Thursday, December 26, 2013


the girls birthdays are almost exactly one month from each other. this year, i was really lame and tired. 

we decided to "just do cake" for cora's birthday. i ordered a huge cake from a friend, invited all of the people who have been an integral part of cora's first year, and made some simple decorations. no gifts, just hanging out. 

it was fun, because there was very little stress. and the cake was yummy. 

for bella, i felt like i had to put a little more effort into it, you know, because she knows. but i was still feeling birthday lazy and so we went for an indoor playground with her 5 closest friends. 

for the lack of effort i put into it, it was a hit. 

i made their "chalkboards" and now they are hanging in their rooms. and i love it. i hope it isn't awkward when bella is 15 and i am still making these for her. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

the thing i hate most about political ramblings on facebook

file this under "how to lose friends and alienate people".

but i don't care.

i get so tired of one sided articles being pushed as truth. too many people on my friends list need to go to journalism 101 and learn how to figure out if something is a legitimate news outlet or simply rhetoric, whose main purpose is to stir emotions and get you crazed.

inflammatory articles. put out by "news" agencies. yep. i put quotes around that. because real news reports fact with no opinion. they let you look at something and use your brain to assess it for value.

it doesn't stop at political ramblings by left or right wing nuts (they do exist on BOTH sides, by the way). it's the articles that are quickly dispelled if you look any.where.else.

i call them incendiary articles, because they start fires. they prey on your emotion, stir you to action-post this on facebook!!! tell your friends!!!! a great wrong is occurring!!!! and you do, because, well, the internet told you to! the internet doesn't lie!

yes. yes it does. it lies all the time. 

it's called manipulation. "make us famous! here is a story, made to make you fear the very thing you love. we came up with it. no one else is reporting it! (because it's not true!) but we are breaking this story and you should love us now! look how we protect you from fears you never even had."

so here is how you don't fall victim for their traps. start using that thing that is in your head. i hear that it is meant for forming individual thoughts.

listen to me when i say this, things are very rarely as they are presented. there is always another side to the story. always. 

i think, if you have siblings, you probably can understand this more than anyone. remember when you were a kid, and your sibling would pick and pick and pick. and then you would get sick of it, and you would snap and yell, or scream or throw something, or (gasp) hit them? and who got in trouble? you. because you were the one who got caught. your sister or brother were crying foul, and mom, bless her tired, overstimulated heart, believed them. you. go to your room. (ugh. bless my tired, overstimulated heart. i do this all the time.....)

but....but.....but......that's not the whole story!


i heard once, there are 3 sides to every story, your side, their side and the truth. so, if your favorite shock jock provides you a story to make your blood boil, and "their side" provides the explanation, you can assume that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

i write this, because i have a headache from all the eye rolling. please friends. i love you. i just want what is best for you. don't stress yourself out over the lies that are out there to draw you in. use your giant, working brain! it is amazing!

plus also, i hear that if you think about things a lot, you live longer. yep. i made that up. but it feels good, right? let's go with it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 things i've learned from being a military spouse

1. learn to open you mind, but protect your heart

this can be true of any situation, but especially in the military. you are going to encounter so many different people, from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different parts of the world, different races, religions, with all different thoughts on life. if you believe that your way is the only way, you will be very lonely. 

however, there i a time to know the right people to open your heart up to, and not everyone is that person. military families have a way of opening up faster, and giving away a lot, quickly. it's part of the process. make friends fast. you only have a few years, at most with them. just be careful you chose wisely. 

2. things can always be harder. 

and they will be. for you. for others. and usually when you least expect it. we've had multiple deployments,  lost family members while we lived far away, have been separated from our families and each other, and yet, the hardest thing for me so far has been this weird work schedule he is on. he is here, but barely. cora only sees daddy on weekends, and bella for a few minutes before bed. we are living like a deployment, but not really. 

3. goodbyes will not be the hardest thing you have to do. 

when i was a kid, i would cry every time i left my grandparents house. i hated goodbyes. now, we say goodbye, what seems like daily. i've gotten good at it. it's not goodbye. it's see you later. and when people are constantly coming and going, saying hello can be much, much more difficult. 

4. home is not the same for everyone.

as much as we move around, "where are you from" can be a tricky question. and even then, the place you were born may not be home. while we call charlotte home, hawaii really feels like home. we spent our first 4 years of marriage there. bought our first home there. got duke, "got" bella, and pretty much started everything there. 

5. you (and those other spouses) are stronger than you ever thought.

don't count people out. that neighbor who seems to not have anything together, is probably holding it together a lot more than you think. there are days where i look disheveled and may or may not be fully appropriately clothed. occasionally, i look like i am about to fall apart at the seams, however, things are going pretty well aside from a sleepless night here or there (oh, who am i kidding, every night is sleepless). we military spouses go through a lot. we are asked a lot of, without little actual input. we sacrifice a lot, we put up with a lot, and we learn how to keep everyone fed and together on top of it all. 

