Friday, August 29, 2008

Tip # 44 on how to be the worst mother ever

Let your kid lock himself out of the house while you are still sleeping peacefully.

On Tuesday, T woke up early and yelled, "Mooooooooooooooooommie!"

"What-ie?!" I grumbled in reply.


Thinking that he must have gone back to sleep, I went back to sleep too (BIG mistake). A little while later, I woke up and realized it was too quiet. Both of the kids should be up by now, it was after 7 am. Huh. I go upstairs and look in T's room. Not there. I go in S's room. She's there and awake, but no T. Nor is he in the playroom, living room, kitchen, or bathroom. Trying not to panic. I go down the stairs that leads to the laundry room and the covered patio. Holy @%&@#%&#. There's T - sitting outside on the patio in his PJ's, huge tears on his cheeks. He had gone outside at some point and shut the door behind him, which locked him out of the house. If he had rung the doorbell or banged on the door, I couldn't have heard him from my part of the house.

Two million scenarios of what could have happened rushed through my head and I tried very hard not to freak out. At that point, what would it accomplish, besides freaking out T, and he'd been through enough. After about 10 minute of big hugs and my holding him tight (which S was not impressed with AT ALL), we all went outside and I showed him what to do if that ever happened again. He said he was looking for Dad because I was sleeping. Oh my goodness, the GUILT. Sigh......

All's well that ends well, but I also realize one of these days my luck is going to run out. I'm so grateful that it wasn't Tuesday. And we are also double locking the door so that the kids can't get out without a key. T was smart enough to stay put. I'm not sure that S would react that way. Without parental intervention at this point, she'd decide to play with rocks while lying down in the middle of the street or something else equally nerve settling like finding a beehive and trying to pet them. I can't even bear to think of it. Sheesh.

3 Room Circus

We've been in the house two weeks now. How we could fill up a house that's easily twice the size of our old apartment without buying anything new (with the execption of some rugs) is a complete mystery to me. Maybe I should call Nancy Drew. I guess the title could be "The Case of the Endless Junk" or maybe "The Case of the House full of Nothing".

R took a day off this week so that I could actually get most of the boxes unpacked. We made headway, but we aren't done yet. At least I only feel a little hopeless when I walk into the boxes room as opposed to completely hopeless.

The kids are so happy here, though. Every time we go to the base where we used to live T says, "Noooooo Mom. Lets go to Pink House". Pink house is what he calls this house, only it's not really's more terra cotta-ish. When I assure him that we are only going to the store or the BX or where ever, he calms right down. I even got three warm showers IN A ROW. Which means, of course, that I'm feeling a lot more human and reasonable than last week. It's also been warmer, so I've had a few days that my feet have been warm without shoes on. Woohoo. It's always the small things isn't it?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Forget Waldo, where is the hot water? Seriously!

We've been in the house over a week. The creaks and groans are somewhat familiar to us now, and it crosses my mind at least 10 times a day that we might just be in over our heads, but the kids are happy (and T is starting to nap again without being up until midnight). There are some issues here though.

Issue one - I'm cold! Those of you that know me well know how shocking this statement is. I can't find the box that I packed the bedroom rugs in, so I actually have to psych myself out of bed in the mornings. It's August, and I'm considering asking the landlords to turn on the heat. This does NOT bode well for us this winter. Does not, does not, does not.

Issue two - no hot water. Every third day or so, we have warmish water. I've had one shower here where I haven't left it shivering - and that was ruined by a spider that was the size of my hand (which is not small and dainty) showing himself mid conditioning treatment. Needless to say, I cut that short. Tonight, I boiled water on the stove so that the kids could take a warm bath. The landlords say that it will take 'a while' for the water to heat up - but I think a week is plenty of time. At the end of next week, I'm venturing into the basement and measuring the oil level. If it hasn't dropped much, we are cranking up the water temperature. Period.

