Thursday, February 28, 2008

independence

Oh my heart....does he have to grow up so fast??


If you couldn't tell from this and this, I've been a bit down lately. This time of year I'm reminded of loss, and the fragility of life, and I spend a lot of time thinking of the past. There are many, many happy memories, of course, and that is where I dwell, but there is always a twinge of sadness when remembering friends and family who have passed away.

My bestest friend in the whole wide world is looking toward a tough transition soon, and I've been thinking of her a lot lately too. I hate being so far away when I want to be there for her.

Then there is the upcoming deployment, which I can feel pressing down on me. The Sergeant is already working long hours every day (and night), and I am absolutely petrified at the thought of being a "single" mother, even if only for a year. The first deployment, in 2005-6, was difficult, but I got along alright. I even learned to do many things I'd never done before. I was quite proud of myself when I changed the shower head in the bathroom all by myself, among other things. But that year was nothing like this one will be. Back then it was only me and the cats, and cats are very low maintenance. My family was only an eight hour drive away, and when I needed to I could make the trip on very short notice. Needless to say, things are different now.

A few nights ago, just before the Sergeant fell asleep, I whispered into the darkness, "I'm a mess."

He was astonishingly coherent (usually he just mumbles) when he replied, "You're not a mess."

The only response I had was, "You wouldn't say that if you could see inside my head."

I am a mess. My brain will not stop, will not allow me to rest. I worry about everything, and I don't know how not to worry. Because I'm not just me anymore, I'm Mommy. I know we'll make it, even though it will be hard....but there are still moments I have to restrain myself from grabbing the Sergeant, burying my face in his shoulder, and saying, "Don't leave me. Please, stay."

That's silly, I know, and I'd never do it...but I can't help wanting it.

So. There's a lot on my mind these days. It's not all happy. But then my sweet little boy does something crazy-wonderful--like feeding himself with a spoon!--and I can't help but smile.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

summer friends, winter tears

I'm such a space-case these days, what with cough medicine, decongestants, and migraine medication...but I wanted to write just a little bit more about the poem. Hopefully my brain works well enough that it'll make at least some sense..

The summer before I turned nine I finally got to do something my dad had been talking to me about for years: I got to go to Bair Lake. Dad went to camp there when he was a boy, and his sister did too. Grandpa even helped build some parts of it (the old fort, the mini-golf course, and a few of the cabins, if I remember correctly). Dad told me about boating on the lake, about playing games and doing crafts. He told me about Flagpole every morning, when the flag was raised and everyone did "exercises." He told me about the Lumberjack Breakfast, where no one was allowed to speak (apparently because lumberjacks are very hungry in the morning and talking wastes time and energy that could be used for eating), and Hobo Breakfast (is that what it was called, Dad?) where you were given an egg (or two?), two slices of bread, two slices of bacon, an orange, and a fork...and you had to cook your own breakfast on an upside-down coffee can with some kind of heat source (I don't remember what it's called) underneath it.

As we drove down the highway to the tiny town of Jones, Michigan I was overflowing with excitement. I might have been a little bit nervous, but I don't remember any anxiety. I was never the kid who was scared to go away from home; I begged for sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa's house, or with the cousin I called my twin. This desire for new and different places never left me. I love to travel, and since I married the Sergeant in 2002 we've lived in four states different states and now Germany. It worked out well, marrying someone else with a travel bug.

When we arrived I couldn't stop looking around. It was perfect. Cabins standing in a perfect row, with the gleaming swimming pool out front of them. The apple orchard beyond the cabins. Trees everywhere, except in the sprawling, grass-covered field with the flagpole and lots of space for running games. I stood in line with my parents for registration and my cabin assignment, and then they helped me get my suitcase and sleeping bag to Cabin 10. I spread my sleeping bag out on a bunk, stowed my suitcase underneath, fluffed up my pillow...and then practically pushed my parents to their car. Dad might have showed us around the camp, but all that sticks in my mind is the excitement at being at camp and finally being on my own.

