26 September 2016

Flirting with Montezuma

My hard hat clunked against the bus window as I watched Chris, his eyes closed, lounging under a tree, drinking Mango Boing. My coveralls and borrowed work boots were way too big, and wondered if Chris' food poisoning was a fair trade for not having to visit another industrial factory in beautiful central Mexico. This was 2005. 

Chris has gotten severe food poisoning in Mexico and Thailand. 
I've gotten severe food poisoning in Egypt and Cambodia. That stuff is no joke. 

So I knew I was tempting fate yesterday by eating all the food. I had pan dulce, Mexican horchata, a tiny gorditas de nata, a carnita with salsa and guacamole, guava juice, and a coffee (the regional favorite is a slow boiled roast with cinnamon). 

Chris and I LOVED Valencian horchata in April in Spain. Spanish style is tiger nuts blended into a frappe-like consistency with sugar and cinnamon. The Mexican style is a rice base with the same additions. So it was fun to sip that over ice while wandering around the noisy, blazing, busy hilltop market. 

And, safely from the next day, it seems like things are fine on the Montezuma end of things! 

Market Saturation

For my birthday, Chris said he wanted me to take a day off. 

"I think I'm gonna go to Mexico," I said after thinking about it for a few days. 
Chris paused. "...you're coming back, right?" 
I went on a Turista Libre tour of Tijuana's artisan and farmers' markets. Lots of colors, lots of smells. By the end of the day, I had reached even my own market saturation point. The perfect day off! 

25 September 2016


I bought this new Michael Kors perfume called Wonderlust. I guess wonderlust is the new wanderlust, but more seeking out the adventure and romance of the journey itself, rather than the destination. Which pretty much defines this year. And, now, the way I smell. La ti da. Today we switched hotel rooms again, making 22 sleeping arrangements in the past seven weeks. Tomorrow I'm wandering over to Mexico to wonder what I'm doing there. 

23 September 2016

Sacred Spaces by Corrie Weathers

Military Spouse of the Year (2015) Corrie Weathers wrote this book about walking a mile in her husband's shoes. Except instead of a mile, it was a week-long trip with Sec Def Ashton Carter and staff around military bases in the Middle East. Weathers intentionally immersed her heart into the joy and life-altering tragedy her military chaplain husband experienced across multiple deployments to the region. Her journey helped heal parts of her marriage that had been lost to years of separate experiences. 

1. She visited the Kearsarge in December 2015 as part of her trip---that's the ship Chris was on during his last deployment---when it was over by Bahrain! Chris remembers their group boarding because, as mini air boss, he directed the landing of the helicopters that brought them aboard. I got a kick out of that. 

2. This book would be great for families and friends of servicemembers. Some of her experiences are more Army specific, but the descriptions of the challenges of separations and reintegration had me thinking, "YES, I wish more people understood how hard the disconnect of separation can be." Then people wouldn't say things like, "wow, this deployment is just flying by!" I'm like, "yeah, FOR YOU." Anyway. If you know someone in the military or married to the military, consider reading this book. 

3. I applied to be on the launch team for this book. Then we got orders the week I got an email welcoming me onboard the team, and we ended up moving out of our Norfolk house and driving across the country the week of the launch. Surprise---I dropped the ball on this. But good news: 

4. Corrie Weathers is following up this book with a challenge to military spouses to pursue their spouse's heart with vulnerability and love, and that challenge is ongoing. Military marriages need more support and encouragement. I support this. 

Before Chris and I were married I was chatting with a military spouse I admired at church. I told her Chris and I were thinking about getting married and asked if she had any advice. She said, "Marriage is hard. The military makes it harder," and walked off. That is probably true, I think, and that's exactly why we need other military spouses: to acknowledge the difficulties, share the burdens, point to hope, and encourage each other in the rough spots. 

5. Corrie Weathers is also currently launching the second annual Military Spouse Welness Summit, which is free and online October 17-21. Military spouses can register at http://in-dependent.org/wellness-summit

“After working as a mental health counselor serving military marriages for more than eight years, I can say that our military couples need resources more than ever before,” said Corie Weathers, host of MSWS16. “Worldwide tension is not easing up, and spouses continue to hold down the home-front with love for their family and a level of grit that is beyond impressive. For military marriages to stay healthy in the midst of constant change and stress, it is crucial that spouses invest in their wellbeing and have access to the best resources available.”

So this post should have been up months ago, but better late than never. And there is plenty of time to sign up for the spouse summit. 

22 September 2016

First Day of Fall!

The kids and I are car-less most of this week so we set out on foot to discover, if possible, signs of fall around the Navy Lodge on this, the first day of Autumn. We found: tropical flowers, a big mound of dirt, palm trees, beach signs, a nice spot for lunch, and candy corn. Score. 

