Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow-pocalypse 2009: By the Numbers

Inches of Snow: 22

Inches of ice at the bottom of the snow: 1.5

Hours spent shoveling: 3.5

Advil taken to relieve pain in lower back: 4

Number of "Spongebob Christmas Special" viewings: About 20

Number of snow plows through our neighborhood as of 0800 Monday: 0

"Really? No snow plows?"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh the Weather Outside is...

Delightful. With a capital D.

At least 12 inches so far, and we're only about half way through. It started last night at about 9, and there was at least 6 inches by the time I got up this morning.

We took The Kid outside for to play in the white stuff, but she was a little scared of it, since it was almost up to her waist. I grabbed my trusty shovel and cleared a path for her. After that, she was all smiles.

We even made snow angels.

More later. Now it's time for some cocoa and a nap.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twice The Fun

Our old neighbors the Stutts family (Ike, Caroline, Julianna, and Mason) came by the other day, while en route to Ike's new duty station in Hawaii.

They came with their 3 month old son, Mason, who is just adorable. Too bad they didn't go with my suggestion. It's hard to believe that The Kid was ever that small.

The Kid got to play with the Stutts' daughter, Julianna, who just turned 3. Seeing them playing together just warmed our hearts. After a few moments of hesitation, the two of them were like best friends again.

First order of business was to re-construct Fort Sandifer (long story) out of the sofa and blankets.

Even using the "Kids and Pets" setting on the camera, it was difficult to get a shot of both frenetic kids smiling. I don't think they stopped moving for more than 3 seconds over the course of the evening.

After setting up and securing the fort, it was time to explore. Of course, you can't go exploring without daddy's special exploring hat.

Happily, the girls had no trouble sharing the hat.

The highlight of the evening was when the big daddy bear came in and attacked their outpost.

You'll probably want to turn the volume up all the way, since the girls are trying to be quiet.

He he he. And yes, I am wearing a cardigan. Mostly because I know how much The Wife and Caroline love it when I dress like an old man.

The Stuttses also got to see their cat, Caffrey, who we're watching until they get back from Hawaii in 3 years. He clearly remembered them, and he put up with the girl's attention for a good while before he decided that there must be a nice quiet spot somewhere else.

We'll see them again this weekend, and then they're off to their new island paradise. I'm thinking that we'll just have to go and visit.

Here are another few shots from the recent past, which I think are kind of neat.

First, here's a shot of me, taken by The Kid. It was hard for her to remember which way to point the lens, so there are quite a few shots of her face taken from a distance of o inches.

Here is the aforementioned cat, enjoying the warm fire.

Here are a few The Kid sleeping in the car.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Private Tollison looked down at his tray. There was turkey, gravy, green beans, yams, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. It looked delicious. Thanksgiving dinner, the first one he hadn't spent at his mother's table. Everything looked perfect, but it wasn't mom's. He longed to be with his mother and father once more.

Reporting out of Basic to a new unit a week before Thanksgiving was a less than ideal situation. His assignment out was the 204th Brigade Support Battalion, Fourth Infantry Division. So he was in Fort Carson Colorado, and it felt a million miles from his home in Alabama. Only God and the Army Chief of Staff knew what he was going to be doing here, but on this day it didn't really matter. Here he was, far from home, alone, a little afraid, and looking down at a plate of food he didn't want to eat.

He looked around and only recognized one other person in the cavernous mess hall, and that was a casual relationship. They had gone through basic together, but hadn't bonded much. At least he knew his name. Tollison felt alone, unloved, and uncared for.

Tollison then felt a hand rest upon his shoulder. Instinct turned him towards it.

It was his battalion CO, who had taken command only 2 days prior.

"What's wrong, soldier? Not good enough?" he said with a light hearted smile.

"Looks great Sir, but..."

"But what, private?"

Tollison looked around. At the front of the hall, he saw the table where the CO had been sitting. At it were what appeared to be his wife and 3 kids. Next to them was an older couple. Probably the LTC's parent's or in-laws.

