Monday, November 24, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Matt really enjoyed the freedom that the "matador" Major's uniform gave him. It was his first occasion to wear it and he was discovering things all night. "The pants feel different." "Is it 'cumber bun catches crumbs?" "I have a pocket on the inside!" Good-now you can hold your own keys and give me back my purse!
Me and Missy. We made that dress look good! We did some alterations to the previous style.
My neighbor and good friend Elaine. Superman came on and she literally dragged me to the dance floor. Much to her chagrin, I do not know the Superman up to her New York standards and we were forced to vacate the lighted stage. Worse still, I could not seem to perform the Electric Slide nor any other over-used party appropriate dance. I blame it on my beautiful silk hem that kept catching on my equally stunning be-jeweled strappy velvet heels. Alas, the price we have to pay for wearing self-altered clothing. There will be another ball. I'll catch the next tutorial on YouTube. I hear that Soulja Boy 'cranks dat' with his original version. I'm so there!
Matt was in charge of buying flowers for the guest speaker's wife flowers. He was to present them to her after his speech. Sooo...on the day of the ball I'm talking to the florist on the phone while watching Ethan freeze his bottom off on the playground . I tell her that it needs to be appropriate for a General's wife and it is for the Marine Corps birthday. I say they will be presented to her and placed in her arms. She was not happy about having only 6 hours to put together what is apparently referred to as a "wrap" in the elite florist world, but agrees to do it and charges my credit card $38 right then and there before she'll even start. When I get home I relay my conversation to Matt whom immediately calls the florist back and reiterates the occasion and the need for the flowers to be appropriate. Ok. We're good. They'll be ready at 3:30. We have to leave for the ball at 5:30. No problem. Matt comes home from picking up the flowers at 4:00pm and I'm ready to be relieved of babysitting duty. "Uh, honey?" I look up at Matt holding what appears to be a small bunch of day-old daisies and carnations from the Wal-Mart. "Are you sure these will be OK to give to the General's wife?" I take in his pathetic helpless expression and snatch his keys. "I'll fix it," I say jumping in the car. Leaving him and the boys in a trail of blowing leaves I immediately dial my one and only: girl that is. Jackie assures me that YES roses are the thing to have NOT daisies. Giant Food is my destination and wow did they ever save Matt's face. The florist there whips us up a mean dozen roses with all the trimmings wrapped with a yellow and red ribbon for a good happy birthday for half the cost and in only 5 minutes! I gave her a big hug to show her how much I appreciated it. Back at home at 4:40 with just 45 minutes to get ready. That's what a real Marine wife is all about. Matt let me hold the flowers and pretend I was the recipient. I'm looking at the cast-offs right now on my dining room table. One word Matty: Birthday.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
How do you get through this?
I found a leaf!!
I love you thiiiiiiiisssss much!
Raking leaves is a workout beyond workouts. That is, of course, if you've raked them 20 times to allow for all the turns for jumping. After school we decided to rake all those rogue leaves blowing into our neighbors' yards and making us look bad. Just as soon as I'd get them all into a nice big pile the wind would up and swoop them away, back into the wrong yard. Cold, but sweaty--weird how that happens--I busted out the camera and just let the boys dump their little bodies into the piles to make leaf angels. They came out sooo cute! We haven't had the four seasons in forever and so this is nice to experience all the changing leaves and the crisp weather. I love the leaves so much it takes my breath away every morning when I pull out of the neighborhood. The streets are lined with trees that look like they are on fire with different hues of oranges and reds and yellows. So beautiful!
Monday, October 27, 2008
We visited the National Zoo in Washington DC this year for Boo at the Zoo. We are members and we visit frequently. So frequently, in fact, that Mason has literally memorized the map and most of the animals' locations. I know this because he recites it to me nightly and incessantly. Mason is our animal lover. He has decided that he wants to be a zoo keeper when he grows up and so naturally that's what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Of course, this was his second choice as all the youth sized C3PO costumes are sold-out nationwide and Mommy wasn't going to make a gold lame droid costume for fear it would turn into something out of Austin Powers or the 70's. Nope, we'll stick to choice #2. When we showed up and stood in that "No way!" "You've got to be kidding me!" line to get into Boo at the Zoo, the boys were so happy. The line didn't matter. They kept shouting out "Iron Man" "Woody!" "Clone Trooper" Looking at all the costumes was such a great time passer and the line moved quickly. We got in, got our treat bags and set off for the first station. It took us 2 hours to get from one end of the trail to the other stopping at the different stations to hold open their bags. Ethan would just look at them with a blank look, down in the bag, back up at them, so he would ultimately get 2 treats from each station. I think he was doing it on purpose. Such a con artist! There was a lot of work put into the festivities and we had so much fun. I even forgot about my headache while we were there. Back at the car 3 hours later, we put their sticky bodies into their jammies and tucked them into their car seats with a treat for the ride home. No tricks for us at the zoo!
