Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Keeping with our really exciting lifestyle, we have absolutely no plans whatsoever for New Years this year. I think a year or two ago we were going to let the kids stay up and have a little home party, but S crashed out by 10 pm and T was sincerely unimpressed with any of it. And let's be honest, I think R and I go to bed on average about 30 minutes earlier a night each year, so staying up until midnight is too much like work. Yes, even on New Years. We are just soooooooo hip and happening. The fact that I even used the phrase 'hip and happening' should prove how hopelessly un-hip I am. Shocker, isn't it?

The good news, actually the great news, is that we are starting the New Year out in our new home. I'll have some pics posted later (after we get internet hooked up at our new place and it won't take half an hour to upload a picture). We are living on base, which I think is the best decision for now. There were some great houses available, but I'm ready to be close to things for a while. The housing here is beautiful and we don't have anything behind us but a field. Let's hope that this farmer doesn't use the same fertilizer that German farmers did. Peee-ewwwww.

So, today we are checking out of the hotel and accepting delivery of our unaccompanied baggage shipment which includes S's crib, our bedding, COATS!!!!!, and enough stuff to get us buy until the rest of our stuff gets delivered on Tuesday. I'm so impressed how quickly everything got scheduled. Now, the question is whether I can live without internet over an entire weekend. I'm guessing no way, but thanks to the ease of wireless access around here, I'm sure I can figure out something. heh.

So Happy New Year everyone! Last year was a record one for us in so many ways. I hope that everyone has a happy and healthy 2010 and that it's filled with love and laughter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trip summary

As I usually do, I've started several blog entries to tell the delightful yet event filled tale of our PCS back to the good ol' US of A. As per usual, about the time I've decided the adventures are mostly over, something really unexpected happens.

At this point, this entry would be a small book if I detailed everything and now that things seem to have settled down, I thought I'd just give the highlights.

Here's what went wrong:
*Ramstein Air Base doesn't sell diesel fuel. This is only a problem if you aren't familiar with the area, and have rented a car that requires diesel fuel, which of course was our situation.
*Our flight was delayed by the time we checked in for it. This wasn't unexpected - after all it's Ramstein - but it was delayed by over five hours, they accepted space a passengers and then kicked them off (luckily we were traveling on orders), they shuffled us all through security THEN figured out they had double booked many of the seats anyway, then the plane had 'mechanical' trouble (uh huh, suuuuuure) so we all had to leave the gate waiting area and just stand around then make a mad dash for the plane when it was decided it would fly after all. Just a side note - we were originally scheduled to land around 5 pm, we landed well after 11pm. Just sayin'....
*It took us for-evah to get used to the time difference, and for about a week I feared that our new preferred bedtime was going to be 7:35 pm.
*We were planning to go and see family in Oklahoma, which is a straight shot on I-40, but we found out that a huge section of it is closed, which caused a short tempered and less than kind discussion of routes between R and I. (seems awfully silly now, but really important then. I blame the jet lag.)
*We broke our digital camera when we went to the zoo. Granted, it was on the third drop, which of course was by me, but still...
*On our way to my grandmother's 90th birthday extravaganza, S had some projectile vomiting in R's truck, which led to a week long battle with a stomach bug for her. This was also the week we were planning our drive to Oklahoma.
*A huge (for NC, anyway) winter storm blew in on the day we were planning on leaving NC (for like the third or fourth time) putting down alternating layers of ice and snow and closing our alternate route to OK.
*T developed the stomach bug S had just managed to kick that Saturday, and his lasted almost a week too.
*Our truck, our awesome 2003 vehicle with just over 30,000 miles on it that had been waiting for us to return to the US that was PAID OFF kicked the bucket in a huge and expensive way in all that winter weather. Of course this was after we replaced the windshield and bought a camper top so we could haul all the stuff we brought, left, and purchased. Now what are we going to do with all that luggage?!?!?!
*Dropping off some trash for my dad, I managed to pop myself in the nose as I was trying to close the back of our new vehicle. Of course it drew blood, hurt like the dickens, and it was on.....Christmas Eve. Of course.
*There was no room at lodging at our new base and our off base accommodations have been rather interesting, but it fits in with our overall theme for this trip of what doesn't kill you...

Now for the good stuff!
*Hertz didn't cancel our car rental reservation in Baltimore even though we didn't make it there before midnight and couldn't call or email to let them know.
*The kids were absolute champs on the wait for the flight, during the flight, and during all our hours in the car.
*We had put a blanket under the kids' seats in the truck, so when they got sick and threw up, we didn't have to clean the truck upholstery, we just had to wash the car seat covers, the blanket, and their clothes. Since I gag and retch when doing things like that, this was especially appealing to me.
*We got a decent trade in price for our truck, all things considered. Even if we had kept it, the largest repair (replacing the entire drive train) was covered under warranty. Still. Six years later.
*We were able to stay with my dad for our entire extended stay in NC. I can't even fathom how expensive a hotel would have been, not to mention what we would have spent just doing laundry. Yikes!
*We got to see so many of our family and friends even though it was around Christmas time and everyone was super busy. There are so many of you we wanted to see more, but at least now we live closer.
*When our truck broke down, at least we were in NC where help was available. If we had broken down on the road, it would have been in the midst of that horrible weather where we didn't know anyone and more than likely we wouldn't have had cell phone service.
*I got to go to several Zumba classes, two of them followed by amazingly delicious orange truffle martini's. Nothing like working out so you can drink something that delicious. To Chris and Caitlin, my NC workout partners - thanks for some great company and conversations :) Love and miss you guys!!!!!!!!
*We made it from Winston to Illinois in a day, beating out another winter storm. L.U.C.K.Y.
*Our new used car is great and fit twice the luggage we hoped it would. HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!
*We realized how blessed we are to have such amazing friends and family, both stateside and in Germany. We love you all, thanks for sticking with us through all the adventure.

Monday, December 28, 2009

So upset today!

In October, the absolutely fabulous Annie Pennington ( took pictures of our family. Annie was so gracious and wonderful to work with us and what our budget would allow because trust me, I wanted every. single. picture. that she took.

What we ended up doing was buying the digital disk and a portrait of the four of us, then the rest of the money was spent on Christmas cards and Christmas gifts for the grandparents (both of our parents are divorced and have happily remarried).

With all of the drama that and complications of the past couple weeks, we mailed R's mom and stepdad their framed picture and the brag book that Annie was gracious enough to custom create for us.

I got an email thanking me for the framed picture, but this was in the middle of the vehicle buying, stomach virus hoopla and it didn't hit me until a couple days later that she didn't say anything about the brag book, so I emailed her and asked about it. She was nice enough to email me back, but she said she took everything out of the box and it must have gotten thrown away. I kid you not, I am literally sick about this. I just want to throw up, I'm so upset.

You know, I try so hard to be honest about my positive and negative qualities. I really do. And for whatever reason, people generally either really like me or really don't. Either way is fine. And this last photo thing is just it for me with my mother in law. I understand that she doesn't like me. I truly don't know why because she's never even really tried to get to know me. I also realize how self destructive and pointless it is to obsess about something like that, though, so I try to just accept it and move on. But if I'm being really honest, I want to have a good relationship with her anyway, even if that doesn't involve us being close. She's my husband's mother and my children's grandmother and I was hoping deep down that someday that would be enough.

However, there's so much going on that I don't know about or realize with that side of the family. There's not enough time to try and explain it and it's really not my place to do so anyway. I was informed when I first went to meet her that she wouldn't like me and that's certainly been the case. For years she ignored my birthday and our anniversary, from time to time she ignored R's birthday while grilling him about not remembering everyone else's birthdays, and there's been more than once when she's totally ignored the kids' birthdays. It's the latter that kills me. R and I are adults and can fight our own battles. If birthdays weren't a big deal in that family, that would make more sense. But she just doesn't bother to remember and more than once she's laughed about forgetting about them. Obviously, I don't think it's too funny. The kids are young and it's doubtful that it affects them, but it's more of the principle of the thing. After she forgot S's birthday and laughed about it upsetting me last year, I was pretty much done with all of it.

And then we had the pictures made and I tried so hard to pick out pictures of R and the kids that she'd like, and tried to make sure that I wasn't in too many of them. And then she throws them out. Maybe she did it on purpose, maybe she didn't. But from the tone of her email and our past history, the conclusion I'm drawing is that chances are good that it was accidentally on purpose. And I'm sad, hurt, and angry. And I'm curious to know what anyone out there thinks should be the next step - do I pretend like it didn't happen? Cut her out completely? I don't want her to make the kids feel like she makes R and I feel, which is pretty rotten most of the time. I just don't know. I really don't.

The next chapter

We ended up trading in the truck for a used 2008 Dodge Nitro. In addition to the entire drive train needing to be replaced, the front hubs and rotors had to be replaced. There was no way the truck was going to be ready to get us to our new base by R's deadline, so we had to start tossing around options. I feel we got a fair deal overall, but the timing stinks until I realize how fortunate we are that we could just buy a vehicle in such short notice like that. R and I are trying really hard not to be stressed out about finances since we still have to buy a new mattress and I'm determined to buy a good one that will stay comfy longer than 3 years, and we will also have extra expenses for setting up house. Oh, COLA (cost of living allowance) how you are missed!