Seeing the CO and his family together gave him hope. Here was a Lieutenant Colonel, with multiple war zone tours under his belt, and he was spending this precious holiday with his soldiers. There must have been a lot of places he'd rather be, but here he was. This was a man he could follow. He knew what sacrifices the colonel must have made over the years to be where he is today. Seemed like someone who had his back. If the CO did, the other soldiers in his platoon must as well.

"But nothing, Colonel Bertulis. I'm just proud to be here. This sure looks good."

"It is, private Tollison. Enjoy. And in the spirit of the day, thanks for being here."

"Thank you, sir. I will." he replied, as he picked up his fork and dove in.

The Colonel was on to the next soldier, talking to him and thanking him too.

Maybe this Army wasn't a bad choice after all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I suppose I'm technically a milblogger, but I don't really blog much about the goings on in the armed forces. Quite frankly, there are several folks out there who do that WAY better than I could ever hope to.

Being a Navy kid, I grew up all over the place. Florida, Rhode Island, DC, and even Naples, Italy. Some of my fondest memories, though, are of Brunswick Maine. We were stationed there from '76 to '81 (1st to 6th grade for me), and I consider it my hometown as much as anywhere else. I made friends there that I still see several times a year. One of them, Jason was the best man at my wedding, and his brother Adam was a groomsman. I've known them since I was 7 years old, and are as much a part of my family as my blood relatives. Jason even went so far as to have a son with the same birthday as me.
Brunswick is where I was in Cub Scouts, built my first tree house, and made my first model airplane. I would still have that plane, too, if I had not been playing with it at a friend's house, only to have his mom drive over it with her car. It was a 1/72 scale P-51D Mustang. Dad and I went Bass fishing on a lake with an Algonquian name that was hard-pressed to pronounce at age 9, and probably couldn't do much better with at 39.

Memories like that run deep.
Having said all that, I have to say I was a little sad when my sister sent me this.

Bases open and close all the time, as national defense priorities and missions change. Brunswick was the epicenter of maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) during the cold war. With the Soviets gone, there isn't much call for tracking what's left of their submarine fleet. Heck, we don't even call it ASW anymore. The venerable* P-3 Orion now hunts for drug smugglers off South America and performs stand-off intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) all over the place. For an ASW guy like my dad, Brunswick was the place to be back in the day.

For me, I was just a kid, living my life and waiting to see my dad climb down that ladder and run across the tarmac after a 6 month deployment. Actually, I don't think his feet ever touched the rungs. When that last P-3 lifts off today, I'll be thinking of the leaves, snow, woods, fishing, firewood, Jason T, Adam, Ann-Marie, Ben, Seth, Judd, Darcy, Jennifer, Kent, and Jason H. And shedding a bittersweet tear or two.

* There's an old saying in military aviation: When people start referring to the airplane you fly as "venerable", it's time to update your resume.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Going on Safari

Imagine my surprise when I was informed last night that my presence was requested on a safari.

To see bears.

And Swiper the fox.

At least we have a map.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Story Time

The Kid loves story time. Every night before bed, we read a story or two.

We recently picked up "Going on a Bear Hunt", which at first glance seems like an odd title for a two year old. I mean, how many two year olds are out hunting bears?

One of the fun things we like to do is let The Kid finish each phrase or sentence in the book. For some reason, she really took to this one. It has a repeating chorus which was fairly easy to remember.

I mean seriously. How cute is that?

Am I the luckiest guy in the world or what?

Every day is a beautiful day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Going Home and Coming Home

We took The Kid on her first airplane ride last weekend up to the old family farm in Rhode Island. The Farmhouse itself was built in the 1820's, and has been in my father's family for a few generations. When I was born, my great-grandmother was living there, along with some of her siblings and their children. My grandparents moved there in the mid 80's.

