Friday, November 30, 2007
There are at least four people at the base with John's name. Exact name. First and last, spelling and everything. When you're sending someone official email on base, you go by the person's name: a list will pop up, and you pick the one you want. There are other identifying factors: rank; organization; etc; so it's not like you don't have some other information to go by when you can't spell the name or the names are similar or there are four people with the exact same name. But some, uh, people don't do this very carefully.
There have been numerous occasions over the years when his name has gotten him mixed up with someone else. Probably the worst example was last year during his deployment in Afghanistan when his mail kept going to the other John -- and the other guy kept it. "Um, honey, I don't know why you haven't gotten anything from me. I must have sent that package a month ago..."
Oooh, yea. Someone wasn't happy.
The weirdest incident must've been the time I got a call from a guy asking for John. Turned out he was some "investigative reporter" who was searching for a fugitive and he decided it would be a good idea to call all the John ____'s in the phone book within a 400 mile radius. Well, ma'am, just how well do you think you know your husband? .... Oooh, creepygoawayrightnow! Like, if I was a fugitive would I have my name in the phone book?
John signed up for this SOS correspondence course before he went to Afghanistan -- before he knew he was going to Afghanistan, actually. Which was kind of a problem, because you're supposed to complete it within a certain time frame. He got an extension, of course, but it was like minutes after he got back from deployment until we found ourselves in full PCS mode, and he didn't get much done.
He had to make up for lost time once we arrived in Ohio, and I've been an SOS widow ever since. He had his last test scheduled for today. Woo-hoo! Yay! Yippee! HALLELUJAH!
"Oh, we don't test on Fridays afternoons anymore ... didn't you get my email?"
He then went to work and found an email from a CMSgt (aka Chief Master Sergeant) who was chewing him out for a lousy EPR that a MSgt John _____ had turned in. (My) John bothered with the courtesy of replying that he had the wrong John -- something none of the other Johns seem to do -- and that next time he might want to at least double check the rank of the recipient.
There is a reason neither of my sons are named after their father, despite John being a family name on both sides of the family as well. If we ever had another baby WHICH WE AREN'T we have joked about what a perfect name Sven would be for a boy. Besides Sven being an awesome name, surely there can't be many others out there, you think?
However many there are, John is thinking he needs to join their ranks. At least that way, if we did have an accidental fourth in the future (something my family seems to be way too good at, so I know enough to say Never Say Never) we could name him after his dad, after all.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
To my son, on his birthday:
And it's okay that you want me to lie down with you until you fall asleep, even when that means you get me up in the middle of the night or that you pull me from the depths of a mountain of laundry beckoning to be folded while I'm engrossed in a cheesy Nora Roberts made-for-tv movie that just got to the best part. Last night I realized I was lying next to my two-year-old baby for the last time, and I had the sense to savor the moment.
Happy Birthday, big guy. You may give me a run for my money, but my days sure wouldn't be the same without you.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I love knowing that I am getting something for my children that they are going to love. Knowing that their eyes are going to shine in wonder and amazement upon opening. I try to put some specific thought into what I am getting; I hate buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift, which is sometimes necessary -- it's the thought that counts and all that. But for my children, and for the things that are coming into my house, I try very hard to get something that represents them and is something that they actually desire. As well as something that I don't mind having around.
For the little ones it's a matter of paying attention to what they already have and enjoy as well as to what their natural interests are. Now that I have a preteen I can appreciate how easy it is to shop for preschoolers: the hard part is holding back! And it doesn't take a lot of money at all. They don't blink an eye at second-hand toys from thrift shops. And their favorite items that provide immense joy are often the simplest: I will always remember that Conner's favorite gift one year was a container of tennis balls.
Of course, that was ten years ago. Now he's a wee-bit more complicated. And so hard for me to relate to. Toys, I get: It's all these electronic gadgets that elude me. I was never one as a kid to even play video games, for pete's sake. It's not like he's even asking for much, or for many, I should say. But of the three things that made it on his list, two of them cost over $100. A Wii? Fat chance. An ipod? Is that really necessary?
The quagmire I want to avoid is ultimately spending as much on miscellaneous stuff that he never asked for as I would on just getting him one thing that he did. This is what came to my mind when my mom pointed out the prices on a "Zune" in the sales flyers for the day after Thanksgiving. A Zune? What's that? Is that like an ipod? Oh, it's Bill Gates' version of an ipod? Like, ipod has just become a generic name like Coke, only sometimes when people say Coke they're really talking about a Pepsi and now Zune is like a Pepsi so people will have Zunes but they'll still call it their ipod?
