Category Archives: military spouses

The Bottom Drawer

Forgotten, but not lost.

Forgotten, but not lost.

Ironically, there are benefits to moving so often as a military family. Every few years, we’re forced to go through all the used markers, pillowcases, snow boots, kitchen utensils, Barbies, tae kwan do trophies, tax records, and saucepans, and throw a bunch of stuff out.

As a person who attaches sentimental value to everything from seashells and matchbooks to stained bibs and hospital bracelets, this can be stressful. But the sands of time grind away my sentimentality, and eventually, I end up chucking out mementos that I formerly believed to be too precious to part with.

As we prepare for our next military move to Rhode Island, I’m reconsidering items I thought were useful or nostalgic enough to haul around for so many years. For example, Aunt Millie’s (may she rest in peace) old end tables, with the cigarette burns I thought I’d buff out one day, were relegated to the donate pile. Although I kept one file of my kids’ artwork, anything with cracked macaroni or yellowing glue was photographed and discarded. Similarly, clothing that has not been worn in the last five years – except for my college duck boots which I hear are coming back into style — has been delivered to Goodwill.

Some collections, however, get pared down with each tour, but are never completely discarded regardless of their current usefulness. For example, I’ve been adding to several tubs of old t-shirts for years, because someday, I WILL make each of my kids a t-shirt quilt before they go off to college. And, I have at least four boxes of old toys and books that WILL seed the fantastic playroom I envision for my future grandchildren. I WILL use that stuff someday, I swear.

And then there’s the stuff I recently whittled down to one bottom file drawer. It contains documents that not only took years of hard work to assemble, but cost me over $90,000 to acquire. When my husband and I first married in 1993, this collection was huge and took up at least a dozen boxes. But with every tour, the contents aged, became obsolete, and were thrown away.

Other than a few musty books which reside on our shelf just for show, the bottom file drawer now contains the only tangible evidence of my career as a litigation attorney.

The hanging folders in the bottom drawer have tabs inscribed with titles such as “Resumes,” “Transcripts,” “Licensing,” and “Writing Samples.” Even though none of these documents have been referenced since I quit working in the 1990s to raise our kids, I keep them all neatly filed in case I need them to land that six-figure partnership offer in a high-powered litigation firm one day.

Although I won’t readily admit it, I know down deep inside that these old documents, now yellowed and stained with spots of rust from ancient paper clips and staples, will never realistically serve to supplement any future application for my employment. But I can’t bring myself to throw them away, just in case.

Besides, the file drawers above contain my children’s birth certificates, report cards, physical forms, the deed to our first house, mortgage documents, college savings statements, the dog’s shot records, orthodontist’s bills, car insurance policies, passports, tax forms, orders and other essential documents memorializing 20 years of life as a military family.

Like my college duck boots, the tub of t-shirts, and those old toys, my legal career will stay packed away a while longer. I WILL get to them eventually. In the meantime, I’ve got other, more important things to do.

 

Culture or Torture? Lessons learned while traveling with kids

My column in the April issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

My column in the April issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

April is the month of Spring Break, and Spring Break is a time for travel!

The possibilities are endless: a Caribbean cruise, camping in the mountains, sight-seeing in Rome, hiking the Appalachian Trail, a B&B in the French countryside. Simple, adventurous or extravagant, a change of scenery takes you from the late winter doldrums into an invigorated spring.

But wait. Hold up. Just a sec . . . What about the kids?

Unless you have a team of well-paid nannies who will keep the kids entertained at home all week (not likely on a military budget) then the kids are coming along. And the presence of children during travel tends to change things a bit …. Ahem, that’s the understatement of the century.

Instead of leisurely lunching on brie and wine at a Parisian street café, you’ll find yourself at nibbling nuggets at the McDonalds on the Champs d’Elysie. Rather than braving class 4 rapids on Pennsylvania’s Ohio Pyle Gorge, you’ll be splashing the sticky cotton candy off your face on the log jam at Wally World. Forget about scheduling your couples massage at the spa, because you’ll be wading in a suspiciously cloudy kiddie pool at a motel off the interstate, asking yourself how this could be happening. Again.

