April 19, 2008

GROKING RIBBONS

Any soldier worth his salt doesn't get wrapped up in ribbons and accolades. I learned that long ago, when I saw medals thrown haphazardly in a foot locker. And I took notice when a guy from my husband's armor unit showed up at his new finance unit and tossed my husband's OIF medals on a desk for him. Finance wanted to have a big ceremony for my husband; armor knew the medals were an afterthought. The men who earned the medals, they knew that the pride came in the work they had done, not the bits of ribbons they received for it months later.

Soldiers wear their uniforms with pride, making sure that everything is proper and in its place. But rarely do they care which ribbons they wear. In fact, I was appalled recently to overhear one soldier belittle another for his paltry chest collection, because I had never heard anything so vulgar in my life. I had never before seen anyone point to his hardware as "proof" he was better than someone else. (But this soldier proves himself a douchebag, time and time again.)

Remember when Mr. Miagi said that karate was in your head and your heart, but never in your belt? Real soldiers think the same thing about their ribbons.

And over the past few days, I have read a couple of slams on GEN Petraeus for wearing a chest-load of commendations when he testified before congress. Badger6 is right that the people who write these columns have no idea what they're talking about. It's not like Petraeus can simply decide not to wear parts of his uniform for fear of intimidating the public. Oh gosh, better leave a couple of these stars off my shoulder, lest someone think I'm trying to show off with four of them. I guess two of them will do for today; I'll leave the other two at home.

Badger6 is dismayed that a wine critic somehow got paid to write an opinion column about Petraeus' hardware. Me too. Because it seems obvious that this fella has never even met anyone who has ever been awarded a medal:

In more contemporary times, decorations have suffered a fraught reputation among the rank and file: nice to get but awkward to display if the memories associated with them are of violence, loss and the ineptness of commanders. There have been isolated incidents of Iraq war veterans returning their medals, and, of course, Vietnam War vets were better acquainted with this kind of protest.

Oh yes, the only reason for medals is so you can throw them on the White House lawn. I forgot. Silly me.

Cassandra found another piece griping about Petraeus' uniform. (You really must read her entire post: A Suspension of Contempt.) She says this:

Challenge the good General on his testimony. Challenge him on the facts if you wish. But check the ad hominems at the door. Just because he wears the uniform of the day doesn't give you carte blanche to take cheap potshots at medals that commemorate battles where better men than you will ever be have fought and died for ideals they believed were worth fighting for, even if you do not.

Petraeus doesn't wear those ribbons because he thinks he's better than everyone else. He wears them because they're a part of his uniform. And I bet if you asked him about them, he'd be humble and dismissive.

Go on, critics, ask him which ribbons he got for getting shot in the chest and breaking his pelvis. None.

It took me a couple of years of being in the Army community before I really grokked ribbons. I should've learned the lesson from watching The Karate Kid for the umpteenth time, but it took a while for it to really sink in. It took seeing real heroes brush off praise over the medals they did receive -- heroes like Neil and my husband -- and seeing those precious awards being treated like the hunks of metal that they are for me to truly get it.

I'm not surprised that some wine critic doesn't grok.

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April 18, 2008

I LOVE THAT OL' PUP

Today is our stinker's 3rd birthday.

charlie3yrsold.jpg

His birthday kinda snuck up on us this year, so he doesn't get the same treatment he got for his 1st or 2nd. But he is getting steak for dinner. And he loves his birthday present: a stuffed beaver.

Here's to many more, Chuck.

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INTO MORDOR

This morning we had an appointment with a fertility doctor.

I wanted closure. I wanted reasons. I wanted someone to pore over my charts with me and help me find the definitive a-ha as to why we haven't had a baby yet. And honestly, I wanted a big fat neener-neener "I told you so" that I could say to all the people who told me to just relax and stop stressing. I wanted there to be something wrong with us that we could fix.

