Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Songs?

Our nightly advent routine includes various prayers followed by song. I like to sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Well, a while back the Conqueror decided he needed to sing a song he learned in Atrium. I am unclear on the exact tune, as it changes nightly, but the words are along the lines of "Light one candle for Hope, Light one candle for Peace, Light one Candle for Joy...." So, now it starts out that he and Biki each sing their own version of "Light one Candle" followed by a family rendition of "O Come Emmanuel." Well this evening after their turns Beanie decides she's just got to have a turn singing. So, I tell her to go ahead, thinking she's going to sing one of those two songs. No, she busts out with "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells....HEY!" I just had to tell her she did a great job. No matter that Jingle Bells is the most secular song in the whole holiday repertoire. It was darn cute!

Another Beanie beaut: She'll talk to someone on the phone and say Hi and then go immediately into "good" as though they asked her how she was- even if they didn't. So tonight with Grandma I hear her on the phone with no pauses, "Hi Grandma Good." There was no time for Grandma to even ask her how she was!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clothing Concerns

It is 75 degrees outside. The kids are playing outside all afternoon and it is a week before Christmas. I can't believe I am saying this, but I could learn to love warm weather!!! The only problem- the kids' drawers are overflowing because I feel awful forcing them to wear long sleeve shirts when its beautiful outside. So, we keep all the summer shirts in the drawers to wear alone, or as layers under sweaters. So much for organized swapping of the winter and summer things.

Maybe I need to buy more stuff to keep things in!!! Just kidding, I am already single-handedly ruining our finances with take-out as it is! (See previous post!)

Am I crazy?

I had to make a return this evening and I was pretty exhausted from Christmas parties, watching a friend's children on the playground, and double carpools. So....I decided to take the kids out to eat by myself. To a real resturaunt, with no children's menu. Now I know this lovely asian institution does have sippy cups but still. It actually could have gone worse. Bean stayed in her chair until I was signing the check and a minimum of rice ended up on the floor. I paid for my indescretions when I actually made the return after dinner. At that point I had three hooligans running around the store hiding in displays. I am sure people were wondering what my damage was attempting to shop with all 3 of them. I left in hurry!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Living Nativity from Hell

I always envisioned living nativities as peaceful, warm and fuzzy type events. Not so!! We're missing the one at our parish so I thought I would truck it out to a joint production by the Methodists and Baptists. My friend, another Army spouse with a husband deployed, found it on the Christian radio station's "family" calendar.

Well, we arrived and had to wait in the sanctuary (after filling out registration cards!) listening to Christian rock music for thirty minutes. I should have left then. The kids, rightly so, were distrubed by the full rock band in church. Whatever happened to Christmas carols?

We started our little tour with a costumed guide and she tells us that the guards at the entrance to Bethlehem are a little rough tonight, so hold the little ones close. What? Where did I miss the growling centurions demanding taxes in the nativity narrative? We get there and found children pretending to be beggars and grown men screaming at the top of their lungs at us. All of my kids start crying and these guys don't let up, don't break character, refuse to tone it down. It was absolutely ridiculous. They were screaming they were going to put us in jail for not paying our taxes. There was even a little jail with kids in it.

We moved on and went through various "shops" in Bethlehem where the "townspeople" gossiped about the young couple in town that wasn't married and was having a baby outside of town. Everyone in "town" was mean and ugly. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the guide must have said "Shalom" fifty-five times and kept referring to us as Jews. Weird, very weird. I certianly expected a few grumpy innkeepers, but this was ridiculous. We finally got out of "town" and found a stable with 3 donkeys. One angel came out and proclaimed exactly one line from the bible and it wasn't "Glory to God in the Highest." No shepherds at all- my kids were expecting sheep at the very least! And catholics don't read the bible??

We finally see the Holy Family and they were peaceful and beautiful but at that point the kids just wanted to get out of there. There was no way they could have stayed and contemplated the incarnation after that spectacle. But oh, we weren't done. We had to talk with the pastors as they sat in front of crosses and a tomb and explained the importance of Easter. I expected some level of proselystism but at that point I was just so frustrated and wanted to get out of there.

