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Sunday, September 30, 2007

It was a beautiful weekend, and we worked to get the kids outside despite all that is pulling us inside. John tried out the new mower; maybe the final cut before cold weather hits? But he didn't have his little helper this time...

Sean-Peter wouldn't touch his "mower" until John (and Conner took a turn) were done and the real thing was off. My little no-fear guy who used to run and try to sit on the Real Thing now wants to run away from it and jump into my arms. A little PCS PTSD? Or just finally a healthy appreciation for Things Which Might Cause Bodily Harm?

Here's the little guy and his sister running to play on the swingset. At the neighbor's. The ones I introduced myself to within, like, five minutes of getting the keys to this place. The same ones I assured that we are not the suing type. Lo, and behold! They're military, too. Albeit recently retired. What a small world. (Or maybe just a big base.)

Yes, Olivia is in a "Princess Dress". But that doesn't slow her down.

Here's the boys throwing the football, but in our backyard.
And here's what an eat-in kitchen looks like after two-plus hours of unpacking boxes in the wee hours (my definition) of a Sunday morning. Thanks for the wake-up call, Sean-Pete. I liked you better when you didn't crawl out of your crib.
And, yes, the wall border will have to go. I don't do wall border. And the only reason you see something hanging on the wall is because there was a nail already there and I just hung up something to get it out of the way. I know some of you are studying this. You freaks.

I also don't do country, but the chairs came with the garage-sale table, which I love. Who cares what kids do to a table you spent $50 on?! And it's got its own, je ne sais quoi.

(And, yes again, I did look up that spelling. I also don't do French.)

Here's the corner in the living room where the boxes came from.
There is a dent in there, honest.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dr. D Strikes Again

Notice anything amiss?

Several months ago the kids and I went to dinner at the home of one of John's co-workers. (We were still living in Italy and John was deployed at the time.) This family has, like, nine cats and counting. They also have three very young children of their own. These cats are extremely tolerant of abuse. So much so that Sean-Peter got the idea that pulling on a cat's tail was a real fun way of playing tug-a-war. They did not fight back; just sort of half-heartedly pulled away, which only encouraged him to think that they were in on the game.

This was very bad for Sean-Peter's future treatment of cats.

When Conner was nine we took a trip to Germany. We went to the open-air market in Munich and he had some money to spend as he pleased. It pleased him greatly to select the two substitute pets you see in the photo above. I did a good job of keeping my opinion to myself, mostly. I mean, we're in Germany and that's what you want to go home with?
Conner is inordinately fond of those two things, still. Unfortunately, Sean-Peter has a history of pulling cats' tails, and these were no exception. Usually we do a pretty good job of staying a half step ahead of him on his Trail of Destruction. But when you're in the middle of a move and unpacking boxes, all bets are off and we find ourselves more like two steps behind. Poor Conner.
In retaliation John bounced Sean-Peter on his head a few times, trying to knock some sense into him.

But this is a healthier distance between Dr. D and anything you want to remain intact.

Notice, boxes are still unpacked. But there's always time to hang up an airplane!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moving Moments

Our own little supervisor. The day was in good hands. The movers took a football break.(In Italy it was soccer.)
I'm pretty sure this ended up being his lunch. Olivia was soooo excited to find her microphone. She put it together and untangled the cords without even asking for any help. The Singer and the The Soundman.
After the little ones went to bed Conner got to build a track all by himself! We have never (never) had this much living space before. It rocks.Of course, there were the usual casualties. Aside from the inevitable nicks and bruises and wears and tears, so far the damage in this shipment consists of a ripped couch (I think I can fix that if I get to it before the kids jump on it too much); a smashed bookshelf top (not one of the nice ones); some holes torn on a trundle bed; a split in a wood cabinet; a broken trailer light; and, of course, this dish.

Sorry you had to see this, mom.
You might notice in a picture above that there are quite a few people in it, all movers. This is not typical. Apparently they had a slow schedule so they sent extra guys who needed the hours. Needless to say, the job got done exceptionally fast. It was the best unpacking experience we have ever had.
Too bad they don't stay around to be my go-fers. I am exhausted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mosquito Bait

The rest of us never have to worry about getting bit by mosquitoes during the night because they latch right onto Sean-Peter and apparently never let go. See those two bumps? (Yes, I know I need a new camera already. I'm still waiting for recommendations.)

They were much worse this morning. Poor guy. Looked like a little devil sprouting his horns. Heh-heh.