6. not everyone loves this life, just as not everyone hates it. 

i hate hearing, "that must be so hard" or "you poor thing". don't pity me. i knew what i was getting in to. and i love it. this life suits us just fine. but i also know that the military life is not for everyone. the constant upheaval, no say in where you go or when you go there, no roots. it's not a life for every one. 

7. "family" will become a very complex word.

some of our friends are as close as our blood family. and some closer. we have met people who are completely estranged from their actual families and who have adopted themselves into other families. holidays are spent with whoever is around and you live life together. it all gets very extended. 

8. forget your pride when it comes to having nice things. the movers will just break them anyway.

for our wedding, i registered for 2 sets of nice dishes. in our very first move, just weeks later, several pieces broke from each set, leaving us with a bunch of random dishes. most of our stuff is ikea, refurbished or built by joel, because we have seen some real doozies when the furniture comes off the truck. so we try not to get too attached to anything. or spend too much money on anything.  

9. sometimes it's fun to take the road less traveled. until you realize you aren't the only one who has done this before and there is a reason this road is less traveled. 

whether it comes to shipping an animal, using a certain mover, taking a certain driving route or living in a certain area, there is usually a reason when you find out no one is using that company, or doing things that way. sure, sometimes the road less traveled offers a brighter view. and sometimes, it's a one way road along side a sheer cliff, with cars going in both directions. (that happened) 

10. expect the unexpected. 

because there is nothing else to expect. people always ask, "where are you going next"? and we never ever know. not really. we found out very late we were coming to germany, and even then, weren't 100% cleared until like, 3 weeks beforehand. things get dicey when you try to plan too much, too far in advance. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


we spent our thanksgiving in the netherlands this year. 

i highly recommend it. 

we stayed in a little ocean town called katwijk, on the corner of the street, looking right into the waves. i could have stayed there forever. living pretty far from the ocean, i have learned that my soul yearns to be near crashing waves. each time we have set foot on the shores of some sea, i feel home and happy. 

this trip, specifically was very enjoyable, to say the least. we went with some friends who also have a baby, just 2 months younger than cora. it's so fun, at this stage, watching the babies interact. 

our first day, we took a walk along the canal, and down the beach walk. it was super windy and down right cold, but the smell of salt filled my lungs with "i don't care", and we pushed on for an hour or so. i couldn't get enough. 
that's us, right at the end of the street. 

we got back to our apartment and got ready and went into delft. a small town in south holland. it was quaint and perfect. nothing spectacular or overwhelming, but pretty and easy. we ate lunch of the square-grilled sandwiches and soup, and strolled along the canals, with no real aim but to see. we shopped a bit, and stopped in a couple of cheese stores. we ended up buying beers from one of the shops and goat cheese from another to take back with us. on our way out of town, we found a place that boasted 200 different beers on the shelves, and stopped in to get a sampling. 

the next morning, we woke up and headed out for another city, called den haag. there we found beautiful buildings and more of a city like atmosphere. there was an english book store we ducked into to escape the cold and i found a traditional folk story translated into english that i got the girls for christmas. they won't understand it this year, but i hope one day they realize just how spectacular of a childhood they have had. 

den haag was amazing. it is home of peace palace, which is a beautiful building, but is also home to the permanent court of arbitration and the hague peace conference. 

we headed back home for our thanksgiving dinner, which was....inventive. 

we had no oven in our apartment, but we had brought a crockpot and so we put the turkey in the crockpot. we cooked the ham using a double boiler technique on the stove, while we cooked the potatoes on the back burner. it actually all came together really nicely and was delicious. 

that is, until we tried to cook the pumpkin pie in a frying pan. i don't recommend that. 

friday, we took the train to amsterdam. amsterdam was exactly what i thought it would be. it was a beautiful, old city, full of character and charm. we saw the anne frank house, ate at a pizzaria on a canal, went on a boat ride, and even saw an event where the king of the netherlands unveiled a new exhibit at one fo the museums. we hit the christmas market, drank gourmet hot cocoa and blushed through the main drag in the red light district. there was even a bar with NFL and NBA games showing. 

on our last day, we headed out of town, stopping a couple of times to snap some pictures of windmills.

all in all, the netherlands might be my second favorite place in europe. it's clean, beautiful and charming. the people are friendly and helpful and gracious. and it doesn't hurt that they speak english! 

living in a place where my language is not the first, and sometimes not even the second, is rough and gives me a whole new appreciation for people who move to the states without knowing the language. we have a buffer, since we are a part of a bigger, english speaking community and we have stores and restaurants available to us that take american money and are familiar. i can't imagine the isolation and frustration people must feel when the come to the states and are thrust into an environment where people get angry at them for not knowing english. 

and that is all for my little soapbox spiel.