The trip to Illinois went better than we could have hoped. We bought a GPS (before we realized we were going to need a vehicle) and even though there were a few directional mishaps on the way, we made it all the way in one day, the kids were absolutely fabulous on the way, and we beat a nasty but short winter storm. Niiiice.

Tomorrow R checks in on base, I figure out what to do with the kids all day, and we start the housing search. There is so much neat stuff to do around here and the trouble is going to be in deciding what to do instead of finding something to do. And one of these days, I'm going to catch up on blogging. No really, I am. Stop laughing :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Updates, updates

Well, my goodness!

We are back in the USA. Stores open 24 hours (or at least past 7 pm), the ability to find what you want when you want it, life that just makes a little more sense to me. Ahhhhhh! It's been amazing.

We came back at a really busy time of the year and while we haven't spent as much time as we'd like with all the friends and family we wanted to, we've at least gotten to see almost everyone for a second or two. I missed my life here - as if it wasn't glaringly obvious from multiple blog entries or all the whining I've done about missing the US.

We were planning to spend a couple weeks in NC, then head to Oklahoma, then onto our next base in Illinois. Well, several weeks later, we are still in NC. One of the first calls I made when we got settled in was to my old eye doctor to make an appointment to renew my contact prescription. My eyesight is horrible, which was confirmed by my optometrist. Can you believe they still had my records from 4 and a half years ago? Me either! But they did. So that delayed us a bit between getting the appointment and then ordering the correct contacts and making sure they would be okay. But, all is well and I can now be glasses-less if I so choose. It made me laugh that it freaked the kids out. The divine Ms. S, was particularly insistent that I put the glasses back on or hand them over to her as a plaything. That was a loud and quasi amusing couple of hours. I have some strong willed kids. ;)

Next, my grandmother's 90th birthday was on the 15th so we decided to stay for that. Our immediate family celebrated with weekend before since my brother, his wife, and their daughter (that little cutie pie) live about an hour away now. But my mom had already arranged to have a small celebration at the assisted living residence where my grandmother is staying on her actual birthday. On the way there, S throws up in R's truck. Fun on so many levels. So, we headed back to my dad's to clean up S and the truck. Following the vomiting was the inevitable diarrhea, which lasted and lasted. We had planned to leave for Oklahoma on Friday, and when we woke up that morning, S had a fever after being sick all week. R, who is not the worrier of the family, says, "I think we should take her to the doctor." Agreed, because at this point she'd maybe had the equivalent of a sandwich or two since Monday and we were worried about her getting dehydrated since she wasn't drinking as much as usual. There was supposed to be a winter storm moving through starting on Friday, which had initially added to our plans to head out of NC on Friday. But goodness - her little butt was so irritated that we really didn't want to make her sit for hours and hours in a truck. I also had my final eye appointment that morning, and by the time I got back to Dad's around 10:00 am, the winter weather had already begun. The problem (imho) is that it started as sleet. I've lived in NC long enough to know this spells trouble - sleet, covered by snow, often followed by more sleet. No fun.

When we took S to her 1 pm appointment, the roads were already bad. By the time we got back - which wasn't until around 3:30 pm or so, it was so bad that we weren't going anywhere on Friday. And, by the way, the doctor said she had a stomach flu. It was almost like being back at the extended care clinic in Germany. Well, DUH!

On Saturday, T starts the whole vomiting/diarrhea process, but his was less severe than S's. Still - same rules apply - no fun trying to travel with a munchkin who's going to need to find a potty every half hour or so. So maybe we'll leave on Sunday. T had gotten up around 3 am Sunday morning, so he and I were napping around 9 am or so when R took S to Walmart to get a couple things for T. On the way back, the front axle of the truck broke. Like, broke in two. And I may not know much about cars, trucks, or all things mechanical, but there is no way that was good news. So, not leaving on Sunday. Plus,our planned highway route was now closed in a couple places because of the weather. It's bad when they close a highway, right?!?!

So, Dad is confident that he can get the truck fixed enough for us to be able to drive it. He comes to get R to get the truck pretty early on Monday, R drives the truck home - drives great! And we decide to leave first thing on Tuesday. Mom, who hasn't seen the kids since Thursday, offers to keep the kids so we can get some last minute things done (like Christmas shopping for the kids, since we were thinking when we left Germany that we'd be at our new base by now and it would make more sense to buy their stuff there). On our way to Mom's the truck dies a slow, grindingly loud, horrible, painful death. So, for the second time in two days we have it towed.

About two hundred phone calls and some internet research later, the truck is headed to a Dodge dealership where we are hoping that at least part of the repairs will be covered by the warranty because at first glance the entire drive train has to be replaced. So, it doesn't look like we are going to be leaving on Tuesday, either. We are supposed to hear first thing this morning about how long it will take and how expensive it will be. With any luck, we'll get the truck back in time to get R to our new base in time for his deadline, which is 30 December. If not, I guess he'll fly on up there and the kids and I will follow when we get the truck back. If we get the truck back. I'll be honest, I have doubts about driving it to Illinois with two kids by myself, but then again, doesn't a little adventure always translate into interesting memories?

Even if I didn't believe in God, fate or karma, this week would have challenged that. How lucky are we that the kids ended up with a relatively mild stomach virus versus the flu, the truck decided to break down in a city where we have friends and family? Granted, it's been a frustrating last few days, but we are all safe, happy, relatively healthy, and with people we love. Even with all the drama, it doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the lap of luxury


Life. Is. Good.

It's been a really busy November so far, but that's to be expected, and it's also a good thing. Being busy keeps me focused on what I need to be focused on and it keeps me from worrying about pointless things like tidal waves, national level disasters, or whether or not the checkout clerk at the commissary was being snarky or not.

While I have loved living off base for many reasons, I have to admit spending the last week or so with a mattress on the floor as our only furniture was getting a bit old. And a bit chilly. But never fear! The movers came and packed up the rest of our stuff - well at least the stuff we had ready. I was still doing laundry. Still. Doing. Laundry. I don't even want to think about how many loads I've done in the last 10 days. I'm still not exactly sure how it multiplies so quickly.

At any rate, we packed up the rest of our stuff in the suitcases, packed up the van, and headed to check into temporary lodging. This is exciting for many reasons - furniture! carpet! real beds! a fridge that's actually in the kitchen! wireless internet! the convenience of being so close to everything! heat that can be set at our comfort level instead of our budget level! It's bliss, I tell you. BLISS!

So now we are settled in and feel like we've been here for ages (but in a really good way). The house is almost completely cleaned and ready for the new tenants, and the kids are adapting really well to all the changes. I may actually cook dinner tonight and everything.

My friends are coming over on Saturday to hang out, and there's nothing better than good friends, good conversation, and lots of laughter. Next week I get another cut and color from the amazing Jen which means I stand a really good chance of getting off the flight to the States not looking half dead.

Yep, life is very good indeed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Baby Jason

Jessie, who was brave enough to attempt to teach me cake decorating, was nice enough to indulge my need for a baby fix and agree to let me keep her son, Jason, when she was going to be out of town overnight. Jason is just the sweetest thing - always smiley and in a great mood. Laura, who has kids the same age as Jessie's, was going to be keeping Jessie's other little girl, Erica since Erica and Sophia (Laura's daughter) are BFF's.

As wild and crazy as my kids can be, they LOOOOOOVE babies and they are really good with them. Very gentle, very patient, and the even offer to share their toys, food, clothes...whatever. So when I told them that we'd be keeping Jason, they were so excited. I picked him up after I worked out, so by the time I got home my kids were already in bed. R and I gave him a bottle, changed his pants, got peed on (how quickly you forget that happens), and put him to bed. No crying, no battles, just pure baby love.

Unfortunately for Jason, the kids couldn't stand it and woke the poor little guy up at 6:30 in the morning. Even so, he was a great sport. The kids initially treated him like a dog - T would clap his hands and say, "Here baby Jason. Come here. Come on, coooooome on" and S would pat the chair or floor beside her and say, "Come here! Come here!"

Uggg. So, the bonus was that the kids were fascinated and totally absorbed by Jason. They wanted to help feed him, diaper him, dress him, hold him, etc. They also wanted to slip him some of their food, which turned out to be quite the battle between the kids and I. 'No, Jason cannot eat Apple Jacks because he's just getting his teeth. No, baby Jason can't have a pb&j because he can't chew. No, baby Jason can't have Cheetos, or triangle chips (Doritos, natch), or carrot sticks, or an apple, or celery, or a juice box, or a sucker.'

But we all survived quite well with a third little one in the house. The kids fought over who would sit beside him, who would play with him, who would share what toy with him - all good stuff. I loved every minute of it and it was SUCH a fun day. But it wore me out and I'm glad that it's just my two. I don't think I could deal with three and admire anyone that can! Kids are hard, man!

T and S were so sad when Jessie came to pick him up. They seriously wanted to keep him 'forever and ever'. The next morning, when T got up, he came into our bedroom with a very sad face and I asked him what was wrong. "Mom, I want baby Jason back. I want a house full of babies." UH OH. This baby machine is in retirement. "How about some Apple Jacks?" I suggested. "Yeaaaahhhhhhhh" (whew) "and then can we go and get baby Jason?" (double uh oh!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just One of Those Days

This morning I wake up and jump into the morning routine - the kids and I head out to the car (on time, ifIdosaysomyself), and I push the unlock button on the remote. Nothing.

