Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Murphy has come to stay

It's inevitable. Murphy's Law grabs hold every time Sarge deploys or goes TDY.

Take for example the other week.

Monday - Facebook and email accounts were hacked, hundreds of 'please send money' messages were sent out to all I've ever known.

Tuesday - Alarm clock failure. Sky missed his school bus - 35 minutes to get him to the school and we live 3 miles away.

Wednesday - Failure to remember previous days alarm failure. Over slept. On the way home we got a flat tire. I had to change it in my pj's. I parked on top of a fire ant mound.

Thursday - 2 1/2 hours at the tire place and $500 to learn that all my tires were junk and needed replacing

Friday - Gracie and I took our lumpy basset hound to the vet to find out that allergies were not  the only cause of his sudden itchiness, apparently so was the flea she pulled off his butt. Everything his rotund little bottom ever touched was immediately scrubbed and washed.

Last Saturday - I broke my finger at 2 am because of a roach. Yes, I'm blaming the roach not my ineptitude.

Side note ... have you ever encountered a "palmetto bug"? If not, let me give you the low down. 2 - 3 inch long flying cockroaches! Sheer terror for this Alaskan grown gal who before moving to the south, thought mosquitoes were a horrible nuisance.

Anyways, it was 2 am, thanks to my ever present insomnia I was wide awake, and went for a glass of water. One roach was laying dead in the middle of the floor thanks to the spray I had laid down to make sure no fleas got to my sheets. I was hapily gloating over it's tiny little dead body (because they freak me out), when another darted out from under the trash can. I grabbed the nearest handy smashing object, and bringing it over my head I slammed it down on the floor killing the filthy little creature. I also broke my finger.

So this week I will be covering myself and all that I love (children, dogs, waffle maker) in bubble wrap and hoping that I don't suffer some freak accident. But hey if I do, maybe they'll let Sarge come home for a bit and he can run ol' Murphy off.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A move-friendly growth chart

Permanence. It's one thing that's hard to obtain while living this military lifestyle of ours.

When I was a kid, my folks would stand my little brother and I up against a wall in our home, and use a marker to chart how much we had grown. Inch after inch all recorded with a permanent marker. I loved that wall. No matter how often they would paint, those little hash marks and dates were always there to mark our passage of time.

I've wanted a wall like that ever since my Sky was born. We've tried the more mobile versions of a growth chart, but they were usually destroyed or lost during one of our frequent moves. I needed something more permanent.

I don't sleep much, so the other night I grabbed an extra 6 ft 1x6, did some sanding, added a quick pass with an ebony stain and 2 coats of Minwax's Bombay Mahogany poly-stain, and then added the details with a white paint pen and now I have a little permanent reminder of how my kids will grow. I used 3M Command Velcro picture hangers to attach it to the wall, so that when we move and move and move again - all I have to do is pull it down and then reattach it where ever the wind blows us next.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ways to help kids feel connected during a deployment

Deployments are hard.

No one to chase at the park, no one to sneak you candy when you've already brushed your teeth, no one to give you breath stealing hugs when you feel a little glum ...
And it's rough on the kids too.

Since we are in the midst of our 4th deployment now, with Sarge thousands of miles and many time zones away, I thought I'd put out a few ideas that have helped my kids feel more connected to their dad when he's a world away.

The kiss jar - Have the deploying parent fill a big jar full of Hershey Kisses (one for every day they will be away) and each night the child gets to pull one out, and get a "Kiss" from the one they miss.

Daddy Dolls - While a little creepy, this has saved my sanity more than once. My littlest one can still give her daddy a hug when she really misses him. We bring ours along when we go out and then take pictures with it doing whatever we are doing (similar to the Flat Stanley projects that kids do in school). The kids get to send the pictures to Sarge, and show him what we did.

Skype - Twice a week we get online at the same time, and we all get to see and talk together. The kids run around and play, tell him how their day went, or sometimes even eat lunch with him while he eats dinner.

