Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just keeping it interesting...

Last week was a crazy kind of busy. By Thursday, the kids and I were tired of errands and each other. There wasn't a spot in day care for them on Wednesday, so I tried to space out the stuff I needed to do over a couple of days. No matter how good your kids are, there's a limit to how much they can take. That's true of me too, come to think of it...

Anyway, I had an Executive Board meeting with the MOMS Club Thursday night at 6:30 so R and I planned that I would meet him at work, we'd have dinner with the kids and he'd head home with the munchkins and I'd go to the meeting. Which actually reminds me that I need to make some phone calls and send some emails (making a note to do that first thing tomorrow). The bus drops T off right around 3-ish. I usually give him a snack, spend about 15 minutes just with him, then we wake up S from her nap and the normal chaos resumes.

The challenge Thursday was that I had to get the kids into the car and to base in time to do a few errands and then meet R when he got off work. The reality was that nothing went according to plan, but what else is new? I needed to have the kids in the car ready to hit the road by 4 if I was going to get any errands done. So what time did I get the kids in the car? Oh...around 4:30ish. On the way out the door (and I will never understand how I can take a shower, dry my hair, slap on some make-up, get dressed and be in the car before the kids can manage to get down the stairs, put on their shoes and coats and out the door). I know it was close to 4 when we headed for the stairs. I'm sure it went something like this:

Me: Come on. Coats, shoes, hats and gloves. Let's head for the stairs!
T: Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!
Me: What is it?
T: S is screaming.
Me: Yes, I hear that. Come on, let's go. We're going to be late.
Me: Come on, S. T, go down and put on your shoes and coat.
T: Put on my shoes?
Me: Yes, coat and shoes please.
T: Put on my coat and shoes?
Me: Yes, please. Hurry up.
S: (loud shrieking)
Me: S, stop that! Let's go.
T: I want to take my ______________.
Me: Fine, but you have to carry it.
T: I don't want to carry it.
Me: Then don't take it.
T: No,YOU carry it.
Me: Lookit! I've got the diaper bag, S's shoes, my hands are full. If you want to carry _____, then you will have to carry it yourself.
S: (more shrieking)
Me: (now sighing loudly) If you don't want to carry it, then leave it here.
T: NO!!!!!!!!!! I WANT IT.
Me: Then bring it but you have to carry it.
S: Mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy
Me: Come on, S, T. Let's go. (I'm actually at the top of the steps now) See, I'm going down the steps. Let's go...
(the sound of me trying not to stomp down the steps)
SMACK! (whatever T wanted to bring is now dropped over the stair rail)
Swoosh! (I slide it under the steps with my foot)
Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, T comes thudding down the steps.
S: Waaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Me: Come on S. You can get down the steps yourself.
S: (screaming and crying)
T: Leave S alone!
Me: Put on your shoes, please.
Me: Okay, put on your boots then.
S: still crying

five minutes later.....

Me: T, don't go outside until we are all ready to go.
T: I'm hungry!
Me: Yes, I know. We are going to meet Dad for dinner. S, sit down please so I can put on your shoes.
T: She doesn't want to put on her shoes.
Me: Well, that's too bad. I don't want to go insane, yet here I go anyway.
T: Gone sane?
Me: something like that
T: Oh, yeah, yeah. Sane.
Me: Okay, let's go get in the car.

Open door, kids scatter... five minutes later....

T: Mom! I got juice!
Me: Umm, thanks. (Pokes the straw into the juice box and hands one to each kid) Buckle your seat belt, T.
T: Okay.
(I go and close the door to the fridge and the house)
Me: Okay, everyone ready?
T: Yes!
S: more shrieking
Me: we go!

I put the car in reverse and look over my shoulder to see T dumping out the remnants of his juice over his seat and the floor of the car.

Me: What?!?! What are you DOING?!?!
T: (jerks his head up in a jock nod and winks at me) Just keepin' it interesting....
Me: (momentarily stunned speechless)
Me: You know what's interesting? You cleaning up the car when we get home.
T: Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

He's not even five.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Just one of those days

Really, it started off so well. I got up early, showered, and had some time to myself this morning. The kids woke up and were in great moods. It didn't even seem that cold in the house. Plus, it's Friday, Monday is a holiday, and I did really well on my projects for class last week.

Then I go to change S's diaper and her bottom is covered with a nasty rash - again. Poor baby - if it's 1/10 as painful as it looks I have no idea why she's not screaming all the time. So I need to make an appointment for Monday because the only thing available today or tomorrow is the extended care clinic and they are basically useless.

