New Year. New Priorities.

It’s been over a month since I last published a post – Maybe It’s Not Just Barbecue. I didn’t write about our carriage ride around historic post at the Fort Leavenworth tree lighting ceremony. Our 11-year anniversary came and went without a blip on this blog. And I didn’t share our {slightly insane} plans to drive almost 4000 miles during our 14-day Christmas break. I suppose the writing as been on the wall for quite some time – my desire to share publicly the everyday moments that comprise my life has waned since I began blogging as a newlywed over 10 years ago. Blogging in such a manner is no longer of interest to me. Anyways – isn’t that what Instagram is for now?

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Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

I still plan to write – just not here. My hope is to move beyond the family scrapbook type of blogging and write more pieces in the fashion of Our House is Too Big, Having Enough, Resiliency as a Virtue, and Choosing a Daring Adventure on an independent site. I’ll still be around on Instagram though! To everybody who has read along (some even from the Sour Patch Kid Experiment days!) all these years – thank you. Some of your comments brightened even the dimmest of days and others gave me pause and encouraged me to look at a situation from another perspective. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Maybe It’s Not Just Barbecue

While at Clemson University, I took a southern literacy course with sociological threads that examined both contemporary southern literature and modern essays regarding southern culture. As a yankee, I found the subject terribly interesting and enjoyed learning about the nuances and attitudes that add up to quintessential south. I remember reading a couple of pieces by John Shelton Reed so when I recently came across a quote of his about southern barbecue, I found it to be the perfect summation of two of my favorite activities – eating food and exploring new places.

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My parents came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. We ate copious amounts of barbecue (not discriminating between pork, beef, and poultry) in addition to a turkey dinner with all of the fixins (a true southern term) and did our best to show them everything the Kansas City area has to offer.

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All Slabbed Up and Joe’s KC

And thanks to modern technology, my phone informed me while eating at All Slabbed Up that four years earlier, my parents were visiting us at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where we took them to Meers – the self-described best burger in Oklahoma. I’m sure for as long as we’re moving around, our parents will visit us and we’ll show them the best food the area as the offer. Because that’s what we do.

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Meers – 2011

Whether it’s Dinosaur Barbecue in Syracuse, Smithfield’s in Raleigh, Billy Sim’s in Lawton, Railhead in Fort Worth, Korean BBQ at Honey Pig in NOVA, or All Slabbed Up here in Leavenworth, Kansas, we’ve had our fair share of barbecue in the places we’ve lived and worked. And we’ve sampled barbecue from a variety of states and provinces during our travels – our favorite being the time we stumbled upon the Canadian BBQ Festival in Ottawa.

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Ottawa – 2007

John Shelton Reed is right – barbecue changes every hundred miles. And with these changes come slightly different outlooks shaped by the distinct landscapes and unique history. Perhaps that is why I love moving at the whim of the Army so much – the opportunity to live in places I wouldn’t otherwise choose has exposed me to a variety of cultures, attitudes, views, and yes – barbecue.

I’ve had this post queued for a little while but have refrained from posting because it seemed frivolous to write about barbecue in the wake of terrorism. But in the aftermath of the most recent attack, the New York Times stated that mass shootings occur almost daily in our country and they’re not all fueled by radicalized religious nuts. And since there are people out there who seem satisfied with the status quo, it appears that statistic isn’t going to change anytime soon. There is a problem in our country. And whether someone views it as a gun problem, an anger problem, or a mental-health care problem, there is still a problem. Barbecue certainly won’t solve the problem. But maybe if people expose themselves to different regions and sample their barbecue, there’d be a deeper understanding of what makes our country great. Perhaps if we sit down over a pulled pork sandwich with someone who has a completely different outlook on life, we’d understand where they were coming from just a little bit more than before and maybe even learn something about ourselves in the process. It’s worth a shot – at the very least, you’d have the opportunity to eat some decent barbecue.

The Drums of War. Again.

Earlier in the week, it seemed flippant to write about how we’re in the middle of planning a trip to Europe this upcoming summer, or how we decorated our home for Christmas, or about how we spent Sunday afternoon drinking Shatto coffee milk and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer over and over and over again. While everyday life continues for our little family, we’re painfully aware of the turmoil experienced by one of our closest allies.

On Friday afternoon, Clay and I continuously checked our phones for updates on Paris, not wanting to turn on a 24-hour news channel in effort to protect our children from such news – instead we watched Curious George. The horrific attacks in Paris, in addition to the most recent acts of terrorism in Beirut and the conflicting reports about the Russian plane disaster, has brought about a change in tone by which we discuss ISIS, their sympathizers, and the heartbreaking plight of refugees fleeing the violence.

Soon after the attacks, social media became infiltrated with red and blue toned profiles, status updates of je sis Paris were everywhere, and many in the western world were wondering if their home is next. But by Sunday things were different – not only does the world feel more contentious but our country seems particularly combative toward one another, which I suppose is the goal of such attacks because terrorism thrives on fear. I do wonder if we’ll look back on the attacks on Paris as the turning point – the turning point for what, I am not sure. But it seems dismissive to assume that nothing will result from these attacks – good or bad.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the drums of war in regards to Syria. Those drums have varied in volume since that point but they seem louder today. The reduction of our military forces combined with a continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the growing threat of Islamic State has most military families bracing for another multi-front conflict fought by the few and in front of a divided country that hasn’t exemplified bipartisanship in years. It seems inevitable that cauldron is going to boil for awhile longer – I just wonder how long it can go before the pressure becomes too much for all of us to endure.