Milbloggie Voting 2012 is Now Open!

Voting is open for Military Blogger of the Year. Witty Little Secret is a finalist and I would be honored by your vote. Voting does not require a sign-up or login. Just clickiness. Just two little clicks!

Step One. Go to the VOTING PAGE and click on SEE NOMINEES for BEST U.S. MILITARY SPOUSE BLOG. There it is. In blue. But wait. There’s more …

Step Two. Find WITTY LITTLE SECRET and click! Right inside the pretty round circle. Now find another computer and do it again. Heh.

Step Three. Share Witty Little Secret on your Facebook page by going to your status update, typing “vote for Witty Little Secret!” and entering my website address (wittylittlesecret.com). Facebook will automatically direct people to this page.

NOW GO DO IT!

Thanks so much, everyone! Voting is open through Friday April 20th and the winners will be announced in Washington DC on May 11th. You can vote once from every computer you have access to!

Cheers!

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Exhilaration

kids soccerIt could have been any Soccer Saturday. I was yelling “woo hoo good job baby!” from my collapsible canvass soccer chair in the cold wet grass as the morning fog lifted at midfield. I was wearing the traditional garb: zip-up fleece in a team-appropriate color, rubber boots with jeans jammed hastily down into them, and little to no makeup due to the morning rush to locate shin guards and frantically fill a water bottle and line the car with plastic in an attempt to entrap what would inevitably be muddy cleats and jerseys and legs and arms and fingers. Here I was, as if it was just another Soccer Saturday, clutching my tiny hot cup of coffee, zipped up to my chin, taking video after video of the same mob of blue jerseys with my phone and screaming senseless encouragements that were either completely wrong or unheard by the intended recipient, but made me feel supportive nonetheless.

But I wasn’t watching the field. Not at all. I was watching the clock. With every peek at it, my heart raced. The minutes were ticking away and I could clearly see an image of his face. My visual brain was racing back and forth between the moment I’d first see him, the moment I’d be close enough to lock eyes with him and look deeply into the blueness and see what Skype and electronic words could never deliver, and the moment he would take his big arms and wrap them around me and squeeze. Thinking of these moments my breath drew in involuntarily and my chest constricted and electricity shot through my legs. A goal was scored and I hastily jumped up and shouted “great shot!” before realizing it was the other team that scored. I was excitable.

I finally decided to check Husband’s flight status from my phone. My frozen thumbs limbered up as I typed the airline website and flight number into my phone, and I impatiently watched the page spin and refresh and warble and search and blip. After three tries, I couldn’t believe my eyes. His flight was early. And not just a few minutes early – THIRTY MINUTES early!

Nervous energy gave way to sickening dread as I pictured my husband arriving home from a deployment without anyone to greet him. Well, he wanted low-key and he was about to get it. I yanked Sweet Pea from the field, yelled something incomprehensible to her coach, and dragged my burgeoning menagerie of paraphernalia to the car, which was slowing me down big time. My cumbersome load consisted of: (1) The Preschooler who was whining because he had spilled two-thirds of his strawberry smoothie (with whip cream) on his shirt, down the crotch of his jeans, and into his rubber boots; (2) the chair he had been sitting in, which I was reluctant to fold up, because it was also strawberry-smoothie baptized; (3) my half-folded canvass chair which was not back in its sock with a neat drawstring and carrying strap, but was still undone for no apparent reason other than a failure to think; (4) a muddy soccer player who was mad because she braided her hair for the airport and now all her curls were gone; (5) the mad muddy soccer player’s water bottle, with mud on it; and (6) the newish purple sequin-encrusted sweatshirt of the mad muddy soccer player, which I was trying to hide behind my back so she wouldn’t see the strawberry smoothie that now christened its virgin white fluffy interior.

I stopped, breathed, grabbed each child by the shoulder, and waited for them to both look me in the eye. This was my “I mean business” act.

“Daddy’s early and we have to go. Now. Or we’re going to miss him.” That was all they needed and it was robot city. To the car, cleats off, in seats, buckles on, out of the car, into the house, change of clothes, change of shoes, lip gloss, brush the hair, back in the car, in seats, buckles on, hit the road. The car sat idling in the driveway the entire time and it was an impressive six minute turnaround.

crossing overBut it was the longest drive of my life. I couldn’t even turn the radio on. The kids were chattering and as their volume increased it filled the car with even more energy. We were not going to make it. I was flying and breaking all kinds of laws and sweating in my great homecoming outfit. My phone was buzzing off the hook with calls and texts and messages because everyone knew it was close. I bounced in my seat.

