Fun is as fun does

I signed Billy and Katie up for a Junior Ranger camp this week. It’s a good thing. Four very busy hours every day, and they’ve been going to bed at night with no complaints. Billy did get a little teary yesterday afternoon; he misses his brother so much. That’s why I’m trying to keep him occupied.

I’ve been carpooling, so I didn’t drive Monday or Tuesday. Today and tomorrow are my days. When I picked them up today, the young man at the sign in/out desk said, “Just sign here and they’re all yours.”

“You seem excited at the prospect of being rid of them,” I replied with a knowing smile. No way would you catch me doing a camp with a hundred adolescents.

“Oh, yes,” he agreed wearily. Just then, Billy came up and showed me something he had made. Now connecting me with a particular child, the young man added, Your son is a pleasure.”

“Oh?” I said.

“He listens and does what he’s told.”

“That’s good,” I said as we walked off. I’m pretty sure my daughter and the other girls in the camp are not quite as cooperative. Not bad, I mean, just too busy chit-chatting to even notice that the party is moving on to other things. Billy, though, knows that the fun is in the doing, not in the talking.

Although, talking is fun too…(can’t help it…I’m a girl…)


You know that panicky feeling you get when your toddler is not in the room you thought she was in and it’s been 10 minutes or so since you’ve seen her?

I didn’t have to go far to find her.

The splash fountain really tuckered her out. I took off her wet suit, gave her some juice to rehydrate and went off to get her some dry clothes. I guess she got tired of waiting.

The BEST Toiletry Kit EVER

Fritz left today for a week at Boy Scout camp. I’m sure he will have tons of fun, especially when he works on his Rifle Shooting Merit Badge.

Previously, whenever he went camping, he used a super deluxe toiletry kit: a zip lock bag. We spare no expense in outfitting our children for their adventures.

This year, I decided to make him a real toiletry kit. I found this well-done tutorial, but of course, that’s a bit too girly for anyone with a Y chromosome. My boy needed something manly, and there’s nothing much manlier than a military uniform. And we have plenty of those.

I hate to get rid of my husband’s old uniforms. There is so much useful fabric there. And cool pockets, too. You can try to sell old uniforms at an Army/Navy store, but they don’t net you much. You can donate them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, and I suppose a homeless man, somewhere, will be very grateful. Or you can keep them until you come up with a project that would look cool in camouflage.

Like a toiletry kit.

Here is Fritz’s kit. Not only is that a genuine BDU top, that name tape was stitched on by a real imported Korean seamstress at some Clothing and Sales store at some Army post somewhere (probably PA or NJ). Can you believe that both my husband and Fritz asked if I was going to cut off the buttons? They have no sense of artistry.

Here I have unfolded the kit so you can see both the front and back. If you are familiar with BDU tops, you will recognize the top pocket on the front and the bottom pocket on the back. Those pockets button closed and can hold a number of items securely.

This is the inside. It is made from a different camo pattern – the desert shade. The green uniform was worn by my husband in Kosovo (and various places in the US). The tan uniform was worn by one of his friends in Iraq and Afghanistan. The toiletry kit has been around the world. The friend was getting rid of his uniforms, so my husband took them, because he knows I can’t stand to throw Army uniforms away (seeing as how there is so much useful fabric there). I followed the tutorial for the tool pocket on the top side shown here, but decided to just use another uniform pocket for the other side.

To hold the kit closed, I used two buttons from the tan uniform and their button holes which I just stitched to the tan fabric before stitching the two sides together.

I’m pleased with the results, and the best reward was having my son say, “Cool!” I plan to make two more like these (one for Billy and one for my girlfriend’s son) and then 3 half camo/half girly fabric for Katie, Jenny, and my girlfriend’s daughter. I’ll be sure to post photos when I do those.

The BEST PART is that I made the whole thing without a single trip to the store. Except for the thread, which I had on hand, all components came from the uniforms (small note: I did not use any cotton batting or interfacing in this kit as the tutorial suggests, nor did I put in the zippered pocket).

I love recycling Army uniforms.