BEEN THERE, ENDURED THAT

Take it from me, I know. While stationed in Germany, I planned family trips to Ireland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, France, England and Scotland during our three-year tour. I wanted to jam-pack our time overseas with cultural and educational experiences that our kids would appreciate for the rest of their lives.

Problem was, I forgot. They’re kids.

Oh, yea. Bummer.

I soon learned that kids — my kids, at least, and very possibly yours — don’t want to wait two hours for traditional indigenous foods at an authentic local restaurant. They could care less about mountain scenery or sylvan country settings. And they absolutely hate lingering in art and history museums.

We discovered the hard way that, unless we were planning a trip to the Threshold of Hell, we’d better figure out how to keep the kids happy. First, we learned the Cardinal Rule of Travelling with the Kids:

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Sure, you want to think positive. I’m all for that. But don’t envision life-changing authentic ambiance, edifying cultural experience, thrilling adventure, romantic interludes and indulgent relaxation. Family trips have the potential to turn out to be as relaxing and cultural as chaperoning a fifth grade field trip to Bowl-O-Rama. With that mindset, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised.

Now, in order to avoid the brink of insanity while traveling with the kids, I’ll share some strategies we learned.

#1 Oh my gosh, gross!

My kids are so cultured, they have thrown up in six states and seven foreign countries. Nothing kills ambiance like the lingering scent of upchuck on your shoes, so keep gallon zip-lock bags and wet wipes in your purse at all times.

#2 Take appropriate steps, literally.

Bell towers, monuments, castles, forts and tall buildings are great places to run the “squirrelly” out of kids. Beware that you may need a portable defibrillator for yourself, but a coronary event may be worth it if it means your kids will be so tired that they’ll sit through dinner peacefully tonight.

#3 Kiddie comfort food.

Pommes fritz, furai, chips, papas fritas – whatever you call ‘em, don’t even think about sitting down at a restaurant that doesn’t have French fries on the menu.

#4 Space out.

No, I’m not suggesting that you take sedatives while traveling with the kids, but find wide open spaces where you and hubby can soak up local ambiance while the rugrats spread their grubby little wings and fly. You can nibble local cheese and bread while they scare pigeons in the piazza, or chase bumble bees in an alpine meadow, or roll in the grass at a city park.

#5 Wet them down while you wet your whistle.

When deciding where to stop for a glass of wine, look for a nearby fountain, stream, lake, pond, or tropical fish tank. If they can splash, throw rocks, feed ducks or tap on the glass, you have a decent chance of sipping your wine in peace.

#6 Capture the memories.

Be sure to take lots of photos, because no matter how torturous family vacations may seem, someday you’ll look back and wish you could do it all over again. 

Pick up a copy today!

Pick up a copy today!

I can’t wait to move!

My column in the March Issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

My column in the March Issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

Well, first, there’s the heat. The year-round, thick, hot, humid, gnat-infested, sweat producing, Florida heat. The lousy palm trees certainly don’t do much to shade us from the relentless sun around here – I swear, it shines about 300 days a year! I don’t know how the locals can take it.      

And then there’s the sand. Not just any sand, but that fine, sugary Florida sand that you don’t feel until you’re back from the beach and you find out it’s all over your house. It’s a real hassle, I tell ya.

Of course, we can’t forget the local culture, and all its slow cooked “southern charm.” I swear, if another person opens a door for me or calls me “ma’am,” I’m gonna lose it! I’m sick and tired of sweet tea, cornbread, barbecue, fried chicken, coconut shrimp and tropical drinks!

Thank goodness, we got orders out of this place! Good riddance!

Part and parcel of the military experience is The Military Move. Every few years, we are forced to “pull chocks” – say good-bye to what has become familiar and settle in a new place. It’s tough, and sometimes we develop subconscious strategies to help us cope with the stress.

We settle our families into every duty station – be it Kentucky, California, Alaska, Arizona, Italy, Japan, or Florida. Even if it’s difficult at first, we eventually find our groove. The kids make friends, we get jobs, we find a pizza place and join bunco groups. As time passes, we incorporate local foods into our meals, we adopt local customs, we use local lingo such as “Yes Ma’am,” “You betcha,” “Prego,” and “Aloha.”

And just as we begin to embrace our new lifestyle, we get orders to someplace else. It never fails.

