Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the day before the eve before Christmas

Today used to be the most exciting day of the year for me. All of the other days of the year only existed to lead up to today. In my family we opened most of our presents on Christmas Eve, after having dinner at my aunt's house. Waiting was torturous. Waiting for it to get dark so we could go....once we were there, waiting to start eating...then waiting for the grown-ups to stop eating and eating and eating...staring at the tree and examining every present underneath....waiting for the grown-ups to make their way into the living room...waiting for everyone to get settled and have coffee or egg nog and then they would finally give the all clear for us to rip everything to pieces!! And it lasted about 5 minutes. Then it was done. The end. What now? Only 365 more days to go before we could do it all again!

We make the kids wait until Christmas day to open presents and this year my father-in-law is flying in Christmas morning, so they will have to wait two extra painful hours until we're all together to open presents. It's going to be fun while it lasts.

I hope you have a merry Christmas (or insert other winter holiday here)!! I hope you have the chance to eat large amounts of good food. Have seconds for me. And a glass of wine. Or a bottle.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Points in Time

A Random Day in 2004

She was cleaning in the kitchen with her 4 month old in his bouncy seat, while the two year old came in and out from the backyard freely through the patio door. The spring air in Colorado was cool and dry, but it was sunny outside. A radio was playing on the countertop.

She was drinking a cold can of Pepsi. The rush of caffeine and sugar helped fuel her schedule. The day consisted of rotating time slots of cleaning, feeding and napping. It was an endless cycle.

The toddler came in and announced "I have egg!" That meant he had a full load in his diaper. He started saying that after he overheard his mom announce that his brother had laid an egg when he had a lump in his diaper. He would continue using that phrase until he potty trained right after his 3rd birthday.

After changing his diaper, she noticed that he had unloaded all the books from the bottom 3 shelves of the bookcase at some point during the day. She put them back in their place, getting more and more frustrated with the cycle of the day and the repetition of the tasks that consumed every moment.

The buzzer on the dryer went off. After folding the tiny clothes on the bed and putting them away neatly in the drawers, taking extra time to straighten up the room, she knew it was time for the baby to eat. Throughout the day there would be no deviation from the to do list that continued growing inside her mind. Things needed to be checked off. The rug needed vacuuming, the stupid Mega Bloks were all over the floor again, the sippy cups needed washing, the baby's nails needed trimming, the litterbox was starting to smell, and the dishwasher was ready to be unloaded. She wanted to sit outside with her oldest and play, like they used to when he was an only child, but there were so many other things to do. Sometimes she felt trapped in the confines of her own expectations. There was never enough time for everything.

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A Random Day in 2008

She hurried her 5 and 7 year old sons out the door to get to school on time. They would probably be late. It happened a lot. They followed a wooded path that led them almost directly from their house to the school, watching out for slick patches of mud. The weather in England was cold and wet. Even though it was almost 9 am, it was still not bright outside. It was as if the sun barely made an appearance at all during the day, arching slowly above the horizon as a fading version of itself and then without hesitation, beginning its descent.

She listened to them talk about booby traps and Star Wars. Based on their conversation, she could sense when her youngest was going to have a tough morning, throwing a tantrum for the teacher when she had to leave him there. Those mornings were like having painful dental work done. You just had to get it over with and hope that nothing was permanently damaged.

When she got back to the house after bringing them to school, it seemed quiet and dark and strange. She had coffee in the living room and looked at the Christmas tree. It sometimes still seemed surreal that this was her house and that she had two rapidly growing boys and a Christmas tree that looked strikingly similar to the trees from her own childhood, with mismatched decorations and colored lights. It was the tree of a family.

She noticed there were handprints on the living room window, but felt no desire to clean them. Instead, she was content they were there, because one day the kids wouldn't be leaving little handprints on the window and that would be kind of sad. There were games and photos and "projects" the boys had made in every area of the house. She realized how a house can feel empty and how a house can feel full.

During the day there was no to do list, or if there was it was short. Things were usually flexible. She was able to shuffle tasks around, based on importance, although frequently some things were forgotten. The laundry always sat at the bottom of the list in a big, neglected heap.

In the afternoon she hurried along the path to pick up the boys from school. It was the best part of the day. They would all make their way back home, both of the kids talking at once and trying to unload papers and books from their backpacks along the way. It would be dark soon, but the house would be full of light and sound. She suggested different things they could do together when they got back, but the kids usually wanted to unwind with the video game. Then they would eat dinner together. At the table they talked about school, and the boys either loved the food or hated it. Afterwards, the lull of bedtime always came around fast. There was never enough time for everything. But she was learning that time had a way of expanding and contracting and turning the things that were made most important into well-worn paths of memory.

Hey kids, you'll love this freaky 80's movie

We have seen very little TV since we moved here. Our TV doesn't pick up British signals, so we've been limited to watching movies. The library has a good selection of 80's movies and we've picked up a few in the past 6 weeks with the idea that the boys would like them, only to discover that they are weirder than we remember and our children are slightly disturbed by them. Remember the 80's when special effects were all laser lights and smoke and weird animatronic creatures?

Labyrinth - They were totally freaked out by this movie. They did not care that David Bowie ran around in ruffles and long hair and clingy pants.

The Princess Bride - Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. They weren't scared by this, but not really interested in watching it.

ET - They thought ET was really ugly and horrible and I think they were expecting him to start eating people at any moment.

The Neverending Story - They went back and forth between liking this and being scared out of their wits and hiding their faces.

Beetlejuice - Okay, bad idea.

Ghostbusters - Ghostbusters was more adult-oriented than I remember. Oops.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - They love this one. Score one for the 80's.

Flight of the Navigator - This one was a hit also, overall.

Willow - Baby in peril. No good.

So in our effort to find family-friendly movies that were not cheesy and annoying and would bring us back to our own delightful childhoods, we have filled our kids' heads with images of scary creatures created by 1980's technology. Feel free to learn from our mistakes. That's what we're here for.

