18 February 2014

We Love You, Ron-O.

This morning, I woke up early. 

The baby was crying, and needed to eat.  I did what I always do…I opened up my phone, and scrolled through Facebook.  And the first thing I saw was the thing that, although I knew was coming, had been dreading just the same.

My dear friend, Ron, had finally been released from his ongoing battle with cancer. 

I met Ron in 2009, and worked with him until we made our way from Maryland to Colorado on a PCS.  When we moved back to Maryland, Ron was one of the small group of friends I was excited to see again.  As trite as retrospect can be, I wish I’d seen him more.  Because Ron taught me things.  He reminded me of things I already knew, and he reinforced things I try to practice in my day to day life. 

I learned a lot of things from him…like how important it is to have someone’s back, even when you want to stab them in it.  Ron was a consistent open door, even when it would have been easier to close it.   He stood against the masses when the masses were wrong, even when the weight of those masses seemed like they should have been crushing. 

Ron did not judge.  Rather, he hugged.  He laughed.  He smiled.  When doing things for himself would have been the easiest route, Ron took the hard route so that he could bring someone who needed help on the same journey.  It didn't even matter what the journey was, really…it was just common knowledge that Ron would extend his hand and heart and offer you a firm grip on both. 

He’d been living with the disease for quite some time.  It was rough, and it was agonizing.  He allowed us into it.  He never hid his pain, or masked his difficulties.  Rather, he opened it all to us and drenched it in a such a positive way that it made us adore and admire the hell out of him even more. 

There are so many admirable qualities that Ron reminded me were important to keep a hold of.  And because I was lucky enough to have him in my life for a little while, I will work a little harder every day to keep those qualities from falling by the wayside of everyday life. 

The Army is not an easy way to live.  It’s easy to lose track, to get too busy.  It’s easy to become inundated with the day to day.  At home, at work…there are so many ways to become enveloped in our own lives and forget the importance of those we hold dear. 

Thank you, Ron Kyle, for being a part of my life and the lives of so many others. 

Your presence will be missed.  But your wonderful, kind, funny, thoughtful and jiggy ways will not.  Because they will continue, my friend. 

We love you. 

But then, you know that.  

03 February 2014

Glow On.

I've noticed some rumblings today about the Coke commercial from last night.  Here’s my take: 

No one can take away your shine.  No one is going to block your glow.  And the more we learn to glow together, the brighter things will be. 

Here’s the thing:  If you are upset by diversity, there is a period of inner reflection that should occur, and no one can start down that road for you.  We ALL have struggles, and all have things we aren't proud of…and all have things that we can be WILDLY proud of.  The location we were birthed should not factor into that pride.  What language we were taught during our formative years should not pigeonhole our existence.  What should be recognized is the strength, courage and love of self and family that goes into being able to pack up an entire home and move to another country in the fervent hope we can give something better to our children.  To their children.  To our family name.  And there are places that, unfortunately, those opportunities are not readily available.  

But they are here.  

And improvement should not be taken for granted, no matter how it is dressed or what language it speaks when it arrives.

No one living currently built this country on their back.  We should be as grateful for what we are given by being citizens of this country as those who have been the tired and poor, yearning to breathe free. 

If we want people to earn their keep, we should earn ours.  But instead of earning keep in America, we should earn our keep within humanity.  

01 October 2013

We've Worked Hard...Now It's Your Turn.

I feel compelled, during this serious reign of ignorance and insolence and insanity, to write something.  And I don't even really know what to write, to be honest.  It is not likely that this information will be new to anyone who reads it.  Because everyone knows someone affected by the government shutdown.  There are so many directions to look, so many points to be made...so I'm just going to share my story and my feelings.    

My husband is a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.  I am a disabled Army veteran.  I am seven months pregnant with our second child, and I have two wonderful stepchildren.  Currently, my husband is out of the country, as are many others.  If his return ticket had not already been purchased, he would be required to remain out of the country until the government reopened.