However, military spouses won’t allow themselves to wallow in self pity for long. After shedding a few tears – usually over a little wine and copious amounts of chocolate, or vice versa – we pick ourselves up and simply start seeing things differently. Our new orders may dictate that we must move from Paradise to Poughkeepsi, but somehow, we convince ourselves that we need a fresh start.

As for me, our new orders say that we have to move from the secluded southern beaches of Naval Station Mayport, Florida, and settle in the chilly north, at the Naval War College, Rhode Island. In the coming months before we pull chocks, I’m sure I will shamelessly blubber and hug my Mayport friends at a neighborhood fire pit. I will most likely feel no guilt as I gorge myself one last time on southern fried chicken and biscuits. And I’m pretty sure I will get misty when I take one last shell walk on what has become “my beach.”

However, to ease the pain, my subconscious mind will say, “This duty station is the threshold of hell, and the new one will be WAY better. Seriously.”

So, I can’t wait to move to Newport. The quaint little towns. The ocean-splashed cliffs. The lobster. The quirky New Englanders with their funny accents and old-school mentalities. The Technicolor falls and the frosty white winters.

I’m 100 percent certain. There’s not a doubt in my mind. No question about it: our new duty station will be WAY better than this one . . . [gulp, sniff] . . . Seriously.

Try these tips to ease the pain of constant change

Look for my column about traveling with kids in the April issue!

Look for my column about traveling with kids in the April issue!

Another year of yo yo dieting?

Feb MSM

My latest column in the February Issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

What’s the most commonly broken New Year’s resolution? You guessed it – LOSE WEIGHT. You start out with the best intentions, but along the way, something always goes wrong…

After emerging, bulging and gassy, from the egg-nog-spiked holiday season, with a veritable cheese ball lodged in your ever-expanding gut, you decide, enough is enough. You resolve to lose that 10 pounds ONCE AND FOR ALL. And this time, you’re going to do it right.

BEST LAID PLANS

At first, your new regimen feels almost pleasurable. As the scale’s needle begins to drop, you start bragging to fellow milspouses about how many veggies you’ve been eating and the new classes you’ve tried at the base gym.

Everything is looking up, until you glance at the calendar. You made it through the playoffs without so much as a drop of queso passing your lips, but the Super Bowl is coming. Eating a salad on Super Bowl Sunday would be nothing short of sacrilege, and besides, you’ve learned how to eat sensible portions, right?

The morning after the Super Bowl, your stomach is still sloshing with a mixture of half-chewed chicken wings, chili, sausage dip, beer, and about four thousand Peanut M&Ms. Guilt and self-loathing send you into a week-long tailspin of binge eating.

One night, while polishing off a can of Pringles, you notice that the calendar on the refrigerator indicates that Lent is coming. Religion aside, you realize that this is your lifeline to get back on track, and make a promise to give up junk food until Easter.

Aside from sneaking a few morsels from the heart-shaped box of chocolates your husband sent you for Valentine’s Day, you keep to your promise and begin to envision yourself looking trim when he comes home from deployment.

Just when you think one of your rolls has disappeared, Easter creeps up on you. How can you stay on track when you’re surrounded by pastel miniatures of every candy you’ve ever loved? It’s entrapment!

Feeling guilty about the plateful of ham and scalloped potatoes you had for Easter dinner, you give up and shamelessly pilfer candy from your kids’ baskets after they’ve gone to bed. The sugar coma drags you down to rock bottom again, until the calendar offers the next lifeline to climb back out of the abyss.

AND SO IT GOES….

This yo-yo diet cycle continues throughout the year, bottoming out through the guacamole of Cinco de Mayo, the ice cream of Independence Day, the potato salad of Labor Day, the candy extravaganza of Halloween, the gravy-smothered Thanksgiving, and the seasonal smorgasbord of the winter holidays.

Before you know it, it’s the New Year, and you’ve got another cheese ball lodged in your gut.

Are we too weak to overcome our calendars? As long as peanut butter cups come in heart, egg, pumpkin, and tree shapes, are we doomed to fail? Should we just resign ourselves to muffin tops and lunch lady arms for the rest of our lives?