In other news: there is so much news that I don't have time to write about it.

The movers come tomorrow!

P.S. Enough of you have been wondering where the pictures of the house are. Patience, grasshopper. Everything in its time. (And when I have time! Calgon, take me away!) (And I don't want to hear from you kids who don't know what that reference is from.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

There should be a statute of limitations on how long a move is allowed to drag on. After that there oughta be someone you can sue.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

John spent the entire afternoon putting up a ceiling fan in Conner's room, only to have it not work, so he returned it and got a different one, only to have that one not work. At which point he decided to cut his losses for the day as that whole process had taken hours with nothing to show for it. Tomorrow (hopefully) he will put up the original ceiling fan to determine whether he's really gotten two rejects in a row or if something funny went with the wires in the process. We're sort of suspecting the latter.

The original ceiling fan was fine. But it was just that -- a fan. We thought we'd put up an easy fix for a light by replacing it with a fan that had one. A fan with a light is about $30. Have you priced floor lamps lately?

Everything has seemed to be like that with this move, financially: one step forward, two steps back. We have ultimately decided to go with a used washer and dryer (but still Whirlpool!) which GoodOleBoy is supposed to deliver tomorrow morning. That's effectively saving us some $900 in comparison to the new set on base we had our eyes on. (Yes, even with the discount and tax savings.) And John noticed the base had finally discounted their mowers (one of which we decided we would need right away after all -- what is with this weather?) but instead of getting the riding one he was coveting he went with a push mower. Another $700 saved.

Then today I go to Target and spend over $200. On bar stools (the simplest ones available). Rugs. Bathroom accessories. A trash can. Oh, and a barbie doll for Olivia. How is that possible?

Then I did splurge: on a vacuum! A Dyson! But I had a 20%-off coupon, so doesn't that make it okay?

Besides, the movers destroyed our vacuum. Utterly and completely. We will get reimbursed for it, but not exactly a Dyson's worth amount... But already after using it today I have no regrets. Not a one. Unless maybe that the former owners of these carpets didn't have a Dyson, too.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We're In!

And someone is very glad to have his train track back!

Our small load of household goods ("Unaccompanied Baggage", aka UB) was able to be delivered on Friday. The Big Bad Load is apparently still enroute. Actually, about a week ago John was told that some of it had arrived in Baltimore, but the rest of it ... had not?

I'm not dwelling on that too much. Though John and I were shocked at the amount of stuff they packed up in Italy ("What, that? That's not ours. I never saw it before in my life.") having some of it arbitrarily lost wasn't the method of down-sizing we had in mind.

But for now we are still sleeping on air mattresses and eating standing up. (Note to self: next time don't forget to hold back the camping chairs for the UB.) Since Sean-Peter's preferred method of dining is Eating While Running -- and he's gotten his crib back, he has noticed nothing amiss. Or maybe he's just too busy being happy with his trains.

The kids slept like champs last night. Sean-Peter greeted his crib like a long-lost friend. They are having a bit of trouble getting to sleep tonight ... wait -- I have to qualify that: Olivia is having trouble getting to sleep tonight. (It's 11:49 and counting.) Whenever she has a nap (which is rarely, for obvious reason) she's like this. It's a good thing for her that her parents are night owls. (Hmmm, do I see a trend?)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If I'd Known would have been this easy, I would have given him some dirty jeans hours ago.

Sean-Peter pulled these out of the dirty laundry I was sorting. He got upset when I tried to put them back. Apparently I ruined his tunnel.

Did I mention that we close tomorrow?!

Thank you all so much for your W&D comments. They really are making a difference in how we're approaching that need. It seems that Whirpool is the way to go, front-load or no. And I have been looking at used options as well.

In the meantime, good-bye Homewood Suites! Not that I haven't been grateful for ya, but it's time for me to move on and be grateful for a real, honest-to-goodness house. Even though it means back to the land of housework. This little one-bedroom abode may only take five minutes to trash, but the up-side is that it only takes 15 minutes to clean up. And everything has had its place, if not the space. It defines multi-purpose efficiency:
The Bedroom.
The Kitchen.
The Living Room...
...and the Other Bedroom.
The Library.
Rec Room.
Dining Room. And Study.

I may blog tomorrow, or I may not. After tomorrow I will be a housecleaning fiend and may be lost from the blogging world forever.