Most of the country is upset at the government shutdown.  Congress' approval rating is at 10%.  Hell, I currently like oral surgery and scrubbing toilets more than I like the government. Like many families, we are a household dependent upon two incomes.  My husband's earnings, thank goodness, have been secured (albeit secured last minute).  The Veterans Affairs office has said that they are capable of dispersing one more round of payment, and after that will be unable to make any more until the government is reopened.  The same is being said of VA educational benefits, I'm hearing. 

A good friend of mine is now furloughed from his government job.  He has a wife and two children.  This morning, I read many jokes on our local installation's Facebook page regarding the craziness ensuing on other posts due to things like commissary closures and shifts in the capabilities of silly, inconsequential things like Military Treatment Facilities and Armed Forces academies.  

We have worked without water and food.  We have worked without showers.  We have worked without sleep, and at times without medical attention.  A large number of us have worked and lived below the poverty line and without our loved ones in order to provide for this country.  We are students.  Neighbors.  Friends.  Daughters, sons, wives, husbands, and parents.  We are members of every community spanning the United States. 

We are not a family whose vacation to Yellowstone has been interrupted.  We are not a small business whose loan has been postponed.  We are a cog in a vast group of people who have worked and will continue to work tirelessly and selflessly. 

And we expect the same in return.  

01 September 2013

Pinterest is Ruining My Nursery

Shut up.  This minute...this instant.  Just shut up.  I get it.  I'm behind the Pinterest-is-runing-my-life power curve.  I know that there are memes, websites and social media posts out the wazoo commemorating this topic. 

First there was the initial Rabbit Hole aspect.  People (and when I say people, I mean me) spent hours upon hours just looking at recipes, decor, clothing.  It had everything from pinot noir storage to puppies, and I was hooked.  I neglected Facebook, the news, homework...it was all the happy things in the world I wanted to see, and none of that starving animal, Wall Street 1%, Presidential race crap I was so tired of looking at.  I willingly allowed all of the intelligence in my life to be overwhelmed and pushed to the wayside by watercolor paintings of Chanel purses, and didn't regret a moment of it. 

I know now that I am not the only one stricken with this affliction...in the time it has taken me to write this, six people have repinned it.  No joke.  SIX.  And I know that I should just let my hormones simma down and get over myself.  Which I would be happy to do, if I didn't want so badly to make this:

  I know, right?!?! You risk a friggin' mental EXPLOSION looking at all this awesomeness. 

So the timeline of this whole thing was relatively simple...I decided to wait a bit to decorate until I really had a good idea for the nursery.  Partly because I didn't want to be overly enthusiastic (particularly before we were sure of the gender), and partly I wanted something super cool.  Okay, mostly because I wanted something super cool.  Then, one day as we're wandering La Boutique Target, the hubby says:

                "Hey, how about pirates?  Can we do PIRATES?"

And my answer, as I'm sure you can imagine, was something the eloquent and super classy along the lines of "Shit yes, we can!"

Thus was born the pirate nursery quest. 

And the best idea (and most achievable) idea I've found so far is this super bitchin' pirate ship crib.  At least I thought it was until this morning, when I clicked on the picture and waited for the contributing website to load. 

But it never loaded.  Why, you ask? 

Because there was no cutesy website linked to this picture...there was no "SusieshouseofDIY" or "Daisybabies" or any other gag inducing dotcom crafty site associated with this picture.  There was just a picture of exactly what I want to do for the last of my womb-mates, and not one instruction on how to make it.  I mean, sure, there's a picture.  It even looks pretty simple and self explanatory.  Until you get to the bottom of the rope thing. 

Seriously.  Go look.  I'll wait. 


30 June 2013

She Fell Off Her Butter Crock, Ya'll!


I know a wide range of people.  Most of them are intelligent, and all have their own opinion on subjects. 

GASP!  I know, right? 

