25 November 2015

Thanksg-evening 2015

Isaac and Eloise were initiated into traditional Thanksgevening prep tonight with stuffing duty. Thanksgevening is, of course, the night before Thanksgiving when everyone gets tasked with feast prep. 

I made cranberry sauce (with orange, ginger and cinnamon this year). Isaac and I made a cranberry-apple pie. My parents made more pies and stuffing and everything else. 

I'm pretty sure I did this exact same blog post last year. Hey! That makes it a tradition! 

Turn, Turn, Turn

Where but Texas can you ride an armadillo on the carousel? Isaac rode "that whale thing" (manatee). The carousel was the highlight of our visit to the Houston Zoo I think. 
Mama and Daddy went on one of their Costco dates while the kids and I met my college friend Hannah and her family at the zoo. Houston is enormous, and driving on 20 lane highways in Thanksgiving traffic is not for the faint of heart. 

But Houston is so much cooler than anyone gives it credit for. Herman Park for example is just interesting. The languages, the styles, the accents, the music, the architecture. 
Anyway, we had a great day! Wearing shorts the day before Thanksgiving: it's fall in Texas! 

19 November 2015

A Sailor Went to (Arabian) Sea

USS Kearsarge Harriers Join Fight Against ISIL

ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- Naval Aviation rejoined the fight against ISIL Nov. 19 when AV-8B Harriers from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM)162(Reinforced)launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) to conduct their first missions over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

The last Naval Aviation missions in support of OIR were Oct. 17, from USS Essex (LHD 2).
"We will continue to work with our coalition partners to drive ISIL out of Iraq and Syria," said Lt. Col. Brian T. Koch, commanding officer of VMM-162(REIN). "We operate around the clock to defend America, and to keep our families at home safe." 

VMM-162(REIN) is the aviation combat element of the 26th MEU, currently embarked with the Kearsarge ARG.
Capt. Augustus P. Bennett, commander, Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), said the Sailors and Marines under his charge are prepared for what lies ahead.

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 26th MEU along with our coalition partners are here to degrade and destroy ISIL's current operations under OIR," Bennett said. "The combined ARG-MEU team is an expeditionary Navy/Marine Corps force that stands ready and has been trained for these types of operations. We're here to assure our allies, deter any adversaries and provide a persistent U.S. presence here in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations
In addition to Naval Aviation missions against ISIL in support of OIR, the Marines and Sailors of the ARG-MEU team are deployed throughout the region conducting various missions including theater security cooperation and maritime security operations.

The Kearsarge ARG arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet Nov. 1. The U.S. 5th Fleet's area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of the Middle East's maritime reaches and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. 

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

Photos: ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 19, 2015) An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), launches from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) to conduct their first missions over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Kearsarge is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL; maritime security operations; and regional theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ryre Arciaga/Released)

15 November 2015

Work of Art

This is me, rocking my interview. 
And this is my done-with-training-first-day-of-work selfie in the contemporary gallery. 
OWL bet you want to come find the fowl in this glass curio piece! 

Any day is a beautiful day at the Chrysler Museum of Art! 

Thankful for my Pumpkinheads

missed my little Pumpkinheads this week! I had training for my new part time job and anytime we had a lull I just...missed them. Eloise has been grouchy ever since and Isaac is way overtired from a week without naps. 

I admire moms who do what they have to do to support their kids. That schedule was brutal and we only had four (very long) days of it. It's also challenging with Chris gone when I slice my finger to the bone and can't get stitches and can't bathe the kids because it keeps bleeding. 

Hopefully now that the training is done and my finger coagulated we can get into a nice, relaxed schedule that will be a more pleasant experience for everyone than this past week was. 

On the flip side, I am very humbled and thankful for the friends who rallied around me to watch the kids. Y'all really came through and I am so very thankful for your support! 

13 November 2015

St. Sebastian

Oh, you know. Just another day at the Chrysler: touching up Van Dyke's 400-year-old painting of the moments before St. Sebastian was martyred. #chryslerinside

Chrysler Inside

Every museum has a signature color that marks its artwork in transit. The Chrysler art is known by this beautiful Tiffany blue. Or rather, Chrysler green! 

11 November 2015

Happy Veterans' Day

Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes at the Chrysler Museum of Art---I got to see restorations in progress and an early American glass salt dish being photographed for the catalogue. Lots of interesting things at the museum! Including this exhibit, "Performing for the Camera"---the original selfie! 

10 November 2015

A Sailor Went to (Red) Sea

The Flagship newspaper

Kearsarge ARG enters U.S. 5th Fleet

By MCSN Tyler Preston | USS Kearsarge Public Affairs
Nov 10, 2015 01:02 PM

RED SEA -- The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Oct. 31, after completing theater security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet.

The KSGARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24), amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

“The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group is entering the U.S. 5th Fleet, committed to maintain a naval and air presence that upholds lawful maritime order and deters all destabilizing activities,” Kearsarge’s Commanding Officer Capt. David L. Bossert said. “Our relationships with the nations in the Gulf are one of cooperation and understanding and it is through that cooperation that our mission will be effective.”

While in the U.S. 6th Fleet, Kearsarge completed exercise Egemen 2015, a four-day Turkish-led exercise that allowed the U.S. and Turkey to build joint expeditionary capabilities, in order to increase interoperability and enhance security throughout the region.

“We are committed to improving our relationships and capabilities with allies across NATO, that is why we participated in EGEMEN with the Turkish navy and we plan to continue to strive towards that goal as we move into [U.S.] 5th Fleet,” Bossert said.

“Egemen 2015 was a huge success demonstrating our ability to project forces ashore from both sea and air to promote security and stability in the Eastern European region,” Capt. Augustus P. Bennett, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 said. “The exercise reinforced our commitment as allies.”

