why I don’t talk to Bill…

…about deployment.

Fox News has an Army officer in Iraq providing diary entries once a week or so. He writes about attending memorial services for fallen soldiers:

The ceremony itself is fairly simple, with comments from the leaders and friends of the soldier, boots in front of a rifle with a helmet and dog tags, and a picture of the soldier in front of the flag he or she fought for. Roll call, a 21-gun salute, followed by a rendition of “Taps” and “Amazing Grace.” No glorious speeches by generals in shiny uniforms, no motivational “now let’s go get ‘em, boys.” Simple, professional and absolutely gut wrenching.

Yeah, gut wrenching.

staying at home

Danielle Bean had this good post on being a SAHM. Which is timely since SFO Mom addressed this topic on Friday, which lead me to Catholic Mom who talked about this earlier in April and linked to this article. My favorite quote from the article:

“If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society’s expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished.”

Oh, trust me, being a SAHM is punishment enough! At least it better be…I’m banking on all these years of messy diapers, fickle toddlers and sleepless nights and the future ones with hormonal adolescents and disobedient teenagers as “time-served” in purgatory. That’s the only hope I have that keeps me smiling instead of screaming!

Older brothers are good for some things

Last night at dinner, Fritz was talking, but I wasn’t listening. There was the usual chaos and confusion at the dinner table and all I manged to hear was “fence”.

I begged his pardon and asked him to repeat what he just said. A little voice in my head suggested I should pay attention.

But again, the baby or the toddler demanded assistance and the only additional word I managed to hear was “climb.”

That little voice got a little louder, and I had Fritz repeat his story one more time.

Fritz: When I climbed the fence…

Me: What fence?

Fritz: The new fence.

Me: What new fence? The one at the playground {the one designed to keep toddlers in, but the one that Jenny climbed our first time there} or the one in our new yard?

Fritz: The one here!

Me: Don’t climb the fence.

Fritz: Why not?

Me: It’s not meant to be climbed. It’s to keep you IN the yard.

Fritz: Why?

Me: So I know where you are! And another thing, I don’t want you showing anybody else how to climb the fence. They might get hurt.

Fritz: Oh, Billy and Katie can’t climb the fence…

Me: That’s good, but don’t show them how…

Fritz: …but they could when I lifted them.


Bye bye baby

Pete is now officially a “big baby”. He’s not a toddler, but he’s not a tiny baby either. He’s been able to sit up and crawl for quite some time now, but that didn’t quite put him in the “big baby” category. Even his ability to cruise around didn’t quite promote him. No, for me, there are two things that really propel a kid from “little baby” to “big” babydom:

he can wave, and he can do high-fives.

For some reason, this social interaction more than the physical prowess associated with crawling or walking is a much bigger indicator of how he is growing and developing. And these things, his adorable wave or his little hand slaps each accompanied by the most joyous smile, are so inexpressibly sweet. So cute. So precious.

And oh so sad. Bittersweet.

What they don’t know won’t hurt them…

A few weeks ago my kids were eating green beans and rice for dinner, as usual, because the rest of the meal was yucky (according to them). Fritz said that when he was grown up, he would take his kids to Wendy’s for chicken nuggets…but guesses that perhaps he’d eat stuff like what his Dad and I eat.

That was shockingly astute for a 7 year old, I thought. I’m sure when I was 7, I thought I’d eat all sorts of forbidden treats all the time when I was grown up.

Like Twinkies…

My mom rarely bought Twinkies. She bought them so rarely, in fact, that I can’t recall her EVER buying them; I’m only saying “rarely” to cover the once or twice that she MIGHT have bought them. I never had a Twinkie in my lunch bag. I do remember being constantly disappointed that I didn’t have a Twinkie in my lunch box. But Mom didn’t buy them. And I’m sure that I thought when I was grown up I would buy them all the time. Eat them for breakfast. Give them to my kids.

Well, I’m all grown up, and I rarely buy Twinkies. I buy them so rarely, in fact, that I can’t recall EVER buying them, except for yesterday. Yesterday, I decided that my kids needed a special treat for after dinner. Everybody is feeling the stress related to the move, even the kids. Bill and I are grumpy and impatient. The kids are bouncing off the wall and arguing a lot. Twinkies would solve everything and make us all feel better, I was sure of it.

Bill’s mom never bought Twinkies either. So, when we found ourselves alone after dinner with the new box, Bill suggested that we eat one now when the kids wouldn’t see so that we could have another one with them and they wouldn’t know that we had 2 and they only had one.

I like the way this man thinks.

So we had a Twinkie each. And then we gave them to the kids, but we didn’t actually have another one then. Later, the kids went to bed and we looked at the box. The box had had 10. We each had one (except for Pete), so there were 4 left. That meant one more for each kid…or that meant 2 more for mom and dad.

Can you guess who had those Twinkies?

move update

Well, I got the keys to the new house today.

Move date is supposed to be this coming Thursday.

Supposedly, we will be able to make an appointment on Monday to have our cable/internet/phone installed. This is crucial to our accepting the move date next week.

All in all, the house is nice. I think the master bedroom is too small and I’m not sure that our stuff will fit in there, just because of the placement of windows and doors. All we really have is a queen bed and a dresser. That’s not exactly an unreasonable amount of furniture?!? It’s ok if my rocking chair has to go downstairs…but I would like it if my cedar chest could fit in there.

I think the kids’ rooms are small too, but we’ll manage. Again, door and window placement doesn’t give much blank wall to fit things like dressers. I’m just not sure that builders/architects actually live in these houses.

