Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dance, White boy, Dance

This is hilarious.

Projects for the Troops

The holiday season can be mentally and emotionally challenging for some. This is especially true for our Military. A great many of them are far from home and family. There are many projects underway to help make the season a little brighter. The little gifts and letters of support are great morale boosters. Here are a few of the many projects that are ongoing. Spread the word.

Marine Corps Moms (also known as Marine Corps Family Foundation) have several projects in the works. Operation Santa is attempting to send 25,000 stuffed stockings to the troops. They are close to their goal. Right now postage is the biggest problem. There are little groups all over the U.S. who have stockings ready to ship but lack the funds to ship them. Operation Santa is "going to the dogs" this year too. They need help providing stockings stuffed with dog treats and bones for the K-9 units.

Every day, there are nearly 700 recruits in the Support Battalions at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots in San Diego and Parris Island. These are recruits who have been separated from the regular training platoons for a variety of reasons-sickness, injury, the need for additional physical conditioning, and those who are being processed out of training. MarineMOMSonline is looking for donations and volunteers to provide stockings and items for this group. It is tough enough being in Boot Camp but to be held back during the holidays it can be especially tough.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Here's to the Heroes

Busch Gardens has a "Here's to the Heroes" program. It is good through the end of this year. I do not know if they will have it next year. An active duty military person can get a free one day admission for himself and up to 3 direct dependents to their various parks. It also says the Military member does not have to be present. Pass this information along.
This is the link to the main page
and this is to the application page.
I wish I had known about this while my son was home on his 10 day leave. I found out about it through the USO site. My son was floored by the treatment the USO gave them at the LA airport. He couldn't believe how well they treated him.

Invisible Mom

A very good friend of mine, who has grown boys of her own, sent me the following story. It really hit home.

I'm Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of
response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room
while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"
Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or
cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head
in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm
invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you
fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human
being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a
satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney
?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books
and the eyes that studied history and the mind that
graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared
into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going,
she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the
return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back
from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the
hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at
the others all put together so well. It was hard not to
compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my
out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that
was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and
I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I
was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a
beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't
exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I re ad her
inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the
greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And
I would discover what would become for me, four
life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no
record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives
for a work they would never see finished. They made great
sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their
building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to
visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a
workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was
puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much
time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by
the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied,
"Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into
place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I
see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day,
even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've
done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is
too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building
a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it
is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for
the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote
to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective
when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people
who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to
work on something that their name will never be on. The
writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals
could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few
people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell
the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving,
"My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies,
and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and
presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd
built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to
want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to
say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be
seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very
possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we
have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to All

I'm wishing each and everyone of you the best of wishes and Holiday. Please say a prayer for our troops and all those that love them. The holidays are hard when you are away from family.

Daredevil made it safely to Twenty-nine Palms, CA. However, he is not allowed to leave the base and therefore has no family to spend Thanksgiving with. My heart cries for him. He has a 96hour liberty and nothing to do. And, to top everything off, his girlfriend of two years broke up with him and she didn't have to decency to tell him straight-up. He found out from someone else that she has been telling everyone she broke up with him. I know it will all work out but, damn it, that's my son. Nobody is allowed to hurt him. Nobody.

Chowhound and I are off first thing tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my Sweetie and his son. I will think of all you poor folks freezing as I bask in the Bahamian sun.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

World Travels for $200 Alex

In December, you can
sun yourself & attend
its Reggae Sumfest.

What is Manitoba?

BUZZZZZZZZZ! Wrong?!! I swear it sounded Caribbean to me.

Crap. Anyone have a parka and long johns I can borrow ?

I really need to think before I volunteer for things. They needed volunteers to help implement a program in one of our other mills. I said yes before I thought about what time of year it was. Manitoba. Cool, I've never been to Canada. Stupid. You wait and volunteer for there in the summer time. What the hell was I thinking?

I'll be in the Bahamas this weekend. My body is going to go into shock from the temp changes in the next two weeks.

"If I only had a brain" Where's the wizard when you need him?


