28 June 2016

The First Decade


Our 10th Anniversary! A whole decade! We made it! Here's how we celebrated: Eloise got a fever and diarrhea. My car needed a new wheel bearing to the tune of $500+. Isaac sleep walked to the bathroom...but didn't make it...and peed all over his bedroom rug. 

And since we couldn't find a babysitter, we brought the kids with us to Longboards, a Hawaiian themed restaurant in Portsmouth. As we arrived we read the reviews: "kids: no." "Worst meal I've ever eaten." We plowed ahead anyway. The kids colored palm trees while we had Kona beers and hula burgers. Dinner really was great, and we even had a nice walk to the ferry harbor afterwards. 

I thought to myself, if I'd been able to see this day 10 years ago, it would do nothing but confirm we were marrying the right people. This is the life we've built, the 10,000 threads that bind us together (an image I liked from a marriage book I read once). 

Happy anniversary, Chris! Here's hoping the next decade has more luaus, less childbirth, and no 100-year-old houses. 

"Home is wherever we are if there's love here too." 
---Jack Johnson 

High Times in the Tidewater


Everyone knows the military is all about "hurry up and wait." We are literally waiting on an act of Congress to approve funding so we can get orders to move. Until then, nothing is certain. Well, Hawaii in early 2017 is certain, but the timing on everything is mush. 
"Hawaii! You're so lucky!" said at least THREE PEOPLE. Lucky? Am I lucky? WONDERFUL! It's so odd to be on the receiving end of an emotion other than pity for once. I love it! Then the sewage backed up in the basement again and the microwave broke. I will feel lucky if I survive this house long enough to move out! 
Last week, our friends moved. "You have no idea how hard it is to walk past your friends' houses everyday knowing they don't live there anymore," said my friend Kelly when she started her second tour in Japan. Her words come to mind frequently lately as I see the empty house across the street 1,000 times a day. Their loss (an inevitable military move! We knew this was coming!) feels almost tangible, as if the lack of their presence has us tipping over to that side, like we're missing a table leg. But every time I see Megan's closed red front door, the empty swings, I thank God that we were neighbors. I don't know how we would have survived this tour without them! Fair winds! Following seas! We're happy for your next adventure! Sorry y'all fell through our rotten back deck last time we had you over for dinner. 

Now it's time for US to blow this joint! 

13 June 2016

Atlantic


Operation Zero Sunburn is my ambitious goal for the next three years. Thus begins my OCD application of sunscreen to all within range of my spray baby sunscreen. 

Friday we celebrated the end of preschool with a trip to Virginia Beach to play in the surf and watch barges depart for foreign shores. Then we had dinner on the boardwalk. Isaac started school weeks after we arrived, had the same teacher for two years, and now we'll move just a few weeks after he's done. The final wrap-up is starting! 

03 June 2016

ALOHA, BABY!


I slept terribly last night. The limbo of knowing we have to leave but don't have anywhere to go---it was getting to me. What if the slate didn't come out at all this week? How close could we shave it? Would we even have 30 days' notice to get out of our housing contract? 

The wait is over---we are headed west to San Diego for several months of training, then on to Hawaii in 2017! 

I have dreamed of this moment. No literally, three times this week I dreamed the slate came out. And now it has. 

The possibility of a pit stop for training in Pensacola to be determined next week. Or the week after. Or the week after that. Oh, Navy life. 

Kiss kiss to the Navy! Today, I love you!! 

02 June 2016

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Tea-vil


Mary bought wagashi on her way home from presenting her paper at a recent conference on language and gender in Hong Kong. 

Would I like to come over for matcha and Japanese tea sweets in the garden at dusk? I hopped on the Red Panda (for the full Japan re-creation) and was there in a hot minute. 

Nestled between blue hydrangeas and tiger lilies, we sipped thin tea and chatted about our recent trips, new medical discoveries, and the definite uncertainty of the future. 

But we know all shall be well when we are blessed with evenings of peace, and friendships that transcend continents. 

31 May 2016

This Could Be the Last Time


Maybe the last time I don't know.... (Rolling Stones)

Not to toot my own horn here, but I have a good education, I'm on time and meet deadlines, I'm helpful with museum visitors and do my best to engage in edifying discussion about the museum pieces---yet today might be my very last day at the Chrysler Museum of Art. It's a job I've enjoyed very much, and I feel sad. 

