Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue Angels are Cooler than Thunderbirds

We've been living in Monterey for about six months (holy crap, has it seriously been that long?!) and really feel comfortable here. Proof of our conversion to the California lifestyle came in the form of a sunburn...or lack thereof.My parents came for a visit over Mom's birthday, so the hubby and I took them on an overnight trip to San Francisco. It's been chilly lately (and by chilly, I mean the 50's or 60's, how crazy is that?) so not only did I tell my folks that they should bring sweaters, I also didn't think they'd need sunscreen. A few hours on the harbor and a lot of walking on day one meant shopping for sunscreen on day two. Not for me, though. Oh, no. My skin is apparently California-ized, and less susceptible to sunburn. Woo hoo! Bummer for the parentals, though...they were both a bit red.

While we were in the city, it was Fleet Week! It just so happened that we were on Alcatraz during the air show, so we got to experience the magic of the USN Blue Angels. They were amazing! Also, free. Win! They literally flew right over our heads and we were able to get some amazing pictures.

After enjoying the city, we got down to business and started enjoying the wine. Ah, wine. Have I mentioned I drink reds now? Indeed. I couldn't pass up all the tastings, and clearly, red wine is an acquired taste. I have acquired it. Mmm yummy.

We've had so much fun showing our families our new home, and we are proud to be Californians. With Oregon licenses. :-)

Enjoying wine in Carmel

Steve wants to be a photographer when he graduates from the Navy.


Go subs. :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ode to My Bladder

I heave a sigh of bliss
When making my bladder gladder
I love the great pee-ness
Of making my bladder gladder.

Life would be lots badder
If I couldn't make my bladder gladder
I would be much madder
If I couldn't make my bladder gladder

I get so very scared
When I have to climb a ladder
There's no one underneath me,
So I'll make my bladder gladder.

I am always so relived
To make my bladder gladder
Now I just wish
I could make my belly fladder!

The preceding poem was written during a lull at work a couple of years ago. You've gone far too long without experiencing my brilliant poet-ness. Enjoy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Roller Coasters and Corn on the Cob

I might be growing up. Finally.

Prior to this past June, I did not eat corn. Ever. Why? I had a bad experience. Let's just leave it at that. (Thank you, Italian Job.) But then I decided I needed to simply grow up, and try corn again. Holy cow, I can't believe what I've been missing all these years! Corn is delicious! Gets stuck in my teeth, but whatever. YUM!

Another thing I've always hated is roller coasters. You know that feeling when you drop suddenly and your stomach is in your throat? I hate that feeling, so I don't go on roller coasters. Until, that is, I went to Disneyland last week. My brother in law convinced (ok, let's be honest, he basically forced) me to go on scary rides at both Disney and California Adventures (ie, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc). Thank goodness he did! Roller coasters rock! I still don't like the big drops, but the speed and quick turns are so fun. We had a fantastic day on rides, eating funnel cake, and taking pictures.

It's fun learning about my changing tastes. Can't wait to discover more new things about myself.

Right before we went on the rafting ride. We all got soaked! Such a fun day with my hubby and brother. :-)

This would be before the Tower of Terror. I'm already terrified/excited (note the excited fingers). Eddie is bored.

This was taken at the top of Tower of Terror. You can't see it, but my fingernails are creating dents in Steve's arm. The boys look so nonchalant. I was freaking out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Military Wives

The following story appeared in my inbox today. One of my very good friends (who is not, in fact, in the military) sent it to me and another friend, and added her own simple words: "Love you both!" Everyone should read this.

To Jen: Thank you for sharing this with me and for being one of my best friends. I love you too!

To Sally: Thank you for being another of my best friends. As a fellow military spouse, you understand this story completely. I love you!

It was just another harried Wednesday afternoon trip to the commissary (grocery store on military bases). My husband was off teaching young men to fly. My daughters were going about their daily activities knowing I would return to them at the appointed time, bearing, among other things, their favorite fruit snacks, frozen pizza, and all the little extras that never had to be written down on a grocery list. My grocery list, by the way, was in my 16-month-old daughter's mouth, and I was lamenting the fact that the next four aisles of needed items would wait while extracting the last of my list from my daughter's mouth, when I nearly ran over an old man.