As a side note, we also watched Napoleon Dynamite way too many times and the boys like to spout off quotes from the movie like "Do the chickens have large talons?" Jack tries to do the dance. See kids, the 80's were fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She's big boned

So we have a new addition to the family...


But she's not just a dog.....


She's a

BRICK

HOUSE


Meet Madeline* - at 170 pounds she's a whole lotta woman.

Pay no attention to the weird carpet. It's not even there. There is no ugly carpet. I don't know what you're talking about.

*I wanted to name her something fun like Stella or Lola or Angelina Jolie. Dylann wanted to name her Reba. Jack wanted to name her Pretzel. But Donn wanted to keep her name the same and since she's been called Madeline for 4 1/2 years and she won't come to me when I call her Sally Struthers, he won.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Photographic Evidence

I love taking pictures. I take too many pictures. Sometimes I get into a theme of things I like to take pictures of. For the first 5 or 6 years of my boys' lives, the theme has been: THEM. I have loads of baby and toddler pictures of my two little monkeys and I'm happy I took as many as I did.

When we were living in Minnesota I started taking pictures of other things, like old buildings that I drove by all the time. I continued in Georgia, focusing on abandoned houses because something always intrigued me about them.

There's something about old neglected buildings that appeals to me like an untold story. I can only imagine the lives that unfolded between those (now decaying) walls. Maybe a family was raised there and the children, now adults, still remember this place as it once was. Inevitably, the whole thing will either be torn down or will collapse into the Georgia landscape and it will be like it was never there.

Now that we're in England, I don't know what to photograph. Old buildings are everywhere...so that would be easy, but I'm just not feeling it at the moment. Maybe because my house looks like this:


This was after I made the boy unpack 588 boxes and then he had to fold this paper up neatly and make origami cranes out of it.

Come on, kid! Get busy!

Let's just hope they don't use my mulitude of photos against me later in life as proof of my remedial parenting skillz. But who could blame them?

Friday, December 12, 2008

We come from the land where the rice and bamboo grows

Why this year's Christmas program was better than last year's:

Script was slightly better, although what happened to at least having a winter theme for the Christmas program? At their last school the theme was the wild west and the plot was about a cowboy who was bullying everyone and then in the end they all got him to open up and share his emotions. Nice lesson. Happy Holidays. This year the theme was All Around the World and the kids all dressed up like different cultures. Lots of costumes = good times.

It's fun watching kids act with a British accent. It's like watching Harry Potter.

They served mulled wine at the show. It's served hot and has a spicy flavor like cider.

It was a pretty small group of people watching, because there are only 60 kids in the whole school and there were two showings.

Why this year's Christmas program was worse than last year's:

The man directly in front of me let his 3 year old daughter stand up in the seat or sit on his shoulder through most of the show, totally blocking my view. She's cute and everything, but make your dang kid sit down.

So overall: Better!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Confessions on a Dance Floor

For some reason I felt like posting this today. They’re not all confessions, some are just facts. Come on, let’s get personal.

1. I found out I was pregnant and got married when I was 19 (but almost 20!). Scandalous! AND in the wrong order!
2. My oldest is 7 now.
3. That means I’m 27, but my husband thinks I dress and act like an old woman.
4. He is (roughly) 10 years older than I am, but he has more energy than I'll ever have.
5. We meet somewhere in the middle.
6. I get my news from The Daily Show.
7. I don’t have a college degree.
8. I sometimes fantasize about getting some kind of blue collar job like welding or plumbing so I can wear a shirt with my name embroidered on it and take a thermos to work with me. And maybe wear a hard hat.
9. But just thinking about it is enough for me.
10. Although I was in the army for 2 years.
11. Everyone called me Big J and they had to make special uniforms to fit over my giant muscles.
12. Just kidding.
13. But I really was in the army.
14. And it made me want to be all I could be.
15. So I got out.
16. My kids beat each other up all the time.
17. Most of the time I ignore it unless someone starts bleeding.
18. Then I beat them up.
19. I eat a lot of really fattening foods with butter, cheese, cream, pasta…
20. Sometimes I fantasize about owning a dairy farm.
21. But cow nipples are really ugly.
22. They’re like fingers.
23. Are you bored yet?
24. Once when I was little (about 6), I had a fight with my mom and rode my bike 3 miles away along a busy highway to my grandma’s house.
25. Then I got scared and thought I was going to get kidnapped by someone in a white van with no windows.
26. But I wasn’t.
27. I wore braces for 3 years because my orthodontist lost track of the time and thought they had only been on for a year and a half.
28. My favorite song is Baba O’Riley by The Who.
29. Sometimes I eat Nutella right out of the jar with a spoon.
30. I like to say judgemental things about celebrities. Because I'm mean-spirited. And they make too much money.

Now you know more about me than you ever wanted to. Anyone else out there have a confession for the day (or 30)?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sound of Settling

Things have been going pretty well! We found a house, but our furniture hasn’t arrived yet so the military loaned us a few things until it comes. Also the house doesn’t have a stove or a refrigerator right now. We’ve been living like squatters for a week. The boys built a fort next to the stairway out of empty boxes and miscellaneous junk to add to the d├ęcor. All we need now is a crackhead in the spare bedroom.

This move is a little different because along with settling into a new house and new school, we're also adjusting to life in a different country. One thing we have to get used to is standing out every time we open our mouths. We can try to blend in as much as we want, but as soon as we speak, people know we’re foreigners.

Unlike living in the south, where we were the fast-talking northerners, we’re the slow talkers around here. In the same amount of time it takes me to say “Hellllllooooo, howwww arrrrre yoooooou,” they could tell you what village they live in, who was beheaded there, what their mum made for dinner three nights ago, and their favorite childhood pastime. However, it’s likely you would not understand a thing they said and then you are faced with two options: 1. Ask them to repeat themselves and risk not understanding the whole thing again and looking like a big foreign dummy. Or 2. Smile and nod and look like a big foreign dummy.