I get the kids fed, dressed, and herded outside to play until T's bus comes and I realize that my landlord's car is in the driveway. Umm...okay. We head out the door and I'm not sure if I hear or smell the oil truck first. Yay that we are getting more oil, phooey on the bad timing. The kids are jazzed and think the truck is the neatest thing ever. I get my cardio in chasing them around while running back up the stairs first for the vat form and then for the money, only to find out that they are going to bill us for the oil. It would have been great to know that before we had all that Euro just lying around in cash. But oh well.

About the time the oil truck leaves, our landlord tells us we have to have the heat off for a few hours to let the oil settle and he wants to change the filter. No problem, I still have a million errands to do that I didn't get done on Wednesday. We no sooner go outside then the bus comes for T. Off to school he goes and then I run around like a crazy woman trying to get everything together for the errands. When I glance at the clock and see how late I'm now running, I just leave with the intention of doing what I can for the couple hours T will be in school.

I'm driving down the road making a mental list of to do's, and I realize - I can't turn in the movies we rented because I forgot them, can't go to the post office because I forgot the stuff to mail again AND my address book - and then I see a flash of light. WTH?

About thirty seconds later I know exactly what that was - a speed trap because a Polizei officer steps out into the road and waves me over. Fabulous. He only speaks a little English, I only speak tourist German (involving food, directions, and basic info) so we have the majority of the conversation in French. I was going 13 clicks over the speed limit. Do I have 20 Euro? I do! Then all I do is give it to him. No ticket, no court, no impact on insurance, no having to report it to R's command. And I'm on my way.

Except I'm so upset about being distracted enough that I was both speeding and that I failed to notice the obvious speed trap (I've seen them a million times), that I miss my turn and end up having to go through town where I end up having to slam on brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian who decided to dart across the street. Luckily, I was obeying the speed limit and they were jaywalking - especially since there was another Polizei right there. Geez.

I get two of my 7 errands done and head home, only to have S scream for 15 minutes because she didn't want to take her shoes off and I wouldn't let her have a cookie. Since she was screaming, I decided to change her diaper, which resulted in more screaming and my seriously contemplating taking a couple shots of rum I keep in the freezer for special occasions just like this one. But I'm the only one here with the kids and the way today is going, I'd almost certainly have to drive somewhere like the ER or Poland if I took even a tiny sip. The police here are pretty cool with speeding, but not so much with DUI which will also drastically affect your insurance. And your ability to drive over here. And probably your husbands career. No pressure....

Then I decide to open my email. I should know better. The first year we were here, I volunteered to be one of the key spouses for the squadron. It was right as the command was changing and things were just a joke. While I was pregnant with S, an email was sent out to the spouses in the squadron asking for a key spouse volunteer since we didn't have any, which was how I found out that I had been removed? replaced? not performing adequately? It was news to me and kind of a slap in the face as no one had bothered to actually tell me there was a problem or anything else.

Last July we get a new commander in and suddenly I start getting key spouse emails again. As in, 'come pick up the project care package for your deployed spouse' emails. Ummmmm, no thank you. So I email the First Sgt and ask him to direct the email to the person that is the key spouse now. He says no problem, then gives the key spouse the impression I want to help, which I most certainly do not. Ever. Again. She starts emailing me and she's so nice that I feel badly that she is doing it by herself. I also find out that the hateful women that were my co-key spouses weren't doing their part, then saying it was me not doing my part, all the while they were taking credit for what I was doing. Too. Much. Drama. So I offer to do admin stuff for her- make fliers, organize.. stuff like that. But I make it clear I am NOT interested in being key spouse again. Nice as she is, it would be me doing most the work and her stepping up to take all the credit since her nose seems so firmly planted up the commander's wife's behind. So, again, no thank you. Every now and then I get an email saying I have a project care package to pick up and I always reply nicely that I'm not the key spouse anymore and copy it to the first sgt., the lady who is the key spouse, and the lady who is sending me the emails. It's annoying but manageable.

So when I open my email today, there's an email from the key spouse to apparently everyone to whom she's ever emailed with her details of leaving in Feb. Two emails after that, I have an email from the same lady that continues to email me when current key spouse isn't doing her job saying I have many project care packages to come and pick up and that spouses are calling and asking about them.

Now, up until this point, I've handled the bad things about today pretty well. It's been a rough day, but nothing I can't manage. This, however, just sends me hurling off the cliff of reason. So what do I do? I pick up the phone and call R and say in language that would make a sailor blush - I AM NOT THE KEY SPOUSE. I WILL NOT BE THE KEY SPOUSE. I DO NOT KNOW WHY THEY KEEP SENDING ME THIS CRAP. I! WILL! NOT! NOT! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Poor R. He's like - wow! Okay, I will call the first sgt and the lady and tell them to leave you alone. To his credit, he never tells me to calm down. He says he'll handle it from his end. I ask him to talk to the first sgt and I'll handle the lady. However, if I get one more email about picking up packages or my duties as key spouse, I'm appearing in person and I manually override my self edit program first.