No! The fit people I know enjoy a big slice of wedding cake, or wings on game day, and don’t give it another thought. But when many of us indulge, we plunge into a crevasse of guilt that is too hard to climb out of.

So then, the key to preventing the calendar from sabotaging our weight and fitness goals is to banish guilt forever! Don’t hate yourself for breaking your resolutions. It’s OK to fall off the wagon every once in a while, because you’re in the driver’s seat.

Just climb right back on, stay on course, and resolve to never look back.

4 Milspouse Diet tips that actually work!

  • There are no forbidden fruits. Unless you have a food-related health condition such as diabetes or celiac disease, don’t think of any foods as off limits, because you’re setting yourself up for guilt if you violate your self-imposed prohibitions.
  • Concentrate on eating healthily, not on eating less. Keeping track of fruits, veggies, water and protein will keep you from obsessing about too many carbs or calories.
  • Cut yourself a break with that slice of cake.  Know ahead of time that you’ll indulge on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, holidays and homecomings. Enjoy yourself and don’t think about it too much.
  • Sidestep the splurge. Just because you had a little ice cream, doesn’t mean you should eat the whole pint. Skipping exercise one day doesn’t justify the couch potato Olympics the rest of the week. Don’t get sucked into the binge mentality – keep moving forward!
Don't forget to look for my March column, where I'll explain why I CAN'T WAIT for my next military move!

Don’t forget to look for my March column, where I’ll explain why I CAN’T WAIT for ANOTHER military move!

If you liked this post, remember to vote for Meat & Potatoes of Life as a Top 25 Funny Moms blog on Circle of Moms – only two days left to vote! 

My gravy’s better than your gravy

My column in the November issue of Military Spouse magazine!

We do it every year. We cut out recipes. We make lists. We go to the commissary. We elbow each other out of the way to grab turkeys, cranberries, yams, and mini-marshmallows. We jam enough food into our pantries to feed an Army, or Navy as it were.

Why? Because it’s the holidays, of course!

When our guests politely ask, “What can we bring?” we are faced with an interesting dilemma. On one hand, our brains are about to explode over all the details of hosting, so contributions would be nice. But on the other hand, we have envisioned holiday meals using our own family traditions, and what if our guests bring dishes that are weird and unfamiliar?

I experienced this phenomenon seventeen years ago, when we were stationed at Fort Ord, California. Unable to fly back east to spend the holiday with our relatives, we accepted an invitation to have Thanksgiving dinner at another family’s house on base.

“What can I bring?” I asked the other wife. “Uh, well, um….” she stuttered nervously, “I’ll get back to you on that.”

I fancied myself a pretty darned good cook back in those days (before kids turned my brain to mush and our staple food into mac-n-cheese, mind you) and was looking forward to contributing to the meal. “What? But, but, you’ve got to let me bring something,” I exclaimed. “Well, alright then, how ‘bout you bring frozen corn.”

Frozen corn? Are you kidding me? She wasn’t.

Over the next few days, I hounded the other spouse, offering my Sausage Apple Pecan Cornbread Dressing, my Guiness Gravy, my Swiss Onion Bread, my Waldorf Salad. She resisted, but finally agreed to let me bring a lousy pumpkin pie and a tub of Cool Whip.

I swallowed my disappointment that Thanksgiving — along with her bland stuffing and starchy gravy – and resolved to make what I wanted from then on.

However, year after year, the same dilemma kept cropping up, and I realized something. Whether a military spouse is the host or the guest, military spouses don’t like to give up their holiday traditions.

So, unless we want to spend holiday meals alone, we’d better learn to compromise.

If you are a guest, don’t turn your nose up at your hostess’ jellied cranberry sauce because you only make it from scratch. Don’t judge your host if he doesn’t brine the bird, and then make passive aggressive comments like, “Could you pass the canned gravy? I think I’ve got some meat stuck in my throat.” Don’t be bitter that you weren’t able to show off your Pecan Cheesecake with the Gingersnap Crust. Just eat whatever they serve you and shut your pumpkin pie hole.

If you are hosting, let your guests bring their Tex Mex corn dish even if it might clash with your Ambrosia. Who cares if your friend has a different take on sweet potatoes – surely, no one has ever died from not eating marshmallows. You can give up your stinking Parker House rolls just this once, and let them bring their Gammie’s Poppy Seed Loaf if it makes them feel at home. You’ll survive.

