Steamy. Crowded. Hot. Expensive.
And those are the good qualities. Somewhere along the line I lost my brain and decided that a trip to the Land of the Mouse in the middle of June (and in the middle of a massive road trip) would be a good idea.
We made it about ¾ of the way down before we ran in to a lovely thunderstorm. Nice wall cloud and sheets of rain to go along with the light show God put on. Fortunately, the kids didn’t freak out. Little Man could barely be bothered to even look up from his Leapster.
Things dried up nicely and we made our way into Orlando. I had FUBAR’d our Shades of Green reservation (yep, didn’t bother to READ the file that came with the confirmation of our reservation and missed the part about needing to put down a deposit on our room before a certain date. Ah, well.) so we wound up staying in a timeshare. The price was comparable and we managed to score a significant discount on DW tickets if only we would be willing to listen to a sales pitch on their timeshares.
Thankfully, my MIL is well-versed in timeshare sales pitches and gave us the script for getting out of there as quickly as possible. We rehearsed all night long. “It’s lovely. But it’s not for us. No. No thank you. Goodbye.” It worked pretty well and soon we were on our way after having had free breakfast. Works for me!
We packed in as much as we could at the Magic Kingdom. Carousel rides, Dumbo, Peter Pan, Snow White, Indy Cars, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, Lilo and Stitch, Barnstormer, etc. Not bad with a 4 and 6 year old in tow while hanging with 500,000 of our closest friends. We were *that* close to hitting Big Thunder Mountain (my kids love roller coasters as long as they are not dark or scary – outside is fine) and a massive thunderstorm hit.
And they shut the park down. Well, the rides anyway. Our dinner reservation was coming up so we made our way to the front of the park.
In the pouring rain.
We stopped at one of the shops on Main Street and dropped a pretty penny on some dry clothing. Ouch. We then decided that dinner at California Grill wasn’t right for us (the guide said “$$$ to $$$$ in terms of price…a little outside of our budget) so we found pizza and headed back to the timeshare for dinner and time in the Jacuzzi tub. Ahhh…
Then we got to get up and do it all again! Only this time it was Animal Kingdom and it wasn’t quite as hot or as crowded. Which was nice because, by then, I was close to my last nerve.
We went on a safari and saw cows with horns that would put Texans to shame.
We saw the Lion King performance and Pocohantas and all of her wild animal friends. We wandered through Africa, Asia, and even considered trying the Expedition Everest ride until the kids got a look at the drop and yelled, in unison, “NO!” That ended THAT discussion. We did choose to take our chances on the Kali River Rapids and that was a good decision. It was probably about 2pm and it was HOT. So the ride cooled us off nicely and did so early enough that we were able to dry before our dinner reservation at The Rainforest Café. The kids enjoyed the occasional “thunderstorm” inside the restaurant and I enjoyed being able to sit down for a bit.
Then it was back in the car to head home. We are poorer in our wallet but richer overall for our trip.
And, hopefully, that will be the last time we have to do this for a LONG time. Unless you count Sea World. That’s coming up in a few weeks.
I’m putting the rest of the kids’ pictures on their blog. Enjoy!
The rules are
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Present an image of martial discord from whatever period or situation you’d like.
Cass seems to think I like to play. I *do* like to play but usually on my OWN terms. However, I am in a benevolent mood and therefore will deign to entertain the rules she is imposing on me.
Because I *am* that nice.
So here we are. I’m sure Cass has been waiting around, impatiently, for my answers. Probably even tapping her foot a few times for good measure. And, while I’m actually typing this up reasonably soon after she tagged me, because I am in wireless hell (aka Mother Rucker aka Fort Rucker, Alabama), it’s probably going to be a few more days until I can actually get this up to post. Heh. Wonder if she’ll blow a gasket. Might be interesting to see.
Might as well get started – it’s not like there’s a lot else to do in the UCLA (Ugliest Corner of Lower Alabama). At least they now have a Target which is more than I can say for
Seven facts about myself (most random, most weird):
- I am terrified of bridges- especially those that go over water. I watched some stupid movie when I was a kid about the Golden Gate Bridge falling apart and trapping cars on sections of it that were left standing and ever since I have had a fear of bridges. I used to think it was irrational but then the one in
came tumbling down and all I can think is, "SEE!!! And you all thought I was being silly!!!" Good thing I don't live in Minneapolis (have you SEEN how many bridges they have there?!?) Portland
- I'd much rather be cold than hot. You can always put more clothing on. But you can only take so much off before you get arrested. Besides, with my Irish heritage, I look a heckuva lot better in jeans and a sweater than I do in a bikini. Trust me. And, having lived in one of the coldest places on earth and in some of the hotter places on earth, I feel that this is an informed opinion.