I manage to calm down enough to send a firm, yet professional email to the lady, stating once again that I am NOT the key spouse and that she needs to coordinate with the first sgt (whose wife by the way, does nothing squadron related. So I don't want to hear another word from him about volunteering or duty or helping until she leads by example).

After I post this, I'm turning off my computer and unplugging the phone. Enough already. If there's a sucker born every minute, find another one to handle this stupid squadron crap. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. DONE DONE DONE

Thanks for reading. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Next up, Brussels...

Our next Christmas market adventure was a trip to Brussels. Love those Belgians - they have Christmas markets after Christmas. I still have a post under construction from our trip there in November for R to take his CISSIP? CCISIP? CISIPP? exam. I'll finish it before next November, surely. In a nutshell, Brussels is a nightmare to drive in, around, near, and through.

But, we braved it again anyway. Yay us! We even found parking in a parking deck that allowed us to park the van without half of it hanging out the back of the parking space. It's hard to explain how exciting that is without sounding like a total nitwit. Just trust me on this.

So, we exited the parking deck and went in search of the Christmas market. Man, oh man! It was freezing. We sort of wandered around a bit until we saw some booths. Booths=Christmas market, right? Turns out, not necessarily. But we did find a cool chocolate shop called Chocopolis. Actually, there were a lot of chocolate shops. Everywhere. Yum!

But, since I have a lot of stuff I want to post and I really should be doing research for my Masters' project, let me try (note I say try) to give the condensed version.

Brussels - now I know how Jean-Claude Van Damme got muscular. He walked up all the dag-gone steps in this city and probably gave up driving for walking or running for the sake of maintaining sanity, although I'm not entirely sure that Belgians would hesitate to drive on the sidewalk to get from point a to point b, even if it meant maiming or killing pedestrians. If it weren't for that pesky seat belt law, I would have been curled up in the back of the van in the fetal position, humming nursery rhymes, thinking about my happy place.

Anyhoo, we wander around the downtown area seeing a ton of chocolate shops and restaurants. Turns out we are on Restaurant Row. Of course we how the heck are we supposed to chose which one to try? It's freezing outside and the kids can only take so much of the cold weather. We see a gluhwine stand that offers to add amaretto. Count me in! So we try it and it was good. Not fall to your knees and worship the grapevines good, but it was wine served hot, which may just be an acquired taste. It definitely helped warm us up, though. We eventually did have an amazing lunch, couldn't tell you the name of the restaurant, though. But the waiter talked me into a glass of champagne that was the best I've ever had. Did I ask the name of the champagne? Of course not! Why on earth would I actually ask for useful information?

Now is a good time to thank VTech for it's OUTSTANDING line of kids toys. T got the kid proof camera from Santa and if it hadn't been for that camera, we would never have been able to make it through our 'quick' lunch that lasted for almost two hours. The kids meals were better than ours, and ours were GOOD.

Thinking we had seen the Christmas market, we head back to Chocopolis to load up, only to discover that we hadn't even gotten to the Christmas market. Oooops. So we head back towards the market place. The kids see a carousel, so we stop and let them ride. It was a little macabre, lots of steel and freaky looking animal or sculpture things, but the kids didn't seem to mind. Maybe it's a Belgian thing and we uncultured Americans just don't get it. After letting the kids ride, we head into a church to try and warm up. S's legs were so cold they were bluish. In the church, which was breathtaking, there was something going on - I'm pretty sure it was a christening. There are tons of tourists there, so we don't feel like we are invading. To the side of the christening ceremony, in the middle of the church, is a wooden staircase that winds around a marble? stone? cement? column. After being inside for a few minutes, R and I realize that we don't see T. Looking around, we spot him on the steps. This isn't good. Even though the steps weren't blocked off and there didn't appear to be a sign saying to keep off, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he's not supposed to be up there. So R tried quietly to get him down. Usually when T is somewhere he wants to be and we do not, trying to get him to leave requires bodily removal and some shouting (sometimes him, sometimes us, sometimes both). Weeeelll, that's not really an option in a church. And luckily, T doesn't shout either, but it's a pretty determined no that we get in reply. It's pretty obvious that we are going to have to go and get him. As we nonchalantly approach the steps, the priest stops what he's doing with the christening, walks over to the staircase where T is, points at the bottom step and says, "Ici", which means 'here'. The tone, however, was more like, 'get your butt down here right now or I will throw in into the pits of hell myself.' T, gets it, and heads down the steps but is hesitant to approach Father Scary. Father Scary, isn't about to move an inch and R and I both start to try and sink into the floor. This dude is mad, and a scary mad at that. (Which it understandable. T should not have gone up those steps, we should not have lost track of him, etc. - yes yes, it's all my fault, okay? Me - I'm sorry God. Really I am. God - talk to Father Scary about that, whydoncha?) T is now about three steps away from the bottom and Father Scary points at T then at the door saying, "Sortie ici!" Which loosely translated means, "get out!" So get out we did.