But I doubt it. It's like the cheapest therapy around.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You know you've been at a hotel too long when the staff calls your children by their names and you find yourself giving a shout-out to fellow long-term guests.

But I've also come to realize that I am a completely spoiled American. Here I am complaining about our month-plus term here, and today I learn that routinely there are (military, of course) families who come through here and stay for four, five, and even six months at a time!

And some of them have had small children. I confirmed this.

Why it takes some people four months or more to find a place to live is beyond my comprehension -- it's not like staying here is free or anything. Like, find a place already. But it gave me perspective -- again -- about how things could always be worse.

But THE CLOSING is scheduled for Thursday, so go ahead and pray for no snags anyway, ok? Just because it could be worse, that doesn't mean we wouldn't be any worse for the wear. I won't even go into the headache it has been to get our funds available to be certified for the Title Company. Suffice it to say that Bank of America -- where the money is -- does not have any banking centers in Ohio. Not a one. The ordeal is not even completely over yet, and I've been working on this since last week. But, hey, we still have about 36 hours. No sweat. (But if those funds aren't released by Thursday, I am the one who's going to need to be certified.)

Going back to the name-calling, I have to qualify that because the housekeepers actually are just a little confused about the boys' names -- and we made a promise not to set them straight. I was first tipped off when I very clearly heard one of them call, "Hey there, Conner!" and when I looked for the kid who had my son's name (since my Conner was in school) I realized she was talking to Sean-Peter.

We have, like, a gazillion baby blankets in this place. Eight, to be exact. And three of them are Conner's. As in, the 12-year-old. (Still feels weird. That number. "12". My baby. Sniff.) And one of those three has his name on it, and, randomly enough, it's the one that keeps getting mixed up in the laundry when they change out the sheets.

One of the times they brought back the blanket, the housekeeper, such a sweatheart, leaned down to Sean-Peter -- who's as eager to answer the door as any puppy dog -- and said, "Here you go, Conner!" Of course, Sean-Peter's incoherent jibber-jabber couldn't have corrected her if he'd wanted to. But John was right there, only before he could think about saying anything he looked up and saw Conner in the doorway giving him the wave off and motioning, like, "Ix-nay on the lanket-bay!" Apparently Conner has finally become self-conscious about the fact that he still sleeps with three blankets. Yes, three.

One of them has become so strung-out that it can't hardly be called a blanket anymore. I actually do call it his "strings", and he reacts like I've insulted his sensitivies.

Poor guy. He has no idea I've just posted this photo for all the world to see. At least, all two of you who are reading this. (Hi, mom!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Conner!

I was all excited to post some pictures from the Aquarium, but I've just looked at them and they're horrible. I have got to get a new camera. Any recommendations?

Oh, never mind. That question didn't work out too well for the washer and dryer. (It's not too late, you know. See below.)
Happy Birthday, Conner! Yes, 12 years ago I pushed him out into this big wide world despite all the inattentive efforts of the army medical staff on hand. We have then proceeded to move him around seven more times since that birth in the aforementioned Army Hospital in Germany. Geewillickers! Emphasis on the ick.
Ah, the memories ... but perhaps 30+ days in a hotel (and counting) during the most recent PCS isn't the best time to wax nostalgic on all our moves. So I'll spare you.
We celebrated Conner's birthday by going to the Newport Aquarium in Cincinnati. Actually, in Newport, Kentucky, which is basically still Cincinnati, in my mind -- I don't know what the locals say. We took along Mitch, a wonderful friend that Conner has made already since starting school and who we haven't stopped hearing about since. We thought it was very brave of his parents to send their son off with this family who just came to town and don't even have a permanent address, but apparently they haven't stopped hearing about Conner, either.
It really was a great day. Fall has finally arrived in Ohio and brought some crispness to the air to go along with the sunshine. We treated the boys to some special back-stage passes as part of the whole Birthday Day: they got to meet some penguins up close and personal and learn about their habits (they poop every twenty minutes! cool!) and they also got to tour Behind the Scenes to see how the aquarium is equipped and maintained. Conner did get to pick something out from he gift shop, so his birthday wasn't entirely present-less. For once he picked out something other than a stuffed animal: "I kinda have a lot of stuffed animals already..." yathink?
Mitch was such a nice young boy and so polite. I can't wait to see the real him come out as we get to know him better. He must have thanked us a dozen times. And the car ride was so pleasant with Conner occupied with a friend instead of torturing his sister and making annoying noises at his brother. And to top it all off, we thought we were late getting John back for the Alabama game, but it ended up being delayed!

