Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Now That's Service!

I've been meaning to do a handful of things for weeks now. Included in that list was making a service call to housing maintenance for a couple minor and one (to me) fairly major things.

Minor thing:  I needed a light bulb replaced outside. It's a recessed light (not a fan) and my neighbor told me when I mentioned it that housing does our outside lights. Woohoo!

Minor thing: One of the florescent lights in the kitchen goes off and on. I went to self help and got new bulbs and it helped for about a week. But now you turn on the light (and I timed it this morning) and it stays lit for about 20 minutes, then it goes out for about three or four minutes then back on. Most of the time, the light will then remain on. Most of the time. But since we are dealing with electricity and there should be no flicker, I just wanted it checked out.

Not so minor: Ants and spiders. They are beginning an invasion. Like Zombies. It's a daily ritual. Before I got to bed, I do a spot check for ants and spiders and spider webs, remove (aka assassinate) the ones I can spot, and then off to dream land for me. In the morning - dun dun dun - they are back. This is mostly in regard to spiders, but when I found ants on the counter last week? Well, all bets are off. I cannot figure where they are coming from. I do not like it. Not one bit.

Curious to see how the process worked, I submitted all three requests online to housing management yesterday. It was before 9 am. I figured they would respond in a day or two.

Um, no. The exterminator showed up around 3:15. The maintenance guy called me at 6:30 (we weren't home  yet) to get permission to go into my house.

He didn't see the light flicker, but everything else got handled.

Everything else got handled.

Same day.

I'm stunned! And I'm really, really glad I thoroughly cleaned my house this weekend!

And I was thinking about it as I was going to sleep last night. Every time I've called in a request to this housing management office, it's been handled same day. I never fail to be amazed at that. But I wonder - has customer service gotten so slack in general that now when I receive great service, I'm stunned and amazed?

Something to think about.

But today, I'm writing a thank you notes for quick responses and polite maintenance workers.

And this morning? No new spider webs and no ants.

::happy dance::

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A little bit o'this, a little bit o'that...

There's been a...situation...going on in the background of my life.

This...situation...has at times had me puzzled, hurt, confused, annoyed, regretful, apologetic, sarcastic, and extremely over-analytical.

I got accused a couple years ago of being a bully via Facebook. Did I think I was being a bully? No way. From my side of the white picket fence, I was just expressing frustration at a situation. From the other side of the white picket fence, the person felt bullied.

What to do?  I apologized for making her feel that way, because in my book, feelings are always, always valid. I decided then that I would be more careful what I said - or rather - status updated and blogged about.

For the most part, I am an open book on my blog as long as the situation pertains mostly to me. I have had some unkind things said about me by others and I don't like it. So, I really, really do try the 'do unto others' way of life.

Generally, it works. And then again, some people are just a-holes.

Also going on the last week has been my crack down on the obnoxiousness of my kids. As a parent, sometimes I expect them to ::gasp:: just do what I say. Where Tucker, Sara, and I run into trouble is in repeat mode. I mean, I don't expect them to jump up and salute when I speak. Sometimes I have to be reminded of things too.

However, the kids have NEVA EVA had to say, 'Mom, please make my lunch/clean my room/help me with my homework/kiss me goodnight...' repeatedly every. single. day.

I, on the other hand, DO find myself saying, "Don't jump on the furniture, please take your plates to the sink if you are finished eating, go upstairs and brush your teeth (no, brush your teeth, not rinse your mouth with water and a small bit of toothpaste. And yes, I can tell the difference. It's called FOOD. On your TEETH. And it's visible even to my horrid eyesight). I say all these things at least 10 times a day. Sometimes closer to 50. And yes, I did count.

But let my kids demand - not ask - for me to do something and then the world ends if it isn't done right away.

Hello Twitter? #Frustrated!