And that was enough of Brussels for us during this tour of Europe. To quote REM, "That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight/losing my religion". Seriously!

Snarky McSnarkified O'Snarky

Good googlie-mooglie. I pose this question to all women, everywhere.

Why, oh why can we not just freakin' get along? This is what I HATED about high school. I've got news ladies - nobody's perfect. Including me! Of course, I'm not of the deluded set that actually thinks I'm perfect (thank goodness!). I love my flaws. They make me more interesting.

Seriously now, cut it out and BE NICE. Let's use our kindergarten rules: Share, do unto others, don't lie, and absolutely no running with scissors.

D'oh! Sadly, the people that need to see this aren't going to read it, or on the off chance that they do read it, they won't believe it's about them. Sheesh! Snap out of it already.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas in a cave

This was our last year of Christmas Markets as far as we know since we are supposed to PCS this fall. So, I was anxious to go to some markets that weren't the ones we've gone to since we've been here.

Our first opportunity came when I ran into Kelli - Riley and Haileigh's mom and she mentioned going to a Christmas market in a cave. Okay, sounds interesting. So off we headed the weekend before Christmas to the town of Vulkenburg. This is a neat little town in the Netherlands and it's not too far away.

Being that we waited until the weekend before Christmas to go, the line to get into the cave was really long so we bought tickets and decided to walk around the pedestrian area first. Lots of neat shops and buildings (and bakeries and Belgian chocolate shops...yum!!).

T, ever ready to provide a certain level of activity and interest, noticed all these really cool sandstone slabs outside of an engraving shop. So naturally he picks one up. Naturally I tell him to put it down. Naturally, he tosses rather than places it gently. Naturally it breaks. So, we have to buy it (19 Euro..grrrrrr) and since we have to buy it, we might as well engrave it, right? Right! It turned out really cool and so now we have a small piece of yard art to decorate our future homes. But I'm totally giving it to T as a wedding gift with the story behind it included.

A few bakeries later, Kelli and I go in to grab us all a snack. T sees that there is chocolate in the shop and asks for that. I say no since we haven't had lunch, and he gets upset. When I actually come out of the shop without chocolate, he gets more upset and here come the big crocodile tears. A very sweet older gentleman sees him crying for chocolate and says, "You want chocolate? Come with me..." and leads him and Riley into the shop and buys them a small bag of chocolate. You gotta love Grandpas, which is exactly what T's Grandpa's or Papa would have done had they been there. It was really sweet of him to do that. There are times I wish I could squeeze out some crocodile tears and have it work for me.

We eventually made it to the cave, which exceeded our wildest expectations. It may be called a cave, but it's really more of a labyrinth that's been there for hundreds of years underneath the town's castle. There are amazing drawings? etchings? on the walls that are pictures don't do them justice. It was totally worth the line, entrance fee, standing in the rain and the 19 Euro engraving.

Happy New Year

Wow! No blog entry in a month. I didn't realize it had been that long. Expect a lot of little entries in the next few days as I try to catch up.

First the complaining. (as always, right?) I'm cold. Cold as in constantly in possession of a blanket AND walking around the house in as many clothes as I can put on. The problem with that comes in because I've always been hot so I don't have a lot of very warm clothes. I spend lots of time hovering around the radiator of whichever room I'm in to try and stay warm. I've also become a door harpie - as in "CLOSE THE DOOR!" We have a ton of interconnecting rooms and I promise you, leave just one of those doors open and there's literally a breeze. I look forward to cooking because it's the only way the kitchen gets warmer. The problem with that is that the oven works best because it has a fan that blows out some of the hot air, I guess as a way of venting?!? So I love to have the oven on. If the oven's on, then I need to be baking something, right? Otherwise it's just a waste of energy. So...we've had a lot of brownies and cakes lately. Not so good for trying to lose weight. Too bad I'm not shivering the calories off.

S walks around in her hat, coat, gloves and shoes most of the time. I've almost decided that the floors are what make the rooms seem so cold, because the living room is about 65 degrees, but it feels like 50 sometimes. We are supposed to be getting heating oil delivered this week, and for the first day, I'm going to turn the radiators in the living room and playroom as high as they can go and pull the couch or chairs up in front of them. It will be better than watching TV. Seriously.