Paper chain - They were fun to make in kindergarten and they work great to help kids understand exactly how long 6 months (or whatever you're dealing with) really is. There are many ways to do this. I've seen people add a link for every day the deployed parent is away - sort of a counting up till the big day. Or you can make a link for every day before they leave, and take one off each evening in a count down sort of way. That's how we do it. Before Sarge left, I cut 197 strips of colored paper and labeled each with the date it would correspond with. Different months are different colors, and special days (holidays, birthdays, etc.) are a special color. Then each night we take off a link, and the kids write or draw pictures to Sarge telling him what they did that day. Each week we put the links we've written on in the mail, and send them to Sarge so he can keep up to date on all their doings.

Video stories - Record the deploying parent reading some of your kids favorite books before they leave. Then the kids can watch whenever they want or get a bedtime story. If you're very lucky, some deployed bases have a USO location that can do this. They record the parent reading a story, and then send the DVD and the book they read back home to the kids. Gracie has books memorized word for word just because she likes to listen to Sarge tell them so often.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Hello. It's me Holly.

I have returned to the land of bloggerdom.

For today anyway.

It's been ... well months since I last tried to write a post. But I swear I have good reasons. For the first few weeks at least.  

Sarge deployed yet again. Another short notice one, and another long one. So June was spent preparing, and packing, and a quick vacation. 

Since he left however, I've had a nasty case of the dumps. Sleepless nights, added stress, eating dozens of cookies, super gluing my phone to my hand, attempting and failing to run off previously mentioned cookies ... you know how these things go.

Maybe the super glue took it too far?

No matter how many deployments we've been though, there is always that time of adjustment at the beginning. Trying to figure out how to parent alone again. How to start the lawnmower without swearing. Not getting dressed out of the dryer.

Thankfully I'm starting to pull myself out of these so called blues. I only ate half a dozen cookies last night. Wait my pants just caught fire. It was really 8.

I think I'll run away and join the circus. Or roll away.

P.S. Did I mention Sarge got orders finally? More on that later.


Friday, May 21, 2010


Life as a military spouse can be claustrophobic at times. Our husbands and wives go away for deployments, training, exercises, humanitarian missions, schooling, etc. Sarge has been away 8 times in almost 4 years we've been stationed at this base. 3 deployments, 3 tdy's, and sent to 2 different schools.

When we first arrived at this base I looked for work, with little luck as the surrounding area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. I worked at a couple of places, and then went on bed rest with little Grace. I've been a stay-at-home parent ever since. Emphasis on stay-at-home.

Like many military spouses, a higher percentage than our civilian counterparts, I chose to stay home with my kids. We move a lot, we leave careers and friends behind, and it's easy for many of us to lose the social side of ourselves while we do our best to build up our families.

And somewhere in between midnight feedings, homeschooling Sky, many days without Sarge, and all the other joys in life - I forgot how to go out without children and laugh and have fun with other adults.

I had to rectify that. The other night, I went to my first spouses get together. No one tried to eat off my plate, I went to the restroom alone, the rolls were not gobbled up in minutes, and best of all ... we talked. In fact we stayed so late the staff had to turn down the lights to let us know it was time to go home.

 you see this group of ladies here - I may only be able to remember one name, but they are all great!

We all need a break now and again. If you are a military spouse, I hope you know that there is a group of people, just like you, who also want to get out and enjoy a few hours of fun. Look around your base, join a spouses club - or if your other is away look for the deployed spouses club which generally has babysitting services or kids activities at their get togethers.



Ahhh ... spring is in the air, sunshine, birdsong, and flower's blooming. And let's not forget about the now biannual Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy of Amy's Creative Side.

I participated in this last fall, and really enjoyed seeing all the quilts that fellow bloggers had either made or loved. So I knew I really wanted to join the fun again. Here is my entry - a sweet little circle quilt that I made this past winter for a fellow Air Force wife's new baby boy.

---original post from Jan. 8, 2010

I am in love with this quilt. Good thing the baby shower is on Sunday.
Or I might make up an excuse to keep it.

It wanted to be hand quilted.
Which took forever with all the holiday hubbub going on.

All worth it. A friend is due in a few weeks.
Her husband should be home from the desert just in time to help welcome their little Jakob into the world.