My father spent a chunk of his childhood living there, and it was, in his adulthood, the home of his grandparents as it is now for me. Alas, it appears that the last generation of my clan is living there now. It is improbable that either my father or his brother will move into the house. What will become of the property after that is anyone's guess.

The Kid loved the plane ride, as the next 2 pictures will attest. She was an absolute delight and thought that zipping through the air was the neatest thing ever.

The majority of my father's family lives within an hour or so drive from the Farm, to include aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and assorted other relatives whose relational definition is best left to genealogists. What the heck am I to my great-uncle's children's children? What is their relation to The Kid? Why do I care? In any case, a good deal of them came over one or both days. I think there were 16 for dinner on Saturday.

The youngest in attendance was 4 months (my cousin's newborn) and the oldest was 89, my grandfather. He'll be 90 in January. Speaking of my grandfather, he's been farming (you can't call what he does gardening) since Noah was a midshipman. He plants a plethora of veggies every year. Peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, and everything else. He's had to cut back in recent years due to advancing age. He only had about 1/2 acre this year. Yeah. I have a 2 foot by 3 foot "garden" in my back yard that's too much for me sometimes. We should all be as lucky as him.

The Kid enjoyed corn-on-the-cob for the first time, grown by the same person who grew the first ear of corn I ever ate.

There were a lot of moments like that this weekend. My great uncle and I swapped stories about pubs we visited in the UK. I was there as a reservist. He was there during the war. B-24 Liberators. Silver Star and the DFC. That's a lot to live up to. And a debt we all owe.

We arrived on a picture-perfect New England autumn afternoon. If you close your eyes and imagine your most idyllic scene, that's probably pretty close. I took a short walk down the road from the Farm to the old mill pond and this is what I found:

Pictures just can't do justice to the scene.

We went to a local apple orchard's pumpkin festival for hot cider, pies, donuts, and a hay ride.

Sunday morning was cold. First frost I'd seen this season.

That's one of my grandfather's gardens. There is another one the same size behind the house. Impressive, no? When I got back inside after taking the picture, I was glad to see the woodstove going.

We flew home on Sunday. It was bittersweet to leave, but to stay would have been to tempt the fates for delivering us such a perfect weekend. My grandmother got to see 6 of her 9 great-grandchildren at once. That doesn't happen very often.

It's hard to find the right words to describe what the whole weekend was like. All around us were scenes that were so idealized that had I not been there in person, I wouldn't have believed it. Like driving on the kind of leaf-covered back road that you only see in car commercials. Colonial houses that don't look a bit out of place, mostly because they date to the actual colonial era. A den of Cub Scouts learning how cider gets made. Leaves that were changing color almost by the hour. My wife and daughter walking through a pumpkin patch looking for the perfect one. The only restriction being that it was small enough for The Kid to carry. She didn't want it to be one that we picked out. It was hers. She ended up giving it to her great-grandmother, who loved it.

Anyway, I'll post some more of the pics (sans commentary) later.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Day in Haiku

Dunno what struck me, but I was feeling poetically asian today.

Deep in my backyard
There are some purple flowers
They grow on the ground

The leaves are brown now
Soon they are falling softly
lots of work to do

Off to Baltimore
Port Discovery was fun
Now we need a nap

Spongebob on TV
The Kid is smiling broadly
Patrick makes me laugh

Caffery is fun
He likes to be in windows
Good thing they are open

Football, beer, and chips
Saturday in the autumn
I hope my team wins

Flank steak on the grill
Soy sauce, garlic and ginger
Yummy for us all

Film we haven't seen
Lucas dissapoints again
Hiding in a fridge?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still Here

Rest assured, I'm still here. Just busy.

First, Caffrey is still hangin with us, and we're loving it. He's getting more affectionate every day, and now sleeps at the head of the bed, usually on my side. The Kid asks about him every day when I pick her up from daycare. "Go home and see Caf-fur-ry? He's a good boy."

