Category Archives: Seriously?

Witness humanity. The good, bad and silly.

Don’t blink, they grow up too fast

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I am the most accurate definition of a Facebook stalker.  Mostly stalking my close friends and family but every once in a while going off the beaten path and check in on an old friend.  I will click through picture after picture until my eyes hurt and it is way past my bedtime.  I love it.  I’m not trying to be a creeper I am just truly enjoying each and every picture.

But as much fun as I have looking at other people’s photos I find myself constantly stalking myself.  I love going back and reliving each picture.  The kids giggling, sleeping, throwing a fit, and being sweet just melt my heart.  Even though I took most of those pictures it still pulls me in as I click through each album.  My favorite thing to do is start at the first picture and progress through to the most recent.  Watching the kids grow up again frame by frame; it’s awesome.

I did it again last night as I looked for a picture to print for Kylee’s birthday party.  She was so little with such a big personality.  I spent well over an hour just looking at the pictures, forgetting what I actually sat down to do.  I next opened up my big hard drive and looked through so many pictures, from Reece’s arrival to a recent trip to the splash pad.  I can’t believe how much they’ve grown and changed but also seeing the little things that are still the same.  Reece still makes the same faces and Kylee leans her head into my face as a way of cuddling.

It is so crazy to me how fast my babies are growing up.  It seems that it was last week that I was doing jumping jacks after a two mile walk to ‘encourage’ Kylee to be born.  Or even worse, it feels like not that long ago I was crying to Kyle before Reece was born, when the doctors agreed to induce me, asking if we were ready to be parents.

So here were are preparing for Kylee’s first birthday and although I can’t truly explain the feeling I can admit that my mind is blown.  She is turning 1!  When did this happen?  I have to catch myself, when someone asks how old she is, not to say six months.  She is my baby girl but for how much longer?!

I don’t know where to take this post from here.  To be honest, my mind is so blown by realization that my babies are no longer babies that I don’t know what else to say.  Kylee is turning 1!  Reece is almost 3!  I know it is very cliché but I wasn’t prepared for how true it is that they grow up in a blink of an eye.  I guess I am going to post this then head back to Facebook to click through pictures and watch my babies grow up.

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Surprisingly, I’m not scared of my shadow.

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I can’t explain why but over the past ten or so years I have become a chicken.  So much stuff scares me and the silly part is most of it is irrational.  I am scared of incredibly huge things like whales.  WHALES!  How can someone be scared of whales?  I know they are –mostly- gentle creatures but the thought of seeing one in person gets my heart racing.  What the hell?  I don’t remember being scared of silly things like this ten years ago.

My mind goes a mile a minute.  Here is just a snippet of what I think about on a random day.  Keep in mind, this is just what runs through my head without my control.  I realize my silly fears are just that, silly, but a little insect of a thought invades my brain and I am forced to find the ‘silly’ within the fear to exterminate it.  With slight embarrassment and total honesty, here we go.

– When I am driving I worry about four-way intersections because another driver may not realize it’s hit turn to stop, blow through the intersection and hit my truck.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?   No.

– When I drive under a bridge or viaduct I worry the structure will collapse on me.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Whales!  Lions!  Tigers!  Bears!  -oh my!-   They’re huge!  Being harmed by one of those?  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Deep water, whether the water is clear or murky, I don’t care.  If I was dropped in the middle of the ocean I would die of a heart attack well before I would drown.  Shit, sometimes deep pools get my heart racing.  I can’t explain why.  Something worth worrying about in the water?  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Airplanes now makes me slightly nervous.  Not me flying in one but having one crash into me.  When we lived in DC we lived across the river from Reagan National and the planes would come so close during landing that I could tell you if the pilot had bad breath.  I worried one would take out the top floor of our house.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Wild boar worry me when we go on hikes.  I saw a pack of wild boars on post that were not bothered by traffic/people being nearby so now when we go hiking I get jumpy when I think I hear something rumbling around in the bushes.  The chances we run into one?  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Tall mountains.  I can’t pinpoint why they raise my blood pressure but I can guess that maybe I worry about falling off or something falling off onto me.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.

– Spontaneous reversal of gravity.  This I can’t explain, it is just ridiculous.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No way!