So it was all good. And Conner thanked us, too, for a great day: "That was the best birthday I ever had in Ohio!" Oh, wait.
Here's a couple of photos anyway. (And I really, really would like a great camera recommendation.)

The Penguin Pass was about 20 minutes long and got you one-on-one with some African penguins, "Paula, Randi, and Simon." Very funny. (American Idol judges' names, in case you live on another planet and didn't get it.)

Did you know that some penguins live in climates that can get as hot as 100 degrees? (fahrenheit, of course.) Who knew?

I also asked one of the young women who conducted this session what her background was: what her degree was in; what type of jobs led her to the one at the aquarium, etc. Ever since Conner could talk he has been fascinated with "sea creatures". He used to say he wanted to be a "fish feeder" when he grew up. And he has always loved science. I figure it's not too early to start thinking about what you gotta do to be able to do what you wanna do.

These little guys came right down to you once they realized you were one of the suckers who supplied their liquid diet. Olivia was so intent on holding one -- until it came right down to it. Just as well. The little buggers sometimes got your fingers caught up in their hurry to get at the little cups they were obviously very familiar with.

And, yes, this bird pooped on John's cap. Maybe they go every 20 minutes, too.

But 'Bama won anyway, so it's all good.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Washer and Dryer Challenge

Now that the closing for this house is right around the corner and it actually looks like we are going to get out of this hotel room, I can think seriously about getting a washer and dryer. John and I went to Sear's the other day to get an idea of what's out there and it is seriously overwhelming. Then it occurred to me, what better way to get tips and recommendations than through this blog?

Calling all readers (you are out there, aren't you?): Help me!

What brand is best? What brand to avoid? Kenmore. Whirlpool. Maytag. More brands. Brands I've never heard of.

The stackables are out, simply because this house does have a laundry room and I seem to recall there are built-in cupboards up above. They're an unnecessary expense, it seems, unless you really need the space-saving.

The front-load washer option also seems to automatically add several hundred dollars. Is it worth it? Why would I need to have that? One woman I ran into -- at the hotel's laundry room, fittingly -- said that those front-loaders take longer for their cycles, though not as long as the European-style we had in Italy (a whopping two hours for one load). She also said you don't have the option to soak. Well, I've never soaked a load in my life: I guess I'm just not attached to my T-shirt and jeans and clothes that my children are just going to outgrow. But I'm certainly not anxious to have longer wash cycles again, either. Especially for no good reason. Even lugging our laundry across the hotel grounds has seemed like bliss because I can do a week's worth of dirty clothes in one evening! You have no idea.

But I digress.

We are not going to be in this house forever --maybe four years -- and it is a fair chance that this washer and dryer won't go with us when we do leave. Then again, they might. But it is also a fair chance that we may rent the house out when we're done with this place and leave the washer and dryer for the tenants, which means they need to be good enough to keep doing the job even after we're gone. The washer and dryer need to be good enough, that is. I don't really care if the tenants are good at doing laundry or not.

Please attach your comments to this post. All you have to do is click on the comments link at the bottom of the post. And go ahead and get over your lazy bums and create a log-in, for Pete's sake! It's really easy, I promise! Even you geriatric-types, you can do it! You can! (Sorry, mom, I'm including you in that, too.)

If you stumbled across this site and have no idea who I am but you just happen to do laundry, I'd love to know what you think, too.

It'd also feel real nice not to look like a loser-blogger who has no readers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I totally meant to get on this blog last night and wax poetic about 9/11 and Looking Back and all that, but I got a little caught up in the Drama That Has Become Our Evening Routine and then, I'll admit, a Dean Koontz book. The ultimate author for when you want to be lightly entertained and void of all real thought but not drained of all your brain cells in the Nora Roberts kind of way.

Four-years-old must be the magic age when a child is ready to sleep in a hotel room without making life miserable for everyone else also forced to sleep with him. Cause it certainly ain't the Terrible Twos.

And it is terrible. Olivia has no problem sharing a room with her siblings. She's even been known to put herself to bed when mom is dragging her feet or is otherwise occupied. Sean-Peter, on the other hand, still seems to think that Bed Time=Party Time and has forgotten that he knows how to fall back asleep if he wakes up in the middle of the night. We learned to stagger their bedtimes: make sure Olivia is dead asleep before putting Knucklehead down so his monologue and/or music medley doesn't keep her awake. But putting him down is rarely the end of the story because he can hurdle himself over the crib bars and land himself giggling in his sleeping sister's face faster than you can say "Holy Frijoles!"

