Saturday, February 28, 2009
Years later, just prior to leaving for Navy boot camp, I lived with my grandparents. Gramps would come home for lunch everyday and we would eat our sandwiches and drink iced tea and listen to Paul Harvey on the radio. Gramps would always chuckle a little at the end.
I didn't always agree with his politics, but I supported his right to say what he felt he had to say--and to stand by his beliefs with respect to others, yet not back down. Maybe a fair number of radio talk show hosts should take note? However, radio and television would not be what they are today without Paul Harvey. For that, I believe we can all be grateful.
Mr. Harvey's trade mark voice and his heartfelt stories will be missed.
Friday, February 27, 2009
The first two misunderstandings have been cleared up--profuse apologies on my part along with a big That Wasn't What I Meant To Say!
The other two were in response to a post written by a fellow police officer wife. She mentioned a conversation she overheard about someone telling someone else that someone else's husband had told his wife that if she ever left him he'd kill her. Not in a joking kinda way. My comment was that, yeah, we make jokes about it. I've informed my husband that I wouldn't waste money on a divorce if he ever cheated--there are perfectly good bridges available to dump his body over. Though that has since been revised. A number of years ago during his last Navy deployment when all evidence pointed that direction I realized that life wasn't so black and white anymore. On our recent anniversary (10 years!) we toasted to the fact that we hadn't killed each other yet--followed, of course, by "I'll probably kill you in the morning". Because what's an sappy sentiment without a Dread Pirate Robert's quote?
I also made mention of the fact that while I so definitely DO NOT condone or tolerate child abuse I understood the motivation behind it. I did not give birth to calm, docile children. They are highly intelligent and equally active. And there are days they push me to my very limits--and beyond--that I understand what would drive a mother to load her children up in her car and drive them into a lake. I get it. And those are the days I walk away from these precious little ones, take lots of deep breaths, pray--whatever it takes to calm down--and I go back to them and hold them in my arms. I am not a patient person. I am not a selfless person. Motherhood does not come easy for me. But I love my children beyond life itself and I would sooner walk away and leave them without a mommy before I laid a hand on one of them and hurt them.
We aren't a normal family. I understand that. There was really no way for us to be. The dynamics are all wonky and well, neither of us are normal. When we were dating he'd come over and cook me supper while I climbed into the engine of his ancient Dodge Ramcharger (The Beast) to diagnose and fix it's latest ailment. He manages the money--my dyslexia called that one--and I clean the bathroom. He takes care of the cat box and trash, I sweep the floor. He cooks. I wash dishes--though he's really good at washing dishes too! He shops for his own clothes. I don't shop. He irons his uniform. I know we have an iron, just can't quite place it right now, sorry. I taught him how to ride a motorcycle. He hung the new walls in the bathroom. I tiled and he fixed the plumbing. We are equal partners in parenting. We are both whole and complete persons all on our own but we complement each other perfectly--sort of like colors on the color wheel. I'm Green to his Red. It works.
Beyond the fact that I wasn't raised in an American culture, I often feel like I'm on the outside looking in. I'm not a normal girl--my dad taught me to ride a motorcycle in my early teens and I've been on bikes ever since. I have been inked twice in my life (both have very special meanings to me). I don't own or create scrapbooks. My son's desire for crafts leaves me in a panic attack. Jacob loves fairy princesses and pink and it totally throws my life out of whack because I want him to have the things that he enjoys but I know nothing about any of that! My first thought when I found out that our second child was a girl? What am I supposed to do with a girl?! Imagine my daily delight as she proves herself a non-girly girl as well. I don't know girlie stuff. While I have a few "chick flicks" they aren't my first choices in movie watching. Too sappy. Though When Harry Met Sally is still one of my all time favorites. My taste in movies runs the gamut from violent action films, classic film noir, old black and white horror (Ah, Bela Lugosy...I miss you), cheesy slapstick to cheesy science fiction--though I'm apparently the only person who still remembers Earth Girls Are Easy. I always thought that I was the only girl who found Army of Darkness hi-lar-i-ous--I was delighted to find I was wrong. Mel Brooks has a very special place in my heart. Don't even get me started on cowboy movies--not necessarily westerns--really don't get John Wayne movies. But The Man From Snowy River? I wanted to name my daughter Jessica just so I could go--yeah, Jessica in that send-my-heart-aflutter Aussie accent. I'm a rock-in-roll girl at heart. If Bon Jovi isn't played at my funeral there will
be haunting. I laugh too loud. I often speak before thinking. I am opinionated and stubborn. While I do make an effort to be diplomatic I often fall far short of being politically correct. I believe in manners and propriety. I have a nasty habit of being honest and a tenacious hold on my naive childhood belief that humans are inherently good.
