Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Memorial Day always makes me reflective of my time in the Army and my time as an Army wife. I will say that without a doubt, my time as an Army wife was ten thousand times more difficult than anything I did while in the Army myself. I think there were a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which was Andrew's deployment (and all the rushing and worrying that went along with it).

Two things touched me this past weekend in all the Memorial Day hub bub (and no it was not Macy's super patriotic and appropriate to the occasion sale). The first is the NYTimes mosaic of those who have lost their lives in the current war, "Faces of the Dead." I think people have become immune not just to news of the wars but to the death toll and items like this to help remind us that each death is a person who was loved by so many are important. This is the mosaic featuring MAJ Mike Martinez, my first OIC at Fort Carson who was killed in January, 2006.

The second item was the Pioneer Woman's photo essay on "Homecoming." Andrew's homecoming ceremony is still the most emotional day of my life and honestly something I still can't put into words. The feelings of that day were amazing and larger than life. Being in that hanger, well it's still something that gives me goosebumps to think about. I am so lucky that our deployment was as smooth and without incident as it was, and that my homecoming memories are only ones of anticipation and happiness. Take a look at some of the amazing photos PW shared, it is the closest thing I can find to describe what our own homecoming was like and to try to express that I know just how lucky, lucky, lucky we are.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Puppy Romance

A and I carpool to and from work. This works out well because we work about 7 blocks from each other, work pays for parking and best of all, it gives us almost 2 more hours together a day. (DC traffic is all they promise it to be - we only live 8 miles from work but it takes about an hour door to door.)

Extra time we have together is also extra time to listen to the radio. We have a lousy stereo thanks to A's bad luck suffering two break ins while in business school. We have been saying for two years we'll get a new car, so we've never bothered to upgrade the stereo to anything other than a radio and tape deck.

The mornings are pretty basic. We mainly listen to Mike and Mike on ESPNRadio. It makes both of us happy - they talk about sports intelligently but without being juvenile, chauvinistic or generally annoying. (During the football season, Mondays mean the Joe Theismann show and Fridays were Vinnie Cerrato, who knows now.) During commercials we'll flip over to NPR to catch some news.

The afternoons pose more of a problem. A works and parks the car north of my office, so he gets the car first and drives the 6 blocks south to pick me up. This means he gets to choose the radio station. Nine times out of ten this means he is listening to LaVar and Dukes**. This is a local sports radio show that is like every skit SNL has written about sports radio. It's awful. There is another sports show A flips to sometimes, but I hate it even more than I hate LaVar's show. In a compromise, we have started to listen to more Top 40 radio. Yes, we know it's not great music, but a little Miley Cyrus is what you need at the end of a long day.

**I did not know this is what LaVar and Dukes looked like until now. It certainly explains a few things.

Top 40 radio stations being what they are (HOT 99.5 in our case) we hear the same 7 songs every day. After a while the lyrics grow on you and that is when our commuting favorite game was born - rewriting the lyrics of Top 40 songs involving our dog, Calhoun. Some re-writes are basic - from "Dam, you a sexy bitch" to "Cal's a good lookin' puppy". (I didn't say our top 40 song choices were high brow.) Challenged after changing this one lyric, A took it upon himself to showcase his talents, and thus Puppy Romance was born, loosely based on Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.

We've never written down the lyrics, so its never the same (though the game is played EVERY DAY because we hear Bad Romance at least once a commute) but there are some general themes. Sometimes it's "caught in a puppy romance," other times it's "caught in a Calhoun romance." Often it involves a description of his brown eyes and floppy ears, sometimes Bailey makes a cameo.

I've included some of our favorite lyrics for you, so next time you are sitting in your 45th min of traffic and Bad Romance comes on the radio you too can sing along with Puppy Romance. (And yes, we know that all of the lyrics don't make sense, but have you ever really listened to Bad Romance's lyrics??)

Caught in a puppy romance
Want your chewies!
I want your chewies

I want your cruncies I want your squeakies I want your everything As long as it's kitty
I want your love(Love-love-love I want your chewies)
I want your love and I want your chewies You and me could write a Cal romance
I want your love and All your kitty crunchies You and me could write a Cal romance

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh! A puppy romance
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh! Caught in a puppy romance
I have brown eyes and I have floppy ears
You and me could write a Cal romance
I have brown eyes and I have floppy ears
Caught in a puppy romance

(A also instructs me to tell you that the French part is to be sung making up french words and using the words "Cal" and "puppy" in a French accent)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Evening Routines

I have been told that once you have children you must develop evening routines. I guess this has to do with consistency for the child, as well as organization for the parents. Even though we only have fur-children at the moment, I think we have a pretty good evening routine going. A typical evening in the Exnicios house goes something like this.

9:45pm - finish watching something on Tivo. I announce we should probably start getting ready for bed. A agrees. Flips television to ESPN or TBS.

