Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wanted: 1 BR, 1 BA home

We are currently living in a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house. (By the way, it is actually for sale, I am not sure if I mentioned that before. We would love it if you would pass that information along to anyone you know looking for a lovely home at Ft. Polk!) I was so excited to find a house with 3 full baths! We were sort of scarred from our time in Germany. We had a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. This was fine about 90% of the time. But whenever we had friends over (which was often, we were so popular, just ask Tonya or Tara) or family staying with us, it was tough. Let's face it, when you are living in Germany and especially visiting Germany, what do you want to do? Sightsee? Maybe. Eat schnitzel? Sure. Buy Birkenstocks? OK. But what is the #1 thing that is fun to do in Germany? DRINK! The best wine and beer in the world is made in Germany. So when you are there, you have to drink it, right? I have the most vivid pictures of momma and daddy visiting. The 4 of us would go out to eat, and since you have to drink something, why not beer? When we would get back to the apartment, we would all race for the bathroom! And we would stand in line!!! No fun, right?

At Ft. Lee, we had 1 and a half bathrooms - getting better. Then at Ft. Stewart, we had 2 FULL BATHS! WOW! We were moving on up. . . Then we had 2 babies, so we needed the 2 bathrooms. The extra one had a baby tub in it all the time.

Next we move to Ft. Polk, and we have 3 FULL BATHS! Heaven! And it is SO nice when family comes to visit. Everyone can have their privacy, and with 2 hot water heaters, we can all take showers at the same time.

The middle picture is of the bathroom in the hall near the children's room. Aren't the ducks precious? Perfect for a kids bathroom, right? Jessa even helped me pick out all the cute duck accessories. Mom ordered personalized prints for Jessa and Spencer to coordinate with the theme. We were so excited to have a cool "duckie" bathroom. I can count on one hand the number of baths that the children have taken in the "duckie" bathroom. Now that I think about it, the only "person" who takes a bath in there is Dunken. So we may be the only family in the world who has a dog with virtually his own bathroom.

One would think that with all these bathrooms, everyone could have their own space. The kids multiple dental accessories and a multitude of tub toys could be in the "duckie" bathroom, right? And David and I could have our own bathroom sans pirate ships, rubber ducks, naked barbies, Spongebob & Dora toothbrushes, and stools that we might trip over in the dark of the middle of the night. I am sure that you see where this is going. . .

Want to know the #1 reason why this is not the case???

They fell in love with the big tub. I mean, I don't blame them. I love it, too. Tub size is on the list of deciding factors in a house for me. I love big tubs to take long, hot baths. Termites? Sink hole? Bad neighborhood? But does it have a jacuzzi tub?? I'm in! (Maybe it is bad that I may be buying a house without David - are my priorities out of whack?)

To a small person, it is like a baby pool. Jessa likes to stand on her hands and let her whole body float. They both like to use the sloping sides as water park slides for the aforementioned naked barbies. They also like the skylight. They love to watch the clouds in the daytime and the stars at night. It was love at first soak - for all of us. . .

It all started with the tub. At first it was one toy, one duck, one naked barbie, but the tub was just the gateway. Now, we may as well have only 1 bathroom. Oh, except for Dunken - ha! They have stools (that I trip over on a regular basis during twilight tee-tee trips), at least 5 toothbrushes EACH (Thomas, Hannah Montana, Spongebob, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Barbie, Dora, etc.), 2 or 3 different kids of toothpastes, their own towel hooks, Dixie cups, combs, toys, Kandoo wipes, potty chairs, you name it. How did I lose control?

Think of the money we could save if we just face facts and buy a 1 bedroom, 1 bath.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Confounded GERMS

OK, this will be brief. Yes, as much as I tried to fight it, I am sick. I have the same stomach thing that Spencer had. Now I am even more paranoid that Jessa will get it. To be honest, it never occurred to me that I would get sick. I was too worried that Jessa would get it! My mom always says that mothers aren't allowed to get sick. I sure wish someone would tell that to my stomach. . .

After no sleep and a lot of time on the cold bathroom floor, it is another day and I am not feeling too much better. I am trying really hard to keep my mind off of it. I cannot do too much too fast without having another wave of nausea, but I am at least trying to do some things on the computer. And of course, my TV is here for me to keep my mind occupied.

