Monday, April 2, 2018

We Are the Protectors


From the March 21st Air Force Association Daily Report (emphasis my own)

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson Tuesday pointed to the prominence of women in the Air Force and to what she said was women’s natural role as protectors, which she noted also is the role of the military. Appearing along with other service Secretaries before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s Fiscal 2019 budget request and acquisition reform, she said the Air Force has a higher percentage of women than any of the other services and that every Air Force position is open to women. In addition, she said, “We’re, I think, trying to change a little bit the way we talk and think about who the protectors are in this country,” she said, adding that she thinks sometimes “the way in which we talk about the services may appeal more to boys than to girls.”  She suggested that were she to ask everyone in the hearing room to think about the most protective person in their lives, half would be thinking about their mothers. “We are the protectors, that’s what the military does, we serve to protect the rest of you, and that’s a very natural place for a woman to be,” she told the panel.

I've always said that I learned far more about being a good Air Force officer and leader from being a mother than I did in any leadership training class. Do you have to be a mother to be a good leader? Absolutely not. But it sure does teach you a lot. For all those out there trying to balance a military career with motherhood, keep the faith my sisters! You are the protectors!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring Break Trip Report :-)

I looooove to travel, especially with my ride or dies: my husband and my kids. I am also keenly aware, as the mother of a high school senior, that my oldest chick is leaving the nest very soon. “We MUST go away for Spring Break,” I declared. No one disagreed.

We tend to do two types of vacations in our family. The “see it all,” on the go vacation, and the stay put and relax vacation. “Going to the beach sounds cool,” said the senior, so off to the interwebs I went to find something fun.

At the end of last year, the family airline (Southwest) started service to a couple new tropical destinations, including Turks and Caicos (TCI). Just google it up and you will find images of pristine white sand beaches and the bluest, blue water. It’s not very far away – about a 90-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale. We had miles to burn so our tickets were very reasonable, but it can be an expensive destination. Challenge Accepted!

I turned to AirBnB first. Partly because rooms at resorts that slept 4 were pricy, and partly because our kids are too old to share a bed, we’re too old to share a room with teenagers, and we LOVE having a kitchen, so we can eat breakfast in our PJs. The initial place we found was great – it came with kayaks, they would rent you a jeep, and they gave me some great recommendations for dive operators. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up and we lost out on our reservation. We were about a month out from our trip (gah!), but luckily I found a place that worked out better, a sweet two bedroom cottage about 5 minutes from the closest beach called Buddha Cottage. Our host Patrick met us when we arrived, and awesomely sat down and marked up our map with his favorite beaches and restaurants. 

Because diving was important to us, it was the one thing (besides our rental car) that I booked in advance. I had two local recommendations, and the one we went with was Flamingo Divers. Mickey and Jayne have lived in TCI for 17 plus years, and have a one-boat, no-more-than-8-divers operation that suited us perfectly. The water was so clear, you could see all the way to the bottom in 60 plus feet of water. Mickey and Jayne took us to two great spots, and also shared all the pictures they took on our dives. We would have gone diving with them a couple more days, but alas, they were already full for the rest of the week.

I hadn’t pre-booked anything else, and when we got here, any excursion that interested us seemed to be booked up already. But it turned out to be not a big deal at all. Patrick had advised renting a car which was very reasonable (however, “mid size” equals a 4 door hatch back). We dubbed ours Trixie and explored just about all the places he recommended. What I didn’t know about TCI before we arrived is that all the beaches are public and have access points and little parking areas. Some we had to work to find, but eventually we would turn a corner and find 5 or so other “mid sized” rental cars and a small path to paradise. Buddha Cottage came with beach towels and chairs, and they got used every day.

Food is another thing that can get expensive on island and eating out every meal steals a lot of your time. We adopted a 1 meal out a day kind of rhythm. I had brought half a suitcase of non-perishables (noodles, peanut better, oatmeal, pancake mix, coffee) and grocery stores were easy to find for eggs, milk, etc.  Grocery prices are about double what you’ll find at home, and a meal out for 4 at a casual place was about $120. We made good use of cottage’s kitchen and outdoor grill which made it a tad more reasonable. We weren't complete food martyrs though - Patrick's recommendations of Bugaloos, Da Conch Shack and Caicos Cafe were all delicious!

Lastly, we made full use of Southwest’s 2 bags fly free policy to bring along toys – snorkel gear and two inflatable stand up paddle boards. Because, why not? You should have seen us try and cram it all into Trixie :-)

We had such a good time and definitely want to come back. So many resort/beach locations feel like the tourists are segregated from the locals, and TCI didn’t feel like that at all.  We slept in a lot, enjoyed meals out on the porch, found a new beach every day, read some, watched movies, and discovered new areas of our skin where we hadn’t quite gotten the sun screen (ouch!). TCI has a very easy going vibe – I hope you get a chance to enjoy it too!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Solution is Diversity

Aren't these pilots awesome? (source)

My husband had a business trip recently that tied together the financial and aviation communities. One of his comments after a couple days of meetings was, "It was room after room of middle aged white guys." Bless him. We've talked frequently about the dearth of women pilots, which has become even more noticeable now that he's flying commercially. Why is that?

Recent comments by Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General David Goldfein, were pretty amazing. The headline, Solutions For the Pilot Crisis Center on Diversity, definitely caught my attention. Yay! Finally, recognition that there are a lot of kids in our country, of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds, who want to grow up and fly in the world's greatest Air Force.