We just listened to a Skippyjon Jones book on tape so that's the first thing that came to mind. (Which is much better than some other things that have come to mind.) Very, very fun books by Judy Schachner, by the way, if you aren't already familiar with them.

So Sean-Peter is having so much fun that there isn't enough to go around for the rest of us. Conner woke up this morning already so out of sorts before his day even began: He does NOT take kindly to these nightly interruptions nor appreciate their introduction with his brother's breath on his face, smiley giggles and all. Conner really still is an only child at heart, but I can't say I blame him on this one. My own patience is wearing thin, and I'm the one who's supposed
to have it.

On a positive note, Conner is adapting to school just fine, despite the shaky start. I knew things were looking up when he came home on Friday and said he "only" had maybe an hour of homework, like that was nothing. We've proposed a trip to the aquarium this weekend, complete with a backstage pass, to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Even though we are getting a real, honest-to-goodness house SOMEday, living in these small quarters makes me loathe to bring in more stuff, besides the fact that, really, he just doesn't need anything. I mean, along with the house will come our household goods that, since we haven't seen them in two months or so, will all seem like new anyway!

Speaking of the house, we are waiting to hear if the sellers will be ready to close on the 21st or the 24th. We were kind of hoping for the 19th, which is the earliest date our lender said we could close, but anything earlier than the 27th, the date on the contract, is that many days less in this hotel. And that much more of a chance that my two-year-old will survive to see three.

I was remembering last night, when I was wishing that my son would just go to sleep already -- or at least stay in bed, really, I couldn't care less what he did there -- that this time six years ago I was living with my sister Cheri in Kansas while John was attending some F-16 course in Arizona. Conner went ahead and started kindergarten there and I stayed home with my young nephew while the older kids were in school. I watched a neighbor baby some of the time, too, but I don't think I happened to have him on the 11th. I very specifically remember standing at the sink, probably rinsing breakfast dishes, and Cheri's friend Shalene called and asked if I knew about the airplane that ran into the World Trade Center.

Honestly, I didn't even think anything of it. It didn't register that this "airplane" was a huge jetliner full of fuel -- full of passengers; I was picturing a little puddle jumper and an errant pilot, maybe drunk, maybe stupid. It wasn't until Shalene called back and said that another plane had hit the World Trade Center that I turned on the TV.

So there you have it. I don't know if 9/11 will be our generation's equivalent of "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" but I do know that it was very clear at the time, to everyone, that what happened that day was a turn in the course of history. Today people seem to question why we're out there, why we're fighting. No one seems to ask the real question, "Why hasn't it happened here again?"

I would go on, but my son isn't going to sleep again tonight and I'm not in the mood for debate material. That same sister, by the way, has been inspired to start her own blog -- for which I take full credit! You might want to check it out as she is way more together than I am, and also a much better writer:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Peeping Tom

Most of the other hotel guests are business men just passing through. One man acted like he thought it was cute, but I think he was a little weirded out. Our own little Peeping Tom.

Thirty-three days and counting.

We have been here too long.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stranger Danger

I have often told people that Olivia doesn't know a stranger. This has become my standard response when Olivia says "Hi! My name's Olivia!" to absolutely everyone. And since she practically came out of the womb talking, that's a lot of people we've come across out there who have cause to know her name.

She used to startle people with her articulation. You know, the people who can't resist talking and cooing at babies they meet on the street. Only this baby would talk back. She was such a little squirt, too, it would catch people off guard.

Now that Olivia is getting older and approaching a more independent stage, her friendliness is starting to concern me, just a little. I mean, I am a stay-at-home mom and everything -- whatever that means -- so I pretty much have her either in my sights or entrusted with someone I have handpicked. But it's not so much that she'll talk to anyone within her sights that worries me, but that she'll go with them, too.

One incident with her stands out clearly in my mind: We were at the Strip in Las Vegas, where we lived at the time. (We lived in Las Vegas, that is, but not on the Strip.) We were waiting to meet up with some family that was visiting and were hanging out outside P.F. Chang's in front of the Aladdin Resort. We had a few minutes to kill, and since Olivia had been sitting in the stroller already for a couple of hours I decided to let her out to walk around. She was right at a year-old -- that classic wind-up doll stage: you set her down and off she goes, randomly changing direction or turning abruptly on her heels, never completely stopping or pausing to consider what or who may be in her path.