So I preface this piece with this:  I adore the people who read my stuff, and respect their feelings and opinions.  I also happen to like Paula Deen.  But that doesn't mean that she is immune from my writing about her tragedies of late, because I have been shoved into it by repeat Facebook posts on the subject.  So if the redemption of Paula Deen is something you feel strongly about, I suggest you stop reading, because it is likely that this will piss you off. 

Recently I've become amazed (and frankly, slightly shocked) at the number of people that are outraged by Paula Deen's  swift, Aaron Hernandez style, immediate and epic loss of business partnerships.  Her show being discontinued by Food Network, and release by JC Penny, Wal mart, Smithfield and others has been raised to an almost Bono-level of awareness and social media outrage.

The main theme trumpeted by the masses seems to be "She made a mistake, guys! Come on, why should we punish her for a mistake she made 30 years ago?! She's losing everything! What an outrage!"

To which I have the following (repeatedly provoked) responses:

1. Yes, Paula Deen made a mistake.  Yes, it occurred more than two decades ago. One (like me, for example) might even make the argument that she's a 66 year old white woman from Albany, Georgia.  Of course she's racist! That was a time and place that all you were supposed to BE was racist! Well, guess what, people? It is not 1953, and those things are no longer appropriate or socially acceptable.  End of story, no more callers, we have a winner.  And for those that are still racist (ie, saying things like "Who hasn't said something racist?!", bear in mind that you are not the very, very public face of companies with stockholders to whom answers must be given.   

2.  Business partnerships are made because they are mutually beneficial. When those partnerships become less than such, they can (and probably will) become void. Food Network didn't decide against renewing Paula Deen's show to personally punish her. They did it because their ratings were projected to suffer by keeping her show on the air.  Stop acting like food network discontinuing the show is the equivalent of a mother leaving her infant on the steps of a church.  It's unreasonable.

3.  Paula Deen has one truly marketable asset: herself.  Ham and biscuits are super great things, but like most TV personalities, her bread and butter (and butter, and butter) are her grandmother-ly appearance and down-home appeal.  Unfortunately, things from her past came back to haunt her.  Remember when Vanessa Williams had those devastating "artsy" photos surface and lost her Miss America crown?  Tragic and unfair, but it still happened.  Why?  Because what she had done, right or wrong, did not reflect the values of the organization that employed her.  Now to my knowledge, there are no nude Paula pics floating around.  But you can only call Al Roker "Chocolate Face" and tell Matt Lauer and millions of viewers to kill you with a rock and such so many times before you get dropped like a hot stone in the middle of a glass house. 

4.  As of last year (According to www.forbes.com), the Queen of Butter was worth a whopping $17 million.  She will likely see more pay in residuals from book sales and other various business facets in three months than my husband, a Staff Sergeant in the Unites States Army, will see in a year's paycheck.  So a modicum of perspective on the "Paula is losing everything, lets circle the wagons!" rally might do some good.

Basically, Paula Deen has (hopefully) learned a very valuable lesson in corporate marketing and brand survival in the form of her "Hey, Ya'll!" Southern charm being replaced by a less charming, Today Show sobbing aspect, and rapidly taking her from lovable to crucifiable in one fell drop of the N-Bomb.  I truly hope she lived at her level of means and has the savings to retire on.  Because at the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed, and nothing lasts forever.  

04 June 2013

Dear Harford County Public School System:

Dear Harford County Public School System,

I am writing this in an attempt to open eyes to (what I fervently hope are) an archaic set of academic values, and to hopefully bring attention to the woefully under explained "Pre K" federal program. Although I am a bit emotional as I draft this, I hope that my goal of bringing the difficulties of the public school system to light may help other parents in the future.

My son's birthday is October 6th, and he will be turning five this year. In April, I inquired about the Pre K program at a local elementary school. My question was met by several heads turning toward me, either scoffing or in disdain. As a new resident to Maryland, I was unaware of the federal status of this program, rather than it's being hosted by the public school system. My ignorance aside, the response I received was short and chilly: "You know this is an income based program."

