Another Tooth Fairy Visit

Her insanely loose tooth was being insanely stubborn, so I took a washcloth, cued up “Let It Go”, and gave it a yank as she tried to sing along. It worked. The Tooth Fairy will visit again!! She’s five and a half, and first tooth brought a roll of coins — dimes, I think — because that’s all that was readily available.

This time, a few dollars.


We probably shouldn’t have named our minivan after Amelia Earhart. Engine lights lit up, and weird noises commenced. We landed at a pet-friendly inn so deep in the armpit of Maryland, our phones can’t even pinpoint our location. Good thing we looooove adventure!!! Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Restlessness, Chores, and Driving Martin Nuts

An R&R moment in Doha in 2007.

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]Y[/dropcap]esterday moved with a frenetic pace. There was my morning commute. A full day of work with meetings scheduled back-to-back with few breaks in between. Then I was a part of a panel discussion at the New America Foundation (which I’ll write about in another post), where I got to answer questions about government data monitoring, information privacy, and Edward Snowden.

And THEN, as if that wasn’t enough of a whirlwind,  Martin was waiting for me outside the NAF building to whisk me away to the Theater Alliance‘s Anacostia Playhouse — a theater built into a warehouse not far from the Anacostia River — for the day’s final event: attending the performance of “The Wonderful World of Dissocia” which tells the story of a woman’s whirlwind experiences with mental illness and dissociative disorder.

Admittedly, not a usual place for Martin and me to land on a Thursday evening, but it was an incredible experience for a few reasons.

First, the performances were wonderful, and the story of a woman in the grips of her mental illness was very moving. In one of those funny life coincidences, I just read the memoir “First Person Plural” a few weeks ago, written by a man with multiple personalities, who I learned about while doing some job-related research, so I was familiar with the disorder, and recognized the aspects of it alluded to in the play.

Second, it was wonderful being back in a small theater environment. It’s been a long time — too long — since Martin and I attended a show like that, even though we both used to work in theater all the time: me in Cincinnati, and he in Germany before our military careers. Being so close to the stage, and being able to really pick up on the details of the costumes, set, and lighting … it all brought back a sense of nostalgia, and really fun memories.

And finally, our attendance last night was especially nice because Martin and I were there as guests, the result of a really amazing opportunity the theater group extended to me.

About a week ago, I was sorting through my email late at night when I got a message from this blog’s “Contact Us” page. It was from Elliott Bales, who explained he is the managing director at DC’s Theater Alliance. He wrote that while doing research for his theater company’s upcoming production, he discovered my blog.

He explain that his company is preparing for an upcoming world premiere production of Obie Award-winning playwright Caridad Svich‘s play “Spark.” The play is about a female soldier returning from war to an economically depressed home with a family of three sisters who have their own problems and do not understand each other. Mr. Bales noted that he himself retired from the U.S. Army after 26 years, and found the story to be “a poignant and beautiful representation for all veterans, and women veterans in particular.”  

He spent some time reading through my blog, and based upon my writings about my personal military experiences — both as a female veteran, and as a spouse and having my loved one away from home — he invited me to meet his staff and discuss my unique perspectives as part of their pre-production work as most of the staff never served in the military at all.

I reviewed the information and script he sent me, and responded, and we talked over the phone the next day, where we talked of our past military assignments and I mentioned that I’m the oldest of three sisters, too. It was one of those funny life coincidences, right?

Of course, I accepted the invitation, both to meet with his cast and crew, and to see their current production and become familiar with the theater and the type of work they do, as most of their productions focus on socially conscious themes with a lot of educational and community outreach in the mix.

It's intermission at the Anacostia Playhouse. Martin and I came here right after my presentation.
It was intermission at the Anacostia Playhouse. 

After last night’s show, as Martin and I walked to our minivan, with both the Washington Monument and the Capitol building lit up in front of us, we spoke about the play, about the upcoming “Spark” production (which begins later this summer), and wondered about the types of things I’ll share with the cast and crew, what kinds of questions they may ask, what they would want to know as they develop their characters and stories.

We also marveled at how all of this came to be, how Mr. Bales found our blog, how these opportunities stumble upon us, and how fortunate we are to be given these opportunities.