But I didn't get that. Instead we got hemming and hawing and maybe you could get pregnant on your own but maybe you couldn't and you got pregnant once before but actually these test results don't look so good, well they're not the worst we've ever seen but they're not great and when are you deploying and for how long and hmmmm and uhhhhh and...OK, fine, you're candidates for fertility treatment.

And I guess the reasons ultimately don't matter so much. After 15 months, the ends justify the means, and whatever means it takes us to get a baby is fine by me. But I really wanted answers. Because as of now, we're still living with the same amount of uncertainty that we've dealt with for the past year. If there's nothing absolutely, definitively wrong with us that can get fixed, just some low numbers here and some less-than-optimal conditions there, then we just blew it. We had an 85% chance of getting pregnant this year and we blew it. That sucks.

And even though we're getting an extra dose of Science to help us on our way, it's just going to be more finger crossing and hoping for the best.

So my husband's leg of the journey ends here, but I must soldier on. Like Frodo with the ring, I will continue to carry the burden while my husband goes off to fight the battles of men (this analogy is totally working for me.)

And I'm ticked because we're right where I absolutely didn't want to be. We did everything we were supposed to do, and raised all sorts of concerns along the way. I took all my charts to the doctor last August and begged someone to listen to me. After the miscarriage, we pleaded with someone to hear our case. And now, now that my husband leaves for Iraq in less than a month, now they decide to help us. Now that the last 15 months have been one big fat waste of time.

And I can't help but be annoyed that if someone had just listened to me last year, our journey could've been more like this:

At any rate, we are where we are now and we have to make the most of it. At first the prospect of multiple babies freaked me out, but now I've gotten really used to the idea and I think I really want twins. Give me all the babies I am ever going to have in one fell swoop so I can be done with this horrible procreation process once and for all. Sorry, Mark Steyn, but I just don't have the stomach for it.

But it's funny; if we do end up having a baby, we will have Mark Steyn to thank for it. America Alone is the only thing that's kept me going. I asked my husband the other day what happens if we go through this entire stupid process and then only end up with one baby, do we go through it again? And he sputtered, "But...but...one child? But...Mark Steyn..." Ha, that book really messed with our heads.

So it's America Alone and now Sarah Alone, headed into Mordor with a burden that grows heavier with every step.

I start treatments the day my husband deploys.

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April 17, 2008

OUR FLAG

What is this, f-ed up art day? First these wacko artists and now another one. Apparently some girl put a bunch of American flags on the floor for people to walk on, as art. Several people are talking about it, but I really like what Kat had to say. Please go read her whole post.

As for the provost who called the flag "just a piece of cloth"...

Typing that hurts my heart.

You know, I've lived in a couple of countries and I've met people from all over the world. And most of the ones I've met, they don't give a flying fig about their flag. Some of them were downright ashamed of their national identity and wanted no part of flags. When a friend and I found a shop in the Netherlands that sold flag patches from all different countries, we bought respective flags for all our exchange student friends. Some took those patches gingerly from our hands, half smiling and half wondering why on earth we would've bought them such a weird gift.

But my flag, it is not just a piece of cloth.

You know what the coolest part of that Aftermath program was? The end, where they said that once all traces of man are wiped from the face of the earth, when nothing is left to show we were here, there will still be an American flag on the moon.

I spent about ten minutes just now trying to find a story I'd heard once. I finally found it: The Mike Christian Story. And as I finished reading the story, I got a jolt when I realized it had been told by John McCain.

And it's times like this when I feel sad that we're relieved that some people didn't walk on a flag on the ground, when other people risked beatings and death in order to salute the flag.

It's not just a piece of cloth.

It's not.

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GOOD NEWS

Wow. After the Dem debate last night, a bunch of Democrat focus groupers talked about why they'd consider voting for John McCain. Check out the video.

I am putting my fingers together like Monty Burns and saying, "Exxxcellent."