All of the above ended up in my having a meltdown. I am so done with being taken advantage of. Sara has burst into tears almost every day and told me - "You break my heart!" Really? Because you can't have six cookies immediately after throwing away 75% of your breakfast? If this breaks your heart, man are YOU in trouble later in life! This can only be outdone with Tucker's current mantra of "this is the worst day EVER!" and subsequent sobbing.  This is also happening almost daily.

I am unmoved.

In fact, my current advice to the entire world is this: freaking deal with it. You get out of it what you put in and NO ONE owes you anything. Period.

I'm tired of people thinking rules don't apply to them and that they can treat others however they like. I know life isn't fair, believe me, but I'm no longer going to make it easier to be unfair. And also - PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AND DRIVE!

My kids will tell you this has been the worst week of their lives. I would say that this has been the most real life week of their lives. Welcome to the dawn of a new era. At least in my house.

Just life. Happening Normally.

Happy Belated Memorial Day.

The kids and I spent the weekend doing mostly fun things. Friday was the kind of busy that makes you want to pull your hair out and clone yourself (prior to all the hair pulling). I had to be at school for the Student of the Month Breakfast, since I volunteered to take that over next year. I want to be comfortable with the routine before it becomes all mine.

As we were cleaning up, I got a text from Megan asking if I wanted to meet her for some socialization/breakfast. I had passed on the doughnuts at school, so I was actually kind of hungry - especially since we had to be at school by 7:15 and I hadn't had time to make myself some Shakeology. That also worked out well because I needed to pick up the popcorn from the movie theater for the Spirit Day winners. The movie theater is really close to where Megan lives and I had just enough time to meet her before I needed to pick up the popcorn.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Sara and I met Megan and Zoey for breakfast, then went to get the popcorn. Even though I put it in the trunk, the entire car smelled like freshly popped popcorn within minutes. I wasn't the least bit hungry, but man, did that smell goooooooood.

Sara and I were headed home to bag up the popcorn into individual bags so that we could head to school and hand them out to the winning classes.

That's when I got a text from Annie saying that gas on base was still 3.65 (it was around 3.72 off base at the time) and the shoppette was giving away free beer.

Free beer? Turns out you had to buy an alcoholic beverage from the shoppette but then you get two free cases of beer. Still and excellent deal, and since I had Memorial Day plans it sure beat paying full price for beer.

I so top off with gas, go into the shoppette to get the beer and run into the PTO ladies who were also there for free beer. Great minds...

I headed home with Sara and fed her lunch and got her ready for preschool. By the time she left and I straightened up, I decided to go back to school and bag the popcorn there. The only problem was that a teacher was using the parent room for some testing, so all I could do was drop off the popcorn and bags. There was a meeting at 1:15, so I went to that and when we got out, the teacher was in the parent room with another student and we had to reclaim the parent room and bag the popcorn in a hurry.

Once we handed it out, I went home to wait for the kids, then we headed out to an early dinner with some friends. Tucker had a birthday party that night at 7 and I was taking him and one of his friends to the party.  Luckily for me, the party was at the base bowling alley so it was really close. I took Tucker and Josh, helped them put on their bowling shoes, and then spent 20 minutes trying to explain to Sara that while she is awesome, this party was for kids in Tucker's class, not so much for little sisters. Tucker is generally really good at letting Sara tag along so in cases where the invitation is for Tucker and not Tucker and Sara, I want him to go and be able to have fun.

Sara did not see it that way, and when I noticed that other parents were dropping off their kids and then leaving, I checked with Kim that it would be okay if Sara and I stepped out for a bit, and then I made her leave.

It wasn't pretty. And even though I felt badly for her, she needs to understand that she's not automatically included in every thing Tucker does.

Parenting is hard.

After the birthday party, we took Josh home and got the kids to bed. I fell into bed right after I tucked them in. And that was just Friday.