On the personal side, I got promoted last weekend. Don't clap too much, the promotion was automatic. Every O-2 gets promoted to O-3 after 2 years if you don't get in trouble. Or get caught. Either way...

My folks came up on Saturday morning, along with The Wife, The Kid, our Midshipman, and an old family friend. My CO administered the oath, and The Wife and The Mid pinned on my shoulder boards.

Repeat after me: "I promise to not pick up women by singing 'You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling' while wearing this uniform."

After the ceremony, The Kid went back to spend the weekend with my folks. A good time was had by all.

If there's one thing that little children love, it's spending time with grandparents. Below we see The Kid taking her grandpa by the hand to take him somewhere. I can just here her now:

"C'mon Grampa. I need to show you something over here."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Settling In

Caffery is acclimating nicely to his temporary digs. He's finding all kinds of places to snuggle and sleep, including where the sun falls in the afternoon.

He's found the high ground.

He has a new friend, who loves giving him kisses.

He's also found out where we sleep, and plants his considerable mass at the foot of the bed (usually my foot) for the duration of the night. I won't lie to you, it's nice to wake up to.

Lastly, because everyone needs a gratuitous picture of The Kid, I present:

Yeah, I am actually that lucky. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The View from the Other Side of the Street

Hello humans. I found this computing thing logged on and thought I would check in.

My name is Caffrey. I am a felis catus and have found myself residing in a really nice hotel run by 2 humans I remember from my distant past, as well as one of their offspring. They seem nice enough, although their child insists on pronouncing my name with three syllables; Caf-Fer-Ry. Not really sure what that's all about, but the small one pets me and seems to like me, so I'll overlook it.

These new humans have yet to learn that my vertical leap can exceed 6 feet. Until that time, I fully expect to find more nom-noms on the table like the McNugget I saw earlier today. Unfortunately, the woman that runs the hotel espied my stealthy approach and swipped my potential prey before I could strike. Too bad. It looked teh yummeh.

jhsadhasdosadoughuasdbjhakdfuhhdfbjb --- CAT-LIKE TYPING DETECTED ---

Hello all. Jeopardy here. Sorry about that. As you may have guessed, we are cat-sitting, for our dear friends the Stuttses, while they take care of their newborn son. Remember him? No, they didn't name him Bubba, but Mason is pretty cool too.

I know what you're thinking: What's with the cat?

The Stutts 4 are in Jacksonville, FL for a few months, and during that time, their cat was here with Caroline's folks, Nee Nee and Pop Pop. When we heard that Nee Nee and Pop Pop were headed down to JAX, we volunteered to take care of the cat while they were gone. Ergo, a new, but temporary cat.

He's fitting in nicely, finding spots to hang out (mostly by windows) and figuring out the best ways onto the counters, tables, and any other horizontal surface other than the floor.
It's nice to have a 4-legged pal in the house again. Still too soon for a new one of our own, but anything we can do to help a friend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Lost Art

The conventional wisdom is that canning is a lost art. There has been a resurgence of late, what with the recession and all. Of course, some people have been canning all along. My sister-in-law (The Kid's aunt Shannie) is one of those people. Of course, it helps that they have a rather extensive garden. When I say extensive, I mean extensive...

While I was defending the country this weekend, The Wife took the Kid down to the farm and came back with lots of canned goodies. What was The Kid's favorite? That would be the green beans. She couldn't even wait for us to get them out of the jar. Don't believe me?

Yeah. It was like that.

The Kid also learned an important lesson this past weekend. When a Southern Lady visits a garden, one must dress...appropriately.

That isn't to say that a Southern Lady (hereinafter referred to as a Magnolia) is not capable of a little hard work. If you have a yard that needs to me mowed and a tractor with which to mow, Magnolias will always help.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Anyone who knows me knows why this teh funneh.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This Will Do

For now, anyway.

I decided on Sunday that we needed to get out of the house with The Kid for a little bit and did a little shopping.

