Flashback Friday: The All-American Waldo Shirt

Oh, my goodness! Baby Jaz was such a little cutie!

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap]t’s a holiday weekend this weekend! 

As we all prepare to celebrate America’s Independence Day over here in Germany, I’m sharing my post about the holiday from 2012. That was the year we all went into downtown DC, and I wore a Where’s Waldo shirt.

See if you can spot me in today’s Flashback Friday by reading all about it HERE.

Flashback Friday: Reporting from the Triangle of Death

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap]n many ways, it seems like a complete lifetime ago. But all it takes is a blink to return to that summer in 2007 when I was deployed to Iraq with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known.

Eight years ago this week, I landed in Baghdad with JV and JB for our second trip through Iraq.  We all know what happened there.  Yet my experience in Iraq was definitely more than that one incident.

I hate reading about what is going on in Iraq these days. I have little interest in the politicians changing their tune about it all in accordance to the election seasons. It doesn’t bother me as people dissect the purpose and role the United States played in that part of the world. I feel such a disconnection from all that chatter.

But when it comes to my memories, to the things I saw happening there, and especially when I remember the people I met and served alongside over there, I remember everything clear as day and remain proud for having been there among them.

And I also remain so grateful to have made it back, to be here eight years later and remember.

You can read this week’s Flashback Friday post HERE.

Flashback Friday: In Love

Today’s Flashback Friday post is from June 2002. Back when Martin and I were newlyweds. We weren’t living together yet. He was still in the Bundeswehr at his kaserne four hours away from where I was at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Plans were in motion for our move to Italy, but nothing finalized yet.

Such a great time with so much hopeful uncertainty in the air.

Such a great time when we were all lovey-dovey in that sickening way young people are when they are newlyweds.

You can read all about it HERE.

Flashback Friday: Miss C’s Fabulous Makeover


This girl went to her “end of the year” school dance this evening. Since it began in the late afternoon, while I was still at work, she got herself ready. The dance followed a beach theme, so she picked out her favorite summer dress, strappy summer shoes, and a seashell necklace. She also added [adorable] blue streaks in her hair to complement the blue in her dress.

Martin texted me a photo. Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Packing Up to Go

The movers are coming next week. This is the last weekend Martin and I have to prepare for them. The packing company sent a supervisor to come and look at our stuff, to figure out ahead of time the type of boxes and material his team will need. It’s amazing to look around this house and know that all our things will soon be wrapped in bubble tape and paper and loaded up for a voyage across the globe.

For today’s Flashback Friday post, I’m sharing the post I wrote in 2005 when movers arrived to pack up our life in Italy. You can read it HERE. Hard to believe that was nearly 10 years ago.


Flashback Friday: Our Visit to Germany


In light of this week’s news, I sharing this blog post from November 2004 about one of our visits to Germany.


As you know, we were living in Italy at the time, but regularly made the six hour drive north to visit with Martin’s family. For those first two years of Miss C’s life, she got to spend a lot of time with her cousin Nie-Nie (who is almost exactly one year older than her) and visit with her aunts and uncle, and our beloved Oma. We always had a wonderful time, and needless to say, we can’t wait for Lola and Jaz to have those same experiences, too.

Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Cake


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]W[/dropcap]e’re celebrating a birthday next week, so I went shopping today. Miss C will be 11, and since she’s still in Ohio with her Dad and siblings, what better time to sneak away and pick up a few items for her, right?

While at the book store, I ordered a caramel frappuccino and took my time walking through the aisles, adding books to my basket, checking out the newest titles. Before too long, I ended up in the parenting book aisle, and I smiled at the rows of familiar books I read while pregnant with my own babies. I think at one point, I owned all the baby name books, and I noted that the mother on the latest edition of “what to expect” books looked even more fresh and hip than I remembered her.

Then I noted that after three whole bookcases full of pregnancy and babyhood books, there was one bookcase devoted to raising toddlers and preschoolers. And then it stopped. When I tried to find the books that provided guidance on how to raise tweens and teenagers, the section morphed into books on ways to deal with a problem child or a specific special need. It took some investigating to find the few books that are specific to raising a tween or teenager. I looked at the other aisles, even asked the nearby book clerk if there was a section I was missing (there wasn’t), and later did a search for more tween-specific books online.

Compared to all the books available for the first few years of life, there really isn’t very much out there for parents of tweens and teens.

No wonder the prospect of raising a teenager is so daunting!

After years of being offered advice on how to feed our kids, swaddle our kids, get them to stop crying, introduce them to Mozart, get them to aim for the toilet, how to feed them, get them on a sleep schedule, how to plan the perfect birthday party, how to make flashcards, how to overcome separation anxiety, how to keep them alive until about the age of nine … the parental advice business runs cold.

It’s as if the book industry said, “Hey, once they are ten, the cake is baked. Good luck.”

Good luck indeed.


For today’s Flashback Friday post, I’m sharing this entry from 2006 when we celebrated Miss C’s birthday at our townhouse in our old neighborhood. It was the first birthday party we had for her since moving back to the United States, and it was so much fun. And super hot. The strawberry ice cream cake we got for her promptly melted between the time we took it out of the fridge to the time we lit the candles and sang to her.

But with ice cream cake, who cares? Soggy deliciousness.

You can read it HERE.

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.

Flashback Friday: I’ve Lost My Husband to Soccer

Someone raided the kitchen on his own this morning and freed the graham crackers.


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap]t’s that time again.

When one is married to a European, one must recognize that when it comes to soccer … sorry … when it comes to football and the World Cup, life as one normally knows it is put on hold for a few weeks so the European can watch (either online or on television) while teams from around the world duke it out to be the global champions.

At least, that’s how it is at my house.

I’ve written about this before.

For this Flashback Friday, I’m sharing the post I wrote about losing my husband to soccer. I wrote it in 2008, when I was pregnant with Lola and Miss C was five years old. It wasn’t during World Cup, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. (Well, he’ll argue with me that it ISN’T, but you know .. it is.)

You can read it HERE.