The Preamble (according to Katie)

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the General Washington, and secure the blessings of liberty…

That’s right, it’s all about promoting Georgie to President…forget what you may have heard about his humility, Katie knows the truth about him gunning for Commander in Chief. It’s right there, in the Constitution.


Sometimes, you have to do more living than blogging. Of course, those are the times you most want to blog about.

Fritz’s face looks much better than it did last Wednesday. The dentist thinks all will be fine with his adult teeth, but she’ll keep an eye on them at future visits.

Peter had a lingual frenectomy. He was so good. I was traumatized, but at least I didn’t faint or vomit.

Bill’s parents came down for a visit and we did touristy stuff. Fort Pulaski. The Owens-Thomas House (free to military during the summer!!).

Last week, I had a conversation with my husband about how many days he has gone TDY since beginning this job four months ago (more than 30). He has a whole month to go until his next trip. The office doesn’t know what they will do with him. I suggested it was time to take some leave (vacation).

“Well, I do have that long weekend coming up for the 4th of July,” he said. There was a pause, and I expected him to continue with some plan to take leave. But, no, that was the end of his statement.

“No, dear, that’s a holiday. Leave is when you don’t go into the office, but everybody else does.”

So, he took today off, which was very nice. He helped me run outside and pull the clothes off the line before the torrential downpour (this is my every afternoon). Somebody found my stash of rubber bands and he’s been teaching the kids how to best aim and fire them. They have battled all day long, and my stash is now all over the floors all over the house. He washed my car, because he’s trying very hard to conscientiously practice my love language of acts of service (isn’t he great, folks?).

Part of this is because we watched the movie P.S. I Love You. Tear-jerker. I cannot in good faith recommend it to anyone whose husband is deployed, or is deploying soon, or has a brain tumor or some other life-shortening condition, or to anyone who is pregnant or post-partum hormonal, or PMSing or menopausal, or who cries easily, or who can’t bear the thought of her husband dying. And since it’s rated PG-13 for sexual content, I can’t recommend it to anyone under the age of adulthood…so pretty much I think only men should watch this movie. And since I like having my car washed just because, I highly recommend that all husbands watch this movie very soon. If your husband will not watch a chick flick without you, be forewarned that you will need tissues.

There are 18 weeks to the Army Ten Miler. Today I started the Hal Higdon 15K Intermediate training program, which is 10 weeks long. I just plan to repeat the last 4 weeks twice to get me to race day.

And that’s my life in the last week.

No photo, because it’s just too gross

The boy made it 12 years and 29 days without a broken bone and without requiring stitches, staples or glue to hold parts of his body together.

Today, 12 years and 30 days into his life, his face looks very boyish: meaning bruised, swollen and plain ugly.

The friend said, “I’m going to throw this stick at you,” in what was meant to be some sort of friendly gesture, I suppose. His mom asked him, “What were you thinking?” which is, of course, ridiculous, because there was no thinking involved. Ask any man. I’ll bet he’ll have some story to tell about a time when he was 10 or 12 or 14…probably not too many after that. After that, vehicles get involved and those stories are “barely survived” stories, and they’re not as funny.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:10 pm. It was nearly 10:30 pm when Bill got home from the hospital with him. It’s nice that he works close by and could meet me there. I left after triage, thank goodness.

Let’s see: hole through his lip requiring 2 stitches, mainly because the hole is on both his lip and his face and he would have a crooked smile if they didn’t stitch it. He had a CT scan to make sure that no wood fragments were left behind. Then they had to call 2 people from the dental clinic to come in and take a look at his teeth. One guy had just sat down to dinner. X-rays showed that the broken tooth was a baby tooth, so they yanked it out. And I have to call our dentist and have them check on another (adult) tooth that’s a little wiggly and discolored.


I did remind Fritz about the time he swung his brother into the bed and split his head open. And Bill talked about the time he got hit in the head with a baseball bat by his best friend. And my dad told me about the time he threw a broken bottle intending it to go over another kid’s head. And the friend’s grandfather told about the time his son used a length of rope as a whip…

Everybody has a story. I’m sure this one will be really funny in a few years.

