Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will the Real Neal Please Email Me Back

For right now, my only somewhat constant link to Neal is email. And even that is not so consistent. For example, they are 7 hours ahead of before I dash off an urgent email with lots of exclamation marks and capital letters, I have to compute the time difference. There is no point in me chaining myself to my laptop, tapping my fingers and waiting ever so impatiently for a reply if it's 3 AM in Iraq. As attentive as he is to me and my needs, he is not going to get that email for another 4 hours or so.

But sometimes you come across a family of 3 walking the bike path behind the neighborhood or you watch "P.S. I Love You" (again) and just need to send an "I love you a google" email. Sometimes you accidentally gulp down a bottle of Georgia peach wine and then deem that the perfect time to send off several erotic emails about his manhood in comparison to the Eiffel Tower and what you would rather do with the honey than put it in your coffee. (note: GA wine did not immediately precede honey in the coffee....that was just me being...well...y'know...)

Here are some of the tamer emails I've sent to Neal in the past 6 months:

"These chocolate chip cookies are warm and gooey....just like your kisses. I miss you."

"Y'know what I need right now? Naked waffles in bed. That always makes everything better."

"It's a good thing there is still velcro on the uniforms because I'm gonna rip it off. With my teeth. What Eiffel Tower??"

"How did you ever get to be so awesome? Lucky, party of 1."

"The only thing that could make this steak taste any better is if I was eating it off of you."

And those are the tame ones.

About a month ago, I got this email:

"Hello. I have been receiving emails from you, but I am not who you think I am. I don't think these emails were intended for me."

And that's what happens when you insert one teeny tiny period in the wrong place on an email address.

Some guy in Fargo thinks you want to lick syrup from his naval and shower until the water runs cold.

You're right, dude. They were definitely not meant for you. Lesson learned about the importance of accuracy and details.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WW: 40 Wake-ups!!

2nd row seats @ The Producers
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
London, England 
Deployment #1

Roman Ruins (Coliseum in the background)
Rome, Italy
Day 4
Deployment #2

Deployment #3 
40 Wake-ups to go
I love a countdown!  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overexplainer Should Have Been One of the 7 Dwarfs

I was going to link up with Amy over @PBJ Dreamer for another Gratituesday today...but I feel pretty grateful as it is. And these posts have been sitting in my queue for almost a month. Time to get 'em out there so that we can move on to other Paris, oui?

In case you have been living in a cave or held against your will by leprechauns or kidnapped and dropped into a hole with a bottle of lotion, you know that I launched my new D&E website a couple of weeks ago. To do this, I had to have said website designed. I tried to do it myself once. It ended in tears and Shiraz. Then I tried to design it with Army Dad, who retired after creating all sorts of slick and dynamic websites for the Army. That also ended in tears and Shiraz. And a tiny bit of hard-earned education in writing code. So, I let my domain forward to my Facebook fan page until I started receiving emails from potential customers who didn't have Facebook accounts. I couldn't be all Facebook elitest...after all Mark Zuckerburg is sort of an egotistical prick and doesn't deserve to have my entire business on his site (and I'm not even Googling him to make sure I spelled his name right. Ha!). Even if it is free. So I emailed Monica to see if she could pull something together. Most of her expertise is on GoDaddy...which is not a problem for me...except that I am so over the use of sex in advertising and I think that Danica Patrick should have a little more self-respect...she is, after all, a supastar in a man's world. Why perpetuate the stereotype? But all in all, GoDaddy is a decent business with some proven longevity.

Except that my domain was hosted by Inmotion Hosting. I'm not even sure how I found Inmotion...through a forum I think. And it's very possible that the forum started with a thread about auto repair or candle crafts and ended with "and if you are looking for someone to host your website, I highly recommend Inmotion Hosting!" They very effectively redirected my website to Facebook for 2 years and they had 24-7 technical support. I had zero complaints. But Website Tonite is a product that is exclusive to GoDaddy. Hence, I had to transfer my domain name.