Oh. NO!

I manually unlock the van, say a little prayer to the battery gods who were obviously busy with real problems, and try to start the engine. Yeeaaaaahhh. Not gonna happen. I don't even get an almost out of it - just a rrrrrrrrrrrrr. R's at work, no one I know lives very near here, and this is just not good. I get the kids back into the house which is surprisingly more difficult than getting them out the door, and do my best Winnie the Pooh impression (think, think, think!). I decide my best option is to appeal for help on Facebook, but I go ahead and call R at work anyway. No answer. So then I call Kellie - but remember that she's probably at aerobics already (which is where I'd rather be) when she doesn't answer. Lucky for me, R calls back and says that he can come and help.

While we are waiting, I decide to actually made good use of the time and clean the kitchen. I mean, it's not like I can throw the "gosh, I've been running around all day and I just haven't had a chance, honey" excuse at R now (darn it!). He shows up right about the time I'm finishing up, so we head out to the cars to jump the van. R goes to hook up the jumper cables and as soon as he connects the second black jumper handle to my very dead battery, my car alarm goes off. Well now, that's not good. In all the times I've had a battery die (and there have been many), I've never had the alarm activate when trying to jump the car. Hmmm. So we disconnect and try to figure out why that's happening (totally have no idea). We notice that the connectors are wet from where they hit the ground, so we dry them off and try again. Same thing. Well, now, this is strange.

A few minutes later, we decided to just jump the car anyway. I've got things I have to do today and R can't hang around all day either. The van starts, but the alarm is still going off. We can't get the alarm to turn off until the van has enough battery power built up to respond to the remote. So - to our neighbors, I'm really, really sorry about that. At least it wasn't 6 am, right?

The kids and I get back into the car and R follows us long enough to make sure we aren't going to get stranded. I pull up outside of the CDC, and darn if their fire alarm doesn't go off. That's just weird. I kept waiting for random alarms to go off when I walked by, but so far, things seem to have settled down. You know, that actually wouldn't be a bad idea for a super power - I could be Siren Girl: able to damage ear drums or trigger a migraine in one short minute.

Finally, we get the okay to enter the building, I drop off S, and T and I head to the BX to look for some jeans for him. I was actually hoping for sweatpants, but typically, there were none to be found. By the time we find some, pay, and get back home, I've basically got 30 minutes before the bus picks up T. We pull up and T announces, "I have to go potty!" We've been fussing at him about going outside because he likes to pee over the wall dividing our property from the neighbors yard. When no one was living there and the yard was overgrown, I didn't see a problem with him going. However, it's an entirely different matter now so we are highly encouraging him to go inside. Because of that, I'm rushing to unlock the door to let him in when the urge suddenly hits me so I tell T to hurry up because I have to go too right as our landlord walks up. I get the door open and T rushes inside to go to the bathroom. Mr. Lua wants to know if I mind if he adjusts the furnace for the time change. Not at all. But he needs my keys, so I give him the keys and try to think of things not related to bathrooms or water. Right about then, T yells for me, so I excuse myself and run upstairs. I left our front door open because 1)the bathroom's upstairs, and 2) I know I'll be right back down. T just wants a sandwich and some juice, but nature is screaming so I dash into the bathroom.

Now - somewhere, somehow T has started putting the whole lid down, which is great. However, he thinks it's hilarious to start to go and then flip up the seat, which gets pee all over everything. So as I'm hopping from one foot to the other trying to pull down the workout leggings I've FINALLY lost enough weight or inches to get back into, I flip up the lid to see pee all over the seat. I have to go too badly to wipe it off first, so I decide to just squat. Except my leggings prevent me from getting my legs far enough apart to stabilize myself and I promptly lose my balance and manage to pee on myself. Oh good lord. So I finish going, clean up myself and the 'accident' site (oh, flushable and Lysol wipes, how I truly, truly love thee) and hobble to the sink to wash my hands. Yes, my leggings are still around my knees because I'm NOT taking my shoes off until I cleaned the floor up and there's no way I'm getting my leggings off until my shoes are off. As I'm washing my hands, the phone rings. T brings me the phone (MOM! The phone is ringing.) It's my friend Kellie. I'm trying to sound like everything's normal when T starts trying to tug up my pants announcing loudly, "Mom, you need to pull up your pants. I'll help you. UGGGGGGG. I can't! They're too tight." Sigh. As I start to explain this to Kellie, I hear Mr. Lua say that he's all done and he wants to give me back my keys. Well, one thing's for sure - there is NO way I'm walking out of the my bathroom bare bottomed to get keys. UH-UH! And, I have no other pants handy since our bedroom and all our clean clothes are on the other side of the house. I call out "Danke" to him and ask him to just leave the keys, Kellie thinks I'm talking to her, Tucker is still announcing that I have no pants's just not my day. Finally, Mr. Lua grasps the situation and says he'll just leave the keys on the inside of the door. Vielen Dank, truly! I explain to Kellie what's happening and put the phone down long enough to go and grab a pair of pants. Crisis averted, and T totally lucks out because in the ensuing confusion, I didn't say a word about the toilet seat, even though I have NOT forgotten.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And another week goes by

In just over a week, it will be time to pack up our house and truly start the move process. I feel calmer than last time by far which I'm sure has something to do with the fact that we are moving back to the States. We are, considering past moves, ahead of the game this time. We've gotten rid of most things we can't use anymore and started the deep cleaning process.

Ever since we moved into this house, there's been a the downstairs bathroom. Sometimes it's much stronger than others, but it's almost always there a little bit. Well, I walked into the bathroom after going to the gym yesterday and almost gagged. Considering I'd been in there just prior to going to the gym and been fine, I'm not sure what changed in that short amount of time. Be that as it may, YUCK-O! So I grabbed our new mop and and got my Clorox and hot water on. Apparently, T had managed at some point to pee on the floor and not mention it. Ahh, but how on earth is that possible without seeing it you may wonder? Our floor is an avocado green and brown tile that could probably disguise blood as long as there wasn't too much of it. As I made the first pass with the mop, there was a noticeable smell attached that moved with me and the mop as we moved. Three wash and rinses later, the bathroom smells 'normal' but - ugh - we've been walking all over that floor for how long with it dirty? EWWWWW. Now I feel the need to just sanitize the whole house. Twice. BLECH.

It makes me wonder - if I had had kids 10 years ago, would this same stuff gross me out like this or would I just shut up and clean? Of course, I ask T - hey - did you have an accident on the bathroom floor and not tell us? And he says, yes, but I wiped it up with your towel. WHHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTT????? Ewwwww - EWWWWWWWW. I use a towel more than once and the thought that I used a towel covered in pee to dry off or dry my hair - OMG - please just dip me in Clorox or shoot me now. Or both.

But surely I would have smelled it, right? I mean, a pee soaked towel would SMELL wouldn't it? So I ask him to show me the towel, and he points to the one I use to wipe off the shower stall when I get out of the shower. Well, okay- I mean, still EWWWWWW - but I can spray the shower with bleach water no problem. I do wonder why the towel didn't smell like the floor did though...maybe because wiping the water off the shower diluted it?!!? Sigh. So who wants to come over for dinner this week?!?!?!? LOL!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today, like almost every Saturday, we went out to do some errands. We had some boxes to mail and while I was finishing that up, R and the kids went to check the mail. In the mail was a birthday card for T with a check in it. We've been trying to introduce the kids to the concepts of money, spending, budgeting, etc. This isn't something I would have thought they were really ready for, but the credit union that we belong to here gave the kids a Money Mammals DVD that introduces them to the the basics of saving, spending and 'sharing' (using your money to buy things for others -- like presents).

So today, when T got a birthday card with a check in it, we took him to the credit union and cashed it for him. Then we gave him the choice of going to the toy store on base or going to the German toy store. With the exchange rate right now, the dollar only buys about .65 Euro cents, which means that he'll have less money to spend in the German store even though they have (in my opinion) better variety and selection. T considered his options and finally said he wanted to go to the toy department on base. He spent a good while looking at different things, his first stop was the (thankfully) very tiny Thomas the Train section where he stood for a long time wanting to find something to buy. Finally, the Matchbox cars and other small cars and toys distracted him (since he didn't have any of those) and he finally announced he wanted a toy motorcycle. He looked through all the styles and eventually picked one, but then decided he wanted to get the other one for S. He took it over to her and asked her if she wanted it (she didn't) and then tried to talk her into wanting it. When she wouldn't bite, he put them both back and wandered over to the learning game section where he became entranced with a vTech phonics pad that teaches you how to write letters. With that and a jumbo Thomas the Train puzzle in tow, he went to the cashier and even paid for his own stuff.

We were so proud! First that he considered several things before buying something he didn't already have (that wasn't car, truck, train, or motorcycle related), second that he stayed within budget, and third that he offered to buy his sister something with his birthday money. The fact that he plans to buy as many peanut M&M's as possible with the remainder of the money doesn't even bother us - especially since he's already forgotten where he put it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Planning to turn? Try using your turn signal!!!!!!!!!!

This week, we've done a lot of running around. Monday was a holiday so R was off work and the kids didn't have preschool, so we ended up taking a short trip to Belgium to check out some furniture for my one of my mothers-in-law. (Both R's parents and my parents have divorced and remarried, making our kids lucky enough to have four sets of grandparents.)