– And so many more…… scared

Don’t think I don’t know that this is bananas.  I know the shit that runs through my brain is mostly irrational and I would like to believe I have done a grand job not letting those irrational thoughts have even the slightest impact on my life.  In fact, I think I have gone out of my way to force myself to face those foolish fears in hopes to get over them.  I want to dive with sharks and whales; that is three big fears faced that I look forward to.

Tomorrow Kyle is taking me skydiving for my birthday and I can already feel my muscles tensing up.  I am nervous as hell but those nerves are getting me pumped at the same time. I am looking forward to crying as we sit in the plane before takeoff.    I can’t wait to be terrified as I jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  I am excited to scream like a baby as I plummet towards Earth!

If I let my ridiculous fears rule my life I would keep my family and myself locked in the house filled with preparations that would rival any doomsday prepper.  I have a very active and creative imagination that I cannot shut off.  It gets me in trouble, gets me overthinking every possible avenue of a particular activity which can scare me.  My rational side makes fun of my crazy side which makes for some great internal dialogue.  I like being scared but I like discrediting/experiencing/testing what scares me so much more.  I want to experience so much of what life has to offer me leaving little room for crazy fears.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from society6.com .

Ps.  Hit up that website linked above.  There are a lot of super cute doodles that can be printed on stationary, canvas, clothing and totes!

Monday morning…really?

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This morning has really been stacked against me.  I would consider myself a ‘morning person’ so I don’t mind getting up and getting busy first thing but so far this morning I am ready to crawl back in bed and ask for a redo.

First, Kylee waked up at 3:30. No problem.  She is dirty so I change her diaper and put her back down and she falls right back asleep.  Win!

4:30, Reece woke up and walked to our room.  I hold his hand and walk him back to his bed telling him “It’s not time to be up yet.  Go back ni-nights.”  he falls right back asleep.  Win!

4:50, alarm.  I get up, get changed and head downstairs.  Poop?  I smelled it as soon as I hit the last step; confirmed it as soon as I rounded the kitchen corner.  Really, Mac? I clean up his mess, drink my work-out drink and out the door; late.

5:04 my id wouldn’t scan properly and the computer gets all glitchy.  The overly perky lady comes out from behind the desk and happily reprimands me for not covering the bottom barcode.  I did and I do every morning so I am not ruling out it could have been my fault but I must have been lucky EVERY other morning.

I hope on the elliptical and work up a good sweat.  It feels like my morning is turning around.  All that has happened so far this morning will be washed away by sweat!  Then I go to the weight room.

It is packed like it always is on a Monday morning but there are two people that I have never seen before and the guy is doing the exact workout that I had never done before but had planned to do right away (push-up with row). No problem, he is taking up a lot of floor room anyways so I will grab a bench and start my presses and flies.  Naturally the only available bench is right next to the other new person; a ripped -not overly, though- young girl, and she was hott too.  Let’s give a round of applause as as welcome insecurities to the stage.

Block it.  Block it.  Block it!  I grab my weights and get to work.  It felt great and everything faded away with the music in my ears and sweat running down my forehead.  The guy had moved so I figured this was the time to do my push-ups with row.  I grabbed a pair of hex dumbbells and got in position.  First rep, great.  Second rep, great.  Third rep, I planted the dumbbell on a corner and threw my weight into the push up and it rolled.  I caught it before making a huge fool of myself but my shoulder clicked as I tried to correct.  I tried to do more reps but every rep I did I felt a pinch in my shoulder.  Time to stop that for today.

I go back to my other exercises and try to forget what just happened.  I am a keep-to-myself person at the gym with my headphones in my ears and no need to talk to anyone.  Today, a regular happened to walk past right as Pandora was in between songs and he asked if I was okay.  I said I was fine then he made small talk about “making it work” and being here Monday through Friday.  Now I may be reading into this but with the M-F comment I felt like he was saying to not let the new -really fit- people affect my morning; which that coupled with my push-up failure had me feeling like crap.  It was cool feeling like I was part of the ‘regulars’ club.

I came home and told Kyle about my morning so far.  As I was talking to him about my morning, my internal dialogue from the gym sounded really childlike.  He gave me some great advice and told me not to let the fit newbies into my head.  That they are only there to work out too; not to get into people’s heads.  It is silly that they bothered me like they did and I know they meant nothing by their presence -listen how silly I sound- but it takes someone else to point out the sillyness before it really clicks.