Electricity

Using electricity is a lot more involved here. In our house every outlet has a switch to turn the outlet on or off. And everything uses 220 volts with this giant three-pronged plug. It’s like you’re plugging in some kind of giant power-sucking appliance even when it’s just a little tiny nightlight.

We have to use transformers to plug in our American appliances. I thought the transformer would look like this:

Instead it looks more like this:



It’s a big, black box that weighs about 15 lbs. and makes a loud whirring noise whenever you plug anything into it. It sounds like that part in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when the Griswold’s turn on the Christmas lights.

Driving

When we first started driving here it was a little scary. Being on the left side of the road, all the oncoming traffic suddenly looks like it’s speeding recklessly at you on the wrong side of the highway. That worked in our favor because it’s natural to want to stay out of the way. Roundabouts are a little intimidating. The nice thing is if you miss your exit you can go around again and again until you get it right. Then you will feel like Mr. Bean.


Once you are off the highway and on a narrow, two-lane, country road, the idea seems to be to get where you are going as fast as possible without sliding off the road or hitting any sheep. And don’t pay any attention to the rain, just drive as you normally would.

Donn has been doing most of the driving here, but I assist by reading every sign we pass in a British accent.

Old Things

People here take pride in things that are old. In a lot of the villages they even build new buildings to look like they are old. Everything looks like it’s from the 1600’s. I keep expecting to see a chimney sweep walking down the sidewalk. It makes pretty much any city in the US seem like a trip into the future.

Wal-mart

No Wal-marts. However…there are stores just like wal-mart, which I was surprised to learn. I thought everyone shopped at little markets, being it’s the 1600’s and all. But there are places like Tesco.

Imagine stepping into the vast expanse of Wal-mart without knowing where anything is or even what most of the products are unless you actually read the labels. That was what we faced when we walked into Tesco. It was extremely crowded and everyone was rushing around and there we stood, staring at everything like we had the word HELP written on our foreheads. The most exciting part of the shopping experience was taking the cart up the giant cart-friendly escalator. Weeee!

School

The boys both started school today (I'll write more about their little school another time). It was very exciting because we’ve been hanging out with basically just each other for the past month. The family togetherness ended about two weeks ago and since then they’ve been fighting like rabid badgers. Now they can interact with people they don’t live with and maybe things will be a little more peaceful at home. Come on, let’s have some brotherly love.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sleepless in Cambridgeshire

It's 1 AM here and I am wide awake. I'm back to my old habit of trying to figure out the meaning of life before I fall asleep. We are staying in Air Force lodging, which is a refreshing change of scenery after spending a few days camping in our mostly empty house surrounded by piles of clothes and miscellaneous lego pieces, and then a short stay in a tiny Days Inn room with our eight suitcases and miscellaneous lego pieces. Here we have space for our miscellaneous lego pieces and then some!

Ahhh, sleep...

Today we went to my best friend from high school's house (who is still one of my best friends, but it sounds more dramatic to say it that way - 14 years!). Her husband was nice enough to shuttle us there and back and explain some of the road signs to us, so we won't feel like dummies. At least not when we're reading road signs. This friend of mine, April, also happens to have an adorable baby girl who never cries and smiles every time you look at her. Of course we did only spend about 6 hours or so with her, but still, that's quite a stretch to maintain a good mood. She's got me beat.

Hi pumpkin!

After we were at their house for a while and I made myself comfortable, stole the remote, ate the baby's crackers, took off my pants and stuck a pick in my hair (well, that's what I felt like doing because their house is so homey and we don't really have a home right now), we decided to go for a walk. Isn't this story exciting? Let me set the scene. They live in a small village in a rural area, surrounded mostly by farmland. The buildings are stone and brick, smoke is coming out of all the chimneys, the sky is grey, the grass is insanely green, and everything looks really, really old. We walked through a few fields, one of which had sheep and the highlight of the walk for the boys was the vast array of sheep poop. Did you know sheep wag their tails when they poop?

Hello, I am a sheep and I'm full of it.

Then we walked through a church cemetary, which was not as morbid as it sounds. Although Dylann did have some questions like, "What happens to the body when it's underground?" And while we tried to figure out just how to answer that, Jack answered, "The bugs eat it."

Afterwards our friends treated us to a very expensive dinner, which I didn't realize how expensive it was until Donn told me later...and wow, thanks again! That'll teach you to take us out to dinner!

And then we walked over to another really beautiful church where Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded. It was eerie at night with the church lit up, surrounded by fog. And did I mention someone was beheaded there? We didn't tell that to the boys and they thought the church was a castle. They think most of the buildings here are castles because they're not flat, ranch-style houses and wal-marts.

Tomorrow we will hopefully be driving on the proper side of the road and trying to keep up with the british people who drive insanely fast on these winding, narrow roads.

Make way for the americans! We need to go look for a castle to call home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Goodbye Georgia

Lately I've been so nostalgic and sentimental, I may have been at risk of buying some kind of cutesy figurine at Hallmark just to remember how sentimental I was feeling. Then I could look back on that time fondly. With nostalgia. That word sounds like a tumor. I have a nostalgic growth in my left temporal lobe.

As we're about to leave one place for the next, I gain a new appreciation for all of the areas that are part of our daily lives. Suddenly everything seems like it's already part of a memory and I know I'll miss it in some way. This was our home in 2006, when Donn was between deployments for a year, and for most of 2008. Regardless of our dislike for the city we lived in and even sometimes this whole area, our lives happened here during that time and without noticing, we settled in.