For that reason, for Flashback Friday (when I take a dip into my blog archives), I’m sharing a post that I wrote in 2007 shortly after coming home from my deployment, and the immediate adjustments Martin and I were experiencing. I was reminded of this post as I read one of the scenes in the “Spark” script, as it rang remarkably true.

You can read it HERE.

So many little life coincidences.

TBT: Purses

Books. Purses. And I still make this face. #TBT

My mother says I was imitating animal sounds. i.e. “How does the lion sound?” She is quite certain that purse (hers from her own youth) and bookbag still exist in some box filled with my childhood mementos.

While I no longer make those sounds, I can say with certainty I make this face when I hear any of the following:

“Do these flip-flops look cute with my pant-suit?”


“I don’t vote. I don’t like politics.”


“The Internet is dead.”


“Try it. It tastes JUST like Nutella.”



Today was FINALLY Miss C’s last day of school. Virginia — especially Fairfax County — offers ridiculous school year schedules that include the “King’s Dominion” rule and weekly half-days that don’t make sense at all. All those snow days just added an extra two days, I think, which really don’t make a difference when it’s the end of June already.

She now has four friends over for a sleepover celebration, and it’s loud, chaotic, and crazy with a total of seven kids, two cats, and a dog in the house, all hyped up with summertime vibes.

Party on.

This right here is a pile of accomplishment. Kudos to my husband for taking a very detailed food order for seven selective eaters and two frenzied adults. He got everything right. He delivered fast, too!

Overheard/seen from the kitchen as the girls ate dinner: Miss C announced that Lola will be a kindergartener at the school next year. Her friends cheered, and as Lola sat there smiling, puffed up like a little bird, the soon-be-sixth graders vowed to say hello and watch out for her in the hallways.

And oh my god, Martin and I were just doing the math, trying to figure out what grade Miss C will be in when Jaz goes to kindergarten, and she’ll be in high school.

Can’t…handle…the truth..

Though he appreciates the attention from all the young ladies in our house at the moment, my son realized the 6:1 ratio was a bit overwhelming.

Best to hang out with Mom and Dad, watching cartoons and playing with the camera phone.


GBS: A Record. A Lifesaver.

Julie’s Note: Through our ongoing Guest Blogger Series (GBS), Martin and I are excited to share the talent and knowledge of our fellow writers and bloggers as they offer experiences, stories, lessons, and observations about a variety of topics. Enjoy our latest GBS entry.


Elsie (age 3) with her father.


By Elsie Hasting

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]R[/dropcap]ecently, we celebrated Father’s Day. I don’t know about you, but gift-giving for my own Dad — who has celebrated 40+ Father’s Days — is murder. Figuratively speaking, of course. No matter how creative I am, or how well I think I know my father, it simply doesn’t get any easier to give him something that’s meaningful.

Yet, there is a gift I’ve given him that actually helps his health and can potentially save his life.

And it’s a gift you can give your father at any time, too.

It’s called EHR, or electronic health records.

Today, electronic health records — a health information technology tool — is a gift that keeps on giving. EHRs link your family health lineage, creating a family health history which could be a game-changer or lifesaver.

Think back to your last medical visit. Remember being asked about your family health history in each and every paper form you filled out in all of those waiting rooms?

For some, answering questions about family health history can be very painful, assuming you even know your dad, or on the other hand, don’t want to remember how you lost yours so young.  For example, my own mom died of cancer at the age of 57.

For others, these health and family history questions can be alarming and an eye-opener to what you don’t know. If you don’t have this information, where do you go to find it?  Who do you ask? And how do you learn about your family medical conditions if they’re not captured somewhere other than a medical record?

If your dad is alive, like mine, you don’t have to wait for next year’s Father’s Day to have this conversation. You can do it today.

Begin with a meaningful conversation by explaining that their health matters today and tomorrow for the generations to come. It can begin by accompanying your father to his next doctor’s appointment to learn about his current health condition – time consuming, yet possible for those who are geographically close.

