Friday, September 26, 2008

What's that smell? The second surgery follow up

T had a follow up visit as a result (hey, did you know if you misspell result it could turn out as reslut - which just makes all sorts of hilarity play out in my head -- seriously, two nights now I've had less than three hours of sleep) of his surgery in July. Our appointment was at 3 pm, the dr's office is about 40 minutes away and parking is impossible, so we left an hour and fifteen minutes early. We've had this appt since oh...the beginning of August. By the time I parked my van and we walked the half mile to the hospital, it was close to 3 pm.

Get to the Dr's office in plenty of time, and there's a waiting room full of people. Great. While we are waiting to check in, T goes potty in his pull up. He must have been holding it for a while because the pull up just couldn't handle the volume. I was not prepared for that since he had a fairly fresh pull up on. So now he's soaking wet and I have no change of clothes for him and no pull ups with me. We dash to the nearest bathroom (which wasn't so near) only to walk in and see that someone had make a huge mess all over the toilet and the floor in front of the toilet. EWWWW! So I grab a handful of paper towels (after first checking to make sure that there wasn't poo all over them too), take off the wet pull up and throw it away. T is unhappy that he has to go underwear free, but we don't really have a choice. I dry him off the best I can, open the door with a paper towel, and we dash back to the dr's office where I clean up the puddle on the floor. Only - there are no trash cans. oh, no! So I'm holding the wet paper towels in my hand when it's our turn to check in. We are told to have a seat in the already crowded waiting room. T isn't interested at all in sitting down in wet pants, and frankly I don't want him to get the chair wet, either, so we stand up. Well, the room is so small that in no time, the urine smell is really strong. Now, none of these folks speak English, so it's not like I can explain or apologize.

This older man opens a window and gives us a nasty look - like we are enjoying this situation. So I stand up in the tiny hallway so that we offend the least amount of people possible (still holding the paper towels in my hand and trying really hard not to think about it) and T starts begging for me to hold him. The receptionist comes over and slams her door after we've been there for a few minutes after giving us the stink eye. I don't know if that's because we smell or are standing in the little hallway. After 50 minutes, we are still waiting to be seen, people that have come in after us have been seen, T has fallen asleep as I'm holding him so now we are both damp and smell like urine, I'm still holding the towels, and T is so tall that every time I move, his head hits the wall. The next time the receptionist walks out of her office, I sigh loudly and look at the time. Passive aggressiveness at it's finest. Twenty minutes after that, we are finally seen. The doctor has me sit in the chair with T on my lap (which I totally understand) and we are done in 2 minutes. We waited an hour and ten minutes for this?!?! We are supposed to be come back in six weeks. I can't wait. On our way out without stopping at the receptionist's office to make the next appointment, we go back to the bathroom, which has not been cleaned to throw away the wet paper towels (it's the only one I know of). I carry him all the way to the car, then strip him down, wipe him off with baby wipes, douse myself with hand sanitizer, and cover him with the towel we had his car seat on. He's very unhappy about this because he has a deep sense of privacy. Poor kid.

We beat the parking meter by like 2 minutes, thank goodness, and head home. We walk in the door, he walks up the stairs, by the bathroom and into the living room, and then goes potty on the rug. Then he tries to splash in it. BOYS! I'm trying to clean the rug while keeping my daughter from running through it. She thinks this is hilarious - me, not so much. For the rest of the night, he keeps saying, I go peepee - ppsshhhhhhhhhhh. HAHAHAHAHA! So, in the land of the perpetually unbathed, it's the Americans that smell. Go figure....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Umm...where is the umbrella?

Not long after the kids and I got up this morning, a massive thunderstorm moved over our house. I love thunderstorms, which is a good thing, because I think we were really close to this one. Every time the lightning would flash, our German phone would ring. I'm thinking that the wiring here may need to be used with extreme caution - especially in bad weather. Which, come to think of it, there's a certain plug in our sitting room that enables my laptop to deliver a pretty steady and annoying stream of mild shocks when I use my non ergonomically friendly typing style (read: all the time). So, we don't plug anything into that outlet anymore.

