Someone’s got a case of the Tuesdays

5 Oct

You know how the majority of America feels on Sunday nights? That’s how I feel on Mondays.


Tuesdays are the one day a week I go to work.

Every Monday night, I get a little mopey and sad. It’s not that I hate my job, it’s that I hate being away from Annika. While sometimes I whine about never getting a break, I rarely take anyone up on watching Annika so that I can do anything for myself. At the end of the day I don’t want to be away from her. This explains why I haven’t had a haircut or pedicure since she was born. (Oh wait, I did get a [terrible] haircut once–but Sarah came with me and held Annika while I got it done. At least some child got a wig out of it.)

I know working is good for me and good for our finances (even if at least one client cancels for a legitimate reason every single week.) Could I afford (both literally and figuratively) to work a second day a week? Yes. While some months it would be difficult to schedule all of Annika’s appointments (we average about 22 appointments a month, and that’s just standing therapies. It increases when you add in any of the specialists. Those are typically scheduled on Thursdays, the tentative second day.) But as for now, we are sticking with one day, which I am incredibly grateful for. I am so glad we in a financial position where this is possible.

This is rambling but I am just saying I hate Tuesdays. I want to hang out with my little nugget all day, every day. Can you blame me?


Stoic little princess


One thing in the movie “Wild” that pissed me off

4 Oct

Every single time she came into contact with a man or men when she was out there on her own, I thought she was about to get raped. And half the times, the men were actually being creepy or assholes or both. The other half they were nice guys, but you never know that as a woman.

Men truly don’t realize the power the wield in our society. Or the terror they can invoke by simply being present. On the other hand, there are plenty that do. One man was complimenting the way her “tight ass” looked. When she said “please don’t say that,” he fired back, “can’t a guy give a girl a complement these days?” with a smirk on his face.

That’s the problem. Whistling at women, telling them they are sexy or hot or complimenting them in some sexualized way is not a compliment. It is a way of exerting power. And they damn well know it.

I have read plenty of brilliantly written editorials/blog posts/columns about feminism, male privilege, and how despite how far we have come as a society, we still have a long way to go. And this is not one of those posts because I can’t be so eloquent and organized at the moment. I just felt really pissed and needed to rant.

Oh, and she is hiking for 3 months and never puts her hair in a ponytail. WHO GOES HIKING WITH THEIR HAIR DOWN?

However, it is a really good movie and I enjoyed it way more than I expected I would. I highly recommend it.

Story Time with Dora the Explorer

30 Sep

I have been wanting to take Annika to Story Time at the local library for about 2 months now. However, it has always ended up that she is either at an appointment or sleeping during that time, but today we finally made it.

In the past, I have avoided playgroups because I would worry about what she couldn’t do compared to other kids. That was actually only in the beginning. I went to a few playgroups in Germany toward the end, but they were only once a month. Recently the neurologist told us to get Annika on playdates and in groups so that she could interact with other kids, so I figured this was a free opportunity to do that.

It was so great. It was “Birth-5 years,” but most of the kids were in the 1-3 age range, which was perfect. As soon as we sat down on the floor, she crawled off. There was a time when she would have sat perfectly still on my lap and not moved. Not anymore. She is a little Dora the Explorer. Of course, she ended up crawling over to another mom and into her lap. Annika really loves people. So she sat on some lady’s lap for a few minutes (of course the mom was gushing at how adorable she is, because DUH.) Then she crawled over to another mom before I got her back to me. Of course she didn’t really pay attention to the book, but half the kids weren’t. At least my kid wasn’t the one entering the imaginary bubble the librarian told us about in the beginning that was surrounding the storyboard, or knocking into the temporary walls/signs along the edge of the room. (I don’t understand why moms were just sitting there letting their kids do this stuff. End judgmental rant.) 

One kid tried to touch her NG tube, another tried to take her pacifier, and a few let her get close and watch them play/exist. Overall it was just a really good experience for both of us. I was so proud of my little Dora taking off and wanting to see what was going on. I hope we can go again soon.


I brought one of her crinkle books with us to keep her entertained and distract her from crawling into another mom’s lap that as already occupied. Annika doesn’t understand boundaries.

Parents: Screen your child’s “talent” entry

19 Sep

As you probably heard in the past week, Miss Colorado opted to perform an “original monologue” as her talent for the Miss America pageant. She talked about being a nurse, and I guess how this is her talent.

