Un-happy birthday

When the tot wakes up in a foul mood, the forecast for the day is rarely sunny.

Peter woke up in a foul mood. And to make matters worse, it was his birthday, and there was the added stress of making it a good one. Happy birthday, he heard from his mother. Happy birthday, he heard from his brothers and sisters over and over again. That word: happy, echoing in his ears.

happy happy happy

happy happy happy

The sing-songy phrase repeated with maddening cheeriness until finally, he could take no more. The final meltdown ended in a request to use the toilet, and he sat, with drooping eyelids, barely nodding his assent that he was done. He was placed in his bed, fast asleep, at 615 pm.

We can only hope that he wakes, tomorrow, in a better mood.

My oasis

My main goal yesterday was to have one box-free area in my home. I picked the living room – dining room for several reasons:

1. I like to sit on the couch in the morning and watch the birds.

2. The only chance I have to routinely sit down during the day is at dinner time, and I didn’t want to spend that time staring at more work that needed to be done.

3. That area was much more advanced than my bedroom as far as unpacking.

We still haven’t found those missing shelf brackets, so a stop at the local big-name Everything Under The Sun Hardware Store (okay, TWO stops at the local EUTSHS, since we didn’t get enough brackets the first time), and we were able to empty a dozen very heavy boxes.

I moved several boxes into the sunroom, since their contents belonged there (which really just transferred the mess to that room), put a few boxes with decorative items in the front closet (out of sight, out of mind), and lined the hallway with six or seven narrow packages that hold framed pictures (I can’t see them from my seat in the dining area, and they are technically not in the living room, so it’s okay).

Voilà. One box-free room.

I even dusted the dog hair from the floor and put a fresh table cloth out. Dinner was fabulous.

Atmosphere does make a difference.

At dinner, I announced new rules for my new space. Except for the baby toys, of which there aren’t too many, the area was to remain toy-free. In fact, I told them I didn’t want to see any personal items of any kind, and anything found in the area was subject to immediate confiscation and permanent disappearance (except for school books, which, if found, would cost the perpetrator additional assignments). We have a very nice family room in the walk-out basement. There is plenty of room for the toys, the school stuff, and I even set up our small kitchen table for games, puzzles and coloring.

“This area is to be an oasis of peace and quiet,” I declared.

I wonder if the EUTSHS sells potted palm trees.

Home Sweet Home

We did finally make it to Virginia, and we are getting settled, slowly.

I’ve had a few moments of utter discombobulation when I couldn’t tell you what state or what time zone I was in. The layout of the house is a bit confusing, too, especially at first. But over the past six days we’ve gone from frozen pizza cut with dinner knives served on paper plates to tacos made the way I usually do it (okay, I bought the package of spices instead of using my own blend, but that was a recent change) served in serving bowls to regular dinnerware on a table covered with my favorite cloth.

The main possessions are unpacked, and, perhaps, this coming week, I may be ready to start hanging curtains and pictures on the wall.

There are a few missing items that I’m eager to locate. I have a lamp shade, but have no idea where they would have hidden the table lamp itself. Jenny is missing a baby doll, and I know I didn’t do anything with it, but we’ve emptied every box labeled “Girls’ Room.” And most urgently, I would like to find where they put the little brackets that hold the shelves on our three heavily loaded bookcases. I could have the living room looking very nice in a short hour if only I could put the books away.

Unpacking may be a lot of work, but in a way it’s a bit like Christmas. To open a four foot tall box and see a hundred individually wrapped items is like finding a treasure box. All my kids have enjoyed sitting and unrolling drinking glasses, coffee mugs and an occasional vase.

And despite all my efforts to downsize before moving, I have a tendency to reserve a few things that I might need. You never know if that shelf or cabinet or soap holder might be useful or just the right touch for a bare corner. But now that we’re here, I’ve already looked up the Amvets number and can not wait for the opportunity to call them for a pick up. I just don’t want to make them come twice, so I have a bit more work to do.