- I'm a Washington Redskins fan. For no other reason than this cute boy named Alan in 4th grade liked them. I've been a Redskins fan ever since. I remember my dad was on a business trip and mom and I were eating dinner when Joe Theismann broke his leg. I was 13. LT (Lawerence Taylor) tackled him and he stayed down and then they started showing the reverse angle replay and you could see his lower leg bending in a place that has no joint. I can STILL see that image in my mind. Gives me shivers even now. Did you know that Joe Theismann's last name used to be pronounced "Theezman" but he changed it to match the pronounciation of "Heisman". Just a bit of useless trivia!
- I love Starbucks. And yet I don't like coffee. Go figure. I am a HUGE tea fan (you should see all of the teas I have in the cupboard!) and I'm hooked on their chai tea. And now they have this blueberry white tea thing...YUM! I first had chai at a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in
when I was in college. Long before Starbucks spread like a virus across the nation (world?) and long before anyone else knew what the hell "chai" was. And yes, I am well aware of the fact that I can make chai at home and I often do. But I like the atmosphere at SBUX - the music, the barristas, all of it. And, at home, it does NOT taste the same, no matter how much my husband may disagree with me. I love the fact that they are invariably found in/attached to bookstores. That is heaven right there. Only way it could get better is if LIBRARIES starting having SBUX in them. Colorado
- When I play cards, my hand has a particular order. For instance, we played Uno with the kids last night. The cards in my hand must be in rainbow order and in numerical order (smallest on the left, biggest on the right, then face cards). If they are not, it truly bothers me. Makes it tough to play poker though.
- I can tie a knot in a cherry stem using only my tongue. It’s a silly bar trick – one I picked up in high school (yep) and perfected in college. Cass may not see why people do this but I think it’s a neat trick to be able to do. It’s definitely a conversation-starter.
- I’m good with numbers. Not math-wise (well, I’m ok at math. I love it and can hold my own all the way through Calculus. And I have both an Algebra workbook and a Calculus workbook on my nightstand at home. Yes, I’m a nerd.) but in terms of remembering numbers. I can remember people’s phone numbers from when I was a kid. I can remember the phone numbers of people I’ve known but cannot remember their names, like the blonde-haired boy that lived at the end of the street and moved when I was 7. I still remember his number but I don’t remember his name.
Now to share the misery…because you know it loves company:
1. ArmyWifeToddlerMom (because she doesn't have enough to do already)
2. My friend over at Lovin' Hawks (because I miss her and she's funny as hell)
3. Most Certainly Not (see #2)
4. Tammi (see #2...I'm sensing a pattern here.)
5. Jen (again see #2 not to mention she's not really posted anything new since October of '07 so this might be an easy way for her to ease back in)
6. RSM (yep, see #2 only RSM's a boy)
7. Jill (because I'm hoping to see her again at the MilBlog conference and she's trying to break a jinx)
I'll get around to tagging people later once I get ahold of a decent wireless signal. Ugh.
Now, for the martial discord image (and yes, Cass, I misread it the first time too.). Hmm...
Ok - got it. I'm not going to post the picture here - you'll have to click through to the link. It's a photo from Michael Yon, whom I admire greatly. I just finished reading "Moment of Truth" and once again I am awed. The work he does and the dedication he has to getting the truth out and highlighting the successes our servicemembers (and those of the Coalition Forces) have fought for and won is incredible.
CSM Prosser in alley
If you get a chance, buy the book. If you can't buy the book, read the series on the Battle for Mosul over at Michael's place.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Mother Rucker has not changed. And I can’t say I miss it.
The commissary is still the same cramped, dark, frustrating place it was when we were here 4 years ago. The PX is the PX that time forgot.
But my husband is here so I’m happy to be here. And several of our friends that have left
The funny thing is that, even though it’s 95* or higher here during the day, I often find myself cold. Especially indoors where the a/c is always cranked in complete disproportion to the temperatures outside. But even yesterday evening, when the sun had pretty much set, I found myself turning the car’s a/c off and rolling the window down because I was cold. Seems my blood has thinned over the past 3+ years.
We made the drive from
The kids are enjoying their dad (as am I) and I’m enjoying the thunderstorms, Target, and access to all things aviation. I’ll be swinging by the museum next week to wander around a bit, say hi to a few aircraft that are familiar to friends (BillT), and raid the gift shop.