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TOO MUCH ON HIS PLATE

My husband is on block leave right now, using his vacation days before he deploys. Three guesses as to where he is right now. Yep, he's at work, just like he was yesterday and just like he will be tomorrow. But in civilian clothes, cuz he's on vacation. Whoopity doo. Then he gets to come home, take an economics final, and work on a group project.

You know your life is particularly stressful when the pep talk you give is, "The next few weeks are going to be insane, but you just have to make it through them. And then you leave." When deployment is the light at the end of the tunnel, you have too much on your plate.

Poor husband.

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IN STRANGE COMPANY

Ha, Mare thought to do a little googling, and she found that we don't know the only Hitler cat. There's a whole website of 'em: Cats That Look Like Hitler. I'm gonna get permission to add our kitteh to the bunch.

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OH MY GOD

This "art project" is just beyond anything my brain can comprehend:

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

That's art?

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.
...
But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for “shock value.”

“I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” Shvarts said. “Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it’s not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone.”

What could you possibly think your art project is going to inspire me to talk about, besides the fact that you horrify me as a human being? Do you think people will go to the exhibit and say, "Huh, I had no idea there was so much blood during an abortion. Thanks to this display, I feel educated on the subject." You're unbelievably stupid if you don't think the only thing people will feel is shock and revulsion.

Look, even people who think that there might be some times when the morning-after pill or an abortion is the right choice for a woman, that time is certainly not whenever you feel like pumping yourself full of sperm and videotaping your miscarriage for a passing grade in art class.

And because these days I have a hard time seeing anything without my own lens of reproductive woes, this just appalls me on levels I can't even describe.

What in the hell is wrong with "artists" these days? Doesn't anyone just paint anymore?

UPDATE:

Here's another completely awful "art" exhibit. This time, a dog is chained up Tantalus-style, just out of reach of food. And left to starve to death. It's art!

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LENDING A HAND

I read yesterday at CG that a blogger I've never read before, Dispatches from Blogblivion, has fallen on hard times. I noticed his wife has an Etsy shop, so I went and bought a cute crochet pattern. If anyone is so inclined to get a crochet pattern in exchange for a little charity, her Etsy shop is here. Looks like I will be crocheting little birdies at some point in the future.

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April 16, 2008

CHARLIE HEARTS KITTEHS

These LOL Cats are hilarious (via Mare). I crack up at this kind of stuff, but I'm easily amused. A simple "teh" can make me want to wet my pants.

Anyway, Charlie loves cats. Loves them. His first cat experience was with my in-laws' cat when he was young, and their cat thinks he's a dog. Seriously. He goes on walks and stuff. And he wrestles with Charlie. They scrap and fight and roll around. Unfortunately, Charlie now thinks this is how all cats are supposed to act. He's since scared the bejesus out of numerous cats because he wants to play with them and most kittehs are not into that sort of thing.

But he got to play with his favorite cat all last week, which was so fun to watch. Sadly, it's not so easy to photograph. But here they are, face to face, right before the cat reaches out and punches Charlie in the face.

kitteh.jpg

Also, I forgot to mention that this cat is hilarious for another reason. The jokes write themselves because he has a dark patch of fur right under his nose. Beware of Hitler Cat.

hitlercat.jpg

Charlie doesn't seem so scared. Maybe he thinks his blond hair and blue eyes will endear him to Hitler Cat.

By the way, he would make a great LOL Cat.

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AWWWW

Found this story on ABW's site: Baby left at doorstep finds new home

BAGHDAD – Spotting irregularities is a tactic that is drilled into the minds of Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers throughout training and in practice while in Iraq. Soldiers recently watched as a car pulled up to an entry control point at Forward Operating Base Callahan in northern Baghdad. They continued to watch as a woman stepped out of the car holding a bag. Once the woman dropped the bag near the gate, internal alarms were ringing and a careful search was called for and conducted.