A couple of sharp tacks, she and I. I could go on but you get the idea. The rest of the conversation was just as pathetic. Poor Conner and his archaic mom. It's so much worse than "becoming your mother": here we were commiserating about not being able to keep up with all the electronics out there -- and, yes, that was the first time I had heard of a Zune -- and it takes my mother to tell me about a latest thing.
Of course, after she and I finished this incredibly enlightened conversation, John walks into the room and I ask him if he knows what a Zune is. "Oh, yea. It's the Windows version of the ipod." You don't say.
I totally blame him for my ignorance about everything electronic, by the way. It's like the woman who doesn't bother to cook because she married a chef. Except, er, I don't exactly have that problem.
Then I tell John that Radio Shack has Zunes on sale for $99.99 on Black Friday. Twenty minutes later I scream-whisper him into the room to tell him I found them for $79.99 at Target on Black Friday. He looks at the ad with me, "80 gigabytes! 80 gigabytes? Do you know that this time last year if they'd had 80 GB ipods for $80 at Bagram the BX would have been overrun?? Forget Conner -- get it for me and we'll give Conner mine!" Uh, that's the spirit, hon'.
But little did I realize how portentous his remark was. The one about being overrun, that is. I did attempt to take advantage of the Black Friday sale on the Zune ipod. (Or is it just a Zune?) But I am sooooo out of practice with American consumerism. Getting up at 6:00 for a sale that begins at 5:00 just isn't going to cut it, at least not around here. Especially when you go to the wrong store. And since the right store got in like, 12 zunes, my chances of getting one, even if I'd spent the night in the parking lot, were like, nil. Sorry, bub.
I did find another Black Friday bargain for Conner that I know he'll love, so the morning wasn't a total loss. But it did make me nostalgic for the little guy who used to go around, happy as a clam, a tennis ball in each hand; items so precious he wouldn't even throw one, so certain was he that it might get snatched up and not returned.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Isn't she cute?
I think I got gypped. I also grossly underestimated the girth of Ohio foliage. They don't make 'em like this in Kansas.
But seriously, isn't she just so cute?
Monday, November 19, 2007
Afterwards they began some mysterious project that included taping the potato masher to the floor. I never quite figured that one out, and apparently they didn't either because they ended up carting the utensils off to the rec room where I found the masher in one of my copper-bottomed pots.
Forget the Christmas list, Grandma: just get them some kitchen utensils and some all-purpose tape, something that always seems to be in short supply around here. They'd probably think they've hit the jackpot.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I got seven, count ‘em, seven sweaters. Just for myself. Over the last couple of years I have slowly been getting rid of my stack of sweaters left over from the early 90s. I'm serious. Some were even older, from, like, *gasp* high school. (And, yes, that means before the nineties.) In one evening I got myself a whole new (half) wardrobe for $23.25, and I am seriously stoked. Man, I’m livin’ now.
I almost lost them, though. After my bargain-laden arms became weary I set the sweaters down for safekeeping in what I thought was a safe set-down place. Alas, I was mistaken. I went to get them and almost gasped out loud when they were gone. Gone! And then just as quickly I spotted some woman -- some woman -- with my sweaters draped over her arm. But before I whipped out my can and thoroughly embarrassed myself she spied my
So I do think she volunteered there, as do all the employees, and I made a mental note to put away that can, for pete’s sake. We are in Ohio now, where the people are nice and friendly. Now would be the time to bring out your inner Kansan and play nice back. Phew. What a relief.
And for only $3.75.
Guess how much? Go ahead, guess. Come on! Betchya can’t.
As I was waiting to check out I noticed the woman in front of me had a couple of items that I personally had just consigned this evening. Don’t even tell me that this isn’t going to be a new addiction. Better lock up anything you consider sacred, John: if it ain’t bolted down, it might up and disappear one day.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I knew there were blogs out there, of course, but I really had no notion of what a Big Blog World it was: dial-up is not real conducive to surfing, and that was my internet world for three years. And it was during that time, so far as I can tell, that the blogging world really took off.