Besides, this is the time of year that we’re supposed to think about all the things we’re thankful for, and isn’t that being able to celebrate the holidays with our family and friends? NOT the Green Bean Casserole, for Pete’s sake.

Think of it this way: good friends and family are the meat and potatoes of life. The food? Well, no matter whether it’s canned, powdered, or slow cooked from the drippings, it’s just the gravy.

I give and give, but what do I get?

Click on this photo to see a larger version of my column in the October issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

I’m going out on a limb here and say that the majority of you have a bottle of mustard, a can of cooking spray, a stick of butter, or some other food item in your kitchen that you did not purchase. No need to bother with FBI profiling, exhaustive research or statistical analysis. We all know it’s true.

You did not pay for that jar of Spanish olives or that bag of frozen meatballs, did you? Now don’t get your cammo undies in a bunch here, I’m not accusing you of being a thief. To the contrary, I’m merely pointing out what’s unique about us military spouses.

Unlike most in the civilian world, we military spouses are accustomed to people coming and going in our lives. Deployments, PCSes, and frequent change are part and parcel of our military lifestyles.

And every time your neighbor or best friend PCSes, she bestows to you memories of afternoons chatting on the patio during deployments, of the times she took care of your dog when you visited your parents, of the night you brought her wine and Dove Bars because she was crying over her husband’s new orders.

Finally, she bequeathed something that will last for months to come: that bottle of cocktail sauce she had in the pantry.

You really don’t need her half-used tub of margarine, but after all the support and friendship you gave each other, this was her final act of friendship. She gave these things to you because that’s what we do in the military. We support each other because we share a common experience and understanding.

So, every time you see that bottle of French dressing on your refrigerator door that no one in your family likes, you will remember that being a military spouse is about giving.

Give strength, community, camaraderie, and that is exactly what you will get back. Well, that, and a half bottle of ketchup.

Sure, the monthly potluck dinners can be a real bore. Yes, watching your friend’s kids while she goes to her prenatal appointments can be a real pain. No doubt, getting another phone call from a worried squadron wife right in the middle of the Survivor finale can be really annoying.

But think of it like this – The bottle of balsamic vinegar your fellow military spouse left you only cost about $3.75. The gas you spent dropping her family off at the airport set you back at least $7.50. However, the common understanding and support she offered you when you were in need was priceless.

Give and you shall receive.

Read the PDF version here: October Column.

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

My column in the September issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

 

Dear Mrs. Molinari,

Thank you for your completed application.  However, the work experiences you listed in section C were all prior to 1996. Without work experience from the last five years, I will not be able to offer you employment with our company.

Best of luck,

Ms. Julie Robinson,
Employment Manager
 

Wait, what? No WORK experience? Seriously? Ms. Robinson, do you have any idea what I’ve been doing the last 19 years as a military spouse?

Have you ever lived in 7 states and two foreign countries? I have. Have you ever completed the complicated paperwork necessary to file two successful Household Goods Claims? I have. Have you ever flown Space A as an unaccompanied dependent without getting stranded at Wright-Pat Air Force Base for three days? I have.

Have you ever moved three children, a 110-pound dog, two hermit crabs, a car and 15,000 pounds of household goods to a foreign country while your spouse was gone and you were suffering from a lingering sinus infection? I have. Have you ever read a set of military orders and understood them? I have. Well, sort of.

The point is, Ms. Robinson, that anyone who has ever lived military life has “work experience,” no matter whether he or she has an employer or stays at home to manage the family. In fact, ask any military spouse which she’d rather do — spend a day working in an office, or find another new gynecologist after her umpteenth PCS move – and I’ll bet she’d be running for her briefcase.

Despite its rewards, military life is hard work, and military spouses must necessarily be resourceful, resilient, frugal, independent, and mentally stable (most of the time, anyway.) Military spouses have to be multi-taskers, interpreters, accountants, decision-makers, entertainers, short-order cooks, mechanics, coaches, gardeners, mothers and fathers all rolled into one.

Many, like me, have professional careers that had to be put on the back burner so that we could support our active duty spouses and supervise our families through deployments and multiple moves. Other military spouses have managed to find employment after each move, but they are usually at a major disadvantage, starting each new job back at the bottom of the ladder, or having to apply for costly additional licensing in each new state.