As we were leaving my friend's three year old stated that she never wanted to go to Bethlehem because she didn't want to go to jail. It was like these people totally got confused about what feast we are celebrating. Those centuriouns belonged in the scourging scene in Mel's Passion!

I had such high hopes when we arrived in the picturesque little town with the big beautiful houses, old shops retooled into antiques stores, and Christmas lights on every streetlamp. When we turned the corner to the chruch the Huddle House's sign even said "Happy Birthday Jesus." sweet! Leaving was another story entirely. I was doing serious damage control with my kids.

I have been thinking about it a lot and I almost feel that what happened was logical outgrowth of Protestant theology somehow.....let's skip over the incarnation and get right to the Easter story. I understand they were trying to show how dark and ugly the world was before Jesus' birth but please! What concerned me was the fact that these "actors" would not let up even in the face of crying children. Sadists. I kept thinking that this was being brought to me by the same people who brought me "Babywise"a/k/a "Growing kids God's way." Sorry, but its true. They probably thought they were doing my kids some favor by scaring them half to death....why make 'em soft? Oh well, I need to be more charitable.

This much I know...I will never go to another living nativity unless it is in my parish!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Do unto others

I would like to think I am a charitable person. I have enough social skills to know who needs a little social help at a cocktail party (not that I go to them anymore) and who needs introductions etc. I certainly try to be friendly and helpful to people. So, in a sense it is sort of weird to be the one on the receiving end of charity, and knowing that I need it. One of the ladies from church and school has taken me under her wing. We were late to a huge social gathering for Our Lady of Guadalupe and she immediately came up to me and had the Conqueror go put my stuff near her family's things so we could sit together. Then she proceeded to help me get my kids dinner and dessert and chatted with me during dinner. From a social perspective, she made things so much easier for me, and I am so thankful. I am sure I could have pulled it out in the end, but it was less stressful not to have to worry about it. Then she offered to watch my kids during confession and help me at mass with them too. She keeps saying she's going to get me set up for meals after the baby comes and begs me to bring the kids over to play so I can get away.

I am almost overwhelmed by her kindness, but very thankful too. So often I have found people in the South to be initially friendly, but not willing to take the next step. She is setting such a good example of Christian charity for me!! It really is the little things that are so important!

We're not in Tysons anymore Toto

Today's activities went a bit longer than planned. We arrived so late at confession that we ended up staying for mass since a friend volunteered to help with the kids. So, as a treat I decided we'd go to the mall and eat at the food court. I wanted to make a return anyway.

Well, as we were finishing up dinner and getting ready to leave a nasty fight broke out between two young women. It started with woman screaming and then taking off her jacket and posturing..."you wanna start somethin'?" and then they went at it. I have never seen people fight like that in real life. The mall rent a cops came very quickly and subdued one of the girls immediately. It was getting nasty, men holding babies were trying to break it up too, so we high tailed it out of there. Mall cops were running in from all over. Anyway, I have new respect for mall cops. I also realized that it is stupid to go to the mall at night with my small kids. They were very disturbed by the fight and didn't understand why someone would do that.

As my Mastercard bills can attest, I am an excellent shopper, particularly when I am bored or lonely. Toledo found us at the mall at least once, maybe twice a week. The kids have fond memories of the food court. But lesson learned, this mall is too close to an urban area. I read enough in the local paper to know that there are lot of people packing heat around here, and we're not talking conceal weapons permit. I don't want to endanger my kids just to keep the peace around here. Next time we'll go to the drive thu at Mickey D's!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

3 Weeks Down.....many more to go!

Blogger has been down for a while. Interesting thoughts (at least to me) have come and gone. At this point I am counting down, along with my little friends, until we leave for "Papa's house" with a pit stop at "Charlotte's house." I think we could all use a change of pace.