My second thought was, getting more women into pilot training is only a small part of the solution. I don't think there is a problem finding women who want to fly--I think the problem is keeping women in the cockpit. Especially when the penalties seem so great for those that want to be pilots yet also want to be mothers.

"Goldfein also heard from women pilots who asked that he make some administrative changes that would make it less punitive for them when they become pregnant." How about not punitive at all?

The Air Force still struggles, in 2018, with treating women as women and not as girl-shaped males.  "The Air Force is taking steps to be more institutionally friendlier to women pilots, Goldfein said, finally getting around to designing flying gear and equipment uniquely designed to fit women.'They've been using men's equipment for years,' he said, and it's time to rectify that." Yes, let's.

It's sad that they are still issuing male long johns among other things (my friend Darci used to exclaim, "They come with a change pocket!"), but maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that the tide is finally turning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Recent Finds and Recommendations

(Can you name the movie?)

I have some podcasts and movies that I've been enjoying lately, and thought you might like too...

The Moth, Stories from Nairobi: Sandra Kimokoti, Rehema Nanfuka & Bina Maseno. Sandra's story, "Beauty in Brawn," about her experiences playing rugby, particularly hit home. 

It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. I just started listening to this, and his weekly wrap episodes ends with a compilation of listener calls talking about the best things that have happened all week. It's really wonderful.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me: Not My Job with Economist Austan Goolsbee. Sounds exciting, huh? Goolsbee explains the impact of tariffs using a funny plumbing story--it makes me laugh every time I think of it. (You can listen to the entire Wait Wait episode here.)

There is a new era of movie watching in our house since our kids are now mini-adults. I am digging it...

Movies to download/stream/etc now: Battle of the Sexes, Girls Trip, I,Tonya, and of course, Coco

Movies I can't wait to see again: Black Panther (obvs) and The Greatest Showman.

Both Coco and The Greatest Showman have great music.

Last but not least, I recommend a series I just started watching on Netflix, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It's been around for a while and I am really enjoying it. It's fun and is in 10-20 minute segments--great to put on while you are cooking dinner, folding laundry or some other glamorous task. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Nailed It

(Follow author Kelly Corrigan here)

I like to start my posts with a funny picture, usually found with the help of my friend Google. But as I fished around for something last night I couldn't seem to land on the right thing. Then the above came across my feed this morning, and that summed up perfectly what I was feeling.

I am the least unbiased person to ask about my kids, but they generally follow the rules, pitch in when asked, try their best at school, and don't pick on each other too much. Even so, I find having two high schoolers to be very stressful. I worry So. Dang. Much. for them. Are we doing enough for them? Are we doing too much? Should I push more? Did I not push enough? This sounds silly as I type it and I know it, yet I can't help myself. 

But then everything goes right, and lets me know we are doing okay. My family had a pretty busy Sunday. I had two events on Sunday afternoon/evening, my husband needed my daughter to take him to the station downtown to catch a train to NYC for a business trip, and my son had a bunch of homework to get done. When I came home, the dogs were taken care of, the trash was out, my husband had been safely delivered to his train, and homework was done. My son had made a pasta dish for their dinner, and since it was nice, they had eaten outside together on the patio. This morning, I got a text from my son with some good results on recent math tests, adding icing to the cake. Rest assured life isn't this smooth every day :-)

Big victories and successes are awesome, obviously, but it's the stack of little, tiny victories that has made me so happy today. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Most Obvious Hack Ever

(source)*see note

My kids were never super adventurous eaters when they were younger, but what they liked, they ate. Trying to expand their eating repertoire (to include maybe vegetables) was something that fell in to the "battles not worth fighting" for me. So packing lunches for school has been something I have done since they were in Kindergarten. There was a brief infatuation with school lunches in grade school but that faded. Oh well. My recipe of sandwich-yogurt-something crunchy-something sweet seemed to make everyone happy.

But then taking leftover pizza to school for lunch became cool. We have pizza nearly every Sunday night, because we are all about spontaneity :-), which makes Monday morning lunch making a snap. Then taking noodles or other favorite dinner leftovers became cool. And they do a better job of keeping my son fed, who has entered the teenage boy growth spurt era (his pants seem to shrink over night). Tooling around Costco one day I found a sleeve of plastic leftover containers, yay! Something that doesn't have to be returned home, but can be thrown in the dishwasher and reused if they do come home. And the new era of lunches has begun. Leftovers for lunch - what a concept! Er, as we say now, life hack!

Note: the tweet at the top and others is from an article on the Scary Mommy blog, which is great fun to follow on Facebook.

Monday, February 19, 2018

More on Warriors in Evening Gowns

In this post, I complained about the purple evening gown worn by Admiral Amilyn Holdo in The Last Jedi. Comments were split between agreeing and those saying I shouldn't judge. I could see both sides - it should be about what you do, not what you wear.

Fast forward to today, and let me introduce you to Okoye, a general in the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's all-female team of fierce warriors (played by Danai Gurira). You will know who I am talking about as soon as you go see Black Panther. IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME! The story, the acting, the costumes, the cool imaginary tech - everything about it was great. Okoye was one of many strong female characters in the cast.

In one scene, Okoye is "under cover" in a red evening gown. Her ability to be tough, beautiful, smart, strong - she is a total bad ass, even when not wearing her usual armor - was amazing. There was absolutely no doubt she had a plan and was going for it. This is how I want to feel whenever facing a tough problem :-)