The Commandant of the Marine Corps was General Al Gray, a crusty old "Field Marine." He loved his Marines and often slipped into the mess hall wearing a faded old field jacket without any rank or insignia on it. He would go through the chow line just like a private. In this way, he was assured of being given the same rations that the lowest enlisted man received. And, woe be it to the mess officer if the food was found to be "unfit in quality or quantity." Upon becoming Commandant, General Gray was expected to do a great deal of formal entertaining... fancy dinner parties in full dress blue uniform. Now, the General would rather have been in the field eating cold "C-rats" around a fighting hole with a bunch of young "hard charging" Marines. But the General knew his duty and as a Marine he was determined to do it to the best of his ability. During these formal parties, a detachment of highly polished Marines from Eighth and Eye" (Marine Barracks located at 8th and I Streets in Washington, D.C., home of the Silent Drill Team) were detailed to assume the position of parade rest at various intervals around the ballroom where the festivities were being held. At some point during one of these affairs, a very refined, big-chested, blue-haired lady picked up a tray of pastries and went around the room offering confections to the guests. When she noticed these Marines in dress blues, standing like sculptures all around the room, she was moved with admiration. She knew that several of these men were fresh from our victory in Kuwait She made a beeline for the closest Lance Corporal, drew near him and asked, "Would you like pastry young man?" The young Marine snapped to attention and replied, "I don't eat that shit, Ma'am." Just as quickly, he resumed the position of parade rest. His gaze remained fixed on some distant point throughout the exchange. The fancy lady was completely taken aback! She blinked, her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open. So startled was she that she immediately began to doubt what she had heard. In a quivering voice she asked, "W-W-What did you say?" The Marine snapped back to the position of attention (like the arm of a mousetrap smacking it's wooden base). Then he said, "I don't eat that shit, Ma'am." And just as smartly as before, he moved back to the position of parade rest. This time, there was no doubt. The fancy lady immediately became incensed and felt insulted. After all, here she was an important lady, taking the time to offer something nice to this enlisted man (well below her station in life), and he had the nerve to say THAT to HER! She exclaimed, "Well! I never...!" The lady remembered that she had met that military man in charge of all these 'soldiers' earlier. She spotted General Gray from across the room. He had a cigar clenched between his teeth and a camouflaged canteen cup full of bourbon in his left hand. He was talking to a group of 1st and 2nd Lieutenants. So blue haired lady went straight over to the Commandant and interrupted."General, I offered some pastry to that young man over there, and do you know what he told me?" General Gray cocked his eyebrow, took the cigar out of his mouth and said, "Well, no Ma'am, I don't." The lady took in a deep breath, confident that she was adequately expressing with her body language her considerable rage and indignation. As she wagged her head in cadence with her words, and she paused between each word for effect, "He said, 'I - don't - eat - that - shit - Ma'am!'"The lieutenants were in a state of near apoplexy. A couple of them choked back chuckles, and turned their heads to avoid having their smirks detected. The next thought that most of them had was, "God, I hope it wasn't one of MY Marines! " and the color left their faces. General Gray wrinkled his brow, cut his eyes in the direction of the lieutenants, put his free hand to his chin and muttered a subdued, "Hummm Which one did you say it was Ma'am?," the General asked. "That tall sturdy one right over there near the window, General," the woman said with smug satisfaction. One of the lieutenants began to look sick and put a hand on the wall for support. General Gray, seemed deep in thought, hand still to his chin, wrinkled brow. Suddenly, he looked up and his expression changed to one indicating he had made a decision.He looked the fancy lady right in the eyes and said, "Well, fuck him then, don't give him any."


True friendship is an awesome relationship. It is deep rooted in your soul. That type of friend is hard to come by. I am fortunate enough to have several. One of them being VWBug. She is a blessing in my life. We have been friends since we were 13 or 14 (so that would be like 7 or 8 years, right?).

I stole the following poem from Lemon Stand-Lemonade Made Daily.

A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself and doesn't feel even the least bit weird shutting your 'beer/Pepsi drawer' with her foot!

A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend shoulder is soggy from your tears..

A simple friend doesn't know your parents' first names.
A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.

A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.

A simple friend hates it when you call after they've gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.

A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.
A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.

A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.
A real friend could blackmail you with it!

A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.
A real friend calls you after you had a fight.

A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you!

Yesterday, VWBug gave me a friendship award. I am honored that she considers me a friend. And surprised to because I'm always picking on her. I dedicate this poem to her as well as the recipients of my Friendship Award.