As a former strict observer of all things fall, it feels kind of sacrilegious to be delighted to stay in eternal summer. Here I will make a confession: I need a break from seasons. Gasp! Downsides of seasons: cold weather, allergies, all free time for weeks spent raking leaves and monitoring kids alone during deployment, stuffing whiny kids into jackets and socks. When the kids are older, I am willing to rethink my position on fall. But for now, forget that, we're living the beach life. 
It rained all day Tuesday! Grandfather was able to go home from the hospital! My mom and I got Pumpkin Spice Lattes before she and my dad flew back to Texas! We observed the harvest moon. That's plenty of fall. 
Let's talk about hotel living. We wake up, all in one room. Chris goes to work. The kids and I have breakfast in the lobby, then head out to play on the playground and either waste time on my phone or chat with other lodgers. Back to the room to regroup, then I take the kids out for the morning (train museum, story time, beach) with a packed lunch. We come back for nap time, which has been a bit of a challenge. Isaac needs to not nap, but we have to keep the room dark for the Woo to sleep. If Isaac falls asleep he WILL NOT SLEEP AT BEDTIME. I've hit on some success letting him work on his letters with iPad games after he rests for awhile and gets wiggly. After nap time the kids have a snack and watch cartoons while I do laundry, tidy, wash dishes in the tiniest sink on the planet, drink tea, whatever. Sometimes we go down to the beach again before dinner, but then the kids are all sandy and want a bath before dinner. Dinner is served (by me) on the rooftop terrace when Chris gets home. Home---HA. 

It has some challenges, of course, but the lovely SoCal sunshine and weather and amenities alleviate a lot of the cabin fever we might feel at the Navy Lodge in...say...Norfolk. This one is practically a resort. We're just over halfway through our time here, and then it will be time to hit the road again! We better enjoy this while we can. 

18 September 2016

Cars and Guns

After the San Diego Fleet Week Speed Festival preparty Friday night Isaac made a decision: 

"I want a race car. With guns. For me to shoot bad guys." 
"Daddy flies a helicopter with guns." 
"Yeah but. I think I want a race car." 

Moon Watching

Harvest moon gazing tonight on the terrace! I'm secretly still Japanese. 

Animal Watching

"THAT is a Mari stick figure if I've ever seen one. That sign was made for you," said Chris. I guess my inner stick figure likes to party on the skyfari. 

San Diego WITH kids is so much more fun than San Diego without kids. Or maybe we just appreciate it more now than we did all the times we came here pre-kids. It's probably the nice weather and sunshine. 
Anyway, we got a membership. Eloise liked the "turkles" and "nakes". 

"Isaac, what was your favorite part?" I asked my extremely tired four year old right before dinner. He thought about it. 
"The WHOLE THING was my favorite!"

Such a good answer! 

It is so beautiful here, and everyone seems so happy. I always thought I was more of an East Coast girl, but...but... I'm East Coast detoxing. I'm swinging the other way. I'm transcontinentaling. 

Did you know active duty military get into the zoo, bus tour, and skyfari gondola totally free?? 

Bird Watching

Western Snowy Plover nesting season ended this week. NAS North Island is home to several endangered species, including this plover, which is probably different from whichever plovers are pictured here. 
We joined Wildlife Biologist Tiffany Shepherd Friday morning for one of the base's twice monthly nature walks. She told us about all the birds we've been seeing the last two weeks, and which species will start passing through during the upcoming migration season. 

'Eurasian Collared Dove' is the only name I wrote down. It was on a radar tower. Black-tipped jackrabbits hopped around nearby, and they're a California native...? And maybe endangered I think? Isaac and Eloise played in the dirt, sand, waves. 

It was a beautiful morning, and walking around looking at birds, sea and sky is definitely better than a kick in the face. Even if I was mainly watching my kiddos and have no idea what we looked at. 

16 September 2016

Romeo and Juliet

I followed the kids toward the playground after breakfast. 

"Eloise! Eloise!" I heard faintly. I looked around. Did I mis-hear that, or is there another Eloise?  
"Eloise! Eeeeeeloise!" Eloise, ahead of me, heard it too. She spun around and looked up. 
"Hi ELOISE! Do you want to play?" 
A three-year-old boy in nothing but his underwear was reaching through his balcony. "Do you want to play with me?" 
"Ba ba babba da ba play!" said Eloise, looking up at him and pointing to the playground. 
This went back and forth for awhile. They were having an actual conversation, and once in a while I even understood some of it, like eavesdropping abroad. Isaac eventually stepped off the playground to see who Eloise was talking to and tell her to come play with him. 
Her first admirer! I guess she and Underwear Romeo played on the playground another day. Adorable! 
In other news, we finally found a California sticker for our rooftop travel pod. I'm not usually a bumper sticker person, but we got this pod specifically for the move and it was fun slapping stickers on it along the way. We started on the right with Eastern Shore and Bold Mariner stickers, and worked our way left as we progressed across the map. Ta-da! It is finished! 

