Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

What is your usual plan for this evening? Our family has a tradition of inviting a few families over, eating hors d'oeurves and snacks all night, watching the fireworks over Lake Michigan (on TV, of course; we're not in the income bracket to own lakeshore property and we're not driving downtown with all the loonies) and then the kids all go outside and play Army while the adults have another glass of wine. Not your rootin'-tootin' New Years' Eve, but it works for us.
One essential part of the evening is the movie. One year we had a Lord of the Rings marathon; MSP was young enough to insist on elf and hobbit food. We found some good stuff online. One year it was Star Trek. This year it will probably be this series
Raiders of the Lost Ark
What would you watch?
It might be fun to celebrate the new year twice; once for local time, and once for Iraq time. That would be 6 1/2 hours from now (8:20am local time.) Have to remember that!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Sunday!

Don't be sitting around looking at screens! Go do something fun.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just Sose Ya Know

MAP called tonight. We found out why we never saw him on Fox and Friends. Seems they taped during dinner, and he had lunch on Christmas, went back to bed, and slept right through until the next day. He didn't even know they'd been there. Silly guy. He's been busy, though, "working," busy enough to be exhausted most of the time.
I have decided that I'm not going to post casualty notices here anymore. Seems it upsets people and they're the people I least want to upset. You can still find them on the internet, just not here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why I Believe This is Not the Time For a Female American President

This news item literally brought me to tears today. I have kids; I don't have a surplus of time to follow American politics, much less Pakistani, but her career always interested me. She seemed sensible, and seemed to care about her country. And now she can't care anymore.
If we WEREN'T at war, a female president wouldn't bother me. I wouldn't choose to do that myself, and I would hope my daughter didn't, but I don't have a problem with a woman in the White House. BECAUSE we ARE at war, life and politics are different. And, because we're dealing with a culture very different from ours, one where women have a very different role and public presence, this is not the time to elect a woman president in the United States.
I don't believe this other culture has a very positive opinion of our culture. There is a complete lack of respect that goes beyond the usual negative comments about the war, or any war. Some of this lack of respect ranges around our culture's treatment of women. I believe that a woman at the bargaining table, or any representative of her, would be held at the same low level of respect.
If you're a fan of the current female candidate, please consider this. Please. My sons' lives may depend on it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day!

December 26 is a holiday for the British world; Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, among others. The name refers to boxes of gifts given to employees, servants, etc. The tradition probably comes out of the Middle Ages, when the serfs would gather for Christmas at the manor house. While everyone was there, anyway, this was the perfect time for the lord of the manor to distribute the supplies he was required to give his servants for the coming year. That might be clothing, tools, whatever was agreed to. It continued into the Victorian era, when the wealthy would give their servants the day after Christmas off. After all, the servants didn't get Christmas off; they were serving for the Christmas parties of the house. Service people, like garbage men, etc, would also receive boxes, which might contain money, gifts, etc.
So today is the day to rest and relax eat leftovers, and make sure you leave tips for people like the paperboy and mailman.
Happy Boxing Day!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sometimes I Don't Like Checking My E-Mail

This Brave Rifle family won't be having a good Christmas...

Lt. Jeremy E. Ray, 26, of Houston, Texas, died Dec. 20 in Kanaan, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an enemy attacked using an explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

Prayers ascending.

Christmas Eve

It's going to be a busy day here. Tomorrow we'll be hosting 20-25 members of my extended family for Christmas dinner. That sounds far more elegant than it is! Think all the shouting and screaming you've ever associated with bad family gatherings, and you've got us. At least it's HAPPY shouting and screaming!
Today is last-minute cleaning and organizing, some candy to make, and pre-dinner prep. It would be so normal, if we weren't going to have one chair empty this year. I did get a fun message last night. Seems Fox and Friends will be broadcasting from MAP's DFAC (dining facility) tomorrow morning between 6 and 8am Central time. So we may get to see our little boy, after all! One can hope....
In any case, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Grinchy, Part II

OK, I finally get to it.
About a year ago, I watched this video

Here's another video of news reports about this little girl, also from about a year ago.

Now, iddn that sweet? Really, I like the concept; the little girl and her mom work through this, write a song, and record it. A cynical soul would find a nasty slant to it, but wouldn't have to, thanks to this guy. You can watch his video there, or at YouTube.

Notice: the first little girl is a military sister. If she makes some money off her song, and gets her 15 minutes of fame, I'm OK with that. She's paying her dues. The second little girl, if you poke around on The Guy's website, you will learn, is singing a song he wrote to make a buck. His personal stake in this is, well, personal; it seems to begin and end at his wallet. As a military mom, I don't like that he gets to pull out emotions that he never really has to experience. I don't like that he is manipulating peoples' emotions to fill his bankbook. And I REALLY don't like that he has that second little girl praying to Santa.
I feel used. And Grinchy.
But the big brother DID come home.

Still Not Grinchy

Because he called! Yee haw!. (Can an Illinoisan say "Yee Haw!" ?)
He's doing fine, although he's exhausted. He was calling at 3am (Iraq time) had just "gotten off work," and had to be at work again at 9am. We talked for all of 5 minutes, and he was almost off in Sandmanland when he hung up. The only "complaint" was that he's getting too much junk food. Seems all the care packages are heavy on chips and candy, and he wants to lose some weight! Although he is thankful for them.
It's been a busy day here. Riding lessons for MSP, Christmas shopping and wrapping gifts. Somehow never got to cleaning the house, like I'd planned. Tonight is a fire in the fireplace and...Jack. Someday I'll have to tell you about this family's obsession with 24!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sorry. I Just Can't Do It.

