Sitting on the shore at the Ko’olina lagoons four years ago, my sister and her daughters jumped right in splashing and playing like three long haired mermaids. They were out visiting and I so enjoyed a peek into the future of what life looked like with kids slightly older than my own.

How I marveled at the thought of my then 3 and 1 year old swimming solo. Would I ever get to the point where going to the beach wouldn’t be work? Or a whole lot of sitting on the shore ensuring they had their floaties on and not going out too far? When would the enjoyment of just playing in the water with the kids take over the watching and the worry?

The minions have been enjoying their summer break, the pool, the warm weather, the pool, riding bikes, skating and did I mention, the pool?! Last summer, they were timid and didn’t want to get their faces wet. We did swim lessons, and they made some progress. But this year, Jake asked what it would take to get to go down the slide at the deep end of the pool. Nothing like a little motivation, right? They don’t allow floaties and was told he would have to pass a swim test.

f=””> The slide![/capt
And so he did! He splashes down that slide without plugging his nose. He doesn’t wig out when water gets on his face. He plunges in over and over and paddles his way to the side to do it again. And again. And again. We’ve gone to our local water park (with HUGE waterslides) and the kids have a blast! Hannah and I put on our goggles and make silly faces under the water, blowing bubbles, and playing underwater chase. She goes down a smaller slide and tries to splash me as much as she can as she lands with a wide-grinned goggle face.

I get to relax. I get to enjoy them. I conquer my fear of heights and climb those stairs so I can go down the slides, too! The camera sits in the towel bag. My hair gets messed up. We all have goggle rimmed tan lines around our eyes. We get exercise and we sleep soundly with the sun-kissed contentment of a summer thoroughly enjoyed.

This is our mermaid time. And I’m loving it!


The Target Lady on a Good Day

Often I encounter horrific incidences of rude people making unsolicited comments about my parenting (or lack of) while out and about with the kiddos. On our recent trip to Portland, however, I sat in the Target Starbucks and wept.

Driving to Portland with a 4 and a 2-year-old, let me tell you, is not for the weak. The kids did great considering the length of the drive, but after 67 potty stops, stopping for dinner, listening to The Wheels on the Bus and 5 Little Monkeys 7 thousand times, I was ready for them to fall asleep and soon they did. For just  a bit I relished belting out my favorite tunes without someone asking to turn it off or change it or telling me about how “He’s looking at me and I don’t like it!”

We make it to our hotel, I check us in, we grab our suitcases and head to the room. (Randomly enough, this was the part of the trip I was dreading. Out of habit, Eric is usually the one that gets us checked into a hotel. Not that I can’t do it, but it’s just easier for one of us to sit in the car with the kids and the other handles the details. Maintaining behavior in a crowded hotel lobby while trying to conduct business was just asking for disaster, or so I thought. The kids did great.)

Our room had one of those ginormous bathtubs right in the room! The kids were in heaven! The irony was not lost on me that I would KILL for a nice long hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine, but if I even attempted it, they’d jump in with me and that would defeat the purpose. The kids did enjoy a “big bath” and then we headed to the pool for a late night swim/get the sillies out session.

The next morning before meeting up with friends for breakfast, I find a Target store to kill some time. (We are early risers and to quote a text I got from said friend, “Are you crazies up already?”) It was a rough morning. Kids were a bit out of sorts, wanting to go to the pool, Jake didn’t want to do this or that, then he didn’t want to be in a cart, but wasn’t listening, grabbing at juice boxes etc., etc. so in the cart he goes while I order a (strong) cup of coffee and something for the kids. Both kids are wailing by this point and if I didn’t get my coffee soon I was going to wig out. I am a better mommy with a cup of joe.

We get our beverages and I release them from Target cart exile. We sit down and Jake is still crying and says, “I miss my daddy.”

Kill me now.

It always comes out of left field and I never see it coming. “I know, honey. We’ve had a rough morning. But you know what? Daddy is almost at the end of his big work trip. He will be home soon. Right now though, we get to see our good friends from Hawaii. So why don’t we turn the page, and start a new part of our day?”

He comes and sits next to me and I rub his back.

“Why don’t we pretend we didn’t have such a rough morning. Let’s enjoy our milk and Mommy will enjoy her coffee and let’s go visit the toys for a bit while we wait to see when we’ll meet up with our friends.”