This man clearly had no appreciation for the fact that I had 45 minutes left to finish the grocery shopping, pick up my 4-year old from tumbling class, and get to school, where my 12-year-old and her carpool mates would be waiting.

I knew men didn't belong in a commissary, and this old guy was no exception. He stood in front of the soap selection staring blankly, as if he'd never had to choose a bar of soap in his life. I was ready to bark an order at him when I realized there was a tear on his face.

Instantly, this grocery aisle roadblock transformed into a human..."Can I help you find something?" I asked. He hesitated, and then told me he was looking for soap.

"Any one in particular?" I continued.

"Well, I'm trying to find my wife's brand of soap." I started to loan him my cell phone to call her when he said, "She died a year ago, and I just want to smell her again."

Chills ran down my spine. I don't think the 22,000-pound Mother of all Bombs could have had the same impact. As tears welled up in my eyes, my half-eaten grocery list didn't seem so important. Neither did fruit snacks or frozen pizza.

I spent the remainder of my time in the commissary that day listening to a man tell the story of how important his wife was to him -- how she took care of their children while he served our country. A retired, decorated World War II pilot who flew missions to protect Americans still needed the protection of a woman who served him at home.

My life was forever changed that day. Every time my husband works too late or leaves before the crack of dawn, I try to remember the sense of importance I felt that day in the commissary.

Some times the monotony of laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and taxi driving leaves military wives feeling empty -- the kind of emptiness that is rarely fulfilled when our husbands come home and don't want to or can't talk about work.

We need to be reminded, at times; of the important role we fill for our family and for our country. Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses...how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing is; most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself...

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms.

Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or a year, or longer. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for having the hose reconnected. Military spouses have to cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying "hello" to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying "goodbye" to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city...again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events...birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

The television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says, "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card, and the wall is the Vietnam Memorial.

I would NEVER say military spouses are better than other spouses. But I will say there is a difference. I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands and wives.

Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ashlee Comes for a Visit

After spending most of the summer in Australia and Korea, my sister decided to grace California with her presence. Since I hadn't seen her since June, I was overjoyed! A day in Santa Cruz, a day in Monterey, a lazy day at home and a wicked 24 hours in San Francisco later, she was flying back to Portland. Sad, I know, but we had a fantastic time.

We discovered that both Ash and Steve close their eyes when smiling for pictures. Don't believe me? It's true.

Steve also opens his mouth, apparently...I have the coolest family ever!

Steve is in finals week, but thankfully only has one exam and one final paper, so it's not too stressful. Well, let's be honest. It's not stressful for me at all. He seems a bit nervous, though. Hopefully everything will go well and he'll pass with flying colors. After his last exam, we will be heading south to visit his relatives (most of whom I've never met). Should be a fun trip!

I, in the meantime, have put aside new novels in exchange for old favorites, including (but not limited to) Wicked and Anne Bishop. If you haven't read Wicked, I highly recommend it. Even more so, I recommend the musical. Gregory Maguire is, without a doubt, brilliant. His novels are fantastic. If you haven't already done so, read his most popular book, Wicked. And see the musical. You won't be disappointed.

Anyway, as I was saying before I had to sing the praises of both Wicked and Maguire, I haven't read anything new lately. I've just been enjoying the books I own, many for the fourth or fifth time. There are so many books I want to read, but often I find myself reaching for a well-worn spine over a crisp new one. Ashlee is of the opposite approach; she never reads books more than once. Her list is longer than mine, but I know more details about many of the books, so I say we're tied.

Already I miss her, and she's only been gone for a few days. She's an amazing sister, and an even more wonderful friend. I'm lucky to be in her life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Recent Accomplishments of Food Adventures:

Today, I purchased 10 avocados for $5. Sure, they're a bit small, but they were only 50 cents each! There is nothing better than deliciously cheap avocados. Thank you Monterey!