That search yielded a newborn baby wrapped tightly in several cloths. Soldiers raced to the bag, retrieved the child and brought him to the aid station to be examined. “We unwrapped it to make sure he was alive – and he wasn’t sick, he wasn’t dead, he wasn’t injured,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Briscoe, the Aid Station NCOIC at FOB Callahan. “He was a perfectly healthy baby. I’m guessing three to seven days old. He was in perfect health. There wasn’t a scratch on him.”

And what's to happen to the little bouncing boy? That's the best part of the story:

The baby is to be adopted by the brother of a local national, who works at the base. The brother and his wife have been married five years and have been unable to have a baby of their own. The interpreters at FOB Callahan have taken a collection to donate to the family to help care for the baby.

A happy ending for everyone. Plus I like thinking about manly soldiers in Iraq changing diapers and cooing over a newborn.

Heh, that reminds me of the time we went to visit some friends who had just had a new baby girl. While we were there, our friend was telling my husband about the new pistol he'd bought. He brought it out to show my husband, and oh how I wish I had a picture of my husband holding a newborn baby girl under one arm and aiming a Glock with the other.

Now that's hot.

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April 15, 2008

CENSUS BALONEY

We had our mail held while we were on leave, and it just got delivered today. Some interesting pieces in there. First of all, via the university my husband is about to graduate from, there's a letter urging him to consider joining the Army. Heh.

Secondly, our 2008 Census Dress Rehearsal. Wanna know the choices for race?


  • Mexican, Mexican Am, Chicano
  • Puerto Rican
  • Cuban
  • Other Hispanic, write in Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (print name of tribe)
  • Asian Indian
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Guamanian or Chamorro
  • Samoan
  • Other Pacific Islander, write in Fijian or Tongan
  • Other Asian, write in Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian

Oh yeah, and White or Black.

Christ on a cracker, where to begin? These are not races; these are national identities! We're really going to let Asians self-identify as Japanese, Korean, or Laotian but white Europeans can go f themselves? Oh, and remember, Arabs are considered "white." So we'll lump Swedes, Sicilians, Bulgarians, and Arabs all together, but heaven forbid we don't know whether you're Fijian or Tongan living in the US.

This makes me so mad I can't even see straight.

Who cares about any of this? You know what prevents us from moving from the color of one's skin to the content of his character? This bullcrap. I have the audacity of hope that one day we won't have to check stupid effing boxes like this, that one day we'll just all be called Americans.

Is that too much to ask? Really? Because otherwise I want a write-in tally for German-Irish-English-Native-American-American.

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BOOO

Today is tax day, the craptastic-est day of the year. Well, OK, it wasn't tax day for us; we filed months ago because we were owed a ton of money that the gov withheld from my husband's retention bonus.

Anyway, today is the day for Boortz to shine. Read here.

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WOAH

This is just...well, awful. It's one of those stories that on the surface sounds funny if it weren't so damned serious and sad.

'World peace' hitcher is murdered: An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.

The artist's sister says it all:

"Her travels were for an artistic performance and to give a message of peace and of trust, but not everyone deserves trust."

Indeed.

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April 14, 2008

HI

I've decided that whoever came up with the expression "misery loves company" has never truly been miserable. Real misery feels worse when you hear someone else is going through it.

I got to go check my email at the local public library while we were on vacation. I found out that two other bloggers had miscarriages this week.

I cried quietly the whole way home from the library.
I do not want to share that misery with other people.

We're home now. I've got some stuff to share, but I'm too exhausted from the 18-hour drive to do it now.

But I did have a laugh the first night we were gone when I heard that Hillary's story of the girl who couldn't raise $100 for a prenatal visit, the story I wrote about when she was campaigning here in town, was baloney.

I missed my blog that night.

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April 04, 2008

RANDOM REALIZATION

My husband deploys in about a month and I haven't given it any thought at all. In fact, it just now kind of hit me. We've been so wrapped up in trying to have a baby that we haven't had time to think about any other emotions. We haven't even talked about his leaving.