The main problem? No affordable childcare options. I love my kids. Thankfully, I don't need this job to survive financially---and that is a huge blessing. But the fact is, my babysitter moved and her replacement was unreliable. Other options would have had me paying money to work. That doesn't make sense to me, especially since it's looking like we'll be moving sooner rather than later. 

Trying to figure this out has given me a lot of respect for working parents. It's hard to decide what's best for your kids and make it all work. It's just hard. 

But anyway, I really appreciated my final hours in the galleries today. Glass (above) never seemed so luminous. Renaissance never seemed so sacred. 
I like this 1852 sculpture of the ancient Roman goddess Diana, celebrated for her chastity and bravery, and appealing to Americans of the time as an emblem of female virtue and independence. Is she is a Navy wife?? 
These are my favorites from Contemporary (above), and Impressionism (below), some by Norfolk painter Susan Watkins. 

It's been a dream to roam these galleries each shift, learn more and more, and chat with the bright and quirky characters that make up the brilliant museum staff. 

This place will always define Norfolk to me. 

Shenandoah (do dooo do do do)


Spending the morning taking in the scenic overlooks on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park was so reminiscent of family vacations growing up! Fun! 

Maybe we can hike! And see a waterfall or something! No. The kids were tired from awesome hotel living (stay up late! Wake up early! ELEVATOR JUMP!). Eloise wanted to hike on her own, as in, slide around in the mud and scream when picked up. Beautiful flowers bloomed all over the mountain and I showed off my foraging know-how by harvesting chickweed for everyone to taste (tastes like sweet corn!). 

Then Chris found a tick on his leg. So that was the end of hiking. It will be more fun when the kids are older and we're not wearing shorts and sandals and exposing ourselves to Lyme disease. 

We had no traffic all the way home! 

29 May 2016

Monticello


Some people get to go to the beach on Memorial Day weekend. Chris made us go in the opposite direction, to Charlottesville and Monticello. 

Monticello is America's only house on the UNESCO World Heritage list. What is this list?! Who came up with it? You know what's NOT a UNESCO World Heritage site? My house. And everywhere I go on a daily basis. I digress. 
Anyway so here we are, chillin, at the home of the third president of the US's home. Apparently he was kind of a shmuck and left his family in massive amounts of debt when he died. 

But---most shocking of all---Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence WHEN HE WAS 33 YEARS OLD. 

With just four short months left until my 33rd birthday, I seem to be running out of time all of a sudden. Oh well, I don't really feel like declaring anything anyway. At the moment. 
Michie Tavern is famous and ok. The fried chicken, stewed tomatoes, pinto beans, corn bread, etc. is not my usual fare, but it was definitely tasty, although it's a buffet so everything was cold. 

But let's talk about the BEST PART of our weekend trip, according to Isaac: STAYING AT A HOTEL. 

"I love the hotel. This is a nice place to live. Are we going swimming again?" 

The water was freezing, and Chris and I hate cold water. Eloise dropped her paci into the water and SCREAMED as it floated away. 

SPLASH! Chris JUMPED INTO THE ICY WATERS. It's been rainy and 50 degrees in Virginia until fairly recently, and it was cloudy and breezy at the time of this incident. We'd told the kids there was a pool, but it was...cold. 

And yet, "the paci was the turning point for me," Chris said later. In heroism and general manliness, Chris grimaced through the initial shock, then opened his strong arms to Isaac. Isaac LOVED jumping to Chris and paddling around learning to swim. 

I got halfway in and Eloise came toddling over to me, tilted my face up, and hugged it, then tried to pull me out of the water. Sweet relief! She climbed onto a lounger to watch Chris and Isaac. Heck yeah, Eloise! Let summer begin! ...once the sun comes out. 

26 May 2016

Stop and Smell the Roses


"This is the most fun summer will get," I thought delightedly at the botanical garden splash pad this week. 

It's the anticipation within this moment, right at the crest of the wave, when nothing is certain but all is hopeful for the future. Just two weeks left of preschool. No news about where we're going---good or bad. One of our first days of warm, sunny weather. 

We're on the countdown. We just don't know what we're counting down to. In the meantime, we enjoyed the beautiful morning, ran into Isaac's preschool buddies unexpectedly for added fun, and---of course---stopped to smell the roses. 

