Monday, February 27, 2012

Let the Brainwashing Begin!

This past weekend I got to introduce my sweet babies to one of my favorite things...

Basketball is a very important part of the student culture at Villanova University.  Even though I probably never went to a high school basketball game (not because I am anti-social, mostly because I was a swimmer and our meets were at the same time as Friday night basketball games) I quickly fell into line when I went to college.  Philadelphia is a college basketball haven with the "Philly Five" (Villanova, St. Joes, Penn, Lasalle, and Temple) battling it out every year for city bragging rights.  It was something the campus rallied around for games, partied about in the evenings and just generally a really good time.  Pair that with a Hotty Mchotterson basketball coach (Jay Wright) and you have an irresistible combination.

Ladies, need I say more?

Okay, so we aren't the greatest team this year.  Our historically dominant team is going through some growing pains, but that won't stop me from trying to get to a game when I have the chance.  This past weekend Villanova played Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  And since my husband and I are originally from DC, and my dad happens to have a suite at the Verizon Center, I jumped at the chance to introduce Kate to Jay Wright the kids to college hoops.

And so the brainwashing begins. 


Whenever I encourage our children to cheer for Villanova I can hear the "cha-ching" going on in Johnny's brain as he adds tuition, room and board, and then calculates out what it will be in 18 years.  Johnny and I will playfully put each child in our respective school's shirts and swear they will be part of the class of 2031 and 2033.  Of course all of you math majors out there will side with my husband and remind me that Villanova costs about $50,000 per year right now while USNA is the bargain price of "$0".  But then I will point out the quotations around that "$0" and remind you that nothing in life is free.  Especially when it comes to paying back your time (and then some) for service academy educations.  But I digress...

College is very important to my husband and I.  Not just so that they can get a higher education.  Both of us are big believers in the college experience.  The dorms, the sporting events, going to class in pajamas (or uniforms in John's case), eating together, learning to deal with roommates, and so on and so forth.  Some of our best friends are our college friends - especially John.  His friendships from Navy are unbelievable and I can honestly say without hesitation that they are all amazing people.  We feel like we really grew up with our college friends - it was our first little baby toe into the "real world" - freedom to do what we wanted and make mistakes, all under the watchful eye of the college, our RAs, and from a distance - our parents.  Obviously my college experience and John's college experience were different.  But we both emerged smarter, more mature, ready for the work force, with great friends, and full of happy memories. 

We want that for our children.  Not just the education - the experience.  As a high school counselor I have been challenged to not give preference toward "going away to college" in a professional manner.  It is not the best choice for everyone.  Some children really do want and need a few years at community college or a few years working under their belt.  A lot of families don't believe in "the experience" that I had.  Some, even if they go to a four year school, want to commute and live at home.  And that is totally, 100% fine.  I would never tell a student or a family that their choice to go to community college or trade school or enlisting in the armed services or even going straight to work was a "bad" choice or an inferior choice.  But secretly, in the back of my mind, I want to scream out how much FUN college was, how I really felt like I learned 10 years worth of stuff (both educational and social) in the span of 4 years, and that I would give my left arm for just a week hanging on south campus at Villanova eating frozen yogurt in the SPIT (a dining hall with an unfortunate name).

Kate has been to a few Navy football games already.  Connor will hopefully get to go this fall when John has his 10 year reunion.  And hopefully this basketball game was the first of many.  The brainwashing has officially begun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sick to the Exponential Power

I remember someone telling me once that when a baby gets sick that, for a typical illness, they will stumble a little, get up, and keep right on playing.  But if mom or dad is unlucky enough to catch that same virus, it will knock them into another orbit.  Our older bodies will multiply that virus and lay us flat on our back.  And seeing us on our back, our kids will want to come over and use us as a human trampoline.

I have a fairly robust immune system.  Working in germy schools for several years had given me a lot of immunity to the typical childhood ailments.  Kate and Connor are fairly healthy kids.  **I AM KNOCKING ON WOOD HERE** Neither have had an ear infection in their entire lives, Connor has never run a fever in his 15 months, and aside from the very occasional mild cold we are usually healthy. 