“Okay. That sounds good.” He has started to return to his normal happy(ish) self and the three of us chat about what the day had in store for us.

Then over walks the Target employee and I brace myself. After some of the comments I’ve received, I think over the past 15 minutes and mentally check myself for what I possibly could have said to offend her.

“Thank you. Thank you for being a kind parent. We see many parenting styles in here as you can imagine. You are a good mom,” she tells me.

And there I sat in the Target Starbucks and I just let my tears fall. It was a rough morning and it’s been a rough year with Eric gone. I knew we were seeing our dear friends, but I also knew that another hard “see you next time” was only three days away. It all just kind of hit me. I thanked her for her kind words and celebrated the fact that she’d caught me on a “good day”.

Boy Jobs

I am not a fan of certain boy jobs. (We call the things I don’t like to do around the house “boy jobs”. As in my husband takes care of them. No, I’m not being sexist. Yes, girls can do these things – I just don’t like them. Maybe I should just call them “Eric Jobs”. Eh, you get the point.)

Things like taking out the garbage, of course. Here are a few more things I really don’t like doing when he’s away:

1. Spider annihilation. Ew. Just blegh!

2. Unclogging hair drains. (Have you seen this hair?!) I know it’s MY hair, but when it’s all wet and gross and soap-coated – um, no thank you.

3. Washing out the garbage bins

4. Getting gas. I know, ridiculous. I just hate being bothered by taking the time to go get gas. And my car seems to need gas ALL THE TIME. Can’t it just stay full for a while?!

5. Basically anything to do with car maintenance. I don’t mind getting the oil changed or whatever, but like getting gas, I just don’t like to be bothered. I like the idea of vehicle fairies that keep everything in working order without me having to worry about the details! God help me if the idiot maintenance indicator light comes on!

Pretty short list. After a year of going it alone, I find that I am more capable than I think. Here are things I once THOUGHT were boy jobs – but they got done!

1. Installed a CAR STEREO! That was a good day!

2. Raised my son’s bed….totally used to wait for Eric to do that one!

3. Spider Killing. Ew. Don’t care how many times I have to do it – I’ll never like it. Even had to kill one tonight! Ugh!

4. Teaching my kids to play sports. While I know my husband would give a limb to be here to do these things with them, he just can’t. Until he returns, we play games like frisbee, catch, basketball, and baseball….and pray they love sports as much as their Dad.

5, Working with the kids about chipping in and helping. (Granted this is an “us” job.) Started them a few months ago “helping” to unload and load the dishwasher, pick up their own stuff (that’s a daily battle!), sweeping the floor after dinner, setting the table, etc. Even got them washing the dishes!

6. Changed my son’s bike tire. Well…I almost did. The back tire got sliced so it needed a new tire AND tube. I was able to successfully get those on the rim, but putting the whole thing back on the chain proved a bit more than I could handle. I gave it an hour and half…complete with Hannah attempting to eat the bolts on the garage floor and Jacob whining “Are you done yyyyyyyet?!!??!” incessantly. I gave up, brought it in to the cycle shop and for 6 bucks, they did it in 5 minutes.

7. Removed food particles from the bottom of the dishwasher. Yeah, ew.

8. Changed out the propane tank on the gas grill. Grillin’ season is here, baby! Bring it.

None of these household jobs is especially difficult, but when you have someone around who just does them, you don’t really give it a second thought. Many of these things I’d NEVER done before – like rewire a stereo.

If living this military life teaches us nothing else, it will definitely teach us how to stretch further, learn more, and attempt to do many things we may not have thought we could do. Or, as in the case of my kid’s bike tire – you learn when to call a professional!

Done something you thought you’d never be able to do? What are your “jobs” around the house like? Tell me about ’em!

I Am Woman…..