I am not sure if I mentioned this before, BUT I MISS MY HUSBAND!! I wish he was here to take care of me or at the very least take care of the kids for me!

AND someone is coming to look at the house this afternoon. . .

Fingers crossed I bounce back soon AND that Jessa stays healthy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

help is a relative term

The kiddos and I had a nice Saturday. It was raining outside off and on all day. This is good because it has been SO hot, and we can always use the rain. The poor plants and trees David so carefully selected and planted are dropping one by one.

I usually miss David so much more on the weekends. During the week, he is not home during the days anyway. But the weekends seem so strange without him around. We have a Saturday morning routine. The kids always wake me up when they wake up. We watch some cartoons and wake up good. Then we make David's coffee and sometimes we even make pancakes or waffles. Then the kids run in and wake up David by telling him "Coffee's Ready!" And usually David will have errands to run. He will take Spencer for "boys time" at the barber shop and Lowe's. And on some special Saturdays when I really need a break, he will take the 2 of them to Chuck E. Cheese for the afternoon! Plus, he usually cooks on the grill on the weekends, always a hit with me. So you can see why we miss him on the weekends most!!

Today, to pass the time I had some projects planned. We cleaned out some closets as we attempt to prepare to move. I would like to say that the children help me, but that would be sort of a stretch. Are they aware of me being in the closet? Yes. Are they interested in the items that I am moving around and going through? Yes. Are they involved in touching the same things I am touching? Yes. Do they share the same vision I have and the same goals for the project? Alas, no, they do not. For example, I was organizing the coat closet. I was folding hats, scarves, and gloves and putting them into Rubbermaid containers that were already labeled. I was making progress and getting it all taken care of. Then the phone rang, it was David. Of course, I stopped what I was doing to talk to him.

This is what the children did:

I STILL have not been able to get all of the winter hats and scarves away from them and put away in their proper container. . . At last check, there were several baby dolls and stuffed animals all snuggled up in the scarves.

I was refolding some towels in the linen closet. I do this often, but somehow they never seem to stay that way. I needed the stool to reach the tip top shelf to fold some beach towels. So I went to the kitchen to get it and was working on the top shelf. I needed to move the stool temporarily to reach and work on some of the lower shelves. I turned my back on the stool to face the closet.

This is what the children did:

I was cleaning up in the playroom. We have an official place for everything, but in our haste to clean up sometimes things get put back in the wrong place. If I cleaned it all myself every time, this would not happen. But a good mother encourages her children to learn how to clean up and put things away for themselves. But now, I am determined to have things as organized as possible before the packers arrive. I know how much easier it is to unpack if things are properly in their place when they are packed. So I was folding dress up clothes and matching plastic shoes and putting away magic wands and crowns. I was pleased with my progress and doing lots of good work. I went over to the play kitchen to get all the food, cookware, and dishes back into their proper containers.

This is what the children did:

Spencer has 2 closets in his bedroom. David put awesome closet maid shelves in all the closets after we moved in, but in Spencer's extra one, he put in lots of shelves for more storage. I was working on his second closet because I wanted to get out things that were no longer needed. Since David had his little surgery when we decided 2 kids are plenty, we have given away almost everything "babyish." I am not exaggerating when I say that we have made 15 trips to Goodwill just since David's surgery was deemed a success. Clothes, furniture, pillows, crib sets, mobiles, swings, toys, tubs, you name it! And with each area I clean up, I find more things to create more trips to Goodwill.

I have saved the really special things, though. Today, I found a precious German wooden toy that I bought for Jessa before she was born. They both played with it and loved it. I was sort of attached to it, so it was something I had decided to save. It was neatly taken apart and stored in the side of Spencer's extra closet. Jessa found it.

This is what the children did:

They even got out bags and were shopping in the things I was trying to throw/give away!

The babies teach me everyday not to sweat the small stuff. Would I have gotten more done if they were not so "helpful?" Absolutely. Would I have had any fun performing the boring, mundane task of cleaning out the closets? Absolutely not.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nobody WANTS a ghost

David and I LOVE Friends. It is one of our all-time favorite shows. We own all of the seasons on DVD, we have a season pass on TiVo, and we watch it whenever it is on TV. I can still get so tickled that I laugh out loud. And I can find wisdom in Friends that I can apply to my daily life. One of our most commonly used lines is "it's a moo point." Thank you, Joey!