As the storm moved across our house and on to the next area, the rain didn't seem to want to let up at all. We had a very, very large puddle in our driveway. I got T ready for school and found a coat for S and out the door we dashed. I've been grateful for automatic sliding doors before, but never as much as today. I'm also grateful for the covered patio outside our entrance. It let me dash one child at a time to the car. This may also be a great time to mention for the millionth time how glad I am to be out of base housing. Well, not base housing so much as away from our crappy stairwell neighbors. The new nickname: McLazy's. heh.

We head to base to take T to school and seem to be following the storm to base. When we get to school, I find the closest parking space I can, but it isn't that close in such bad weather. I get out to grab the umbrella only to discover - we have no umbrella in the van. And the reason for that is because the last time I cleaned out the van, I removed said umbrella and put it where it will do me the most good - the garage. Yay me! So I pick up S, grab T's hand and we make a run for it. The kids think it's hilarious, I think it's well..wet. And no fewer than 10 people comment on the fact that I am umbrella-less. Gee, thanks for cluing me in (insert eye roll here). My favorite comment? "Gee. You're getting wet". THANK YOU. I would never have figured that out on my own.

Luckily the storm passed by the time we picked T up from school and I went home and put the umbrella back in the car. Of course, I haven't needed it since, but that's just fine with me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Laundry and oil changes

Saturday R and I tried to be efficient and productive. We even had a plan (oooooooh! a plan!). We both drove to the base, I was going to take the clothes to the laundry mat on base and R was going to have the oil changed in his car. If I wasn't done with the laundry by the time his car was finished, he'd switch out the vehicles and get the oil changed in my van. Since we were planning to do laundry on base, I grabbed everything I could think of that might need to be washed. We, umm, ended up with a lot of stuff to wash.

T wanted to stay with his dad, so I took S with me and off we went. There are, of course, no parking places beside the laundry mat, which isn't a big deal if you don't have three basketfulls of laundry and a toddler to deal with. I grabbed the first two baskets, coaxing S to follow me, and into the laundry mat we went. I had money with me, but a limited amount of quarters because there's a change machine in the laundry room. I was not surprised to see that it was out of order - it was a Saturday morning and it was busy in there. It's $2.00 for one of the large machines, so I only had enough to start the first load. Since the food court was really close, I decided to run over there and change my cash. If that machine wasn't working, I could either ask for quarters at one of the food places or head to the club to see if that change machine was working. I had already put my second load of clothes in the washer, but was a quarter short, so I put my third load in front of the third washer and off we dashed to the food court. Luckily, that machine worked, so we were back within 10 minutes with quarters and the third basket of clothes.

Imagine my surprise when I walked up to the machines to start my second and third loads to find that a woman, her husband and their kids had not only moved my laundry from in front of the third machine, but had taken my clothes out of the second machine (brave considering they were dirty clothes that didn't belong to them) and put their stuff in. OH, the indignity and sheer chutzpah of that move.

Now, here's where my dilemma begins. I have S with me, and I really do try and set a good example for my kids. Yet, even I who rarely uses a laundry mat knows that putting your clothes on, in, or in front of a machine is the equivalent of 'dibs'. The fact that several other machines had that going on just reinforces my conviction that I was not imagining it or making it up. Now, one of the things I want to teach my kids is to stand up for themselves (and others if need be), but to do it the right way. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of conflict, but I don't like it and rarely see the point. So I hesitate for just a minute before saying anything and what I say is, "Wow - you moved my clothes?" She looks up, a little surprised. I guess she expected to be done before I got back. Her choice of a comeback was, "Oh. I didn't know you were going to use this machine." I could have bought that had my clothes just been in front of the machine, but since my clothes were IN the machine, not so much. I, ever happy to point out the obvious, say, "What part of my clothes already being IN the machine didn't clue you in?" She and her husband both start to laugh. I say laugh, I really mean snicker. And I only like a snicker if it's peanut, caramel, nougat and chocolicious.