The process was a little tricky and it involved steps like getting an authorization code and calling an Australian IT company to get that code. (Although, it was tempting to keep my domain at Melbourne IT just to have 24-7 access to the technical support and their delicious accents.) In the thick of the transfer, I got horribly confused and was receiving emails from both GoDaddy and Inmotion Hosting. One Saturday morning, after receiving two particularly urgent emails requesting payment from both companies, I called the number at the bottom of Inmotion Hosting's email. They needed to understand that they were not going to get any further cash monies from Daisy & Elm.

And this is how I proceeded to make a complete ass of myself that day...

IH: Technical support. Can I help you?

Me: Yes, I received an email about my credit card expiring. Except that I need to transfer my domain name, actually. I am really very sorry. I love you guys. You have the best customer service and I've been really happy with you all...but I need to transfer out.

IH: OK. No problem.

Me: I mean...I am going to GoDaddy and I'm terribly sorry. I don't even really like GoDaddy. What's the deal with their lame teaser commercials where you have to go to their website to get the rest? I've never gone to the website...I don't like to be taunted. They are all about taunting over there. And I swear, if their customer service or technical support screws the pooch just once...I'm coming right back over. Which they are bound to do...considering they are all sitting around looking at life-size posters of Danica Patrick in a skin-tight tank top. That company has no self-respect. But alas, my web designer used their proprietary product for my website. I am so, so, so sorry I have to leave. Please make sure the higher-ups know that I am only switching because I absolutely have to.

IH: That's no problem.'am? This is GoDaddy.

Of course it is. Because I can't take 2 seconds to look at the from line of an email to make sure I'm doing it right.

My apologies across the board. I'm an idiot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

There's Something Faulty in Your Analogy

Although I have several posts lined up and ready for publishing, I had this conversation with Neal this morning...which trumps everything else in my queue (except for the one where I talk about being the master of my own domain).

I am in no way complaining about the frequency or length of our phone calls because many phone calls back home are shorter and more sporadic. I am extremely lucky to get a 45-minute Skype phone call almost everyday. Every night when I lay me down to sleep, I thank God for those 45 minutes and wish more military families had them. It's just that sort out of stuff to talk about. And when you're married to a man who doesn't tell stories (seriously, Shana's J and Fojoy's Wilzie are the only men I know who tell stories...and fabulous stories at that) gets quiet. And then there is just me and him...looking at each other. Waiting for inspiration to strike. Because you don't want to spend these precious moments arguing about money (even though that happens) or discussing work (because that happens, too) want them to be memorable and tender.

So naturally you start talking about what you did on your college spring breaks. Twenty years ago.

Neal: I had to change the information in the computers this morning because they had us redeploying into Ft. Hood.
Me: Oh, I'm glad you're not coming back into Hood. That's FAR. It is not a 6-hour drive.
Neal: No, I think it took us about 18 hours to get to South Padre when I was in college.
Me: Oh right...your week of drunken debauchery.
Neal: Uh-huh.
Me: So, who went with you on these trips?
Neal: I don't remember. The group changed depending who could afford to go each year.
Me: So did you ever take your girlfriends down there?
Neal: No, it was a guys' trip. We didn't take girls because it would have changed the whole trip.
Me: You mean it would cramp your style when you tried to meet girls once you got there?
Neal: No, as in there are things that happen when a girl is with you on a trip that wouldn't normally happen on a guys' trip. Somebody couples up but everyone else is single. The couple wants to break off and do their own thing.
It's sort of like when you take an atheist to church. Is the church going to burst into flames just because an atheist is there? No. But it changes the experience for everyone at church.
Me: So...just to make sure I got are saying that taking a girlfriend on Spring Break with you is like taking an atheist into church?
Neal: Yes.
Me: OK. Awesome. Got it.
Neal: You're going to twist this into something for your blog aren't you?
Me: Honey, unfortunately for you...your words need no twisting. They are worthy just the way they are.