I made friends instantly. It's hard to remember which ones I met that summer...for eight or nine years I was there at least once every summer, usually two or three times. At least one week I was a camper, when I was old enough I spent at least one week on "junior staff", working in the kitchen or with the Bunnies (the children of the senior staff members). And when I was...eleven?...my uncle took a job there, as a permanent staff member, and moved the whole family there. That meant I could spend even more time there. It was my summer place.

The friends...there were so many. Tina Meyer, easily my best camp friend. Gretchen. Alison, Shannon, and Heather. Ricky and Matt. Roach. Nicky. Cami and Noelle. Mike. Jason. Joy. Jeff. Ben. And so many more, whose names I've forgotten but whose faces are burned into my heart. They were my summer friends. I only saw them once (or sometimes twice) a year...but they were a part of me. When we saw each other after a year there was no hesitation, no awkwardness...just friendship. Some of us wrote a letter or two during the rest of the year...but it wasn't truly necessary to keeping up the friendships. Tina and I wrote lots of letters, and even visited...since we lived only about half an hour away from each other.

It was Tina who told me Ricky was sick again, I think it was in the fall of 1994. I always knew he had cancer, since he didn't keep it a secret, but he was in remission when I first met him, and I never really thought about it. Rick Laramore was the picture of life. When we reached high school age he and Matt always got up early to go running before Flagpole. Whenever there was downtime he was dribbling his soccer ball, bouncing it on his feet, knees, head. He never stopped moving, or smiling. I had a crush on him one summer, around eighth grade I think. It was the curly hair and laughing eyes. But we were always just friends, and that was okay.

I couldn't imagine Rick in a hospital bed. I just couldn't picture it. And even though I knew I could have found a way to visit him on the other side of the state, I kept putting it off. Turns out I put it off too long. Part of me is glad, because in my memories he is that bright, shining boy, full of life. And another part of me is sad that I wasn't there to hold his hand, even for a few moments.

March 27, 1995. I was watching the Academy Awards when Tina called. I had talked to her just a few days before, when she called to tell me Rick had shingles. I remember thinking later, How incredibly stupid to die from shingles. Of course I knew it was more than that, but the sixteen year old me was angry and irrational. Because even though I knew he was dead I still couldn't imagine it, couldn't imagine someone so alive losing that life. And while I'm not angry or irrational anymore, I still don't understand it.

Somehow I'm not in touch with any of my camp friends anymore. (Yes, me, the letter-writing queen.) I've been trying to find Tina (that's why I used her real name, on the off chance that she googles herself and stumbles across my blog, even though it's a common name and highly unlikely). I looked at Bair Lake's website a few days ago, and they've added so much I don't know if I'd even recognize the place anymore. But those people, that place, it's all alive inside me. Capture the Flag, Hound and the Hare, scavenger hunts, quiet moments on the deck, climbing trees in the orchard, campfires sparkling with laughter and tears, sneaking to the field to watch for falling stars...I'll never forget.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

in memoriam


Why I don't like Oscar night


Just after Pulp Fiction was awarded Best
Original Screenplay the phone rang.
I didn't much like the interruption,
didn't want to leave my nest of blankets,
but since there was a commercial
anyway I answered. A voice, empty as a theatre
on an early Tuesday morning, spoke only
a few, hollow words--He's gone, friend.
Rick died
this afternoon.

I remembered the time, five years ago,
when we were seventh graders
at Bair Lake. Tradition dictated
a serious game of Capture
the Flag every Wednesday night,
at dusk. That summer, dressed in colors
of night, I prowled the tree line on the southern
edge of the playing field, near
no-man's land. Too intent on a clump
of pine trees ahead of me, I didn't hear
him creep up behind, and when he clamped
his hand over my mouth I panicked,
tried to scream. I still couldn't see
him, but as he threw me
to the ground in a slow-motion
tackle his clear, tumbling laughter
gave him away. If you ever
do that to me again, Rick Laramore,
I'll...well...just don't--
but as we wrestled in the dirt
I caught his joyful laughter.
I never could stay mad at him.