I know in the past week I have wanted to write about the wild woman of Borneo, our resident 2 year old. The child is amazingly physical. I turn around and she's climbed in the sink and is "washing my hands" a/k/a soaking wet with the entire contents of the soap bottle all over the counter. She is constantly taking off her socks, shoes, diapers, clothes. She'll come downstairs in the most random of things. Now that her clothes are in the same room as everyone else's she just sort of helps herself to whatever she's in the mood for. My favorite was when she came downstairs wearing 3 pairs of Biki's underwear- with nothing else on. With her snaggle toothed grin (another tooth is chipping and rotting in the front), chubby cheeks, and crazy hair (no how often I comb it!) she is darn cute but utterly exhausting. She loves playing with all the nativity sets and I find the Fontanini and Fisher Price pieces mixed up every day. She is really excited about the magnetic advent calendar and is absolutely obsessed with snuffing out the advent candles. Tonight she only got to snuff out one and threw an absolute tantrum. Yikes!!! Her rendition of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" isn't bad either.

I wonder if she's acting out so much because so much of her day is spent strapped in the car chauffeuring her siblings around. The more and more I think about it I wonder if I should be homeschooling. I think its just too hard on the little kids to be in the car all the time. Ugh. I think it would be beneficial for Biki, but Conqueror is too social for it and with no brothers I think he'd be too feminized.

Well, I wanted to tell the story of when the retail clerk asked me why I don't do birth control but alas, duty calls. I gotta sweep and mop the floor and finish wrapping presents.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What does it mean to be a friend?

Facebook is both fascinating and disturbing. I now have over 100 friends. It is sort of a status thing. The more friends you have the cooler you are. But then I look at my younger brother. He has something like 650 friends. I don't think I know 650 people by name. That is so weird.

I have a feeling my relationship with Facebook will be limited to the lenght of this deployment. I am not generation y enough for it!!

Skype my daddy!

I think the kids have a love-hate relationship with Skype. They really enjoy seeing P. and getting to talk to him. Bean's favorite question is "See me daddy? See me?" or "Why you in there daddy?"

When he called in tonight the girls were getting out of the bath and Beanie started laughing. "Heh, heh, heh! Heh, heh, heh! Skype my daddy! Skype my daddy!" Each time the phrase got louder and louder.

They are all so silly on camera, I wonder if it is because of the general awkwardness of the situation. They are also always so sad after we get off. They don't want me to leave them and they start talking a lot about dad and how long he'll be away. I heard Dad's voice on the teddy bear quite a few times after lights out.

Speaking of the teddy bear, I noticed that one bear was missing from the usual spot at tidy up time. I had seen the Conqueror listening to it in the family room earlier. Then I remembered he had disappeared for a while before dinner. Turns out he'd take his talking dad bear upstairs to play over and over again in private. He's such a sensitive little guy and is trying so hard to be a big boy about all this, but he really is sad!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why children need a mother and a father.

Mothers are designed to protect their children. Fathers help children push limits. I remember coming to this realization vividly on one of our first family walks with the Conqueror riding his own bicycle. We were going up a very large hill and he was having a hard time. I would have just let him jump off and push the bike up the hill, but P. pretty much made him ride it up the hill. After a lot of whining, he made it up the hill and then P. told him to turn around and look at how far he'd come. The Conqueror just started beaming with a huge sense of accomplishment.

So, yeah for dads. What I don't appreciate is the teaching of silly little 5th grade boy songs. I think I have heard "We three Kings", the loaded cigar version, 400 times in the past 3 days. It is the only Christmas carol they know how to sing. I suppose this is all necessary for proper development, but I am just hoping I don't get a call from the teachers!

Random Thoughts

What is it about 3 and 4 year olds and death? One of the main reasons I stay home is to field these sorts of questions- things that the nicest old nanny wouldn't answer to my satisfaction. Biki is obsessed with death and dying and heaven and the saints as of late. I am sure some of this coming to the forefront thanks to dad's imminent departure to a war zone.

Some recent smatterings:
* We had better pray they don't drop one of those big bombs in Iraq, because it would explode everyone. Even the doctors. (That one's sort of sad and we had lots to talk about after that comment. Where she learned about the atomic bomb, I am still trying to figure out. I blame dad! : )

*Does heaven have a roof?