We didn't really find what we were looking for, but it was a pretty drive and I like the rural parts of Belgium. Belgium, God bless that country, has a similar highway layout and road attitude in general that's similar to the US. Wider streets, (gasp) shoulders on the roads, exits that are easy to get on to and off of, and the street layout (so far) makes more sense. And, they speak a version of French there. I understand a lot more than I can actually speak, but it's nice to actually be able to decipher what people are saying.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were full of typical running around. Germany is full of traffic circles, which I surprisingly don't mind because traffic circles really do seem to help traffic flow better. In Germany, it's required by law to signal if you are turning, changing lanes, or in general changing the position of your vehicle on the road. I'm sure that's true in most US states too, but I grew up in NC where the intent to turn was most often indicated by the vehicle actually turning. However, in Germany, my spoiled, pampered self has gotten used to seeing signals actually work the way they are meant to work, and when people don't do this (read: AMERICANS) it can get a little dangerous - especially in those traffic circles where the locals take three inches between vehicles as an indication that they can merge into traffic - indicated, of course, by USING their turn signal. So, today, we are happily driving along and probably not paying as much attention as we should when a car stops in the middle of the road to turn left across traffic but doesn't use their signal. Unusual! Then he started to turn, so he flashed his left signal once and then darted through traffic. I saw this a lot today. I don't know if I've never noticed this before or if it was one signal Friday and no one bothered to tell me, but for whatever reason (perhaps because I'm in a pissy mood this week) it really irked me and I felt the need all day to turn on my signal about half a mile before I actually planned to turn anywhere. My maturity level even astounds me at times (snort). Obviously, this is a sign that I needed to go home and stay there to avoid getting a nice, fat fine for shooting someone the bird, which is actually illegal here. In the States, I'm a chronic flipper off-er, so it's been a true show of restraint for me to keep all my fingers where they belong.

Not that I didn't already kinda know this, but re-reading this post has convinced me that I really might want to consider therapy soon. I can spout off about being a good example for the kids, which is true, and about a million other reasons that therapy might be a good idea, but the bare truth of the matter is that I'm finding drivers as rude as society in general here (again, mostly American related) and I'd really like to leave this country without getting into trouble or teaching the kids some really, really bad habits that will be embarrassing and difficult to explain to say the grandparents or teachers. I'll be sure and keep you posted on how it's going =)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sneak peek from our photo session on Sunday

I met a fabulous gal through the MOMS Club I joined here and she's a photographer. Once I saw her pictures on her blog ( I was determined to book a session if she had an opening. We got lucky and she took our pictures yesterday.

Today she sent a sneak peek out and you have to check them out (and her work in general). I LOVE the ones on her blog and feel very blessed that we had this opportunity to capture Germany in a positive way. The kids were great - very good sports and they listened well to most everything they asked her to do. What a great note to leave this country on!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fire Prevention Week!

This was Fire Prevention week so we all headed to the parade on base. We stopped off for haircuts for R and T first, which went amazingly, outstandingly well. I wanted to badly to take a picture of T sitting there like a little man getting his hair cut, but was afraid to jinx it. Plus, S decided she wanted to get her hair cut too just like her big brother, so I had to distract her. Here are some pics...enjoy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Decoration is everything

Today Jessie came over with her husband and kids to show me how to decorate cakes. She had her work cut out for her, no doubt about it. In a surprising show of lack of common sense, I hadn't figured out that the student kit I bought would help me learn without the benefit of taking a class. There are printed 'cheat sheets' that you slip under a clear plastic practice board that allows you to basically duplicate the design step-by-step. I choose not to embarrass myself any further by revealing how I thought that was all supposed to work. (Shaking my head at myself)

At any rate, a couple of hours later, I ended up with a firm grasp of the basic designs I was interested in and a desire to take a more extensive cake decorating class once we get back to the states. It really was therapeutic to produce a decent looking cake. Now I just have to figure out how to ice a cake without spreading crumbs all over the icing.

The kids were suitably impressed, but truth be told, they just wanted to eat the cake. I don't blame them, it was really good. I can't wait to try another one. T's birthday is coming up soon and it would be nice to make him a decent looking cake myself. It was totally worth having a couple blue fingers (since I poked my thumb through the foil on the icing tint gel). Next cake I do, I'll take pictures and post them - bad or good results.

The only thing that surprised me was that with my recent lifestyle improvements in exercise and eating habits that I still ate some of the icing which was literally Crisco, butter, sugar and vanilla. It's so not fair that something make up of those ingredients tastes like heaven on earth.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I've been out of high school 20 years? Really?!?

Next weekend is my 20th high school reunion. Totally not going. I wouldn't go if I still lived in the same town, which so many of my former classmates do. I do wonder when I get an email about the reunion who might show up, but to be honest, I feel like I've caught up on most people through Facebook. And, judging from the entries on the reunion website, it's going to be one of those "job resume" events where stay-at-home moms become domestic engineers who facilitate the education and training of their genetic offspring. Not that I have a problem with that, but it would be nice to hear the honest truth, not the souped up PR version of it. I mean, really now, let's whip out the pay stubs and the declare the highest earner the winner of the evening. It will save a lot of time and energy.

Besides, there's something about me that truly believes people want to know how I am or what I've been up to when they ask. Turns out, it's generally a rhetorical question and is really supposed to 1) serve as the segue for what the person asking has been doing or 2) be a quick assessment tool to see if the high school hierarchy should still be in place, or 3) serve as a nice big ego stroke for the 'more successful' person in the conversation. Although, I do admit, I think that success is subjective in many instances. For example, let me get myself up and ready, the kids up and ready, the kids fed, and all of us out the door at my 'target' time, and I feel pretty successful for the day - regardless of what happens afterward. I'm a goob that way.

So, next weekend I'll safely be thousands and thousands of miles away while my high school class reunion-izes. Allow me to raise a glass of sweet German wine in all of your honors, totally happy with the fact that I am not in the middle of squinting at name tags because I refuse to wear my reading glasses while squeezed into three pairs of Spanx and starving because I haven't eaten anything but lettuce, soybeans, and water (what I call the Posh Spice diet plan) in a month. Have at it Titans - send me the mass produced postcard. Word to yo' mutha!

Time to go back to bed and start over

My first sign that today wasn't going to breeze along smoothly - the sanitary pad that I pressed firmly to my underwear ended up somehow twisting and providing me with a mini brazilian.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ZUMBA, Baby!

At the end of the hour of agony with Ms Aerobics von Perky last Wednesday, she invited the entire class to come to Zumba on Friday from 6-7 pm. What's Zumba? I didn't know either and von Perky said it was easier to google than to explain - which is actually true. Basically, Zumba is a combination of aerobics and dancing set to some excellent Latin American music. IT'S SWEEPING THE NATION!!!!! IT'S THE NEWEST FITNESS CRAZE!!!!!!!

Seriously, it looks like fun while it incorporates several different Latin dance moves. No more than four moves are ever used per song so it's easy to follow no matter what your skill level is (bonus!). Being able to follow along is quite important to me when taking a dance class. I mean, who wants to feel or look like a dork, right? (ahem! Kathy Smith, you may want to take some notes on that.)

So, on Friday I showed up for class. I was disappointed to learn that it was a one time offering, but once was better than never. I ran into von Perky in the parking lot who made a point to tell me that she was glad I decided to come. Now I feel kinda bad about all the perkiness snark - or at least I will until I take her next class at which point I'll be reminded why it's justified.

Way more people than I expected showed up for class and some of these women were SERIOUS about this whole Latin dancing thing. For a few minutes, I wasn't sure if I was in the right place and wondered if I had stumbled into an audition to "So You Think You Can Dance" or the remake of "Fame". There was a lot of stretching and prancing going on. I heard von Perky say that she'd been asked to help teach the class. Hmmm... I wanted to take this class start to finish without needing oxygen or medical intervention. It's not looking good.

Eventually the class started as a reporter/photographer from the base paper started taking shots. Well, that's just great! But you know, the class was SO much fun that after a few minutes, I forgot that was happening. It was a great workout. You can easily adjust it to your skill level and make it comfortable for yourself. I think the instructor said that you can burn up around 800 calories an hour. At the end of the class I was sweaty but exhilarated and really hope that someone gets certified so I can take it regularly. As all this dang exercising and nutritional overhauling begins to pay off, it will be nice to shake my booty without having aftershocks. Trust me, I'll be posting in big, bold letters when that day happens. Seriously - try it if you have the opportunity!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aerobics in Perkyland

I've been going to aerobics whenever possible since I put the kids in the summer enrichment program. Monday and Wednesday the class is called "butts and guts" and the Tuesday and Thursday classes are cardio and sculpting classes. The usual instructor, Keyra, is this totally kick butt dynamo. For the first three weeks I went to class, I was brutally sore every. single. day. Squats, lunges, what seems like 200 different ways to do sit ups...she's the nicest person but she wrings the sweat out of you and the pain into you.

Now that the kids are only in the MWF enrichment program, I only get to go to the butts and guts class, which obviously concentrates on legs, abs, and tushies (squats, lunges, and crunches, oh my!). Last week, Sesame Street Live was here for two shows on Wednesday so there was no class. On Monday, Keyra made us pay. In sweat. R was off on Monday, so I convinced him to go with me. Even he, Army trained PT guy, thought it was a challenging class.