Among other things, we bought an infrared video baby monitor. Fascinating stuff. Turns out she doesn't actually go to sleep when we put her to bed. She tosses and turns, talks, walks around in her crib (!), and re-arranges her stuffed animals.

Until she falls asleep about an hour after we put her down, it's the best show on. Bar none.

Speaking of stuffed animals, The Kid is still asking where Prynnie is. I tell her that she's gone and won't be coming back, but she doesn't get it.

So we dropped by a few toy stores to see if we could find a stuffed animal that at least resembled Prynnie.

Lo and behold, we did.

The Kid loves her. Calls her Prynnie and gives her hugs.

Now when she asks, I tell her "She's over there." and point to her new favorite toy.

Makes me happy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What could be Better

than having your daughter make you some pancakes on Saturday morning?

Not much.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catharsis in Prose

I suppose I’m writing this for myself more than anything, but it’s my blog, so I can pretty much do what I want for whatever reason.

Back in May, our cat got sick, so we took her to the vet. I wrote about it here.

It’s now almost August, and while things improved for a while, they started going downhill again about 2 or 3 weeks ago. We decided to discontinue her IV treatments since they were obviously not helping anymore. All we were doing was putting her in needless pain to prolong the inevitable. By last week she had stopped eating regularly, and Monday was the last time she ate anything at all. She was getting weaker and weaker by the day.

On Tuesday night, she followed us up to our room and slept on the bed all night. Although she used to do that every night without fail, she hadn’t done it since June. It must have taken everything in her to make it up the stairs.

By Wednesday night she had become so weak that she was barely able to stand. Although she had weighed around 9 pounds at her maximum, she had probably dropped to around 4. She was still bright and alert, but her body was wasting away in front of us.

She was in pain, and we knew it. The Wife and I had a heart-to-heart and knew it was just a matter or time. We had to do the right thing by her.

I called The Wife from the office this morning and asked her if the appropriate arrangements could be made. She’s a rock at times like this, and for that, I am forever grateful. I knew full well that my colleagues and subordinates didn’t need to see me trying to make that phone call. Not good for morale and all that.

When she called back, she said an appointment was set for 4 this afternoon. That way we could take care of it before we had to pick up The Kid. She didn’t need to be involved. I called my boss and cryptically explained that I needed to leave a little early. She could tell it was something I needed to do.

We got home, spent a few final moments alone at home, and got in the car.

The event itself was what it was. I’ve been through it before, and it wasn’t easy then either. A dose of anesthetic, and she fell asleep. Once it had taken effect, the doctor administered the final sedative that would end her pain. The wife and I were petting her the entire time, and she had her head lying on my arm. Once it was done, the doc left the room so we could be alone. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried. We both did. A lot.

We composed ourselves as not to frighten the other patrons, picked up the empty cat carrier, and left. Vets never make you pay for this sort of thing right away. It’s probably best that way.

We returned home to a house with filled with reminders of the life that no longer lives here. Her food dish, water bowl, and even the litter boxes. Removing them is part of the process. It has to be done, and putting it off won’t help.

Lastly, there’s The Kid. At her age, she can’t comprehend what has happened. She’s looking around for Prynnie, and asking where she is. I try to explain, but she won’t understand for quite a while. And that’s OK. As long as she remembers, as long as we remember, Prynnie will always be with us.

Anyway, now I have 4 cats waiting for me on the other side. So I have that going for me. Which is nice. :=)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


No, it isn't a make of eastern European car. Nor is it a recently discovered stellar object.

That's how a 2 year-old refers to lasagna.

We decided it was time to begin The Kid's culinary training, so we figured lasagna was as good a place to start as any.

Mixing the cheese was something she could handle. Moderately well, anyway.

How did it turn out? You tell me...

More importantly, did The Kid like it?

Oh yeah.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


So, we were on vacation a few weeks ago. Didn't blog about it, since that seemed to me the best way to say to the world: "HEY! Want a slightly used TV? Come get ours. We're not home."