After we moved back to the States a couple of months ago I started getting into this blogging thing a lot more. It really is a happy medium and it has been a great distraction during this move and going from being too busy, really, with outside commitments, and back to being a literal stay-at-home mom, whatever that means. And the more I get out there and peek at other blogs, the more I realize what a learning curve I am on: there are some fantastic blogs out there. No matter what your druthers, there's a blog for it. And then some.
I worry a little bit about the addictive nature of this whole Blog Thing. I mean, just because I just moved here and don't have a life doesn't mean that I don't have a life. There are these kids here, after all, that need some tending, meals and all that. And a husband, even, who wants a little attention now and then when he comes up for air from his Life With SOS. Oh, and there is the part about us moving. All those boxes.
All of this is trying to lead into my first blogging experience of getting tagged. But I've droned on and on too much now so I'm just going to give it to you and you can figure it out for yourself, these "Seven Random Things About Me" that blogger buddy Karen tagged me with. These things are kind of fun, I think. But then, I almost always responded to the "Questions About You" emails that went around, too, so what do I know.
Seven Random Things About Me
1. I can't whistle.
2. I write with my left hand.
3. But I throw with my right.
4. I've given birth in three countries.
5. The doctor told my mom that I was a boy, and she believed him.
6. After I start a book and get familiar with the characters, I skip to the end to find out how it all turns out.
7. I often don't ever get around to finishing the rest of the book in between.
And with that being said, I just visited Karen's site to get her address to link to, since it's so complicated and all, and she had posted a poem she wrote about why she blogs that I thought was really beautiful. And it's her birthday! So isn't that nice. How about a shout out to Karen -- "Happy Birthday!"
Monday, November 12, 2007
"We have a full week this week but last week we had a short week because of conferences and next week we have a short week because ... because of something, I don't know what."
Um, maybe because of Thanksgiving? You know, that American holiday?
We're back in Amer'ca now, son. It's, like, a whole nuther country.
If you were interested in peeking at the lives of other military spouses (who are people just like anyone else)(Shh, don't tell) Karen and Dragonfly would be good places to start.
Hope most of you are enjoying a peaceful (and healthy) day off!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
She hasn't been eating much, so I asked her what she'd like for dinner. When she barely managed to whisper "broccoli", I thought it an odd choice, but I steamed her some and heated up some nuggets to go along. She barely touched her plate, and after a steamy shower, she was quite content to snuggle in my arms with a dreamy smile on her face, seemingly pleased with herself that mommy was suckered into dressing her, head-to-toe.
She was well enough before bedtime to push her little brother off the couch headlong into the coffee table, and she was well enough to saunter in sheepishly five minutes later to hug him and whisper she was sorry. But when she didn't budge from my lap even after we heard daddy starting the after-bath routine with Sean-Peter, I knew my little"'ia" was not wholly well.
John has never been exactly up to par with his nursery rhymes, but sometime when Olivia was quite small he started this routine of wrapping her up in her bath towel and swinging her by the ends and singing his version of "Rock-a-bye Baby".
In Daddy's arms
If I let go
You will be harmed
I love my 'ia
'ia loves me
Often this ritual, which occurs after almost every bath, has Olivia and Sean-Peter vying for their turn and shrieking. Then ends when Sean-Peter pees on the towel or John's arms give out, whichever comes first.
But not tonight. Olivia didn't budge when she heard John in the other room with her little brother. "I love Sean-Pe-ter..." And every night since we've been in this house she has begged for someone to lie down with her, which usually results in her daddy taking an evening nap. But tonight she just rolled over, and when I checked on her she was sawing logs, like a chip off the old daddy block. Only she's got this yucky cold to blame. Poor little thing.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Only Sean-Peter seems unaffected. I took him for a doctor's visit this morning, just for a check-up. Which just happened to coincide with a cold and some diarrhea he's been having. Not that you'd know it based on his hyper spastics in the doctor's office as I'm trying to explain to this guy who doesn't know us why I'm concerned about my son's speech. Sean-Peter supported me readily enough by incoherently jabbering on in that muttering ventriloquist way of his, with jabs of "No!" and "Mom!" thrown in here and there to confirm that, yes, he thinks he's speaking English.
I got the referrals I wanted and corralled Sean-Peter around the hospital like a puppy dog straining at a verbal leash while I gathered prescriptions, scheduled referrals, and corrected newly found mistakes in our records. Then he had the nerve to try to fall asleep in the car five minutes before we got home, which led me to some pretty interesting spastics of my own in my effort to keep him awake so he'd still nap in the afternoon, something I was desperate to do myself.
