Tag Archives: childhood

Where are you from when you’re a military kid?

First, I just want to say thank you to all the people who commented on my post that was featured on Freshly Pressed this weekend. THANK YOU! I read every single comment and tried to respond to as many as possible. To any new followers, welcome!

Let’s get down to business.

A Facebook friend I know from high school posted this article about military kids having a tough time answering the question: Where are you from?

I’ve lived in 6 different states and in Europe for 10 years.

Standing on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England

My whole life this has been a tough question, and to this day I still hate when people ask me where I’m from.

Do I tell them where I was born but lived only for the first 6 years of my life?

Do I tell them where I spent the majority of my life?

Do I tell them where I went to university, the first place I felt like calling home?

Do I tell them where my parents currently live, even though I have never actually lived there?

Do I tell them about the little pieces of me that have been left in states all over the country?

Invariably, this often leads me to have a confused look and say, “Well, what do you mean by ‘from?'”

Although the answers to any of these questions would be truthful, there’s something uncomfortable about picking one and steadfastly sticking to it, with no explanation. It almost feels like you’re telling a slight untruth to a stranger.

The weird thing is that a lot of people are weird about it. They don’t get it, and you have to explain the whole military thing, moving every couple years, etc. A lot of people get sympathetic and say, “That must have been hard growing up like that!” Not really. It’s all I or any of us knew. Another common thing is that they’ll latch on to one thing – that I grew up in England. They can’t understand why I don’t have an English accent. It’s weird to me because everyone pretends to be so patriotic with all the “support our troops” stuff, but they seem to be simultaneously confused about the existence of a military and the lifestyle that must accompany it.

Largely to avoid the same conversation/explanation for the millionth time I’ve developed this odd (to me) thing of saying, “Err … ummm … well, I was born in Florida, but I’m from Ohio now.”

Even though I’ve come to love Ohio as the Great State, I still feel like I can’t fully say I’m “from” there.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever settle down and end up living in a place for so long that I’ll finally be able to say yes, I’m from here.


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Play-Doh eaters anonymous

It’s not really anonymous though, is it? I licked Play-Doh when I was a child (several times) and last week, at age 26.

I CAN’T RESIST THAT SMELL. Maria stayed the weekend with us, and because we don’t have kids our house isn’t very fun for them. Hence the reason we bought her Play-Doh.

But the smell! That glorious smell! When she went to bed that night Adrian and I popped open the four containers and took a good long sniff. We both went a little crazy. It’s too good. Then I thought, “Surely in the 15 years since I last tasted Play-Doh they’ve finally come up with a solution to make it taste as good as it smells!!”

So I licked.

Boy was it salty. That Play-Doh is a master of deception. I think the Greek Sirens were  made out of Play-Doh. Sweet music and sweet, sweet Play-Doh.


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How many times have you shaved your legs?

When I was 6th grade all the cool kids had really nice legs. I finally realized it was because they shaved their legs, while I still had monster hair sprouting out all over mine.

Say what you want about hair being natural. We live in a society and unfortunately it’s one that doesn’t like body hair so if you want to fit in you better shave. I’ve talked about my hairy arms before and the grief those caused me before I shaved.

Anyway, in 6th grade I decided to shave my legs. I got a razor, sat down in the shower and was super scared! I thought I was going to shave some skin off. Turns out it doesn’t work like that, and you really don’t have to try that hard to not slice your skin.

I thought my legs looked SO cool once they were shaved. So cool, in fact, that I decided to document it. I promised myself that for the rest of my life I’d count how many times I shaved my legs. I thought it would be really cool to be 75 and be able to say, “I’ve shaved my legs 9,984 times.”

Yeah, I totally worked that sum out on a calculator and got the wrong answer at first. Nothing boosts your confidence like getting adding and subtracting wrong … on a calculator. Then I spelled calculator wrong, three times. What is wrong with me today??

This shaving business has gotten me all flustered.

Technically I could still quote this 9,984 to people because it seems pretty accurate, but when has an approximation ever impressed anyone? This kind of thing needs a stone cold, solid statistic. Otherwise people will think you worked it out with a calculator and that’s not impressive.

(Just for the record, I lost track around 60 something shaves.)

So, do you know how many times you’ve shaved your legs?


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The time I hated my parents.

Boy did I hate my parents for one long day when I was five. All the kids at kindergarten were talking about who the first people on Earth were. “Idiots,” I thought. I already knew the answer to that question because I asked my parents when I was like, three.

“No one knows,” I said.

“Yeah they do. Adam and Eve,” the kids said.

“No, my parents said no one knows.”

But the kids were so insistent. And they all knew.

I thought they must be right because all the girls also knew who New Kids on the Block were, and had lunch boxes featuring these mysterious “kids.”

Then I got the burning feeling in my cheeks. I was so embarrassed. I’d claimed to know something, but everyone else knew I was stupid and didn’t actually know. I was an idiot with a Disney lunch box.