This weekend taught me a lesson in the exponential power of illness between child and parents.  One of us brought home a stomach virus that is going around like wildfire. 

I will spare you the gory details, but our weekend went something like this:

Connor - gets sick once, decides life is too short to be bothered with being sick, and keeps on destroying playing in the living room.  Time of illness - 5 minutes.

3 hours later...

Kate - gets sick after her nap.  She needs a little more attention, cuddling, and mild foods.  By dinner she is totally happy and thrilled to be alive.  Time of illness - 3 hours.

9 hours later...

John - wakes up in the middle of the night feeling "hung over".  Gets sick a few times, comes back to bed.  Needs the morning to sleep it off.  Time of illness - 10 hours.

During this I am cleaning up a lot, TRYING to stay healthy with the help of hand washing, Clorox, and prayers.  And purely willing myself that I won't get sick.  I think all of us mothers have made that "mind over matter" vow...  Willnotgetsickwillnotgetsick familyneedsmefamilyneedsme willnotgetsick...

Literally, the moment John muttered "I'm feeling better" the floodgates opened and I got SICK.  Like sicker than I have been in memory.  I couldn't even keep a sip of water down.  The same virus that caused my son to basically roll his eyes and pause for like, 3 minutes, left me lying on the bathroom floor wishing to die.

Total time of illness - 48 hours.  I couldn't eat, drink, and basically slept for two days.  I was down longer than my three family members combined.  And I am still feeling queasy and not quite ready to resume my normal eating and exercise routine.
Sick to the exponential power.
Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Second Knock at the Door

As a devoted Navy wife I often feel pressure to act and feel a certain way toward the military and military movements in general.  Having a political opinion, an opinion about war or about conflicts around the globe, or about the military's behavior in general can be a delicate tightrope walk.  I don't want to fly in the face of so many wonderful things my husband is working so hard for.  At the same time, I am an educated woman with strong opinions.  And those opinions don't necessarily fall into line with the "perfect" political party or group.  These conflicts are bubbling to the surface as I write today.

PFC David Sharrett was killed in action in Iraq on January 16, 2008 during a botched raid on an Al Queda stronghold.  Dave and I met in middle school.  According to his father, I was his "first girlfriend" and I have fond memories of holding hands with him in the hallways of Cooper Middle School.  It was innocent puppy love and he is someone that I will always have happy, swoony, idealistic memories of.  Later in my teen years, when I was a senior at Langley High School, Dave's dad was my AP English teacher.  This might have been awkward for some, but Mr. Sharrett was a transcendent teacher.  The best of the best.  Dave came from a wonderful family and in the brief time that we "dated" in middle school, I had grown to love Mr. Sharrett. Even though Dave and I had long since parted (he went to a different high school so he might has well been on another planet) I had a wonderful year learning about Shakespeare and Conrad and getting my writing up to "Varsity" level.

A few years ago I happened to stumble across Mr. Sharrett on Facebook.  When I "friended" him, the first question I had was about how Dave was doing.  Sadly, it was then that I learned about his death.  It was a devastatingly real moment for me.  Because while I am a military spouse, and have known people who have died in the service, until that moment had not known anyone killed in ground combat.  Memories flooded my mind, tears burned my eyes, and my husband had to hold me while I just sobbed into his shoulder about the injustice of war, and life, and how unfair war can be for some families.

Losing someone to combat is bad enough.  But what the Sharretts have had to deal with since the death of David is nothing short of tragic.  Four months after his death it came to light that the Army covered up the friendly fire death of Dave.  For months they were told that he was killed by enemy fire and that nothing could be done to save him. Mr. Sharrett, never one to let things go, has been climbing his way to the top of Washington, DC and getting the ears of top military officials and politicians.  Simple apologies aren't good enough - he wants fundamental change to the way the Army handles friendly fire incidents.  Because, according to many families who have lost loved ones to friendly fire, the military has not been following their own protocol. 