I will throw my two cents in really quick before I get to my point, but I think it’s rather silly. Yes, you are a nurse, and that is commendable, admirable, and you must be pretty smart, and compassionate, and whatnot…but that is not a talent. Webster defines talent as

a  :  a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude


I mean I would honestly be more impressed if you ran a 4.2 second 40-yard dash across the stage, rode a unicycle…there is apparently a woman out there who plays two recorders out of her nose. These are talents. They are things that most other people cannot do. I am not saying that being a nurse is not awesome and great and makes you a good person (hopefully,) but it is not a unique talent that you have to practice or train for, with added individual aptitude, to make you stand out and be much better at someone else. Playing the violin (like a professional, not like a 7-year-old) or singing opera? Talent. Ballet or even *shudder* tap dancing? Talents. Being a nurse in and of itself is not a talent, any more than my husband being a solider is a talent. It makes him better than your husband (HAH! Just kidding) but it is not a talent. If he got up there and shot a target from really far away and hit a bullseye, sure, talent. The fact that he wears the uniform and goes to work every day? Trust me, not talent. There are plenty of shitbag soldiers out there. There are likely a lot of shitbag nurses, too. In reality the judges should have been judging her on her ability to deliver the monologue. In which case she could have just done a scene from Shakespeare. Unless they were supposed to judge her on her career choice, in which case there could have been a neurosurgeon or a rocket scientist holding a flute thinking, “now hold on a minute!”

But I digress; this is not my point. My point is that when I was laughing at how silly this “performance” was with my BFF, it made me remember my misguided entry into the Emerick Elementary School talent show when I was in Kindergarten. I don’t know whether it was my idea or my parents’ but…I read a book. Like turned the page, recited it out loud. We probably thought it was great because I loved this book so much that I had it memorized.

You guys: that’s not a talent. That is a nerd.

I am laughing even remembering this. WTF was I thinking? What were they thinking, allowing me to do it?? What’s more, I distinctly remember being unsure of whether it was an acceptable thing to do as I was waiting with the other kids to perform. I saw another girl with a book and hopefully inquired whether she was reading her book. I’m sure she thought I was a weirdo, because no, it was her sheet music to play the piano. (<—–an actual talent.)

My (other, elementary school) best friend won the talent show that year. (I am sure they no longer award prizes unless everyone gets one, as I had a collection of soccer and softball participation trophies to show America’s decent into the “everybody’s a winner!” mentality.) You know what she did? She rapped. It was Will Smith’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Coming out of a white girl in kindergarten. I’m sure it was adorable and hilarious and obviously original, and she absolutely deserved to win.

I did not.

I think that means, technically speaking, I was a loser. I have to partially blame my parents. (Not that I have any memory of anyone making fun of me, I absolutely am making fun of myself now.)

Maybe Miss Colorado’s parents should have had a sit-down with her about exploring other options.

Never a Dull Moment

17 Sep

Today is September 17. We have had 11 appointments for Annika so far this month, plus two vet appointments. Oh, and Jason’s been gone. So it’s safe to say there is rarely a dull moment around here.

Blue not being an asshole.

Blue not being an asshole.

Yesterday as the PT arrived at the house for Annika’s session, the stars aligned in a negative way and Blue decided he needed to remind Reno that he is the Alpha Dog. (Jason says this is somehow my fault for not asserting myself as the Alpha since he left. This is me rolling my eyes a little bit, but then again this crap doesn’t Balkan when he is around.) Anyway they both have bones out front, plus Blue has been chewing on a branch/big stick for the past couple of weeks. A little nub of the branch had come off, and Reno picked it up. Let it be known that Blue (the asshole in this story) was across the yard looking at the grass. He suddenly attacked Reno and they were fighting. I thought they would get over it, as they sometimes scuffle in play excitement, but it quickly became apparent that this was more than that. I ended up handing Annika off to the PT and proceeded to beat my dogs (hey PETA) with the stick, trying to get them to stop fighting. It easily lasted for about 3-4 minutes. I couldn’t really get them apart, because if I got them to stop for 2.5 seconds, the other one would lunge at whoever I was holding and all hell broke loose again. I was beating them and screaming “STOP IT!” (they didn’t care.) I had seen my parents break up their dogs once with water, but of course their bowl was empty and it didn’t even occur to met to get the hose and turn it on them. I finally pinned Blue against the fence with the stick long enough to usher Reno out the gate into the driveway. The PT got Blue inside. Reno had a few bite marks on his ears, but despite all of the slobber (Blue’s) all over his scruff and neck, there were no injuries there. It seems like Blue could have done more damage, but was more just asserting his dominance. (i.e. being an asshole.) I cleaned Reno up with some peroxide and will keep an eye on them for infection.


