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Operation: De-Pacification

Day 4: SAY BYE BYE BINKY

Today my daughter is under the impression I’m mailing her binkies to her baby cousin. I had to choose between this fib and convincing her to leave her precious “bees” under her pillow for the Pacifier Fairy. Since it would take her all of 1.5 seconds to find those binkies under her pillow and promptly stuff all 5 of them in her mouth like a squirrel hiding its nuts, that option would kind of defeat the purpose. So we’re going cold turkey. Sayonara suckers.

I had every intention of weaning Little C off the pacifier by the time she turned one. The experts say not to implement this kind of transition during other major life transitions. Well, the experts clearly don’t know anyone in the military because, in our lives, transitions hit like machine gun fire.

When Little C was 9 months old, we PCS’ed from Japan back to the states. No way was I taking away the pacifier before that trip! (In retrospect, I probably should have. Not only did she hardly sleep the entire flight, but she entertained herself by tossing the binkies over the seats and befriending the kind strangers who retrieved them. I spent more time in the airplane bathroom washing those stupid binkies than she spent sucking on them.) Whether it was enduring a PCS move, saying farewell to beloved friends, packing Daddy up for one trip after another, or hopping in the car to visit family, it was always something, some reason not to take away that crutch.

Now that she’s approaching the 2 and a half year mark, I can no longer make excuses to avoid chucking the binky (besides the fact that I treasure a full night of sleep). Thank goodness she is only a part-time addict. Since she was a baby, I offered the pacifier only during sleep time. I am patting myself on the back for that now because the de-pacification process is only affecting bedtimes.

As far as the success of today’s challenge, I’d say it went better than expected. Little C plunked her binkies in a baggie and decorated it with stickers next to her cousin’s name. Naptime didn’t happen, but she’s been skipping naps all week so I don’t contribute that to binky withdrawal. After about an hour of intermittent screaming “No Nap!” and false claims to need the potty, I gave in and took her to Target to buy her the “Cindy-rella” underwear I promised her. And knock on wood, bedtime was flawless. Not so much as a whimper! We’ll see where my optimism is at 2:00 in the morning.

                                                      
We are mysteriously missing a binky.  Somewhere in our house is a yellow pacifier with a lion on it.  I wouldn’t put it past my conniving Little C to have hidden it somewhere for surreptitious future use.  Let’s hope I find it before she does.

Operation: Application

Day 3: COMPLETE A JOB APPLICATION

I have been a domestic engineer for the past 5+ years. (Yes, that’s a fancy way of saying stay-at-home mom.) But now I’m contemplating my return to the workforce to actually use that Master’s degree I worked so hard to earn. First step is the application.

Ok, so filling out a job application is much tougher than it used to be!  Online application; scanning and attaching college transcripts, resume, and recommendations; short essays?!  I was foolish to believe I could complete the application in a single day, especially on a day my obstinate daughter chose to skip her afternoon nap.  But I was able to complete the majority of the application today so I consider today’s mission a majority of a success.  Just need to stay motivated and keep working on it. 
The application made me wonder if employers consider domestic engineering work experience.  I’m required to provide a reference from my last employer.  Maybe I should list my home phone number with my children’s names as references.  After all, they have been my employers for the past 5 years.  I’m sure my future boss would love to hear from my 5-year-old son, who would surely share great tales of my ability to make his bed, launder his Tranformer underwear, prepare his gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and battle with his Gormiti and Star Wars figures.  (Let’s just hope they don’t call on a day I put him in time-out for punching his sister or take away a coveted magnet on his daily responsibility chart for not clearing the dinner table.)  And I know they would hire me on the spot upon hearing from my 2-year-old daughter as she chants, “Mommy good.  Read Diego book.  No pants.  Pee pee on potty.”  What do you think?
                                                            SLOW COOKER CRAZE
My 2nd daily photo…my sexy slow cooker is my new best friend.  Thanks to the cookbook, “Make It Fast, Cook It Slow” by Stephanie O’Dea (her blog is on my list), I now prepare as many meals as possible first thing in the morning and use my typical dinner time preparation in the evening to spend more time with my kids.  Fast, easy, yummy.  Last night’s recipe: Chicken Parmesan.  Tonight’s recipe: Creamy Beef Over Noodles.  Oishii!!!

Operation: Documentation

Day 2: TAKE A PICTURE EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR.

I realize this is an ongoing challenge that will not end today, but the hardest part of any goal is deciding to do it, right? So today I’m deciding to document this wonderful new year through photography. Plus, this will hopefully add some color to my blog.

THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR MATCHING
I love my fake Uggs. I love matching fashion with my 2-year-old daughter. I wonder if we’ll look at this picture in 10 years and share a good chuckle over wearing such ugly foot attire.