On Jessa's 4th birthday, we gave her a doll house. She opened it during her party and literally, refused to open any more presents, play with her party guests or do anything other than play with it for HOURS. We had to bring the cake to the doll house to even get her to blow out the candles. It was LOVE at first sight. She is addicted to the doll house. Sometimes she will take the people or furniture out and play with them elsewhere, but she loves the whole concept. And at first, if Spencer looked at it, breathed on it, or heaven forbid touched it, the world would quickly come to an end. We are talking her in the fetal position, rocking on the floor, and sobbing. Lately, however, she allows him to play in her rich, imaginative fantasy games. My favorite is when his doll is a "superhero" who swoops in to rescue her princess in distress. And as long as he plays her way, she allows him to play with her for (sometimes) hours.

How may you ask can I relate the 2 previous paragraphs to each other? Well, if you are also a fan of all things Friends then I am sure you already know where I am headed. Just in case you are not an obsessive fan, I will fill you in. In Season 3, there was an episode called "The One with the Dollhouse." Basically, anal Monica inherited a pristine, fancy doll house from an aunt. And Phoebe who had a terrible childhood had never played with a doll house. Monica invites her to play with her new fancy doll house. Quirky Phoebe brings lots of items to play with that Monica deems "inappropriate." On a daily basis, as Jessa plays with her doll house I think of how thrilled Phoebe would be with her ability to use anything and everything to play with her doll house. And I also imagine how much Monica would be unable to even look at the doll house that Jessa arranges and plays with because she would think it was most unacceptable.

Phoebe: Check it out!
Monica: What's this?
Phoebe: It's a dog, every house should have a dog.
Monica: Not one that can pee on the roof.
Phoebe: Maybe it's so big because the house was built on radio active waste.
Chandler: (holding a hanky) And is this in case the house sneezes?
Phoebe: No, no, that's the ghost for the attic.
Monica: I don't want a ghost.
Phoebe: Well, nobody wants a ghost. But you've got one because the house is sitting on an ancient Indian Burial Ground.

Jessa uses doll house figures, Polly Pockets, princess dolls, little people, happy meal creatures, those little rubber creatures from gum ball machines, shells, rocks, stuffed animals, large plastic dinosaurs, and so many other things that I probably have never even seen. She will ask you to "play doll house" with her, but that simply means that you are allowed to watch. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that you actually get to touch anything. Other times, you are asked to leave and not watch. I guess she has a touch of Monica in her after all. . .

(Be sure to look closely at the pictures. She has put stickers on the walls to decorate. In one room, there is a littlest pet shop camp fire. Barry the Bee is hanging out with Ariel in the attic. There is a lizard in a window box covered up. There is a dog in a cradle. There is a cat with his tail stuck in the wall. Anything goes!)

Phoebe: Dinosaur Attack! Quick, everyone in the house! Ahhh!
Monica: You know what Phoebe, that's it! That's it! Alright, no dinosaurs, no ghosts, no giant dogs. OK? They're not the right size, they are not Victorian, and they just don't go.
Phoebe: OK! Fine! Come on dinosaur. We're not welcome in the house of no imagination!

Phoebe could bring a dinosaur, a ghost, a huge dog, or anything else she would like to play with to our house. I like the think that Jessa and Phoebe could play happily for hours in her doll house. Even though David loves Friends, he thinks I have a problem with reality because I consider the characters on Friends to be my actual friends. My friend Tara is the only one who truly understands this. And since they are MY friends, they would love Jessa and Spencer, too, right??
The bottom line is that I love to watch Jessa and her doll house. I love to hear the voices of her characters, her talking, and singing. She has the most incredible imagination and crazy fun world in her sweet little head. And when she and Spencer play with the doll house together, my heart smiles.

On Facebook, they always have those quizzes like "Which Sex and the City character are you?" I firmly believe if Jessa took a Friends quiz, she would be Phoebs.

