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Picking the perfect college with your child is an overwhelming task.  Not only do you have to choose a school you like in a location that works with the degree your child wants, but it has to fit your budget.  So here we are with the 17 yr old, making long-term decisions for a child that is hell-bent on becoming a Cardiologist.  He is a good kid, in fact, he is a great kid.  And if any of my kids has the determination to become a doctor combined with the follow through, it’s this one.  But we also have a long family history of military service in our family, and he is pretty sure he can combine the two and come out with his doctorate debt free.

Most of the services have programs for this, and they are very similar, but the devil is in the details.  And this is becoming more and more apparent as we spend more time talking to each branch.  In fact, it has become so overwhelming I am approaching this the same way I approached choosing an adoption agency.  I spreadsheet full of questions with a column for each branch.  The pros and cons for each are pretty amazing.

Each branch has a list of schools for his bachelors degree.  The US Army has more colleges to choose from, yes, it includes the University of Miami, but not as much money.  The Navy seems to pay for more education and is more aware of the daily lives of each student in their program.  The Air Force also has University of Miami on their list (never guess which school mom is dreaming of), but rumors are it is a very long wait to get into their programs.

Cross your fingers as we get started on this crazy journey.  It’s going to be interesting!

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My little one came home from kindergarten very excited.  The first thing out of her mouth was “I’m going on vacation with my teacher and we’re going on a train!”

“Cool.  Do you mean a field trip?”

“Yep!”  She was so pleased and so excited she was almost vibrating.  It’s her first field trip, so it’s very exciting.  We went on with our day and I didn’t think much of it afterwards.  We did homework and ballet lessons, dinner and bed.  And life in general was normal and routine.

The next morning, I got out of bed filled out her permission slip and when I was packing her backpack with lunch and snack, I also put her permission slip in her folder.

“What’s that Mommy?”

“It’s your permission slip so you can go on your field trip with your teacher.”

That’s when the world turned over, but I didn’t even see it coming.  She curled up on the sofa, crying.  I thought she was goofing off and not getting her socks on.  Nope, by time I got her off the sofa she was sobbing.  She had tears running down her little face, her eyes were all red and the snot running down her nose was non-stop.

“What’s wrong?”

“I, I, I’m… go… go.. gonna… going to miss you sooooooooooooooo much!”

Poor baby.  She’s going to be gone 2 hours, it’s going to be a hard day.

Politics, I normally try to steer clear of the serious ones, only going with the funny stuff.  But this is one time the public needs to know what’s going on.  Military service is a long-standing tradition in my family.  I have 2 sons in the military and a third planning on joining.  My father and all but one of my uncles served as well. On both sides of my family tree there are men who have served our country all the way back to the revolutionary war in the United States.  The military and national pride are one and the same in our family.

In the United States, our President (Barack Obama) is the Commander-in-Chief for all our armed forces. Now, don’t get me wrong, even on the days I don’t like what he has done, EVERY president deserves our support, and because of that, I try not to indulge in presidential bashing.  He is our president.  He is doing a job that I would never want.  It’s hard.  He is called names on a regular basis and has to make incredibly difficult decisions daily.  He has access to information that you and I just don’t have access to, and half of it we wouldn’t want to know anyway.  He is doing what he believes to be correct based on the information he has.  I couldn’t do his job, the reality is I would probably cry every day.  Every bad article in the paper or negative post on Facebook, I’d break out in tears.  Obama has stood up and taken it like a trooper.  With grace, and even with a sense of humor… yes, I’m talking about his fabulous Betty White birthday card.

But our president is called to uphold the laws of our land, and protect our constitution, and this time he has not only dropped the ball, he has not protected our laws or our troops, who in turn protect us all.

NATO is planning on allowing US troops to be tried for burning the Quran.  Seriously?  We have treaties in place with Afghanistan to keep our troops safe.  These treaties are called SOFA treaties, which stands for Status Of Forces Agreement.  According to the Congressional Research Document for SOFA Treaties, one of the provisions of the Treaty with Afghan states as follows:

An agreement exists regarding the status of military and civilian personnel of the U.S. Department of Defense present in Afghanistan in connection with cooperative efforts in response to terrorism, humanitarian and civic assistance, military training and exercises, and other activities.45 Such personnel are to be accorded “a status equivalent to that accorded to the administrative and technical staff” of the U.S. Embassy under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.  Accordingly, U.S. personnel are immune from criminal prosecution by Afghan authorities, and are immune from civil and administrative jurisdiction except with respect to acts performed outside the course of their duties.

You can read the document in it’s entirety here.  The portion quoted above is on page 12.

Allowing our troops to be tried for following a direct order is a treaty violation and an illegal act.  It is heart breaking for a mother like me, who has a son, cousin and best friend’s son in Afghanistan, to find out that they are not only in jeopardy from the terrorists, but our own Commander-in-Chief and NATO.  How disillusioning.