While I adore my children, they are not coddled. They get firm "nos" when appropriate, time outs and banishments to bedrooms. I think I horrified my "boss" yesterday at lunch when I wrestled a waffle fry away from Jacob because he tried to sneak one from her after I had firmly informed him a number of times that he did not get anymore fries until he had eaten a piece of chicken. I also know he will walk all over me if he senses a weakness. But I'm also quick to praise them when they make the right decision. He was rewarded with a hug and a waffle fry once he ate his chicken. There's a good bit of yelling in this house, but there's also a lot of love and laughter too. The Yen and Yang factor of passion. Granted, there's been a lot less of the former and a lot more of the latter in recent months--at least a much more pleasant balance.
I don't remember who said it or where I first read it or the exact quote (oh fine, I made it up), but I read something one time that really struck me as True. It was something to the effect that we all have the common ground of sorrow, but not of laughter. Finding that common ground in a sense of humor is priceless. Sean and I both have a morbid, twisted sense of humor. We so get that in each other. During the several years of reproductive treatments, infertility and miscarriages we found solace in that humor. People would ask when were we going to have kids (why do they ask?) We finally started answering that we kept seeing these stores advertising "Baby Sales" and seeing people coming out with babies in their carts but we could never find the aisle where they were selling the babies. And I really don't like shopping anyway. The response was usually a look of horror. How could we joke about it? To which I responded: How could we not?! Was I supposed to dwell on the fact that my body was seemingly incapable of doing the one thing it was designed to do? Add to the stress of our already stressed out marriage? No. We laughed.
And when life surprised us with not just one but two unexpected wee little miracles? Oh, now we figure out what we were doing wrong. We laughed. And we haven't killed each other. Yet.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Yes, Sweet Child?
Kyleigh is the Princess because she's a girl.
And I'm the Prince.
That's the way that works, yes.
Hey, if I'm the Prince, then what are you?
Well, the mommy of a Princess and a Prince would be the Queen.
Oh. Okay. So what would Daddy be?
What do you think he would be? (see how I get him thinking?)
Well. I think that he would be the Queen's Husband.
Heh. I'm okay with that. See what a brilliant son we're raising?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
If there's actual Snow coming down, she gets company.
I'm sure once they've outgrown the slide we'll be forced to finally do something about the window seat we've been planning to build in that spot for the past three years.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Jacob: Why is my soldier man all angry?
Daddy: That's not angry. He's painted in camo--helps him hide better.
Jacob: What's camo?
See what amazing parents we are? We manage to make anything an object lesson.
I'm not even going to get into the discussion that followed the questioning of why the soldier man needed to hide better.
Monday, February 23, 2009
High school was pretty much four years of hell for me--five if you factor in the fact that I started RVA in 8th grade and therefore "high school" was nothing more than a dorm move and the privilege of staying out until 7:15. Wee junior highers had a curfew of 7pm. However, it has recently been brought to my attention that just about everyone was miserable. No one really enjoyed high school. Even those on the rugby team who have declared those years as the Best of Years of Their Lives. I say, Bullshit. You were fooling yourself then and you're lying to yourself now.
When we first started chattering about a reunion my first thought was, well...have fun. I won't be there, but you all enjoy yourselves. Late nights reminiscing over scrapbooks and field hockey scars. Knock yourselves out. Then I thought about it some more. And I decided that I would go--if for no other reason than to lay around in a two piece bathing suit. I was, um, rather large the last time most of these people saw me and, um, so clueless when it came to clothes and what looked good. It was sad. And the two ton chip I insisted on carrying around on my shoulder most likely did little to add to my attractiveness. It was remnants of that chip that propelled the decision. Yes, show up and show them. I am in far better shape and in much, much smaller jeans than I was at 17. And that 17-year-old wanted to cause a little ruckus. I blame her rebellious behavior on Bon Jovi.