When Heather gave me a call early on in the week to say that she and Brian would be in town for the weekend I was so excited. Brian would be running in the Marine Corps Marathon in DC on Sunday and they wanted to meet up. Being the non-runner I am I'm thinking to myself "we'll get a sitter, go out for lunch and a beer and then maybe Heather and I can go get our toes done or something!" In my own little bubble of ignorant bliss I happily agree to meet with them 'at some point' on Sunday. Well, I'm not even going to go into the previous weekend blah because it's just that: blah. I will say that when I did not go to sleep as usual on Saturday night, but spent it very uncomfortably hunched in a fetal-like position on the floor because of various side effects of merely being a woman (how much of a man do I sound like here???) and a migraine increasing in strength by the second, I knew Sunday was going to be bad. And...it was. But it's amazing what you'll do for the ones you love. Heather is one of my closest friends and I was not going to miss seeing her even if I had to bring a barf bag and a seeing eye dog. So I brought a sandwich baggie and Matt. We shoved the boys in the car and took off for the races. We got to some very crowded and blocked off streets but we found a spot right near the Smithsonian Castle and waited for the call. Knowing it was stressful, loud, crowded and everything else, we decided to grab some lunch and see some of the beautiful sights of downtown in the fall. Gorgeous! And beautiful sunny skies. The boys found a squirrel that would have very happily hopped up into their arms if I hadn't thrown myself between them. "He looks really cute and fuzzy guys, but he's a wild animal and he might have rabies!" I say. Crushed, they back away. Brian and Heather finally did pop up out of the very crowded and stinky, or so I heard, subway and we hugged and caught up from 3 months or so. Then we parted ways, promising to get together again soon. This time I hope it's longer and it's not spent on a park bench with only a port-a-potty for relief. We love you and miss you Pecks!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Since Halloween is just around the bend and I thought my life could use just a tad bit more chaos in it, the boys and I decided to make Halloween-themed cookies. The cookies were a spice cookie, but you couldn't tell there was even anything underneath when they were finished. They piled on the frosting and the sprinkles and sugar: you name they used it. Matt walked in just as Ethan was putting on the finishing touches to one of the bats. He stood in the doorway and bellowed " ET! You weren't hired to install a golf course in the dining room. You're decorating cookies." What a pooper! Still in his uniform, Matt busted out the vacuum and started hoovering under the kids' chairs and fussing over the amount of sugar and frosting on the new white carpets so we helped clean up to keep Daddy's blood pressure down.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Belvedere Plantation with Mason's class was fun but so crazy I thought I had taken a wrong turn at the county fair. There were literally thousands of children there with their classes. The hay ride was more like Nascar Hay Ride on two wheels since Mr. Farmer had to get 10,000 children out to the pumpkin patch and back in 5 hours! I was not prepared for that kind of chaos!
I was not prepared for children beyond the womb. My first pregnancy was , for the sake of comparison, blissful. I suffered a minimal amount of nausea in the morning which was easily assuaged with those tiny little oyster crackers I love to put in my soup. I always wondered why they were called oyster crackers and not just soup crackers. As a first time mom, a term I would very soon come to loathe, I adjusted a lot of things in my life to create a more healthy, safe, loving environment for my baby. I got the most expensive car seat and stroller combo because the reviews insisted. I cut out all alcohol despite a very strange hankering for beer, of all things. I even limited myself to ONE cup of coffee a day. Yeah! Me! One cup. Makes me shiver just thinking about that one now. I got him boutique clothing and chemical free shampoo and stopped coloring my hair. Okay, okay. After 7 months I figured he was cooked and besides sporting my lovely set of braces I was going to be next year's tree topper if I didn't get this gray covered up. So...I slipped. I had my bags packed and was ready to go to the hospital at any moment. The woman at the birthing class assured me that I would definitely go early. No doubt about it. I can't tell you how many times I was asked if I was having twins. Granted, living in Japan with some of the teeniest women ever was no place for a balloon like me to be bobbing around. At 5'0 I'm not tall so you can imagine an almost 8 pounder shoved into my 100 frame. By month 8 1/2 I wasn't prepared for my maternity pants to not fit my rear. I wasn't prepared for my belly button to be visible beneath ALL my clothing. Who is prepared for that?? Band-Aids don't work, by the way. They just pop off under all that pressure. I wasn't prepared for all the discomfort and false alarms and dents in your legs that stay there for days from so much water retention. I wasn't prepared for all the pushing. I wasn't prepared for my husband to "grab a sandwich" while he left me clinging to a pillar in the hospital hallway in labor agony and then later fall asleep in the recliner. I wasn't prepared for the salad tongs to be used to pull my son out because of maternal exhaustion and I just couldn't push anymore.