For those keeping score, you can tally up 6 “Are we there yet” inquiries. One per hour. Not too bad. Princess Trouble is feeling better. Thank goodness for doctors in the family. And thank goodness for friends that let us crash with them at the last minute when Lodging screws up our reservation.
I forgot to relay a funny story about our arrival into the South. I had reserved an economy car with a rental agency. We traveled with 3 suitcases, a bag for the car seats, and one backpack each. Pretty light for a 6 week road trip. I tossed it all on to a baggage cart and made my way to the rental car counter to pick up my rent-a-dent. The poor guy behind the counter looked at my rental contract, looked at my baggage cart piled high with our luggage, looked back at the rental contract and then looked at me. He gives me a skeptical look and says “You’re not gonna be able to get all that into this car.”
Heh. Wanna bet?
My husband has worked for UPS and UHaul. We are a military family and have done 2 partial DITY moves (one from
And I did. It was ugly, but I did. Damn thing’s about the size of a pregnant rollerskate and I eventually wound up consolidating our stuff into 2 suitcases and leaving one with BIL/BFF. But it CAN be done.
Heh. Never tell me I can’t do something.
Over the course of this "adventure" and it's 2,700 miles, we are fortunate in that we will never once have to stay in a hotel room (unless you count the Guest House at Rucker a hotel). We have family and friends at each stop who have been son incredibly gracious and generous in allowing us to crash with them.
We are blessed.
Of course, there is always "The Curse" and we've come up against it yet again. Hopefully this will just be a run-of-the-mill cold due to the fact that we've been going Mach 2 with our hair on fire for the past week+. Thankfully, my cousin's husband is a doctor so we're going to go in to his office with him tomorrow morning and he's going to check out Princess Trouble who seems to have caught a bug and has a fever. Hopefully it's nothing serious.
Both kids have been thanking me for such a fun trip which is sweet. And we haven't even made it to the GOOD parts yet! We had a ball in Knoxville and found a great place called Sprout Studio near downtown. The kids had a blast there and then we stumbled over one of my favorite bagel shops - Brueggar's Bagels - so we stopped to have lunch and then went on to a big warehouse that had about a dozen bounce houses. We hit Open Play day and the kids ran themselves - and me - ragged.
It's kind of fun being vagabonds!
Actually it's more like a rant against the powers-that-be. It's hard enough to run a Family Readiness Group. Between the ridiculously restrictive Army regs on fundraising and the issues that are inherent in trying to bring a group of people - any people - to a consensus, it's tough. But, dammit, it's even harder when the players keep changing!
We have a big crop of new LTs in the unit. Lots of them. Fresh meat, if you will. Several of them are married with wives who are willing to jump in and help out - either with positions within the leadership or as a Key Caller. Or both. Which is GREAT! We are basically starting from scratch in terms of the structure of the FRG because of all of the personnel changes that come following a deployment (my estimate is that the unit is losing about 75%-90% of the personnel that deployed to Iraq).
Over the course of the past two to three weeks, I've lost my Treasurer and 2 Key Callers. Today I just found out that not only have I lost my THIRD Key Caller but also one of the LTs that was most helpful.
And not because they are PCSing. He is being moved to one of the other companies within the Battalion. GRR!!! Stop stealing my people!!!!! No wonder it's so frigging hard to get anything done. About the time I get rapport established with someone within the company and get things rolling in terms of updating the FRG contact roster, getting a list of new or incoming families, etc. I lose my contact. Not to mention this latest loss was a spouse who had previously been involved in running an FRG in the past as well as being an FRSA (Family Readiness Support Assistant - someone in a paid position who helps the Family Readiness Groups operate to the best of their abilities) so she was a WEALTH of information and ideas.
I want to punch someone in the nose on this one.
And it's doubly frustrating because I'm 6,000 miles away and can't march my cranky butt into anyone's office and deal with this (not like I have any control whatsoever but the illusion is nice. Let me have it.).
I'm done now.
I love military life, for the most part. Honestly, I cannot imagine living any other way. I have friends who are civilians and, though there are things about their life that I would enjoy (such as not having to move at the Army’s discretion, no deployments, etc.) I realize I truly have no desire to live that life. I have a hard time envisioning what we will do with ourselves when MacGyver gets to the end of his career and we have to live that life (or something that resembles it…).
Where we live, the military is a BIG part of life. Everywhere you go it is pretty obvious that – even if MacGyver isn’t in uniform – we are a military family. Even if MacGyver isn’t with me, it’s pretty obvious that we are a military family. During this trip I spent time with friends and family at
On our way from
Nothing more, nothing less.