I'd gotten to the point that my muscles were fairly used to the punishment, so I am generally not sore the next day. But it's now Wednesday night and my hamstrings are still screaming from Monday's class. Damn squats. GAH!

Occasionally, Keyra can't make class and someone else teaches it, as was the case today. I debated on whether or not to go this morning because the lady teaching this morning is just too perky for me. Literally, it's like she bounced out of the 80's right into our little gym. Wooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't mind tough instructors since I'm there to work out and get all sweaty, but something about Ms. Perkiness just irks me. I think it's because she talks nonstop while the rest of us are gasping for air and struggling to keep up. And, every single cardio section involves bouncing of some sort. You can't just do a lunge or 50, she wants you to add a hop or jump in there somewhere. Plus, she's a bit of a spaz, so you are up and down during the entire hour. I think I'm too OCD to enjoy that. Let's work legs and then let's work abs, but please for the love of all things holy stop making me bounce back and forth between the two -- especially when it actually involves bouncing.

So about 40 minutes into the class I resort to silently cursing her in various creative ways, which I will keep to myself (if you can't say anything nice....), and trying to think of ways to shut her up. Because, as a matter of fact Perky McBouncy, NO, this does NOT feel 'niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice' since I am not a rubber band or a bouncing ball and trying to convert my sizable ass into one isn't the least bit pleasant. So please just shutthehellup and stop being so dang happy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Truth Comes Out

This is going to be hard for me to admit, but I had to face an ugly reality today.

I. HATE. Being. Outside. Well, I hate being outside when the temperature is above 60.

I don't really know why I hate it, either. I love beautiful sunny days, I just enjoy them so much more from the comfort of my (mostly) bug free living room sitting my happy tushie on my couch OR whilst driving in the car with any heating or cooling needs I may have a mere touch of a button away.

I loathe bees, yellow jackets, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, spiders - any sort of creepy, crawly, or flying pest that dares invade my personal space requirements (that expands to a 20 foot radius)when I step foot outside the house. I hate the feeling of the sun beating down on me because it always makes me think of skin cancer and the smell of sunscreen seems to attract even more unwanted attention from bugs or bees.

Sit me in the shade with a fly swatter handy, and I'm good to go. Put me in the sun, and it's like I'm with Wicked Witch of the West in reverse...sunlight makes me melt. I'm in complete bewilderment how I ever survived so long living in NC, which feels miserably hot and humid to me after being away for six years.

What I really hate is why on earth I pretend to like being outside when I'm around a group of people that actually like it. I guess it's because I feel like announcing that I hate to be outside to be the social equivalent to announcing that I like to squash bunnies, kitties, and puppies with my bare feet (which I totally don't).

My mother loves to be outside and can not grasp why I do not. To be fair, I cannot grasp her love of all things outdoors, either. I love my pasty white skin, I love not having to swat at annoying pests, I love shade. I love cold weather. I'll stay outside in cold weather until I can't feel my fingers or toes with no complaint. I wonder if there's a support group for this or if I should move to Alaska or Antarctica.

Friday, September 18, 2009

T logic

T had his five year wellness visit today. In order to help the doctor evaluate him, I had to fill out a questionnaire. I've been filling these out on the kids at every wellness visit since they were born, but this one was a little different in that I had to record some of this responses, and get him to do certain tasks.

As the doctor walked in, I was asking T to draw a person and he was drawing a tiny little stick figure. I hadn't realized he had developed that ability, so I was really impressed - especially since there wasn't a lot of room for him to draw.

I also had to ask him to complete certain phrases. One of the questions was "The moon shines at night. The sun shines during the ______." The answer that was expected was, of course, 'day'. T, however, said 'night'.

When I asked him about it, and expanded on it a bit further, his reply changed to "not night". heh. When R asked him about it today, what was T's reply? "Day." Of course. The doctor asked T what he does when he's hungry, looking for T to say some variation of "eat". T's reply? "I tell my mommy that my tummy is rumbly." double heh.

I love moments like this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Put that in your notes and review it!


Isn't it interesting that being 'emotional' is considered more of a negative thing than a positive one? I guess that in the military world, being unemotional would be the grease that silences the squeaks and would seem to make everything run more smoothly. Until, of course, the mechanism explodes or implodes as the case may be.

I readily admit that I'm quite emotional about whatever it is that's going on with T. Last year, I got teary eyed at both of the parent teacher conferences. That, coupled with with my frustration level at medical appointments here, has now apparently gotten me the label of 'emotional' or 'very emotional'. How do I know this, you may be wondering?

Yesterday, we had an appointment with Family Advocacy (FA). FA has to sign off on T because he's attending the pre school child development classes before we can actually get our orders to PCS (relocate to a new base). Any child with special needs (such as speech therapy) has to get approval before you can move. I don't understand why FA has to be involved, but there are a lot of things that go on here that I don't understand. Like why so many of the women are so bitchy and hateful. But I digress.

Yesterday the kids had their enrichment classes from 9-12. Our FA appt was at 1:30, so that gave me enough time to pick them up, feed them some lunch, and meet R at FA. T, who just gets the worst reaction/allergies/whatever to season changes here, has been coughing like a madman since Sunday. I made an appointment with the pediatrician to make sure that it wasn't something more serious, like strep, because T's tonsils are just huge. Huge enough that doctors and dentists alike comment on them constantly. The pediatrician prescribed a steroid medication to reduce the swelling/irritation in T's throat, but otherwise announced that he was fine.

Unfortunately, T was not thrilled with the idea of taking the meds. He spit out the first dose and part of the second. Since you only get enough medication to fill the recommended dosing instructions, this left us in a bind. The pediatrics office is below the FA office, so I figured that I could just pop in and ask for more medicine. Of course, it took longer to do everything yesterday than I expected, and the kids and I had to hurry straight to FA once they finally finished eating. Not surprisingly, even though we were on time for our FA appointment (read: 15 min. early), we sat and waited and sat and waited and sat and waited.

The problem with sitting and waiting with T and S is that by the time you are called back for the appointment, the kids are totally bored with whatever activity we've brought them and are starting to antagonize each other and everyone around them for fun. Yesterday is a perfect example. When we finally got to go back for our appt, S runs into the office and literally jumps onto the black leather chair. T dives on right behind her. They make this big show of hugging and kissing each other which gets 'aww, that's so sweet' comments from the FA staff that are with us, so the kids turn it up a notch and start performing what can only be considered as circus tricks. Jumping, posing, flopping, wrestling - you name it. And they get louder, and louder, and louder. Since the focus is now on the conversation the adults are trying to have, the kids wind each other up and start flinging themselves into the furniture, pushing each other off the chair, screaming that they've been can just imagine.

At this point, Major Psychologist turns to me and asks something about 'have I felt like I needed mental help or assistance with the kids or life in general." Oh-HO, buddy. I know that trick. I've heard horror stories about what happens when people ask FA for help. I reply something about while there are definitely certain challenges with having kids, since we've gotten an idea about what may be going on with T that now we realize there are reasons behind his behaviors, which makes them easier to handle and isn't so stressful. The Major asks me a few more leading questions about dealing with such "active" kids. I think I dodged them successfully, but we should know more by Friday.

Of course, what IS stressful is the run around we are getting about trying to get T evaluated and diagnosed with sensory issues and the FA appointment was no different. Medical tells us to go through the school, the school is trying but tells us to go through medical to increase the urgency, and FA says to request the evaluation through the school or through medical, although the school is the better choice. (Then just say school, or better yet, give a girl a hand with the process, Sporty!) Sounds great, but I've been trying to get this done for over a year, and we STILL haven't had luck either way. Because, you know, I'm so emotional that this must all be in my head. GAH!

As the kids were acting nutty and R and I were attempting to have a coherent conversation with the evaluators (all THREE of them), they were directing most of the questions at R once they realized I wasn't going to burst into tears. (Yay me! Score - me -1, my emotions - every single other meeting.) I'm very lucky: very very lucky that R is such a hands on Dad. He's very involved with the kids and I absolutely could not do this without him. BUT - I'm the one who spends the most time with the kids and it just irks me that yesterday I was supposed to be the equivalent to the nanny - responsible for keeping the kids in line as tired and hyped up as they were (as if that's even possible), but with no say so or opinions. So when S started throwing a fit because I wouldn't let her write all over the official paperwork, I excused us both and took her into the hall to continue her fit. And because S is the Divine Miss S, resident diva, taking her out into the hallway didn't slow or quiet down her temper tantrum in the least. And, when she's like that, I know that I have to wait it out. Unfortunately for all the people in the other offices in the building, they were going to have to wait it out too. Two of them came out into the hallway and tried to bribe her to shush. It totally didn't work. I was passive aggressively happy about that - but just a little bit (that counts as progress, right?). She did calm down of her own accord about the time T opened the office door and said, "Is she being quiet yet? WHEW! Thank goodness!"

Of course he then informed S that she shouldn't be screaming and crying like that. Of course, I just smile widely because it wasn't long ago at all that he was doing the same thing. I probably shouldn't find it amusing that he gives the same advice that he refuses to listen to himself, but I'm sick that way. And, it's funny.