I wasn't prepared for the most wonderful experience in my life. To hold that baby and touch his nose and count his toes and fingers is something I will never forget.
I wasn't prepared for the second baby either, but in different ways. I was past blissful, but still very happy and content. I knew at least a little of what I was getting into. My water breaking at the movie theater was a bit unnerving. Labor for only 7 hours wasn't bad and he didn't go into the NICU AND I didn't hemorrhage and stay in the hospital for 5 days. It was great!
I'm not prepared for the hold my boys have on my life. They teach me so much every day and they have no idea. Their love for me is unconditional and it is the greatest feeling in the world. I am so unprepared for them to leave.
Mason was in school and Matt had the day off for studying so we packed up and headed out to DC for the day: just the three of us. OK so Matt wasn't "studying" per say, but it was educational. For instance, in the dinosaur section of the Museum of Natural History, the Tyrannasaurus Rex skull is about as long as Ethan's arms when he spreads them way out. In the Mammal section, you are so close to a giraffe it's as if you can reach out and pet its head. Just don't get too close to the hippo next to it. When it yawns and shows its teeth it's a bit intimidating. Standing on the entrance steps can make you look really big or really small depending on where the camera is angled. Days alone with Ethan are very far and few between for us and we had so much fun! He'll make up the studying later!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Mason had a cold just before school started and by the first day was better, thank Heaven. I was still keeping tabs on how he was feeling and how runny his nose was though so at dinner one night I asked if he needed a refill on tissues for his backpack. His reply was this: "No, ma'am. Mrs. Jordan has a nose sucker in her desk. She puts the big motor part on top of her desk and you walk over and stand in front. You put the mask on with a string, like this, around your head so it stays on. Then you turn it on and it goes SSSSSCCCCCCHHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!!!!!! Then all your boogers are all gone." He then continues to eat his dinner as if what he just told his mother wasn't the most incredulous, hilarious, crazy, that-could-actually-work bullshit story of the century! I could hear Matt telling me to pick my jaw up off the table between snickers he was desperately trying to hide behind his hand. 15 minutes later we finally get into the "You know what a lie is, right?" talk.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Here we go! Number two is gone! I was really nervous to put Ethan in school since last year was such a fiasco, but he was persistent and kept asking when he was going to school. Walking his big brother to the bus stop every morning was a bit of a push though I think. Normally shy and not one to instigate a conversation with people, ET has always had separation issues. When we would be in a store and someone would comment on his hair or blue eyes or just general adorableness, he would get a grumpy lower lip and grunt "Mommy! She's wookin' at me!" If I would be talking to someone he would physically turn my face toward him and say "Don't talk to her Mommy! Talk to me!" So the relief that I felt when we walked through the preschool doors and he kissed me and said goodbye is inexpressible. Don't get me wrong. I'm dying that he's so grown up and is ready to leave, but the long way we have come to get him to go and talk to other kids or be with other people is paying off. He comes home and says it's 'Awesome!' Today, Thursday, was his second day and I used my 3 hours a little more productively than Tuesday's. Tuesday I wandered around Target for the ENTIRE time< my mouth hanging slack, I'm sure, in a numb what-do-I do-with-myself kind of way, putting unnecessary things into my cart. Don't ask what I bought. I have no recollection. Today, however, I bought 3 sweaters, 1 pair of red velvet 'Rock Star' pants, 1 pair of black flats, some gummy frogs AND I did my Pilates workout for 45 minutes. I'm feeling so good! Got an iced coffee to reward myself. Missing Jackie lots. So much these days. Need my shopping buddy back. My coffee buddy. My everything buddy.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
But who knows how long it will be like that
Cause things are changin'
I get a little taller every day
My father is a little bit smarter than me
But who knows how much longer things will be like that
Cause things are changin'
And I've been changin'
I get a little smarter every day
My dreams are a little bit bigger than meHo-dee-oh, over the rainbow
But who knows how much longer things will be like that
Cause things are changin'
And I've been changin'
I get a little bigger every day
Hi-dee-hi, to the top of the sky
Look at me, ma, I'm riding with no hands
I do the best I can