I wandered around the empty house this morning before we turned over our keys. With all traces us of us having lived there completely gone it was a blank slate, ready for someone else to drag all of their boxes and beds into and mess up like home. Even though I'm excited about moving on, I felt like I wanted to leave our mark in some way...as proof that we actually lived here in the cute little house in Georgia with big closets, a fireplace we never used, and a crappy backyard. Instead of leaving something behind, we're taking the pictures and memories with us. And if that's not enough, I've made a short list.

Some of the things I will miss about this area:

- Living so close to beaches with white sand and dolphins

- Being near Savannah

- Hearing my name pronounced with 3 syllables. Who knew Jessi was actually supposed to be JAY-eh-SAY? Not me, that's who.

- Palm trees

- Biscuits and gravy - although it looks gross, it's not! Creamy, lumpy, biscuity.

- Weather that is mild and lovely from October - May.

- Driving by old dilapitated, tin-roof houses. They make me want to sit on a porch, drinking tea out of a jar and swatting at flies.

- Hearing the tree frogs and crickets so loud through our open windows at night, it sounds like we live in a rainforest.

I wish I had some pictures to include, but my hard drive is packed away and we're living out of a suitcase for the foreseeable future.

On Friday we will be in England!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some of my favorite books have pictures

I know I mentioned before that I love children's books. It's taken me about 2 months to put together a post about it...and here it is! Over the summer we went to the library once a week and I let the boys pick out 4 books each. As they ran off to the non-fiction section to get books about kung-fu and tarantalas, I went through the picture books to find some stories that I might not mind reading over and over. Most of the time I went over my own limit I had set for the number of books we brought home. I lack self-control in the library. When I was a kid my mom set no limits to the number of books I checked out and I can remember checking out 37 one time. Then we lost a few and my mom didn't want to pay the fee, so that was the last trip to the library until I was in high school. Good times.

I wanted to share a few of our favorites. These are Dylann's favorites (excluding all those starring pokemon characters or sports teams):


Beegu - A story about a little yellow alien who lands on earth and discovers she doesn't fit in anywhere. It's a little sad, but all is okay in the end. I love the artwork and I actually made Dylann a stuffed version of Beegu with bright yellow polar fleece because I am Hattie Housewife.






Tikki Tikki Tembo - This is a retelling of an old Chinese folktale about two brothers and the trouble they get into. They have a crabby mother who plays favorites with her oldest son whose name is Tikki-Tikki-Tembo-No-Sa-Rembo-Chari-Bari-Ruchi-Pip-Peri-Pembo. The best character is the old man who spends all his time daydreaming under a tree with a ladder. That's my retirement plan.






In the Night Kitchen - A Maurice Sendak classic. A little boy wakes in the night to discover all the action that goes on in the kitchen while everyone is asleep. I never get tired of reading this story. The illustrations are comforting like a big mug of hot chocolate on a cold day. It's not too long or too short and it's also the first book Dylann ever read completely on his own.








And Jack's favorites (excluding the ones about bats and bugs and ninjas):

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! - This book is really fun to read. The main character is an insistent pigeon asking the reader to let him drive the bus in a typical desperate, repetitive preschooler fashion. I like to give the pigeon a New Jersey accent.








Haunted House - A pop-up book that we read over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. But it's short, so that's okay. Also, the pop-ups are really cool.









The Ghost of Sifty-Sifty Sam - This story has a southern flavor. It's like Paula Deen, ya'll. The story is about an old haunted house that a realtor wants to get off his hands. He decides to pay anyone who will spend the night in the house $5,000. The man who takes on the challenge is a chef who specializes in crispy, delicious batter-dipped fish. I will say no more!







And a couple more good ones:

The Day the Babies Crawled Away - A cute story about a little boy who rescues a group of babies that crawl off into the woods during a neighborhood picnic. The text is sing songy and repetitive, but I don't mind that in this story. The illustrations are unique with black silhouettes of the characters on a backdrop of bright colors. It's a great bedtime story because it wraps up with the little boy all wore out and tucked in at the end of the day. I need a nap.








Galimoto - This story takes place in a village in Africa. It's about a boy who is determined to collect everything he needs to make a galimoto, which is a little push car. The kids in the story make all their toys out of discarded junk like plastic bags and old wires. I make the boys read this story every time they complain about cleaning up their 500 toys off the floor. Ok, I don't, but I love the way this book highlights the creativity kids have even in the most simple living situations.





And that's how we roll. Reading Rainbow style.



Have any childhood favorites or other good ones to recommend?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scattered Thoughts on International Moving and Dweebazoids

Every time I drive onto the army base, the person manning the guard shack checks my ID and says "Rock of the Marne! Have a good day!" I have no idea what that means. It's one of those local army phrases people use to make you feel all gung ho, but every time someone says it I have this urge to respond with something to do with rocks that doesn't make any sense like "Stone temple pilots!" or "Pebbles and Bam Bam!" These are things I like to think long and hard about.

We are moving in 2 weeks. People will come and pack up our stuff and it will leave in 3 separate shipments. Then our vehicles will get on a boat and ride across the ocean. Our cat has been vaccinated, blood tested, poked, prodded and violated so he can join us. And all sarcasm aside, I can't wait to get there! That sounded sarcastic, didn't it? It wasn't!

Jack has been going to school willingly (mostly) and even taking the bus every day. We've finally broken his spirit. Go to school, boy! Fill yer head with larnin'! Poor kid, stuck with us for parents. He actually enjoys it though, once he gets there. He comes home singing songs about Old Man Tucker complete with hand movements, and rumor has it he is one of the most skilled at coloring. He actually read two sentences on his own last night for the first time, so let me tell you it's not all shenanigans and lolligagging at this here learning institution.

