Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Congress

Dear Congress,

While the media pundits talk about waiting for one side to "blink", I think it is safe to say that the rest of America is already flinching.  Appalled at the lack of leadership being displayed on Capitol Hill right now.  Saddened by the inability of our nation's elected government to put their own political agendas and aspirations aside in order to do what is right.  Not notice I didn't say "best", I said "right".  The way you are holding your constituents hostage right now is unconscionable. And I think there are going to be dire consequences from this disgusting game of chicken you are waging with one another.

It is football season again, but I'm not talking about College Game Day or Monday Night.  I'm talking about using your government workers and military as a pawn in your desire to get what you want.  You have men and women on the front lines right now, young soldiers who live paycheck to paycheck, whose minds aren't 100% focused on their mission because they are worried about their families back home.  "Supporting the troops" means being for them in mind and body and spirit.  Not just slapping a yellow ribbon on your car and waving a flag during a parade or giving a speech on Memorial Day.  It is about thinking about the emotional ramifications of using troops to get what you want during a political temper tantrum. 

As my very eloquent and brilliant friend Vivian said on CNN yesterday, "we have always considered our paychecks sacrosanct".  And shouldn't we?  If the government shuts down tonight at midnight, all military members will be expected to report for duty on Tuesday morning.  Our overseas fighters will still be expected to go on their missions and stand the watch.  Military members will still be in harms way.  What a slap in the face to our military members and families to expect them to lay their lives on the line while Congress escalates the budget agreement into a fight over issues that have been lingering for years. 

On a personal level, the Naval Aviation community suffered a tragedy last week when two of our pilots were killed in the Red Sea.  They were flying missions in the Red Sea because of the ongoing uncertainty in Syria.  They were supposed to be home by now.  But no, they followed orders and served bravely and nobly and paid the ultimate price for their country.  And now, because of this inexcusable lack of leadership and motivation, the widows of these brave men might not get the death benefits they deserve.  Read the words of Landon's widow Theresa and tell me that this woman should be stressed about money right now?  The answer is no.  Thinking of her grief and anxiety makes me physically ill.  If it hasn't made you "blink" yet, you are certifiably crazy.

It took me almost a full week to sit down and write this letter.  I believed that Washington was better than this.  I grew up inside the beltway in McLean, I went to grade school with your children, attended birthday parties at your homes.  Congressman have never been so theoretical in my mind because I have watched you play with your kids and provide for your families.  You are human and have loved ones and understand how important family is.  But now, as part of the 1% that makes up military families, I have become disenchanted and saddened that the people I know have the power to compromise, to put their personal political agendas aside to truly work for the American people, have decided instead to use my husband's livelihood as the ultimate pawn.  Being the political party who "saves the troops" is now a prize.  But I challenge you to remember who you are saving the troops from.  That right now the villain is not Al Queda or an overseas target; right now it is our own government who is taking solid aim at our life.

Government distrust is real and has real consequences.  The more you use the military and government workers as a bargaining chip, the more that your best people will walk away.  This lifestyle is already stressful - between moves and separations and the dangers of the job, we are already more taxed than the average person.  But to add this bi-annual game of wondering whether we will even get our paycheck to pay our mortgage is unconscionable.  And you will send your best and brightest running to the private sector faster than you can "blink".  This battle, whether it is settled tonight at 11:59 PM or a week from now will leave a deep scar on the minds of military members and their families.  It will be something families consider when deciding to re-enlist or not.  And our nation will suffer for it.
Friday, September 13, 2013

Preschool Interviews: Kate

Last year I interviewed Kate on her first day.  I thought it was fun to see what was on her then-3 year old mind.  I decided to repeat the same interview this year with both Kate and Connor.  I'm sure the questions will evolve over the years, but I hope I can keep doing this every fall so that when they are 18 and graduating they will have a special keepsake.

I interviewed Kate first.  I did it after the first week was over so she could answer things about her new class. 