I'm going to do things a little different here. The people I am honored to call a friend are not bloggers. But, they do grace this blog and my life with their presence. So, I present The Colors of Friendship award to:

Tweety: She is beauty defined. She wears her heart on her sleeve, will give you the shirt off her back, and give her heart a million times over.

Linnaya: You are probably the strongest, most determined person I know. I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished in spite of the obstacles in your path.

Nora: You are wonderful. Don't ever forget that.

VWBug: Thanks for being in my life.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is not an unfamiliar term for me. I have dealt with it for years because of the physical and sexual abuse that was a part of my up bringing.

Blackfive has the best description and understanding of it I have ever read.

What you need to know, first and last, is that so-called PTSD is not an illness. It is a normal condition for people who have been through what you have been through. The instinct to kill and war is native to humanity. It is very deeply rooted in me, as it is in you. We have rules and customs to restrain it, so that sometimes we may have peace. What you are experiencing is not an illness, but the awareness of what human nature is like deep down. It is the awareness of what life is like without the walls that protect civilization.

Those who have never been outside those walls don't know: they can't see. The walls form their horizon. You know what lays beyond them, and can't forget it. (emphasis mine)

In the above quote he is referring to the effects of the war. But, he goes on to describe how it is a response to any situation of danger. Read the entire post. It is excellent.

For years, I tried to explain it to people. I just couldn't do it in a way that made sense to them because they did not have the experience I had. They had never been "outside the walls". It is hard to learn to trust and let go of survival skills once you are no longer in the critical situation. The things you do ensured your survival. PTSD is just learning to re-direct your survival instincts.

As child I never had a sound sleep in my bed. Never. I could not go to sleep and trust that someone would take care of me while I rested. I was always aware of every slight movement and every quiet sound. Therefore, I was tired all of the time. This led to a host of other problems but this awareness was necessary. It was pertinent to my "survival". I had to know when my step-dad was creeping into my room in the middle of the night. It is self-preservation. My best sleep was had when I would drift off while watching TV on the couch in the living room. This was an open area where he could easily be caught. So, I was a little safer if someone was home. Plus, I was fully dressed and that made it more difficult. Anything to make things difficult and give me time to wake up if I had fallen asleep. The couch became my sanctuary. It was a place that I could relax enough to sleep.

This worked for me until I got married. I still could not sleep very well in my bed. Especially, now that there was a person in it who wanted to touch me and at times those touches were sexual. Just because the situation was changed and the danger element no longer existed didn't mean my internal behavior patterns were changed. I consciously worked on this issue and I tried to explain but he couldn't understand. He took it personal. There were many arguments because I would sleep on the couch. Most people argue and then sleep on the couch. I had the opposite problem. I needed to sleep on the couch sometimes. I couldn't get sleep otherwise. He would rant and rave because I was not in bed with him. My survival technique wasn't needed any more since the danger element was removed. But, I couldn't make the switch. Not easily or quickly, that is. It has taken years of conscious effort and finding the right person to trust. I have seen outside the walls. Sex is not wrong. It is a vital and important part of a relationship. In a marriage it creates a bond. But, there are relationships where it is not permitable. Trust is destroyed when it is inappropriate and forced.

PTSD, or whatever label you want to call survival, is real. If someone you know has been in an extreme condition, please take the time to listen and understand. It is difficult to come back inside the walls with the images and the knowledge that is stored within your soul. Be comforting, patient, open and honest. Do not berate them or criticize. Don't take it personal. Most of all give them time. Time to adjust. Time to learn to set aside skills that they don't need anymore. Remember, if they hadn't had and used those survival techniques when it was necessary, they wouldn't be with you now. Congratulate them on a job well done and welcome them home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Let's Bring them home

I know we just did the fund raising for Valour It. But, I have another important cause that needs help. Let's Bring them Home. There are soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who don't have the funds to go home for the holidays. These are the junior enlisted military personnel. This is an excerpt from their site.

I want to take a minute and remind everyone of the purpose behind LBEH. We are not for the war in Iraq, nor are we against it. We are not Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green or Independent. Our motives serve not to change world events, or your perception of them. Our mission is as simple, as it is noble. All we want to do is unite a few military families for the Christmas holiday. That's it. No hidden agendas, no political speeches. We just buy plane tickets for troops. Period.