It is now 7am and I need to get ready for the long day ahead of me.  It is time to focus on the positives.  I have MOPS, grocery shopping, then I am making dinner for guests!  Good thing I went to the gym this because if my day continues like it has been I needed my morning workout to give me whatever good mojo it does every other day.  I love working out every morning and I look forward to the retry I get tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Cancer

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Cancer sucks!

We all know someone who’s life has been touched by cancer.  Lung, skin, ovarian, colon, this one and that one.  My family has had brushes with those and a few more, but recently we encountered another one, breast cancer.  On both sides of my family I have had great-grand parents and grandparents diagnosed and taken by cancers.  It is scary but I never really prepared myself for cancer to hit closer to home.  Statistically, I knew there was a huge chance that one day I’d get the call that someone in my immediate family had been diagnosed but we are all still young, my parents in their early 50’s and my sisters and I range from late 20’s to early 30’s.  I expected this call to wait at least ten more years.

Funny that all my sisters, my mom and myself own the ‘Save the Ta-tas” shirts and have donated to various breast cancer research funds, but we have no personal connection with breast cancer; we have no family history.  I have friends who have family who have survived breast cancer and others who have succumbed to it.  Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the leading cancer among US women followed by lung then colorectal.  In this country, per 100,000 women, 121.9 are diagnosed with breast cancer.

While we were in Florida my mom went in for her first mammogram in years.  The US Department of Health suggests women over 40 should get a mammogram every 1-2 years and those with a family history may want to start getting them earlier.  My mom hadn’t gotten one in a while.  Since the closing of our family business, she paid for her medical bills out of pocket instead of with insurance and with the lack of family history, mammograms were not top medical/financial priority.  A few days after the test she got a call back saying they didn’t like the look of one image and she needed to come back in for a re-do.  Mom arrived at the appointment expecting just another simple mammogram but was floored when the receptionist told her the appointment she was at was for diagnostics.  It wasn’t that the first mammogram was fuzzy like she expected; they found something they didn’t like!  That second test correlated with the doctor’s initial concerns so they set up an appointment for a biopsy.  The biopsy confirmed that MY mom has breast cancer.

I was in shock for a couple of days.  When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer you can’t help but to be enveloped in an impermeable fog.  I am in paradise and all I wanted to to was turn off the happy.  Kyle did all he could to lighten my mood and Reece could tell something was wrong with mommy.  I was sad and pissed!  How does this happen just weeks after I move so far away?  I couldn’t be there for her and I couldn’t be sure how she was handling it.  The phone offers only so much comfort.  My only option was to wait to hear from her or my sisters and scour the internet for information.

It is Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) and it is in it’s earliest stages.  My mom and the doctors have come up with a plan to remove the cancer and follow up with radiation.  The survival rate for DCIS is nearly 100%.  After reading many websites regarding this diagnosis I still don’t know much about it and will not pretend to by filling this post with facts and statistics.  I find myself constantly google-ing things when I have questions and one of the best -and most personable- sites I’ve found is http://www.dcis.info.

We all know of the various groups and organizations dedicated to the funding, research and awareness of breast cancer.  I try to donate and participate when I can but it was never a priority to me, until now.  Now it is real.  Now I become an advocate for breast health.  I ask that you -men included- do a monthly self-breast exam, get annual mammograms starting at age 40 or earlier with family history.  If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.  It is better to be paranoid and healthy than passive and at risk. We are in an age where early medical intervention will ensure a stellar survival rate.  Prayers and thoughts are great but one of the best ways to show you care is to take care of yourself.  Let this be a lesson for everyone and show support for my mom by you taking charge and being proactive of your breast health.

My mom will have surgery then come here like she had originally planned for a two week beach vacation and to deliver our dog, Mac.  After her visit she will start an intensive regimen of radiation as a precautionary measure.  We are hopeful that this is only a blip in our family history and we will be able to look back saying “that was scary, but now its over.”

Fuck you, cancer!  You messed with the wrong family!

Heroes Deserve Respect

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Our family receives healthcare from the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).  It used to be the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda but in 2011, in accordance with Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), Walter Reed merged with Bethesda and it is now the premiere hospital for service members and top political officials.  It is this hospital that most of our wounded warriors come to for care and rehabilitation.

Today I had a routine OB appointment.  Kyle drove while I relaxed in the passenger seat.  We passed through the security gate and made our way towards the parking garage but were stopped here and there by pedestrians in the crosswalk.  At one intersection Kyle let a guy –about our age- cross the street while we waited.