San Diego Birthday Week

Chris and I celebrated our birthday week with a lunch date in Coronado, dinner in Poway with my parents and Grandfather (my birthday), and a family date at Island Pasta (Chris' birthday). 
Isaac and Eloise LOVE hanging out at Grandfather's. They helped Pa pick oranges, and Eloise licked each one after lining them all up. They climb trees and race trucks down the hill. Isaac cracked open a geode Chris bought him at the meteor crater and it is glorious with sparkly crystals. I let them play endless alphabet downstairs on the iPad and the bect thing I knew they were on the couch in the same room as Grandfather. "They're good kids," he complimented, despite Eloise's shrieks and their general noisiness. Isaac cried when we had to go back to the beach. But we'll be back soon!  

09 September 2016

Life at the Beach

I could get used to the beach life. "Life" in that sentence autocorrected to "kids." That is accurate for me these days. Moving with kids alleviates some of that initial awkward just-moved-in-no-schedule-no-friends phase. Except our best friends from Jacksonville are here just around the corner, and there are so many friends and family to catch up with, and things to do, and such gorgeous weather and scenery, we might just skip that awkward phase completely for the moment. 

Our week in (so many) pictures:

Chasing birds and seashells and kids before dinner 
The seagull poked around my bag again. 
Dinner on the terrace
Hotel living it up
I found three sand dollars
Hotel Del Coronado
Story times: San Diego Central Library and Coronado, followed by Sprekles Park. 

Eloise was carrying around some cookies. She spotted a group of older girls (3 year olds) giggling under the playground. She eased her way into the circle, passed out her cookies, waited until they all "aaaawwwww"-ed her, then helped herself to one of their Barbies. I'm taking notes on her social prowess. 
Learning bones and fossils and everything at the Museum of Natural History. More story time too. 

03 September 2016

Sand Angels

Here's something I can't stand: clutter on every flat surface. 

Here's something I don't mind: sand everywhere. We've been here what, three days? Sand in the car, sand in the tub, sand in my pockets, sand in the diaper bag, sand dusting the kids and me like sugared donuts. Inexplicably, this doesn't bother me (as long as we wash our feet before bedtime). 

It doesn't seem to faze the kids, either. "Look what I did, mom! It's a sand angel!" said Isaac. Nearby, Eloise squatted in a sand hole, using a stick to throw sand over her head and bellowing out a tuneless song for the edification of all souls on the beach. 

Two little sand angels, and they're mine! 

02 September 2016

Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander!

Chris checked into his new squadron and promoted today! CONGRATULATIONS!! The kids and I are so proud of you! We celebrated with dinner at Coronado Brewing Co. 

Chris was on predeployment leave in Alaska on Sept 1 last year when he found out he made O4. What a year it's been since, with Chris' deployment and getting orders to California and Hawaii. 

It feels natural for Chris (all of us, really) to have a new beginning this time of year. The start of the school year and our birthdays always feels to me like the right time to set resolutions or try something new. 

Congratulations, Chris! Your new rank looks good on you!!

31 August 2016

We Live in California

"Better come back. Seagulls are eating your stuff," Chris texted me helpfully from the pool with Isaac. Eloise and I were splashing in the Pacific surf. Seagulls devoured the rest of our dinner and popcorn. 
"Was all the driving worth it to get to live here for a few weeks?" I asked Isaac. 
"Yes! A-cuz now we can watch the sunset from our BALCONY and look for rainbows over there, AND THE POOL! It is so fun here!" Isaac has been pretty beside himself all day. 

The kids got to spend the night in Poway with Grandma and Pa. Chris and I unpacked the car last night in the dark, and woke up to fog, so although we were high-fiving each other over the strip of surf we could hear/see, we had no idea that by noon we'd have a view of Point Loma, the Pacific, and the North Island flight line. And the hotel pool and playground. And breakfast is served outside every morning. Chris and I had coffee in the sand, listening to the breakers, before the kids arrived in our new paradise. On Wednesdays the hotel offers free dinner, too! Today is Wednesday. Lucky us! Happy dance. Happy dance!! 
This morning, Chris and I ran by the commissary to get milk and pb&j. The commissary doesn't open until 10am, it turned out, but FORTUNATELY the exchange next door was open and having a Labor Day clearance sale on all the swim suits. I BOUGHT THEM ALL. Happy dance happy dance! 
I am embarrassed to admit I never really understood why people love San Diego. Tonight, Chris and I cheers-ed Paradise Pilsners from the Coronado Brewing Company and watched the last of the sunset before the stars came out. I think I get it now. 

WE ARE HAPPY TO BE HERE. There's even a mini mart in the hotel AND this morning on the playground I ran into a friend I hadn't seen since Japan. If anyone needs us, you can find us in Coronado. I am quite at my leisure (that's from the end of Pride and Prejudice). 

Home, sweet home!