewind and start over? Wednesday was my day that needed a rewind button. The moral for Wednesday is that "pride cometh before a fall."

My Wednesday unfolded as follows:

Midnight-6:30am - Woke up at 1 hr or so intervals. It makes me angry to wake up so much throughout the night. I don't know why I woke up so much, except that when I woke up at 3:30am there was very bright lightening and loud thunder. Maybe that had something to do with it.

6:30am - I get out of bed, very unhappy to be awake at this hour. I begin the process of showering and getting ready for work.

7:45am - I am dressed. I have coffee in hand (that is thick and black enough to strip paint off of anything - never let Dave make coffee, he followed the Dunkin Donuts dosage recommendations for coffee ground measurement) loaded down with lots of sugar and creamer. I grab the two bags of trash that need to go to the end of the driveway and I am off to work. I managed to get ready and leave early for work so that I can stop and get gas and still make it to work on time. I'm quite proud of myself. I'm talking really proud.

(From this point in time all times are recorded as "-ish" b/c I don't know the exact time each event occurred.)

7:46ish am - I get out at the end of the driveway to remove the two bags of trash from my car to place in the garbage can. In the process of pulling them from the backseat the card door starts to close and smacks me in the head. I remember thinking "grrrrr, that sucked but I'm still on my way to work early so it will be ok."

7:48ish am - I am driving down our road and a truck is coming from the other direction. I move over to the edge of the road to make room for the both of us on the rather narrow back road. No big event here, just keep reading because this may be a necessary detail to the story.

7:50ish am - I hear a funny noise while driving. I turn off my iPod w/speakers (it is my version of a car radio, apparently I'm no longer cool enough to have a real car radio) to listen. Hmmm, it just sounds like maybe I didn't get the car door shut all the way. You know, the one that hit me in the head. I keep driving.

7:55ish am - The noise is louder. MUCH louder. I'm thinking we have a problem here since it feels a little tough to drive. I pull off to the side of the road (another back country road) and hop out to see what it up. Nothing is up, in fact something is very, very flat. My rear passenger tire is flat, well shredded really. (Remember that pulling off to the side of the road detail, I think I may have done something to injure my tire then.)

7:56ish am - I pull out my cell phone and hope I can reach Dave at home before he leaves for school. I'm approximately 2.5 miles from home. (I'm supposed to be at work at 9am and it takes an hour to get there. I now need to change a tire-hoping that I have a spare- get gas, and still make it to work on time.) Unfortunately, I have already crossed into the no cell service range of my drive. Darnit! Luckily, I have worn flip flops (and planned to change into my dress shoes at work) so I grab my purse, lock my car, and begin walking home. I'm hoping I can get cell service before I have to walk the whole way though or I am not going to make it in time to reach Dave.

8:00ish am - I hear a car on the road behind me. It slows and I hear "hey, you need a ride?" Before I turn I think "please Dear God don't let them be crazy." I say "yes please. If you could just drive me to the end of this road that would be great!" I hop in. He says "I saw the car and wondered what was going on and then I saw you walking." I said "yeah, I got a flat tire." A few minutes of silence pass and then the man says "I'm headed to the doctor this morning because I'm tired of feeling this way." I said "oh, that isn't good." I purposefully did not ask what was meant by "feeling this way" because I was almost scared to ask.

8:04ish am -We arrive at the end of the road. The nice man driving asks "where to?" I said "you can just drop me here because my house is the first one across the street." (If you don't know where I live you know I have to walk a few feet down the road and up the driveway to reach my house.) So he does. I say thanks for the ride I really appreciate it. I begin walking towards the house. I also try calling the house phone and get no answer. I call Dave's cell phone and get no answer. I am hoping and pleading that he will still be home when I get there.

8:08ish am - I make it far enough up the drive to see that Dave's car is still at the house. YAY! I finally reach the door and unlock it. I go in the house and realize he is still in our room. I have a fleeting thought of "I hope he doesn't shoot me." I open the door to see he is brushing his teeth, rather he has paused while brushing his teeth to see what the noise was and who might be coming in his house. No gun in hand, just a toothbrush. Whew! I say, I got a flat tire. I go through the story of what happened. He finishes getting dressed and I go to start calling my co-workers. I was scheduled to open the store with another sales lead so that is great because the store won't have to open late, I just need to get in touch with one of the two associates scheduled at 10am to see if they can get there a bit early. I make some calls and leave some messages.

8:15ish am - We arrive back at my car so Dave can survey the damage. He notes that I do indeed have a spare tire, the ground is soft from all the rain last night, and we will need to locate a jack to change the tire. We hop back in his car and drive the 5 miles to the in-law's house.

8:20ish am - We arrive at the in-law's house. I wish I had remembered to grab my MIL's birthday present (which is STILL sitting on my kitchen table as I type) b/c her birthday was Sunday. We locate a jack. My FIL also comes to help. And we're off to visit my car.

8:40ish am - I determine I have an associate who can open the store with the other sales lead so that store is covered. Whew. We arrive at the car and the boys begin changing the tire. It is a long process. The good news is that my spare tire is a full size spare. Which still means it is dangerous to drive on the spare because it is a different brand and slightly smaller than the other tires on my car, but better than a donut size spare-especially on a top heavy SUV.

9:00ish am - I am sent home with Dave's car (which is actually the in-laws Cougar) which has funny noises and quirks all its own. It is aging. Dave is off to find a replacement tire. I wait to find out if I can make it to work sometime today to at least get my hours in and allow the other sales lead to take a lunch.

10:50ish am - Phone call from Dave. The first place he stopped did not sell Kuhmo tires. He is off to another place to see if he can get a tire to match the others.

11:50ish am - The other place he stopped can get a tire, but it won't be here til tomorrow morning. Ugh. I let work know I won't be in at all today. My FIL has agreed to pick up the tire for us on Thursday.

Dave finally arrives home sometime later in the afternoon. A mere $150 later I will have a replacement tire...sometime tomorrow. I arrange with work to make up my missed hours on Thursday so I can still enjoy a weekend off. I try to take a nap...but every time I am just about asleep the phone rings or something happens and I wake up. Ugh. I really just wanted to rewind the day and start over so that everything could go according to my plan that I was so sincerely proud about following so well early Wednesday morning. I guess I needed that reminder that my plan wasn't really that important anyhow.

Thursday's Tire Update: Still no tire. I cautiously drive to work on the spare. Praying the whole time that I make it there and back safely. I have a pair of tennis shoes just in case I need to start walking again. I did make it there and back safely. I'm thankful.

Friday's tire Update: No plans to go anywhere today. The tire can come whenever it pleases. Dave is off tomorrow so I am sure it will be on by Saturday night. In the mean time I am not traveling far and only if necessary. It is raining at the moment so I am perfectly fine with that. I am supposed to be cleaning out our spare room this weekend anyhow. It has become a storage place for all of the things we have no idea what to do with. Along with many things we have been too lazy to unpack. If I get it cleaned out I am told we may be able to purchase an elliptical machine. That would be very exciting because I rather enjoyed the last one we owned until it broke beyond repair. Owning and elliptical and using it on a regular basis would not only be "heart healthy" but it might also allow me to work off some of this extra stress Alabama living has brought (you should insert the words "massive amounts of over indulging on yummy southern cooking" for the word stress if we're being honest with each other and the reality of those words has meant an extra 15-20 lbs since Dave's deployment and return home over 2 yrs ago now.) We'll see how it goes.