And that consumed almost 15 minutes of our 45 minute conversation. I am so glad we are having deep and meaningful conversations during this deployment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Funday

This has nothing to do with major house renos or Iraq or jewelry. But I saw it on The Scholastic Scribe's blog today and it made me giggle. So, I thought I would share it because it's Sunday and I have a bottle of Georgia peach wine chilling in the fridge. You probably do not have a bottle of Georgia peach wine chilling in the fridge, so here's the next best thing. Happy Sunday.
From Funny or Die

Friday, July 22, 2011

Road Trip!

Pack the wieners and the PBR...we're headed to the game! Meet me over at From the Sidelines to get a glimpse into how it all started with WeeAlly and a driveway basketball goal. While you're there, scroll down to meet Shana, Surferwife, and Hutch. Come back next week to meet the rest of the chicks team! Happy Weekend and HAPPY CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY!

tee-hee-hee..."it's right down my alley..." Get it? ha.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm a Pimp

I've been meaning to sit down and gush unapologetically (with only the slightest hopes that it will land me something free from any of them) about my tres (yay for French) clever friends. But first, an update. If my nouns and verbs don't quite match or I suddenly forget how to use their, there, and they're...please understand that I have a masonry saw headache the size of Russia. I feel like I'm trapped in the mouth of a dental patient. Who has been brushing his teeth with a stick.

One day, my house looked like this:
The next day it looked like this:
I am doing everything I can to not place my temples between a vice and crank down. Hard. And the girls, I'm afraid, are not faring much better. I'm getting a lot of confused looks and exasperated sprawling with paws clamped over their ears.

Anyway, let the bragging commence.
First is my friend, Shelly, who occasionally comments but always reads. She is the Empress of Embroidery and made this well-said onesie for a certain blogworthy baby.
This is the interactive section of the post where you have to turn your head. Go ahead. I'll wait.

You can visit Shelly at Precious Cargo Boutique. And ask for the Gator Hater Special. It comes in all sizes.

Next up is Audrey. I don't actually know Audrey. I found her on Etsy. I was looking for a handmade carrying case for my new Nook Color last Christmas. She uses the binding of books to make ereader cases and clips a passage from the book for a pocket inside the front cover. I didn't immediately see a book that I wanted, but she was willing to use one I already owned and loved. I chose The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (I realize the ereader is going to be the death of all bookstores and books in general, but please don't get your thong in a wad about me ripping the pages from a book in order to store my electronics. I kept the pages. It's still a book...albeit bound by a hair tie...)
I so adored Audrey's work (and the speed at which she creates these custom pieces) that I ordered one for Anna Banana's birthday.
Now granted...Audrey lives in Saskatchewan...which is essentially at the end of the earth and then hang a left. And if you ship her a book to use, it will take a month to get there and a couple of weeks to get the finished product back to you. But if she's home and able, she will complete your ereader case the same day she receives it in the mail. Amazon ain't got nuttin' on that. Find Audrey at her Retro Grandma store on Etsy.

If you don't know Queenie Jeannie and her adventures in Italy (including copious amounts of and her overwhelming creativity in paper crafting, you simply must go visit her. She always sends me the most beautiful and complex cards in the mail....matched in perfection only by the Italian wine she can no longer ship for fear of landing in the brig. I received these last month and keep them on my desk for any crisis of creativity that arises during the day.

I special-requested this one because it's my most favoritestestestest card she's ever done. Why can't all peacocks look like that? With pearls. Instead of scary. Like Bronx Zoo peacocks. Eating trash that is overflowing from the can....
Visit her at her blog and scroll through the exquisite designs she posts. There is always something to covet!

And speaking of crafty bloggers...we all know Mimi, oui? She is living life "in France" and sometimes sews precious pillowcase dresses and patio pillows (for the really demanding shopper). I have looked high, low, and Kohl's for the perfect outdoor pillows. Nothing. Nada. Craptastic pillows for $20 each. So, I found this outdoor fabric on like 322% off at Hancock Fabrics and sent it with a special request for 2 square pillows. I got 3 because she's awesome like that. And it was a lot of fabric. (What do I know about fabric? I just kept telling the girl to unroll the bolt until it looked about right.) Two weeks later, these arrived:

...just in time for SweatFest 2011. While I am unable to enjoy these right now...even after the sun goes down...even at 3 AM...they will be perfect lumbar support for sipping margaritas and watching my rosemary grow. Find Mimi, The Cursing Crafter, on Facebook or on Etsy.