Issue three - FMO gave us a German washer and dryer. The washer does an amazing job, but is TINY. What I could do in two loads in an American washer will take me four or five here. And the shortest wash cycle takes 46 minutes. You want hot water (and thank goodness the washer heats the water since we don't have hot water) and you are looking at a minimum of two hours. The dryer, which does work better than the last American dryer we had, doesn't actually work well in my opinion, and it's so cool in the house that it's taking the clothes about a day to dry when I hang them up. We can switch out the German washer and dryer for American ones, but we have to do it - which will mean renting a truck or van to haul them to FMO and then having to set up the new ones ourselves. At this point, I want the most energy efficient ones, but I have no idea which ones those are.

Issue four - no screens on the windows. I hate bugs and have had to deal with way more bees, yellow jackets, flies and spiders than I expected - and again - it's August. In December, I figure I will be able to trace a line of invading insects similar to the one that formed for Noah's Ark. Well, that's actually assuming that it will be warmer inside than outside, and I'd say that's a pretty big assumption at this point.

Issue five - since our current laundry room, living room, kitchen, and second bathroom were added on to the house fairly recently, to get from our bedroom to any of those rooms, we have to go up the stairs which creak like crazy and risk waking the kids (if they are asleep) or go out the main front door and through the other door - but you have to have your house keys with you to open or shut the main door and open the other door. And since I hang up my keys in the kitchen so that I will be able to find them when I need them, that leaves me with limited options.

But, even with the issues, this house is so much better than our housing quarters were. SO much better! Today we took the kids for a walk down by the river that runs beside the campground. There is a huge playground there and I can see the kids and I hanging out there at least a couple times a week. Plus, the pool is open until the end of September and I'm betting the pool water is warmer (or at least as warm) as the water in our house, so I'm going to try and take the kids there this week. Brave, aren't I?

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The moving plan

One of the first arguments that R and I ever had was over having a plan. He didn't think I had a plan, I disagreed. I had a plan, it was just a fluid plan and it would adapt to whatever came up. I feel compelled to point out that living this way had worked quite successfully for me up to this point. Over the years that we've been together, we've worked out an unspoken compromise. He's a little less structured, I'm a little more structured, and if it involves anything military at all, I adhere to his way of doing things. To his credit, he accepts my fluid planning the rest of the time. I probably got the better deal.

And then we decided to move. We've been kicking around the idea of moving off base fairly seriously for about a year. When we finally decided to look, I really didn't think we'd find anything I liked well enough to move for little over a year. But of course, I did. Our landlords knew someone on the street that worked for a moving company, so he and a coworker of his agreed to move our furniture on Saturday for around the same amount of money that it cost us to move before we had Sara. We apparently have more stuff (how does that HAPPEN?) and we moved several miles away versus right around the corner, so I feel like we got a really good deal.

So here was my fabulous plan - we can move in on Friday, but that was also the day the FMO folks were going to deliver our fridge, washer and dryer, etc., so I would use Friday to make sure all the furniture was ready to move on Saturday, and after the furniture was moved we'd move the the things we'd need immediately (bathroom stuff, dishes, clothes), then we would pack up whatever was left on Sunday. Monday we'd pick up the rental moving van (similar to a U-haul for Germany) and move the rest of our stuff out, and have the cleaning done by Monday night or Tuesday mid-day. R was off Monday and Tuesday, I'd use Wednesday to unpack and we'd clear our old place on Thursday morning. Great plan, right?