10:15pm - I announce that if we are just going to watch basketball, we should get ready for bed and do it there. A agrees and shuts off the tv, picks up Calhoun to bring into bed. I suggest the dog should probably go out one more time, but since I'm already in my pjs, A should probably do it. We discuss how much water the dog has had. A agrees the dog should go out. I begin to speak for the dog, now protesting how much he does not want to go out. A points out that I can't argue both sides - insisting he take the dog out and then stating the dog does not want to go out. I point out that its not me, it's Cal who is saying he doesn't want to go out. A sighs.

10:25pm - A takes Cal out. I begin to close up for the night - pulling down shades, shutting windows, turning off lights. A returns and announces that he has locked the door. Places dog on the foot of the bed and goes to brush his teeth.

10:35pm - A is in bed watching basketball or some awful 1980s movie. I ask if the door is locked. A insists that not only is the door locked, he has already told me it is. I go to the door to double check this. A sighs. I climb into bed.

10:37pm - I get out of bed realizing I forgot to take my vitamins. Cal jumps off the bed, hoping for a snack.

10:40pm - Cal, A and I all settled in bed. We begin to debate the merits of whatever A is watching. Arguments included "This is the stupidest movie of all time, why are you leaving it on?", "I never get to choose what we watch in bed", "You don't even like these teams", or "We've already seen this episode of House Hunters."

10:50pm - I protest that whatever A has changed the channel to is worse than what was on originally. B-cat jumps into bed. Cal, previously sound asleep in a puppy ball at the foot of the bed, picks up his head and is on full alert.

10:51pm - B-cat calmly walks to the foot of the bed and sits and stares at the dog. Cal begins to cry. (She used to smack him in the face with a paw, but I think she's done it enough now that she's realized she can just sit there and stare at him and it freaks him out more. Its like Slapsgiving.)

10:52pm - I pick up the cat and move her to the head of the bed. Calhoun insists he too must now be at the head of the bed. I hold the cat above my head while he moves up between us and tries to get under the covers. A tries to convince Cal that all four legs must be off the covers before we can lift them up for him to crawl under them.

10:53pm - Cal is under the covers and begins spinning in a circle. Repeats about 20 times. Finally lays down in between A's legs with his head on A's thigh. A sighs. I put the cat back on the bed. She walks on top of covers and sits directly on top of the dog.

10:54pm - I pick B-cat back up and bring her to the head of the bed. I give one final protest as to what is on the television and then roll over. Having announced I am going to sleep, A now offers me the remote. At this point I have removed my glasses and can no longer tell who is sharing the bed with me. B-cat leaves the bedroom.

10:57pm - I roll over and talk to whoever is watching basketball in the bed next to me about something I've just remembered we must do tomorrow and state we should probably get up super early to get it accomplished. A agrees and insists that he will only watch 2 more minutes of television.

11:22pm - A shuts off the television.

11:23pm - B-cat begins sprinting around the apartment at full speed, screaming as only a Siamese cat can do. Cal wakes up, barks, blindly tries to get out from under the covers. Eventually succeeds and jumps off the bed to chase the cat. A sighs.

11:25pm - A gets the dog and brings him back to bed. Routine from 10:52-10:53 repeats.

11:35pm - I ask A if he is sure he's locked the door.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Taking Calhoun Out to the Ball Game

Today was Calhoun's first ball game. It was Pups at the Park at the Washington Nationals. We took Cal with his DC Beagle Meet Up friends and had an amazing time. Calhoun was on the jumbo tron FOUR times, including singing the seventh inning stretch with his dad. The Nats even pulled out a win for Calhoun. He is currently too sleepy from all his excitement to comment, but I think if he had the energy he'd ask when can we go back. Thanks to the DC Beagles and the Nationals for putting on such a great event! There is a video of Calhoun's first game below. Photos can be found on our photo share site - which is linked here or through our blog page.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing What You Know

Its again been a while since my last post, but not for lack of trying. Every time I started a post, I'd get halfway through and then decide it was uninteresting, inappropriate or that one time I just couldn't find what I was looking for on YouTube and then just let the post languish. Poor innocent post. While trying to figure out what the heck I should write about and how I should do it soon or else face another 12 months without writing, I thought I should write what I know. Instantly the answer came to me. Idol. Yeah, I know the heck out of American Idol.

I've watched American Idol on and off for as long as its been on television. I didn't watch the first season until the season finale, just to see what all the fuss was about. I watched the next season audition to finale - I believe that is the Ruben Stoddard season. From there I didn't watch much until I moved back to the East Coast and A deployed. I enjoy the Davids season and thought the show definitely improved for the better. Last year A was home and I introduced him to Idol. At first it was just me watching, quickly fast forwarding through the down times to get to the songs, trying to take up as little tv time as possible since I was the only one watching. But then A got involved. And we chose favorites. And we went to the American Idol Live tour (no joke, it was awesome and I can't wait to go again this year). So when this season rolled around, we were both very excited. We watched every audition episode (which is commitment, its on like six hours a week). We chose early favorites and began to talk about what characteristics we thought contestants would need to survive. We take our Idol seriously.