Morning Ritual

We stood on the front porch, Katie, Mary and I, and waved goodbye to Bill as he headed off for work. I always try to make sure he gets a grand send off.

As we turned to come in, Mary told me, “I LOVE him!”

“I do, too,” I enthused.

“He gives great hugs.”

“Yes, he does.”

Planning another shin-dig

Last month, we had some people from my husband’s office over for a party. I think the food turned out well. Next month, he wants to invite a different group of people over.

“Hmmm, I wonder what I should make,” said I.

“Make the same thing you did last time,” he suggested. I rewarded him with a blank stare. The same thing? Why?


“Hey, Mikey, whatcha doing, staring at that hunk of rock?”

“I’m thinking about carving a statue out of it.”

“Yeah? Why doncha make another one a them Davids? That was cool.”


The great thing about my husband is that he is so very easy to please. I know some husbands who are a bit…finicky…with what they will eat. No breakfast food for dinner…ever. No fruit (sauces, garnishes, etc) with meat. Not Bill. He will eat what I serve him without complaint.

He did complain – once – early in our marriage, but the cast iron skillet seemed to knock some sense into him.

But the difficult thing about my husband is that he is so very easy to please. If time, money, and nutrition were no concern, this would be his daily menu:

Breakfast: western omelet, coffee (black) and possible add-ons of rye toast, hash browns, bacon and OJ.

Lunch: turkey and provolone on a hard roll with a bit of Dijon mustard, Dr. Pepper, maybe some chips.

Dinner: whatever I make him.

And he would eat this, without variety, every day for weeks and weeks and weeks. I can’t do that.

My friend’s husband recently came home on R&R from Afghanistan. He had a long list of favorite foods that he wanted her to make. When Bill came home last December, I made some things that I knew he would like, but none of them were by his request (despite repeated interrogations).

And despite knowing this man for nearly 21 years, I only learned last spring that chocolate cake isn’t his favorite; he prefers vanilla.

Every year I ask, “What would you like me to make for your birthday?”

“Oh, whatever…”

“O-kaaaay…” So I’d make chocolate cake…because everybody loves chocolate, right? He doesn’t understand how much it bothers me to think I’ve been disappointing him for 20 years. Of course, he’s probably not disappointed. He’s just happy there’s good food magically appearing in front of him every night.

Apparently, I have a much greater attachment to food than he does. My hips attest to this fact. Food is art. Food is hospitality. Food is love.

So, no, I can’t make the same menu that I did for the last party. And since my wonderful husband is no help in the planning department, I’m soliciting suggestions. One thought I had was to have burgers, but to provide a very large selection of toppings…or to have different types of burgers (have you had burgers with bleu cheese? – yum). I’m definitely casting about for some sort of theme. The tequila is almost gone, so that’s out. Any ideas?

"Hands on" learning – literally

“Mom, Jenny’s intentionally stepping in the poison ivy and rubbing it on her hands!”

No vicarious learning around here, no sir. She’s

Katie has been scratching at a rash for several days. I identified the rash as likely coming from poison ivy. I’ve had poison ivy rashes. No fun.

Billy mentioned he noticed some three-leaved plants near the fence. I investigated and confirmed their nefarious “roots.” I brought Katie outside, showed her the plant, and said, “Know thy enemy.”

Then I made the mistake of mentioning to the kids that they should wash with soap and water if they thought they had touched a plant. That might prevent the rash, I said. After handling the poison ivy, Jenny went and washed up to see if that took care of it.

Very risky.

The plants will remain in place until this weekend when Bill will get to them. Even though he has never had an allergic reaction to them, he will wear gloves and be very careful. Why tempt fate? Since I have him, I won’t go near the plants. If he were gone for an extended period, I would have to do something, but I would wear long pants, long sleeves, socks and shoes, disposable gloves and put all clothes in the wash immediately afterward (right after I showered using this product, which I recommend).

That Tecnu stuff helps relieve itching as well. It’s a good thing I own some. Jenny may be very miserable tomorrow.