It's not soup weather, but I wanted to make soup anyway. I opted for a recipe I found online for an Olive Garden look-alike. (Taste-alike?) Their Zuppa Toscana has potato, kale, sausage and bacon in a light cream broth. I couldn't find kale at the market, so I grabbed some green swiss chard instead. The recipe produced a result remarkably similar to the Olive Garden original, and it's definitely one I'll make this winter.

Perhaps my most notable accomplishment was the garlic ice cream. Don't knock it 'till you try it! It turned out remarkably well, though the recipe called for a bit too much garlic in my opinion. The only problem is that garlic ice cream isn't something you can just eat a bowl of; it's best in small scoops with a cookie or cone to make it more of a dessert. I thought I had some Nilla Wafers on hand, but apparently someone ate them (ahem, Steve!), so I came up with Plan B. I pulled the first recipe I could find on the internet for homemade ice cream cones and whipped them up. While they didn't hold a shape at all (it was more like a sweet crepe), they were delicious with our ice cream! Definitely a dessert to remember.

Steve had a rough test today, so I decided to make him his favorite treat: chocolate chip cookies. Relatively simple, sure, but my cookies are uncharacteristically soft and delicious. I'm currently resisting the urge to help myself to a few, but Steve has already given in to temptation.

With all the yummy food in the house, it's surprising I haven't gained more weight. Must be all those walks with Kenai. :-)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recent Pics

Teaching Kenai to jump on command. He's so cute!

Yeah, we let him chase birds. We find it entertaining.

Loving being so close to the beach!

Enjoying the Garlic Festival!

A Birthday, An Accident, A Drive, Golfing, Another Drive, Another Drive and Happy Birthday Nathan!

Oh golly. So much to catch up on! My birthday was back in June, and we celebrated with a fantastic week at my godmother's house in Lincoln City. Family and friends came out for the weekend, which was full of presents, crab, lots of other food and crunkness. So fun! It was also the last time I got to see my sister, Ashlee, before she headed to Australia for work over the summer. I miss her!

Steve and I began the drive from Oregon to Monterey around the second week of June on a Friday. I drove the Lexus, he drove the STi. About 20 minutes into our drive, we were on the freeway and Steve was rear-ended. Fantastic. I watched him get hit in my rear view mirror. Talk about frustrating. (This happened on our move from Connecticut to New York, too. Maybe Steve shouldn't be allowed to drive during our moves...) Luckily, we were able to grab Baruka (my subie, not the STi) the next day and drive south. Upon arriving in Monterey, we started immediately looking for a place to live. We found two places that were ok, but were hoping for something better, and we found it! We are now living in a 4 bedroom house about 5 minutes from Steve's school (Naval Postgraduate School), which is such a better commute than what either of us had in Washington! Love it.

Alisha and Josh Weiss (two FABULOUS friends from WA) came down for a visit and to go to the US Open. It was held at Pebble Beach this year, just south of Monterey. I had no idea golf was so much fun! Alisha and Josh stayed for a few days; so much fun having them here! The day they left, we picked up a rental car and drove straight back up to Oregon to pick up the STi. Funnily enough, we picked it up on Steve's actual birthday. Haha, love it! We stayed for a couple of days to see family and celebrate Steve's birthday again with a lovely dinner out, then headed back to Monterey in the STi with the pup. Kenai, by the way, is loving all this beach time. He chases birds like nobody's business.

Steve is a bit over halfway done with his first term of school, and I'm enjoying the unemployed life. I cook and bake a lot (we have an apple tree in our backyard!), and we are both enjoying seeing each other every single day. It's different, this shore tour life, and I think I can get used to it. We went to the Garlic Festival in July and had a blast. Battlestar Galactica kept us entertained for a while; we watched the entire series. Bears. Beats. Battlestar Galactica. :-) Overall, we are still getting used to Monterey and having to pay tax. We found an amazing deli the other day and look forward to discovering more favorite haunts. Yay for shore tour!


Monday, May 31, 2010

April and May in Summary

My original goal of posting twice a month has not been met, obviously. New goal: no more "in summary" posts!

Steve went out to sea in April on the Alabama, which turned out to be a blessing because he missed a lot of really stressful (read: overtime) work on the Nevada. I whiled away the hours reading several books and getting our house ready to be packed up for the big move to California. Plus, I got to spend tons of time with the amazing wardroom wives of the Nevada; thank goodness for them, or I'd have never gotten through that last patrol!