All day I said I hated my mom and dad for lying to me. I couldn’t understand why they’d lie to me just to make me look stupid. I mean, they were adults so they obviously knew the answer (because adults know everything, right?). Since they obviously knew the answer, that left only one conclusion: they lied to me to make me look stupid.

For some reason I remember only feeling angry and not the actual confrontation, but apparently I went home and kept asking them over and over to see if they’d tell me the right answer. Eventually I ended up believing them until I was 7 when I had a religious friend and decided to be “religious” for a few months. That’s a story for another day.

Age 6 (or so) Sara and a baby Karen


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Being mean to little kids is funny, and rewarding

You know how people say, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” I don’t like picking on people my own size because they can potentially make me look stupid with witty retorts, and can in almost every case out-violent me if it comes down to that.

This is why picking on a child is ideal. They aren’t smart enough to out wit you, and if they try to hurt you it’s really easy to just knock ’em down. KO in the first round. (Just for the record, that scratch on Maria’s head wasn’t caused by me. Purely coincidental.)

Case in point:

Christmas Eve 2010. Maria, age 4. Evil plate at dinner, full of … food. Tears and tears abound.

Sorry for the blurred picture. I was laughing pretty heartily.

She was “too full” to finish her corn. Adrian said, “OK then, would you like dessert?”

Maria stopped crying, looked up hopefully and said “Yes, please!”

Adrian: “You’re obviously not full then. Finish your corn.”


I couldn’t stop laughing.

Her mum said she couldn’t have any Christmas presents if she didn’t finish the corn, so this left Maria in a bit of a pickle. She could eat the corn and let us win, or she could “win” and not eat the corn, but then she wouldn’t get any presents.

After another ten minutes or so of crying and whining Adrian and I, the evil couple that we are, thought it would be hilarious to pretend to let her win. We’d say, “OK, it’s Christmastime. In the morning you can open your presents.” The next morning she’d open the beautifully wrapped box, eyes wide with excitement, and find nothing but the leftover plate of corn sitting inside. Oh, the look of her shattered heart right before she’d burst into tears would be priceless.

We didn’t do it, though. Her mum thought it would be too mean although she laughed at the thought as well.

Her mum refrigerated the corn because Maria agreed to eat it the next morning, and she did with no complaints. She was really good and ended up opening all her presents and parading around in her princess dresses.


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I Like To Feel Smart

If you want your kid to have any shot at feeling smart in this big bad world then I highly recommend you get him or her a United States map placemat.

When I was little my mom got me one of these with all the capitals included, and in the past 20 years I’ve had numerous opportunities to dazzle people with my knowledge of state locations, spellings and capitals.

Recently  my co-workers asked me to take an online quiz where you have a blank United States map and you have to try to name all the states as quickly as you can. You have only ten minutes to name all 50 states.


Take the quiz, and see if you can beat my score. It took me 2.5 minutes to name all 50 states. If you beat me, maybe you shouldn’t tell me. I like to feel smart.


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Does Love Make You Blind?

My mom loves me:

She knows how important dental hygiene is to me, so she sent a care package to London full of my favorite floss without me even having to ask.

Now that it’s been readily established that my mom loves me, we can move on. We’ll come back to this point later.

Every time I look at a picture of myself from my younger days I think: monster.

When my mom looks at a picture of my younger days she says: YOU WERE SO CUTE!!

I looked like a lot of things in my childhood, and none of them were cute. From the age of 1 until about 7 I looked like Mowgli (who is a boy!) from Jungle Book. No clothes other than underwear (this was my choice, I hated clothes) and short, dark hair. It was Florida. It was hot.

This is the closest picture I have at the moment that illustrates my mowgliness. I was “reading” on the “toilet.” And yes, those quotation marks are warranted because neither is what it seems.

From age 7-10 my perm made me look like a poodle at a distance, but a dinosaur at close range due to my Stonehenge teeth.

Then I turned into Joe Dirt:

So, my question is,  did my mom not see this? My only answer is that she loves me so much she didn’t realize I looked like a dog/Joe Dirt/Mowgli/ancient English ruins. Or, maybe I was cute. I did look pretty dashing on that toilet!

Being blinded by love is acceptable when you are a mother and it’s your child in question. Being blinded by love by a guy you’ve dated for a few months (or even years, in my opinion) is often not acceptable, and it’s always annoying.

Girls, if he breaks up with you, he doesn’t like you! I don’t understand the 90% of women I know who will cry and beg their boyfriend not to leave them. Beg!! Do people have no shame?

If a guy broke up with me, I’d probably never look at him again because I’d be too embarrassed. Maybe this is because I naturally assume no one wants to talk to me, so if a guy confirmed this I’d accept it and walk away no matter how I actually felt.