We have some pics, but most of them are in The Wife's camera, which is safely secured in her desk. At work. At least it's safe.

We made our annual trek to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and a good time was had by all, especially The Kid. After some initial trepidation, she took to the pool like, well, a kid to water. Hard to keep them apart. Like opposite poles of a magnet.

The Kid was with us for the first half of the week, and then went to stay with her Grandparents so we could try to act young again, only to have the cruel reality of time rear its ugly head and remind us that we're not young anymore. But hey, at least we tried.

The Kid is growing like a weed (2+ inches in the past 3 months) and learning new things every day. She never ceases to amaze me with what she's learning. Last week, she climbed up onto the sofa with me, gave me a hug, and said "I love you Daddy. I'm happy you're my daddy."

Gulp. Why yes, there is something in my eye. Why do you ask?

I'll get pictures up soon, I promise. Until then, enjoy this...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Thought We Were Over This Part...

0245 local


Kid (via Baby Monitor): Daddy? Mommy?

Me: Snort. Huh? Wuh?

Kid (via Baby Monitor): I hungry. Need hummus.

Me: [groan]

Kid (audible without monitor): WAAAAAAAAAAA!

Me: [grumble]

I walk (stumble, really) into The Kid's room. She's standing in the crib, tears running down her face. She wasn't feeling well earlier in the evening, and didn't have much in the way of dinner. Truth be told, she doesn't actually want to eat. She wants to be all better, and mommy and daddy can do that, right.

Turns out that as parents we're not endowed with magical powers to heal the sick, as much as we may want to. It also turns out that a good hug and a reassuring rub on the back can work wonders. We rocked in the chair, the two of us, in the dark.

Once I was relatively confident she was back in dreamland, I carefully put her back in the crib, making sure she had her blanket and paci-FIRE*.

I gave her a kiss on the forehead and tucked her in.

As I turn away, I hear a muffled "I love you, Daddy."

Hard to go to get back to sleep after that. In a good way.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Does We Like Pudding?

Yes, precious. We does.

We just don't keep it in our mouth very well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hester von Prynnenstein, Duchess of Bavaria

This is my cat.

Her name is Hester Prynne (don’t ask). Truth told, her full name is Hester von Prynnenstein, Duchess of Bavaria. We call her Prynnie for short.

I’ve had her for 14 years. Got her as a kitten, and she has been my constant companion over the years.

Those who know me are well aware that the two of us are virtually inseparable. She sleeps on my pillow every night, and is never far from one of our laps.

About 2 weeks ago, she was losing her appetite and, not to put too fine a point on it, piddling where she oughtn’t. A trip to the vet was in order, so on Friday last I got her in the carrier (no easy task), and took her over to the local Cat Clinic for a look-see.

14 year-old cats are approaching old age, and, like us, begin to have health issues. I am a rational adult, and fully aware of the circle of life and all that crap. Still, it’s never easy to confront.

Blood tests were done and results acquired. Although the doc said “we don’t like to use the term ‘kidney failure’”, the term “early stages of kidney non-functionality” sounds suspiciously like kidney failure. To me anyway. What do I know? I didn’t go to vet school, but I did take an English class or two over the years.

“There are options”, says she. There always are. “Hospitalization for fluid treatments, or you can do it at home. It’s easy. We’ll even show you how.” This, dear reader, is when money rears its ugly head. Economics have to be taken into account. There’s also that pesky “quality of life” nut to crack. Another tough one. I can’t really explain to a cat why she has to endure such things, much less endure it somewhere other than home. The Wife and I decided to go with home care. That means, dear friends, that every night, after we have all supped and The Kid safely and snuggly a-bed, we collect the cat, IV bag, and needle. 18g x 1”, for those readers who are medically trained (Hi Caroline and Lili!).