I followed closely behind her with the stroller in tow, heading off any potential collisions. She was getting some attention, of course -- not many people resist a little pixie doll who waves and says "Hi!" (she hadn't quite gotten the "My name is Olivia!" part down yet).

Now this was Las Vegas at high noon, nothing but tourists in sight. And one of these sweet grandma-types walks by and says, "Hello, sweatheart!" and, quite instinctively, reaches down her hand. And Olivia takes it and starts to walk off with her.

Well, this woman was quite taken aback and quickly looked around for who she really belonged to. Of course, I was right there watching the whole thing and claimed her right away, much to Olivia's chagrin. And I thought, sheesh: it's a good thing this woman really is someone's grandma from Minnesota.

It seems to have something to do with moving back to America, because I really wasn't so worried about this friendliness of Olivia's in Italy. She readily said "Ciao!" to everyone who gave her any mind -- which, in Italy, is everyone: they looove children. But I didn't have any paranoia about her being scooped away in the nanosecond it takes me to blink, or the 10 seconds it takes me to run after her little brother. Italians love kids, but they aren't having any of their own -- why would they want mine? (Don't answer that.)

And this is so 180 degrees from how her big brother was. Never, ever in a million years would I have had to worry about him running off with the first person to offer him a hand: he was too busy hanging onto my pantlegs. No matter where I took Conner in this preschool age, it took him 45 minutes to leave my side. Seriously. I timed it. Olivia doesn't even glance back when I take her somewhere --other than one time, toward the beginning of her going to the Asilo (Italian preschool) she hung around me when several of the other kids were having a freaking-out episode during the drop-off. She hugged me for a whole five minutes. I loved it. It never happened again.

So I have gradually been introducing the idea of strangers into Olivia's world. Remember, this is a foreign concept to her. A couple of weeks ago I came across this book, "The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers", and I thought, perfect! One of the pages reads: "Brother Bear was cautious and careful and a little wary of strangers. Sister, on the other hand, wasn't the least bit wary. She was friendly to a fault. Just about everybody that came her way got a big hello." Sound familiar?

We read it through one night, talked about it a bit, nothing big. A few days later we were going somewhere and Olivia was straining against her seatbelt while we were stopped at a light, trying to holler out her open window to the cars next to us. "Hello! Hi! What's your name?"
"Olivia, not everyone wants to talk to you."
"But I want to talk to them! They're my friends!" She really said this.
"Remember that book we read about strangers?" Pause.
"I wish we'd never read that book!" Humph!
But she stopped trying to holler out. Or did the light just turn green?

Whatever the reason, it was a start. I don't think it will take much on my part, just a few nudges to get her realizing there's a lot of people out there, and not all of them are good friendship material. Kids hear so much more than we tend to give them credit for -- usually evidenced when you hear your words come out of their mouths directed at someone else. For better or worse.

And here I was just going to write about getting the kids fingerprint and photo IDs at the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival. Guess I got sidetracked.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Future Blackmail

Comes from having a big sister, I guess. He heard we were getting ready to go out and insisted on these shoes.

He has no idea what he has done to himself.

It got me thinking about some other blackmail photos I've taken in his short lifetime, before he grows up a little more and gets all the wiser.

Can't wait for high school graduation! Or prom night, or just the first time you refuse to mow the lawn and I threaten to post these on your MySpace sight, or whatever the equivalent is by then. Payback for all the trouble you're causing us now, you Little Brute.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bama Rama

So John's sponsor is showing him around work, randomly introducing him to people they happen to run into. He already knows John is an Alabama fan, so when they come to some guys with a bunch of Ohio State paraphernalia on their desks he makes a point to mention that John's not exactly on their side.
After some adamant declarations about John's kind not being welcome around here and who does he think he is they proceed to activate some Ohio Buckeye doll that starts playing a tinny rendition of the Ohio fan song, at which point these grown men start waving their arms around in letter shapes and cheering: "O! H! I! O!"
John, being John, doesn't miss a beat. "Hey, it's the Village People! Which one of you is the Indian and which one's the cop?"
The poor guys turn red in the face while another co-worker nearby (who just happened to be a fellow Alabamian, albeit a different shade than John) can barely control his glee, clearly enjoying the show.
This was so much fun that his sponsor led him into a corner filled with some Auburn fans.
Game on.
More adamant declarations, even some hits below the belt.
Then they found out that John even went to Auburn!
"Yea, I was a sleeper agent."
This was just too much for them. But John wasn't done. After incredulously asking how someone who went to Auburn could end up a 'Bama fan, John soothes them with
"Yeah . . . Auburn's a nice little cow-town . . ." And as they're fumbling around for a comeback, he delivers the final punch: ". . . and has some of the nicest trailer parks in Alabama!"