A Second Knock at the Door, a documentary about friendly fire deaths in the Army, is being released on March 16, 2012.  Dave's death, and the investigation surrounding the incidents leading up to and following his Lieutenant killing him, are outlined in detail.  Mr. Sharrett, Dave's brother Chris, and step-mom Vicki are interviewed throughout the movie. 

Mr. Sharrett is the guy making football comparisons.  I love this because, again, it reminds me of how he taught High School English. 

Look for a Washington Post article with a detailed account of Dave's death and the botched handling of the family notification on February 26.  On February 18, in Annapolis, The Annapolis Pretentious Film Society will be screening the movie with Dave's brother, Chris (who currently serving in the Air Force), answering questions at the end of the film.

I hope that the Army will learn from the efforts that Mr. Sharrett and his family have made.  The Sharretts have allowed their wounds to stay open and raw in the quest to get justice for Dave and to ensure that other families are protected from this kind of betrayal.  I, as a military wife, am so incredibly grateful for his efforts.  In a small way, I feel like he is fighting for me.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tweet Tweet!

In an effort to enter 2010 I have decided to give Twitter a shot.  I am completely and utterly confused about how it works, what hash tags are, what the pound signs mean, and all that other stuff.  But I'll (hopefully) learn.  There are definitely times where a one-liner flows in and out of my brain and I wish there was someone over the age of two to share with.  So I guess this is the answer!

You can follow me here.  I guess in twitterspeak that would be @calmcosmo.  If you have any advice or want me to follow you on twitter, leave a note for me in the comment section.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Training training training...

Also could be called "Zumb-arassment"

For some reason, on days where I have had too much sleep, a strong cup of coffee, and have had a decent workout I get the crazy urge to sign up for things like half marathons and mud runs.  Of course, six hours later after the caffeine has worn off and the endorphins from my workout are long gone I stare at the online training programs and wonder what I was thinking.  I guess the good news is I have never had a cup of coffee strong enough (or gotten drunk enough) to sign up for a full marathon.  I pray I always stay sane enough not to pay to run 26.2 miles.

John and I are running the Virginia Beach Anthem Half Marathon in March, and unlike my experience with the Rock 'n Roll in August, I am actually training for it.  No more running 13.1 miles cold.  I'm getting old and my body just can't handle that.  So if Becky decides to surprise me again (I WISH!) I will be ready this time!  We "ran" the whole 13 miles last summer... but those quotations are important because I think our pace could have been matched by someone walking fast-ish.  She has been my best friend since we were 15, so she was kind and "ran" the whole way with me.  But I know her well enough to realize that she barely got a workout that day.

To supplement my running I have started Zumba.  It helps cure the monotony of treadmills and the loneliness of long morning runs.  Zumba is hilarious.  As my friend Theresa so eloquently stated, I probably look like a "bull dog having a seizure" (she actually said that is what she looks like, but I'm sure I look similar).  I'm not a dancer, have never been a cheerleader, and most certainly am not Latina.  So my rhythm and dance skills are veeeeeeery limited.  But it is FUN.  And I love the music and working out for an hour with a bunch of other girls trying to channel their inner Shakira.  It has also helped me a lot with my distance endurance.  Anyone who has started training for distance runs knows how hard the first few weeks are because your legs feel like tree trunks and you can't get into that runners trance where you can go forever.  It is a struggle.  Zumba has helped me get over that hump. 

So lately, my routine is running 4x per week and Zumba 2x per week.  I feel like I am in better shape today than I have been in years.  My kids also enjoy the stroller runs (which, by the way, are very difficult) and my 2 year old tells me when I slow down too much.  You know that when your 2 year old is heckling you that you better pick up the pace.

On that note, I'm off for a run.  43 days to go!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday

About nine months ago I wrote a blog entry about the difficulty in getting pictures of my kids smiling for the camera.  Here is the latest installment of Mission: Good Family Picture.

I'm still listing the perfect smiling photo in the "impossible" category.  Or in the "I'm damn good at Photoshop" category.   

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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