Ricky was strong, looked like a sapling
waiting for the spring rain to thicken
him up a bit, ate like a condemned
prisoner. He played soccer,
ran constantly. He had perfect
curly brown hair even though
it usually looked like he just rolled
out of bed, blue eyes that always laughed,
a mouth that told me I was worth something,
and Hodgkin's Disease.

I don't remember who won
Best Actor the night he died. All I remember
is the sound the telephone made
when I threw it at my bedroom wall, the smell
of dusty earth that filled my senses
when Ricky tackled me on that dark summer night,
the dampness of the pillow I buried
my face in to cry.

April 6, 2000

Thursday, February 21, 2008

my poor "neglected" baby

Our normal evening routine is dinner, bath, play, sleep. After the Little Mister has his bath and his clean pajamas are on he sits on the living room floor to play until he tells us it's bedtime. He does this without fail, between seven and eight every night, by making a few whining noises. When he does that one of us picks him up, takes him to the other parent for a goodnight snuggle and kiss, and then puts him in his crib.

So last night was just like normal: dinner-bath-play, with the "play" part starting around seven. If you remember, I'm sick, with a nasty respiratory infection, and last night I also had overwhelming nausea and a wretched migraine. So...I was a little out of it. But the Little Mister was happily playing, so I wasn't terribly worried.

A few minutes after nine, the Sergeant came across the room..and made a little gasping noise. "He's out! I forgot he was still in here!"

I had forgotten too. Good grief, we both forgot our kid was in the room! But he never made a sound...and he just played himself to sleep.


It's not quite so bad as it sounds, he was in an enclosed area that is completely child-proofed. But still...I guess we're out of the running for "Parents of the Year." Made for a cute picture anyway... :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

wordless wednesday: eyes (updated)




p.s. Still sick. It's a rather nasty upper respiratory infection, and I know from experience that it will get worse before it gets better. Blech. But at least I have meds to help now...


p.p.s. My mamma started a blog! She said she mostly wanted to be able to post comments easier, but also that it would be fun to have a blog. She doesn't know how often she'll post, or what she'll post about yet, but this is a big step for her, since she isn't the most computer savvy person on the planet (kind of like her daughter). Will you go say hi to her for me? Please? It would make her smile. :)


Edited to add: I wasn't clear...he's not sick,
I am. I'm very glad of that! It's hard to be mommy while sick, but it's better than having a sick baby.

Monday, February 18, 2008

mistake + accident = exhaustion

Why was I overcome by an uncontrollable urge to scrub my bathroom, top to bottom, when I'm sick and can barely breathe??

Why, after the cleaning spree and the following shower, did I decide to do a bit of rearranging in one of the kitchen cupboards, and accidentally knock a glass bottle (a fru-fru drink, as the Sergeant calls it) onto the floor? It didn't break, but the pressure blew the cap off, showering me, the floor, the ceiling, and everything in the cupboard with green apple flavored alcohol.

I feel like I could sleep for a week. Or a month. A year doesn't sound unreasonable.

But at least I have a sparkling bathroom.

And a newly-mopped kitchen floor.

*sigh*

Saturday, February 16, 2008

doing my part

I'm not perfect.

I have a Swiffer mop, with disposable pads.

I use Clorox wipes to help with some of the cleaning in the bathroom, and those get thrown away after I use them too.

But I do what I can to create less garbage. We use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins or paper towels. We recycle what we can (although we need to get better about that).

And we use cloth diapers. Less trash...and lots of fun!





It is a little extra work. It's a load of laundry every morning and (if it's sunny) hanging diapers on the line to bleach them out (if they need it). It's stuffing the inserts into the diapers after they've been washed and dried. And sometimes it's rinsing off extra messy diapers.

But.

It also means throwing away far fewer diapers. (We still use disposables when we're on road trips and such.) Less trash is good!

