Friday, November 19, 2010

Alissa got her learner's permit yesterday...

Yesterday I took Alissa to get her learner's permit. She's been talking about it for months, but because of the timing of the move, she couldn't get it when she was 15 1/2.

We've been trying to go for a couple of weeks now, but things keep getting in the way and the place is only open until 5 pm. Plus, the DMV that's practically around the corner is closed indefinitely. So, yesterday we drive to the next-nearest DMV, which is about 7 miles away. However, because traffic is perpetually bad here, it took us about 20 minutes to get there. We still had plenty of time before closing.

We get there, talk to the receptionist and receive a number and wait for that number to be called.

***By the way, is this a new process? Talk to someone and tell them why you're there before you can actually receive assistance? The pharmacy, the deli at the commissary, the vehicle registration place on post all do this now. If this is the new process, at least make sure the person on "Explanation Duty" is cordial. There's nothing like having to explain your case to a grouch.

Anway, we wait patiently for our turn to be called. When we're called, we present our folder of paperwork verifying that Alissa is who she says she is.


They don't accept our lease agreement as proof of residency because there is a line crossed out, neatly, and corrected underneath. (It is our owner's new address, which honestly shouldn't count because it has nothing to do with the Heffners.) Anway, they say they can't accept it as proof, so we spend 35 minutes driving home to get a utility bill with my name on it. Because, as Alissa's guardian and partner in this expedition, I also have to prove that I am who I say I am, and that we are allowed to petition for a Virginia license.

We rush back to the DMV, and catch a little traffic (again). Blech. We explain our situation to the new "Explanation Duty" clerk (they must take turns or something) and receive a new number.

We're called fairly quickly, by a new person who takes our new paperwork and enters it into the computer. Five minutes later Alissa is called to the Test Center (a cubicle at the end of the room) where she stands at a computer to take the test. (I can see her standing because they have a mirror on the ceiling so they can make sure the students aren't cheating.) However, I don't understand the no-sitting policy. Weird.

Anyway, 10 minutes later she emerges, and talks to the test attendant to let him know she's done. She turns to me and motions "come here". I know then that she's passed and my eyes start to tear up.

My firstborn is legally allowed to drive. On the road (with a licensed driver).

Every milestone she reaches is also a milestone for me. She's my first child, so every thing she does for the first time I also do. (OK, not everything. But most important "firsts" I am also present for.)

It's bittersweet.

She's a responsible kid. Caring, compassionate, gets decent grades and tries her best. I know she'll be a great driver.

And, as a funny aside, her best friend in the world got her Virginia license yesterday. And, to top it off, Alissa will be eligible to become a licensed driver in 9 months, on August 18. August 18 is that best friend's birthday.

It's a sign. (To me, anyway.) Yesterday was supposed to be the day she got her permit.

And she did.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shopping for Thanksgiving

Went shopping for stuff for Thanksgiving (and general food for the house)...

Notes of importance:

* For the first time today, ever, I think, I needed two grocery carts in the commissary. TWO! Well, they were small carts. not regular size, I think, and I did get two of just about everything that I put in the cart. Total price, just over $200. For TWO full carts! SCORE!!

* the commissary was INSANE today. Everyone was there. But, I didn't seen anyone in their pajamas and everyone I was in contact with brought their manners with them. Guess people have been reading my lowly blog! :-) Either that, or people are getting into the holiday spirit a little early.

* they had every item on my list. If you've ever been to any commissary, you know that this is a true achievement - to leave the commissary with everything on your list. Truthfully, I'm not sure I've ever done it before.

* I am super excited about cooking for Thanksgiving. I haven't cooked a turkey in like 8 years. It will be nice to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, and Jon's mom and stepdad are coming. Not that I don't love being a guest at someone else's house. And the last 2 years we spent with our 'Ohana, which were blasts. We'll have a fire, and fill our bellies and then just relax. It will be a great day.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Cards - What are your plans this year?

Yes, it's that time of year - I am thinking about Christmas Cards.