New bra anyone?

Shopping with boys can be a challenge.  But now I have a daughter, and she loves to shop.  At least that’s what I thought.  Turns out that she loves the indoor playground at the mall.  Shopping is a total loss on this one too.  But it took me a while to catch on.  In fact, I found out when we were bra shopping.

No woman wants to shop for a new bra, really, it’s a chore.  But from time to time it’s a serious necessity and you have to do what you have to do.  I was there.  It was time.  SO I asked my little pixie if she wanted to go shopping with me.

“ALRIGHT!!!  Can I wear my new shoes?”

She was so excited, I was thrilled.  I finally got a beautiful little angel that liked to do things I like to do, like baking cookies, getting your nails done and of course shopping.  LIFE IS GOOD!

We get to the first store and I am ready to do the chore of trying on 500 bras looking for one that fits.  She looks a little dismayed, “Mommy, this isn’t the mall.”

“No honey, we are looking for a bra.  You don’t need a mall for that.”

“Oh.”

I dig around, looking for my size while she ducks under the clothes and peeks out from between hangars and night gowns.  Finally it’s time, we’re off to the dressing room.  I tried on a bunch, decided none of them would do and we go back to the racks.  “Mommy, I want to go to the mall.”  I am in the zone now, on the hunt, hell-bent I’m going to get the perfect fitting bra, and my chest will finally look like I am a perfect model shaped woman, magazine ready.

“Sweetheart, we are bra shopping.  Maybe we can go to the mall later.”

“Oh.”

With the first and second stack of bras discarded, I find a third stack and head back to the dressing room yet again.  THE one has to be in here somewhere!  We go in the dressing room and I quickly toss my shirt on the chair and try on bra after bra.  All the while the pixie is now laying on the floor with her foot in the air, swinging it around and looking unbelievably bored, saying things like “When are we headed to the mall?”, “You know this isn’t a mall, right?”, “How far is the mall from here?”, “I bet daddy would like the mall better than this.”

I can hear other women snickering and giggling and one even piped in and said, “Yeah, the mall would be better than this.  That’s for sure.”

“Look honey, I think I found it.  What do you think?”  My eureka moment, I am a champion bra hunter, and everything is going to be just fine.

NEVER EVER EVER ask a bored child what they think.  Especially a smart one.

“Sure, it works.  Blue is pretty.  But daddy’s boobs are bigger than yours.”  All the snickers stopped.  Dead silence.

Now I am an experienced parent.  I know how to handle kids.  She is the youngest of 7 after all.  I should know what I’m doing by now.  I open my mouth and what fell out?  “No way!  My boobs are way bigger than his!”

After a few shocked seconds of silence, the entire dressing room erupted in laughter.  Oh crap, that really did come out of my mouth?  What have I done?  Sometimes in life, there are things that just can’t be unsaid.

“Ok sweetheart, let me just pay for this and we will go to the mall.”

Waffles & Spaghetti

Yesterday I got the panic call from my beautiful daughter-in-law, “Mom, I’m sick.  Can you pick up the baby from daycare?”

This is the time when my mouth and brain are totally coming up with different things.  “Sure honey.”  Alright!  Super-grandma to the rescue!!  Can I pick up the baby?  Are you kidding me… I can’t wait to get my hands on that little ball of love!  “Oh, mom, you’re the best.  Thank you!”  “Any time sweetheart.”  Whatever dear, just hand over the baby and no one gets hurt.

So after a night of homework and giggles and snuggles, all the munchkins were off to bed and I crashed.  The alarm went off and I dragged my tired happy backside out of bed and started waking up little people, teens have alarm clocks, so they are on their own.  Made lunches, plus one for my grandson, and got kids off to school.  On my way to work, I bundled up my little man and took him to preschool only to realize his lunch was still on the island at the house.  Nuts, this preschool doesn’t do lunch on Friday’s and I don’t want my baby to starve.  But all’s not lost, I thought.  Honey works from home.

So I call honey, “Do you see his lunch on the island?”

“Yep, right here.”

“Can you take it to preschool?”

That’s where he started acting like my oldest child.  “Are you kidding me?  I have to work you know.  I have things to do, and you think I should just pop up and run a lunch to preschool?”

Well, that conversation didn’t end well, I mumbled something about going to the grocery store to pick something up for him before I hung up.  Strange, because we are typically a good team.  But by now I wasn’t thinking about the team work we normally perform like a well oiled clock, I was just mad.  I was in the car on the way to the shop yelling at poor innocent passers-by, any perceived slight, “Oh, you must be a man, huh?”,  “Too busy for a few manners today, jerk!” and it went on and on all the way down the road as I worked myself up into a pretty heavy-duty kind of mad.  That’s when the phone rang.  It was honey.  He didn’t apologize but he said he had an opening in his schedule and he’d be more than happy to take lunch to preschool.