I feel so sorry for whomever is on the plane with us when we PCS back to the states.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things I Will and Won't Miss About Germany

I will miss:

Not needing air conditioning
The slower paced, family and community oriented spirit that's here
Christmas Markets!!!!!!!!!!
Walking trails
Green grass year round
Well maintained indoor pools
the FOOD and wine (too bad I'm not a beer person, I hear it's wonderful)
Our little town
Watching summer turn into fall
Watching fall turn into winter
Being able to pick and eat apples off the trees
The architecture and history throughout Europe
The scenery
The way a clear, sunny day here can make you feel like you've just won the lottery
The sunsets
The long, long summer days
Being so close to Luxembourg, Belgium, and France
The ease of recycling
Kiera's kick butt aerobics classes
Training with Romi
The friends I've made (directly and indirectly) through MOMS Club.
The awesome talents of Jen, hair stylist and colorist extraordinaire!
The low crime rate and how safe I feel here

I will not miss:

UGH! The smell of fertilizer (read:poop) they spread year round
Frank Johnson, a-hole of the year, from the extended care clinic
Driving to Frankfurt and having road construction almost the whole way
Americans driving in Germany, acting a fool
The limited stock of just about everything at the BX
Having to drive 30 + minutes just to check the mail
Having to lug the kids out of the car and into the shoppette just to pay for gas
Having to buy gas at AAFES
Tractors on the road that you can't pass when you absolutely have to be somewhere on time
Flies, yellow jackets, and freakin' spiders!
The language barrier
How unfriendly so many Americans are around here
Speed cameras
Roads with no shoulders
Tiny little parking spaces

Of course there's more, but that's all I can think of for now...

Happy Fall, Y'all

It feels funny to write y'all since I rarely ever say it, but it rhymes and I like it so I'm doing it anyway. :)

Life is...going...over here. T is back in pre school and also in a part day enrichment program three mornings a week. He's loving it so far and is really learning lots of language skills by being in a normal classroom (enrichment) and continuing with speech therapy (pre school). I'm just amazed at the progress he's made in the last year. I'm grateful for the help from all his teachers and for their patience and understanding in helping both T and me with dealing with his sensory issues. Mrs. A and I are trying again to get him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder, so please keep us in your thoughts as we fight the system.

S is also going to enrichment this fall and she just loves it. I'm grateful that so far school has been such a positive experience for both the kids. I've never forgotten how one teacher can literally make or break you this early. I got lucky with teachers, my brother didn't.

R's 'replacement' arrived on base last week. He seems like a great guy from the time we've spent with him so far. We took him to look at a few houses this weekend, and it was interesting to hear him talk about his first impressions of the base - which kind of mirrored ours when we first got here. It's not all in my head that a lot of the people here are just doggone unfriendly. It's also reassuring in a bizarre way to know that it's not just me. I have my fingers crossed that our next base will be more welcoming. Either way, I feel our time in Germany has cemented us as a self reliant family of four, which is strange for a gal that's always been surrounded by extended family. I won't like, it's been quite the adjustment for me in many ways, and I truly doubted my abilities as a competent parent for a long time. I hope that we're over the worst of that and hopefully now I can just focus on all the positives in my life. I mean, heck, the kids have survived my parenting so far without any major damage (I think), so that's something.

Here's to our future, whatever it may hold.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What a difference a day makes

Right now the kids are spitting (of the phhhhbbbbtttttt variety) into the sunlight that's streaming into the playroom through the window. Why, you may wonder, are they doing this? In the words of T, "Look! Snow! It's spit snow! We're spitting SNOW!" Frankly, I think it's all a clever ploy to try to be able to spit without getting into trouble, and it's SO not working. I'm such a party pooper.

Saturday started off poorly and went downhill from there. Sunday was so much better. Actually, once T got some sleep, he was like a new person. So on Sunday, we headed to the pool as soon as it opened with no further issues. That afternoon while S took a nap, R stayed home with her and T and I did some errands. I love my one on one time with T - there's a totally different dynamic to it than when my attention is split (usually ineffectively) between him and S. That's also true of my one on one time with S. If I could just learn to let that be my happy place as they try to kill each other over who's looking at whose train, train track, favorite book, stuffed animal, piece of string, or carpet fiber I'd be in good shape. I'm, um, still working on that.

On Monday, our landlady came down to make sure we were all okay after the spectacular meltdown she saw on Saturday. I think she also wanted to make sure the house was still standing and that neither T nor R or I had bruises or signs of abuse. Good times!

I know that by now I should expect bad days like this from time to time, but my heart just hurts that as a mother, my child is suffering somehow (referring to not being able to calm himself down, not the injustice of being denied something he wants) and I'm powerless to really be able to help him at all. I have such high hopes that once we get back to the States, there will be more resources available and we can find someone to figure out what's going on and then help us. I'm pretty positive it's a Sensory Processing Disorder, but it would be nice to know for sure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Didn't someone say there'd be days like this?

Today has been (in the words of the timeless Alexander book) a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Here's why: after a solid week of having to wake the kids up so they could get to preschool around 8:30 (I say around because rarely do we make it there at 8:30), this morning T decides to be up before 7 am. Normally, this would be no big deal since I've been getting up much earlier myself since I finished school, but last night I stayed up way, way too late goofing around and wasting time on Facebook and associated apps (darn you, FarmTown). I think R was looking forward to sleeping in and I know I was, so to have a four year old scream, "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! ARE YOU AWAKE DOWN THERE?!?!?" wasn't in my top five ways of how to be woken up/awakened/roused/startled out of a very comfy sleep. Add that to the fact that the hot weather streak of about two weeks finally broke yesterday which made for some gooooooood sleepin'. Then add to that Friday is the one day I don't go to aerobics during the week, so nothing was sore last night, so I slept blissfully and muscle ache free until the piercing sound of T shouting at the top of his very loud lungs ended that.

And that was how our terrible, horrible, no good, very very bad day began. After that, T and R fought over how much cereal he poured into his bowl (waaaaay too much), how much milk he wanted to add to that (way, waaaaaaay too much - T's cereal to milk ratio needs to be twice the milk to the amount of cereal for some reason), and then they fought over just about everything else. T was too loud, too rough, playing too aggressively with S and on and on an on. Trying to distract him into something positive, R asked T what he wanted to do today. The answer? "Nuffin! I don't want to do NUFFIN" Oh, good lord.

Finally we mentioned pool - we were thinking indoor since it was almost noon and it' wasn't even 70 outside yet but T and S want to go to the outdoor pool. The problem with that outdoor pool is that the water feels cold on a hot day and positively frigid on a cooler day. T, with his lack of body fat, is generally blue and shivering after about 20 minutes in the water and has actually gotten so cold that he's asked to leave and go home before. Which, if you know T, is a pretty astounding statement. We decided to let the kids choose which pool in the long run and I got the kids ready while R went to change into his suit, and then he loaded the kids into the car while I changed. Unfortunately, and this is when it all headed downhill I think, I couldn't find the pool bag with my cover up and assorted pool paraphernalia. So while we were dashing around trying to figure out where that was, the kids were having a scream fest in the car. When I say scream fest, I mean it sounds like someone is in there with them and is shoving bamboo shoots under their tiny little fingernails while pulling their lips over the tops of the heads while branding them with a hot poker iron. Our new neighbors must love living next door to us!

So we warn them that they need to stop screaming or we aren't going to the pool at all. I am just terrified that someone is going to call social services or the equivalent here because our kids scream like terrorized banshees so often. And, sure enough, as soon as we are out of eyesight, the screaming begins again. So, I walk out and break the bad news - no pool. T has a meltdown equivalent to the one at the bowling alley. R, to his well deserved credit, handles the situation so well. He's firm about sticking to the consequence, but very gentle and understanding with T and his level of what I can only label as hysteria.

Fast forward to 20 minutes later after R has carried T to his room so he can have the rest of his tantrum in a safer environment, and T comes bolting down the stairs, out the door, and down the driveway with R in hot pursuit. R makes sure T isn't in the road or in danger and then backs off since T is now screaming "no! noooooo! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!' as loud as he freaking can. R carries him back inside and the screaming continues, when I notice tat S is waving to someone. So I walk out onto the patio to see , and it's our land lady who asks me what is going on. I start to tell her about the pool and the screaming and the meltdown, but it's just too much for me to deal with apparently, and I burst into tears right about the time that T breaks free from R and comes tearing outside again. Our landlady, herself a grandmother, tries to go and talk to him because our kids just love her, but T is having none of it. She finally gives up and walks off so that we can try and get him calmed down. About 40 minutes after that, we finally get him calmed down and into the house, where he falls asleep on the couch. I am seriously thinking about asking for a Xanax prescription. Something's gotta give.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why do I do these things to myself?

Last week, we had a couple of days where it would start pouring rain all of a sudden. Sometimes the kids are good sports about it, sometimes not so much. So I came up with the 'brilliant' idea of going to the toy store to look for some fun indoor crafts we could all do together.

Go ahead, start laughing.

I also wanted to get T a stuffed animal. I have no idea what happened to the puppy he used to have, but it's nowhere to be found. S has a ton of stuffed animals in her room, but T only wants a dog, and S isn't inclined to share her puppy because it's her favorite one. Our cousins Jenn and Jeff sent her a stuffed giraffe, which she also loves, but will share. Unfortunately, because it's not a dog, T abuses that poor thing, S screams bloody murder, I end up with two kids in time out and having to put up 'Raffe. Sigh... no one wins. Since I was planning on going to the toy store anyway, I figured it would be no problem to pick up a stuffed dog for T.