I love choosing what I feel is the "right" card for us each year. This year, I am thinking of personalized cards from Shutterfly. I have ALWAYS wanted to do the cute cards with the kids and personalize them, but I've just never done it. I think this year might be the year. After all, Alissa is getting older and the kids can all sit for a photo session without too much drama or crying, even if it's an impromptu photo session by Mom. Shutterfly doesn't care where your picture came from...

I'm really thinking that I like this card:

Granted, I don't have a baby, but I like the "Believe" in the corner. I guess this card just spoke to me. They have many designs to choose from, and maybe I'll change my mind once I find a picture that will actually be suitable to use for cards... (Check Shutterfly's selection and see which ones you like:

You might even be able to get some cards free:

I always love receiving cards. But, lately, we've been receiving less and less every year. I guess not everyone shares the giddiness that I feel when I see a card-sized envelope in the mail. Maybe it's because we are so stinking far away from those we love. The cards sometimes feel like a lifeline, like a piece of our loved one is actually there with us.

(Hint hint, if you send the Heffners a card, you are guaranteed to receive a card in return.)

So, I'm off to see if my phone has any great pictures on it. If not, I guess I'll have to get the kids to sit still long enough for a quick photo...

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful - Nov. 10

Today I am thankful that:

* people were less rude and obnoxious in the commissary than usual, and they weren't out of anything that I needed;

* there were no bills in today's mail. I hate getting bills. Actually, I don't really love the mail because it's almost always junk that gets shredded and/or thrown away;

* the person I interviewed with a couple of weeks ago emailed me and asked if she could pass my resume on to a contracting agency that she thinks will want me. A new friend that I met at this past weekend's neighborhood party also emailed me and asked for my resume;

* I had a good laugh this afternoon with my 2 teenagers over a Facebook questionnaire I subjected them to in 2008. It was fun to re-read their responses and we had a good talk about how they've changed in just 2 short years.

Jon doesn't have to work tomorrow and Friday so we're going to have lunch with Abby tomorrow and spend some QT together on Friday before our weekend visitors arrive.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks - November 9

I missed a couple of days because I tried to stay off the computer all weekend.

Today my thanks are frivolous but:

I am thankful that Glee and Sons of Anarchy are on TV and both are new episodes. My two favorite shows, and probably the only 2 I really watch (besides the Disney Channel), are on the same night.

I am also thankful that Alissa and I will be attending a meeting tonight for prospective new VA drivers. Most kids, including me, get their permit the day they turn 15 1/2 and their license right around their 16th birthday. Since she turned 16 inbetween moves, she doesn't have a learner permit.


Tonight we're going to get the information we need to change that. More details to come.

(Plus, the rules are a little different here in Virginia and since this is my first almost-driving child, I want to make sure I understand all the rules...)

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giving Thanks - Nov. 4

I am thankful that I have taught my oldest daughter at least one thing that I didn't know at her age:

that it's ok to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, and you will be ok even if the love affair with the person that you are "in love with" right now is over.

She's going through a teenage breakup (and there's a little ugly backstory) and handling it all like a pro.

When I was a teenager and went through a breakup (and there was more than one), I handled it badly. Crying, thinking low of myself, not eating for days.

She's a champ. I am so proud that she has a moral compass and a sense of right and wrong. And she has confidence in herself and knows that a boy doesn't define her.

And I am thankful that she is the person she is, and that I get to share her life's journey with her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I am thankful for...

image courtesy of

I think that many of us, myself included, forget to be thankful for...well, everything.

I forget sometimes that even the things that seem smallest are things that we should be most thankful for.

In the month of Giving Thanks, I was inspired by a friend's blog to try to give thanks out loud everyday.

So, today I am thankful for:

* my children. They are sweet, compassionate, fun people who I am grateful to have in my life. They are all healthy and getting decent grades, and they have a moral code and a sense of right and wrong.

* my husband. He doesn't cook or clean as much as I'd like, but he loves me, and supports me, and lifts me up. He is always the optimist to my pessimist, and the voice of calm reason. (And usually he's right - it's not the end of the world after all!)