Another way to honor and show the significance of your parent’s health is by leveraging health information technology. Does your dad’s doctor – or your own doctor – use an EHR? How about an online portal? You may be pleasantly surprised — more than 500K health professionals have registered to participate in the EHR incentive program.

Today, technology – health information technology – allows you to capture, consolidate, and contain the vital and timely facts essential to help your doctors coordinate and better manage your care – or your father’s care, and help prepare or prevent medical conditions of the past.

For more information about EHRs, you can visit the following sites to learn more.

Health IT stories

Maintain Your Medical Record


In addition to being a daughter, wife, and mother in the Washington DC area, Elsie Hasting is also a certified health information technology specialist who uses her medical interpretation skills (English/Spanish) to creatively bridge cultures and communication gaps in healthcare settings. 


This is a pile of accomplishment. Kudos to my husband for taking a very detailed food order for seven selective eaters and two frenzied adults. He got everything right. He delivered fast, too!

Miss C invited some friends over after the last day of school, and it’s morphed into a sleepover.

Though he appreciates the attention from all the young ladies in our house at the moment, my son realized the 6:1 ratio was a bit overwhelming. Best to hang out with Mom and Dad, watching cartoons and playing with the camera phone.

After playing outside on the water slide, eating dinner, and then helping them build a blanket fort (all while trying to keep up with their conversation), he came in the family room (where we’re hiding), crawled in my lap, and let out the biggest sigh we’ve ever heard him make. I asked him, “Are you tired, buddy?”

And he goes, “Shhhh …. I just wanna be quiet. Watch TV.”

Coffee Bar

I no longer have a candy dish at work. I have a coffee bar with four fun creamer flavors.

The coworkers I like are free to help themselves to this! The ones I don’t, 50 cents per creamer. 😉


Someone is super happy his superheroes were unearthed from the toy box!

Finally put some birthday gift cards to good use, and this is one of the books I found.


Some ladies get roses. Some ladies get champagne. In honor of our 15 years together, I got a Ninja Professional 1000.

Flashback Friday: Commissary Run

That’s a lot of groceries, right? And nary a coupon back then in 2010.


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]M[/dropcap]artin, Jaz, and I visited our old stomping grounds this afternoon: the Fort Myer commissary which is where we did our grocery shopping when I was still active duty in the military. For those who aren’t familiar with them, military commissaries usually aren’t as expensive as civilian grocery markets, and we always found good deals there. Since it’s a good 30-to-40 minute drive (at least) from our home, we only went shopping every other month or so, filling two shopping carts full of goods to last us.

However, we stopped doing the commissary runs once Martin became a full-time stay-at-home dad and active couponer who shopped more frequently at the stores near our home. Even when he joined the military, (which allowed us commissary privileges again), we didn’t return because he was able to stretch our dollars much further through local couponing. Even when he was gone all those months for basic military training, he had shopped and planned ahead of time, so I didn’t need to go shopping (except for the fresh stuff) while he was away.

Unfortunately, this last trip of his was so last-minute, he didn’t have time to prep our cupboards and food pantry, at least not in the way he did before. Of course, the kids and I were totally fine and not wanting for anything. But I don’t coupon like Martin does, and I refused to go shopping in his place. So, we just used up what we had.

After he came home, he resumed couponing to replenish our pantry, but it takes time since not everything is on sale at the same time. Yesterday, as we used up the last can of red beans and the last box of rice, and as Jaz walked past us clutching the last box of cereal, Martin and I looked at each other and admitted, “We gotta go to the commissary and resupply now.”

So, off we went and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane as we passed my old office building, familiar restaurants, and other places we haven’t seen in awhile.

We had Jaz all to ourselves, and it was the sweetest, easiest shopping experience in a long time. It wasn’t crowded, and Martin and I were in agreement for almost all of the purchases.

“…Yes, I need THIS brand of coffee creamer. Yes, I know that costs less, but this is MORE delightful…”

The commissary still looked the same, and as we walked through the aisles full of elderly retirees and servicemembers in uniform, I couldn’t help but think of all the times we were there with the girls, when we went shopping as a family, as chaotic and overwhelming as it was.

Crazy times. But sweet memories, too.

For today’s Flashback Friday, this was a post about one such commissary run.

You can read it HERE.