The rest of the weekend was more of the same frantic pace, which was good for me because it keeps me busy and out of the pantry. We got to hang out with Annie and Chris and their kids and went to the pool with April and her boys too. A cookout on Memorial Day with some yummy and a lot of healthy food choices and BOOM! Now it's Tuesday and back to the routine. This week and next week and the kids are out of school and we are off to see NC family and then go hang with Robert in Florida. I cannot wait. The kids cannot wait. Robert cannot wait.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Need someone to murder some plants? I'm your woman!

I can remember moaning and groaning about having to do anything outside when I was younger. And we were outside all the time so that was a lot of moaning and groaning on my part.

The house I grew up in had a pretty big yard and once my parents split, my mom needed help. Of course, this was back in the days when kids could safely play outside for hours unattended because the neighbors were looking out for you and houses weren't stacked on top of each other.

For as long as I can remember, my parents and then Mom had a garden of some sort. Gardens need a lot of attention. Kind of like kids, actually. Only when you get fed up with the plants (or nature in general - rabbits, deer, bugs, spiders and snakes), you can rip out the plants if you so choose and no one will turn you in or arrest you. Hmm. I think I just gave myself an idea for a new blog post. Maybe my writer's slack is over! (Don't get your hopes up.)

For as long as I can remember, I have hated to work in a garden or a yard. I mean, really - you put all that work into it, most of the good stuff gets eaten by critters, there could be snakes, there will be spiders, and then you have to do it all again next year. It's exhausting.

I've had so so luck keeping plants alive over the years. I've had horrible luck keeping plants alive since we moved here.  Case in point - this is what our side flower bed looked like the first spring after we moved here:

The two rose bushes you see? Dead. The flowers in the upper right corner? Dead. Of course, they were annuals, so I guess I can be forgiven for that.

We have a long flower bed that runs up the length of the house and I have ripped out and replanted things there since we moved here. This is what it looked like right after Mom and I planted a bunch of azalea bushes our first spring here. The monkey grass was already here:

Then the weeds took over most of the monkey grass so I pulled them out and replanted new ones, along with pansies for the fall, which somehow lasted all winter and rebloomed in the spring.

And this is what the side flower bed looked like last October, after everything died:

So we've pretty much established that here in Illinois, my plants die horrible deaths. Also, which isn't shown, several of my new monkey grass plants and all but two of my azalea bushes bit the dust.

I was going to just cover everything in mulch and call it quits, but then Annie was telling me that she revamped her flower beds. When I saw them, it made me want to have living, pretty plants in mine again too. When Mom was here in March, she helped me move the existing azaleas from the long flower bed to the side flower bed and she divided and replanted my hostas. So I asked Annie for her advice about what else I could do, and after about six trips to Lowe's and some hard labor this is what my flower beds look like today.

I am hoping that this time next year, everything will still be alive and re-blooming. Hope with me! But what really surprised me is that I actually enjoyed the work that went into this round. Maybe that will be the difference in whether the plants live or die. Well that, and how many dogs pee on the bushes this winter. Sigh. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last week could have gone better.

Last Thursday, I was upstairs putting away what seemed like four million loads of laundry (really it was only six) when Sara came meandering into her bedroom. I was standing facing her closet, hanging up some dresses when I heard a horrific CRASH.

I whipped around and saw that the top of her dresser had fallen off and Sara was crumpled on the ground beside it.

In what felt like super slow motion, I dove across the bed and over to Sara, terrified that the shelf had struck her on the head and that she was seriously injured. Right at the moment I reached her, she started to scream.

I checked her over for injuries, she was fine, just really frightened. And she should have been - this is the aftermath of the carnage:

All of this stuff was on her shelves. The back of the shelf unit is in the upper right corner of the picture.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, thanks for breaking the shelf's fall

Smashed mirror, smashed piggy bank, chipped bookshelf, but an okay Sara. I'll gladly take it. She was more upset about the loss of her piggy bank, which I guess is a good sign that she was truly okay. Unfortunately, this happened about 5 minutes before the bus came to pick her up for school, and while she still wanted to go, she was weepy and shaky as I walked her to the bus and explained to the bus driver why she was so upset.