Off to hunt for brackets, coax juice into a feverish tot, and grill steaks for a dinner salad.

Learning Curve

Every talented and proficient employee was, at one time, a newbie.

Today, our internet and cable installer was on the wrong side of the learning curve. We were, in fact, his first time.

Just remember, those “average” installation times are really “averages.” For every talented and proficient employee who does it in two hours, there are a few installation virgins who take seven.

Driving all over God’s Green Earth

The last two days I’ve been driving all over Ohio. Many of the miles have been unintentional. That’s okay. The weather here has been wonderful, and I’ve been on rural highways lined with green trees and covered by a blue sky filled with thick puffy clouds. On one drive, expected to last a few hours, I allowed the kids to watch a video. Although it netted me a few hours of quiet, I couldn’t help but regret that they were missing such beautiful countryside.

It all worked out, though, since the drive took three hours, and I didn’t permit a second mind-numbing distraction.

My kids have not been on their best behavior. I guess it would be too much to expect them to keep up the act for a whole week! But they haven’t been horrid.

I love that they can go to the homes of strangers or near-strangers and have fun.
I love that they can hug relatives they haven’t seen in a year and be comfortable with them.
I love that they can hang out at the hotel pool and make friends with the kids there.
I love going down for breakfast with one child and having him greet a strange child at breakfast by name.

I love having a minor disagreement with my husband about which way to go (when neither of us have a clue), and discovering, when he took the nearest turn to head in the basic direction that we wanted to go, that he had happened to turn onto the exact street on which I lived for two years.
I love being able to point out to my family that home, and love telling my husband how that quiet street was so noisy to my fairly rural six year old self that I had trouble falling asleep at night when we first moved there.
I love being able to guide him, from memory, to my old church and parochial school, and even remembering the name of the other Catholic Church a few blocks away.
I love stepping inside a church and finding it almost exactly as I remembered it, and love telling my children how I made my First Holy Communion there.
I love remembering a candy shop or bakery across the street where we went a few times after Mass, and looking, and seeing one right where I expected it.

I love having uncles who call me up and invite me over because I’m local, and love having uncles who say they will pick up my husband at 7 am sharp for the men-only Saturday breakfast, and love having uncles who will go to the airport at midnight to pick up my husband in late on a delayed flight, and love having uncles who will host an impromptu cookout for the whole big extended family on my behalf just because I drove up to see them all.

I have 24 hours left in Ohio. I sure hope I don’t do too much extra driving. But if I do, the memories and the family will be worth it.

Links to other people’s photos of my family

Last year on our move from Virginia to Kansas, we stopped in Ohio and saw the same people I’m seeing this trip. But nobody remembered to take photos.

This time around, that omission has been corrected.

I myself have only taken a few photos, and I keep leaving the camera in the car. They will have to wait.

Sarah took a bunch when we visited on Saturday.

My SIL, Heather, took a lot at the pool on Sunday and at COSI on Monday.

I’m looking forward to meeting Barb tomorrow, and then we head northward to see extended family.

Our “stuff” is supposed to arrive tomorrow morning at 8 am sharp. Bill has a late afternoon flight, so please offer up a tiny prayer that all goes well and he gets to the airport on time, unless of course, the plane is going to crash, and then pray he misses it or that it doesn’t or something.

This is the first time in nearly a year we have been apart! Katie was sobbing herself to sleep last night on his behalf. I’m not nearly that dramatic, but I do miss him.

On the road

I’m none too fond of laptops and cramped keyboards, but my husband graciously left his with me, in Ohio, while he makes his way to Virginia to take possession of our new home and hopefully gets our furniture and other stuff delivered.

How was the pack out?

We have a lot of stuff. I don’t like that, but I keep reminding myself that we have a lot of people in our family too. And homeschooling takes up plenty of room, too, between the library, the manipulatives, the supplies, and the games and puzzles that I feel we should have since I have six kids at home 24/7.

