Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scary Weekend

The Wife came home on Friday, feeling unwell.  Fever, chills, achy, a bit of a temp.  Luckily, both of the girls were still at daycare, so we had time to implement Infection Containment Protocol (ICP, pronounced ‘ick-pea’) ALPHA.  ICP ALPHA is activated whenever a single adult member of the family is exhibiting symptoms indicating exposure to an infectious, possible airborne pathogen.  Under ICP ALPHA, the exposed individual is physically isolated from the remaining family members in hopes that the infection can be contained.  If the containment area is breached, we can transition to other ICPs, like BRAVO (one adult and one child infected).  ICP CHARLIE is when both children are infected.  Each one has a specific set of rules that are designed to contain the infections while still maintaining a semblance of normalcy/sanity.

When we hit BRAVO or CHARLIE, all efforts are focused on avoiding ICP OMEGA, where all four of us are sick.  The only thing to do during an ICP OMEGA event is smear some lamb’s blood on the door and hope for alms from friends and neighbors until the infection runs its course.

As far as the ICPs go, things looked pretty good on Saturday.  I was fine, and neither Aggie nor The Pirate was exhibiting any symptoms, but The Wife was still pretty bad.  At about 1:00 that afternoon, she finally called an urgent care doc to get an appointment.  The girls and I stayed home and waited.  The Pirate took a nap, and Aggie sat on the sofa with me to watch some TV.  About 5 minutes after The Wife left, I felt something really warm on my arm, almost hot.  I looked down to see Aggies’ head resting on my forearm.  Uh-oh.

I grabbed the thermometer.  She’s 100.7. 

Me: “Do you feel OK?”
Aggie: “No.”
Me: “Come with me and don’t touch anything.  We’re activating ICP BRAVO.”

I texted The Wife, and informed her of the situation.  Aggie was isolated, placed in our bed, and given ibuprofen.  The Wife informed me that the doctor confirmed a diagnosis of Strep, complete with a fever of 104.  The Pirate and I were keeping our distance as best we could, with baby gates serving to keep babies in and 5 year olds out. 

No sooner had The Wife arrived home than she was back in the car with Aggie to go back to the exact same doctor for the exact same diagnosis.  I would have taken Aggie, but that would have broken protocol, allowing an uninfected individual come into close contact with an infected one.  That would have guaranteed an ICP OMEGA lockdown.  The next 24-36 hours were going to be fun.  I thought every tickle in my throat was a symptom.  Every ache, no matter how small, was the onset.

As with most things, prior planning is everything.  With ICP BRAVO strictly enforced, we made it through the contagion period without The Pirate or me getting sick.  Aggie was a bit disappointed (we were supposed to visit Grandma and Grandpa on Sunday), but understood.  All is (more or less) back to the way it should be.  Which is nice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bittersweet Day

A little over 4 years ago, The Wife and I signed up to be sponsor parents at the U.S. Naval Academy.  Sponsors act as a sort of home away from home for a midshipman, a refuge from life on The Yard.  Yesterday, we watched as 4 of the most extraordinary young women we’ve ever met walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and took the Oath of Office as commissioned officers the Navy and Marine Corps (hoo-rah).

A midshipman’s first, or Plebe, year is a tough, demanding ordeal, both mentally and physically.  There is also almost no escape from it.  The Plebes are only allowed liberty on a handful of weekends that first year, but whenever she was able, we brought her home for the weekend to relax.  And wear something other than her uniform.

One of the things we were told during sponsor orientation was “if you feed them, they will come”.  How true that was.  We love to cook, and are always looking for new things to try.  By the end of Plebe year, we had 3 additional Mids making semi-regular visits to our home.  The more the merrier. 

So much has happened over the past 4 years.  Countless loads of laundry, dozens of trips to Brewster’s for ice cream, way too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (are you sure there’s nothing on the Military Channel you’d rather watch?), rugby games followed by washing the team’s uniforms.  Aggie had just learned how to walk when we med our mids on sponsor introduction day, and today marks her last day of pre-school.  She has grown up with the mids, and thinks of them as big sisters.  By the way, there’s nothing cooler than a sofa cushion fort made by a bunch of engineering students.  The Pirate arrived towards the end of their junior year, and all the mids were so helpful in those chaotic first months.  The Pirate is as comfortable with them as she is with us.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mid’s "real" families, who obviously did all of the heavy lifting in raising these women.  We got more out of this experience than you did, and we’d be more than happy to do it all over again. 

As of today, they are out of our nest, at least until they feel the need to drop by.  Two have already left and are en-route to their ships, one heads out the The Basic School in July, and the last departs in mid-August for Pensacola to begin flight school.  That being said, there will always be room in our home and our hearts for them.

Congratulations to our "girls" and the rest of the USNA class of 2012. Welcome to the fleet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planes, Fries, and Flowers

Since the weather was so nice last weekend, I decided to take Aggie* to the Andrews AFB Air Show.  Actually, it is now the "Joint Service Open House at Joint Base Andrews", but that seems like a bit of a mouth-full if you ask me.  The military sure does love to make the names of things longer than they really need to be.

Despite the absolutely perfect weather, the show wasn't all that crowded.  We walked around for a little bit, until we found a nice spot of shade under a C-20's horizontal stabilizer, courtesy of the good folks at VR-48.  Note to air show guests:  the brown stuff leaking out of the bottom of the engine nacelle is probably oil.  The blue liquid leaking out of the bottom of the fuselage is most certainly not oil.  You probably shouldn't be touching it.  Or smelling it.