I’m always amazed when I do something I thought I couldn’t do, or was impossible.
Marathons, losing weight yes, but even little things. Like when I was in high school and I had my first car (89 Dodge Colt). I had a tail light that burnt out. I thought about waiting until my dad got home from work and asking him to fix it. Then I thought – well, it’s probably just a couple of screws or something and a light bulb…I know how to operate a screwdriver. (And yes, I can screw in a lightbulb!)
So I set about doing it myself. I’m sure I messed up and took something apart that didn’t need to be disassembled, but in the end I did do it. I remember the pride and the anticipation I felt as I couldn’t WAIT to tell my dad I had done it myself!  Car things always make me a little wary. I still don’t understand exactly how all the parts of a gas engine work. I know I need to make sure I have gas and oil and my fluids filled. I can change a tire if I need to. I am not an electrician. I’m not a mechanic.
For the past couple of months, we’ve had the same CD stuck in our car stereo.  My CD player likes to eat CDs apparently. It wouldn’t eject no matter how many times I tried.  (Yes, I know – first world problem! Smh….) Anyhoo, it’s a kid music CD which was just about to drive me over the edge. I can only listen to “John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt” about 10,000 times before sticking a fork in my eye. We were on 9,997.
So I asked my cousin (who IS in fact a car guy) to get it unstuck. By this time Hannah had been left unattended to play in the car a bit and she had jammed a second CD in there. Yeah. So my cousin got it unstuck for me and we went merrily on our way.
The very next CD we put in there (YES, It WAS John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt on a different disc!) got stuck. UGH! But, since I had watched my cousin disassemble the radio (and I felt like a dork having to ask AGAIN to assist) I got out some needle nose pliers, the crescent wrench and a couple of screwdrivers and got to work on getting that dang CD out on my own.
And I did it! The CD, however, did not survive. (No, I did not have a funeral. I would have broke it on ‘accident’ if it hadn’t been destroyed during Extraction 2012.) Now, however, the stereo wouldn’t even take a CD. (Yes, I tried.)  We then drove for a couple of weeks with just the radio. I was thrilled to be rid of the kid music, but Jake and Hannah did not share my excitement. Go figure. Every time we got in the car, the idea of fixing the car myself jumped to my mind. Could I? Nah…I can survive without a CD player until Eric gets back. Or I can have my dad or cousin look at it. Did I mention that I “lost” 2 mini crescent wrenches beneath the console during Extraction 2012? Oh, yeah. My fumble fingers dropped the little bugger. So I got the next sized wrench and promptly did it again! So now not only was the CD player not working, but I had to go fishing for two tiny wrenches. Okay, time to call Eric.
So he mentioned some crazy words like “splicing” and “dash filler” and some other gobbledy-gook. I kind of tuned him out after splicing. Have I not mentioned that I am not an electrician? The little bit I remember from 8th grade technology and my dad building and wiring houses would probably not help me in this venture….
I called O’Reilly’s in Burlington (BIG shout out to them! The guy helping me WAS AWESOME and didn’t make me feel like a complete idiot!) and asked about a conversion kit or whatever it was that Eric had told me on the phone to ask for. They didn’t have what I needed, but he called the local Mobile Music (also great service) and had them set a kit aside for me. I ran over (after a pooptastrophy of course – because what adventure would be complete with out someone pooping their pants?!)
Home we go with the kit. I am getting excited thinking, Yeah, I can do this. Its just a couple of screws. I got it. Then I opened the kit and there they were….loose wires. Crap. I thought it was going to be a connector plug that would connect the car’s wires to the CD players without me having to do anything.
Off comes the dash….
Ugh – they don’t match!
Again I peered into Eric’s tool box and looked around to see if anything sparked my memory on how to go about this. I also looked at what was in the new stereo’s box, the instructions with the conversion kit….wrench, check. Wire cutters, yep. Oh….Eric DOES have the little connectors. And yep – this wire cutter is outfitted with a crimper….hmmmm…..
The instructions instructed me to tape off the wires that didn’t match with the other side, so I did that. (After finding Eric’s electrician’s tape). I spliced, crimped, reassembled, and reconnected!!!



(And I haven’t been electrocuted yet!!)
While I won’t be opening up my own car stereo installation business anytime soon, I have to say – I’m pretty darn proud of my skills! And now, not only do we get to play CDs, I can also plug the auxiliary jack in to my phone and listen to my music that way without having to burn new CDs all the time! YAHOO!
And, of course while I wish Eric was home to do these kinds of tasks…I’m always proud of myself for doing what I didn’t think I could. (Insert self-back pat here.)
I am woman – hear me roar.
Or at least hear John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt blasting out of my car!