The movers came in early May, and suddenly I was furniture-less. So I slept on the air mattress for a few days (lots of friends invited me to stay with them, but I was only staying in WA for a few days before heading south to see the family), then drove to Oregon to see lots of old friends and visit my parents. I think I spent a little over a week in Oregon; it's a trip I'll never forget.

I then returned to our empty house to clean and await Steve's return; he came back mid-May. I went to the airline counter the morning his flight was scheduled to arrive and asked if I could meet him at the gate, since he's returning military. They said yes (they do this often, so spouses, be sure to ask if you ever have the opportunity to pick up your hubby at the airport!) and I breezed through security on my way to the gate. When I arrived, I nearly cried. It was the same gate I'd been at in October 2007, when I said good bye to Steve for his first full patrol on the Pennsylvania. True story. My last memory of that gate is seeing the back of my husband's head as he walked away for three months. It has now been replaced with the memory of him walking towards me at the end of his final patrol as a JO. It was like a movie, coming full circle like that.

Steve has been home a couple of weeks now, and we spent some time in the Kitsap area, saying goodbye to best friends (sorry, saying "see you later" to best friends, because there's no way I'll be able to go the rest of my life without seeing them again) and tying up some loose ends, Navy-wise. Port Angeles is gorgeous; so is Port Townsend. If you have the chance to visit Hurricane Ridge, do it. I fell in love, and it wasn't even a nice day. After spending a little time with Steve's family, we have finally moved out of Washington and are preparing for a fun week in Lincoln City. We have a few more weeks before we have to be in Monterey, and I'm loving every moment of this fabulous vacation!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

March in Summary

Looking back, I can't remember why we were so insanely busy last month, but I know there are reasons I didn't find time to post anything. No idea what they were. Strange.

I do remember doing a play reading at the Jewel Box Theater in Poulsbo. We had three rehearsals (all in one week) followed by a one night only performance. Extremely fun! Six actors, six one-act plays, no costumes or set, minimal props, and a whole lot of laughter. All the scripts were written by David Ives. I love comedies.

The highlight of the month, for me, was definitely March 31, because it was my last day of work. Woo hoo! I gave my notice back in February, when we found out that we'd be transferring to Monterey CA for Steve to go to Naval Postgraduate School. The last few weeks of work were fun; lots of people came to say goodbye, and I realized just how many people I'm going to miss from this job. It's the longest I've held a position since college, and I've really enjoyed working with some amazing people. That being said, I love being unemployed!

For Steve, I think the highlight of the month has got to be his surprise 30th birthday party. Yup, that's right, he got a surprise party. And he was shocked. Perfect! So many of our friends and family were able to join us (although, stupid shift work on the boat limited the number of men who were able to come) and we partied all afternoon. I hired Mike's Amazing Cakes to make him a cake in the shape of an STi, because it's the car at the top of his wish list right now. Oh, no, wait, it's not on his wish list anymore, because I bought it for him! Didn't you know I'm in competition for a wife of the year award? He was more than surprised by that, because I've been telling him he can't have one. The look on his face made it all worth it.

Right! That's why I was so busy. That party and the car. Well. March was definitely a good month for us. The STi drives like a dream! Man I love that car.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Take Me All the Way to the Hebrides!

A few months ago, the time came for me to audition for a play. I've done theater in the past, and my current goal is to do one or two shows a year; last year I sadly fell short, so I decided to start this year off right. I was cast in a show called Scotland Road, and performances are every weekend in February at the Jewel Box Theater in Poulsbo, WA. I completely love this show; I get to speak in a Welsh accent, I get to shock the audience more than once, and I get to sing in a corset. Ok, that last part really sucks, actually. Singing in a corset is hard! Still. I love it. I love being on stage, I love taking on a new persona. I'm so much happier when I'm doing a show (exhausted, but happier), and I love expressing myself in this art form. I'm not a good crafter, I'm terrible at drawing and painting, I could never write a novel. Acting, however, I can do.

