Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy House-iversary!

Today makes one year since we closed on our house. One year ago today, I was knee deep in boxes in the kitchen, trying to get everything put away & organized. Our painter was working in Sunshine's room taking it from a pretty wedgewood blue to a slightly lavender/pink. He would go on to paint the hallway, guest room, living room & our bedroom.

We would go on to peel the wallpaper in the kitchen and Sunshine's bathroom, treat the walls & paint. Our bathroom was finally painted. Hardwood flooring went into the kitchen (good bye icky vinyl floor that NEVER looked clean!). Granite went on the counters. We called the warranty people twice--once when Sunshine's toilet was so clogged (not her fault) that stuff was backing up into the tubs & our shower!) and another time when our water main broke outside. FYI----warranty companies won't touch it if it's outside the house & will suggest you call your homeowners people. Yet, when you call them, they suggest you call a plumber as it's beyond their realm. Fun little runaround!! Countless hours were spent doing yard work & we learned that you can't cut knock out roses too far back. Our back yard still isn't to the point we'd like it to be, but with the cooler weather coming, there is plenty of time for that. Our next room project is the dining room. The wallpaper below the chair rail has been peeled & we need to start playing with paint swatches.

Happy House-iversary house----we love you so & are so happy to be here!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waving overseas

I recently discovered the Stats header on my blog's dashboard & have to admit, it's kind of fun to look at. It tells you what posts people are looking at, how they arrived at your blog, and where they're from. Big Brother at it's finest!

While the majority of my readers, this month, are from the US, there is a good number from Canada as well. Love you, Great White North! I've also had a fair amount of hits from around the world---check it out:



New Zealand




United Kingdom


Interesting, n'est ce pas?

While today is the first day of fall, you'd never know it. Our high is going to be 96. Again. The leaves are slowly starting to change but it's still so disgustingly hot that it really doesn't seem like fall. I'm craving those crisp fall days where you're able to wear jeans & a sweater, maybe a scarf. My shorts, skirts & t's are begging to go into hibernation but they can't yet. The other day I was looking at clothes for Sunshine in a desperate attempt to find a new dress for picture day. I left empty handed as the stores are getting fall/winter merchandise in and while we're ready to wear these things, Mother Nature just won't let us. Can't we please have a high of 70? 75? Please?

And while I'm on the topic of clothes for girls---what is with some of these stores? You have a baby girl & everything is pink, girly & cute. When they're a toddler, things are still cute. You may find some pants that are low rise (because it's cool to see pull ups/undies sticking out the top of a 3 yr old's waistband), but by & large, things are appropriate. Then, when she reaches a size 7, BAM! Everything changes. Cute clothes are replaced by what I call "junior hoochie-wear". I get that little girls want to dress like the bigger girls, but good grief, can we remember that we're dressing small children here? I don't want Sunshine running around with low rise jeans. I know I'm not alone in my frustration---several of my friends have commented on this as well. I was bummed when Sunshine grew out of shopping at Carter's. Their clothes are cute & appealed to Sunshine (who at age 4 started choosing her own clothes in stores. I'm fearing the teen years!), as well as to me & my pocketbook. I knew that spring/summer things that fit in March would most likely be worn well into early fall & with any luck would fit the following March if only for a few weeks. And that they wouldn't be worn looking so that I could consign them (Columbus moms---check out the Just4kidz consignment!).

Back to my initial shopping rant--is it too much to ask that we not dress our daughters like hoochies? Do 7 year olds need heels for daily wear? Do we need to see Little Mermaid or Hanna Montana undies peeking out of the top of a pair of skinny jeans? What happened to letting children stay children for a while? The tween years come along too quickly as it is, can't we do pink dresses & hair bows for as long as possible? The old Carter's jingle comes to mind---if they could just stay little 'til their Carter's wear out.

I am off to make cookies for the snack as today is Sunshine's teacher's birthday. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sometimes, on a lazy Saturday morning

we make forts & laze about while reading Skippyjon Jones to Smitty and Baby Ella.

By the way, this is the "girls only" fort. We were washing our sheets/comforter today when Sunshine ran into her room with 3 of our pillows & proceeded to make her fort.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The one with "stuff"

In my younger days I was a bit of a slob. It was nothing for the floor of my room at my parents house to be covered with clothes, magazines, books, etc. My father would liken it to the city dump & my mother would threaten to go up with a garbage bag, scoop up everything on the floor and throw it away unless I picked up.