I use a period at the end of that statement because that is how it was spoken to me. No question, no offer of information. My inquisitive look at the secretary warranted only a glance at my appearance (which in some way, apparently, was indicative my financial superiority). Rather than fight what was clearly going to be a losing, uninformative battle, I reached out to a second local public school, and received more friendly, yet equally uninformative response. Having met with nothing but closing doors, my husband and I looked into the early admission requirements for kindergarten.

According to your 2011-2012 Handbook:

"For entrance to kindergarten, children admitted to the kindergarten program in the public school system shall be five years old on or before September 1st of the school year in which they apply for entrance. Exceptions to the age entrance policy are considered only in very extraordinary circumstances. The standards are rigorous to ensure that children are not frustrated by the advanced placement" (Harford County Public Schools).

Duly noted. I understand that a child frustrated by advanced placement would be a distraction, both to the educators and to the children whose parents loved them enough to birth them on or before September 1st. Your handbook continues:

"Although not encouraged, exceptions to the age of entrance policy are granted by Harford County Public Schools when it is clearly evident that the precocious four-year-old will be effectively served by a rigorous, standard-based curriculum in kindergarten...Exceptional abilities refer to your child being able to read the newspaper, magazines or books. For mathematical ability, word problems should be solved without prompting. Word problems indicate the child’s ability to construct abstract thought" (Harford County Public Schools).

I was interested to find that my son, who can write and verbally spell his name, add, subtract, and regularly uses "hypothesis" (and varying other multisyllabic words) correctly in a sentence would likely be deemed incapable of entering kindergarten 36 days after the age cutoff because he lacked the ”extraordinary circumstances" and "precociousness" sought by way of the exceptional abilities that "refer to your child being able to read the newspaper, magazines or books".

The Maryland state website for educational improvement Standard 1.0 General Reading Processes, however, lists the first task for kindergarten " PHONEMIC AWARENESS: Students will master the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words by the end of grade one" "General Reading Processes ~ Grade K ~ Reading/ELA Using the State Curriculum ~ School Improvement in Maryland.").

So the questions I pose to you, Harford County School District, are these:

As our child is currently unable to read and I am not a parent able to supply home schooling and our household income exceeds the (albeit federal) standard for Pre K, we are left with two options: paying between $500 and $750 per month for a private learning institution, or not providing our son with the academic curriculum and peer interaction crucial for his age. Does the fact that we are neither destitute nor rich mean our child does not deserve the education provided easily and unreservedly to others?

And how is it, exactly, that the intention of the curriculum for state of Maryland clearly indicates the goal of teaching five and six year old children to read, while my four year old must regale his assessor with a piece from the Associated Press to warrant his entrance to kindergarten?


Sandra Moyer

30 May 2013

Shit My Kids Say

Recently I realized that, as parents, we participate in and overhear an overwhelming amount of insane exchanges.  Here are some of ours:  

Daddy:  What kind of dinosaur is that? 
Drew:  A Tyrranosaurus Rex. 
Daddy:  That's right.  And what's this dinosaur?
Drew:  A Spiny Tyrranosaurus. 
Daddy:  No, that's a Stegosaurus. 
Drew:  Woah.   


Scene:  I see Drew climbing up the counter while wearing his Buzz Lightyear costume.
Me:  DREW! 
Drew:  It's okay.  I have super climbing powers.   

Olivia:  Hey, Sandy?  What if we named the baby Destiny? 
Mitch:  That's the kind of name that means you didn't go to college, Olivia.  I know, what if we name the baby Toby, Sandy? 
Olivia:  That's the kind of name you name a dog, Mitchell. 


Drew:  Mommy?  Are you awake? 
Me:  (I say nothing.  I'm not stupid.)
Drew:  Mommy?  Mommy?!  MOMMY!! 
Me:  Jesus, Drew!  What? !
Drew:  Um...do monkeys wear hats?  

And for now...
The End