I didn't date back then. No one did really. It was boarding school with rules and regulations. We had to have our bathing suits inspected prior to our senior trip to Mombasa--no two pieces, nothing too high or too low, preferably without holes in the knees. One was either single or attached at the hands with the boyfriend o' the term. Me? I had a total of one "boyfriend". It was when I first arrived. The relationship was short lived even by middle school standards. The death of the relationship was the moment just prior to what was supposed to be the first kiss. My first kiss. Ever. I knew it was coming--two laps around the lower rugby field clued me in. But just at that moment--I choked. Couldn't do it. I wanted to tell him why...I was nervous, scared, never been kissed and all that, but I think what actually came out was something like, "Uh, nuh-uh" and a shake of the head. (The look of horror on my face was apparently so repulsive that it wasn't until our senior year that we actually managed to speak more than two words to each other.) I was the girl the guys talked to to get the 411 on another girl. And I wanted to show one or two--or three--of those that so cluelessly broke my poor little heart that I turned out Hot. So there.
Then, over the past several months, the strangest thing happened. Somewhere along the way my reasons for wanting to attend the reunion changed. I blame facebook. And the blogosphere. Usual suspects, I'm sure. However, in this case it's true. Over the course of the past year, year and a half, I have gotten to know former classmates in a way that I never did before. And the oddest thing--I like them. Most of them. The one that has ignored my friend request for the past two months can kiss my booty. I was only trying to be nice. Whatever. So I started to look forward to the reunion. Even made some small attempt to help plan (sorry, Melanie!). I wanted to look at everyone's scrapbooks. I wanted to sit and remember interms and Senior Safari. Make fun of Hagerman's lame attempt to teach Swahili. Laugh about the cattle crossing sign Mr. Wilson put up on the walkway to the senior girls' dorm. Just be with this group of people who all have that Thing in common--that Thing that sets us apart and marks us as "not being from around here". Third Culture Kids. Global Nomads. There's a freedom in being together--the freedom of not having to explain any of it. The freedom of not having to answer the stupid questions (yes, there are stupid questions). Amongst ourselves we're all normal. And, at times, I crave normality.
I suppose I'll have to settle for waiting another five years. I can stay in shape until then.
And my family (mostly me) is ever so grateful that there are still professional farmers out there who will help ensure we have a greater variety this summer than beets and sunflowers.
The peppers and tomatoes have yet to make an appearance. Jacob declared this morning that we must have bought the "shy" seeds. Explains a lot, actually.
Friday, February 20, 2009
This is the day we planted them. Exciting, isn't it?
A "Sprout Watch" has been incorporated into Jacob's morning routine--just before sitting down with his sippy cup of warm chocolate milk. His patience was rewarded this morning--wee tiny little beet sprouts and sunflower sprouts have made their appearance. The mixed peppers and heirloom tomatoes have yet to burst forth in sprouts. Hopefully by the time they're all ready to go outside we would have figured out where in the backyard to plant them. I'm leaning towards the idea of a modified container garden...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
In the course of the 15 minute phone call I:
entertained a fussy 16-month-old
sat her in her chair and gave her a snack
filled a sippy cup (half V8 Fusion/half water)
took notes on both paper and computer
went upstairs and wiped a 3-year-old's butt after he announced from the top of the stairs (naked, of course) that he had pooped in the potty
washed my hands
answered said 3-year-old that yes, his quiet time was over and he could go down stairs
gave him a snack when he asked for one
found my cup of coffee
All the while keeping track of my conversation with this person whom I am hoping will invest a lot of money in Running Kids. It was a Zen Mommy Moment. And what looks to be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.