As some of you may know, Sara @ Sara Plays House has launched a baking empire with Totally Sweet Cakes. I had been trying to score a Sara cake for Neal's pre-deployment gatherings, but with the timing and the driving and...well, just never worked out. When I was asked to supply the cake for bestie's baby shower a couple of weeks ago, I turned to Sara immediately. And it was a sugarfrostingvelvetymoistorgasm. This picture does not do justice to what Sara created using only the website link to bff's nursery decor. If baby girl's nursery was made of fondant it could not have been a better match. I promise better snaps soon...but for the sake of inclusion...I present bliss in batter form:
Find Sara on Facebook or at Totally Sweet Cakes. And if you are anywhere in the Atlanta area, you can stop ordering your confections from Publix. Your search is over. She's your girl.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the funky genius behind my Daisy & Elm website, Monica of MDS Marketing. To be totally fair, Monica and I go way back. Let me put it this way...we would sit in the bathroom and chat while the other peed. And that was not at all alarming to any of the adults. Inseparable from age 5 to 17, we've had our disagreements over boys (my apologies to all of our middle school guidance counselors) and gone our separate ways a time or two. But now we are both happily married businesswomen who giggle just like the good ole toilet days. She has an eye for color combinations, a twist of OCD, and a healthy dose of attention to detail. Exactly what you would want in your website designer. If you love my new look and find yourself in need of some freshening..or an overhaul, you can email her at to get started.
We do not look old enough to drink but this was, indeed, someone's 21st birthday. Monica is in the middle. I'll let you sort out the rest.

If I have failed to mention you and you are another one of my crafty (cursing or not) friends (I'm looking at you, photographers!)...fret not...I have part 2 that I'm still writing. Because I am surrounded by seriously skilled craftswomen, I can't fit that much awesome into one post or readers would spontaneously combust.

Tomorrow I'm celebrating Champagne Friday over at From the Sidelines with a tale of how a soccer ball scored me pneumonia and I became an athletic supporter.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Know When You Need One...

Gratituesday, that is. I'm linking up with Amy @ PBJDreamer and forcing myself to find 10 things to be grateful for this week. Y'know you need a Gratituesday when it takes you 3 days to write the post.

10. The men came to set up the scaffolding for the demolition this morning. They got one section built before it started raining sideways. They left the rest of the scaffolding leaning against a tree and went...wherever construction workers go to wait out the rain. It's been sunny for over an hour. I think if they fail to return, the scaffolding becomes mine, right?

Free scaffolding to install in my house? FABULOUS.

9. Yesterday was Patty the Prius' quarterly lube job (I'm glad someone is getting lubed around here). I forget that the Toyota dealership in Lexington washes the cars after the oil change is finished.

Letting someone else wash my filthy, buggy, I-75 traveling car? FABULOUS.

8. We have approximately 20 total feet of greenspace around the townhouse. 3 of those feet are on the back patio and covered in weeds. Last Saturday, it was overcast and cool enough to finally do something about it.
Having a less weedy place to enjoy my margaritas? FABULOUS. 

7. I thoroughly enjoyed my 5 days in Georgia. And DivaVee made me workout every day...which is exactly what I needed to motivate myself into continuing when I returned to KY. 

Dropping another 2 lbs due to crazywoman's workout motivation? FABULOUS.
6. Last week I finally launched my new Daisy & Elm website. I've been working on this since January. At the last minute, I had my logo redesigned and I adore both the logo and the website. 
Taking the next step to having a successful business? FABULOUS. 

5. We are on a countdown to Paris and I will see Neal in just under 6 weeks. I have cried a lot of tears over when and if this R&R would even happen. 