And here's where my plan completely fails. It took us (I say us, but I really mean R) all day Monday to pack up the rest of the apartment and get it down to the van we rented so that we would only have to make one trip. According to my fabulous plan, I started cleaning. We had the kids with us, who had the time of their lives running through the house, playing with toys that had been stuck in the back of their closet for ages, and perfecting their slide into home technique since the living room was now empty. Since the house was empty of all furniture, there was a nice echo, and the shrieking and yelling I'm sure made our soon-t0-be former neighbors even more grateful that we were leaving. I cleaned all day on Monday, R moved stuff all day Monday (and we did get 99% of it in one trip) but the more I cleaned, the dirtier the rest of the place looked. Not a good sign. I didn't think the place was that dirty when I started out. Man, was I wrong. So we clean all day Tuesday, slowed down by trying to keep the kids from taking the vinegar squirt bottles we made to remove the hard water deposits and having a water gun fight. By water gun fight, I really mean spraying each other full strength in the face (not so good with vinegar). R breaks out the comet to help clean the tub, and when he was running down some trash and I was half in the fridge trying to remove little broccoli grit (how in the heck does that stuff get everywhere and then multiply?!?!?) from, well, everywhere, I hear S giggling in that specific tone that suggests she's up to no good. So I get up and look for her and she's grabbed the Comet and has shaken it out in an impressive trail from the hall bathroom all the way down the hall and into the living room. As I catch her eye, and I'm sure I had a horrified look on my face, she laughs and starts to put the Comet can up to her mouth. Right at this time, R walks back in the door, and we both have this slo-mo moment where we are roaring, "noooooooooooooo", which makes her drop the Comet, leaving her clothes and shoes covered in the stuff. And we scare her because we are both lunging at her - we are so big and she's so little that I'm sure it was like Jack being double-teamed by two giants over that whole beanstalk thing. So she starts to cry --check that--wail as we get to her and grab the Comet. We strip her down, examine her closely for any signs of a Comet snack or that the Comet is on her body, change her clothes, clean her shoes, and I try to keep the kids out of the the Comet trail. Interestingly enough, that stuff seems to multiply as you try to clean it up as well. I realize that shutting the kids in our bedroom with the Swiffer wet and the Swiffer WetJet is a great way to keep them occupied and sort of actually get some of the floor clean - if you count puddles of wet jet liquid among huge dry patches cleaning the floor. All goes well until R needs the WetJet to finish the Comet clean up. And then the wailing begins anew. We are nothing if not consistent.

So it took me cleaning all day Monday, R and I cleaning all day on Tuesday, and more cleaning by me after work on Wednesday to get the place done. Now, if I do say so myself, that place was 10 shades cleaner than when we moved in. The kids were so happy to leave there for the last time. We were leaving either Monday or Tuesday night and our yucky neighbor below us was out on her balcony. T sees her and says hi, she ignores him, so he starts yelling, "Hellooooooo. Heeelllooooooooooooooooo. HEEELLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" until she finally speaks to him. Heh. Then he announces, "We going home. This not our home". She, of course, is like "oh" because she could care less. And I of course, am trying not to sneer or make snide comments. Good to see that with or without a plan, I'm still the same old me. Now, that's the plan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When yes means no and no means yes

When T was in the fierce, uncontrollable grip of tantrum land (a place he still occasionally loves to vacation, apparently), I just kept telling myself - 'it will end, it's just a phase, this too shall pass' - over and over. And to be honest; gradually, slowly, things got better. I got a lot of advice from well meaning people, a lot of it good. Anything was worth a try. What works with T today may not work next week but might work in a month. Who knows? (I sure don't!) But once you can find a way to break through the frustration and help him tell you what's wrong, he will calm down almost immediately.

So, there are going to be a lot of big changes soon. And we are trying to prepare him - talking about the house and how great it will be to have a yard and to be able to go outside whenever we want. And he's totally on board with that. I am really, really, realllllllly hoping that things will continue to go smoothly. The worst thing is that there will be no more Disney playhouse channel. We have tons of movies and Thomas the Train DVD's, but he's all about the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. For the first week or two, he'll be too excited about all the outside time to worry about TV. But our first really rainy, yucky day, I'm afraid he'll zoom off to tantrum land and stay for a while. We'll see.

Not to go unnoticed, the divine Miss S is developing her lungs as T's second in command. Be afraid, be very afraid. I know I am. In the commissary today, she was pretty much unmanageable, shrieking and wailing and screeching - not because anything was wrong, not because we denied her a cookie/toy/cereal/candy/grapes - just because she felt like it. And the stares - oh my goodness. To make it worse - when she decides she's done with the screaming (which sounds like we are shoving flaming bamboo shoots under her fingernails) she then smiles, giggles, and blows kisses at everyone we pass. You can literally see the dark cloud over R's and my heads. Siiiiigh.....