Everyone needs an outlet. Jobs are stressful. Heck, LIFE is stressful! Acting is my outlet. It calms me, gives me peace, makes the rest of the crap worth it. I'm grateful I have the opportunity to enjoy my passion. Here's hoping that once this show closes, I'll find another cast and crew to open their arms to me. Until then, I'll welcome my racing heart and embrace each moment onstage.

For more about the show, visit jewelboxpoulsbo.org and read our review at http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/feb/06/local-theater-scotland-road-is-a-buoying-yarn/ It's a good 'un!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Captain for a Day

Ok, technically, I wasn't exactly the captain...but I did have the chance to spend some time on Steve's boat, the Nevada. And I did sit in the captain's chair, even though Steve had a momentary panic attack. Come on, when am I ever going to have the opportunity to sit in the captain's chair again? Oddly, I didn't feel powerful or in control of a 17 ton boat (is that right? or is it 17,000 tons? really don't know), probably because there weren't any worker-bees prepared to do my bidding, oh, and of course the fact that it's tied to a pier. Right. Can't forget that. I was enormously impressed by the sheer size, first of all, and then of course the fact that even though it is gargantuan, each person only gets a tiny little bed and a cubby for all their stuff. Remember your locker in high school? (If you had a full one, divide that in half) Yeah, that's about the amount of storage space allotted to each person. For three months. What would you put in your 3x1x2 cubby?

We were even able to have dinner on the sub, which was pretty good. The chefs gave us a little tour of the kitchen, and believe it or not, it's about the same size as mine. I was shocked. When the boat is underway, there's about 180 people on board, eating four times a day. (The fourth meal, between dinner and breakfast, is called "midrats.") How these chefs manage to feed all those people with so little space is unfathomable to me. For our meal, there was lasagna, garlic bread, salad and angel food cake for dessert. The chefs did a great job, and the lasagna was yummy. I tried to share my piece of cake, but I ate it before anyone else could get a bite. Oops.

Seeing the boat was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I'm so glad I didn't pass it up. It was so special, getting to see where Steve spends the majority of his time, and I've got some good ideas of what to send with him the next time he goes out to sea.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Virgin Post

So...this whole blogging thing is new to me, but might be fun. New year, new challenge, right? Might as well give it a go. Plus it will give our friends and family an opportunity to keep up with us without actually talking to us. Isn't that the point of this information age? To know as much as you can about your acquaintances with minimal face to face interaction? :-) Just kidding. Seriously, though, maybe you will learn something new about us. At the very least, I hope you'll be entertained. (That is, if I keep up with this...) I sincerely doubt that Steve will ever blog; if he does I might have to keel over in shock.

Since this is blog numero uno, here's a brief update on our current life: Steve and I have been married about four years, and we are currently living in Port Orchard, WA. Steve is stationed on the Nevada, which is undergoing an overhaul in Bremerton, but will eventually move back to Bangor. Steve loves his job, and wishes he could spend the night because it's so much fun. Oh...wait...he does spend the night...how could I forget? He'd also really like to work on the weekends; he says it smells so nice, he doesn't want to be anywhere else. Oh...right...he does work weekends. So yeah, Steve works a lot, so we make the most of our limited time together. At the moment, we are watching back episodes of Lost on Hulu. Ah, the bonding that can happen over an episode of 50 people stranded on an island. Good times. I'm working as the Credit Assistant for an oil company in Tacoma, which is a bit of a drive, but I don't mind. I actually really enjoy my job, aside from people yelling at me. That part sucks. But I get to carry around a box cutter with my thugs and demand that people give me money. What could be better? (FYI, that was a joke. Please don't tell the police I use a box cutter as a weapon.) I'm also in rehearsals for a show in Poulsbo, during which I get to speak in a Welsh accent. Yup. I'm from Wales. It's cool.

Steve and I have a wonderful dog named Kenai; we found him on Craigslist last year. We had a bunch of people over for Christmas and he didn't pee once. I was so proud. Huge accomplishment for the little guy.

That's us in a nutshell...a Brazil nutshell...which is actually a seed, masquerading as a nut.