But all the stuff made it on to the truck, save for that dinner fork (yes, one of ours) which I packed with my clothes. I had hoped for delivery of our stuff no later than this Wednesday, but that just might not happen. I’m praying for a miracle, and I refuse to worry about what will happen if that just doesn’t work out.

How was the drive to Ohio?

Well. Um. I’m pretty sure I could have (should have) been cheerier. We had vomit, and the barf bag didn’t make it all the way from the front of the van to the back of the van in time. We had many many many many potty breaks. We had a car with a burning oil smell, cause still unknown. We had an unhappy baby. We had a child unable to sleep, but desperately wanting to do so, and demanding a bed in a shrieking sort of way at midnight (which was actually 1 am, since we had crossed into Indiana by that time) causing a (finally) sleeping infant to awaken and add to the din followed by the awakening of a toddler who was also unhappy about being awake.

After some sleep, the drive into Ohio was better.

Visiting friends was wonderful. Living in suburbia, I forget just how quiet a farm is. A bustling city is fun, the suburbs are convenient, but when I spend a few hours on a farm, I can remember how to relax, how to slow down, how to breathe. I think, when this army life is over, I will live on a farm.

And now, finally, visiting with family is the best. The kids are still a bit out of sorts due to the trauma of a move, less sleep than usual, adjusting to a different time zone, more junk food than normal, no real routine, and living out of suitcases. Petey keeps asking to go home. The kids keep saying, very sweetly, “We don’t have a home, Peter,” which gives him fits, and I had to tell them to quit it. We’ll have a home soon.

Bill keeps saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” This is certainly true right now.

Time’s up

In an hour or two, the packers should be here, opening every drawer and dumping every personal item into boxes. They will dutifully wrap individual wooden blocks if nobody stops them, but then drop a Stetson hat in the bottom of a box and dump boots on top of it.


I’m not as ready as I was last time. But it will all get moved. I had a difficult time maintaining my composure yesterday, since I really wanted to scream and cry and lock all the children in a soundproof room so I wouldn’t have to hear their whines and I could actually get stuff done. And there was a moment there, when my resolution for the month was in serious jeopardy. But I took a deep breath and explained to my husband that if he interrupted my laboring one more time to show me something neat he unburied from his desk, I was going to lose it. He backed off, and I calmed down.

Now I’m off to put my clothing in a special “DO NOT PACK” room, otherwise I will spend the next week and a half wearing the same thing every day.

International Law or the Bill of Rights?

Maybe I’m biased, but I think a website that asks for Allah to “curse more American soldiers” should be considered “hate speech.” But I don’t believe that the government should have the right to ambiguously determine what is hateful or not. I despise the whole “hate crimes” mentality. Aren’t most victims of violence victims of hate in some form or another? Why should a dead Catholic’s killer get more time than the dead agnostic’s killer, all other things being equal? So, as long as Samir Khan isn’t telling lies or slandering others, he has my “blessing” to continue to do what he is doing.

I’ll pray for him. Heh. That’s the best revenge anyway.

Mr. Khan is fortunate to live in the US, where the soldiers he curses die to defend the Constitution and its Bill of Rights which protects his freedom to create such a website. Woe, though, to those who live in Europe. In Belgium, a bishop was tried for homophobia for saying he agreed with Sigmund Freud “that homosexuality is the result of hindered sexual development.”

The bishop was acquitted, but even he recognizes that they are falling down that slippery slope: “I know very well that in a few years, I could be imprisoned for holding this position…”

Historians like to talk about the swinging pendulum. The 1920s and 30s and 40s found homosexuals rounded up and put in death camps. Perhaps the 2020s or the 2030s or the 2040s will fill the prisons with anyone who dares to think homosexuality is abnormal. Beware the Thought Police.

I just hope those cursed American soldiers are still around to liberate Europe once again.