And this cuddly little quilt will be waiting too.


That little quilt was a lot of fun to make. It ended up being very soft and cuddly, and very early - as her little one stayed in an extra week before making his appearance.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to settle in for a few hours and check out all the other great quilts.


Monday, May 17, 2010


In our house, road trips are spawned from simple requirements. Either it's a holiday and we feel the need to be surround ourselves in family greatness. Or it's because if I don't get out of the house,
I'm likely to come down with a case of   
A gal needs some breathing room am I right? Sarge gets this often too, it's why he's not allowed to take time off.

Last Saturday was one of those days. So after breakfast I made the announcement - "We leave for the beach in 20 minutes. If you don't pack it, then you're stuck without it." Then I calmly went about washing off the dishes.

30 minutes later, we were backing out of the driveway and on our way. And 2 hours later we were sitting in the sunshine with a great ocean breeze to cool us down and get me back in the mood to adore my family.

Well it was actually 3 1/2 hours later, as finding a lunch spot was much harder in the midst of bike week - who could have known? A planner that's who.

The end.

P.S. - We all were sunburned well before we left the sand. Except my mutant golden child. Hopefully one of us remembers the sunblock next time.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Stawberry Farm Fail

One great thing about living the military life, is enjoying different activities and cultures at each new base.

We are currently down south, and the only thing I still enjoy is all the fresh fruit and vegetables. We generally go and hit up a local strawberry farm a few times each spring. A couple buckets, and my kids are off plowing through the field on a mission to get the biggest berry of all. Sarge and I follow behind, trying to keep too many from becoming a quick snack, taking some photos, and enjoying the sun.

However, this year was Strawberry Farm Fail. 

We'd been seeing ads in the base paper for a different farm, about an hour away, with "activities for the whole family". Bouncy things, slides, fresh ice cream, and of course the strawberries. So Saturday we decided to try it out.

Mistake number one, knowing that the high for the day was just below 90 - and still going.

Mistake number two, assuming we could leave early and beat the heat, or a possible crowd. Do strawberry fields even have crowds?

Half way there, Sarge was called into work. We turned around, he changed, and we all went to his shop where he said he'd only be 10 minutes.

No big deal right, it was still really early. After a few minutes with him inside and the kids and I hanging out in the car, he sent me a text saying we should go hang out at the park for half an hour or so.

Again no big deal, my kids freak over the park. After 45 minutes, Grace had hit her 2 injury quota while playing, Sky had gotten his shorts wet in the pond, and I had sweated off all trace of deodorant. Time to GO!

No word from Sarge. So we wondered over to the library. Ahh sweet sweet air conditioning. The library can be a great place to take my kids, individually. Grace is 2, and loud. So she goes strait into the little kid room and the itty bitty computers that she is obsessed with. Sky however is 10, and 2 minutes in the kid room has him rolling his eyes and muttering how lame everything is. After 20 minutes of hearing the error noise from the computer, and how lame a stuffed tiger was - I bribed silence from Grace with some gummy snacks, and we went looking for something for Sky. He quickly picked up a new book and we hustled to the check out desk. Still no word from Sarge.

I needed some new summer makeup, and a major dose of caffeine, so we went to the BX next. Grace made it 10 steps towards the entrance, before dropping the remainder of her gummies in the parking lot and laying down in outrage when I wouldn't let her put them in her mouth. My attempt at good parenting got me about 10 indignant looks from random people as my toddler lay on the sidewalk wailing. Oh well. I quickly grabbed the makeup, some sugar for the kids, and the biggest cherry coke I could find.

Back to the car, back to Sarge's shop, and the kids munched on candy while I blissed out with my soda for another half hour before he came out.

Mistake number three, lunch. We tried a new wing place everyone had been raving about. We can be particular about our wings, and these were simply smothered in various sauces. Not the best. One drink spill later and some full bellies and we were out the door.

Finally off to the the strawberry farm. The directions weren't the best, and there was no sign pointing the way. So we got a little lost along the way. Thank goodness for google and good cell reception.