So here we are, the top five already. I'm excited because I think this season has shaken out mostly according to plan. I think the weaker people have been weeded out appropriately and mostly left the top performers. While she wasn't my favorite by any means, I think Siobhan may have had one more week left. She annoyed me quickly when I realized she was going to 1) act like Adam Lambert every week (and no one does Adam but Adam) and 2) was going to pretend that she had no idea who Adam Lambert was or why people thought she was like him. We get it, you have a big voice and like to sing one note really loud. Move on. I don't really like Aaron Kelly, but he is talented. I always feel like he is singing the theme song to a beauty pageant as the winner performs her victory walk down the runway. He is an excellent example of the first second rule of Idol. (The first rule is do not sing Whitney, Mariah or Celine.) Remember your voting blocks. Who votes on Idol? Even A and I, very dedicated Idol viewers, do not vote. (OK, I may have voted all five allowable times for Adam last year. On multiple weeks.) So there are a lot of people in middle America, young girls, probably an older contingent as well. Middle America, young girls and old people love little innocent, God-loving Aaron Kelly (and beauty pageants). Nothing wrong with innocence or God-loving. I just think they shouldn't be confused with American Idol talent. That's my theory as to why Aaron Kelly is still here.

I'm sad because I know the end of May means the end of Idol. A and I spend a lot of time watching Idol. Talking about Idol. Getting ready for Idol. Playing the guess what song they will sing game. During Idol season it's hard to remember how we spent our time during non-Idol season. Lucky for us, we have four more weeks to enjoy and plan what we'll do with non-Idol time. (And a summer tour of American Idol Live!)

So here are my predictions which I am boldly posting for the world to see. Hard to make predictions without knowing the all important song choice - remember it was this time last season when Kris Allen did Heartbreaker! If not for that performance, Danny Gokey would be trying to get us to buy Ford this year.

5 - Big Mike

4 - Casey James

3 - Aaron Kelly

Final 2 - Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. Winner - Lee.

PS When the season ends I'll do another post on the judges and the changes in the line up this year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I had planned to post something to the blog this week "coming out" as it were, and announcing that A and I were expecting. We were due October 11 and hoping for either a 10/10/10 baby or to give birth on 10/14 - A's grandfather's 89th birthday. We thought having your first great-grandchild share your birthday would have some nice symmetry. As you may be able to tell from my liberal use of the past tense, that did not happen. At our 12 week ultrasound there was no heartbeat, no baby to be born in October.

Our hearts were and continue to be broken. Distractions such as amazing weather, a dog who kisses livestock, unlikely and historic runs at the national championships and the comfort of friends and family have kept us going the past 10 or so days. I debated writing this post - after all I had told myself my blog would not become a pregnancy blog or a collection of belly photos. The more I thought about it though, it became important to write this post to acknowledge the pregnancy and the baby that were.

Since the moment we were told our child was "not compatible with life" people have offered us comfort by explaining this is not indicative of anything, the good news is you can get pregnant and that this is just a blip on our way to having a large, Gosselin-esque family. All of these well meaning people aside, we aren't mourning the loss of our future family or our fertility - we are mourning the loss of this pregnancy, this baby. This baby we called Poppy who would have been born in October and been our little pumpkin. Poppy who made me avoid chicken at all costs and want to eat anything smothered in ketchup. Poppy whose existence we had just started to share and take joy in our friends' and families' reactions. Poppy who we told the dog and the cat all about and told them that they would have to be nice to the baby.

Poppy was only with us for a short time, but we mourn him or her and do not want to forget or gloss over with plans for future children. We know we'll have a family - or rather a larger family than we have now. Calhoun and Bailey would take offense to think we are not a family already. We also know Poppy will always be a part of that family, just in a different way. We picked out this picture and will hang it in our eventual nursery - poppies to watch over all of us.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cuteness in Otter Form

Despite only visiting once, I love the Monterey Aquarium. I've always loved aquariums and used to make my parents go to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut all the time. The Monterey Aquarium is like Mystic times 100, it's so fun. For me, the best part was seeing the Great White Shark they had there. They've had a number of sharks, though only for a couple of weeks each. Sadly they are babies and small and I never saw them eat anything, but the idea that it would become a ferocious being and one day star on Shark Week was enough for me. When A and I visited the shark in September 2006, we went to the gift shop so I could get a shark related souvenir. A bought a small stuffed otter (who lives in our car and is named Hector). This gives you an idea what each of us thought was the best part of our visit - some like man eating sharks, others fuzzy otters. Not that I would ever have to convince A to go back to Monterey, but I think this little guy will help do the trick. His name is Kit (all of the otters are named after Steinbeck characters - the aquarium after all is on Cannery Row) and he is a little orphaned otter who they rescued. He is the cutest thing in the world and I want to take him home and keep him in my bathtub. Please enjoy his personal blog, complete with photos and video. Seriously, you'll want to eat him up. Be warned, there is an otter cam. You may never work again.
ETA: Kit is a girl. You can read all about how male otters are territorial and don't work well in group exhibits on Monterey's otter page. Since the Steinbeck character Kit is a male, I was confused. Apologies to little girl otter Kit. Maybe she should get one of those stick on bows that bald babies wear to identify their gender, that may help avoid some confusion.