And every once in a while that is nice. Most civilians that I’ve come across aren’t quite sure how to deal with a real, live military family. Most of them act like they either want to hug us or chew us out over the current administration’s decisions/actions/screw-ups/policies/etc., as though I have a direct line to the President and the Pentagon. But this time we were just…normal.
And while I usually say that “normal is boring” or that “normal is a setting on the washing machine”, every once in a while it’s just nice.
So the adventure continues. My children – knowing no car ride longer than it takes to get to the
And not run into an ocean.
Man, I had forgotten how fast people drive in
And I forgot about the haze. Not quite smog. Similar to vog (those of you in
We were in SoCal for all of about 36 hours – long enough to grab some donuts from my favorite local donut shop and hang with the West Coast grandparents for a bit. The kids had fun splashing around in the Jacuzzi (the pool is a little too chilly and a little too deep) and going on a pinecone hunt. Then it was up at o’dark thirty and off to the airport.
But not before my daughter made me smile yet again. Those of you who have met her know she’s incredibly outgoing and chatty. She’d sit down next to Charles Manson and talk his ear off.
So, why are you in jail? How’s the food? My name is Princess Trouble and I’m going to be in 2nd grade. I love to draw and make clothes for my dolls. What’s that “X” in your forehead for and where did you bury the bodies?”
On our way to pick up the rental car, she made friends with the shuttle bus driver. Derrick was his name and he was incredibly helpful, courteous, and kind. She talked about him all the way to the grandparents’ house and beyond. At 330am, as we’re heading to the rental car return location, she tells me she hopes she sees Derrick again. I explained to her that LAX is a BIG place and the chances of her seeing him again were slim.
Who do you suppose was waiting outside the bus to take us to our terminal?
She ran up and gave him a huge hug and about knocked the poor guy off his feet. I’m not sure who was happier to see whom…
…to be continued…
The Army investigation into the crash on Aug. 22, 2007, obtained by The Advertiser through the Freedom of Information Act, and the most detailed account yet of the fatal crash, found that the soldiers suffered blunt force injuries in an impact of 150 Gs.
One G is the force of Earth's gravity. A fighter pilot coming out of a dive can experience up to nine Gs.
It was the greatest single loss of life for the 25th Infantry Division since the Vietnam War, and the worst helicopter crash in Iraq since a CH-53 Super Stallion went down in western Iraq on Jan. 26, 2005. Of 31 killed in that crash, 26 Marines and a sailor were from Kane'ohe Bay.
As the one-year anniversary of the Black Hawk crash approaches this summer, the 224-page investigation doesn't provide a definitive answer as to what caused it.
This was truly one of the Army's worst days. I'm sure the days following weren't any better for the families.
Apparently, I do my job too well.
As a spouse getting ready to see her husband off on a year-long deployment and getting ready to guide her family through whatever the upcoming year may hold, I saw it as my job to be a shield.
I shielded my children from a large portion of what their daddy was doing and the dangers that he faced (they were 2 and 5 for the bulk of this last deployment). I shielded my husband from the majority of the pain we felt when it came time to say goodbye because I knew that he would much rather stay with us and exposing him to all of our pain would only compound his. I shielded him from a large majority of the mundane, irritating crap that went on while he was gone…at least until the storm had blown over and I was able to give him a calm, unemotional, censored recap of the events. I shielded myself from the reality of what saying goodbye could mean.
We made it through the deployment and he’s been home now for about 7 months. He was getting ready to head out on another TDY trip recently and we were getting ready to take him to the airport. I explained to him that, no, we would not be going into the airport to see him off and he gave me the “sad face”.
“Why not?”, he asks.
“Do you not remember the LAST time we had to say goodbye to you? I would much rather not have a repeat performance, thankyouverymuch.”, I replied.
He looked at me, blankly. He had no clue.
Rewind 24 months. The scene is set in one of the hangars on post – the “Wind Tunnel” as it is affectionately known. The cast includes about 200 soldiers and their families, including ours. All are in various states of melancholy or denial, depending on your poison. It is down to minutes now before they are due to assemble their rucksacks and get information for one last brief briefing (how’s that for redundant?) before they leave us.
Our car is parked on the west end of the “Wind Tunnel”. (remember this – it’s important later) WE are standing about as far to the east in the “Wind Tunnel” as humanly possible. (remember this too) Odd how it works out like that. It comes time for us to say our goodbyes and the reality of what this goodbye means comes crashing down on my sweet (almost) 5 year old daughter. She is truly a “daddy’s girl” and the thought of having to say goodbye to him for a YEAR is heartbreaking to her. And she clings to him like a cat stuck in a tree.