But as we finally finally approached the bridge, the portion of road which represents that glorious last stretch to Airport Way, the car got quiet and the road became bumpless and I became still and the dreary Northwest air around us puffed and pushed us forward.

Over the course of the last ten years I had made my way down this road so many times to pick him up from a trip. We had been over this bridge to welcome him home from a week’s absence over and over again. The surroundings were all so familiar – yet the feelings were all so different. This wasn’t the end of a week-long trip and this wasn’t a regular Soccer Saturday. And as I crossed the bridge it was like entering a different existence. Everything I had come to know over the course of the last year was about to change and become new. Everything. Again.

I pushed the gas pedal down hard and moved into the exit lane. I was not slowing.

We parked and went running into the airport – really running – holding hands and laughing and remembering how we almost missed his arrival home from R&R under similar circumstances. “I’m going to tackle him!” shouted The Preschooler. “I’m going to tickle him!” announced Sweet Pea. “And I’m going to see it all,” I whispered.

We came down the long hallway at Portland International Airport, and stopped right at the confluence of the security gate causeway. People streamed out of their flights without any regard to the fact that I was looking for my husband without my glasses on. I didn’t see him, but he was walking directly toward us. Sweet Pea suddenly shouted, “there he is!” and took off running.

I saw his smile first. And then his uniform.

I raised my camera to capture the moment on video, walking closer quite slowly so as to keep the video from bouncing around like a kangaroo on a pogo stick, and in doing so I ended up seeing the whole thing through the lens of a video camera. It will be forever etched in my memory through that lens. In that view the rest of the world was absent. There were no other people, no shops, no suitcases or security guards. The entire screen of my memory is filled only with my Husband and my children embracing as the frame slowly gets closer and closer and closer.

He was in his desert uniform, and I couldn’t see his face now as he stooped down to hug his babies. I grabbed my heart as The Preschooler climbed my Husband like a monkey scaling a tree and Sweet Pea clung to his uniform like she was about to be torn from him by a hurricane. And then, with all his paraphernalia, he was moving, toward me.

I started walking now too, and I lowered the camera just in time to see his real live smile and happy blue eyes before his free non-monkey-holding hand reached around behind me and pulled me toward him. “Hi, honey!” he said, as if he had just been outside mowing the lawn and was coming in for dinner. I planted one on him, wrapped my arms around his tanned neck, and drew back again to look at his eyes.

They were dancing. They weren’t distant or cloudy or preoccupied. They were just bouncing – full of energy and light and easy happiness. They were the eyes I remembered from a very long time ago. I closed my eyes and hugged him again. “Mmm. Welcome Home” was all I could manage in that moment.

And in that long-awaited squeeze, that wonderful warm feeling, all of the exhilaration finally drained from my body and I felt calm and certain. I could breathe deeply again. I hugged him again before we headed to the baggage claim, and when I did I inadvertently hit the delete button on the camera. And just like that, homecoming was gone.

But I thought of the flags and smiled. Because it was now a home-going.

daddy homeIn what seemed like slow motion we sauntered toward the baggage claim, clinging to him and feeling as if he were Zuckerman’s Famous Pig and we were bringing him up to the State Fair.  We sat on the floor and as I watched I noticed that his hands were constantly moving, going from one child to a gift, to a bag, to the other child, to me, to a zipper or a pouch or a flap. He was sitting, but he couldn’t sit still. He doled out the gifts he brought home right there in the airport, not something any of us expected, and I sat down on the floor next to him as the kids played and I admired my treasures – especially the one sitting next to me. Especially the family I had, which was whole again.

However, we were watched by everyone at the baggage carousel, and I could sense Husband was impatient and uncomfortable and wanted to just get home.

When it finally came out, he quickly gathered his big bag (something I would previously have called a “sea bag”) and hoisted it up on his shoulder. He left the other hand dangling for The Preschooler, who had become a kindergartener while his dad was gone. They both sauntered a little as we made our way to the car. The Preschooler’s little voice reverberated and echoed in the parking garage as he announced, “Daddy, when I grow up, I’m going to be just like you.”

daddy homeMy mother’s heart sunk as I imagined my little boy going away to a desert, or whatever the military conflict would be in about 13 years. About his young wife and about his family. But he was right. In that moment, we all wanted to be like him when we grew up. We were all proud.

Sweet Pea looked at me and whispered, “can I tell him about the flags?”

“Only if you want to ruin the surprise,” I said just as quietly. This wasn’t a good response because I knew she wanted to do exactly that. So I added, “Let’s wait and see what happens when he sees them, okay? Let’s just wait and see if he realizes who they’re for.”

