Celebrating the Corps

This year I attended my tenth Marine Corps Ball. We missed one when the hubs was in Iraq in 2004, and another when I’d just had Lunchbox in 2009. (His birthday is in early November, so getting to a ball on the 10th was not happening!)

But we made it this year, and kid-free to boot!

I talked about the ball a little bit last year, and it still strikes me as an important way to remember what the Corps stands for. But this year was a much more festive event for some reason, and I had a really good time. (and, for the tenth year I was able to stifle the urge to scream out inappropriate things during the ceremony… does this happen to anyone else??? I seriously can’t take the quiet, and the ceremony. I get the same urge at weddings… it’s like when you’re on a tall building and you think, “I could totally jump right now!” Oh, that’s just me? Okay… well, then…)

So here’s the required shot of us in our ball attire! 🙂

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The Revenge Poop

There’s been a lot of inappropriate bathrooming going on around our house lately… and it reminds me that this is really something we’ve been dealing with for as long as I’ve had kids. Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

When Turbo was just a tiny bean, wearing footy pajamas and a sleep sack (one of those cool suits that is like a sleeping bag at the bottom and zips up and has little armholes at the top… oh hell, THIS: leon_minky_yellow_100

Anyway, when Turbo used to sleep in those, there came a point where I’d go in, expecting to find him peacefully napping. And instead, his crib would look like a scene from a toddler horror film. He’d be sleeping peacefully, NAKED…surrounded by POOP! He would systematically remove his sleep sack, his clothing and his diaper, and then proceed to do God only knows what, resulting in the unmentionable scene I just mentioned above.

To solve this problem, we did several things, all of which he managed to Houdini through at some point:

– Duct tape the diaper on

– zip the feety pajamas up his back instead of up the front

– put the sleep sack on backwards

Anyway, Lunchbox never did any of that. And I thought we were safe.

I was wrong.

It was much later when it started, but now it’s Lunchbox who seems to have a strange sense of humor when it comes to things that belong in the potty.

A classic story around our house is the time when the Major was in a hurry and needed to take a quick shower and get out the door. Lunchbox enjoys a nice hot shower. And he likes to join the Major in there when he’s allowed to. This was not one of those days. That didn’t stop Lunchbox from stripping down to his chubby little butt and darting into the bathroom, only to be told no. He was none too pleased, let me assure you. First he cried, but then he got crafty.

The Major came out of his quick shower to find a naked Lunchbox striding confidently out of his closet, a smug look on his face.

“Why were you in my closet?” the Major asked.

“I pooped in your closet.” Simple. Straight to the point.

“No you didn’t. Tell me you did not. Poop. In. My. Closet.”

“I did, Daddy. I pooped in your closet.”

The Major poked his head inside and turned on the light. And there, strategically placed in the center of the floor was exactly what Lunchbox had told him he’d find.

Commotion and punishment ensued. But later, the Major confided that he felt a surge of pride. I was disgusted.

“Do you know how hard it is to poop on command like that?” the Major asked me. “That’s like performance pooping. I’m so proud.”

I continue to be disgusted.

This has been termed a “revenge poop.” And it was used several more times. Once in Turbo’s closet. I think the days of the revenge poop might be an an end, but now we are entering new territory: the pee of retribution.

Dark times ahead, folks. And lots of carpet cleaning.

This One’s For You, Gate Guard Guy

I work on base most of the time. So that means that every morning after I wave my tiny people goodbye as their little bitty heads peep up over the bottom edge of the windows on that huge yellow bus, I hop in the car and drive myself to the base. And every morning I whip out my CAC and wait in line and then take my turn being checked by the various security types who man the gate. Some days it’s policemen, other days it’s sailors. I might be a bit biased, but I prefer the military gate guards to the civilians. They’re nicer most of the time, and sometimes they salute me, which just feels like a win any day of the week (though I know the salute has little to do with me and is more a show of respect for the rank of the dude I happen to be married to. Regardless, I like to think of it as a nice “you go, girl!” kind of affirmation that I did well in my choice of spouse.” Whatever. Not the point.

The point. And I do have one, irrelevant though it may be… Is that most mornings I get something along the lines of, “thank you ma’am. Have a good day.” I pretty much became “ma’am” the day I married the Major. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that age-advancing term of respect has smacked me in the face any time I’ve been near a military facility since that day more than a decade ago. I went from “miss” to “ma’am.” And it’s completely stupid, but it sucks. Especially if I’m due for a color or if I’ve recently noticed that the forehead crease is looking more pronounced.