What’s that you say, Ms. Robinson? Being a military spouse doesn’t qualify as “work experience?” Let me put it to you this way: If you have something that needs to be done, ask a military spouse to do it. I promise, you’ll be surprised by what we can do.

Coo, coo, ca-choo.

The October issue of Military Spouse Magazine is out! Check out my column “What drives us CRAZY! — I give and I give, but what do I get?”

The Skin and Bones of Contention

The wild things that go on in our bedroom.

At some point or another in a marriage, a wife faces a delicate dilemma: How to incorporate her husband’s deer head, bowling trophy, concert poster, stereo speakers, bar lamp or autographed sporting equipment into the home décor. In nineteen years of marriage to my Navy husband, I’ve learned that solving this domestic quandary involves compromise, diplomacy, tact, and sometimes, trickery.

After each of our eight moves, I set about making each new house our home. The vast majority of the unpacking and home decorating has been left to my discretion as the wife, and I always make a sincere effort to find spots for the treasured belongings that will provide a comfortable and secure environment for our family.

Sometimes, however, I must prioritize. After our most recent move, I was unpacking a box labeled “master bedroom” and came upon an item that my husband had purchased during our last tour of duty in Germany.

Despite the fact that he is squeamish about blood, has never hunted, and is afraid of my kitchen cutlery; he bought himself a full-sized reindeer pelt one night at a German Christmas festival. He’s not quite sure why he made the purchase, and admits that it may have been motivated by the half-dozen mugs of mulled wine he consumed that frosty winter evening. But, he insists, he must’ve had a perfectly good reason at the time.

After finding the pelt in the moving box along with our prissy floral bedroom linens, I wondered, How will this thing fit into our new bedroom’s decor?

On one hand, displaying the enormous hide might have added the Nordic charm of an igloo – all we needed was an ice machine and a dog sled to give our bedroom a real Tundra vibe. On the other hand, my husband might take the Eskimo theme a bit too far – turning the thermostat below 50, sleeping in a Caribou parka, and offering to massage me with whale blubber oil.

I shuddered at the thought and stuffed the reindeer pelt under our bed.

A few days later, I found the hide spread out in the middle of our bedroom floor like a fresh kill. The dog took a few sniffs and resolved to stay at least two feet away from the strange flattened beast in case it might suddenly attack.

A couple times, I hid the pelt from my husband in hopes that he wouldn’t notice, but he always did, and put the wild animal skin right back in the middle of our bedroom floor. If I tried to reason with him, he declared quite simply, “I like it,” and would not discuss the matter further.

While there have been many battles worth fighting in our marriage, I knew that this was not one of them. In my husband’s travels with the Navy, he has brought home countless souvenirs and memorabilia. Some items were special enough to become a permanent part of our home décor. Others had only a short time on display, before being relegated to a cardboard box in the garage.

There was the airplane propeller, the English cricket bat, the Yemeni sword, the German beer stein, the Middle Eastern vase, the Norwegian whale bone, the Korean chess set, dozens of Navy plaques and framed certificates, and scores of African items – wildebeest horns, warthog tusks, bowls, woven baskets, tribal warrior figures, Masai clubs, fertility masks, bongos, and carved wooden animals.

For husbands like mine, these items become more than just clunky, dust-gathering, tacky souvenirs. The items represent their athletic superiority, power, virility, and youth. Despite the fact that my husband has no sober memory of its purchase, that reindeer pelt is his manhood splayed out on our bedroom floor for the whole world to see.

I wouldn’t want to take away my husband’s manhood just because it doesn’t match the bedspread. And besides, the reindeer pelt reminds me a little of my husband – it doesn’t say much, lays around a lot, and sheds.

An edited version of this essay was published in the August 2012 issue of Military Spouse magazine as my new column, “Things that drive us CRAZY! ” This is the uncut original version, but if you missed the August issue, here’s my column as a PDF: MSMAugColumn

Don’t forget to pick up the September issue of Military Spouse magazine, where I am highlighted as a contributor, and my column “Things that drive us CRAZY!” tells a funny story of the challenges milspouses face when trying to find employment.