Last year we raised over $75,000 and helped 150 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines go home for Christmas. This year we'd like to do the same, and we need your help to do it! Remember, your donations are tax deductible!

Each year the names change, but the song remains the same. Each year we receive ticket requests from young soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines. Each not wanting to spend a holiday alone in their dorms, and hoping that we can help get them home to see their families. Each year I receive heart wrenching emails from a young female soldier who was forced to send her children to live with their grandparents, while she fulfilled her military duties. And now the only thing she wants for Christmas is to be able to give her children presents in person. Are you going to tell her no? Each year a young soldier fresh out of boot camp pines for the chance to spend just one more holiday with his parents before beginning a long deployment to the Middle East. Will he come home in once piece? Will he come home at all? I don't know. But what if this is his last Christmas? Wouldn't you want to spend it with loved ones, and not with the concrete walls of a dormitory? And you Marine Moms! I'm always amazed at how many mothers of Marines will write in and ask if they can request a ticket on their child's behalf, because their son or daughter is in the field and can't do it themselves. Battle trained Devil Dogs they may be, but sometimes they still a little need help from Mom. And rest assured folks, nothing but heartbreak and disappointment await these fine people. You heard me. Nothing but heartbreak and disappointment await these fine people unless you and I do something about it.

I have already seen posts on some of the Marine Boards from a mother trying to find a way to get her Marine home for the holidays. One mother is trying to get her son from Camp Lejeune, NC to Boise, ID. Another mother who is in Tampa has invited other Marines to her home since her son can't be there. The support within the Marine community is tremendous. I could not have made it through these last four months without my "Marine Mom" sisters. It is a bond that is unbelievable. That's why it breaks my heart to think of someone not making it home for Thanksgiving or Christmas because they don't have enough money. These people make sacrifices for us every day. I know it's the holidays and money is tight. But, please if you do nothing more than post a plea and a link on your blog it will be a start.

My Marine, Daredevil, will not be home for the holidays. He doesn't get that option this year. He will graduate MCT on Tuesday and then head straight for Twenty-nine Palms, CA. It breaks my heart that he will not be with family. But, then again, he is with his Marine family.

Also, I have an e-mail from one mom whose son is in Iraq. He has a buddy that gets no mail or packages. She has requested assistance. If anyone is interested in helping, I can send her your information.

I read posts daily from two Marine Mom sites. Every day I cry. Sometimes I put off checking my mail. Someone is planning a funeral. Someone else came down with cancer. But, everyone pulls together to get through it and that is why I read them even though they tear me up. I love this group and community and I want to help them any way I can.

Please, spread the word so our service men and women can enjoy their holidays as much as we will enjoy ours.



I screwed up my blog trying to fix it. I'll fix it later. I have too many other important things to do like letting the dog out for the 50 millionth time in the last hour. I see where this day is headed. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Don't take advice on women from Mom

My boys are in so much trouble when it comes to relationships. That is, if they need advice.

I am not a foo-foo prim and proper typical female. To quote Bou, "I so suck at being female" (I can't find where she said it but I know it came from her). I am a very practical minded person. I can go off on tangents from time to time but typically I don't act "female". I am not a fashion conscious person. I don't give a rat's ass about designer anything. I can't even name the designers. I look at practicality and price when I buy something. I don't normally get something because I like how it looks.

Anyway, Chowhound is IMing back and forth with his girlfriend. (I really love this girlfriend's parents because she is always on restriction for something or other. This makes my life so much easier and free of teen relationship worries.) The computer is set up on a desk in the kitchen. I was cooking dinner and he was chatting.

"Oh, no!" I look over my shoulder and he is shaking his head. "I don't know what to say to that."

"What?" I say because inquiring minds want to know and mother's especially.

"She is mad. Somebody got chocolate milk on her purse. I need advice. What do I say?"

"Tell her don't cry over spilled milk?" Apparently, I haven't used that expression much in the last 17 years because this blank look came over his face and he shook his head.

"I am in so much trouble. I should know better than to ask you for advice."

He typed back, "I don't know what to say to that."

Oh, no. The poor boy is doomed. I try giving my motherly advice but he just laughs and shakes his head.

She responds, "why not"

I tell him to write, "because I have testicles."

He's banging his head in his palms now. "Why can't I have a normal mother like everyone else?"

