Sunday, April 22, 2007

An afternoon with the brats

A couple months ago, my mom sent me a link to the trailer for an upcoming documentary about military children: Brats: Our Journey Home. This remarkable film was produced by Donna Musil, an Army brat whose father was a JAG officer here at Fort Knox back in the 1970s. They had a showing today downtown in Elizabethtown, so Fred and I went and took the kids.

The film was a little late starting due to technical difficulties, but once it started it proved to be well worth the wait. Kris Kristofferson (Air Force brat) narrated the film and provided the music, and General Norman Schwarzkopf spoke at length about his experiences as both an Army brat and the parent of brats. The film also offered snippets of interviews with lots of other adults who had grown up as military brats.

I was concerned that perhaps the filmmaker would take an overly sentimental approach to the subject matter, but those concerns proved to be unfounded. If there was one overall message that I took away from the film, it was that the unique experience of being a military brat can be both challenging and empowering.

I'm still unraveling my thoughts on how the film did or did not apply to the experiences of our own brats. We talked about it some in the car on the way home, but it is a little hard for them to really grasp how different their experience is from that of the average American kid by virtue of their affiliation with the military. For one thing, since we have lived on post for the past 4 years, they are surrounded by others who share the experience, which probably renders it more normal. For another thing, the film dealt with the childhood memories of adults who grew up in a military where the military member was automatically the father and where the behavior of the wife and children had a direct impact on the success of his career. Just like my childhood in the 1970s is markedly different from that of a child growing up today, so too is the experience of today's military brat different in many ways from those who grew up in military families of earlier times.

Overall though, I was so impressed by the film that I bought a copy of the DVD. I would love to share it with some of my friends here at Ft. Knox and can't wait to watch it with my family in Florida this summer. If anybody else is interested in borrowing it, just let me know!
I think being a military brat is one of the strangest and most interesting ways to spend an American childhood. The military brats of America are an invisible, unorganized tribe, a federation of brothers and sisters bound by common experience, by our uniformed fathers, by the movement of families being rotated through the American mainland and to military posts in foreign lands. We are an undiscovered nation living invisibly in the body politic of this country. There are millions of us scattered throughout America, but we have no special markings or passwords to identify each other when we move into a common field of vision. We grew up strangers to ourselves. We passed through our military childhoods unremembered. We were transients, billboards to be changed, body temperatures occupying school desks for a short time. We came and went like rented furniture, serviceable when you needed it, but unremarked upon after it was gone. -- Pat Conroy, in the introduction to Mary Edwards Wertsch's Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress
Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The mad hatter

I have a confession. I bought another hat.

I swear, this is like an illness! This fourth hat is just like the green hat except that it's pink. Like the green hat, it would need some pimping to make it Derby-worthy--perhaps a giant white rose pinned to the brim?

Speaking of the green hat! While it had many admirers, the few people who hated it (which would include my husband) hated it with such passion that I don't think it will be THE hat. I want my hat to be a uniter, not a divider.

I got Fred to take my picture in my Derby dress (and shoes!) with each hat and have sent it to everybody who weighed in the first time around. If I missed you or if you missed the first round of voting, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'll send it your way as well.

By the way, Fred bought a Derby hat this afternoon. It took him 15 minutes and cost him 5 dollars. Not fair!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Oh, I love the last day of school! I had my last class for the semester on Wednesday night, but I still had a paper hanging over my head that's due at midnight tonight. I got it turned in this morning, and it feels great to have the first semester behind me.

I know I haven't been a very faithful blogger, and I also owe a bunch of people emails. Now that I've got the spring semester put to bed, I'm going to start trying to get caught up both online and around the house. Be patient with me!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Break--the after-action report

Spring Break was kind of a mixed bag this year. For one thing, Annabelle started off the break sick, and Fred was sick for the weekend on either end. Our trip down to Alabama and over to Fort Benning was fun, but it seems that I am allergic to Alabama. By the end of our first night there, I was a sniffly, sneezy mess with red, itchy eyes.

I promised to post a picture of Annabelle with her stylish new hat, so here's a shot. I thought it was cute how she had Snickers strapped to her backpack for the trip, but she just about injured herself rolling her eyes at me:

On Thursday we left the kids to visit with Fred's parents while he and I went over to Fort Benning. Fred was proud to be able to pin jump wings on one of his guys (not a lot of jumping out of airplanes here at Recruiting Command):

After the ceremony, we went out with Captain Beane and his parents for a very nice lunch and then went back to Alabama.

We drove home on Friday. The weather had turned cold a couple days earlier, and I was disgusted to see snow as we got closer to Fort Knox:

It didn't stick, but it's just the principle of the thing. Go away, snow, and take your stupid cold weather with you.

Today the kids are back at school, and Fred is back at work, so it kind of feels like a mini-Spring Break for me. I love that feeling of having the house all to myself again after a period of playing nicely with others.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Got hats?

I bought 4 yesterday. Granted, one of them was for Annabelle (and is totally cute--I need to post a picture). One of the other 3 is for Derby. The question is, WHICH one?

Annabelle and I started off our hat-shopping odyssey in Macy's where I found a hat I really liked, but it was $105 ($150 original minus 30%). After checking out the $300 and $400 hats at Von Maur, however, that started looking like a bargain, so I bought it (after checking to make sure that, yes, hats are returnable).

Then we went to Steinmart where I found a hat very similar to the Macy's hat that was only $30. In fact, this hat was the SAME hat, right down to the label inside, with the only difference being a few silk flowers on the brim. Naturally, I grabbed it, as well as a plain green straw hat (my dress is white with pink flowers and green leaves) that was only $20.

I took some pictures to show my board of invisible friends, and so far sentiment is in favor of the green hat. The people who don't like the green hat though REALLY don't like it. I will be the first to admit that the green hat definitely needs a little pimping if it's going to go to Derby--maybe some pink tulle and some flowers?

There is no way in hell I'm posting those very unflattering mirror shots here on my blog, but if you would like to weigh in with your opinion, shoot me an email or leave a comment here, and I will be more than happy to send them to you.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

No foolin'!

Well, today is April Fool's Day, but I just can't come up with anything good. I briefly contemplated posting something here as a prank ("I'm pregnant, and we're moving to Korea" crossed my mind), but then I decided not to. I don't know what's wrong with me--I used to really get into AFD.

When Mike was 5, I packed plastic food in his lunchbox. I had given the teacher a Lunchable to feed him after he found the fake food, but alas, he cried, and a joke just isn't any fun if the jokee cries. Trust me on this one--I am, after all, the joker who once borrowed urine from a pregnant friend to better fake Fred out with a positive pregnancy test some years ago. He cried too. (OK, not really--keeled over in a dead faint is probably more accurate.)

So in order not to make anybody cry today, I shall dispense with the pranks and instead just wish my mother a very happy birthday! I have a nice gift on order, but unless the postal service is dispensing with their whole hang-up against delivering mail on Sundays, I'm afraid it's going to be late. For today, I will have to make do with posting a nice photo of Mom and me that Mike took in the town square of Nowy Sacz, Poland:

Happy birthday, Mom (and I'm not kidding!)!