For Arlington, the deployment marks the ship’s maiden voyage. During the ship’s time in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operation, it completed a four-day multi-national exercise Trident Juncture 2015.

Trident Juncture is a NATO-led exercise, designed to certify NATO response forces and develop interoperability among participating NATO and partner nations.

“It is amazing to watch two nation’s Marine forces operate so seamlessly together. The shared professionalism and commitment to mission between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Portuguese Fuzeleiros easily overcomes any language barriers or differences in equipment or experience,” Arlington’s Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Bailey said. “The ability to conduct large scale exercises such as Trident Juncture 2015, to help refine our ability to operate together, is one of the great strengths of NATO and one that assures the alliance’s viability.”

While in U.S. 5th Fleet, Oak Hill is expected to conduct a wide range of missions to include maritime security operations and ship-to-shore movements.

“The men and women of the ‘Mighty Oak’ are excited to arrive in ]U.S.] 5th Fleet and we look forward to taking the watch and patrolling these vital waterways for the greater good of all mariners, as well as working with our partner nations in the region,” Oak Hill’s Commanding Officer Capt. Orlando Bowman said. “More than 500 ships will sail through these waters on a weekly basis. Maritime security operations help to ensure that the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea remain a safe and prosperous area for all mariners with legitimate business while traveling these waterways. We, as a part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, remain a flexible and persistent force, ready to defend America at all times.”

The KSGARG and the 26th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation as part of a scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet, visit navy.mil/local/cusnc.

09 November 2015

Tea Leaves

They say reading tea leaves can tell you the future. These leaves say we may eventually move out of the rainy, 70 degree weather in to actual fall temperatures. Maybe. 

The kids and I spent last weekend climbing trees, picking apples, and raking leaves! The best kinds of exercise. 
As far as we know, the Bradford Pear tree in our backyard might actually be producing several types of apples....

06 November 2015


If I whisk matcha in my autumn tea bowl, but don't take a picture, did it really happen? 

Isaac found a persimmon tree heavy with ripe fruit way up out of reach at the botanical gardens a few weeks ago. 

These persimmons, however, are from the commissary. 

05 November 2015

Heart on His Sleeve

It almost breaks my heart it's so ernest. 

Isaac picked out her birthday present all by himself---a playdough cookie maker. As soon as he saw her, Isaac grabbed the gift bag, bypassed the table where everyone else left their presents, and ran to her. "It's a present for YOU! You want to open it?" 

She pulled out the tissue paper and examined it politely. Isaac pulled the playdough thing out and presented it for her inspection. 

She was perfect. She exclaimed, delighted. She showed her friends and family: "look what Isaac got me!" Together, they pored over the pictures on the box like no one else was around. They sat side by side and ate birthday cake. They squeezed next to each other on the hay ride. 

Another boy looked dejected. His mom asked what was wrong and he pointed to the birthday girl with Isaac. She told him to go sit with them, but he shook his head and pointed at Isaac. 
Isaac's joy and expectation were just right there on the surface, pure and unfiltered. She could not have responded (to him!) better. 

But it made me dread the day a girl reacts less than perfectly to his presentation of affection. And it made me wish I were a better gift recipient. 

One Easter Chris and I exchanged Easter baskets. "What's...this...?" I pulled a sharp plastic cylinder with a handle out of my basket. 
"It's a pineapple slicer." 
"Why is it in my Easter basket...?" 
"Because you always make that pineapple chicken thing." 
"But you usually slice the pineapple so you just offloaded your job to me." 
"Ok well it was either that or a potato masher. They were next to each other on the shelf." 

Six months later I got a potato masher for my birthday. Chris was so pleased with himself. And when that broke a few years later, Chris got excited. "Don't worry! I know just what to get you for Christmas now!" And indeed I got a new one in my stocking. 

So even if I end up with a bunch of stuff from the ship's mini mart in my stocking this Christmas, I promise to try my best to react like Isaac's girlfriend. 

And Chris, you take take a page out of your son's book---he keeps bringing me flowers, weeds and leaves, saying, "Here Mom. I got you this a cuz I love you. You like it? I got it for you." 

04 November 2015

Plan Bee

I have learned some things about yellow jackets. They're not bees, it turns out. They're little wasps, related to hornets. They can "overwinter" and become massive colonies. They can go unnoticed for years, apparently, until I want to use the office space in the attic, at which time they will come---literally---out of the woodwork. 

Seven weeks of continuous pest treatment by our diligent and reliable pest control company, all for the original "we'll kill all your bees" price! After about 300 buzzers, I started keeping track. I have cleaned up over 700 dead, dying or smashed yellow jackets inside my home. This is not including the ones I find in the yard, on the porch, or that the neighbors report crawling across their entryway. 


The nest is somewhere in the walls of the attic, so the bug guy fogs up in there as best he can. The next step? Tearing apart the attic walls. 

If I see a small number of bees in the next two days---a small number would be less than 30---I'm supposed to call them. HELP US ALL. 

I fear for my sanity. I dream of bees. I hear humming and buzzing throughout the day. This may be my last entry. 

03 November 2015

A Woodland Nymph

I was lost one afternoon, so I stopped to look around, 
When I found a tiny woodland nymph sitting on the ground. 
Her eyes were green like moss, her hair was russet silk; 
Her skin was pure and flawless as the surface of fresh milk. 
She crawled around the knobby roots of an ancient maple tree
And while I stood, observing her, she turned and grinned at me. 
Mischievous and charming, nestled there amongst the leaves---
If you'd like to be enchanted, meet my baby ELOISE!