Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Unofficial Review: The Hunger Games

To say I'm a little behind the times just doesn't even cut what an anti-media bubble I live in some days.  Or weeks.  Recently, a friend who leads a book club selected the hugely-popular book “The Hunger Games”, proposing a discussion at a vineyard one evening next month.  She had me at wine.  I figured, What the heck?  I’ll see what all of this buzz is about.  After all, I did break down and see Twilight!  I do like vampires.  And zombies.  I mean, really, who doesn't?

However; I never anticipated what happened next.  I was hooked from page one.  What?  A practical non-fiction, self-help reader like me?  It's true.  So this is what they call a page-turner...  Now I know I’ve never truly experienced the full-on addicting-book-rage.  I could not. Put. It. Down. 

And let’s not forget how morbid this is- children killing each other?  The very thought made me ill.  I can’t even watch Gladiator movies.  I cover my eyes in bloody battle scenes.  This was totally not my style.  So what was it that about this book that made me neglect the world around me like a ragged heroin addict because I just couldn’t stop?

So many reasons!  It crept into my dreams.  It invaded my thoughts.  But mostly- I fell in love with that characters.  No one will ever have me like Katniss and Peeta did.  Ever.  

I wanted more.  Within days I had finished all three books.
And now, though I’ve finished the story, it has continued to stay with me- haunting me like a plague.  I can't pick up another book- I'm afraid it just won't compare.  It's totally unfair to all of the other books.

And the weirdest part:  I actually feel changed by it.  I’ve never thought of myself as a materialistic person.  Then I looked at all of my purses and shoes.

How could I splurge on such tedious things when there are children starving all over our country everyday?  I throw away left-over or spoiled food on a regular basis.  I gorge myself when I eat a favorite meal.  I wasn't any better than these ignorant people represented in "The Capitol."

It made me want to live more simply.  I didn’t think a book like this would inspire me to really analize so much of my life.

Now granted, I'm not going to go off the deep end and give away all of my possessions. Maybe purge a few.  However, I do find myself thinking before I make purchases.  Is this REALLY necessary?

Another thought began to form when I read the quote, “If the Capitol citizens are fed and entertained, they won’t question the government.”  Hmmmm.  How symbolic is that?  It is us- Americans.  Most of us haven not had to fight for food.  Or survival.  Therefore- we take our simple luxuries for granted.  (hot water, electricity, etc.) We become apathetic to the world outside of our bubble.  Out of sight- out of mind.  And the extremities we blow our money on to be entertained is truly mind-blowing.

In America, where we live like kings. We are motivated by superficial items.  Wants not needs.  “In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early. You see an elderly person you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival.” The Hunger Games

These are all just a few of the many thoughts that have encircled my head in the past few days.  I know my family is surly tiring of my talking of The Hunger Games.  However, I just simply feel moved.  I feel like I’ve been knocked upside the head and changed by these books.  Suzanne Collins is a genius that way.  Isn't that the ultimate goal of every author?

Finally, my favorite line that requires no further explanation. “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” The Hunger Games  Just ask anyone who has had to fight to be free.  Or perhaps a former POW.

Does anyone else feel changed by these books- or am I one of those crazy teeny-bopper moms that is hopelessly falling over with the latest trend?  If so, I would hope someone would kindly tell me that I am crazy.  I would do the same for you.  Probably.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's a Girl!

Isn't she beautiful?  Today is a wonderful day.  My very first niece, Ellia Grace (named for our late grandmother) was born this morning at 3:14 am.

I'm officially and auntie!  I cannot wait to squeeze her in my arms and pinch her cheeks.  Yes, I will be that aunt!  July (our planned trip to all meet in Minnesota) cannot come fast enough.
Being eleven days overdue, she has taught me a lesson in planning.  The famous quote, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans" could not be more true.  Yes, I have control issues.

Sometimes.  And babies are just one more thing we cannot control no matter how much we'd like to.

While I'm sad that I couldn't be there when she was born (in fact I'm on the other side of the country), I promise you, Ellie, I will always be there for you when you need me.  And I will always have gum.  And just like the way I felt when my own children were born- it amazes me that you can love someone so much before you have even met them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Have a Baby

So I've been spending the last few days now in the beautiful state of Washington out visiting my little sister.  The reason for my visit?  To stare at the tall trees and picture scenes from the Twilight movies.  Oh yes, and to assist my sister in any way that I can as her first baby is about to arrive.

Actually it should have technically arrived two days ago.  But apparently my soon-to-be niece will not be bothered by silly things such as due dates.  She'll come when she's good and ready.  And while I understand and respect her stubbornness- it's a sign she has Maki genes- I cannot help but grow a little more anxious with each passing day as my airline ticket demands my return to the other side of the country in 4 days- with or without having met her.