Won’t Go Topless

 

Listen folks, you really don’t want to see me going topless — it aint pretty…unless you think two fried eggs hanging from a hook is attractive —  so click the pretty little pink circle above and cast your vote for me as the bestest, most prettiest, hilariousest, most funnest TOP military mom blogger around.  These contests are purely promotional tools, but they really do help bring new readers to my blog. And it will help me promote my new monthly column in Military Spouse magazine!

You can vote once every 24 hours from any computer or smart phone from now until August 16th!!  Support the troops and help put my Top on — trust me, you want that. Really.

Eggs, sunny-side up, frying in a pan. Français...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mother’s Day – A real hoot.

(Lee Forrest/Flickr)

“Hey Hon, so whaddya want for Mother’s Day anyway?” my husband inquired a couple days ago, much too late to actually plan anything decent.

My mind flashed to Mother’s Days past. I winced at vivid images of kitchens destroyed by my children’s best intentions. My lips puckered at the distant taste of cold burnt breakfasts in bed. Allowing my mind to reminisce a moment longer, I nearly gagged at the thought of pond scum.

Well, not exactly pond scum, but that scummy film that forms in the bottom of a flower vase containing week-old cut flowers. My uvula twitched at the thought of slimy stems breaking the algae-like skin on the surface of old vase water to reveal murky dregs and the pungent odor of rotting vegetation.

I never really liked cut flowers because of the pond scum, but my husband orders them almost every year. He makes a call to the florist and, voila! his job is done. One year, I delicately suggested he consider potted flowers for Mother’s Day. That year, I received a lovely hydrangea that bloomed in my garden for years. I thought my days of dealing with green slime were over.

The next year it seemed like a heck of a lot of work driving over to the garden center for another potted plant when my husband could simply call the florist from the comfort of his Barcalounger. Back to the pond scum.

I shuddered, and tried to focus on an answer to my husband’s question. Hmm, I thought, is there something that my family would enjoy that would not require me to clean the kitchen and wash out dirty vases?

I recalled Mother’s Day 2007. My Navy husband was in the 5th month of a yearlong deployment to Djibouti, Africa. I met some other “geographically single” military moms at an indoor play center to let the kids run off some steam while we chatted. A couple hours later, the kids, sweaty and sufficiently coated in invisible ball-pit bacteria, told us they were starving to death.

The mothers begrudgingly trudged toward the exit. “Ugh,” one mom groaned, “I really don’t want to cook.” “Me neither,” another chimed in, her lips stretched downward in an exaggerated frown.

After months of parenting alone, I seriously contemplated eating my daughter’s filthy sweat-dampened socks to avoid cooking another meal. “Hey, you guys wanna go out to lunch somewhere?!”

We huddled in the parking lot to plan a lunch outing, but our excitement soon turned to disappointment when we realized that, without a reservation, we’d be lucky to get Slurpies and Slim Jims at 7-11 on Mother’s Day.

We said our good-byes again, and slogged to our respective minivans.

Just then, a 150-watt bulb blinked on in my deployment weary brain with possibly the best idea I’d had in my entire life. “I know where we can go!” I blurted. The other moms and their offspring looked to me with hope in their hungry eyes across the quivering asphalt, and I bellowed with outstretched arms like their pseudo savior, “HOOTERS!”

Much as I had predicted, we had the whole place to ourselves, and lazily munched on wings and fries late into the afternoon. The waitresses seemed more than happy to cater to feminine clientele who don’t giggle nervously and ogle at their ill-fitting shirts, so the service was excellent. While I did have to wipe drool from my 11-year-old son’s chin a time or two, all in all, it was a perfect Mother’s Day.

“Hon, did you hear me?” my husband inquired impatiently.

“Oh, yea,” I said, snapping back to reality. For a fleeting moment, I considered suggesting a replay of that wonderful day in 2007, but I thought better of it when I realized that Mother’s day at Hooters only works when fathers aren’t around.

The taste of chilled scorched eggs and the smell of slimy vase water suddenly seemed appealing when compared with seeing one’s husband stare bug-eyed at a woman half his age while sucking down chicken wings and beer, so I said, “Breakfast in bed and a vase of flowers would be just wonderful.”

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