I type for him, "because I am male." I use the edited version, After all, this isn't my kid. She may not be used to such vulgarities.

He scrambles to the computer and quickly lets her know, "that was my mom."

I am having so much fun messing with my kid's life.

She lets him know "that is no excuse". Sorry guys, testicles won't get you out of trouble only in it.

He is still at a loss for words. I eagerly supply them. "Oh, good now you get to go shopping for a new one." The child has lost his mind because he actually takes my advice.

That doesn't get him anywhere, "NO! I HATE SHOPPING."

"Well, then wash it. They make stuff to get it out."

This goes on and on and on. No matter what he says she keeps getting madder and madder.

He just doesn't understand. She loves this purse. "It's lime green and chocolate milk stains."

"Getting mad won't help so what's the point."

At this point, my sides are killing me. I'm doubled over trying to cook dinner. He paces the room throwing his hands up in air. He bangs his forehead on the refrigerator. I keep handing him "shovels". He gets in deeper and deeper.

"If you're going to keep digging holes make sure it is big enough to be comfortable in because you're going to be there for a long time." I get glares at this tidbit of advice.

Every five seconds he asks, "When is dinner going to be ready." He is fishing for excuses to end the conversation.

"Not for a long time, I'm having way too much fun at your expense. I want to see you get out of this one."

Sometimes being a mom is so much fun.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Boys will be boys

I bet the last thing their mother said as they slammed the front door to go out to play was, "Stay out of the water!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Adventures in Exuma

It's a little island that nobody in the news takes notice of. Homes get flooded and no one sends help. No media flock to the island. The residents just pull together and get through it. I'm talking about Great Exuma in the Bahamas and the wide spread flooding caused by tropical storm Noel. In rained hard for 63 straight hours. It dumped more than 50 inches of rain. (Don't hold me to these figures. I'm going by what I was told. I don't know if any official records are kept.) The local DJ drowned while trying to get to work. I didn't see CNN, FOX, Red Cross, or anyone with pumps, food or anything.

I arrived Friday afternoon. The rain had finally stopped sometime Thursday. My fiance was a nervous wreck when he greeted me at the airport.
This is the main road. This picture was taken Sunday morning. It was still impassable. He drove through this Friday. He was determined to pick me up from the airport. The water washed over the hood of this Dodge. He thought he was going to ruin his company truck and miss my flight. But, he loves me dearly and "come hell or high water" he was there. But, he knew better than to try the lake again. I get to the airport and he is trying desperately to find an alternate route.

Now, there are only a few paved roads in Exuma. The main road runs the length of the island which is approximately 20 miles, maybe. There were several sections that were more than 6 feet deep. Some friends of ours sunk his brand new dually and they had to be rescued by a passing tractor trailer (w/o a trailer). They stood on the fifth wheel with water lapping at their shins and watched as a Ford Explorer floated by.

Anyways, I knew that the island was flooded in parts but until I arrived I didn't know how bad. I met a lady on the plan who had her vacation plans changed mid-stream. Her flight to Nassau was delayed for four days so she decided to visit friends in Exuma. They couldn't get to the airport to pick her up. She was traveling alone in an unfamiliar place so I volunteer our services. So, my Sweetie is all stressed out and I arrive announcing that we are giving some stranger a ride.

Luckily, the residents had worked together and created an alternate route to town. First, we went through this little puddle.
Then through part of this one. We turn right just before the telephone pole.
Through, this brand new road.
Through this neighborhood. This picture was actually taken Sunday when I was returning to the airport. Friday, the water was half-way up the car. You can see the watermarks on the house.
Oh no, now we have to go down a hill and make a left. It looked pretty steep from where we were but it turned out not to be so bad.

Our poor "passenger". She was grateful beyond words but she was scared. We dropped her off at the local grocery store to wait on her ride. There were other people waiting too. The ones who weren't lucky enough to have someone brave the flooded roads for them had to catch the local semis and big trucks to get through. I'm sure this impressed the folks spending thousands of dollars to stay at the Four Seasons. Instead of their usual vans, Lincolns or limos, they had their guest take the trucks and the school buses. The trucks would get them through to the buses waiting on the other side of the flooded areas.

We had riders in the back of the truck all weekend. It was wonderful how everyone helped each other.

I'll have more pictures and stories tomorrow. I have a great story about our dive trip.