Having an airline ticket for Paris with my name on it? FABULOUS. 

4. Last month, Mama Virgo and I snaked the dryer vent in the townhouse. The dryer is on the second floor so I bought a complex system of hose extensions to reach up and through the house. When I took the outside cover off of the dryer vent, I reached my hand in and smacked it into the back of the dryer. 

Finally finding out something is less complicated than you expected. TOTALLY FREAKING FABULOUS. 

3. I mailed a package to a client that somehow was delivered to the wrong city entirely. But I add tracking to everything I ship and so it found its way to the rightful owner 24 hours later. 

Seeing that additional 70 cents finally pay off? FABULOUS. 

2. The last time my sister visited me for more than 36 hours, she was dating the man she would marry. That was over 10 years ago. 2 kids and 2 moves later, she is planning a trip to Kentucky for the first week in August. I fully appreciate that it is difficult to travel with 2 small kids...especially when it involves a 10-hour drive. However, this trip is way overdue. 

Getting to bead, craft, scrapbook, and show my sister around the local vineyards for a week? FABULOUS.

1. Last weekend, I had an ugly-face cry with Neal on Skype. Partially estrogen-driven and partially general contractor-driven, I hysterically sobbed about how I am so sick of this effin' house and its effin' brick and the effin' contractor. The very next sentence out of Neal's mouth was, "What's his phone number?" My knight in shining kevlar came riding in from the east to defend my honor and get my back. 

Having my husband support me in every way he can, even from thousands of miles away, even in the middle of a warzone? FANFUCKINTASTIC! 

Go visit Amy for a few more positive thoughts on this dreary Tuesday afternoon!

Monday, July 18, 2011


I have been known to attend a sporting event or 2.

Like this one...

White Sox vs. Red Sox (back when Manny was still a Red Sox-er) 2007 

and this one...

U.K. versus somebody (it was freezing rain at the tail end of football season and all I wanted was hot chocolate and a couch)

and this one twice a year: 

Keeneland Horse Racing in Lexington...where the hats are big, the skirts are short, the drinks are strong, and there is money to be won on every race.

And sometimes I make adorable team jewelry like this:

and this...

and of course, these...

The point is, I don't often blog about my love for sports because a) most chicks just don't dig sports and b) I am not an expert on any sport so most of my ramblings have to do with my pathetic betting strategy at the track or how nice that tight end's tight end is. 

But Hutch is about to change all of that (Happy 200th Post, by the way, Hutch!). She has assembled a collective of female bloggers, who have varying sports interests, into one blog called From the Sidelines: Chicks Tackle Sports, Fandom, and Fitness. And I am one of the chicks! So in addition to the rip-roaring fun we have at 400 Wake-ups and Magnolias& Mimosas, we are adding more to the mix. When you can't have babies at the moment, the next best thing is a new blog. Or a puppy. But I don't scoop anyone's poo with my bare hands so blog it is! 

Please pop over to visit us, follow us, find us on Twitter, and read our sports insights and ramblings. You can leave your pink jersey at home, but bring your game face.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Murphy's Law of Deployment

When the tuff-boxes are packed and the unit is boarding the bus bound for the airport, we turn to each other, left standing behind and waving, and say, "What will be the first thing to break?" It is only partially funny because we all know one of us will be calling a repairman in the next 7 days. It's not that we, mostly women, are unable to perform the handyman duties that our husband could (because sometimes they do actually make matters worse)'s that whatever shuts off/randomly reverses direction/rusts through/dies in the middle of the night/or, in my case, leaks during a west-bound storm is only fixable by someone with superior knowledge in that specific area. We change air filters and clean garbage disposals all the time. But, inevitably, the garbage disposal will cease to do anything but moan or the refrigerator door will somehow come completely off its hinges and we are left standing there, wondering,

Why the HELL couldn't this have happened when he was home?

Within our unit alone, by the end of the second month of deployment, there had been a serious car accident, the need to purchase a new car (unrelated to the first), the purchase of a new air conditioning unit, and the discovery that the entire front of a townhouse had been improperly bricked.