After she left, I cleaned up the mess and triple vacuumed her room to make sure that all the shards from the broken mirror and piggy bank wouldn't find their way into her tender little feet.

And, I have to say, this scared the *insert word of choice here* out of me. That was really close to being something awful. Robert and I had fastened the shelf to her dresser with screws and a plastic hinge thing. What a rotten way to find out that it wasn't nearly strong enough. How lucky that only things were damaged.

::HUGE sigh of relief::

Saturday, a neighbor invited us to go swimming at our community pool, so we met them there at noon. Her kids are in the same classes as my kids at the base school, so everyone knew each other pretty well. We were having a great time. Tucker and I got into a squirt gun war and he made the mistake of being out of the water, which gave me a direct advantage with reloading. I had him backed into a corner, ready to surrender and admit that I, with my entire pool of ammunition, had soundly defeated him. Muahahahahahahahahahaaa!

Sara, eager to get in on that action, was hurrying over to help out her brother  - how I don't know since she wasn't carrying a bucket full of water or a loaded squirt gun - and she was running.


But, just like no jumping on the couch and pick up your toys and about a million other things I say 100 times a day - every day - no one was listening. Unfortunately, Sara made the critical error of running from the concrete around the pool onto the tiled area that went into the community center. And.....


Her feet went out from under her and she hit hard. So hard, in fact, the the employee at the reception desk in the middle of the community center heard the hit and came running. Sara hit mostly on her arm/elbow but her head smacked the floor too. Luckily, AGAIN, she was okay. No bump on the back of her head, just a very tender spot and a very sore arm. Tucker was sobbing because he thought it was his fault since he had been running around playing water war with me and Sara was running to help him out when she fell. I tried to reassure Tucker that it wasn't it fault and I really hope it took, but he was pretty upset for a pretty good while. Sara spent the rest of our time at the pool sitting on my lap saying she was tired. I'm willing to bet she had a pretty awful headache too.

Man, that girl is one tough chick. She can take some serious lumps. Another example that comes to mind? When she was one, she decided to ride her tricycle down the patio steps. It did not end well for her beautiful face or the tricycle. We took the picture a couple days later.

It's hard to be a diva.

Progress is still progress, right?

**This was supposed to be posted on May 4. Oops.**

This has been a rough week for Sara and I. Not the normal rough of her screaming at me because I don't fetch her favorite pink pants quickly enough (no, I'm not kidding and no, it didn't hurry me up in the least) or having  a fit because Tucker might possibly have sat somewhere she considers 'her spot' in the 30 minutes that he gets home from school before her.

Run on sentences much? Why yes, thank you. I rather like them. 

No, this has been rough because LAST Monday she developed some sort of intestinal thing that lingered with her until around Saturday and then Sunday night she either relapsed or managed to catch another strain of it. This round was way worse, though. As proof let me offer up as evidence that she didn't whine, cry, or throw a fit of any sort from Sunday night until yesterday. And she was sleeping around 18 hours a day. 

That child was sick, sick, sick. 

Tuesday morning she seemed better and wanted to go to school. She made it to school and was there all of 30 minutes before the school called and said she was complaining that her stomach hurt. In the 15 minutes it took me to get there, she had gotten sick again. 

Poor thing. 

Tuesday evening, she was cuddled up with me on the couch. I thought she was getting ready to go back to sleep and I got up to help Tucker with his homework, but instead she tells me that she can't breathe. 

Well, that's not good. 

I load up the kids (and Tucker's homework) and off we go to the ER. They tell me she's dehydrated and has a nasty urinary tract infection. We are out of there in around three hours with a prescription for a strong antibiotic and a stern discussion from the doctor on wiping techniques. Awesome.

By the second full day of antibiotics, Sara is feeling better. I know this because she threw a fit over not being able to drink soda. Which is kind of funny, because since January, I rarely have soda in the house. But she wanted one, a Dr. Pepper to be exact. The ER doctor recommended that because of her tummy issues we should avoid caffeine and soda. Also amusing? Sara doesn't really like soda. She'll take a sip or two, and that's it.