On a side note--public service announcement, really--do not relay to small children that you are about to make a work phone call without first preparing for chaos and mayhem to rain down upon you because that is the precise moment when every living creature in your household vicinity will need urgent and immediate undivided attention.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
So....the big switch is supposed to aid in getting out emergency broadcasts--crucial information during natural disasters and whatnot. A fair number of people in rural areas have those small little television/radio sets for just such natural disasters. The sets make use of "rabbit ear" antennas. Just the kind that the digital converter box is for. But the box is not compatible with the little sets. So....all of these prepared people now have a rather bulky paperweight. The radio part will still work though, so they have that going for them.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This adorable little bundle made her debut Monday the 16th at 7:40 pm...weighing 7lbs 4oz, 18" long. Isn't she beautiful? Didn't you feel the world get just a tad bit sunnier?
My dearest friend, Amy, and her new baby girl! She was a little rough on her mommy, but both pulled through healthy and happy. Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited? Can't wait to meet her.
Thus ends my pointless rant.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
At one point I, as I was pulling one of the offending cars out of my foot, I noticed that both Matchbox and Hot Wheels are sold under the same toy brand. So what made them different? I went googling (Fascinating, isn't it? How "To Google" is now a verb?). Wikipedia (I also wikied) informed me that a die cast toy maker by the name of Jack Odell designed the first cars to fit inside a matchbox--for his daughter. How sweet is that? She could take toys to school as long as they were small enough to fit into a matchbox. And now these little toy cars are The Preferred Toy of my own daughter--she makes little vrooming sounds. Things like that just make my heart smile.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Anyway...figured since my brain is all mushy (and all I want to do is go to bed) I'd take care of a little light housekeeping--blog style.
I have a plethora of drafts in my edit box. Thought I'd dig one out, polish it up a little and go ahead and share. I started this post way back in September, though, oddly enough, the mild weather the past couple of days has me feeling like this all over again...
The weather has turned cooler. Days on end with the windows open and the air conditioner off. Days like these are the ones I long for through out the rest of the year. That moment between pleasantly cool and Don't-talk-to-me-I'm-staying-indoors-contemplating-moving-to-Tahiti-wake-me-up-in-March cold.
Shocked? That me, who spent most of my life around the equator enjoys the cool autumn days above all else? Know why? It reminds me of home. What? That's not what you'd expect? But everywhere we lived--with one exception--was fairly high altitude. Cool misty mornings, warm afternoons and cool breezes blowing at night. Our house in Olitokitok--the Kenyan border town half way up Mt. Kilimanjaro--even had a couple of fireplaces that saw regular use. My heated water bed was the place to be when we ran out of firewood!
But this is where my heart will always be.
This is one of my most favorite views in the world--and I've seen a lot of the world to be able to come to that conclusion. Lake Victoria as seen from the patio of our house in Mwanza, Tanzania. My bedroom window looked out over the lake as well. If I managed to wake up in time (rarely) I could watch the fishing dhows head out to gather the day's catch. I learned to sail (sort of) on that lake. I'll dig out those pictures another day.
My grandfather helped build this house. One of my uncles lives there now. He actually helped in construction all those years ago. They basically cut out part of the hill, used the broken up rocks to build retaining walls and built a house. I had an entire hillside of rocks to climb up and over and mango trees to hide out in. And there is no more peaceful, All Is Right With The World sound than an African rain falling on a babati (corrugated aluminum) roof.
Monday, February 9, 2009
There's a loaded question if I ever heard one. I met the Husband's new lieutenant the other morning--he was over for a routine inspection of Helix T. Bomb Dog's kennel. Following the preliminary niceties of "Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you. You too," he asked that one.
In a spit second, I found myself struggling for a reply.
Did he really want the long answer? Does anyone really want the long answer? Even when they say, no really--I want to know? They don't want to know, do they?