Sadly, my Oscar Madison tendencies continued into early adulthood. I had several apartments that were best described as "messy". Slowly I outgrew my Oscar tendencies & became Felix Unger. Only I didn't carry an umbrella with me & I don't do that weird nasal honking thing he did.

When we were started packing last fall for our move into this house, we were amazed by all the "stuff" we had accumulated during the years we lived in our apartment. I can't tell you how many trash bags full of "stuff" we took to the trash drop off at our complex. The amount of Army "stuff" Hunter had was mind boggling. More than 3/4 of the "stuff" in our storage unit was Army issue.

The people from whom we bought this house were slobs. I'm not talking messy, clothes on the floor type slobs. I'm talking serious slobs. The bathrooms were filthy (the shower in the master looked like a bathroom in a fraternity house), the kitchen was beyond disgusting to the point where I refused to cook a meal on the stove until we replaced it. Cleaning it wasn't even an issue. When we steam cleaned the carpets, the water came up the color of chocolate milk. I kept hearing Teresa's ( from the Real House Wives of NJ) voice in my head---how she just couldn't live in a house that other people had lived in b/c it skeeved her out to think about their dirt.

We got our house cleaned up before we moved in (except for that icky, nasty, dirty oven that had to be replaced before I'd cook in the kitchen!) and since we'd purged so much non-essential "stuff" things were neat & orderly.

And I liked it.

A lot.

Then I started watching Hoarders on A & E. If you haven't watched it before, I highly recommend it. I know it's mean to pick on people who are mentally ill (and really, anyone who is okay with living in a house with 50 tons of trash, dead animal carasses & bugs has to be mentally ill), but for the love of Pete----these houses are NASTY.

Hoarders helped me take my cleaning to the next level, so to speak. Some may say OCD, I say I stepped up my game. Any given Tuesday (the show airs on Monday nights), you'll find me cleaning some random part of a room that really might not need to be cleaned (how often do you need to clean ceiling fan blades? Do you need to vacuum 4 times a week? Or even 3??) and I'm pretty sure the baseboards in all rooms are so clean you could lick them. If you could turn your head that way.

We've been under "threat" (I use that term jokingly) of a house guest since Saturday. A friend of Hunter's is supposed to pass through town on his way home from TX. A friend Hunter hasn't seen in oh, probably 18 years or so. He's very excited about seeing him & having him meet me & Sunshine. So on Saturday I did what I consider "final" cleaning before someone comes over---make sure Sunshine's bathroom is clean, make sure the guest room is spotless, make sure any toys are out of the living room (except the ones she's actually playing with) and, here's the OCD-----that vacuum lines are visible on the carpet in the living room.

There, I said it. Judge me if you must.

Hunter kept telling me to go take a shower & relax before his friend got there. "The kitchen still needs a quick cleaning". Right, because there is *GASP* a glass right there in the open on the counter that isn't in the sink! Or dishwasher. (Hello, time for an intervention!!) Hunter stopped, looked at me & said "oh right, you've been watching Hoarders, you're all OCD cleaning now."

After we both laughed I agreed to go take a shower (there were now visible vacuum line on the carpet) & told him that while I was showering I expected he'd get the duster & take care of a dust bunny in the corner of the tray ceiling. Because "what if" his friend looked up & saw it.

I really need to get back to knitting, but will do that once there are visible vacuum lines again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Commitment issues

When we bought our house last year we knew a kitchen remodel was in the plans. The wallpaper was very early '90s, the vinyl floor was in okay shape, but had some areas where it was starting to lift & the counters were a mess. Fortunately, the cabinets were in great shape & just need new pulls. At least I think they do. We'd watch HGTV & the DIY network & try to find inspiration. We'd stalk Lowe's & Home Depot & get ideas. Finally, we got off our butts & made decisions. We put hardwood in the kitchen & instantly the cabinets looked like they'd had a face lift.

Two weeks later we found ourselves without a kitchen as our counters were ripped up so that a template could be made for the new granite counters going in. Five days of no counter, no sink, no running the dishwasher & using red solo cups, plates & bowls along with plastic flatware. Believe me, the irony of buying plastic cups & having the cashier put them in a pink piggy Envirosax bag wasn't lost on me.