Dylann's 7th birthday party will be this weekend. Whenever his birthday rolls around, he wants to invite 50 people over to party like it's 1999. One year we didn't really have a party and instead went to a park and had a picnic with cake. I have forever heard about that fateful birthday when he was forced to spend it with "just family". I didn't realize he was at the age yet where he thinks his parents are lame-o dweebazoids. Maybe I should stop calling him my little white haired monkey in front of his friends now. The time has come!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I feel like an underpaid zookeeper

I was going to write this post about my secret love of children's books. Because I do secretly love children's picture books and I think they can be poignant and beautiful and funny and heart wrenching and very, very, very good. See how well-spoken I am? However, the unforeseeable events of this morning have changed the topic of this post. Instead it will be about trying to put a rabid cat in a bathtub....and by that I mean trying to get a 4 year old who doesn't want to go to school to put a uniform on and get in the minivan and stay there until we get to the school and then drag him kicking and screaming to his classroom where he will eventually calm down and have a pleasant day at school and come home happy only to wake up and realize that he doesn't want to go to school.

Jack was off to a good start the first week of school, but apparently he's had enough. Tuesday he was home sick and then Wednesday he was frantic not to go to school and I could not get him to put his uniform on until we were already very late. He locked himself in various rooms of the house while I chased him around and eventually it was so late I gave up because I didn't want to cause a huge disturbance at the school in the middle of the day. Which was a mistake, of course. This morning I had to pay for that.

It's difficult to carry a near 50 lb. child flailing all his limbs around like a giant vengeful seagull through an entire school while he screams various dramatic outcries. Dude, I understand. It sucks, but let's not get carried away here. There was literally sweat on my face by the time we got to his classroom and I think I my expression was a combination of "somebody help me" and "somebody shoot me" and "everybody look out!" My thoughts raced back and forth between my poor baby! and I've raised a monster! It was a horrible situation for both of us. I felt horrible...there was guilt involved...he felt horrible...there was kicking involved...

The one thing that made things slightly easier was that every single adult I saw looked sympathetic and understanding at our situation. These are elementary school teachers and they've seen it all before. You know normally in any other situation there would be some woman looking like Judgy McJudgypants, but there was none of that this morning, which was wonderful because I hate Judgy McJudgypants.

The thing that caught me so off guard with Jack's reaction this morning was that as far as I knew, he liked school. He pretty much has only had good things to report when he comes home at the end of the day and seems proud of himself. All this is complicated by the fact that we'll be moving in 6 weeks and starting over again at a new school. Somebody help me. Somebody shoot me. Everybody look out!



This was on his first day, when he just got on the bus and went to school. Just like that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Big Head and Me

Donn is gone right now at a military school for 5 weeks. I just realized that sounds like I have a child named Donn that I sent away to boarding school. My husband Donn has been sent, by the army, to a military school for advanced training. He is not an 8 year old delinquent.

Anyway, he is gone right now. When he's not home, I have trouble sleeping. I'm a night person to begin with, so I like to stay up quite a while after the boys go to bed, but without Donn here I stay up way too late watching these creepy true crime shows. Then I can't sleep because I'm afraid I'll be the next victim in a true crime show. Truly.

So I've started leaving the TV on really quiet at night because at least then if someone is sneaking in to attack me, I won't have to freak out about it right away. Has anyone seen the things that are on TV late at night? There is some good stuff going on, let me tell you. The other night there was a show on BBC America that was called My Small Breasts and I. Just think of the possibilities for a series of these shows: Me and My Pancreas...Finding my Uvula...Me, Myself, and My Lazy Eye...My Big Buttcheeks and Me. And then there are the weird fetish shows about people who love smashing pies in their faces, cousins who marry each other, grown women who like to wear diapers. I always wonder how they find the people to participate in these shows. Why don't I have a next door neighbor who dresses like Peter Pan every day? I guess we're in the wrong neighborhood.

Next on my agenda here for in-depth discussion are the commercials that come on late at night. They are the worst. Things like Cash 4 Gold, Head On!, and LifeAlert. The actors in these commercials are so terrible. It's like they just grabbed some people who were down on their luck and gave them $20 and a sandwich to be on TV.

In other news, the boys did fine at school yesterday. Although this morning when Jack was about to board the bus, he decided he didn't want to go and took off running toward the house, tore off his backpack, dashed inside the front door, and locked me out. And there I stood, knocking on my own front door so my four year old would let me in. It makes me laugh to imagine the neighbors watching what goes on at our house. Never a dull moment. I eventually did get him to school....because of my excellent parenting skillz.

Friday, July 25, 2008

So if you came here looking for someone to point out the obvious, you've come to the right place.

I love schedules. I think they are right up there with dishwashers. They are wonderful and beautiful and amazing. I actually enjoy sitting down and figuring out what I want to get done for the day and filling in time slots with very specific activities. Then I sigh with relief and knock on the tabletop 5 times, do 3 pirouettes and wash my hands for exactly 33.3 seconds while humming Flight of the Bumblebee.

I love the idea of schedules. I like to see what I could get done in one 24 hour period. However, I never take into consideration the fact that I am not a very organized person, I am easily distracted, and I am not hyperactive. My schedules wind up impossible to stick to. I never allot the proper amount of time for anything because I assume I am a mover and a shaker. I am not a mover and a shaker. I'm more like an ambitious koala.

Also, I need transition periods. Much like a preschooler, I need an announcement 10 minutes before we're about to change activities so I can mentally adjust to the idea. Okay, right now I am eating and in 10 minutes I will be loading the dishwasher. I am happy and at peace with the world. Ommmmmmmmmm.

There is also a part of me that is like this crazy anarchist with a bunch of piercings and every time I try to tell her what to do she starts raging against the machine. It's like Amy Winehouse meets the Sex Pistols. BOLLOCKS TO YOUR SCHEDULE! And now, I am officially a lunatic.

I had a point here....somewhere. Here it is: Time management. It is difficult.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rubbish and poppycock

During the past four weeks we took a 2 week trip up north to Minnesota and Michigan (3,200 miles roundtrip - ugg) and since then we have had a slew of appointments to get ready for school and moving. School starts here in about 2 weeks. After 6 weeks in the Georgia school system, we make the big move and the boys will get to experience the British school system.