He was in power chair, both legs missing from the knee down and left arm gone at the elbow.  As he crossed in front of us I noticed he was driving his power chair with a prosthetic on his right arm.  This guy was a quadruple amputee.  Hanging from his chair was a Wounded Warrior backpack by Under Armor.

We didn’t stop him and ask him his story so I can only make assumptions.  I assume he was injured in a war zone.  By his appearance, I assume he was on the path to getting better.  By his independence, I assume he was working to get some sort of normalcy back into his life.  By his smile and wave, I assume he didn’t want pity or to be treated differently.

What is so frustrating to me is that there are people in this country who do not support our troops.  There are people who do not understand the magnitude of what is actually happening to our service men and women when they are deployed.  Those are obvious assholes of our country, but there are also the ignorant assholes who have a warped view of the military and disrespect our heroes when they happen to come back injured.

Kyle and I once overheard an ignorant asshole speak such insulting things.  He first said he encouraged a person to join the Navy because it is non-combative.  Ignorance correction, Sailors do deploy and are frequently in harm’s way.  Ignorant asshole then went on to say that a specific person was an “idiot” because he joined the Army and got himself “blown-up in Afghanistan.”  Kyle was holding our sleeping baby and we were in a populated setting and he did not feel he could keep himself composed in a respectable manner to respond to Ignorant asshole.

What does that say about all of our service members?  Does Ignorant asshole believe that joining the military is only a smart decision in peacetime or if there is no chance of deployment?  Is one branch better than another?  Is my husband an idiot because he is in the Army or not one because he did deploy but did not get physically injured?

As I watched this hero pass in front of our vehicle I couldn’t help but to think back to what Ignorant asshole said.  I cannot wrap my brain around that mentality and I am insulted that someone would actually believe those things.  Heroes, from all branches, deserve respect.  They leave their families and put their lives on the line for the rest of us.  Each branch does it’s part and each service member is vital to the overall mission.  To me, it doesn’t matter what a person does in the military, if he or she joins to better our country then he or she deserves our respect.  Would Ignorant asshole have the audacity to say the things he did to a true hero?

Gay Blood

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As Kyle and I cleaned and rearranged the house today we had the news on in the background.  CNN went to commercial break after teasing about a story they would cover when they returned; the US ban on blood donation from gay men.  I was immediately fired up.  I remember seeing a question on a blood donation questionnaire asking about gay sex but considering I am not gay I checked ‘no’ and continued on to the next question.  I was ignorant to the fact that gay men are not allowed to donate blood in the US.  After seeing CNN’s story I learned that they are also not allowed to donate in the UK and China.  Why?  Outdated fears.

Before delivering Reece the nurse came in and asked me -along with a bunch of other things- my preference on emergency blood transfusions.  My exact thought was, ‘I am about to become a mom.  If I need blood to live and see my son grow up, give it to me!’  Kyle must have been thinking the same thing because he offered me his blood.  He is a universal doner, O-.  He offered to donate and even suggested -jokingly- to hook us up to each other and he’d give blood directly to me.  The nurse didn’t see he was joking and told him he couldn’t donate directly to me on such short notice because they needed to test his blood.  He and I both knew his blood was safe.  I would feel more comfortable getting his blood than from the blood bank but precautions are precautions for a reason, so we both knew I wouldn’t be getting his blood in an emergency.

The thing is, when a person receives a blood transfusion it doesn’t come from one person alone.  Blood is collected, tested and combined with others of the same type.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating blood collections and transfusions.   The FDA has had a ban against men who had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood since 1980.  Men who try to donate are asked if they have had sex with another man since 1977.  If he answers ‘yes’ he is automatically out of the donors pool for life.  In early June 2010, a government public health committee evaluated the law but voted to keep it in effect.

Although gay men make up the majority of those living with HIV they are not the only ones affected.  These men are being discriminated against by a blanket assumption.  This law insinuates that sexual orientation has greater influence on HIV risk rather than risky sexual behavior.  Is a man who has unprotected sex with fifteen women at a lower risk of contracting HIV than a man who has safe sex with another man?  What about the people who use intravenous drugs?  Is their behavior less risky than a gay man’s?