So, I get angry and I got angry quick. They never really answered, just started feeding quarters into the machine. I take my clothes, go to the other side of that row of machines and start looking for another empty one. A picture of maturity and adult-ness, I stomp off and start to mutter. I really am going to have to figure out this whole muttering thing. As much as I dislike it in others, I seem to be turning to it a lot in the last year. It scares me a little. It's been a while since I had to fight the urge to slap someone-but I really had to do that with this woman and her husband. As they continued their smirking, I increased the volume of my muttering. To be a laundry mat, it sure got quiet in there. S, ever oblivious to the situation at hand, was concentrating on taking as much laundry out as I was putting in. She's my own comic relief, that one, but it didn't help today. I hear the husband ask the wife if she'll be okay if he and the kids leave her there, and I hear her say she's scared. Since I'm shooting them daggers and other nasty looks, I don't miss that the comment is referring to little old me. On one hand, she's a little right to be scared because I was really ticked off. On the other, even at this point I realize that I need to cut it out and act like a grownup. The five year old in me won (drat it) and I snap - "You should be afraid! If I were you, I wouldn't take my eyes OFF my laundry until it's done." Niiiiiiiice one, Brooke. They looked a little shocked that I said that. I was a little surprised myself, truth be told. And really, reading back over this...what an embarrassing way to behave even if I did mean every word.

32 tension filled moments later, my first load of laundry finishes. About four minutes after that, her loads start to finish. As I pull out my wet laundry and put in my next load (I was only able to find one other machine that was working and empty), a lady whose daughter S has been playing with signals me that she's done with the load that was in the dryer. I take my stuff over to the dryer and she tells me that she'll have another load done in about ten minutes. Cool. My second load will be done right about that time. I thank her and shoot machine stealer a triumphant glance. She's now got a huge pile of wet clothes and no available dryers. Awwww. Poor baby. I also notice that people that have clothes in the dryer are hovering near their dryers and looking at her warily. I have a feeling that I'm not the first person she's done that to.

Ten minutes later and I made the mistake of going to the bathroom. I needed to change S's diaper and why not go myself, right? So we can all guess what happens, right? The lady who tole me she'd have another dryer free soon pulls our her dry clothes and guess who dumps her stuff in. When I come out, I see this and FINALLY I act like an adult. I just shake my head and pull my wet clothes out of the washer. I refuse to look at machine stealer again because if she smirks at me, I'm going to roll my laundry cart right into her shin. As I'm busy not looking at her, this guy at the far end of the dryers signals me. I walk over there and he says that he's going to have three machines free in a few minutes. So I go get my wet clothes, put another load in the washer, and walk over to the dryers he's using. She sees me doing this and is right behind me with her wet clothes, but Mr. Nice Guy deliberately takes his time unloading his laundry one machine at a time so I can grab all three. And, even though I only had one load, I spread it between the three machines. So there, you heinous, nasty witch.

The rest of laundry time passes uneventfully. I think the validation of the other laundry mat patrons helped to diffuse my hostility. I still think I need to take a nice, hard look at the way I reacted to that situation, but if I or my life were perfect (the thought of that makes me laugh until I have tears in my eyes) what would I have to write about?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pizza Chicken

The kids are good eaters. Well, they are good at eating what they like and not so good at eating what they don't like. What those things are change from day to day and sometimes from meal to meal.

A sure bet? Ice cream. Yet, even I of the cold pizza or leftover spaghetti breakfast frown on ice cream as a breakfast choice. The kids would be thrilled to get cookies as their second choice, and I can't climb on board with that either. I plead the fifth on whether or not I've had cookies for breakfast, besides, we are talking about the kids. Although - I did see a "breakfast cookie' in the commissary the other day, but since it was beside the pop tarts and candy thinly disguised as chewy, fruit roll up thingies, I didn't even bother to pick up the box. Besides, what am I teaching them by giving them a 'breakfast cookie' for breakfast? Well, other than it's okay to have cookies for breakfast. But I'm getting off track.

Our landlords are going on vacation, so we have been given a lot of tomatoes and been instructed to pick and eat some apples while they are gone. As much as I love ketchup (Heinz only, please) and pasta sauce, I don't care much for tomatoes themselves. I don't like tomato juice or soup either, which really doesn't make any sense - not that all that much that I do makes a lot of sense. So I'm trying to figure out the best way to use these tomatoes. As tomatoes go, they look wonderful. I sliced up one for our Labor Day burgers, and the flavor was wonderful. Why I like a piece of tomato on a burger, but won't eat them on salads is a complete mystery to me. So, I figured I'd try to make a chunky, healthy tomato type sauce out of the rest. I diced them and boiled them with some water, garlic, fresh pepper and Italian seasoning. The next night for dinner, I was sauteing some chicken breasts and thought that I'd try throwing on the tomato creation for some added flavor.