I didn't even get the opportunity to cry and grieve properly on Mason's first day of Kindergarten. Trying to get him to hold still for a picture in front of the house was tough. His smile belies the angst he is feeling. His feet are really moving in the picture they are just moving so fast that they appear stationary to the untrained eye. He wanted to get going and I was an obstacle in front of the big yellow bus that he was sure he was going to be late for if I snapped one more picture. So, I took pictures as the 3 minutes played out. Him waving goodbye and then running to the bus stop. Boy, was he surprised when I showed up to wait with him. That's right, Mr. Fluffernutter. You got me for another 13 years. There was no talking him out of NOT taking the school bus the 1/12 of a mile to the school regardless of the fact he would just be sitting there for the half hour it takes to pick up the rest of the neighborhood who actually needs a ride. I showed up at the school about 5 minutes into the beginning of class so I could drop Mason's class supplies off and was barred at the door in a very 'friendly' way. I understand it's difficult for some parents and children to be separated so they didn't want my presence to disrupt the flow of things. Fair enough. I poked my head in far enough so Mason would see me and he did; he blew me a kiss and without further ado nor a second glance, went back to listening to his teacher. The lump that had been forming all morning was rising and the tears were stinging the corners of my eyes. How can he have gotten so big without me seeing? Haven't I been here all this time? Haven't I made it a point to be here for him all this time?Haven't I stayed home and been the special person he always went to when he was sad, happy, hurt, proud, silly? When did he stop wanting to share his time with me? Will he want to again? All these self-pitying questions are just that; self-pitying and pathetic. It's life. It's part of being a mom. I'm glad Mason's independent and willing to explore things that are unfamiliar to him. I love that he is daring yet cautious. He is charismatic, funny, absolutely adorable, and so polite at other people's houses. He is gracious, confident with a small degree of humility, giving-especially after he's had a turn, smart-oh so smart about crazy things like how much a Virginia opossum weighs, and creative. Most of all I love that he is such a great combination of me and Matt. He has my eyes and freckles, but Matt's lean build and thick can't-do-nothing-with-it hair. He has Matt's confidence and our compassion and willingness to help others. Maybe no-hands is OK as long as he stops once in a while to make sure I'm still watching.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Ethan's very favorite thing to do is shout out randomly. It's like turrets. He'll just be going along and then he'll just scream and say something like "I want apple juice!" or "Cereal! Cereal! Cereal!" It still makes me jump and grab my temple, almost like I'm trying to keep my brain from popping out from the pressure of the outer decibels. One of his regular shout-outs is "Look, I have one eye!" I can't help from laughing even when I'm in my own world making dinner, checking email, or running errands and he jumps out and says, "Mom! I have one eye." He then screws up one eye and sticks out his bottom lip like a pirate and just walks around for a few minutes like that. We have nicknamed him one-eyed Pete, which of course he hates and insists we call him "Plain old Etan, Mom!" Mason got into the game tonight and we called his crazy face toothless-Jack.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As I open the laptop and prep my font and title for tonight's entry, I can feel my skin begin to itch. It starts up where a strand of hair has come loose from my ponytail which has become customary mostly to hide the rapid graying making my once dark beautiful hair look more like the bride of Frankenstein. The itch is becoming contagious and affects my shoulder blade just far enough in the middle that I'll need a large tree or wool rug to ease my discomfort.
Matt and I have been discussing a camping trip with the boys for quite some time now and I was very excited to get out into the great wide open and roast weenies, make ooey gooey smores, sing Kumbaya by the campfire I had started using the tee pee technique and only steel wool and flint, and then wake up in the morning refreshed and invigorated by the sheer cleanliness of the air. So invigorated would I be that fresh coffee would be on the, again built solely by me, fire in a percolator next to the pan of sizzling bacon and eggs. Of course I try not to think of the countless weenies I've lost to the flames because my stick wasn't angled just so. Or the time I had a delicious marshmallow charred to a most superb charcoal black and I swung around to show my mom and my ooey gooey goodness collided with my brother's cheek. Flailing to remove the good-as-glue gob, my poor brother fell in the duck pond. He still has the scar. Then there's the time I got up not so refreshed from sleeping on a large pile of rocks I didn't have the sense to remove the night before to crows greedily pecking at a dozen cracked eggs and a mutilated package of bacon. I don't even know what flint is.