Since we were both hungry, we bought the world's most expensive hotdog and fries, and lunched to the wonderful sounds of P&W Radials and R&R Merlins.  I don't care who you are, but there is nothing in the world like a P-51, wide open, at low altitude.  I need a moment just thinking about it...

In any case, we enjoyed the fries and the shade for about an hour or so, when Aggie announced (just prior to the Raptor demo) that she was ready to go home.

"Don't you want to see some more airplanes?"

"No.  I'm good"

"Are you sure?  I can tell you why the EA-6B refueling probe is installed at an angle.  Or how thrust vectoring works."

"Nah.  I just want to ride on the shuttle bus again."

Oh well, she did put up with it for over 2 hours.  And we did see the Raptor demo while walking back to the bus.  It may have some O2 problems, but that plane did some pretty impressive things.  Also, while it may be stealthy, it sure as heck isn't silent.

At this point, you're probably wondering where all the pictures are.   Honestly, I didn't really take any.  You can find far better pictures of just about anything they had using the good old Google machine. 

After an uneventful ride home, we found The Wife hard at work in the garden. 

Aggie seemed pretty interested, so we got some gardening gloves and joined in the fun.

To be honest, there was more posing than actual digging/planting.  But that's OK.  Working hard is only worthwhile if you look FABULOUS while doing it.  Right?

By now it was time for The Pirate to wake up from her nap, so we grabbed a blanket and some toys to spend some time in the yard.  I don't know about you, but she seemed to enjoy it.  A lot.

I figure this might be a good place for some gratuitous pics of the girls being cute. 

A good time was had by all, and once we're well and truly done planting all the flowers, I'll put up some pictures.

* On Names:
My daughters are Aggie and The Pirate.  Aggie just turned 5, and The Pirate just turned one.  Their Noms du Blog are based on their initials.  Aggie's are AG, and The Pirate's are, well, something pirates say.  I wish they were cooler stories, like one was born in Texas, and the other was born whilst sailing the Spanish Main, but the truth is (as usual) rather mundane.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Two Birthdays in One!

One of the advantages (maybe) of having two kids with birthdays three days apart is that you can have joint birthday parties.  At least while they're young.  We'll see how well this works out when they turn 8 and 12.

About 2 months ago, Aggie, (the elder) announced that she wanted a Richard Scarry Busytown theme for her fifth birthday party.  Seeing as how I grew up reading his books too, I was thrilled.  The Wife ordered all the accoutrements, and even made a Busytown cake.

It's a little hard to see from this angle, but the cake is a road shaped like the number 5.  We had to sort through a lot of M&Ms for the decorating.  Ate a lot of orange ones that day, my friend.

We played "Pin the Tail on Huckle" and a good time was had by all.

Aggie wasn't the only one having a birthday.  The Pirate turned one, which was a big milestone, even if the birthday girl was not completely aware of what the hubub was all about.

She got some cake, but didn't quite know what to make of it.

 At least she tried it, which is all we can ask.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Planespotting With the Girls

About a week ago, daycare was closed for the day, so I had the girls for the afternoon. Earlier that week, I stumbled across a story in the base newspaper about a planespotting park near BWI.

The Thomas A. Dixon Observation Area is part of the BWI Trail, a county-administered park and playground just to the south of Runway 33L.

I have to say, it was pretty cool. They even had a playground with slides and swings. For some reason, Aggie* (the 4 year-old) lost interest after the 7th or 8th Southwest Airlines 737 come in for a landing. In fact, this is the only picture she would allow me to take of her.

* New nicknames for the kids. Aggie is the older one, and The Pirate is the little one.


Got a little sidetracked by life.

I did manage to post a few things over at The Lexicans, here and here.

I'm working on some original content for here as well. I'll get there...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Traditions and Economic Realities

One of the things that you learn by being in the military is that traditions mean something. They’re important. We wear swords and sabers. We get medals and ribbons. We salute. Some of these things, like the salute, are functional. They remind us of where we stand in the pecking order. That’s good in a more-or-less fully functioning meritocracy. Some are purely window dressing. Sure, my ribbon rack is a short-form resume, but the sword is only good for cutting cake and impressing the ladies.

“Oh my. It’s so… long.”

Where was I? Oh, right. Tradition.

Sometimes, traditions fall victim to economic reality. We have to do away with things because it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money. We used to have (in the Navy at least) up to four different clubs on the larger bases and stations. There was the E-Club, the Acey-Ducey Club, the Chief’s Club, and the hallowed grounds of the Officer’s Club. It’s pretty rare to find even 2 clubs these days. Oceana still has an E Club and an O Club, but that’s pretty rare. Cutbacks. As a club become less frequented, it becomes harder to justify the expense. Ergo; the “Combined Club.” All ranks welcome. We don’t discriminate.

Which has its plusses and minuses. Neither of which are the subject of this post.

As I said, I realize that there are economic realities that force us to change well-loved, nay, beloved traditions. Things we have known about for as long as we remember. Cherished parts of our collective past we are loathe to surrender. I get it. We must, on occasion, yield.

But not this.

This is not forgivable. And it’s a shame.

Cross-posted at The Lexicans.