But, the kitchen is fabulous – plenty of room, plenty of storage. Nice big fridge. The eating area has a big window with a seat long enough for four little bottoms. It’ll be nice to not have to eat lunch in between the school work spread all over the dining room table.

So, this weekend: moving the kitchen stuff and the toys and any other items that we don’t want the movers to touch.

finally learning to love to read

I learned to read when I was 3 or 4 years old. I don’t recall any formal lessons by my mom, but my brother, Pete, is 3 years older, so perhaps his school lessons and early readers helped me pick it up.

My husband learned to read in school. It was hard for him, and he HATED it. He has nightmare memories of his mom trying to encourage reading by forcing him to read the Hardy Boys and stuff like that. To this day, he considers his reading skills to be inadequate: he’s too slow, he thinks.

I wanted my kids to love reading. I thought that if I didn’t push too hard, provided a large assortment of reading material (I LOVE DK books – I think a lot of boys like to read about STUFF, not stories), read to them and demonstrated my own love of books, that everything would fall into place and my children would naturally love reading too.

And in the deep recesses of my heart, I really hoped my kids would be like me and just pick up on reading without too much effort. They are, after all, little Einsteins, right?

Fritz bolstered these dreams by knowing his alphabet by the age of 2. He could write the letters by the time he was 3. He loved to have me read book after book. But alas, his 4th and 5th birthdays passed with nary a hint that he understood that those letters combined their sounds to make words.

So, we began formal phonics lessons when he was 5. He had no trouble with the sounds that the letters made, but when it came time to blend those sounds into words, it overwhelmed him. We tried for weeks, and then we took a break, and then we tried something else, and then we took a break, and then we tried something else…and on and on. Even after he began to put things together, it was a constant struggle and not much fun at all.

Progress continued to be painfully slow, especially for this mom who, on the one hand, didn’t want to push and really did agree with the idea that kids all progressed at their own pace (blah blah blah), but, on the other hand, honestly felt that HER kid was too smart to not be able to read (what was his problem, huh?).

I finished his phonics program in early March and we’ve taken a break from formal reading for a while, mainly because I’m trying to get ready to move. I bought a new reader for him, but decided I would wait until things were settled to delve into it. In the meantime, the kids have been left with the hundreds of kids books we own.

My husband and I have continued to read to them, and I’ve continued to encourage their own reading. I just haven’t forced them to read anything to me.

And halleluiah, Fritz has finally found his reading pleasure: old joke books and Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. He and Billy have been sitting around, giggling, as Fritz reads about the antics of Calvin. They’ve been acting out and quoting the different gags (not too surprisingly, my clever son thought the one where Calvin takes Hobbes to school for show-and-tell, but then uses him for math help (7 + 3 = 73) was really funny).

full plate

Wow. I’ve actually got some pretty heavy-duty issues in my life right now.

Housing: our move is scheduled for next week. I just found out that there is no high-speed internet or TV service at my new house, and there won’t be these services for, oh, weeks. And housing thinks that this is OK. I’m not sure about phone service either.

My rental property: I need to get up to Jersey and find new tenants. We’d like to put in a new kitchen, too. In our copious free time.

Swingset: I have a nice swingset in Jersey that I’m making arrangements to have taken down and re-installed here in Virginia at the new house that I’m going to refuse to move into until I can have internet and TV service.

Fritz: 1st Communion is only a few weeks away and the timing couldn’t be worse.

Chicken Pox: Just found out that a friend in Jersey has exposed her kids to the virus and should have a pox on her house in a few weeks. I’d like to expose my 2 youngest ones – I stopped doing the vaccine after Katie when I learned it was made using fetal tissue. Again, we have a huge timing issue.

Blood pressure: Bill had it taken yesterday and it was higher than healthy (not bad enough to medicate, but worth attention). High-pressure job, limited sleep, long hours, no exercise…plus additional stress related to our rental property and our housing situation here. Plus the guilt he feels knowing he’ll miss just about every soccer and baseball practice for the boys, and half of Fritz’s baseball games.

OK, that’s enough for now. I need to focus on today’s schoolwork and what’s for dinner and folding laundry. All these other things will fall into place…eventually…right?


My sister tagged me via email.

Four places I have worked in my life:

1. McDonalds as everything except for management
2. A shoe repair store as a clerk
3. A hotel as a maid
4. A cherry farm as head cook (a job that prepared me most for my current job)

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. The Princess Bride
2. Blues Brothers
3. The Sound of Music
4. LOTR trilogy

Four places I’ve lived:

1. Richmond, VA
2. Alsemberg, Belgium
3. Lohr am Main, Germany
4. Allentown, PA (well, we’re living here in Allentown…)

Four TV shows I love to watch:

TV? I’m happy I could come up with 4 movies I’d watch more than once.

Four Places I’ve been on vacation:

1. Denver, CO
2. Disney World
3. Paris, France
4. Bratislava, Slovakia (but it was Czechoslovakia at the time and I was just passing through on my way to Svit)

Four websites I visit daily:

1. Raising Angels
2. SFO Mom
3. Danielle Bean
4. The Daily Eudemon

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Spaghetti with meatballs
2. Potato Salad
3. Fried Chicken
4. Chocolate

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Visiting my sister Barb
2. Visiting Monica
3. Visiting Lena
4. Visiting my parents

Four friends who I have tagged that I think will respond:

1. Raising Angels
2. SFO Mom
3. Monica
4. Lena