I just can't be Grinchy two days in a row. I've been drinking coffee with our Texas-bred vicar, who is here today smoking a brisket for tonight's dinner. JP4 came by and brought our grandson. How can I be Grinchy? I'm sorry, but you'll just have to wait until tomorrow for Grinchy, Part 2.
But I HAVE to share SOME wisdom, don't I? OK, here it is. Wear red today. Now, some of you got out of bed and put on the first thing that came to hand. Some of you carefully planned your wardrobe. And some of you, like me, just got dressed. But some of you might not be dressed yet. You've run your 5 miles, done crunches and push-ups, and are now settling down to a Seaweed Smoothie. After you're done here, put on some red.
Red on Friday is a quiet way to remember that somewhere, someone is wielding a weapon for you. George Orwell said, "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because real men stand ready to do violence in their behalf." He was, of course, right. I mean, Animal Farm. I rest my case.
Sometime since our current national adventure started, someone, somewhere, decided that wearing red on Fridays was a quiet way to honor those who put their lives on the line for us, 24/7, rain or sandstorm, 365 (or 366, depending.) It's simple, it's painless, and we all have some red in our wardrobe. I don't know who started this; I heard about it at, and have tried to "comply" every Friday since. Give it a whirl. Don't make a big deal out of it. The soldiers don't. They just do what's right.
Oh, that thing. It's a gathering spot on the web for military moms. If you are one, stop by. You will have to be approved by the moderators; it's for security reasons. But it's a good place. If you're not a military mom, sorry. It's the only clique I belong to!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some Grinchiness

I'm feeling a little Grinchy these days, about two subjects. I'll share one today. I'll share the other one tomorrow.
I started writing Christmas cards this past weekend. Since Christmas, technically, starts ON Christmas day (not Halloween; check a church calendar) and ends on Jan. 6, I'm right on time. For years I sent a page-long Christmas letter. Yes, I'm one of THOSE. I tried to keep it funny, and was told I succeeded. Since we don't have a multi-million dollar fortune, or genius children performing their first appendectomies from their strollers, it wasn't even "braggy." But it served to let those we care about but don't get to see catch up on our lives. Even when they didn't want to!
Well, about 6 years ago, I noticed the mood of the Christmas letter we RECEIVED began to change. No longer, "Hi, we love you, take care this year," and now... A platform for causes. Sly comments about certain political figures began to creep into these letters. As the years went on, not-so-sly. Downright aggravating. And, yeah, while these letters often take the tone of bragging on our accomplishments, regardless of our concern that they don't, I've noticed certain Christmas letters creeping further and further from the purpose of the Christmas card. Which was to share joy at the time of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Even among Christians, I've noticed more and more of, "Aren't we terrific because we picked this cause instead of that other one?"
Yes, I'm more sensitive to it because my little boys serve a cause that has become a target. Actually, they serve the country that allows multiple causes, and is even strong enough to allow it's causes to BECOME targets. That will never change, unless "We The People" allow it. What has changed is my method of sharing news with my friends and family. I don't write a Christmas letter anymore. It's not because I don't want to be like those people who brag about little Sissy's A+ in computer basketweaving, but because this trend toward politicizing these letters is continuing and expanding. I confess, I was looking forward to a change in administration JUST SO I could send a sarcastic letter that started, "Well, good things are happening here in the US. Now life can become livable again, and everyone will get a puppy." But I don't want to be part of the problem.
So, this year, if you get a Christmas card from me, you will see something shocking. My own handwriting and a short, hopefully happy note. It won't be a disclosure of my platform. I promise.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just Like High School

It really is!
Just like back in high school, I'm waiting for some male to call. The phone rings, and I wonder, "Could it be him?" I look at the caller ID, and, if it's a little bit mysterious, I think, "Finally!" And it's someone selling inground pools. To a hobby farmer in Northern IL. With 8 inches of snow on the ground. Sheesh.
But military moms do that. We wait for e-mails. We wait for phone calls. We wait.... Sometimes we get really silly and start being afraid of cars in the driveway. Even ones that aren't black, or carrying insignia. The ComEd guy came by the other morning. He just wanted to read the meter, but he might have felt badly about the conversation going on inside. I couldn't leave what I was doing, so I hollered out to EP, #3 son, "Why are the dogs barking?" "There's a car pulling in." "What KIND of car?" "I don't know." "FIND OUT!" "Oh, Mom, it's just the ComEd guy. Why?"
Why, indeed? Why do you think? Because he hasn't CALLED. So, MAP, if you're reading this...CALL YOUR MOTHER.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So it begins...

Welcome! This will be a (hopefully) regular peek into the life of this military mom.

Right now, our second son, MAP, is "playing in the sand," as we call it, in an attempt to make it easier to grasp what really IS going on. Our oldest son, JP4, is preparing for the eventuality of his next all expenses paid vacation to a desert location. This will be his third time in the sand.

MAP is there for the first time, and has already "been initiated," so to speak. This sobering message appeared in my inbox recently, courtesy of the Blue Star Mothers:

Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan A. Lowery, 38, of Houlton, Maine, died Dec. 14, in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas.

Yep, MAP's Squadron. Prayers are ascending for Sgt. Lowery's family and comrades.