And when we arrived - utter disappointment! The field was overgrown with weeds, many of the berries were either rotten or unripe, and the "fun for the whole family" looked as if it would require a tetanus shot. We ended up paying for a couple of buckets, and filled them as fast as we could because it was now midday and a million and one degrees.

Lesson learned, sometime the simple things should just stay simple.


Monday, April 26, 2010


Bumping along the road to crazy town that's where.

Nah, actually I've just been busy - thanks for sticking with me - but life has settled back down, albeit into a new sort of rhythm than a couple posts ago.

Sarge returned home from Haiti a while back. Turns out he wasn't needed as long as they originally estimated.

 We were extatic. 

Our house has been on the market a month now. This is a new experience for us, and not one I hope to deal with ever again. Sarge did not receive orders off the last list, but a new one is due out in a few weeks and we are hopeful. So we decided to sell the house and move back on base while we wait.

Since I've packed away my sewing supplies to help keep the house looking it's best, my camera and I have gotten closer. Pop over to  my flikr stream to see some of my better shots from the past couple months.

Love ya all!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

my poor neglected blog

It wasn't you, it was me.

Things happened, life is busy, and I need to focus on other things.

I will be back to regular blogging soon enough, till then leave a message at the beep.
(Or shoot me an email, I have managed to keep up with that.)


Friday, February 19, 2010


I've been following Celebrate the Boy month over at Made. Even though my boy wouldn't be caught dead in anything I'd make for him. Luckily for me, Grace is little and any complaints out of her can easily be bribed away with cookies.

I failed to heed the addiction warning, and started making the "90 minute shirt" that Dana has on her site. 

No relaxation during nap time yesterday.


Guess how old she'll be next week?


I've another already started. I might need an intervention. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


With the possibility of a PCS on the horizon, I've been busy day dreaming and meandering about the web - looking at photos and  info on different bases and the available housing on each. Much more fun than laundry.

I thought I'd share. These are all exterior shots of base housing that could house my family of 4.

Mildenhall AB, England

McChord AFB, Washington

Anderson AB, Guam
Yokota AB, Japan

Minot AFB, North Dakota

Osan AB, Korea

Eielson AFB, Alaska

Ramstein AB, Germany

Hickam AFB, Hawaii

 Shaw AFB, South Carolina

Random bases for the most part. We've actually lived at 2 of these bases, though the houses we were in are too old to and ugly to be shown.


Monday, February 15, 2010


to make this Alaskan grown chick realize how magical snow could be.


Perhaps it's because I don't have to shovel here, as it has melted just as fast as it fell.

More than likely it was because I got to enjoy it with my kids.


And a goofy dog.


 I really hope everyone had a fun but warm weekend.


Friday, February 12, 2010


Meet Sky.

Sky is my oldest brat. I generally forget that he is also a military brat, and out of curiosity I recently asked him what that was like to have a dad serving active duty with the Air Force.
I asked him what he thought were some of the good things:
     Mom you're weird.  See, that's why he's a brat. Well I guess that I like that we get to move and see cool places a lot. And there's tons of neat things to do on base that normal people don't get to do. And Operation Purple camps are cool too. 

Ok. That wasn't too rough.

So then I asked him what were the bad things:
     Dad deploying duh. And being far away from Grandpa, he knows how to fish. Also I'll have to give up the guinea pigs when we move, because they can't fly now. And having to wait till I'm 10 to get my ID card, that's dumb.
 Up next, I asked him what kind of advise he might give another kid whose parent might be joining the military:
     Well they'd still be a regular kid. I mean, I still have chores and homework. But I guess I'd tell them to try and go with the flow. I used to worry a lot when Dad had to go on a deployment, but now I know about all of the important things he does to help people. It kinda of sucks sometimes. But if you do lots of fun stuff when they are home, then you have lots of good memories when they have to leave. I'm really proud of my dad.

Aww, what a sweet kid he is.

Sometimes. Generally the "brat" title fits him pretty darn good.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ok, it's more like a I-forgot-to-buy-a-gift-and-it-needs-to-be-in-the-mail-now! tutorial.