There are tears – lots of tears. And then, pragmatic thing that I am, I decide it is time for us to leave. We’ve drawn this out as far as it needs to be (and probably beyond) and now it is time to go. We’re done. Stick a fork in us and call us dinner. We’re done.
I literally peel my child off of her father, throw her over my shoulder (ala “fireman’s carry”), take the boy in the other hand and start walking toward the car. Remember how I told you earlier that WE were on the east side and the car is on the west side? Yeah. The “Wind Tunnel” is not short, nor is it empty. I have to schlep my now-howling almost 5-year old daughter who is slung over my shoulder like a 50-pound sack of dog food across this football field sized hangar that is FULL of other families saying goodbye and trying desperately to hang on to some semblance of self-control.
It. Was. Awful.
As we walked, it was like a wave of sorrow rippled across the hangar. People who had been managing to hold back their tears lost the battle as this little red-headed girl with VERY large lungs howled, “IWANTMYDADDYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!” all the way across that damn hangar. It was pitiful. By the time I got to the car, we were both covered in tears, snot, and sweat. It was ugly.
My husband never realized how awful it was. After I peeled her off of him, he did not realize or hear what was going on as we left the building. He had no clue until I told him this just the other day.
I was blown away.
I guess I did my job well.
So, world, I just want you to know that our house will NOT be empty this summer. Funny thing is that this is Hawaii and, amazingly, people like to vacation here. And, since WE won't be needing the house while we're gone, we've offered it to friends who have visitors coming this summer. Kind of a house-swap, of sorts.
Only we won't be staying in THEIR house...
Not to mention my wonderful neighbor across the street who is big, mean, and owns several guns and a Rottweiler will be watching the house for us as well. *I* wouldn't want to mess with him.
Oh, and there's a cop that lives just up the street too who knows we'll be gone and will also be keeping an eye on the house.
And there are booby-traps on some of the entry points (I'll let the would-be robbers take a guess as to which ones...). Seriously though, if someone wants to break into my house, I'd MUCH rather they do it while I'm gone. Stuff is just stuff and while I may be sad if it's taken from me, it's just stuff.
There. Mike, do you feel better?? I know *I* do!
Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?
When are we gonna beeeeeeee there?
That is what I anticipate I will be hearing for FORTY-TWO days this summer. God, help me.
MacGyver is headed to the Maintenance Test Pilot course at MotherRucker this summer. (I know. God, help him too.) I decided that, after 15 months of deployment, our family really shouldn't be separated for an additional 4 months if it wasn't absolutely necessary. And, apparently, 4,500 miles and an entire ocean don't qualify as "absolutely necessary" in my pea brain.
So I am getting ready to embark on a 5 hour plane trip to SoCal where we will catch our collective breath (and inhale some In-N-Out burgers) for a whopping 36 hours.
Then we will get on a plane and fly to Nashville.
From there, we will head north to Clarksville and hang with BIL and BFF (yes, my BIL married my BFF) for a few days.
Then it's on to eastern Tennessee for Father's Day and time with my parents and Grama. Then down south a ways to a mini family reunion, of sorts.
Then further south to MotherRucker where it is currently 95*. Good. GOD. Thankfully lodging has a pool right down the road. We will be there a LOT. I'm not sure what I'm going to spend more money on during this road trip - sunscreen or gas. It's a toss up.
Somewhere in there we are going to squeeze a trip up to northern-ish Alabama to see some old friends and a trip south to the land of the Mouse.
Then (yep, there's more) back up to see my folks again and celebrate my mom's birthday.
Then back to BIL and BFF's place and hopefully a side trip to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Farm (thanks, Annie, for the heads' up on that one) because Princess Trouble has a "thing" for Man O'War and I have a "thing" for horses in general.
THEN, back on the plane to SoCal for a week in the land of fruits and nuts. In that week, we're going to hit Sea World, eat REAL Mexican food, eat more In-N-Out, and more time at the pool.
And finally, back home.
Forty-two days. Two-thousand-seven-hundred miles of driving. Two children under the age of 7 who have lived the bulk of their memorable lives on an island whose circumference is 120 miles. The longest car drive we take is from here to the Windward side (i.e. KBay) and Little Man is notorious for asking "Are we there yet" after all of 15 minutes in the car.
There isn't enough rum on the planet for this trip. What the HELL was I thinking?