9/6/13 Interview with Kate, Pre-K (4 year olds)

What is your favorite thing about school?

The bin of My Little Ponies.  They have rainbow dash and pinkie pie!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A doctor.   

Who is your best friend?

Mrs. Shrepel and Sarah and Ransom.

What is your favorite animal?

A horse.

What is your favorite color?

Pink and purple and red.

What is your favorite book?

The airplane book and "If You Give a Dog a Donut"

What is your favorite TV show?

Magic Schoolbus

Name something you really like.

Coloring and stickering, swings, and Connor.

Name something you don't like.

I don't like being in time out.

What is your favorite thing about Connor?

He jumps on the bed with me.  And we build forts!

What is one thing you really want to do this year?

I want to color a lot in class and play with my friends. 

Kate's First Day Self Portrait: 

I love the purple hair, and Kate is very adamant that the red dots are EARS, not earrings.
And here is a real portrait:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And They're Off!

No first day jitters, no tears, no fears.  Just happy to be with friends, teachers who love them, and (finally!) each other at school.

Okay, maybe there were tears.  But they were mine. 

Happy first day!
Sunday, September 1, 2013

Welcome, September

Hi everyone,

I feel like I need a formal introduction because I know I have been really terrible about blogging for the past few months.  It seems as though when I get emotional I have two reactions: words flow right out of me like a fire hose (and sometimes lack a filter), or I just freeze up and can't find the words to say anything.  The past few months have been the latter, I have felt quiet and introspective.  Like my thoughts were mine only, not really ready to share anything.

But as summer turns into fall I feel like it is time to emerge from my cocoon.  I always consider fall a season of renewal.  A new school year for children with freshly sharpened pencils, new folders and bright new clothing.  A renewed sense of energy as the heat and humidity cool into the warm glow of autumn.  And of course, the most important thing of all, pumpkin spice is back!  I'm excited about the next few months; we have plans to see family, celebrate holidays, and then come December we are moving out to California.  Back to the coastline where I know both my husband and I feel most at home.  Even if it is the wild wild west as opposed to the east coast we are accustomed to.

The past two weekends we have experienced the clash of the seasons very vividly.  Last weekend we drove out to Lawrence, Kansas to experience one of the quintessential heartland crops: the sunflower.  It was a late peak this year due to the (mercifully) mild summer.  When we found out we were coming to Kansas in the fall of 2012 a few stereotypes immediately popped into my head: tornadoes, The Wizard of Oz, and sunflower fields.  We (thankfully) haven't seen any tornadoes this year, we did see "Oz" when the new movie came to the theatre here and enjoyed Union Station glowing green as Emerald City, and I am so happy that we actually were able to see and enjoy the sunflowers.

Connor enjoying the view from above the sunflowers
The sunflower crop is a rarity these days because it doesn't yield the profit of soy or corn.  So this particular field at Grinter Farm really only exists because this particular family farm feels like it is important to the community.  They get joy out of watching people admire the flowers and take pictures.  I know our family very much appreciated the sunflowers and despite the super bright sun, took tons of pictures.
This weekend, as we shift away from the summer sunflowers, we went to Cider Hill Family Orchard to pick apples.  It was strange to do sunflowers one weekend and apple picking the next, but we aren't complaining and have been enjoying the activities. 

This week Kate starts Pre-K and Connor starts preschool.  It will be the first time they will be at the same school and it's safe to say they are both excited.  Kate has assured Connor that she will hold his hand and walk him to his classroom each day and I'm sure she will.  In some ways I'm ready for the "me" time, and in others I just want to keep them home with me and not let them go.  But they are both ready, they are both beyond excited to play and learn and love their new teachers, and I'm excited for all of us.
I hope you are all having a wonderful, family-filled Labor Day weekend.  Best wishes to everyone who is starting a new school year next week.  I'm hoping that this post will break the ice for me and that I will start writing more again.  

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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