That last one would be mine.

And thus began my last 3 months of general contracting Hell. And they haven't even started working yet.

What started as rain running down my blinds during the first west-bound storm we've had in 7 years, ended with a quote in the thousands to remove all of the brick on the front of the townhouse (floor to second story roof), remove and replace rotten OSB board and 2x4's, install new construction windows, re-wrap the house in Tyvek, and re-brick the entire thing.

We sold our house in the suburbs last spring so that I could have an easy-to-maintain townhouse to visit while Neal was in Iraq. I, quite literally, jumped from the pot directly into the fire. I traded mowing the lawn every 2 weeks for a well-landscaped, improperly constructed townhome.

Awesome does not begin to describe it.

Except that I love our house. The interior is painted in blues and grays and all of the appliances are stainless steel. I delight in hearing the girls' toenails click as they climb the hardwood stairs. The landscapers mow and weed faithfully once a week. There is a fountain behind our house and well-maintained, blooming flowers everywhere. Our master closet is so large that the building code required an outlet on every wall.

I don't want to move. I don't want to sell it. I don't regret the purchase.

But I think there is a special place in a fiery afterlife for some general contractors.

So, that's the story of where I've been....aside from helping to host a baby shower for a bestie in Georgia, launching the new Daisy & Elm website, and voting everyday on Facebook for Journey 4 A Cure (which is a non-profit that is trying to win money from a business giving away $1.25 million to charities with the most votes. You can vote everyday and you can do so by clicking the button on the top right of my page. Easy peasy. AND they're *almost* to the #4 spot! They need the votes, you can give it them).

I am "back" and I'm working my way through the 290 unread posts in my Google Reader. I don't know how I fall so behind. Oh yes I do...brick springs a leak, the patio light mysteriously stops working, the dryer hose blows off, the taillight falls out of the back window of the Pathfinder......Murphy's Law of Deployment.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bombs Still Bursting In Air

It's 2:30 PM on the Friday of a 4th of July weekend. Chances are, you've abandoned the ship and begun swimming toward the margarita machine and a gathering with grilled cow. If you are stuck at the desk until the whistle blows at 5 PM, you are either shopping online, reading blogs online, or looking at Facebook online. I would say productivity is somewhere in the negative integers. Now is not the time to work. It's time for a beer cooler, a pool, a mattress sale, and country music concerts.

And I hope that you enjoy every last minute of your 3-day weekend.

It's difficult to blog-hop today without landing on someone who wants to remind you that this weekend is for honoring our country's history and the men and women who fight to defend it. And I must confess, I'm riding shotgun on that bandwagon.

When Neal is home and we're grilling steaks and mixing margaritas for a gathering of friends on the patio, it's easy to forget about the men and women who sleep with one eye open. I forget that sometimes Neal has to sleep with one eye open. We are together, we are surrounded by our biggest fans, and we are feasting like kings. And then, a year later, I am alone in my living room and reflecting on what this holiday should mean.

If it is that easy for me to forget during non-deployment years, I must then accept and forgive when civilians celebrate the holiday as an extra day off from work and an excuse for a pool party.

When we are personally unaffected, it falls completely off our radar. It's not the American's the human condition. We get impatient and we roll our eyes...we cut people off in traffic and we fight over the last cake at Sam's.

But if we can step back and think about what our lives would be like under Gaddafi or Chavez or Kim Jong-II...we realize that we owe an overwhelming debt of gratitude to the service men and women who volunteer, fight, and die for our freedom to choose our elected officials. This is not about Obama or Congress, even. This is about the men and women who volunteer to sacrifice their lives so that we, as Americans, may continue to hold elections and have a voice in how this country is run.

I am writing this today so that maybe next 4th of July, amidst the frozen drinks and couch time with Neal, I will remember the families who are mourning the loss or missing the face of a loved one at war. Because our support and gratitude shouldn't stop just because they are home.

Comments are off. Please, instead, give your comments to a Marine, Soldier, Airman, Sailor, or Coast Guard.