Here is what I know about how schools might be in England (based on watching Harry Potter and Mary Poppins):

1. They wear uniforms that make them look like little collegiates - Brilliant!
2. They say things like "Ello Guvnah!"
3. The bus drivers know how to drive on the wrong side of the road - Talented!
4. They call garbage rubbish and they use the word poppycock.
5. The teachers have names like Mrs. Perrywinkle and Mr. Tweedy

That's all I need to know. I don't care if they still beat the kids with rulers, I'm sold.

As you can see, I am completely on top of things here. We should be totally prepared when we get there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If I Acted Like a Little Boy for a Day

Mornings would be slow-moving as everyone in the house would have to try to tackle each other to the floor to see who gets the blue bowl. Eating would be done while running and laughing and somehow miraculously not choking. To get dressed, I would pull down all the clothes I didn't want to wear, then realize I had pulled down all the clothes in the closet and that I am standing on them and singing a song about reptiles because I forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I would decide to wear a blue shirt with a giant robot face on it and a pair of bright yellow pants that go with a fireman costume. I would look in the mirror and announce that I am roboto-fireman. I would continue looking in the mirror for 10 minutes while practicing karate.

After organizing my legos by dumping them out and seeing which ones flew the farthest when thrown at the ceiling fan, I would suddenly realize I was starving. I would ask for food from everyone around me. Then I would cry because they were taking too long. I would tell them I'm going to die because I'm so hungry. I would lay on the floor and wail and moan while rending my garments.

Once I had eaten quietly for 10 minutes, I would notice my brother sitting there not crying. This would bother me. I would tackle him to the ground and we would roll on the floor for 3 hours until I got hit in the face and started to cry. It would be his fault.

When it got dark, I would have more energy than ever and would run laps around the house until I tripped on a rug and fell. It would not be my fault. Then I would run again and take off all my clothes except my underwear because I'm hot. I would continue to run.

When a neighbor came to visit I would tell them that my cat poops in a box. Then I would laugh until I fell on the floor and almost wet my pants. Then I would do 30 cartwheels, 10 somersaults, carry the cat upside down into my room and shut him in the closet, run laps, eat a peanut butter sandwich, and drink a bottle of water by pouring the water into the lid and spilling it all over the floor.

The end.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Let's take off our clothes and start a fire

Is it just me or does the title of this post sound like an R&B song? Throw in an "OoooOOoooo girl" and Boyz 2 Men could totally sing it.

Dylann had his last day of school over a week ago. He "graduated" kindergarten with flying colors. We let him get a tattoo to celebrate. It says First Graders Rule the Skool! Then we threw him a kegger. Just kidding. We have to draw the line somewhere.


My friend Becky was here with her new husband the weekend before last. We have been friends since the third grade when we scribbled notes all through class and signed them "Your Best French Fri(end)." Because we were clever. And let me tell you! We still are!


This last weekend we went camping. It was full of equal amounts of fun and woe, just like the camping trips of yore. Little bit of fun, little bit of horrible, little bit of happy, little bit of poopy. The highlight of the trip for the boys was that they got to strip their shirts off and play with fire. When it comes to good times, nothing beats shirtless pyromania.



The highlight for me was that we got to ride bikes all over the place. We could have been in a brochure for healthy family activities with the four of us all riding in a row, although we should have been near a meadow or something, and singing. We attempted off-roading it and tried one of the trails, but Jack wasn't a fan of riding over tree roots. He was bouncing so much on his little bike it looked like he was riding on train tracks.


At night we were attacked by sand gnats in our sleep, and when we went to the campground pool the next day, I was very excited to walk around in my bikini looking like a leper. Excuse me while I jump in the pool with all my red welts! After two nights of sleeping with the sand gnats, we all look like we're recovering from small pox. It's the Itchy & Scratchy show.


I'll end this with a clip of Dylann explaining how to catch a fish like a pro:



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just don't stick your finger in the fish's mouth

If the past few weeks of our lives were a movie, it would be called We Went to a Cabin in the Woods...or maybe Look at Me, I Caught a Fish...or we could just call it Deliverance and take away the banjo and the hillbillies and the canoe and call it a day. Our cabin wasn't exactly what I think of when I imagine a cabin. Although it wasn't lacking in any moose lightswitch covers, loon shower curtains, and of course a dead deer head mounted on the wall, it also had a hot tub, two tv's, and a foosball table in the basement. But we discovered about 5 minutes after we arrived there was no wifi. Then we left. Well, we stuck it out for a week. There were plenty of other distractions. Like trees.

I spent a lot of time on this porch. We had some good times, me and that rocking chair. I was made for sitting on a porch. Sitting and staring at the woods. It's my calling.


In this picture I was telling the boys something to make them laugh, but to me it looks like I'm pinching them.



Here is Dylann doing his new favorite thing. When he actually reeled in a fish he was very excited until he was about to pull it out of the water and saw it's fishy face popping out at him and he started asking IS IT GOING TO BITE ME?! DO FISH BITE?! DOES THIS HAVE TEETH?! NO, REALLY, IS IT GOING TO BITE ME?! We are very outdoorsy.

The town we were near was so small, there was no cell phone service even when standing in the middle of downtown. It was like we had stepped back in time. When we were out to eat that night and asked our waitress where the nearest place was that sold wine, she actually laughed and said we would have to drive 20 minutes down the road to a different town. After she left Donn said, "Maybe I should have asked her about moonshine instead (cue banjo music here)."

Although we missed technology, it was very relaxing to be away from everything for a while. We walked around and sifted through stuff at antique and thrift stores, we went to the lake, we drove with the windows down and took our time, we sat on the porch and watched the rain. I read 2 books. The boys didn't break anything that couldn't be fixed. Nobody was hooked when we taught the boys how to cast their fishing line. The trip was a success.