*What saints do you want to meet in heaven mom? I answer with Mary, St. Joseph, St. Josemaria, St. Monica, St. Margaret....and then she keeps egging me on, obviously wanting me to pick her saint...and so I say "St. X" and she says "that's me!!!" So at least she's getting the concept that she needs to be a saint!

*Will St. Joseph have his head in heaven? This one had me stumped until I figured out she was talking about St. John the Baptist. Since we haven't gotten to the whole resurrection of the body question, which still fascinates big brother, I just quickly answered that God gave him his head back since he was such a good man!

Depends on how you look at things.....

So, Daddy's short visit was THE topic of conversation for the past two days. I love how temperament and age can give such different worldviews to my little people.

The Conqueror- "Wow. We were so lucky to see Dad for those three days before he leaves for 7 months in Iraq."

Biki- After thinking things over...."No, Dad WAS really lucky to see US!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

One more day

Tomorrow P. leaves again. The kids are acutely aware of it. They went to build a bear and made bears that replay a daddy message, made videos with dad to watch on the computer, and just spend a lot of time hugging him. It is enough to make a non-pregnant woman cry!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for?

We're thankful for:

"Firefighters." -The Conqueror

"Heads."- Biki

"Me." -Beanie

Friday, November 21, 2008

Days 8-11- Getting Better at this

This week has gone by relatively quickly. I think its because P. will be joining us for 3 days after Thanksgiving before shipping out. I get many a question about "how many days till daddy comes?" When I give the answer, huge smiles break out across their faces. I just hope its not too devastating when he has to leave again. Maybe I am wondering more for myself than for them.

We have altered our bedtime routine a bit since P. left. Now after prayers but before 15 minutes of story everyone gets a mommy kiss and hug and a daddy kiss and hug from me before going to kiss their picture of daddy. They each have a framed photo with daddy in their room. It is so cute because they are so excited to get "real daddy hugs" for "four whole nights!" when he comes home.

We'll have to change everything with the bedtime routine once he leaves for good though because the Bean has to wean. I always swore up and down that I would never nurse a two year old but low and behold I have been doing it for almost 3 weeks! At least she has never asked to nurse, although her speaking is improving daily. I am just praying I wean her before that point- I am so ashamed!!!! We went to the park in the stroller yesterday since it was in the 60's and she had fun trying to do everything the big kids did. On the way back as we followed the Conqueror, riding way too far ahead, back she cocked her head up at me- slightly backwards- and said in her cute little voice- "I a big keed mom!" And then she broke into a huge smile. I just smiled back and said, "Yes you are!! And big kids don't nurse." What the hell, I thought I would try to reason with a two year old. I keep hoping she'll just miraculously give it up.

Tonight I am praying for a dear friend who's only 3 weeks ahead of me with her pregnancy and has been assigned to bed rest for the next 2 months- at least. I pray for her and her baby. And try not to think about what would happen to our family if something like that happened to us at this juncture. Who would I call? No family nearby, few good friends. Yikes. Why am I always so selfish and thinking about myself?? Perhaps that's why I need this deployment combined with a new town and a pregnancy......true love is death to self. Hopefully I will be too busy too think about myself.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 7- Cuteness is...

**A just two year old walking up to communion with her hands folded and "praying" like the big school kids.

**New bobs for the girls. Why didn't I do this before the family pictures???

Not cute:
Somebody drawing on my new flat screen monitor with a fine tipped indelible marker.

Day 6- A small gift

I have experience going to mass alone with the kids on Sunday. I would avoid it at all costs and park it in the cry room when I did have to do it. So, I was worried about what our first Sunday on our own would bring. I have to say, it could have been worse. Everyone was well fed, the girls had drinks and cheerios and books. And we sat where the big guys could see. All in all it was OK. The Bean kept trying to run up to the window of the side chapel as we were in the front row with no chairs or kneelers in front of us. As long as she was quiet I really didn't care. I am sure some people thought I was too lenient, but if I got too aggressive with the discipline we would have all ended up in the Narthex. At that point, I feel like no one is getting anything out of mass.