My Dad's birthday was early last month. Every year I agonize over his Christmas gift, and neglect to consider his birthday gift is due only 2 weeks later. And mail takes about that long to get from me to him.

He lives in Alaska, and has this odd assortment of art depicting the various wildlife that lives in the local area.
 So I asked, "What don't you have?"
"A raven."

*Sorry in advance for the lack of photos, I was under a time crunch after all.

First assemble your supplies 

Scrounge around the garage, and your kids' neglected art supply box for things to use.

I used:
 - A chunk of pre-treated 2x6
 - Krylon spray paint, flat black and clear varnish
 - An old piece of sandpaper nailed to a block
 - Various colored acrylic paints and a dried out brush found amidst legos and model plane parts

First you'll want to spray paint your wood block with the base color, in my case black. Do two or three light coats, or until you can no longer see the wood.

While the wood dries, Google you're intended subject. Then rough sketch a design to your wood block gently with a pencil

After you've got the simple outline done, go ahead and whip out those paints and go crazy. Well - crazy enough to make it look how you want it.

Once your painting dries and looks amazing, take the sandpaper and swipe it across the painted surface to give it a distressed or aged look. Be careful to not obliterate all your hard work. Go down to the wood in some places to make it more intriguing, like around the edges and corners.

Then shake up the clear varnish and apply one or two coats to the entire block - just to make it shiny.

Here is the finished piece I sent off, albiet a couple weeks late.


Friday, February 5, 2010


I was sewing up this little would-be quilt when Sky came home from school yesterday. He and the noise-maker that lives next door, plopped themselves down at the kitchen counter and started inhaling snacks.

I had finished the top and was attaching it to the back. Just simply pillow turning it with one of Grace's old fleece crib blankets. I figured that if she didn't want it, the local children's home where Sarge volunteers would.

And then Sky said (though a mouthful of crackers mind you) "Geeze Mom don't you think that pillow is a little big?!"

Friggin' genius. Runs in the family ya know
So now Grace has a a very girly patch-work pillow to park her rump on. 

Or just haul around the deck.


Baby yoga anyone?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Some people say that they hate moving. Or they'll complain that they are too far from family. Or that they have trouble adjusting to the different customs that far flung places and people always have.

While I politely pretend to listen to these obviously deranged people, in my head I'm doing the crazy loopy finger by the head thing. I  mean come on, I rearrange my house weekly just to stave of boredom. Doesn't everyone?

In the last 5 1/2 years, Sarge and I have moved  no less than 4 times. Only once to a new assignment though. I just have a thing for moving boxes.

But the process involved to get those PCS (moving) orders is much like that old Plinko game on Price is Right. Where some goofy person with big dreams has to drop a tiny disc down a humongous board filled with pins and hope that it lands in the itty-bitty box far below that wins them the big prize.
Note: This is not the only way that someone might get orders, just the one we are currently dealing with.

First off, Sarge has to be at a base for a certain amount of time before I he can even dare hope to get his next assignment. This time frame can vary depending on a number of things. Like rank and career field.
- plink - plink -

And then they put up this list. Kind of like try-outs for the varsity team. It shows all the bases that have openings based on career and rank. So after looking at the possible places to go, Sarge can go and update his information saying where he'd like to go. That's called his "Dream Sheet". Notice the "Dream" part, that should be a sign to all us itchy-to-move spouses. And it should have lots and lots of neon. And flash.
- plink - plink -

Did I mention that he is competing against all the other people in his field, that are the same rank - who also need/want to move in the same time frame as him?
- plink - plink-
Then they match up people and bases while I he waits. It can be an agonizing month for poor Sarge. Hopeful for somewhere new and wonderful to wander off and explore.
- plinkity - plink - plink -
(I will always hate the futility of that game)

I'll be crossing every available appendage for the next few weeks, in the hopes that his little disc can find its way to the big prize box this time around. So that I can rearrange my furniture some place new.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


... the cupboard?


How sweet was Sarge to hide a valentines card for me before he left? 

Lucky? Yes I am.


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