****Spencer is feeling better today! Whew!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The toughest job you'll ever love

My mom gave this t-shirt for Christmas the year Jessa was born. At the time, I thought that I "got it." After all, I had a 2 month old; I had not slept in about 2 months. The newborn days seem so hard when you are in the middle of them. You feel unsure about every decision and you second guess every thing you do. But of course, you also have this precious new baby to love and take care of. As they grow, some things get easier and many things get harder. It is nice when they can tell you what hurts or what is wrong, but they can also talk back, argue, and tell you NO. Whatever the age, I believe the statement on this t-shirt always rings true.

You may be wondering why this is on my mind today. . . I am about to tell you.

I have had a bad week. I have had a pity party or two about the moving, house, deployment stuff. My brother Lucas had a tonsillectomy yesterday, so of course, that was on my mind. (he is ok, by the way. His throat hurts like heck, but he is enjoying lots of ice cream and liquid pain medication!) To add to the stress, this morning was Spencer's first dentist appointment. I was anxious about how he would react. It was not a fun experience with Jessa, so I was preparing myself. Plus, Spencer is NOT a good haircut-ee. He does not like being still, so I was braced for the worst.

We are at the dentist. And Spencer had a big pout on his face with folded arms and was saying "I don't want go dentist" " I want to go us house!" So he was clearly anxious and worried. He wanted me to "hold you, Mommy." There I stand in the waiting room in my white shirt and khaki pants, and Spencer burped. I looked at him just in time to watch him throw up all over me and him! So I run to the bathroom to try to clean him up. He threw up a little more, and I was glad he refused the donut I offered him for breakfast. At this point I am not sure if this is a virus or just anxiety. I decided in case it is the latter, we'd try to proceed. We did. It was pretty bad, there was screaming, crying, and general trauma. My heart was breaking and I wanted to cry with him, but I refrained. We made it through with no more throw up. But on the way out, we made a stop at the bathroom for a little more throwing up.

As we are leaving, we see it pouring down rain. Now we are covered in throw-up AND wet. I see this as a positive because maybe the rain made us smell a little better. When we get to the car, he was fine and wanted to go to Wal-Mart to buy his toy that I promised him after the dentist. Luckily, he was ok until we got home. But the rest of the day entailed him changing clothes 5 times, me changing clothes 4 times, stripping the bed once, and lots and lots of lysol! I have scrubbed sinks, counters, toilets, floors, counters, and my hands and worrying myself sick. I am about to take a shower because I can still smell it everywhere. I think it must be in my hair or something. . .

Optimism alert: My mom raised me with the mantra "Things are never so bad that they couldn't be worse!" (1) No one wanted to see the house today, whew! (2) Because we had the unfortunate pleasure of being at the dentist office when it started, Spencer was not in school. I think it would have been much more upsetting to him if he was not with me.

AND he is a sweet patient. He is agreeable and takes whatever medicine you offer him. Dunken coughed this afternoon and he said "Dunken is yike me, mommy. He is sick, too. We match!" (Spencer loves to match with everyone.) And I was telling them not to drink after each other because we did not want Jessa to get sick. So he was offering Thomas some Sprite this evening and said "Mommy, Thomas can't drink my brite. We not want him to get sick!" He wants to lay on me and be in my lap all the time when he feels bad, and I enjoy the snuggling, plus I can monitor him more closely. After the day we had, I am gun shy. Every time he burps, I grab the "throw-up bowl" and put it in our laps. One time, he burped, I grabbed it, he dutifully leaned over to the bowl. After a minute, he did not lift his head, but he cut his eyes up at me and said "Mommy, I not have to." Bless his heart! He was going to hang his head over that bowl and try since that is what I wanted.

Jessa is only moderately sympathetic. When he wanted to build castles with her, she asked me "Will he be in big trouble if he throws up on the blocks?" I told her "No, it would not be his fault. He is sick." And she said "If he throws up, will you clean the blocks?" Concern for the blocks, not your brother, nice! At supper, I decided we could all have a bland supper so as not to tempt him to eat anything that might further upset his tummy. I made white rice and toast. Jessa asked,"Is this it? Just rice? Don't we usually have something with the rice?"