I understand that back in the early 80’s medical testing was not what it is today.  Testing for HIV was not as accurate or fast as it now is but today doctors can get accurate results within days of HIV exposure.  I know it is not a perfect system and flaws are found in donated and transfused blood, but that is few and far between.  If the US is in such a blood shortage why are lawmakers -and the FDA- allowing such a blanket discrimination?  Why are they so concerned with gay blood but not the multiple other ‘high risk’ groups that show up to donate blood?  Kyle donated blood randomly at the gym over a year ago and because his blood is so needed they called him six weeks after the initial donation and every week after until he scheduled an appointment to donate again.  Would he have been hounded and would we be in such a shortage if this stupid ban was lifted?

The American Red Cross is required to follow FDA regulations but want to lift the ban on MSM blood donation.  This is the exact eligibility requirement for MSM blood donation as written on their website:

“The top priorities of the American Red Cross are the safety of our volunteer blood donors and the ultimate recipients of blood. On June 11, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability voted against recommending a change to the FDA policy of a lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men. The FDA is responsible for determining donor eligibility requirements and the Red Cross is required to follow their decisions. However, the Red Cross does support the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among donors who engage in similar risk activities. We will continue to work through the AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) to press for donor deferral policies that are fair and consistent and based on scientific evidence, while still protecting patients from potential harm.”

Go American Red Cross!

Information on topic gathered from: www.npr.orgwww.cnn.comwww.fda.gov, and www.redcrossblood.org

Opinions are all mine!

You Know When the Men Are Gone (part 1)

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I am halfway through this book and if I had not promised myself to not put down a book because I don’t like it, I probably would have stopped days ago.  I originally saw it in the PX (Post Exchange) and it caught my attention a few times so I checked out the reviews on Amazon before making the purchase.  I had real hope for this book.  It is about current US Army life, takes place in an actual Army base and fictionalizes something my husband and I actually went through.  Although my husband is Army we live on a ‘Joint Base’ meaning all branches and civilians live and work here -what happened when a bunch of military instillations we too costly to keep operating so some linked up making a ‘Joint Base’- so I sometimes miss the Army life.  I hoped this book would bring me back a little familiarity.  I will reiterate that I have not yet finished this book but I have to write a little something about it while it’s on my mind.  After I do finish I will write an amended review but for now, this is it.

I HATE THIS BOOK!!!

First off the stereotypes are so fricken cliche I thought it was a joke.  The first section -‘section’ is because they are little stories, not chapters- is about this one wife whose husband is deployed and is getting caught up in the neighbor business.  This neighbor is foreign born who ‘stole’ her husband from his wife while he was deployed and she was his barber.   The next is about a soldier who begins to have feelings for his female interpreter in Iraq.  Another section deals with a wife who goes into her deployed husband’s email and finds something to make her suspect he is cheating.  These are only a few, this book is made up of eight cliches -I mean stories- .

Secondly, these are just a jumble of non-connected short stories.  They may tie into one another at some point but I am half-way through and besides the Rear D Captain there is no other character who makes an appearance in another story.  It is maddening.  What happens to this person?  What happens when that person comes home?  Did he?  Did she?  I know the author may want leave the reader to come up with their own conclusions but damn lady, tie up a few loose strings, would ya?

And finally, I know this is a personal one and most civilians who do not know a thing about military life need some things explained but I am so over the explanations!  Rear Detachment, Family Readiness Group and Forward Operating Base are some of the many that keep coming up.  I know those as rear d, FRG and FOB.  Acronyms and shortening of terms are so frequent in the military life I sometimes have to remind myself to not speak like that when talking to friends and family back home.  I don’t have a problem that the author feels she needs to break things down for the average reader but I’m pretty sure most peopled have heard IED at some point in the news and calling it an Improvised Explosive Device more than once gets annoying and redundant.  Service members do not usually use these elongated terms and for the author to keep injecting them into the dialog seems unrealistic to me. Maybe an initial explination and a glossary would fix this for me.

I am surprised Amazon reviewers have given it  4.3 out of 5 stars.  They are saying the stories ‘leave you wanting more’……. YES, the stories are so bluntly cut off I’m not sure if they are even complete.  ‘The characters are so developed’….. Seriously? These stories are ten or so pages long, these characters aren’t developed at all.   ‘They are linked though a shared setting’….  Well that is right on point.  The base is the only link between the characters/stories.

I will finish this book.  I will finish this book.   I will finish this book.  I will finish this book.   I will finish this book.  I will finish this book.   I will finish this book.  I will finish this book.   I hope.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.amazon.com

Book info. You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.  Copyright 2011 New America Library, USA.