But today, not only did I get the totally-not-intended-for-me-but-damned-cool-anyway salute, I also got a “miss”! WIN! I haven’t been called miss in ages. I nearly pulled over to hug the cute little sailor guy in his cute navy blue camis. But the guy in line behind me probably wouldn’t have been too pleased. And it might have been misinterpreted and started some kind of security incident. So instead, I just drove on through, feeling much younger than I did when I woke up.

She’s Ba-aaack!

That’s right muthas… I’m back. And Turbo and Lunchbox have grown and… well, okay. They haven’t matured. But they have grown! Turbo is now in the second grade, and Lunchbox just started pre-k at the same elementary school. I’m still working for the same company (contracting to the man…oh, wait, around here that can get you in trouble, I think. Everyone here works for the government. So yeah, I do that.)

And life is mostly good. I spend most of my days at work praying that the phone doesn’t ring. I’ve become well-acquainted with the vice principle at the elementary school in the past few years, and even joined the PTA as a board member in order to buy a bit of goodwill in that fine establishment. We were on track to have the first Kindergartner ever suspended, but we dodged that bullet and even made it through first grade, though I did enjoy a close personal, nightly-phone-call kind of relationship with the first grade teacher. I think she liked me too, because she called me “mom” every time we spoke. That’s affection right there.

But it’s a new year, I’ve got a new attitude and a few new responsibilities… and life is good. I hope you’ll stick with me as I use this blog as a forum to record all the important thoughts I have about mothering in the military. (Maybe I’ll include some of the less important thoughts so that I can post more than once a decade…)

236 Years of Service

I know, I’ve been quiet. It’s not you, it’s me. Really. It seems like a lot has gone on, but really, I have no great excuses. Turbo finished soccer last week, Lunchbox turned two on the 4th, and we attended the Marine Corps Ball this weekend (which even entailed a night away from home in a hotel room without kids! Yay!)

There’s a lot I could write about in all that, but I thought I’d spend a little time on the Ball. We go most years if we can… but I remember the first time I went about 8 years ago. As a new spouse, the entire thing was brand spankin’ new to me. I didn’t know the first thing about the Marine Corps or the Birthday Ball. So here’s what I didn’t know…

The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775, making this November 10th the 236th birthday of the Corps.

The first year that I attended the Ball with the Major (then a Captain…), I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that there’d be a bar, and that I got to get my hairs did and wear a fancy dress. And that was seriously it. I didn’t expect to be moved or touched, and I didn’t know that I’d come away with a whole new perspective on my husband.

The Ball is full of pomp and circumstance. There is a sword procession, the presentation of the colors, and a formal cutting of the birthday cake — which is my favorite part. One piece is offered to the oldest Marine present, and another to the youngest, marking the continuity of the Corps — respect for those who have given years and have much to teach, and also for the youthful vigor embodied by the newest members. There is always a table set for one up at the front of the room — that represents all of the Marines who cannot share the birthday festivities with us or with their loved ones. There is usually a band — in our case last night it was the USNA band and they were really excellent. There’s some marching, lots of standing at attention, and a good deal of speaking. The Ball was the first time I’d seen my husband stand at attention. It was the first time I’d seen him wear his medals, and it was the first time I’d recognized these silly guys that he hangs out with as anything more than overgrown frat boys with F-18s. When called upon to do so, they all became rigid, serious… reverent. And I realized that when called upon, they would also all become heroes, if needed. They would protect one another and perform the duties assigned to them with the same stoic resolve I saw on all of their faces when the national anthem and the Marine Corps Hymn were played.

There is always a message presented from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. This year’s message reflected on the fact that 2011 is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and illustrated the roles that Marines played in those events. Here is the message:

I got teary watching this — I lived in NYC during 9/11, and like most from my generation, this will forever be a turning point in my life — an end to innocence. I knew people involved very directly, though was lucky enough not to know anyone personally who lost their life. Still, many close to me were scarred by the events of that day and the images will never leave my mind. And mixing those memories with my appreciation for the sacrifice that Marines make — are making —  every day, was a lot to process. Mix it with a few glasses of wine, and poof! There goes my mascara.

It was a good time, but I try to remember what the Ball means as well, and what it means in my husband’s life. He’s a humble guy, and he would be the last person to call himself a hero, but when I see him in his dress blues, medals on his chest, standing at attention… I feel so proud of my Major. And he will always be a hero to me (and to two little guys I know!)

Semper fidelis.