The stick that is now in the garbage can

I was hoarse and panting. It was scary and frustrating more than anything, because they are assholes and they don’t give a damn when I tell them to stop something. It reminded me that they did this the first time Jason was gone (though it’s not like he’s been gone long this time…) I even went out and bought them crates when he went to Afghanistan because I couldn’t deal with them. I eventually started walking them to help them get some energy out. I took them the other night for the first time ever with Annika in the stroller (since she doesn’t hate it now), so I guess I will have to implement that more frequently.


I took away their bones and dog beds (anything they could fight over) last night, and slept nervously, hoping they wouldn’t fight inside the house. They each paced the bedroom separately without their dog beds. Those princesses were completely befuddled where they were supposed to lie down and sleep. Finally I think Reno took the dog couch in the living/dining area (yes they have their own couch) and Blue took the rug.

Yesterday evening. I was hopeful they were over it.

Yesterday evening. I was hopeful they were over it.

This morning Reno was a little edgy, and still is to a degree, but I left them alone when I had to take Trixie to the eye vet, an hour away. She has iris melanoma, which is little spots all over her eye. They looked like freckles. The options were either to laser them off now, (they weren’t bothering her), or wait and eventually she would get glaucoma (I think?) and lose her eye. Annoyingly, it started right when we moved to Germany but the vet there said it was some sort of virus that was just dormant in her system and not hurting her. Is that what you guys call cancer?

This was taken in Germany, but you get the idea. It has gotten a little worse.

This was taken in Germany, but you get the idea. It has gotten a little worse.

I set my alarm for 7. Apparently I hit “off” not “snooze.” I woke up again at 7:45, and barely got out the door little after 8, which was when I had wanted to leave. As I drove out of our neighborhood, a cat ran across the street in front of me. Just then, I pulled to a stop sign with a sign on it, “MISSING CAT. BLACK WITH BROWN STRIPES.” Well, it was a black and brown tabby. Maybe I should go back. It was only like 30 feet. Sure enough, he was under a car. He came right to me, so I texted a photo to the number on the sign and asked if it was her cat. She called and said she couldn’t be sure (???) but was on her way. A few minutes later she was ecstatic saying she *thought* that was her Toby, but I said please go get his microchip checked just in case, because if not, you are stealing someone’s cat from their front yard.

A bit later she texted me to say she looked closer and noticed he was declawed and her cat wasn’t, but thank you, she returned him, and I had renewed her hope in finding her cat. Too bad, because I noticed later that the signs say there is a reward. 

The GPS now said I was going to be 20 minutes late dropping Trixie off. To be fair, they wanted her there between 8 and 9, for a surgery that wouldn’t start until 11. Getting there at 9:20 wasn’t the worst thing.  I was trying to do a good deed. 

When I dropped her off I told them we lived an hour away, and that if they could do her first and call me ASAP, I would appreciate it. I was going to try to kill time and hang around in the area. Annika and I went to McDonald’s, then Trader Joe’s. I decided to just go ahead and drive home because they told me the earliest they would be done was 2. It was 11 something.

As we got home, I checked my email. I had one from the vet- “We tried to call you but your phone said it was not accepting calls. (?? I was just on the phone with someone who had called me, why does the Universe hate me?) Trixie is done and can be picked up at 12:30.” Email time stamped 11:20. I’m reading it at 12:11. If they had called me, I would have turned around and gone back. Instead, Annika and I spent an extra 2 hours on the road today. Trixie seems to be fine so far, and her eye is just going to be permanently discolored.

Then I came home, fed us both, and vacuumed and cleaned the floors. I started some laundry and cleaned the litter box and have decided that I am never getting another pet ever again.

And for no particular reason, a picture of Dora the Explorer, checking out the hallway.

And for no particular reason, a picture of Dora the Explorer, checking out the hallway. Don’t judge her loungewear outfit. 

Move to America: Gain weight and get sick

12 Sep

Since we moved back in mid-March, Annika has been gaining weight like a champ. I don’t really know what to attribute it to, as until the last month, I wasn’t doing anything differently. Instead of her typical (maybe) a half a pound a month, she has put on about 5.5 pounds in 6 months. She just broke 22 pounds this week and shows no signs of stopping.