Here Come the Professionals

military family

I went out on my deck and caught Barry red-handed. Literally.

I recently received a text from a girlfriend:

September 23 is your night. A pamper Lori with friends and food night … complete with babysitter, wine, and a few fun friends to hang with who also want to spoil you with cleaning your home while you chillax. If you try to make food or tidy your house you will be in huge trouble, girlfriend!

In keeping with Deployment Cycle Phase One Million (WYSIWYG), I’m not cleaning it up, either. It’s all hanging out, baby. I surveyed the clean laundry mountain just this morning and contemplated getting up early Friday to remedy it (bwah hah ahha ha ha …. I kill myself, sometimes). But it’s already beginning to dwindle as we sift and pick through it, and as we move the clothing into the dirty piles in the laundry room. I may fail at math, but I can tell you this: laundry is a hideously pointless zero-sum game. And so, it shall stay right where it is.

After the hysteria of inviting a pile of stay at home moms into this working mom’s house wore off, their kind offer got me thinking about how many times this very thing has happened in a year …

There was the time I wrote about staring out at my long grass and Bartly called someone from Texas and had my lawn mowed while I was at work.

There was the time I wrote about impending car doom, and Uncle Dan showed up and worked on Husband’s Camaro, Chris came over and fixed my dislodged wheel-well and taught me how to change my own car battery, and Bob, our local American Legion dude, serviced my SUV for half price.

There was the time I wrote about the status of my house and MaryKay came over and completely cleaned out and organized my kitchen pantry and left me with a stack of home-canned goodies.

There was hitting the wall and being rescued by a not so random rainbow, which was sweetened when Robert showed up with a pot full of chocolate (including refills) and a reminder to look for the elusive prize at the end of it.

I questioned my writing ability and Athena nominated me for this little blogging award without telling me, resulting in a trip to Washington DC wherein I had a personally guided tour of the Pentagon, got coined by an Air Force General, and met Donald Rumsfeld. And a certain JetBlue pilot I’ve never met gave me an airplane ticket to get there.

I wrote about The Preschooler perched on the edge of a basketball court watching a father play ball with his kids, and Barry and Dylan took my son to a baseball game. But not before weeding every flower bed and filling them with two yards of bark dust.

And then there was the time I was sick, and tired, and done with deployment, and Suzy brought us five meals and successfully filled my childrens’ stomachs with hot dinners for an entire week.

And there was more. So much more. Too much to write about, really.

It seems to me that this is where Reserve and Guard families appear to have the advantage – we have slightly more sympathetic and available friends. When Husband was active duty, my community was practically all military, and we were all doing it. We helped each other, and we supported each other, but it was not like this. It has really been a blessing the way the community has responded. It felt lonely to be without a military spouse group and far from a military base at first, but then it was humbling, overwhelming almost, to see what developed in its place.

But more importantly, I’ve had another epiphany this week. I mean there is obviously a law of nature at work, here. A regular cause and effect relationship has now been very clearly established. Whenever I complain, things magically happen. It’s not going to be this way forever and I feel it’s my responsibility to jump on that bandwagon while the gettin’ is good. And I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t recognize this law of nature. First of all, it’s a law. It obviously must be followed. I’m a prosecutor for crying out loud. I took an oath. I must obey the law. Second, it’s nature. You can’t fight nature, man.

So I feel it’s of the utmost importance that I “mention” the following: (1) a small family of five long wrinkles which can only be described as “chasms” have taken up residence on my forehead, the teeth which I spent the better part of middle school straightening and missing out on steak dinners for are starting to retreat to their previous positions, my postpartum melanin “soul patch” pigmentation has returned, and my thighs are beginning to burst out of the gut-sucking sausage roll shapewear I purchased pre-deployment. I’m thinking this could be remedied by a small team of surgeons and a live-in therapist (both will be required); (2) my current mode of transportation does not include a Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, or Maserati and really, it should be at least one of those. A driver would also aid in my ability to complete tasks with speed and/or class; and (3) I am currently forced to obtain my own groceries, pay my own bills, pick up my own dry cleaning, and clean my own house. I propose a team comprised of a personal assistant, publicist, agent, nanny, and housekeeper. Or a wife, which would cover most of that.

I decided to leave it at that for now. We’ll see how you do and then I’ll amend the list as appropriate. I’ll report on the excellent status of my girlfriend-induced renovation next week! THANK YOU FRIENDS. I love you. Really.

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