It was worth it as our counters were installed & looked amazing.

Now I find myself unable to commit to a back splash. We've gone from glass tile to regular tile to paint back to glass tile. And I'm rethinking my blue walls. *sigh* It's better that I want to just change paint colors rather than tear up the new floors/counters, right??

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On the end of combat in Iraq has a feature called iReport where they ask normal (relatively speaking) everyday people to share their point of view. The other night they said "Tell us how the war has affected your life. Share your photos and stories." So, through many tears, I typed away. Several tissues & Hunter repeatedly asking "are you SURE you're okay?" I was finished. Before reading, please remember people's experiences are different as are their opinions. Comments are welcome, soap box rants aren't.

For me, the war started in 2002 when my then fiance deployed to Kuwait for 6 months. There were whispers & rumors about the war starting as early as Summer '02. By October we knew he'd be home the following month & that he would be returning shortly thereafter. We were married in the 6 weeks that he was home in between deployments. It would be another 7 months before we'd see one another.

When Ari Fleischer announced that Operation Iraqi Freedom had begun my phone began to ring. It wouldn't stop until around 3 o'clock the next morning. I wouldn't fall asleep until 430 am.

Mail took 4 weeks to travel from Ft. Benning, GA to wherever the 3ID was and back. We had weekly briefings on post to let us know where the guys were, what battles they'd been in & what the casualty list was like. He called me in early March. It would be 93 days until I heard his voice again.

Any phone calls that came from post made my heart jump into my throat. Any knocks on the door did the same. The fear of losing my husband was so real. It happend to several members of our unit. One was a 24 year old soldier who died in my husband's arms en route to rendez vous point. The fighting was so intense that the medevac pilots refused to land & would only do so approximately 20 miles away.

My husband came home in July of '03 (first in, first out) & our daughter was born 9 months later. Ironically, a year to the day that the soldier died in his arms.

He would deploy to Iraq two more times for OIF3 & OIF5. By the time our daughter was 4, he had been away from us for more than half of her life. We were on a schedule of a year home, a year (or more) gone. This didn't include the weeks that he was in the field or TDY for training.

After his 2nd deployment (2005-2006) I began to notice changes in him. He got angry much easier than before. Little things bothered him. That August, he went to talk to a counselor. Once. He had litle support from those in his unit.

In January '07 we were told they would be part of "The Surge" & despite 29 days at Ft. Irwin, CA, would be leaving 2-4 weeks after returning home. We were among the lucky ones---he left 4 weeks after returning home from CA.

Life goes on during deployments, even if it doesn't seem like it is. Fear becomes an all too familiar emotion. You learn to live with it. You bring your cell phone with you. Everywhere. You start to stalk the mailman. You stay logged into messenger "just in case" For us, it was our primary means of communication. During our chats I would feel like I was boring my husband with our day to day activities. What I could never understand was how badly he needed to hear these things. Life over there is so far from normal that the most mundane of things reminds them of home. Reminds them of being safe.

We had our final homecoming in May of '08. Like all of our homecomings, I can remember the events of that day. What I bought at the grocery store at the last minute, running to buy a balloon so he'd be able to find us in the crowd, what I wore, what our daughter wore. Who we stood with while we waited.

In Summer of '09 my husband's PTSD came to a head and he was treated as a day patient in a local mental health facility. What I suspected in the summer of '06 was true. He was finally getting the help he needed. That our family needed. That fall, he was assigned to the Warrior Transition Brigade on post & did not deploy with his unit to Iraq. I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief knowing he would never go back there again. Our family would never be torn apart again. We were lucky that his wounds weren't physical but faced a long uphill battle to help him heal mentally. In Spring '10 he was medically retired from the Army.

The war taught me, as a spouse, several things. I learned that unless someone has walked in your shoes, they just will not get what life is like for you. The war isn't just something unpleasant on the evening news. It's part of your life.

I learned my own strengths--as a temporarily single parent, as a woman, as a person. I learned the meaning of counting down. I learned how to survive what was possibly some of the hardest days of my life.

Despite the hardships we faced, I know that our family was lucky. My husband came home to us. There are a lot of families who can't say that and they are the ones I pray for.