Anyway, I consider such Sunday mass experiences a gift. And I was thankful!! After mass kind friends hosted us for lunch before basketball and the rest of the day went by quickly. The kids insisted on eating in the dining room because it was Sunday! And for the sake of tradition we had snacks and kiddie cocktails! : )

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 5- Self-Help

I am already contemplating going home to my mother. It is only day 5. But for not wanting to disturb the Conqueror's schooling I would already be making plans.

Today can be summed up by revealing that I went on Amazon and purchased a copy of "Surviving a deployment." I thought about getting "Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul" but I don't really think I need any help getting a good cry on these days!

Today Beanie stuck a baby doll in her shirt and waddled around saying "baby in my tummy, baby in my tummy." I am not that big! I think the ultrasound just confirmed for her what is really going on.

Day 4- A scary thought

We had the big Dr.'s appointment today complete with sonogram. The girls were initially enthralled with watching the baby on the monitor. But things went downhill when it went on too long. The technician couldn't get the picture she wanted and was making me move around. Then she asked "you had you triple screen for downs syndrome right?" "No," I replied. "When are you going to take it?" "I'm not." "Ok." Then I felt like she immediately left, but that's probably not accurate. She returned to tell me that the head of maternal/fetal medicine would need to come at look at my scan. I didn't see this as a good thing, so I started praying. She came in and started concentrating on the heart for a while. My brain was overloading with what if scenarios. I am happy to report that my first reaction was that it was going to be ok and God would give the grace to deal with a Down's baby. I was practicing my happy thoughts for the delivery...."he'll bring great joy...etc."

But, a holy priest I know once said its not your first reaction that counts, but your second. That's where I failed miserably. My second reaction was along the lines of I can't believe this is happening. I will never be able to go be a lawyer and do something cool. I am going to be stuck taking care of this child. I indulged these thoughts for a while before realizing, geez, I have a lot of work to do. I am nowhere near embracing this vocation to be a wife and mother like I should. I need a lot of grace, a lot of help.

All in all, it was a long day at the doctors....more scares, ultrasounds, leaving my girls with was enough to tire me out!!!!

And no, I didn't find out if it was a boy or girl. I need that surprise to get me through the next 20-22 weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 3

Well, the novelty has worn off. When it takes over an hour for a two year old to go to sleep I pretty much lose it. I should have started bedtime a half hour earlier. Live and learn. It all goes back to discipline. Today just reminded me that I can't do this without grace- because the first 2 days were too easy!

Tomorrow I get up close and personal with the wee one- the 20 week ultrasound. That is of course if everyone is well. There were complaints of tummy aches at bedtime and fire swamp noises from the top bunk. God preserve us! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 2

We're surviving. This is going to take a lot of discipline-on my part! I can't stay up night. Biki and the Conqueror report they miss dad and are sad. Bean keeps asking about "my dad?"..."my dad?"..."my dad?"

I have already had people call to check on me and someone at school, embarassingly enough, wants to do meals for us. I would like to hold off until Rocky IV appears, but we'll see. I need to work on humility.

Words from the peanut gallery-
Conqueror: I am trying to do well in school. It is kind of sad we won't play any chess games for a long time. The tree cutters and lawn care guys came yesterday and it was cool watching them. Bye.

Biki: I have a little cold but I have lots of snotty noses too. And I miss you. I love you but I am going to write some notes to you. I am going to make some pictures to you to send in the mail.

Bean: up five fingers. Bye dadee.

We had a Megyver moment- I had to figure out how to fix the garage door. Mission accomplished. For the record, I didn't break it. The lawnmower guys did. : )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So it begins......
We dropped P. off at the airport this morning. A few tears (mostly mine) and promise of McDonald's and things cleared up. So we went to mass, got our Sausage McGriddles and dropped off the Conqueror. Hopefully he'll be ok at school today.

This was the dry run since we'll see him at Thanksgiving and do another drop off then. Then we won't see him for 7 months. We're about to test the graces of marriage and family in a new way. I feel like my writing skills have atrophied as of late so this will be an attempt to work on those, keep P. apprised of things at home, and possibly amuse others or at least myself. I will need some amusement these next few months!