Sara throwing a fit because she can't have something she doesn't really like = a much better Sara.

Progress is progress, right? And it's probably the only time I'll be happy that she has resumed fit throwing mode. 

The World According To Sara

Tucker: Mom, can we have pasta for dinner?
Me: Sure, that sounds good. Sara, is that okay with you?
Sara: Well...I'm not a big fan of pasta.
Me: Sara, you know that macaroni and cheese is pasta, right?
Sara: No, macaroni and cheese is macaroni and cheese. Pasta has meat. And meat is yucky.
Me: Sara, any noodle is considered pasta, even macaroni.
Sara: Whatever

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Putting my cheese steak where my mouth is

Not too long after Chris got here, he mentioned that he'd really like to make us all cheese steaks. Meat, veggies, cheese...what's not to like? I was absolutely in favor. I do appreciate when a man likes to cook. My grandfather, my dad, my brother...all excellent cooks. And even though I rarely eat them anymore, cheese steaks are way on up there as one of my favorite indulgences.

Monday night he's cooking and the kids are complaining they are hungry. Then Sara falls asleep. After failing to wake her up, I give up and the rest of us sit down to dinner. Tucker gets pissy and doesn't want to eat the cheese steak.

I am unfailingly amused. It's a cheese steak, not a puppy dog. After trying and failing to convince Tucker that he actually likes all the ingredients in a cheese steak, I give it a break and decide to eat mine.

It was sooooo gooooooooooooood.

As I'm finishing up, Tucker starts making noise about how he wants something different to eat.

Fine, I tell him. Try the cheese steak and if you don't like it, then you can have a bowl of cheerios. I've had this 'discussion' with Tucker before and what he wants is to go out to eat. Probably so he can eat a cheeseburger which is what? Meat, cheese, and bread.  Which I will point out again, is just another form of what's already on his plate. But Chris was nice enough to make us dinner and since it includes food I know Tucker already actually likes, Tucker needs to just suck it up and try it. And stop being so bratty in the process.

And may I just say, poor Chris, man. He got stuck in the middle of a pile of parent/child yuck.

Then. THEN. Tucker looks at me and mutters, "I just want to throw this at you."

Say what?!?!

I'm already annoyed with his behavior and embarrassed that someone went to the trouble to actually cook for us and one child won't wake up to eat and the other is being super obnoxious.

So then I make a big mistake. BIG mistake. HUGE.

I say - more as a challenge then as permission - 'You want to throw that at me? Go. Ahead."

And yep, he does it. Hits me in the middle of the face and the cheese steak slides down my face and plops onto the table.

I stand up and drag him upstairs kicking and screaming.

Now, I'm in a horrible position as a parent. Tucker KNOWS better. But I did tell him, albeit sarcastically, that he could do it.

Sucks to be me right now.

Tucker is upstairs with me crying because he is well aware that he's in big trouble. To my great surprise, I didn't raise my voice, nor did I physically touch him other than to drag him up the stairs.

What I DID do is kneel down, make him look at me in the eye - well, after I washed the cheese steak off - and told him I was desperately disappointed in his behavior. His behavior was embarrassing to me and I know he knew better than to do what he did. Then I wouldn't let him hug me and I wouldn't hug him.It surprised me how devastating that was to him. I was still pretty angry. And he lost his 3DS, Wii, and all fun for a week. Some things for more than that. Some things he STILL hasn't earned back. He apologized to Chris and he tried the cheese steak. Which he then ate over half of.


Getting my bloggy groove back

You know, it happens. I lose the desire and possibly the ability to come up with a single good blog post. Sometimes it just a few days, sometimes it's a few months. Lots of my bloggy buddies have stopped blogging as often or at all and that makes me sad. I get a lot out of reading their posts. Plus, it's like a friend is MIA. You feel like you get to know people through their stories and words. When the person/post/story/word is no longer there, they are missed. ::sniff::

Every day for the last week, I have found myself sitting in front of a blank, slightly mocking and judgmental blogger screen trying to find something to say.