Pictured: the "just rice supper" and the blocks of concern

Days like today I miss being able to ask David to pick up pedialyte on his way home. I miss having someone else to put the sheets in the dryer. I wish for someone to commiserate with. My headache is so bad that I believe it is past the realm of modern medical science. I have more clothes to fold and laundry to finish. Oh yeah, and I have to have a shower!!

Today my job was tough, but I still loved it. And I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grandma's Feather Bed?

First of all, let me say that I know that there are many parents out there who will think I am simply awful. There are times that I think I want to make a change, but it is so much easier and more fun to just leave things as they are. It all started innocently enough. When we first got to Ft. Polk, we were in for quite a culture shock. I call it the "husband drought and flood." You see them a lot: home early in the afternoons, 3 day weekends, and even 4 day weekends. They drive you nuts at first, and as soon as you are used to having them around. . . here comes the drought. They are gone for weeks. If they come home at all, it is late at night, and then they leave crazy early. So with NO discernible schedule for David, we sort of decided to roll with it. If we got the kids to bed early, David inevitably would wake them up when he tried to sneak in. Or he would come in as I was trying to get them to bed, and then they were "all riled up" causing us all painful frustration. So we got into the habit of going with David's flow.

What I am getting at is that the kids go to sleep in our bed almost every night. When David is here, I always move them to their beds. They usually stay once I move them, but many times, I fall asleep before I have a chance to move them. When David is gone, I almost always fall asleep before they do. And I cannot blame it all on David's crazy schedule. I always enjoyed them sleeping with us on occasion. What's better than waking up on a Saturday and all watching cartoons in bed together!? In hotels, we all love to pile in together in the king size bed with all the pillows. And with Dunken and Stewart in the mix, we do in fact remind me of the John Denver song Grandma's Feather Bed. ("it'd hold 8 kids and 2 hound dogs and a piggy we stole from the shed/ we didn't get much sleep but we had a lot of fun in Grandma's Feather Bed")

So even though I know that many people would feel that this is a bad idea, it works for us. I also read in my People Magazine that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's kids fall asleep in their beds every night. Then Will carries them to their beds. This was all the justification that I needed to allow me to keep up this practice without guilt. If it is good enough for Will and Jada, it is good enough for us. Plus, I love snuggling with them and them snuggling with each other! Even David who tries to be tough on the subject melts if one of them wants to lay with him as they fall asleep. Maybe in the new house we will all sleep in our own beds, but for now, we are happy!

From very early on, they have always liked to be warm and cozy together.

They never fight and are always peaceful and precious and sweet when they are all tucked in together.

I could watch them sleep all night long. And it sure is easier if they are both in the same bed. . .

***Not on the same subject, but I wanted to share this as well.

People came to look at the house very early Monday morning. (yay!) So we just stayed in our jommies until they were gone. So before we ran errands, I had to shower. While I was showering, Jessa decided to dress herself and Spencer. For some reason, Jessa always chooses her socks and shoes to really express herself. She chooses things that do not match in color or style. So I always pray that people who see us realize that she is asserting her independence through her feet. Anyway, when I got out of the shower, she was dressed and finishing up dressing her patient and cooperative brother where foot expression was also present. Check out the photo and notice the Mr. GQ pose that Spencer has going on:

And yes, they sported these looks all over town. . . VIVA LA FEET!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tea Time

What better way to pass a Sunday afternoon than a lovely tea party?

Jessa decided a tea party was a great idea. She has several tea sets, but the one she chose to use is a special one that her Bay (my daddy) brought her from Mexico when she was still very small. The first person she invited was her brother. The only requirement was that he allow her to choose appropriate attire. As is usually the case, this involves dressing him in any number of girl clothes from night gowns to princess dresses to tutus. For this particular occasion, she chose a barbie dress. He is always willing to oblige her in any thing that she has planned for him. He is usually so happy that she includes him that he is most agreeable.

I was the "head cook and bottle washer" for the affair. I prepared the table to their specifications with as Spencer called the table cloth "a tea party napkin." For the menu, I prepared sweet "teef" (Spencer's term), "Bilano cookies" (Jessa's term), and peanuts.

Spencer invited Mickey to join them and Jessa invited a purple chick. It is always important in share special tea parties with special friends, wouldn't you agree??

