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! ūüôā

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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.

The Spouse Event

"Sara, look at her shoes! They're gorgeous. Bitch."

So tonight I’m going to my first spouse event here at our new base. This is kind of a weird situation because normally the Major is part of a squadron, so there is an automatic wive’s (spouse’s, sorry) club that has regular meetings and social events. Additionally, when we’ve first checked in before, I’ve been contacted right away by the CO’s wife, welcomed, offered babysitters and shopping tips. Here, not so much. But that isn’t anyone’s fault —¬†it’s because the Major is working more of an administrative position. It also has to do with his being one of only about 200 Marines on a Navy base. There’s no squadron to “take care of us” and there just aren’t that many other Marine spouses around. But the Marine Aviation Detachment is trying to take up the slack, which is nice.

I’ve never been a huge joiner when it comes to spouse events. I guess part of me thinks that it’s silly that we’d all be friends just because our husbands work together. At least if WE worked together we’d know that we had similar backgrounds or interests, maybe, but the spouse groups are often quite the hodgepodge of people from every corner of everywhere. And I’m all for a diverse group of friends. And I don’t like stereotypes in general. But to me, throwing together a group of women becuase of who they’re married to is kind of like assuming that two gay guys will be a perfect couple because, well, they’re both gay. That being said, I have also always found a small subset of these women with whom I’ve gotten along great and forged good lasting friendships. And I’ve made other friends who are great to know while we’re at whatever base we’re at, but those are often the types of friendships that¬† you sort of know won’t last when one of you moves on. And those are nice to have, too.

And it wouldn’t be a wives’ club post if I didn’t mention the “knives club” aspect of these groups. As in any gathering of women, there are often a few who prefer backbiting and gossip to actual friendship and see these groups as an ideal setting for making snap judgements, saying nasty things and excluding people when possible. I haven’t run into a lot of this myself — aside from a few cases when attendance at such events was disputed due to being a ‘fiance’ rather than a spouse; or once when someone’s hubby deployed for a non-squadron billet and some ladies said that the wife left behind was not actually a squadron spouse anymore and should not be coming to events (nor should she receive any support from all of us despite the fact that she was left at home without her hubby, caring for the house and family… cuz that’s not hard.) And there are always a few wives who believe that they have somehow earned their husband’s rank and should be treated accordingly…that’s pretty fun.¬†ANYWAY, crappy things do happen, but generally these organizations are a good source of support. And I have to say that even if you don’t really bond with anyone, even the nastiest of biddies will tend to rally around another spouse¬†when they are truly needed. I didn’t cook my own meals for months after having my kids… that alone was worth more to me than I can ever express.

So I go tonight not knowing anyone. Actually, that’s not true. I know (and like!) one other Marine spouse here, but I don’t know if she’ll be there. Maybe I’ll actually make a new¬†friend. Friends are nice. Wish me luck not being shy and also not being an asshole. Sometimes I struggle with both.

Even Wronger.

I. Am. an Idiot.

For anyone capable of reciting the months of the year, it was probably clear in my last post that Turbo will certainly be Kindergarten-eligible next fall unless you are using the Mongolian Trinomial calendar, and really — who uses that old thing anymore? I was. confused. And really, that’s nothing new.

We celebrated Columbus Day at our house by visiting the hospital. The Major had some surgery to correct a gym-related accident he had a few weeks ago. In retrospect, this was a fairly major (no pun intended) event, but I managed to downplay it until this afternoon, largely because he wasn’t making a big deal out of it. But when I considered how to pick his recently-under-anesthesia’d ass up from the hospital and get him home, it occurred to me that doing this with two small kids in tow was not going to work. Thus began the scramble. Through a combination of a very good friend (who deserves a post all her own … not sure how we’d be doing living here if she hadn’t moved her family here 6 months before us) and her awesome babysitter, I got that handled. But it was a stressful and tiring day, and I’m expecting it to be a rough night and probably a tough day tomorrow too, with pain, etc. And that’s not even figuring on how to explain to the the tiny guys that Daddy can’t pick them up or hug them, and that they can’t jump on him… Wish us luck!