Now we're back to civilization, where there's always about a million things to do and not enough time to do them. I want my porch back!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Movin' on Up

Hello there! From in here...in the computer! Where I live!

You're probably wondering what is up with dear old weeza and why nothing is ever updated anymore. Okay, so I'm sure you weren't wondering at all and you probably wound up here accidentally after you did a search for Weezie from The Jeffersons and here you are....welcome! Fish don't fry in the kitchen and beans don't burn on the grill, took a whole lot of trying just to get up that hill.

Things have been busy around here, the very good kind of busy. But since Donn got back I've been afflicted with a little something I call complete relaxation. I have certain telltale symptoms like suddenly falling into a deep sleep while eating a sandwich and sitting around smiling for no reason like some kind of optimistic person or something. I tried to explain to Donn that it's a good thing that I can't seem to stay awake now that he's here. I'm so glad you're home! I'll tell you more about it after I wake up!

The children have been all over him like rabid monkeys, but they are starting to get used to having him around and someday soon maybe they will remember their dear old mom, the chopped liver over here in the corner...eating worms. It's been good though, watching them relay every event of the past 15 months to him in bits and pieces. It goes like this:

Dylann: Dad

Donn: What

Dylann: Dad

Donn: What

Dylann: Dad. Dad. Dad?

Donn: What is it, Dylann?

Dylann: Ha, ha ha...I don't remember what I was going to say. Can I have a juice box?

Then five minutes later the scene repeats itself. I think they're just reassuring themselves that he's here and that he's listening. Right now he's on leave from work, so he is pretty much always here to listen. And to wonder why his wife falls asleep on the toilet. Goodnight.

Friday, April 4, 2008

He'll be here...

Tonight! Well, technically tomorrow morning because it will be in the middle of the night. About 12 hours from now! 15 months of lonely nights spent watching bad TV with a cat in my lap are almost over. As you can imagine, we had a lot to do today to get ready. I took some pictures of us hard at work. First I scrubbed the floors.


Then I pressed all the sheets, using lavender water to give them a nice smell that says "romance".


I also pressed the children's attire for tonight's ceremony.


I did NOT allow them to plaster their bodies with Hispanic tattoos of catholic figures that they bought at a restaurant the other day while mommy stuffed her face.


Oh wait, I mean I did do that. The tattoos go nicely with Jack's black eye from an unfortunate trampoline incident. The Latin Kings would be proud.

Alright, so I didn't spend the day baking and cleaning. But I did spend some time doing those things. I also spent a good amount of time having uncontrollable spasms of excitement where I scream and jump 10 feet in the air. I thought it would be good if we went outside for a while to get some fresh air and minimize the freakish outbursts.

Jack noticed that something was actually growing in the pots where we had planted seeds.

Who knew green stuff could shoot out of the dirt like this? Holy smokes!

Here I am busily making a quilt with one square for each day Donn was gone.


Oops, nevermind.

Alright, time is passing and I need to go get spastic. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Heavens to Betsy!

So I've been trying to think of things to write a post about. I thought maybe I would write about how Dylann uses phrases he picked up from Grandma in Minnesota and it makes him sound like an elderly person, waving a cane around. "Heavens!" "Geez oh man." "Goodness gracious!" "Holy smokes!" "Gee whiz!" I think gee whiz is my favorite. He sounds like he should be in a 1950's Ovaltine commercial.

I also thought I would write about how Dylann is growing up and blah, blah, time flies, but I've written about that 50 times already. So yeah, Dylann is growing up. Time flies. He takes the bus to school and two of his teeth fell out! My big toothless boy is on his way to becoming the proud owner of adult-sized teeth. Isn't it weird that kids get full-sized teeth at such young ages? Little kids running around with giant adult teeth and they can barely tie their shoes. I guess it's better than if they had adult-sized feet.

And the weather here is FANTASTIC. I love spring in the south and its loveliness is magnified 50 times after our long winter in Minnesota. Every day I look out my window and sing like Snow White. How enchanting.

Donn is coming home in about 10 days! Hopefully he doesn't look in the garage!

Ok, so that's all I got.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Now we just need a golden retriever

I started down an inevitable path 6 years ago. A baby came screaming into the world. I became obsessed with that baby and didn't talk about anything else until he was 22 months old. Then I had another. Shortly afterwards we discovered we couldn't take these whippersnappers camping. With two car seats in the backseat of our pontiac sunfire there was no room for anything else. My husband suggested a minivan. I said, "I'm not ready for that yet." One month later I took a ride in a friend's new minivan and a few days after that spacious ride we bought the exact same one. A kia sedona that has carried us over 80,000 miles in 4 years with no problems to speak of. The van is like an extension to our house. Now it has brought us here, to the next stop on the cliche highway:

I am a soccer mom.

But I think I'll hold off on buying the bumper sticker.

Also, just wanted to note that shinguards and soccer socks on kids under 4 feet tall are the cutest things I've ever seen. Almost.

When Jack was done and we were loading up into our MINIVAN, one of the kids said goodbye and he said, "Bye! See you next time...AT SOCCER!" With the same level of excitement as if you replaced the word soccer with Disneyworld or A Toy Store Where Everything is Free!

Did I mention that this was cute?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First the packing, now the unpacking


My garage looks like a warehouse. Or like I have a severe eBay addiction. At least over half of the boxes are empty now. Progress.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Babies and waffles

This morning Jack announced that he hopes the next baby I have is not a girl because a boy would probably like the same things he likes. Also when he gets tired of fighting with Dylann, he would have someone else to fight with and totally dominate.

This little revelation surprised me because I'm obviously not pregnant (husband deployed for the last 15 months) and am not planning to be anytime soon. The topic comes up a lot though with other people. When I told my family that we would be moving to England at the end of the summer, their reaction was, "Oh no! That means you're going to have a baby over there!"