24 May 2016

Chesapeake

I like living near this historic body of water. I'm reading the 1970s best seller "Chesapeake," by James Michener (dedicated to a Mari). My mom sent it to me when we moved here, and I always love reading about a place when I'm there (travel post on THAT coming soon). We are on the countdown for Norfolk these days, so I am racing to finish this 1,132 page whopper! After that I'm thinking Moby Dick for a little light summer reading. 
The kids were excited to show Chris the fishing pier (on the Chesapeake) where we like to play in the sand, drink $1 cups of beer, and have French fries for dinner. Another night we got Taste and brought it to the ship (also on the Chesapeake) to have dinner with Chris on duty. 

It's amazing how fun it is having TWO ADULTS at home! Amazing! 

While I've got this book echoing around in my head, I find myself drawn to the American landscape room at the Chrysler. Gorgeous marble sculptures of Native Americans and Europeans who adopted native lifestyles, intricate forest scenes---a million stories played out across the walls. 

Over in the Renaissance gallery, conservation work continues on the 400-yr-old Van Dyke of St. Sebastian, a Roman soldier tied to a tree and shot by arrows for being a Christian. One of the conservators explained the popularity of St. Sebastian among Van Dyke and other painters of the time: as Martin Luthor's Protestantism was spreading across Europe, Protestants and Catholics were calling each other heretics. 

Just days before, I had been reading about this very subject in "Chesapeake." Queen Mary was Catholic, the next king was Protestant (King James? I forget). Anyway, that is why the Eastern Shore of Maryland is a separate state from Virginia---Maryland was founded as a refuge for Catholics and named after the Catholic queen thanks to Catholic Lord Baltimore, while Virginia was Protestant. 

There you have it: art, literature, history.  

13 May 2016

Once in a Blue Moon


They say a bad day on the water is better than a good day anywhere else. Those people didn't have my freaking out kids in their canoe. I don't know if it was their ages or the steady supply of lollipops I brought, but this season's inaugural float was fantastic! Hardly any tantrums. THIS is why we got this thing! 

I love the way river water smells: salty, muddy, river-y. Tonight I went on a walk around the loop after the kids were in bed. The sun set, the moon came out, and so did all the night scents. I read recently---in Valencia, I think---about Moon Gardens: a garden of fragrant, white flowers best viewed by moonlight. What?! We inadvertently had one in Florida. This time of year, Chris and I would have wine on the bench between all the gardenia bushes in our front flower beds in the moonlight. 

Tonight I smelled jasmine around every corner, gardenias, roses, and the flower below: delicately scented, fluttering its petals toward the hazy quarter moon. 

08 May 2016

Happy Mother's Day!


In college, my favorite white polo shirt got soaked with blood in a car accident. I thought I'd throw it away, but my mom took it and said she'd work on it. 

She got out every spot. Every single one. It looked better than before. 

That's my mom even now, especially this tour as I've been on my own so much. Thank you for making my load lighter, Mum. She scrubs out all the hurts, good as new. 

Happy Mother's Day! 

07 May 2016

Singing in the Rain


"I'm on a train ride at Busch Gardens with a cookie. Nothing could be worse!" 
---ELOISE 

"I didn't like that one bit! It was too fast for me! Any time I go on that ride it gives me a headache!" 
Isaac, re: the Grover rollercoaster 
We had so much fun at Busch Gardens last year on a cold, rainy, spring day that we tried to replicate this uncrowded experience. The forecast looked pretty miserable for Friday so we did it! Chris and I agreed, the day met our expectations. I didn't think that was possible! Both kids were kind of grouchy, but Eloise danced and clapped through the Irish show, and Isaac liked all the rides except the Grover-coaster. Chris and I even traded off and went on some big scary fun coaster. 

Eloise didn't like any rides, but loved watching the rollercoasters shoot around the tracks. Hopefully she wasn't just enjoying the screams of terror. I wonder sometimes. 

Theme parks mid-week in the rain: we recommend it! 

06 May 2016

Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

The fantastic photographer who came with the kids and me to welcome home Chris' ship is a military spouse. I found out about her from a military spouse group. I would not have made it through this tour without other military spouses (and my mom!). And we wouldn't be able to be nearly as invested in this crazy Navy life without the navy spouses who I've been blessed to live alongside. 

Military Spouse Appreciation Day sounds like a made up holiday. Maybe it IS made up. But I really am so appreciative of the military spouses in my life! 

This cheesy post is over. So cheesy. Nope, I'm going to add an inspirational quote. 

"She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails." 
Elizabeth Edwards