Have you seen the price of stuffed animals lately? SHEESH! There wasn't a huge selection available, and of the available dogs, a tiny one was 8 Euro. Of course, the BX on base didn't even have a stuffed dog, so you get what you get, right? So, I'm thinking about it and I'm not sure how to get T a dog without getting S one and there not being a huge scene. I'm also grateful that the kids weren't with me because there was a beautiful Siberian Husky dog there - for 45 Euro. Obviously, there was no way I was buying that one. I ended up with the small dog for S, and a decent sized dog for T what kinda looks like the dog from the Beethoven movies, but with no slobber. BONUS! Of course, the two dogs exhausted my budget so no crafts for us.

The great news is that the kids were so excited to get the puppies - T named both of them. His dog is Shep and S's is Friday (names pulled from the movie Hotel for Dogs, of course). Later on in the day, we are home and S has a poopy diaper. As I'm changing her, she grabs Friday and swipes him through the poop. As I'm fussing at her for doing that (these stuffed animals aren't washing machine washable, unfortunately), she grabs Shep and throws him in between her legs into the poop too. Grrrrrrr..... Of course, then she throws the dog, and wiggles enough so that now there's poop on the floor where she is and on her clothes, plus on both new stuffed animals and where ever they landed as she threw them. I am convinced that I'm temporarily inhabited by my Grandmother, because I start muttering about a house that smells like poop and having to clean the carpet, which descends into how much money I spent on the dogs and how my kids don't appreciate how much things cost and in this economy they are lucky we have enough food to eat - all those starving children in Africa and China mind you - and how the house is always a mess and I AM NOT A MAID!!!!!! The kids, completely unmoved by my tirade, immediately move on to the next thing that captures their interest while I feel (a little drama queen-ish if the truth be told) like I'm up to my neck in poop. It take me the better part of an hour to clean the carpet and dogs to my satisfaction, at which the kids sense weakness in me since I've stopped muttering, and coordinate a perfectly planned pushing my buttons attack, and start fighting over the dogs. And then - AND THEN - T has the audacity to say something about Shep being yucky because he's wet (because I cleaned all the s**t off of him, thankyouverymuch) and starts to pitch a temper tantrum of ear splitting proportions. S, not to be outdone, joins in. Hooray. I yell at them to CUT. IT. OUT!!!!!! which only makes it worse, so I end up putting myself in timeout so that I don't completely lose my mind. I flop down on the floor in the playroom and silently wonder why this is all so hard. Do all parents feel like this? Am I just spectacularly bad at being a Mom? Was I like this as a kid, too? The questions go on and on...

Then I notice that T has walked up and is sitting quietly at my feet. "T", I say as calmly as possible, "Mommy has put herself in a time out and she needs to be left alone until it's over."

T pats me on the leg, "Mommy, why are you in a timeout?"

"Because I yelled at you and S and we don't yell or speak to each other the way I was speaking to you and S."


"The rules apply to Mom and Dad, too."

"Oh, right, right"

"You know, T, I try to be a good Mommy, really I do, but some days I'm just not very good at it, and I'm sorry."

(Big sigh) "I know, Mommy. It's hard. It's just hard to be a mommy."


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dieter, the meter reader

The kids are in a 3 hour preschool type summer program through the daycare center on base. Since they are both going on the same days of the week and the same hours, this presents me with time to get my running around done without having to drag the kids with me. My ultimate goal was to work out every day, since where I drop them off is a few buildings over from the gym and workout room.

On the first day, I ran into one of the MOMS Club members, who told me there was a free aerobics class held in the gym Monday through Thursday. That works out great for me - I get my workout in by 10 am, and still have an hour and a half to do whatever needs to be done. Now into the second week of this schedule, I realize I'll need Fridays to ride the bike at the gym and unlock my leg muscles. This aerobics instructor does not fool around. By Wednesday of last week, even my toe muscles hurt. I didn't even know I had toe muscles. But, that just means it's working, right? I can't wait for the day when I make it through her entire workout without feeling like I'm going to throw up or throw my shoe at her. I hope I see that much improvement before we leave, if we ever actually get to leave.

Today, I needed to go to the commissary after class. By the time I finished at the commissary, I had just enough time to head to the library before picking up the kids. By the time we got home, the kids were tired and hungry, and I was sore, tired and hungry. I took the easy way out and decided to heat them up some frozen mac and cheese for lunch. The divine Miss S, resident diva, had some sort of meltdown. I have no idea what about other than she kept saying 'juice!", but I filled her cup when we got home, and other than actually pour it into her mouth (which isn't going to happen), there really wasn't more I could do. While I was cooking and then cooling the mac and cheese, I gave the kids a few crackers. Of course, they promptly smashed them to smithereens and dropped them onto the carpet. Thinking that I could get them settled at the table with the m&c, then vacuum quickly, I directed them into the kitchen.

And then the doorbell rings. I painfully go down the steps to see who it is - and it's a man from the electric company here to read our meters. CRAP. I can't do anything but invite him in and cringe as he sees the dust on the steps, the pile of shoes by the door, the laundry hanging up everywhere to dry. There are dirty dishes in the sink, a trail of cracker crumbs from the kitchen to the living room, piles of folded laundry I haven't put away, a pile of beach towels spread out all over the floor from this morning's wrestling session, the TV is on, the fans are on, the playroom is an all out disaster zone because I was looking for library books to return this get the idea. The worst of it is that I hate it when the house looks this way. We honestly vacuum at least once a day, usually more. The dishes were in the sink because the dishwasher doesn't completely dry the plastics, so I lazily decided to let them air dry. Sigh...... Germans are so fussy about their houses in general. I haven't sprayed the grass coming up through the driveway yet, and I haven't cleaned the windows in over a month. Plus, the kids have m&c spread all over their faces, the table, and on the floor, but want to come with me to see Dieter read our meters (we have two). As we head downstairs (to the clean part of the house, by the way) I see this enormous spider web that stretches from the ceiling halfway down the stairway wall. I don't have anything tall enough to get it down, either. Sheesh.

But Dieter reads the meters and takes off, at which point I start to clean frantically since no one will see it now, but at least I'll know it's done. No wonder the Germans around here think the Americans are dirty pigs!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We spent HOW much on a movie?

Today was another "Give Parents a Break" day. For GPAB, you should be able to get a pass from your 1st Sgt (not going to happen with the wanker we have in charge), from the AFRC (not going to happen unless your spouse is..umm..away for a while), or from Family Advocacy. Back when the Family Advocacy playroom was in the community building instead of shoved into a tiny little unused childcare center classroom, I used to take T and S. One week I met the director of Family Advocacy who encouraged me and the other moms there to call her and get a pass for GPAB. I don't know if the other moms did, but we sure have taken advantage of it whenever possible.

This month GPAB was from 10-3. R and I had talked about going to Luxembourg to catch a movie in a real theater with surround sound, theater seating, and all the other bells and whistles. When R called Family Advocacy to ask for a pass, the director was on vacation and R was referred to the AFRC. When he went to the AFRC, they refused to give him a pass unless we wanted to speak to a counselor to determine if we were stressed enough to qualify for one. When R told me this I had to laugh. I know that if we took the kids into the AFRC for an evaluation, not only would we walk out with a perma-pass, the 'counselor' would probably ask for one too. And, since these things have a way of coming back to haunt careers (cough*career suicide*cough), R wisely passed. Gotta love the way military handles things -but that's a story for another day. Long, long in the future. But don't worry, I'm keeping notes.
So this morning we were all up by 7:30 and the kids were in a good mood. Checking the movie theater website, the new Ice Age movie was playing there, so we decided to take the kids and go. It's really not all that far, less than an hour away, and there's a great mall attached there. And on Saturday, I think parking is free since we were there over the time limit and didn't have to pay.

The kids were really, really good. We headed out around lunchtime and bought snacks for the ride over, planning to eat lunch when we got there. We found it without getting lost (a first), got a good parking place, the kids didn't run into traffic, and we found the entrance without walking two extra miles. The first place we went into was having a sale and we were poking around in the toy, shoe, and clothing sections. S had managed to get her shirt really dirty on the ride there, so I thought we could just buy her a shirt while we were there. Since she started pre-school two weeks ago, she has ruined some of her clothes with paint and permanent markers (HELLO! they make washable markers now!), so she really could use some new shirts. They had some really cute stuff, but I know S well enough to know that cute to me is the kiss of death for her. It's nice, though, to be able to hold something up and have her let you know if she likes it.

After putting the kids through the boring part (shopping), we took them to the carousel and let them ride a few times. S took over the fire truck and T chose the spinning tea cup. What a difference from the last time he rode the carousel! He was really good about getting off when we asked him to (S, if you are wondering, protested long and loudly - but what else is new?). After that we went to get lunch and met an American couple that live in Luxembourg. We chatted with them for a while and then headed off to the movie theater. We dropped off our purchases in the car first, and when we followed the signs in the parking deck to the movie theater, we got our two mile unnecessary walk in. We still made it to the theater in time, where we spent 6 Euro each on admission, and another 12 Euro on popcorn and water. Again, I feel the need to point out that the kids did beautifully. The concession stand is self serve, so everything is out for you to grab. I was expecting a battle over candy and coke, but neither one of the kids asked for it. Still, when I sat down and realized that we just spent over $50 to go to the movies, I was almost sick. I guess I should get used to it, because it's not going to get any cheaper. I could always pull a page from my mom's book and start sneaking food in, I guess.