The newest addition in the last month is overnight tube feeds using a pump that I had previously allowed to sit in her closet because they just gave it to us in Germany with zero instructions for use. The newest GI doctor told me to start using it, so pulled out the instructions and I did. See how easy that was? It’s a minor pain in the ass–after she falls asleep, I hook her up and it gives her a few drops per minute until she gets about 7 ounces over roughly 3 hours. Then the alarm goes off, I unhook her and flush the line with water, and we go back to sleep. Extra 200ish calories per day.

But the other thing I have noticed is that she has gotten sick more times than I can count. Back in Germany, I could count on one hand how many times she had been sick in her entire life. Now she has had colds, possibly bronchitis, a bug of some sort, and now another hybrid illness. It’s frustrating, annoying, and heartbreaking, especially when a mild cold can lead to coughing, which leads to gagging, which leads to throwing up. Tonight I will forego the overnight tube feed since last night she threw up twice, likely due to congestion. She is still coughing and gagging a lot so I don’t need her tummy full of Pediasure to puke up again. (Side note: I successfully put the NG tube back in this morning all by myself. Usually I need an extra set of adult hands.)

It’s hard to say where she is getting these things. It could be that she is working with therapists (either in our home or at a children’s center) 4-5 times a week, with additional fairly frequent specialist appointments. I am thinking it could also be those filthy shopping carts that I keep putting her in. I used to wear her all the time in the baby carrier, but since we moved back she is more able and willing to sit in the cart, so we usually do that. It wasn’t until Jennifer recently mentioned that she carries antibacterial wipes with her for carts that I even consider the snotty kid that could have been sitting in it moments before. Even after she told me that, I plopped Annika in two carts yesterday without thinking. I remembered that our friend Holly gave us a cart cover that I tossed in the closet when we were unpacking. I just put it out to keep in the car, and I’m going to start wiping stuff down. These dirty American kids aren’t going to pass their germs onto my baby anymore!

My problem with “#blessed”

8 Sep

Sometime last year, a (Christian) friend shared this column on Facebook, and it has stuck with me on some level. I don’t feel the same way as the author, but it definitely started me feeling irritated anytime someone said they felt or were blessed.

As I have said before, my religious identity is sort of murky right now. However, my opinion on the word “blessed” is irrelevant of whether I were a devout [insert religion here] or an atheist.

Saying you are blessed (and even worse, “highly favored,” which I have read before) is an asshole thing to say. It says “God likes me more than you.” I will admit to joking before “ooh! What a great parking spot. Jesus loves me.” But I don’t actually believe that. I don’t believe God (if there is one) chooses some people to bless with abundant joy, and either ignores or smites the others.

I am dwelling on this now because at this point, I love my life. I have a hardworking, brilliant, good looking and successful husband who loves me; I have an absolutely amazing and beautiful daughter who makes my heart explode; I live in an almost perfect house that makes me happy on a daily basis; I am able to work one day a week and stay home with my daughter 80% of the work week, and my job is low-stress and pays well. I am really happy and feel like my life is pretty damn great. However, I am not blessed. God didn’t say, “I’m gonna give Gretchen ALL OF THIS, but fuck this guy.” Maybe some will say “well he worships the wrong God.” (I don’t think many people would say that, but I’m sure someone somewhere would.) Well, I don’t want to believe that a God like that exists. “Don’t believe in ME? I’ll show you.”

If God is what everyone says and believes, I don’t believe He would want to inflict pain on people. But herein lies a huge part of my problem with believing all of this. Why would God let bad things happen to good people? I know there are deeply religious families out there who have prayed and yet still their child died. Who prayed and their spouse left them. Or their house burnt down, they got cancer, or they lost their job. Who prayed hard, please God, [insert prayer here,] yet it “didn’t work.” So what does that mean? “God Answers Prayer!*” (*sometimes) Then what’s the point?

I think a big part of my doubt is based on all of the science shows that Jason has on as we fall asleep. I have listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Steven Hawking expound on how the universe started and evolved enough to make me think twice (read: completely disregard) the whole Adam and Eve theory.

I will say that religion is a hard thing to completely unlearn. When Annika was sick a few weeks ago, I spent two nights praying “please don’t let her throw up again, please let her feel better.” Because why not? I like to believe that there is some omnipotent being up there who can magically heal a sick child. But on the other hand, shouldn’t this God be more busy healing the child with cancer? Or saving the three year old refugee from drowning? Where was God for Aylan Kurdi?

I don’t have a nice way to tie this up. I guess it morphed into me just rambling on my (lack of) religious beliefs and convictions. But I refuse to believe that anyone is blessed. Because by definition, that means that other people aren’t. The kids at St. Jude’s aren’t there because God chose not to bless their parents with healthy children.