* my family. We are closer now than we've been in years. All 6 of us. It warms my heart. I am so grateful to be 39 and have parents who are both there, on a moment's notice. Who still love me unconditionally. I'm grateful for my extended family - joined to me by marriage 17 years ago. As I grow older, I appreciate more and more that family is everything. And a quick shout-out: I have the best mother-in-law in the entire world.

* my friends. I have never had a ton of friends, because I am afraid to trust. Someone I trusted and really considered a true friend hurt me DEEPLY, and I have never gotten past it. However, in the last couple of years I have reconnected with high school friends and friends that I haven't seen in a while. I get a lot of support, uplifting, and nice comments from them. I appreciate you all! (And thanks, Facebook, for allowing me to talk to people I haven't seen in a million years!)

* life. Being alive. I am grateful for the journey I am on. No matter the trouble that comes along, there is always sunshine on the horizon. Remembering that is 90% of the battle.

* all the little stuff. A fireplace to warm the chilly Heffner clan. A blog that allows me to "vent". A dishwasher that works. A doctor that finally listens to my concerns and sent my kid to a specialist instead of saying "that's normal..."

* A comment on Facebook that made my day, by a person who will probably never know how she inspires me! She will never know how happy I was that she friended me on Facebook, because I am embarrassed to tell her. But her comments make me feel accepted and happy, and like we're really friends. It means a lot.

There are so many things to name. I'll save some for tomorrow...

But, on a final note, let me reiterate my thankfulness for friends and family. You really mean everything to me. Besides you, everything else in life is just a bonus.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Commissary Etiquette

I don't know how many military-related folks read this blog. Probably not many.

Before I begin, let me in advance say that this post is not meant to offend any one particular person. My thoughts on this subject are mine alone.

That being said, here goes:

Shopping at the commissary has become a nightmare. Truly. Maybe I am just getting curmudgeonly in my still-pretty-young age and have no patience anymore, but I am flabbergasted at the etiquette in the commissary.

Not just the one that I live near, but the etiquette in most of the commissaries in Hawaii sucks, too. (Hickam AFB Commissary in Hawaii is awesome. Probably the best commissary I've ever been to. Fort Campbell was a great commissary back when we lived there, and the others before that, I can't really remember...)

For those of you not familiar, the commissary is the grocery store on or near a military post. They can offer groceries at lower - sometimes MUCH lower - prices, but you must have a military ID card to shop there.

I don't understand why patrons at the commissary are so rude. They routinely:

* cut in front of you, with or without their cart, without regard to the fact that I might not be able to see them around a corner and accidentally hit them;

* leave their cart, often with a very small child or 2, half an aisle away while they walk to get something they need (that is usually in the direction that their cart is already going.) Where is the sense in that? I would NEVER leave my cart with a child in it. NEVER. I can honestly say that I never leave my cart when there is no child in it.

* stand in the middle of the aisle, looking at coupons, checking their phone, redoing their list, or whatever else they happen to be doing. The commissary is almost always crowded. There are clear "rest areas" in every single commissary that I have ever been in. Even the small ones have places you can stop your cart, out of the way of other shoppers, so that you can tend to other business. They have benches, side areas, and empty spots in every commissary that I have ever been in. In fact, the commissary I go to now is fairly large and there are benches all over the place!

* look at you with the stinkeye for no apparent reason. I am always using my big-girl manners, saying Thank You and Excuse Me and Please in the commissary. It's how I was brought up - "Do Unto Others". I don't understand why people come to the commissary so cranky. I've been to plenty of civilian grocery stores in the past 17 years, and those shoppers are not nearly as cranky.

Oh, and can you please at least change out of your pajamas before going to the store? I don't care if you are tired and have 17 kids under the age of 5 and your husband is deployed and you're 5,000 miles away from family. I've been there, too - all of the above (except the 17 kids part, but sometimes 3 kids can feel like 17).

Have some respect for yourself and at least get dressed for the day. Maybe it will make you less cranky.

One last thing - this rudeness I've only noticed in the commissary patrons. The employees in the commissaries are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Definitely some of the most helpful. And, not every single commissary patron is terrible. But many are.

There, I've said it. If I offended you, it was not my intent. But maybe the next time I go to the commissary, one person will be a little nicer. That's all I'm asking for.

Happy Tuesday!