Anyway, the theater was great - double arm rests, comfy seats, plenty of leg room, and everything. The kids loved the movie, so it was totally worth the one time splurge. It wasn't too crowded, either, and there were lots of other kids there who got excited at the some parts of the movie the kids did. As we left, T said sadly, "but I want to go back to the popcorn place. I want to stay there". I feel ya, T. But we can go to the base theater with popcorn and drinks for around $25, so chances are slim we'll go back to Lux anytime soon for a movie. But it was a great afternoon.

Since I haven't posted pics in a while, here are some recent ones - We were so happy today that S's hair is mostly long enough for a pigtails!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A poo story - and I don't mean the bear.

Any of you who are moms know that on occasion, talk about kids turns to stories of poo - and I'm not talking about the bear. For anyone that finds talking about such things offensive, I warn you now - stop reading immediately.

It's been really warm here lately, which has been nice to feel like it's really summer, but interferes with my sleeping. Even though our bedroom is pretty cool, we had to break out the fan, which means that I alternate between too warm and too cool. The only reason this is any kind of important is because I'm really not sleeping well. Just a little background to explain why I was so tired yesterday. S was running a fever off and on Sunday and yesterday. When she doesn't feel well, she wants to be held - just like most kids, I suspect. When I'm cuddling with S and I get really still when I'm tired, I tend to nod off as well. Luckily, I have T around to shout, MOMMY ARE YOU ASLEEP? WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!! if I do. After lunch, S, climbed up in my lap and fell asleep. T, who wanted me to play trains with him, was nice enough to bring me S's blanket and pillow from her room. When I went to lay her down on the makeshift bed we made her on the floor, she woke up. So, T, S and I ended up all lying on the floor watching a movie. T looks over at me and says, close your eyes, Mom. Which was pretty much all it took for me to fall asleep. I vaguely remember him moving around and when I woke up about an hour later, S was still fast asleep and T had demolished a huge bag of chips. He also informed me that he'd had a big poop with lots of toilet paper. I didn't think much of it because I'm used to getting the play by play in such things.

A little later I went into the bathroom (the door had been closed) and realized something was not okay. Both toilet seat lids were down which should have been my second clue that something was really wrong. I lifted up the lid and tried not to gag. There was a LOT of toilet paper in the toilet and the smell - well, let's just say that the fertilizer they spread around here would have been an upgrade. At first glance I thought that it was just the abundance of paper that was the issue. It was also obvious that T had tried to flush, but the poor toilet just couldn't handle it. So, I figured I'd get a garbage bag, scoop up the excess tp, and all would be right with the plumbing. Because stuff like this completely grosses me out, I grabbed a bunch of empty plastic grocery bags because there was no way I wanted to touch the stuff that was in there. Armed with supplies, I marched back into the bathroom to fix the problem.

So I wrapped my hand in the bag and went to work. Know what the problem was? It wasn't exactly the TP. There was a LOT of poop in the toilet. The TP was just a clever disguise. At this point I was actually gagging when I realize that I have poo all over the side of my hand. How in the world did all that poo come out of one tiny little tushie? How was he not sick with all that in his system? Half an hour, 45 Lysol wipes, one plunger and lots of retching later, I had the toilet unplugged, a garbage bag with what seemed like five pounds of poo in it, and a brand new respect for plumbers. I also have a healthy respect for intestines and bowels. How he had all that in his system without poisoning himself is a mystery to me. No wonder he was so grouchy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy July

Yay! It's July! There's not really anything particularly special about July other than it gets us one month closer to leaving for our next adventure. Last week, summer arrived. When I say arrived, I mean literally came out of nowhere. A couple weeks ago the highs were in the low 60's if we were lucky, I was still putting the kids in sweatshirts occasionally (and myself too). But we've had sunshine and temps in the 80's almost every day for over a week now. I've even (I'm a little ashamed to say this after all the complaining about the cold I've done) kvetched about the heat. Although, it's really not the heat. If you are in the shade, the weather is perfect. But we must be a lot closer to the sun because it feels like a laser beam when you are in it. Dr. Evil, is that you?!?

A good friend of the family came for a visit last week. Since I knew him first, I get to claim him if sides ever have to be chosen - heh! I hadn't actually seen him since T was a few months old and I hadn't spent much time with him at all over the last decade. Once he was here, we picked up right where we left off and he's been officially adopted into our family (sorry, man, there's nothing you can do to stop it). What's so interesting is that he's happily single and doesn't want kids. I was really concerned about the visit because as we ALL know, being around my two can switch people who REALLY want kids to the other side of the fence. I should totally video them and sell the tapes to advocate birth control and parenting classes. Hmm......

Fortunately, everyone got along well. The kids just loved him and it didn't seem like he wanted to throw them out the window or duct tape them to a chair or into a closet. Of course he can be a little hard to read so I may be way off base, but I take it as a positive sign that he didn't run screaming from the house or change his flight to an earlier day or time, or lock himself in his room and refuse to come out.

What else amazed me was how the kids (for the most part) behaved while he was here. On Friday, we took the kids to Bernkastel and they listened and behaved well. I wasn't sure who those kids are, but if someone switched out my kids with stepford kids for the weekend - I thank you, cause it was a great 5 days.

This weekend is 4th of July weekend and it's hot enough to spend it by the pool, covered in 3 inches of sunscreen to protect our pasty, sun starved skin. I'll have some pics of the visit up soon and hopefully some of the kids at the pool.

Happy 4th. Be safe out there, people are crazy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

At long last - a new entry!

While I was in school, I told myself that when I finished I'd update this blog every day. It's been over a month, and obviously, I have not managed to follow through on my intentions.

So, sorry about that!

I'm not sure why I haven't wanted to write. Usually it's because I feel like my relating this crazy life we lead comes out angry or whiny instead of funny, although the kids keep me laughing way more than they keep me angry or in frustrated tears these days. I think it has something to do with my getting more sleep and being less stressed. Who knows? The other night at the dinner table, R was sitting there with us, having already finished his dinner, and T looks at him and says - "Dad, are you finished?" R replied, "yes, T. I'm finished" and T says completely seriously and in a stern tone, "Then you need to leave the table and go into the living room." It doesn't sound that funny, but trust me, it was, mostly because it was such a perfect imitation of R.

Our most recent issue that makes me want to jump off the roof is spitting. Lordy, how I dislike spitting kids. S is the worst, spitting at T when he upsets her (basically about 50 times a day) or at us when we make her really angry - although it's interesting to me that she's usually up in T's face when she spits at him, but is as far away from us as she can get when she spits at us. It's a smart decision on her part, because spitting=automatic time out or other consequence depending on where we are.

A few weeks ago, T had a massive meltdown in the bowling alley which turned out to be loud enough and intense enough for a bowling alley employee to come and try to help me. T, not used to intervention of that nature, freaked out and kept shouting, "I don't LIKE that man", which seemed to prompt S into a seemingly unstoppable round of spitting (and when I say spitting, I mean the phbttttttt kind, not the hocking up a lugey kind) at this poor man who was just trying to help. I think he came over because it sounded like I must be murdering this poor kid, only to find out that I was the one taking the majority of the abuse. T was hiding under a table, screaming at the top of his lungs, refusing to come out, put on his shoes, or calm down. He's a strong little sucker, so trying to pull him out just made everything worse, or rather, louder.

Now, I'll admit, six months ago, I would have been escalating with him and the scene would have been much worse. I've been doing a lot of reading on sensory integration disorders and was able to stay relatively calm and to simply keep repeating what I expected him to do. I realize that to people who don't have kids with issues like this that it seems like I'm letting him run the show. To a degree, that may be true, but from months and months of trial and error (mostly error) I'm starting to figure out how T thinks and to be able to predict how he will react. This has greatly reduced the number of incidents and outbursts in the last year. I'm far from perfect, but the more calm I can stay, the quicker he recovers when he gets overwhelmed or too wound up to be able to calm himself down. Any progress is still progress, and I'm grateful for how far he's come and how much better I feel like I understand him now.

But as I'm half dragging T out of the door and carrying S so she can't make this rather embarrassing situation worse, I can hear her going phbttttttt phbttttttttt phbtttttttttt at the guy over my shoulder. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to making the kids go back and apologize for their behavior (as in - not at all). But - and thanks to my dear friend Chris for the advice and feedback - it's important that the kids own up to their unacceptable behavior and do the right thing (i.e. apologize). Whether or not T could have avoided or scaled down his reaction, he's able to tell me when he just can't deal and needs to leave, and behaving that way is just not acceptable. That's the entire point behind developing coping strategies and good communication skills. It would be SO SO SO much easier if the doctor here would take me seriously and help me get T tested and diagnosed with sensory issues, but I've had to face reality that it isn't going to happen while we are here. I'm hoping that once we move to our new assignment (and any time the military would like to give us those orders, I'd appreciate it) that the medical resources will improve. If not, I hope I can find another advocate like T's current teacher Mrs. Angela, who will be understanding and supportive as we try to get assistance.

So, stay tuned for the further adventures of the Dahl's. I guess it's a good thing I never wanted to live a boring life. LOL!