At dinner we're all talking about our day and how tired we are. Do you think we could have carbon monoxide poisoning? Is that something they check for when you buy a house? Oh, we would all have headaches, too? Oh. Then I guess I'm just tired.
I'm telling John that Sean-Peter's going to be the death of me and how he could put that on my gravestone: "Sean-Peter Was The Death of Me". And the conversation is continuing until we could no longer tune out Sean-Peter's incoherent babblings, which steadily get louder and louder until we tell him to be quiet, then get louder and louder again, until Olivia wails because "He hit me!" or Conner interrupts with something mind-boggling off the topic or all three kids simply leave the table and we don't even care because our ears are just so glad to be ringing from the silence.
But this time John notices that there is some substance to Sean-Peter's gutterings, even actual consonants.
Then who's going to put lotion on those cute little chapped cheeks?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I have worked very conscientiously at letting Olivia "help" even when that was the last thing she was doing. And the thing is, already at the age of four, she is, truly, often helpful. It may take her 30 minutes to fill the muffin pans, for instance, but she keeps at it. And that's 30 minutes that I can use to clean up and/or otherwise do something else. Like, oh, write in this blog. Just to, you know, arbitrarily throw something out there.
Today she caught me getting ready to dice some green pepper, something I have never let her do because it requires a sharper knife. I hesitated, then I thought of pioneer women in the wild west who were married and having babies by the time they were, like, thirteen. By the age of four they were probably not only using sharp knives but were dropping the fresh-cut vegetables directly into a boiling cauldron over an open fire ready to stitch up any gashes they might incur with a needle and thread before dousing it with some hard liquor they kept handy just for such medicinal purposes.
So I showed her a safe technique and gave her the knife.
She kept at it for at least 30 minutes and cut up the whole darn thing.
Then she washed my teapot.
And then this is what she said. Really. I wrote it down as soon as it came out of her mouth. You know you're a blogger when... and all that.
"Next time, when it's time for you to do the dishes, call me and I'll do the dishes. Because I love to do dishes. And I came just in time, right?"
Don't you all wish you had an Olivia?
Any tips on how to best utilize this stage before it's gone will be heartily welcomed.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I guess he thought Thomas needed a cleaning.
And I wonder why I don't have anything to show for my time at the end of the day. Oh, wait. I do have this blog. Aren't you all so privileged?
I didn't give our "conversation" much thought until he came home with this assignment. As promised, here is the next installment of "Life Is Good". Conner explained to me that he didn't concern himself with learning traditional quotes because the teacher told them they could just make them up.
You don't say. All things considered, I think he's got something going here.
"Life Is Good" by Conner
Always take small sips of hot liquids, I learned this from my burnt tongue.
Never look in a mean dogs eye, you come home looking like a poor kid.
Don't pull on a cat's tail, you'll never see them again.
Don't joke about bombs in an airport, the security will get you before you know it.
Never run with your shoelace untied, your knees and elbows will hate you for quite a while.
If you don't like fire don't go in the kitchen, you can ask my grandma.
Don't try to trick your parents, they have eyes on the back of their heads.
Don't talk to strangers, you might end up someplace odd.
Don't jump in the pool if you don't know how to swim, you can ask my 2 year old brother.
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, it's not a good way to make friends.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Liz is a (Canadian) friend I met in Italy, where she and her family still live. She became a fast friend as well as Conner's piano teacher, passionately using her musical education to pass on her gift to the next generation. I met her through Ruth, and the three of us got together as often as we could. That is, with three deployments and eleven children between the three of us, not nearly often enough.
Several weeks before Ruth and I moved from Italy, we went over to Liz's for some rare girl time, and Liz surprised us each with our own teacup: all three had the same design but a different color scheme. She had recently returned from a trip to Canada, and while passing through London on her way home managed to get a bit of shopping done. (Typical Liz: her husband's deployed; she's traveling alone with three young boys; and she thinks to go shopping for teacups.) She got one for each of us so that, whenever we have a cup of tea, wherever that may be, we will be reminded of our friendship. I don't have to tell you how touched Ruth and I were by that gesture, and by the sheer ingenuity. I am definitely going to use that idea myself some day and pass it off as my own.
But for now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get myself a cup of tea.