So by time I got to the shop, one of the more perceptive ladies asked what was wrong, so I told her I was feeling guilty for being so angry with him over something so ridiculous.  This brilliant woman told me that one of her clients is a counselor, and she told her that men’s brains work like waffles.  They are compartmentalized into squares, and they have to do everything in that square before they can move to the next square.  But things aren’t supposed to spill over from one square to the next or they get frustrated.  But women brains work more like spaghetti.  Things in our world are mixed up and intertwined, and we slide effortlessly from one thing to the next.  That’s why men do not multitask as well as women.  Damn.  I don’t want her to be right, but she is.

Yep, it’s a special combination that very few can figure out how to do gracefully.  So next time he says something stupid, I will just need to slow down and remember the most ridiculous picture I have in my head of a waffle covered in spaghetti.  Cross your fingers.

I went to the supply store for fun things for my shop.  The difference is today is a holiday, so moms are out with their kids instead of alone.  When I got there, I saw a car with two small kids strapped in their car seats in the parking lot.  Now, this isn’t about heat and cars… that is a separate issue.  This is when a parent or caregiver intentionally leaves their kids in the car while they shop because their kids are too much trouble.  This is not only illegal, but monumentally stupid!!!  In Texas it’s a Class C Misdemeanor.

I didn’t grow up in the nicest neighborhood.  There was a series of car thefts including cars with kids in them.  The thieves were just grabbing cars as fast as they could.  I had my kids in the car, the two boys were 3 years old at the time.  I ran into the gas station to pay for my gas and when I walked out the door, this plain guy was reaching for my car.  Fortunately my yellow lab was in the car with the boys, she had been sleeping and went unnoticed by the would be thief and went into instant vicious guard dog mode when she realized he was headed for them.   I started screaming and two men chased him until they figured there was no way they would catch him.

A week later a woman had something called “The Club” in her car.  When the would be thief tried to grab her car with a 4 month old baby in the back, she beat him with it, hard enough he ended up getting caught.  This was 22 years ago, and I’m working from a faulty memory, so if the woman’s child was a different age, please forgive me.   Kids can accidentally put the car in gear and get hurt, or any number of unknown issues can happen.   And of course there is always the pesky heat issue.  Just take the munchkins with you, please.  This is one case where it is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.

The reality is it is NEVER safe to leave your child in the car alone.  Not for any reason.  Be a responsible parent.  Take the extra few minutes to take them with you.

Lessons in communication

After many years as a hairdresser and a manager of salons, I have learned that the reason most people are unhappy is a lack of clear communication.  In fact, when someone is unhappy with their hair, 80% of the time it is lack of communication, not lack of skills.  It seems there is a really simple fix for this, right?  No.  Not always.  Case in point, the wrong number.

I was sitting in the living room when the phone rang.  Honey picked up the receiver but couldn’t read the caller id without his glasses, so he did what he always does, he passed the thing to me.  In a quick glance at the caller id, all I read was something “overnight”.  And here is what happened, I swear word for word.

Me: “Hello”

Breathy, sexy, syrupy voice on the other end: “Hi, this is Crystal.  I was calling to let you know that Brandi and Sugar are ready and waiting for you.”

Me: With a strange enough look on my face that honey has stopped what he is doing to watch and listen to try to figure out what is going on.  “Huh?”

Breathy, sexy, syrupy Crystal:  “Oh yes, they are so excited that you are coming, they can’t wait to see you!”

Me: Trying to figure out when prostitutes started calling people when they were late for their appointments, it’s not the doctors office after all.  “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about.”  Now honey is really staring, HARD.

Breathy, sexy, syrupy Crystal:  “Oh, this is the home number I have.  Hmm, did you get a new number recently, maybe it changed?”

Me: “No, this is my number and has been for a while.”

Breathly, sexy syrupy Crystal: “Oh, well, I’ll see if I have another number.  Bye now.”

After this odd exchange I just sat there for a minute turning over in my mind what just happened.  Honey kept staring and finally, when he couldn’t stand it anymore, asked me “What the hell was that?”  I told him and he and I both just sat there.  I finally asked him when prostitutes started phone calls with a business name on the caller id and called up people that were late for their appointments.  Of course he looks at me dumbfounded and says, “I never called one, how would I know?”

Curiosity finally got the better of me.  I looked at the caller id again, it said “Rover Overnight”.  I picked up my handy dandy laptop, and typed it into Google to find it was a dog groomer that also boarded fido and apparently Brandi and Sugar for pet owners that have to take off for a bit.  Boy do I feel foolish!   Maybe I should get my mind out of the gutter.  Maybe Crystal should explain herself a bit better.  Maybe I should just enjoy the world for exactly what it is.  Something of a mystery.