I guess to truly understand the spirit of the moment you'd have to be from Alabama; maybe even from Auburn. I'm sure I'm missing some of the nuances of The Fun That Was Had, but John's wisecracks always crack me up, even when I don't get them. John has been forewarned at this new job that it is a "family-friendly environment", which is military-speak for boring. Sounded like they had enough entertainment today to last them the rest of the month. Though I'm sure that Bama Barbs will continue to be dished out. (And wittily defended.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Conner is in big-time shock with the amount of homework he got his first day back in an American school. He and John have been at it for a fair amount of time; luckily they have been working in the hotel "lodge" while I have been pulling bedtime duty. I think I got the better end of the deal. Conner has come in and out a couple of times to get things. I learned to stop asking if his homework was done. The last time he came through he said, "Oh, and by the way, if this is how it's going to be, I'm not doing it."

It is fair for him to feel a bit of strain: For three years in Italy he hardly had any homework to speak of. School was in session from 8:30 to 4:30, five days a week, and the long days mostly cancelled out any work being brought home. And mostly what they did assign for homework involved memorization, which for Americans sounds hideous, but for Italian students is so routinely assigned it becomes old hat. Conner could whip through it in well under 10 minutes, more often than not, and maybe go over it again in the bus the next morning. (Though I'm probably making that part up.)

I will say that the Italian method certainly generates a lot less paperwork. Egads! They must kill a whole tree every half day to keep these kids in paper. A big tree. One of those Redwoods in California you can drive a car through.

I haven't really gotten a grip on what all Conner came home with today. I do know I still have a whole stack of papers that I need to go through and sign. Or just read. Or just have so the school can say I should have known better. Or because we don't have enough of a paper trail in this hotel room already. I think I liked it better in Italy when I could plead ignorant to anything I missed because, you know, I no speak Italian. Now I've got to be with-it and pretend like I'm some kind of super soccer mom. And I don't even play soccer.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hog Heaven

That's what John and Sean-Peter were in this weekend when we went to the R/C (Remote Control) Air Show by the National Museum of the Air Force. Those suckers are big! Sean-Peter pulled me by the hand and chirped on excitedly about every new airplane we saw; stabbed his hand pointing at the sky and jabbered unintelligibly about every pass they made, performing their aerial acrobatics with all their twirls and spins and dives just as well as and even better than an air show with proper airplanes. I must say it was pretty cool.

We totally thought of our friend back in Italy, Mark Isajiw, who is a freak about remote control toys that fly. I guess you would have to say it's a hobby that Mark dabbles in, as these Big Boys and Their Toys at the air show are definitely in the Big League.

I repeated "Look, don't touch!" so many times I felt like I had Tourette's. But Sean-Peter did a good job of holding back despite himself. Here he is with a (relatively small) R/C craft that one of the Big Leaguers is apparently done with since he's putting is up for sale...... for a mere $10,000!Eat your heart out, Mark! They hold this show -- with R/C geeks from all over the country -- every Labor Day weekend, so now you guys know when to visit!

We caught an IMAX feature at the museum's theator: "Fighter Pilot". We took a chance that the little ones would last all the way through it, and since these shows are less than an hour long it did work out, mostly. Olivia has always loved airplanes and only needed a couple of reminders to sit down and be still. Sean-Peter also loves airplanes, it goes without saying, and was engaged during the whole viewing -- only sometimes it was with the three different seats he kept switching between, or with the people in front of us. (Who didn't appreciate his peering down into their faces to see how they were enjoying the show. In Italy we are not.)

"Fighter Pilot" was way, way cool. They took you into a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, making you feel like you were one of the pilots zooming around the muddy mountains of Southern Nevada. Created a bit of nostalgia for our time there. (But not much.) John recognized some of the guys participating from when he was at the Weapons School. Ah, the good ole' days. Not.

We didn't get through the whole museum before someone petered out.

And Sean-Peter was tired, too.