Do I reveal to my husband's new boss that up until two months ago things were falling apart? Fraying at the edges? That hardly a day went by without one of us contemplated collecting our walking papers? That it had simply just gotten too damn hard to continue being nice to each other--let alone loving? Did he really want to know that in the past six years of living opposite schedules our relationship was possibly strained beyond what it could bounce back from? We weren't speaking. When we did it was with the least number of words possible. Then we would regroup, talk it out, determine something was broken but both clueless to how to fix it. Our three-year-old son was having uncontrollable meltdowns almost daily due to the lack of continuity in his tiny little world. Our one-year-old was waking up at night screaming--possibly for the same reasons? I was consistently being pushed beyond my own breaking point--rapidly heading for a breakdown. I would spend Sunday mornings weeping in the back row of church because there I was safe--I wouldn't have to explain why Mommy was crying. And we were both exhausted. Exhausted beyond belief.
Sean went on medical leave at the beginning of December. You may remember the infamous surgery story? He's been home just about every night since then. A few days before Christmas he was transfered to full time EOD--a weekday day job. Just in these few short weeks the change has been remarkable--flippin' remarkable.
It hasn't been perfect--but I never desired perfection. However, we discovered something. We actually like each other, he and I. Still. Our shared awake time is no longer filled with the frantic rush to get everything done in so few hours--everyone fighting for their share of time. Neither of us feeling as though we are low on the priority list of the other--merely getting what was left. We all have time now. Time to sit. Time to be. We're still tired--we do have two small children, after all! And Sean is still on the meds that kick his booty. But I actually get to sleep with my husband.
The little ones are still adjusting--Kyleigh still pulls Jacob off of Daddy's lap in jealousy (Sean suggested that we might as well go ahead and get her fitted for a tiara now) and Jacob still asks to spend some 'pecial alone time with him. But how much of that is normal sibling rivalry stuff? They are both sleeping peacefully at night now. Jacob is still having meltdowns--but nowhere near the caliber or frequency they had been. Now it's more out of frustration because his brain goes so much faster than his body. He's no longer fighting bedtime. Though Daddy does have to be the one to tuck him in. Mommy just won't do. And this past Saturday morning Sean got up with Kyleigh at 6 am and let me sleep. That right there proved that this man--who is and has always been the man of my dreams and love of my life--is still in love with me.
So, how am I with the new job and the dog?
And I recall saying it with a big, goofy smile on my face.
Over the past several months we have dealt with various health issues with Kyleigh. None of them very serious, but all building on top of each other begetting sleeplessness and crankiness. One morning last week--following a rather terrifying incident--as I was rocking with her, holding her, getting ready to lay her down for a nap I found this song running through my head again.
I made another doctor's appointment for her that day. And after all of these medical appointments--wastes of co-pays--that have ended with the doctor calmly explaining that she'd "grow out of it" and me in tears, we managed to see a doctor who actually listened to me. She listened as I explained how up until a few months ago this miserable, crying child was one of the happiest, most laid back babies I had ever met. She looked back over the records and reviewed what we had already been told and what treatments were prescribed and she listened as I explained that none of it made a difference. Kyleigh wasn't growing out of it. There was actually something physically wrong with my child. I was not being paranoid or over-reacting. Well, okay--I usually am both of those things, but I knew something just wasn't right. And the doctor listened. And she looked at Kyleigh. Really looked at her and examined her. And she diagnosed her and gave me an answer. One. Simple. Little. Answer. And a plan. A plan that consists of short term and long term goals--without medication. I left in tears again--but for the complete opposite reason.
Kyleigh is already perkier. Sleeping and playing again. So, hush you. You who say I'm a fretful mom. Shush, you. You who say I spoil my babies because I hold them so much. The only things in this house that are spoiled are lingering in the dark depths of the refrigerator.
Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby lullaby loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
- Ruth Hulbert Hamilton
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Took a moment before driving home to chat with a friend who had moved away this summer. He was there with his "This Isn't My Girlfriend" girlfriend. As we were talking one of the funeral directors stopped and talked to us. He meant well--best of intentions, I'm sure. He shared a cute little--totally and completely theologically unsound--tale...
On the next clear night...winter nights are the clearest...look up at the stars. The bright, twinkling ones are God's newest angels. Andrew will be the brightest.
So an Agnostic, an Atheist and a Christian walk into a bar...er, um, wait...all turn and stare at him. Smile and nod. And turn back to each other. And all roll our eyes. Comic relief is important in times of grief. The laugh did us all good.