And all of a sudden, I am sad. I am really going to miss him while he's gone.

I went and read the things I missed about him last time he was gone. Ha, they're all still true. Mostly this time, I will miss his company. Last time, I had many good friends whose husbands were deployed with mine, but now...well, I don't have any friends here in town. All of my friends are internet-based, and when the husband won't be coming home at the end of the day, I fear time is going to drag.

But anyway, enough about that. My husband is signing out on block leave today, so tomorrow we're headed across the country to visit his parents before he deploys. And while everything is up to date in most of the city, they haven't gone as fer as they can go at his parents' house. My in-laws don't have internet access, so I will be taking a week off of blogging. Don't have too much fun without me...

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TOWNHALL

A good Townhall article today: Do We Care What They Think of America?

I wonder whether Democrats ever indulge the suspicion that "world opinion" may be bunk? Let's contrast, for example, the popularity of Israel (19 percent positive, 52 percent negative) and North Korea (23 percent positive, 44 percent negative).

You can imagine the juxtaposition she sets up between Israel and North Korea. Why do we care if Europeans don't like us; if they nestle us in betwee China and North Korea, they're the ones with problems, not us.

Also, Lorie Byrd wrote an article called I'd Pay to See Movies About American Heroes and opened her piece with quotes from lil ol' me. Aw, shucks.

(Both articles found via Conservative Grapevine, one-stop shopping for good links.)

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April 03, 2008

YEESH

Oh my heavens, now MEN are getting pregnant before I am.

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FREE PLAY

AirForceWife wrote the following recently:

A few weeks ago I read an article that summarized a study about kid play. The results of the study were ASTOUNDING. The gist of it was this:

For the last fifteen years or so, parents have been directing children's play more and more in an effort to help them learn earlier and more easily. Action figures are no longer generic, but so specific they can't even be kept in the same vinyl storage case. Rather than "free play" where kids interact together with a minimum of adult involvement, adults are now fully involved and moving their spawn from place to place and activity to activity without giving the kid a chance to just play.

And a lot of kids don't know how to "just play" anymore.

The results of the study showed that in trying to help our kids this way, we were actually stunting the evolutionary adaptions that kids self-teach themselves to problem solve and interact in society. These learned behaviors are the basis for everything else a kid learns. In effect, we are giving our kids learning disabilities by trying to give them learning advantages.

I am no longer teaching knitting classes, but I am still working at Michaels when they have in-store events. And my favorite thing to do is watch parents interact with their kids when they bring them in for the kid-geared free events.

One example was the day sponsored by Crayola where the kids got to try out these fancy new markers and paper. So the craft was to make a door hanger, you know, like a Keep Out sign. And it was fascinating how many parents didn't like the way their kid was coloring or what he was doing and literally took the markers from his hands and made the hanger for him.

Yeah, little kids color like crap. The door hanger will not have their name and a fancy drawing of a cat if the kid is 3 years old. But if he just wants to take one marker of every color and draw a mess of squiggles, why not? It doesn't hurt anything, and it sure doesn't teach the kid any skills when you take the marker away from him and do the craft yourself.

At the play-doh section, I saw one parent tell her kid his thing was ugly. And she was right, it was ugly. But dang. She made him re-do it.

I think this is related to the idea of "free play." One thing that I have learned from watching all this parent-child interaction is that I will have to remind myself someday to let my kid put whatever he wants on his door hanger. And not do it for him. No matter how ugly it is.

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A HEARTY THANKS

Oda Mae emailed me to say that someone mentioned me on a Rachel Lucas post about people's favorite bloggers. So I just spent ten minutes reading through all the comments looking for my name, cuz I'm a douche like that.

Anyway, thanks to MargeinMI, whose moniker I recognize from years of readership, for mentioning me, especially in the same breath as names like Lileks and Steyn. It was such a compliment.

And she shaved four years off my age, so there's that compliment too!

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