But in 10 years, she’ll be a tween. She’ll be raging with hormones and mood swings, and she’ll probably hate me by then.  So instead of finding the humor in our matching ugly boots, she might just shriek that this photo is proof that I have been depriving her of haute couture her entire life (because they are clearly Ugg impostors and our jeans are clearly off-the-rack). Or she’ll rip it up to destroy the evidence that she ever deigned to dress like her old, fashion-challenged mother.  Or, and this might be the worst offense, she’ll refuse to even share the moment with me because spending time with a parental unit just isn’t cool.

These visions almost convince me that the Terrible Twos aren’t so bad.  Almost.

I will continue to enjoy dressing my toddler like my very own mini me.  I need to do it while I still can.

Operation: Articulation

Day 1: START A BLOG. 

Simple, I know. But I’m taking baby steps, sticking a toe outside that comfort zone to test the waters.  Plus, it’s going to take me all day just to figure out all the bells and whistles on this website.

I also wanted to lay down my rules of engagement. (You’ll soon learn that I’m a very rule-oriented person.   Hmmm, future challenge there?)

Rule #1: I am not here to dole out advice. I don’t have nearly enough knowledge or experience to offer any sound advice to my fellow military spouses out there. But I’m hoping to share other blogs on my page to point you in the right direction if that’s what you’re seeking (that is, once I figure out how to do that).

Rule #2: The purpose of this blog is neither to bash the military nor profess my undying love for it. Remember, it’s just background noise.

Rule #3: I do not have a political agenda, and I’d appreciate it if you kept yours to yourself.

Rule #4: My proposed format is as follows: I will begin each day by announcing my challenge. (If I wait until my day has started, I am much more likely to reconfigure something I’ve already done and call it my daily challenge.  Kind of like adding a task to your to-do list after you’ve completed it just so you can cross something off.  Come on, you know you’ve done it!) And I will end each day by sharing whether or not my mission was a success, a failure, or was aborted due to extenuating circumstances.

Rule #5: I am open to suggestions (within reason). Feel free to drop me a line with ideas about what I should challenge myself to do. However, please keep in mind that I don’t drink coffee, I’m not in the market for a pet, and I am adamantly opposed to plastic surgery. And let’s keep it clean folks. This is a family blog.

I think that covers it.

Just the Beginning

I am a military spouse. When it comes to challenges, need I say more?

The term “military spouse” has a dual definition. It means that my spouse is in the military. But it also means that my spouse is the military. I am essentially a bigamist. First I married my husband. Then two years later, I married the military.

I have a love/hate relationship with the military. As a spouse, it is doing everything wrong. It doesn’t communicate. It is unwilling to compromise. It doesn’t remember Mother’s Day or my children’s birthdays. It doesn’t care that I finally unpacked that last box when it informs me that it’s time to pack it up again. Basically, it dictates almost every aspect of my life without asking my permission. And unfortunately, it is unresponsive to couples’ counseling.

On the other hand, my second marriage has improved my life in ways I didn’t even know needed improving. Being married to the military has forced me to find my inner strength and independence. It has put me through assertiveness training and taught me to embrace change. And possibly best of all, it has shown me the world (who would have thought I would ever live in Japan?!) and introduced me to friends I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Since becoming a military spouse, I’ve had to sweat the small stuff: late night phone calls, unexpected separations, missed holidays, and misplaced and unironed uniforms. I’ve also had to sweat the not so small stuff: the premature birth of my first child that my husband came way too close to missing, the birth of my second child in a foreign country, the stress of single parenthood, the perpetual postponement of a career, and a 6-month deployment to Iraq. But in spite of it all, I can honestly say that I can’t imagine life any other way.

Military life is a roller coaster ride. It is jolting and unpredictable and breathtaking. And sometimes it makes you want to throw up. Because I won’t be getting off this ride anytime soon, I need to find ways to stay grounded. This brings me to the reason for creating this blog. I need distractions. Distractions from those late night phone calls, unexpected separations, missed holidays and misplaced and unironed uniforms. Therefore, I am going to challenge myself to do something new every day.

When I say new, I basically mean activities that fall outside my comfort zone (which isn’t saying a whole lot considering my comfort zone is about as expansive as my living room). Nothing drastic, like say, getting Lasik eye surgery (oh how I wish I had the guts to do that) or closing my Facebook account (because that would really be drastic!). And nothing as mundane as the tedious tasks on my to-do list (I promise not to claim that a commissary run with both kids qualifies as one of my daily challenges…although that is a challenge). My goal for each day is a happy medium between the two.

How long will this challenge last? I don’t really know. As with everything in military life, I’ll take it day by day. My hope is that my self-imposed challenges will provide enough of a distraction that the roller coaster ride will simply become the background noise in an otherwise stable and relatively normal existence. And who knows, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about myself in the process.

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