These dramatic girls used to make me think love was blind so they couldn’t see the facts, but then I realized it’s just gross immaturity in wanting what you can’t have and being unable to accept rejection. Age 12-14, maybe. But any older and it’s like, honestly, how can you beg and badger a guy to date you?

Doesn’t a girl realize that if she does break a guy down, he’s not there because he really likes her, he’s only there because she wouldn’t leave him alone and so he figured he might as well use her for a while until she becomes truly too annoying to handle? People blow my mind with this begging stuff. I say people because it isn’t just women, although I see it more often in women.

I’ve always felt that if you have to guess whether or not a guy likes you while you are saying you are in love with him, he doesn’t like you. At all. I’ve had so many women ask me for my opinion on what I think all the things he doesn’t do means. They never listen. It drives me insane.

If a guy actually likes you – you know it. There’s no question.

I just want to tell these women to get over themselves and the sooner they accept that almost no one cares about them and they aren’t important at all in the grand scheme of life they’ll be much happier and more fulfilled in their real relationships.

So, the answer. Does love make you blind? Probably to an extent, but with relationships more often than not it’s merely stupidity or self-importance.


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The Time I Woke Up As A Burrito

People always ask questions like, “What was the greatest day of your life?”

I have a hard time answering definitive questions like this, but there is one question for which I do have a definitive answer and no one ever asks me!

For all you people who have never bothered to ask, the time in my life where I was the coziest and most comfortable I can ever imagine a human being … being, was when I was 7 or 8 years old and I woke up as a burrito.

Somehow during the night I had rolled around enough so the blanket had wound all the way around me, causing me to resemble the aforementioned food. Even at that young age I recall thinking, “Wow. It doesn’t get more comfortable than this.”

I was right. To this day I still have never felt comfort as I felt that night. For years I’ve gone to bed thinking, “Maybe tonight is the night I will wake up as a burrito again,” but it never comes close.

Many times I have tried to recreate the burrito experience, but I always wind up with tangled hair inside a blanket burrito that’s uncomfortably tight. I guess it’s one of those things that has to happen naturally.


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Being a Dictator, and the Confidence it Brings

Did I learn anything from fifth grade Safety Patrol besides “If you are going to be a dictator, first try to establish a base of supporters”? Maybe. Mostly I’m worried my confidence reached its peak level at age 10 while attending Kate Haynes Elementary School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Nothing makes you feel more confident than a bright orange vest, a notebook and the ability to get any kid in school in trouble with the principal.

I was all over the place, directing traffic, directing students, and writing up any one who dared to disobey me. I mean, it was in the name of safety, right?

I got so excited about becoming the best Safety Patrol Officer Texas had ever seen (and also about my God-like power) that I started volunteering for every possible shift so I could write up multiple kids each day. My notebook became man’s new best friend.

At the end of every shift the sixth graders chosen by teachers to run Safety Patrol would ask all of us fifth grade “officers” if we had any names of misbehaved children to report.

One day I raised my hand, like usual, and the girl dismissively said, “You always have a name.” Dismissively –  as in she didn’t respect how hard I worked to create a semi police state all on my own. I was the fifth grade’s most serious officer. What a jerk.

The only other thing I remember about this girl was that one day she randomly told me about how her parents had just purchased a new Chrysler van and I looked on like I thought talking about cars was interesting. The conversation ended with her saying in her Texas accent, “That sh*t’s expensive.” I let the conversation end naturally by not saying anything, because even at age 10 I thought it was very odd that a 12 year old would have a concept of expense in terms of cars, and also I wasn’t in the habit of being friends with kids who said bad words for no reason. If my parents had bought a new car I would have said, “Cool. We got a new car.” Actually, scratch that. I probably wouldn’t have said anything. Isn’t it standard to have a car? Why mention it?

But anyway, at Safety Patrol I kept going despite this wierdo’s lack of enthusiasm for my police state. I eventually got so enthusiastic I started insisting that all kids sat on the benches facing the same way. No more walking around talking to other kids while waiting for parents – that was just too dangerous. One kid decided to get up and walk around. So what happened? His name went straight in my book. When his dad arrived the kid told him he got written up and boy, was his dad mad. He tried yelling at me but there was nothing I could do. His name was already in my notebook.

The dad went above the heads of the sixth graders in charge (hadn’t he heard of a chain of command?) and went straight to the teachers. They tried to assure him it was nothing to worry about, and the main point of Safety Patrol was to keep the kids safe, but he wasn’t happy until they told him the notebook meant nothing.

It was such a big fiasco that I kind of lost my enthusiasm for Safety Patrol. Then I ended up moving to a terrible school the next year where everyone hated me because I was such a dork so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. My career as a law enforcement officer/dictator was over.

Sure, I could get into law enforcement now, but I think the only enforcing I could do would be at some kind of mall. That probably wouldn’t work out because a flashlight and keys won’t come close to bringing back the kind of confidence and power I had in Safety Patrol.


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