We hang the bag, insert the needle under her skin and spend the next 15 minutes or so waiting for the appropriate dosage of potassium chloride, for to restore some of that “kidney non-functionality”. Does she tolerate it? Surprisingly well, actually. After 4 weeks of this, we’ll re-evaluate. The Wife has been enormously supportive through this, further affirming the validity of the commitment we made to each other on that beautiful March afternoon. A typical conversation goes something like this; “Are you OK?” “Yeah, I’m fine.” “Are you lying?” “A little.” Then a hug, which I graciously accept.

It’s gonna be a long month.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Same as it Ever Was

Deployments are a part of military life, and Navy life in particular. My father flew the P-3 Orion, land-based patrol aircraft. When he was in a flying billet, he was deployed pretty much half of the time. 6 months home, 6 months away, in a never-ending rotation. It was only during a "shore duty" command that he was home more often than that.

At the time, the Army and Air Force were different. Although they didn't deploy per se, those families tended to move a lot more often, and lived in way more exotic places (back then) like Korea and Germany. I knew Air Force brats that moved pretty much every 18 to 24 months for years on end.

Me, I liked the Navy way better. Sure it sucked dad being gone, but abode stability was a small price to pay for having a dad with the coolest job in the world short of astronaut or secret agent. And those involve significantly more travel, from what I hear.

In any case, I was recently going through some old pictures that my parents converted from slides (remember them?) into the much more robust format of the digital image, and I came across this one:

Patuxent River Naval Air Station, July 1971. VP-49 is leaving for a deployment to Keflavik Iceland, a base where I would serve (if ever so briefly) some 30-odd years later.

The young LT walking across the ramp is my father, and the woman holding the infant is my mother. I'm the infant, in case you hadn't gotten that far. This scene is replayed across the Navy every day of the year. Always has been, always will be. Sailors walk away from their families to an airplane, ship or sub, or even a commercial airliner for folks that do what I do.

As a kid, what did I know? It was a part of life. Didn't all dads do that? I can't recall ever thinking, "gosh, it sucks that my daddy has to do that". I thought they all did.

I don't think it was until I had to leave my own daughter that I understood what it must have been even remotely like. And his deployments were pre email and international phone calls for less than $10 per minute. We got letters, most of which I have kept. Yes dad, I'm being a good boy for mommy and I have cleaned my room.

Have you ever watched one of those History Channel-esque documentaries on the military? And how they have the obligatory scene of the return from the deployment? Yeah, still kinda chokes me up.

But you know what? It makes me truly appreciate my family. My wife, my loving parents, and my absolutely perfect daughter.

But do you know what I thought was really interesting about this picture?

See that number on the tail? 156529?

That plane is still flying. Converted to an EP-3 and assigned to VQ-2, according to the latest information.

That means that sometime in the next 12 months or so, there will probably be another young LT walking on a ramp, towards that same plane, with his wife and infant son waiving goodbye.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Birthday Fun

And a new family member to announce...

No, it isn't another kid.

Now that the grandparents are breathing again, We went to another second birthday party today. A wonderful couple we met at our birth classes. Their kid was born a week after ours, so there's always back-to-back festivities.

The Kid had fun, too. A sand table filled with rice was pretty cool. A lot less clean-up for everyone.

Lastly (because I know you're dying to see what I'm talking about), the hosts had a raffle. The object was to guess the number of goldfish crackers in a jar. I guessed 502, since the date was 05/02. Figured the hosts were being clever and making it a fun game with a twist. Turns out the actual number was 600. The number itself didn't mean anything. I have a tendency to overthink things on occasion.


The actual prize was Dorothy.

So Lily, Toolbox, Grandma and Grandpa, meet your new Grandfish.

The Kid likes her, and The Cat seems mildly intrigued by the new addition.

As we were leaving the party, the birthday girl's grandparents offered us a little advice.

"It's a lot easier to replace it than explain what happened to it."

Lots of wisdom there. Probably based on experience.