And besides...wasn't he adorable in his fireman diaper??! Sadly, it's too small now..


I know that cloth diapering isn't for everyone. If we had ended up in an apartment without a washer and dryer I'm fairly certain we'd be using disposables. If "new" cloth diapers, with velcro and such, hadn't been invented, I never could have talked the Sergeant into it. But it's working great for us, and I'm glad I can do a bit to keep the earth a little cleaner. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

a word for wednesday!!!

video

Note: He really can say this word quite clearly. He tells Daddy bye-bye every time he leaves...ten seconds late, but it's a start. He seems to already have the "I won't do it for the camera" bug, though. Oh well..

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

bilingual baby?

Okay, very likely not. The Little Mister will only be 2-1/2 when we leave Germany, and my German is lackluster at best. I can understand quite a bit, but putting words together into (correct) sentences? Good luck with that. My German professor in college gave me a C in German 102 (after I failed it once) even though I know my accomplishments didn't deserve a passing grade. He gave me the C because I tried so hard, because nearly every day I was in his office asking for help. He must have graded my effort instead of the results.

Anyway, if we were here when he was, say, age 3 to age 6, he might pick it up from children in the community. But as young as he is now...I doubt it. I want him to have something German, though. So when we went to Trier Friday I begged the Sergeant to let me go into the big bookstore I'd seen once. I didn't find a section of English books (sigh), but my other purpose was to find a children's book, a picture book, in German. I figured I could find something simple and run it through a translating website so I could get inflection right, and then read it to the Little Mister. He loves when I read to him, and right now it doesn't really matter what language it is. His favorite is Dr. Seuss, which arguably is a separate language in itself.

With this in mind I searched out the children's section. And I was intensely pleased when I found a German translation of one of my favorite picture books:



I love it!! I haven't read it to the Little Mister yet; I've been practicing, so that when I read it to him there won't be stuttering and stopping. My pronunciation is decent, so with practice I think I'll be able to read it smoothly.

I still want to find a "German" picture book, something that was originally written in German instead of translated from English. Before the Sergeant is deployed we're hoping to visit my very close friend in Switzerland, so maybe she can help me find something else. But for now this is great, because I already know the story so I know how to read it. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

windmills

Near where we live (less than five miles, I'd guess) the landscape is dotted with huge white windmills. Awhile back the Sergeant and I noticed an area for parking and a walking path, so yesterday - a bright, sunny day - we decided to take the Little Mister for a walk.

As we were driving up I told the Sergeant something I've said many times before: "I just don't understand why people don't want windmills. They say they're an eyesore. But I think they're cool! I mean, I don't think I'd want them dotting every inch of the landscape, but where they are useful..."

And he replied, "I'd rather see one hundred windmills than one nuclear power plant, or coal-burning plant."

So true!

We had a lovely walk, and I (of course!) took lots of pictures...


The windmills go on for miles, in both directions.


At the base of one of the windmills, looking up.
I cannot describe how big they are!


A new windmill being built.
(No work done yesterday, as it was Sunday.)




And on one edge of the big circle path...horses!
The Little Mister was intrigued.

* * * * * * *

And now for other business...last week Joy gave me an award! I think it's so great that we pass around awards and cyber-love to our bloggy friends. :)


She said, "I am passing this award on to ... The Dragonfly over at On Dragonfly Wings because of her regular encouragement. It means so much to me." Thanks Joy! I'm so glad I can be encouraging to you!!

And in turn I pass this award on to Amy. She deserves a little cyber-love 'cause...well, 'cause she's amazing!! She is currently pregnant, but not with her own child...she's a surrogate mother, for the second time! I am in awe of her. Read all about it at Amy's World. :)

And I also send cyber-love to my bestest friend in the whole wide world, Rose Daughter. We've been friends since kindergarten, and will be forever more. Who better for this award? :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

highlight

We went to Trier...


...and to Luxembourg...