Food, Friends, Kids, & Target make for a good weekend

7 Sep

This weekend my friend Jennifer drove up from Georgia (she moved there a few years ago) with her son David to visit. Jennifer and I worked together from 2008-2010, she was in my wedding, and I absolutely love her. She shares my love of Target, saving money, eating food, and staying home. She is also good friends with Jaime, who lives here too. The three of us were moved from the Fayetteville office to the Southern Pines office at our old job, and we all got along really well. (That’s how I really discovered Southern Pines, and partly how we decided to live here this time around.) Jennifer and I actually shared an office in Fayetteville. She started about a few weeks after I did and I think my first comment to her was a sarcastic, “you’d better not be a freak.” Little did I know she was awesome and would become one of my best friends.

The last time I saw Jennifer was in March 2013, right before we left for Germany when she and Jaime (and our other friend Emily) threw me a baby shower. Since then she also had her son, who will be 2 in November. (She actually told me she was pregnant at my shower!)

We had such a great weekend. We spent a lot of time together in the past when both of our husbands were deployed, so we are used to doing mundane things together like eating dinner, watching TV, and going to Target. On Friday evening after she arrived, Jaime came over with her two kids (Addi is 4 and Jack is 18 months) with pizza. We hung out and let the kids play. The next morning Jennifer and I ate donuts while David and Annika played, then went to Target. Then we went over to Jaime’s for dinner. The next morning was more sitting around with coffee, donuts and the little ones until she packed up and stopped by one more friend’s house before heading back to Georgia. I wish her husband would get stationed back here so we could do this all the time.

All the kiddos on Friday evening

All the kiddos on Friday evening

Jaime's animal masks were not well received by everyone. Note Annika trying to soothe herself in her confusion.

Jaime’s animal masks were not well received by everyone. Annika is just confused.

Sunday morning playtime

Sunday morning playtime

We forgot to get a picture with Jaime (we did the same thing at my baby shower) but remembered to get one before Jen & David hit the road.

We forgot to get a picture with Jaime (we did the same thing at my baby shower) but remembered to get one before Jen & David hit the road.

Remember when Annika turned two?

26 Aug

Yeah it was July 14. I’m behind the ball. But here are the photos. Our friends Jess, Joe & their three kids had just followed us back from Germany, so I invited them to help us sing and eat cake.







This is when it started to overwhelm her

This is when it started to overwhelm her


As my friend Sam put it, "too much birthday."

As my friend Sam put it, “too much birthday.”



I love these two

I made her cake again. This year it was an Oreo cheesecake, since I figured she could actually eat the top three layers of it. (This was after we let her touch it. It's hard to get candles to stand up in Cool Whip.)

I made her cake again. This year it was an Oreo cheesecake, since I figured she could actually eat the top three layers of it. (This was after we let her touch it. It’s hard to get candles to stand up in Cool Whip.)

Happy times in Reno

26 Aug

Delayed post, but the last week of July and first week of August were spent in Reno visiting my in-laws. I love them to death, I love Reno, and I could have stayed forever. (It helped that we stayed in my sister-in-law’s guest room with a soft, King-sized bed and ate out a lot. I kindly made breakfast twice, but that was also partly because I was being cheap. Reno is surprisingly expensive.)

Playing with Grandpa and Shu Shu

Playing with Grandpa and Shu Shu



Bonding with Winston

Bonding with Winston

Wild horses driving back from Virginia City

Wild horses driving back from Virginia City

At Geiger Lookout, where Jason proposed in 2008.

At Geiger Lookout, where Jason proposed in 2008.



Aunt Jana babysat. (This is misleading. She slept the whole time, and woke up about 15 minutes before we got home. She was cranky and still adjusting to the time change. Jason took this.)

Aunt Jana babysat. (This is misleading. She slept the whole time, and woke up about 15 minutes before we got home. She was cranky and still adjusting to the time change. Jason took this.)

Jana likes to spoil Annika

Jana likes to spoil Annika (new outfit and new tiara)

Playing with her cousin Jace

Playing with her cousin Jace

Ashley and Dylan got there!

Ashley and Dylan got there!

All the grandkids

All the grandkids

Prettiest girls in the whole world

Prettiest girls in the whole world

On a mini hike

On a mini hike

My perfect little family

My perfect little family

Cuddle time with Dexter

Cuddle time with Dexter



It was wonderful, and I am 100% happy to spend our “vacation” time out there. You’d better watch out, Jana, we may come live in the casita.


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