Now that you can see my predicament, you can understand why I've personally taken it upon myself to convince my sister to try every possible old wives' tale of inducing labor.  And I just know my sister has to be enjoying me asking her if she is in labor yet every five minutes.

Methods tried and failed:

*Spicy foods (Indian food the night of my arrival)

*Eggplant Parmesan (Someone suggested this was a sure thing. It wasn't.)

*Caster Oil (Yep, I really made her do this.  She was not a happy camper.)

*Walking (We have walked so much I feel like I'm about to go into labor.)

*Fresh pineapple (This was fun, but ineffective.)

*Stuff that only her husband can help her with (Still no baby.)

*Foot rubs and pressure points (She enjoyed this much more than the Caster oil.)

So as you can see, it seems that no matter how much we can wish that baby to make her appearance, in the end, only Mother Nature can tell when she's done baking.  Oh and the pitocin gods, but they won't get involved for a while yet.  Too late for me.

In the mean time, I will continue to search for vampire sightings as well as enjoy my time with my sister while I still can have her undivided attention.  As any parent knows it'll be a long time until I'll get that again.

I'll keep you posted!  And please feel free to share any ideas that we may have missed...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Magic of the Moon

 (photo courtesy of

While on vacation recently, I was abruptly awakened one night by a single stream of light cascading through the blinds.  This light was so bright that I was sure one of my kids was standing over me, shining a spotlight in my face.  It would not have surprised me. 
Instinctively, I checked the clock.  It was near 4 o’clock in the wee hours of morning.  Still blinded, I sat up and realized this glowing light was nothing other than the moon beaming into my window, lighting up a narrow trail across my eyes.  I felt it beckoning me to the window. 
Doing my best to keep silent, I ungracefully tip-toed to the window, tripping over at least three items of clothing.  When I finally arrived at the window, I could not help but take in the sheer magnitude of it.  There it sat, glimmering in the tree branches with robust pride.  Instantly, I felt its peace.  It had been a long time since I'd admired the moon.
The moon and I have had an arrangement for some time now.  When I was younger and away on the other side of the world from my family, the moon was my connection to home.  It was during some of my loneliest nights that the moon served as my sense of strength and comfort.   My first Christmas away from home.  The night of my grandmother’s funeral, for which I was unable to come home.  On those nights, I would look up to the sky and know that I was looking at the same moon my mom, dad, and sisters could be looking at that very moment.
On night flights it helped keep me awake as I watched it rise and sparkle over the ocean.  When I would walk home to the barracks in the dark as I didn't own a car, the moonlight guided me along the right path. 

The sun and the moon are the universal forces that connect all of us on this Earth.  Friend or foe.  Western or Eastern side of the world.
I’ve been back in the states for some time but my sisters have all moved away from home.  My family is literally spread from one side of the country to the other.  There will be many nights in which we will still text each other a simple message.  “Look at the moon tonight.”  And we will know what that means.
I have recently begun to teach my children this as well- for when I travel, they can take comfort in knowing I’m looking at the same moon as them- no matter where I am in the world.  There is just something about knowing that we are looking at the same moon that makes our world feel a little smaller.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Life Lost too Soon

I'm not a poet.  However, writing is the one way I can usually make sense of my emotions- if there is sense to be made.  Last week I lost a very dear friend in a very unfortunate way.  Death is such a hard thing to make sense of as it is, and when it comes intentionally, it leaves many unanswered questions in its path.  Guilt, anger, sadness, confusion- just to name a few...  

The insanity only stops when we release the need to make sense of it and instead focus on remembering the beautiful life that once was. 

The following is my tribute to her beautiful life.  Melissa, I will always hold you close to my heart.  I only wish you knew how many lives that you touched.

A Life Lost Too Soon

You were a ray of sunshine,
A thunderous shower.
A raging ball of fire,
A beautiful spring flower.

You had charm and you had wit,
You were tough and strong.
Full fortitude, full of grit,
A shoulder to cry on.

You were a caretaker to those that were sick,
A friend to those in need.
 Never thinking of yourself,
Never showing an ounce of greed.

Life was not easy.
Your eyes saw more than they should.
Still you fought long and hard,
Your heart gave all it could.

It’d been awhile since we last met.
I didn’t get the chance to tell you goodbye.
I can only hope you knew it in your heart,
As the time and years passed by.

So please all, listen closely and come near.
Everyday tell your friends you love them,
And hold their precious memories dear.

For our breath is not promised,
Tomorrow could be lost.
Anything can happen-
In any moment, at any cost.

Melissa you were loved,
More than you'll ever know.
I will forever hold the guilt,
That you felt you had to go.

Melissa Karleen Collins 10-21-1978 - 3-26-2012
Love you and miss you.