So, today as T had a nice sojourn to TantrumLand and S followed his departure and return with the opera of eternal screeching, R and I drug our frustrated, put out behinds home muttering under our breath about the unfairness of parenting and how the entire idea of the Brady Bunch and Leave it Beaver have ruined all parents like us for the harsh reality that kids can be completely impossible for absolutely no reason at all other than they feel like it. Later on as I was trying to cook dinner and talk to Papa, T decided he wanted to talk to Papa too. It's one of those things that make no sense. He's all about talking to Papa when Papa isn't on the phone. Put Papa on the phone and you are very likely to receive a defiant "NO" and assorted annoying noises when you try to get T to say hello. I hope that Papa doesn't take it personally, but it's a bit embarrassing. Today, the phone gods were on my side as T took the phone and chatted (mid-tantrum, mind you) with Papa and just happened to admit within my and R's earshot that indeed, he says yes when he means no and no when he means yes. BUSTED! If T were aware of this as a possible response, I have no doubt that T would reply 'because I feel like it' as a reason why he does this. I think Papa is still laughing about this and will be for a while. I have to laugh too, which will undoubtedly come back and bite me. Painfully. And probably soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All clear...for removal?!?

T had his post surgery checkup yesterday. T and doctors are a testy combination under the best of circumstances, so I have to admit I was not looking forward to the appointment. Plus, S was with us and the two of them, I swear, feed off each other in either a really positve or really negative way. If one cries, they both cry. If one screams, they both scream. And I swear, they coordinate their poops too. But if one hugs, they both hug, which almost makes up for the crying, screaming and pooping. Allllmost. They speak a language I don't catch or understand, and S will listen to T when she's mostly ignoring me. Sometimes thats good, sometimes not so much. Yesterday was a pretty equal split. I brought toys with me for the kids, and T listened really well while we were waiting. The only trouble I had was when S wanted to take advantage of the hallway echo. T would immediately follow suit. Some of the nuns were chuckling as I tried to calmly calm them down, so I'm guessing other kids do that too - it's just that I would rather it not be MY kids that lead the pack, you know?

When we walked into the exam room, T's eyes got really wide and I could tell he was scared. So we began looking at all the instruments and talking about what was going to happen. His currency, as Dr. Phil would say, for doctors appointments is getting out of there. So I explain that as soon as the Dr. comes in, looks in his ears and at his throat that we will get to leave. T nods solemnly. I cross my fingers and hope it works.

The doctor comes in. It's the same guy that visited T after his surgery. T collapses on the floor and whimpers, "Noooooo" when the doctor asks him to get up in the chair. But for the third time in a row, there's no screaming or having to force him into the chair. I sit down, S's stroller rolled up beside the chair, and T climbs willingly into my lap. He even turns his head when asked so the doctor can look in both ears. And then he opens his mouth so the doctor can look at his throat. I am stunned and proud. And relieved.

Since everything looks good, the doctor tells me to make an appointment in six to eight weeks. UGH! Really? We aren't done for six months? Seriously?!?

But it turns out that since T's adenoids were removed, they don't think the tubes will need to be in for the full six months, so if his ears are clear at the next appointment, we'll talk about when to remove the tubes. I'm happy to hear that in a way, and yet - really - did he actually need the tubes in after all? I guess I'll never really know. The important thing is that he's doing well - sleeping better and not so grumpy. As soon as we move, I can work on getting both of them really tired every day so we can all take an afternoon nap (or I can read) again.

To reward his amazing behavior, we went to the BX and he got to buy a Thomas the Train magazine and we rented a movie. I hope he's this easy for the next ten years or's no use, I can't even type that without laughing. Let's just hope he's as manageable. That seems more...appropriate.