The tea party was simply perfect (and lovely, as Jessa kept reminding me). We had a candle and some flowers. Very elegant! We had a few mishaps, like Spencer kept forgetting to hold on to the top when he poured the tea into his cup. This makes a slight mess. Spencer got upset each time and said "oh no, I pilled on teef party napkin" But I assured him this was ok, the tablecloth was paper.

I love how the babies can turn anything into an event. They make me stop and enjoy the small moments.

To savor each and every second. To delight in simple things. They make my life so much FUN!

SUPER Heroes in my daily life

We had a crazy Saturday in Louisiana. We had planned to sleep in because the first week back at school wore us all out (let's be honest, it was mostly me). About 9:30, the phone rang and it was our realtor. She wanted to tell me that the folks that looked at it on Thursday liked it, but they were not sure. She also wanted to tell me that an agent from another brokerage wanted to show the house at 3:30. My first reaction was whew, I have all day to prepare. Then I realize that with the 2 small forces of nature that I call Jessa and Spencer, this may not be so good. While it gives me more time to clean up, it also gives them more time to MESS UP! But this is the way it is, so I will deal.

I cleaned up areas that they were not interested in and even closed some doors. The best part was me cloroxing the jets in my tub while they were busily bathing troll dolls from Happy Meals in the sink. So I leave the room for a minute to get more paper towels. I come back to find Jessa still bathing her pink troll doll and a small little mermaid in one sink. And Spencer, finishing up dumping my brand new bottle of windex down the drain of the other sink. And as upset as I was that I had just lost the #1 weapon in my quick cleaning to prepare the house to be shown arsenal, he was so proud that he had poured it in the SINK and not on the FLOOR. I guess he had a point, it was less messy that way. . . And boy was that sink shiny!

The only family member who always stays out of my way and does not hinder my forward progress is of course, Dunken:
He finds an out of the way spot and rests, hoping that the kids nor I disturb him. He does need his beauty sleep. . .

We finally are ready to get out of the house to have it clean and empty. This is important so that the folks can look at our home, critique my decorating, criticize the paint and furniture, and basically judge our whole way of life. Jessa decided that the best way to kill the time was to go to the "ice cream shop." I asked her what was wrong with just driving around and she replied in her best teenaged tone, "Mah-ham (note the 2 syllables it takes to display proper disgust) that is Sooooo BORING." I guess she has a point. It is not terribly scenic around here - lot of trees.

So I took my budding teenager and her little brother to the Marble Slab Creamery. We had to leave the car running because Dunken is also expected to be out of the house. Mainly because he may very well lick anyone to death who dares enter our home. This could be an insurance nightmare! So we hurried in to get the ice cream and hurried back to Dunken. We all ate our ice cream in the back of the van with the seats down watching "Strawberry Short Cake" on the DVD player. Dunken even enjoyed a small cup of vanilla!

With all this craziness, Spencer did not take a nap. So he fell asleep at like 5:30 and I could not get him to wake up (nor did I try to hard, my mom's words about "never waking a sleeping baby" kept echoing in my head). We had late everything after that. Late supper, late kitchen clean-up, late getting ready for bed. . .

We did have time for a performance from the Jessa school of dance. Where she danced to classical music (aka "Baby Einstein") in her Belle dress and shoes. Spencer and I were the audience. Although, she said numerous times "I wish Spencer would just get up and follow my footsteps!" I do not have pics of that because we were videoing for Daddy. Jessa said we did need to tape it for him because "I can tell that Daddy is smiling at me all the way from Iraq!" I love when she says this because it shows how much she really does think of him and that she still feels such a connection to him. Plus, it allows me get her to do things she does not want to do: Me "It would make Daddy smile all the way from Iraq. . ."
But the reason for the name of this post has yet to be revealed. After all of the crazy, hot, rushed, stress of the day, the day ended on a high note. I was trying to put the house to bed and us to bed and I was beginning to feel tense and frustrated until I walked into the den and saw this:

No matter how crazy my day is, no matter how much stress I feel, no matter how much I miss David and don't want be selling a house or moving alone, the babies can always make me smile. So they are the Super Heroes in my daily life. They can make my worries seem so insignificant. They are such a blessing! And they may even have super powers. . .
(sorry for the blurry ones, they are really fast!)