Until yesterday, when I packed more into a day than I could reasonably accomplish without getting stressed. Yesterday morning, Sara's afternoon preschool (which the Diva refers to as her preK class versus her preschool class (that's in the morning)) had a field day. Since the last day of her preschool class was Wednesday morning, we were able to go.

So glad we did! The preschool teachers did an awesome job of setting up the prek/kindergarten playground. There was a bubble station, an obstacle course, tricycle races, hula hoops, scooter races, tail tag (minds out of the gutter, please. The kids had belts with stuffed animal tails attached and had to chase each other and pull off tails - it was adorable and I totally want a set of those for Tucker's next birthday party!), bean bag toss, a hop-a-long station, water table, and a snack station.

After an hour (which for some reason felt like three), we got invited to a park on base with a friend of Sara's and her parents. Sara and Rachel played there until after 11, when I had to pry Sara and Rachel apart and get some errands done. We came home, had lunch, and watched about 20 minutes of TV together when my friend Annie and her kids came over to help me plant the stuff she helped me pick out for the flower bed beside the house this week. She knew I probably wouldn't plant them if left on my own...hahahaha. She'd also be right.


So Annie and I are out causing flower bed destruction and mayhem and Tucker gets off the bus. This means it's time for the Friday playdate. Tucker's friend Josh and his brother Jordan come over to play and now there are six energetic kids at my house.


Annie and I finish up the flowerbed, she heads home with her two because she's watching two more kids of a friend of ours for a few hours, and I clean up and usher the kids inside to play. Josh and Jordan leave at 5ish, I scrub Sara down and change her clothes, wipe Tucker down and change my clothes. We head to Sara's preschool graduation, which lasts until after 8:00 and since the kids have been going all day long and haven't had dinner...just huge chunks of cake...we accept an invitation from another of Sara's preschool friends to grab a quick dinner.

By the time we get home, it's after 9:30 and the kids are actually asking to go to bed.

No, I'm not kidding.

And I think about how much I want to write about our day. But I'm tired and opt to go to bed since tomorrow (now today) is just going to be more of the same. But luckily, Tucker woke me up early, so now I have time to blog. You're welcome. I missed you too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The one where Chris comes to visit

So the last thing you heard from me was about my funk and how I was determined to snap out of it.

Two weeks later I've survived some sort of stomach super bug that took Sara and me out for a solid week. Not to mention that Sara ended up in the ER with what turned out to be a wicked urinary tract infection.

::trip to ER while husband deployed...check::

She's fine now and back to her precocious self. I was actually relieved to witness the first temper tantrum so you know things were serious.

Last Saturday, Chris flew to St. Louis so we could meet face to face.

He walked around the corner and down the corridor towards me and I realized that I would have known him anywhere. How can someone you don't really know seem so familiar?

So here he comes, walking towards me, and I just freeze into place. He was tall and walks like my dad and brother. We have the same eyes.

I don't think that either of us said anything other than hi, but we just hugged.  I expected to burst into tears, but at that moment I just felt...complete. It's hard to find the words to describe it accurately.

It was an excellent visit. He slid right into our lives like he's been part of it all along. The kids worshiped him and he was so patient and giving with them.

Can your heart be so happy that it hurts?


And oh my gosh, he's a great guy. Intelligent, funny, well-mannered, helpful...his parents have done a wonderful job. I feel so fortunate to be able to get to know him. I can't wait to get to know the rest of his family as well.

I took him back to the airport on Wednesday. I watched him until he made it through security and then I headed back to the car, so sad to see him go but so happy that he came. Bittersweet.

So worth the wait. So worth all of it. So this is what it's like to be completely, utterly, totally happy.

I like it.