T wanders in, sniffs, and asks, "what's that? Pizza?" (a little hopefully). Going with the flow I reply, "Yes! It's pizza chicken." (I manage to keep a straight face). Looking at me doubtfully, he peers into the pan. "Pizza chicken?" he asks. "Uh-huh" I respond. "Okay" he says, eyeing me cautiously and walking out of the kitchen.

This would be a good place to point out that the last gazillion times I've made chicken for dinner he has not been the least bit interested. However, we sit down for dinner, we cut some up and put it on the kids' plates and sprinkle it with cheese and....holy healthy dinners, batman! Not only do they try it, they EAT it and ask for more. Cheerfully. Along with the majority of the green beans I fixed and they even try the squash. Will wonders never cease.....

Monday, September 1, 2008


We've been in the house two weeks now. I've actually had more than one warm shower in a row now and today our landlords came over and showed us how to turn on the heat and turn up the hot water since they leave for a three week vacation soon. I got a peek at our oil tanks, not too much oil was used for the first half a month we were here, so we cranked the water temp up just a bit more. We also found out some important information, the warmer it is outside, the less the furnace/contraption/heating thingamajig will heat up the water. Oooooooh. That explains why the water is sometimes warm and sometimes not. It also goes to show me that I really don't understand the way Germans think. I've got a little over a year left to figure it out, which I'll totally try and do because I adore pointless challenges such as this.

This weekend, it got warm enough that R and I tackled the challenge of taking the kids to the pool that's just down the street. T has been asking to go and the kids were really well behaved this weekend if you don't count the inexplicable urges they have to whack each other for no apparent reason and S's new favorite hobby which is to teeter on the edge of the steps and make it look like she's going to fall. She only does this when you are not in a good position to catch her - for example you are following behind her down the steps (never, never a good idea we've found) or have your hands full of groceries, laundry, or the latest box of junk you are trying to unpack. She also thinks it hilarious. I'm torn between being amused and horrified. All it will take is one miscalculation and chances are we'll end up in the ER having stitches put in some part of her body. Not an appealing thought.

But anyway, we decided to take the kids to the pool on Saturday. We suited them up and walked down, enjoying the heat of the day. We got to the pool, stuck our toe in and realized that 23 degrees Celsius = cold water. We tried the baby pool first but the kids weren't impressed. Off to the big people pool! There was this really cool slide, it's wide enough for several people to go down at once side by side. In all the other pools we've been to in Germany, the slide ends up in fairly shallow water. We figured that T would be able to stand with no problem, but we didn't test it first. Did I mention the water was cold? So T and R go down the slide side by side. They both end up going underwater. R pops up immediately, but T can't touch the bottom of the pool, so I'm standing on the side of the pool, holding a ticked off S (who is wailing that she didn't get to go down the slide with her dad and brother) directing R (who seemed momentarily stunned by the icy water) for him to grab T. We pull him out of the water, he was only under for a second or two, but it scared him. And, it was, ummm, cold. So, in keeping with the theory that you should jump right back on the horse, T and I climb up the ladder to go down the slide. T, no fool, decides that he doesn't care to go down after all. I go, thinking that I can then catch him. T was not so fond of that idea and climbs back down the slide. I don't really blame him, In the few minutes I'd been in the water, my legs were going numb. How any of the people from the Titanic survived in that water is a complete mystery to me, and that water was much colder than the pool water we were in. But my heart, too, will go on.........

So, T jumps to me in the pool and R climbs in carefully with S, who begins to cry, shiver, and chatter all at once. Within five minutes, we are back in the baby pool, where some really nice German kids and their mom share their toys with our kids and a massive water fight breaks out. S is all about that - as long as I'm the one sitting in the water and she can sit on my lap and play in the water as she feels like it. And also that I'm the one taking the majority of the water being hurled our way. I'm just glad to be of service (rolling my eyes). After about an hour or so, both the kids' lips were blue and T was shivering so we had to drag him out of there to head home. Next summer, that will absolutely be the place to spend our days if it actually gets hot here. T, who is apparently a glutton for punishment, keeps asking to go back to the pool. Try as we might, he's not falling for the 'why don't you play in the water in the bathtub' ploy. I think it has something to do with the splashing.