...and I even had my picture taken (hardly ever happens anymore).


But this, right here, was the highlight of my day:


Those smiles just melt my heart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

(almost) wordless wednesday: time flies

November 6, 2007 - Five Months Old


February 6, 2008 - Eight Months Old

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

super tuesday

No, this post has nothing to do with politics. We just had a really great Tuesday!

The Sergeant is on leave this week, home with us all day every day. I still have a migraine (Just a tiny one, more of an annoyance now. It's hard to explain; it's still a migraine, but I guess maybe I'm just used to it now. Anyway, thank you all for your well-wishes! It really made me feel better every time I saw a new comment telling me to feel better!!) but today was less obnoxious than usual.

The morning was lazy, what with no one having to get up at 5:30 for pt. I got up with the Little Mister, who kindly slept until 8:30, gave him his bottle, and then crawled back into bed for about an hour while he slept/played in his crib. We got up and played for awhile, and when he had his morning nap the Sergeant and I watched the season premiers of House and CSI, which I'd recorded last week. (Yes, I know we're behind over here. I'm just thankful we get tv in English!)

And then we went out. An Air Force base near here has a Chili's. A real American restaurant, a taste of home. Usually when we go out here (which actually isn't that often) we want something different, something European...but I've been craving ribs lately, so we went to Chili's for a late lunch/early dinner.

The Little Mister usually just wears sleepers, 'cause it's easier, but when we go out I like to put him in something cute. Doesn't he look all grown up? This kid amazes me every day. Oh, and take a good look at those booties. They were knitted from a pattern used by the Sergeant's grandma, by his aunt, for a shower gift. He looks all snazzy in his saddle shoes!


Dinner was fabulous. I, of course, had the ribs I'd been dreaming of...and also a margarita. Just one, and it was great. It's been so very long since I had one. It was before I was pregnant, so...well, a long time ago!

I know this picture is blurry, but I just wanted to show you all how cute my little guy looks, sitting at the table with Mommy and Daddy. He seemed pretty proud of himself.


And for one of my sides I got cinnamon apples...he was quite pleased. :)


After a little shopping, a car ride home, a nap, and some play time, the Little Mister was hungry...again. (This kid never stops eating, it seems!) I told the Sergeant to get the camera when he got that star stuck to his face. It actually stayed there for five or ten minutes, after which the Little Mister grabbed it off his face and ate it. Silly boy...


and then, after a bath and some more play time it was almost time for bed...but first there was hanging out with Daddy. Aren't they precious??!


So...that was our day. Don't you agree that it was a super Tuesday? ;)

Friday, February 1, 2008

joining the refrain

Around the internet lately, on so many of the blogs I read, there's been a common tune: I'm sick, my kids are sick, everyone in the house is sick. Isn't it a lovely time of year? It's mostly colds and flu I've been reading about, and thankfully none of that has hit our house. The Little Mister has been teething, of course, but nothing more than that...and the Sergeant never (okay, very, very rarely) gets sick.

Unfortunately, the past few days I've been in the grip of one of the worst migraines I've had in ages. My prescription didn't even touch it. And when I get a migraine it's more than pain in my head, it's...well, it's wretched.

This has been me most of this week. Except, you know, not a cat.

So, I sing along with the song of the sick. I keep my head attached enough to take care of the Little Mister during the day, and as soon as he's in bed I curl up on the couch with a heat pack on my neck and an ice pack on my forehead. It's getting better today, but the migraine still holds on. Maybe tomorrow I will be free...


But a bit of sunshine: my real-life friend, Painted Maypole, gave me an award!


She said "[She] provides me with a daily dose of The Little Mister... since I am too far away to actually shower him with love. I'm so glad you started blogging." Awww...thanks! (And I wish we lived closer together, too...)

And now I pass this award along to Heidi at Viking Conquest. She has such a lovely voice; she writes about Norway and her family and her travels...and I just wish I was there!! I enjoy my daily dose of Norway! :)