Still fortified by our most recent camping discussions I tagged along with a friend to Snead's Asparagus Farm about 30 miles south of Stafford, VA. Yeah, that's what I thought too. Asparagus? Well, they do farm it and it looks like giant stalks of dill. Still don't know where the little bud comes from at the top. We never saw any of those! However, there were horses, cows, chickens and llamas to be seen as well so we packed our gear and headed out. After a skinny, orange barn cat had been properly rubbed on the belly it jumped up and then ran off ahead. It kept looking back and if to ask "Are you following? I know the way!" After our feline guided tour of pooping livestock, my friend and her son wanted to go on this "walking trail" that was printed on the map we were given at the entrance to Snead's. Sure! Why not? It's mapped and the two bridges looked like fun. Off we go; my friend and her 2 boys and then me and my 2 boys. Looking for adventure like Tom Sawyer. The 1st bridge is a tad bit rickety for my taste and angled so that you feel just a little woozy once you reach the other side. I'm not worried though because I'm prepping for our camping trip so I need some acclamation. The second bridge comes and goes. The fork is next and we consult the map. There's no fork in print. We have to make a decision and I decide that since she has more camping and walking in the forest experience, my friend should decide. We go right. Coming upon a grassy clearing, my spirit is beginning to lift and the tension that began to gather my shoulders to my ears is slowly easing. Wait. We never passed any bee hives! Running to get past what could be a flurry of activity (i don't really know because I never stopped long enough to actually look) of bees bringing home the pollen, we ducked back into the woods for safety.
There is an enormous spider's web and I'm talking more like spider's reinforced hammock hanging in one of the trees and there are leaves and such already in the sticky trap making it look as large as a soccer ball. My skin is literally crawling at this point and hives are visible along my jawline and neck. I am breaking out in anxiety-induced hives because I am in the woods. I am thinking this is really pathetic just as my foot falls through some rotting ground and I grab the boys' hands and walk super fast. They are starting to complain of being tired and thirsty and I am the mom and I have to take charge but the last 3 clearings of some other farm's corn fields were getting me down. Then in a muy muy soft voice I say " We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared." Knowing full well I look like a complete loon, I charge ahead chanting louder to drown out complaints of thirst and tired legs but also my own manic subconscious. We get out eventually, only being lost for 45 minutes, but long enough for me to realize that camping is not all fun and games. We need a camper.
Monday, August 11, 2008
When we first found out we were coming to Quantico, VA, we were excited for the opportunity and down-time we would get. When we found out our friends the Claytons were coming too it made it that much better. My friend Missy and her two boys Ray and Adam, aka Boat, are very close in age to Mason and Ethan, respectively. Mason and Ray went to preschool at Woodbine for a year together and we stayed in touch when Ray changed schools. We love having them here and it's nice to give someone familiar a call in the day and just chat or spontaneously meet up for a play date. Lunga Park is a really nice park area on the base up at Quantico. On our way up to this playground area we passed by a family of deer where a baby was racing through the trees circling its mom and dad. It is such a tranquil place and the deer had no fear of us in a running vehicle only 50 yards away. Still keeping our eyes out for more wildlife, Mason and Ethan both swore they saw a bear get sprayed by a skunk who then proceeded to pour a can of tomato juice on himself to get rid of the smell. Just call us the Big Fish family.
Ray and Adam got both Mason and Ethan starter fishing poles for their birthdays and so we took them to the lake to try them out. Mind you, they still had the little rubber fish attached to the string so they weren't catching anything, but that didn't matter. Adam, who will be 2 in the next couple of weeks, was showing them how to cast it out properly. What a hoot he is! He would cast it was out, start reeling it in and shout"I got a bite, I got a bite!" Too funny! They'd been hanging out at their grandparents' house in Ohio perfecting their skills so they had a lot to teach my boys about the great wide open. Mason thinks all grandparents live in Ohio now and wants to know when we are going to visit Ohio and when Ray is going home.
Speaking of Big Fish, our neighbors were telling us that they had been privy to hear one of Mason's stories over lunch one day. If you don't already know, Mason is our weaver of tales. Apparently, a Virginia opossum attacked Ethan one day and threw him over the roof. Niko was able to catch him and pass him to Mason who then threw him back to the opossum. Since Virginia opossums are known to throw little brothers into the air, that's what the opossum proceeded to do with Ethan, again until Niko saved him and put him to bed.
Ahhh...I can just imagine the day his new kindergarten teacher calls me to tell me she's reported us to the CPS because Mason told her we locked him and his brother in the attic with the blue yeti. Or maybe it will be the one where monkeys come out of the freezer and attack mom and Dad because we're not being nice that day. Nice of course constitutes juice whenever it's demanded, corndogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sleepovers at anyone's house but ours every night. Ethan is starting in on the stories. Yesterday at lunch, he announced to Matt and me that he wasn't going to eat Chewbacca because he was too hairy and too fat. Why, oh why did I encourage that imagination so enthusiastically???