In my little world of family and friends there are babies crawling out from behind every corner, cute little fuzzy-headed monkeys with big fat cheeks and twinkly eyes and toothless grins. They are hard to resist. However those thoughts have been tempered with gritty labor and delivery stories, some of which actually scare the pants off me. It's been about 4 1/2 years since I had Jack and the memories of my own experiences in the delivery room have faded with time and seem almost like old fables. I'm sure some of the details have been lost and some things exaggerated.


When Donn and I compare stories we each remember different parts more vividly. He was able to pay attention to more than I was in my hysterical, half-naked state. If there are any discrepencies it's only because there was so much going on it was impossible for each of us to take it all in. Now it seems almost unreal, an experience so beyond the realm of normal daily life and so physically daunting that my mind has a hard time believing it really happened.

Although I think we will have another baby at some point, I honestly cannot imagine going through it all again. We've made it through two pregnancies and deliveries with everyone in tact. Another try seems like it might be pushing it. It would mean starting all over again with the diapers and middle of the night feedings, setting up the crib and pulling out all the old baby clothes, but it would be different with a new little person in the mix. It would be another chance to experience the first moments all over again.


Maybe we wouldn't screw up as much with the third one. Poor Dylann had to break us in to our new roles as parents and he lived through our ineptitude somehow. When Jack came along we spent an entire year in a cycle of changing diapers and warming milk because Dylann was still a toddler. Our house was so childproofed it was like running an obstacle course to get from one end of the house to the other, leaping over baby gates and unlatching doors along the way. A lot of what we spent time and money on turned out to be unnecessary, because the things that made the biggest impact and the best memories didn't cost any money. The third time around might be that much easier since the first two have worked out most of the kinks. At least up until age 6. Beyond that lies unexplored territory. As always, poor Dylann leads the way.

Just the idea of having three kids scares me a little bit. They would outnumber us. The baby would have to don a helmet and full-body protective gear in order to be in the same room with Dylann and Jack. Chaos might ensue. Or worse, we might turn into one of those families that goes out in matching shirts and fanny packs, going to square dancing festivals and being wholesome.

I guess I'll just keep hemming and hawing and waffling. It's what I do.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

That sounds pleasant

Jack: When it's your birthday, I'm going to tell Daddy we need to buy a teddy bear for you.

Me: That would be nice. Or you could just make me something. I like things that you made yourself.

Jack: Okay, I'm going to shoot a bear and take all of it's skin off. Then I'm going to put stuffing in it and sew it up. Would you like that?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

At times we felt like hobos

We drove, we hauled, we laughed, we cried, we got gas, we yelled, we got gas, we yelled, we got gas, we sang songs, we got gas, we got gas, and we yelled. No one was injured.

We had a full load. The van was packed and the uhaul was loaded so tight, we didn't dare open it until we were ready for everything to come flying out the back. The scenery in the first few states was the same, repeating shades of gray and white with the occasional billboard for Jesus.

As we got further and further south, we started to feel like dazed time travelers every time we got out of the vehicle. We went from the coldest part of winter to what felt like the middle of spring, complete with green trees and birds and sun. The van was still covered in salt from the roads in northern Minnesota and the boys were wearing t-shirts and winter boots, squinting at the sun, wondering how it is possible that the weather can be so different in two places at the same time. Our skin was so pale from a long winter of being covered from head to toe in layers of wool and flannel and down that we looked like sheep after they are freshly shorn, feeling half-naked and confused.

When we arrived, we drove around for a while until I eventually remembered my way around, but we found out the hotel we wanted was only available for one night so we had to unload the back of the van that evening and load it all back up in the morning. Then we would drive about 2 miles away to another hotel in the afternoon and unload it all again. And that hotel would only be available for one night, so we would do this 3 more times, each time causing the van to look more and more like a dump truck. Hello! Don't mind me, I'm just the garbage man.

The boys had reached near-lethal levels of boredom and were so ready to run and jump and climb that we almost had to sedate them to get them back in the van. Whenever we would get to our hotel room at the end of the day, Dylann's natural reaction was to leap from one bed to the next like Tarzan. When I came out of the shower one evening, my aunt Wendy was sitting on the bed looking like she had been abandoned in a chimpanzee cage. She said Dylann had been flying through the air on the beds and she just didn't know what to do, so she told them we would go down to the pool if they would calm down, even though we were exhausted and hadn't eaten. We had learned that ceaseless bribery was the only slightly effective tool we had. Without it, we would not be here today.

By our fourth evening here I had found the house I wanted, laid claim to it, and we were unloading the uhaul and the very disgusting van into the garage. That was followed by two days of loading and unloading everything we own from a storage unit into the uhaul and then into the house. As hard as it was, we still had a lot of laughs, mostly because we were so exhausted there was nothing else to do but laugh and laugh and laugh. I don't know how I would have done it without Wendy! There would have been a lot less exhausted laughing and more angry cursing. She was a lifesaver on this trip.

We managed to stay pretty upbeat throughout everything, because each little hurdle is one more thing to check off the list and it all leads up to that day which is now less than one month away. We'll be back at the parade field waiting for the white buses to pull in and unload a group of very tired, very hardworking people who will be able to go home for the first time in many months. Until then I will be waiting just as patiently as the boys were on the drive down here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

uhaul, i haul, we all haul

4 People

+ 1 cat

+ 1 Uhaul trailer

Traveling at 50 MPH for 1500 miles

=

a. Fun times

b. Something to laugh about later

c. Doom

Answer will be posted soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Goodbye Duluth, Stay Cool

Every time I've come back to Duluth since I left after graduation, I've always had to drive through the areas where I grew up. Something about them holds a certain magic.

I remember being in these places as a kid day after day. The spots that still look almost the same are like little monuments to childhood for me.

As places become more run down and new gas stations and bars pop up, the area becomes more and more unrecognizable. A while back I decided to take some pictures before things changed too much.

They're not the most beautiful or squeaky clean parts of Duluth, but they will always be the places I want to see when I come to town.