Promises, promises

Bill was to work a half day today.  We have a joke about half days.  How may hours are in a day?  How many hours are in a half day?  If you only worked 8 hours, you didn’t even do a half day, right?

“I’ll be home for dinner,” he promised Billy.

I sighed.  Audibly.

I think I even rolled my eyes.  How does the song go?

You make me…promises, promises…

“Mom!” said Billy.  “Make dinner at 4!”  A great idea.  But it won’t work.

I left about 5:15 pm to go get the pizzas…with coupons I got two large take and bakes for $7.21.  Not bad.  Bill always calls when he’s on the way home, but he hadn’t called yet.

Knew you’d never keep…promises, promises…

By the time I got back, he had called.   He won’t be here when the pizza is done, but it’s better than most nights.  And nobody will burn the roof of their mouth.

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Understanding Female Behavior

We were at a function yesterday and Mary told me she had to go to the restroom.  I took her.  When she was finished, I told her to wait a second because I had to go, too.

“Did you know you had to go?” she asked.

“I have had to go for a bit,” I explained, “but I was waiting for you.  I knew you’d need to go soon.”

“Did you want company?” she asked.

“Not really…”

“Were you scared to go by yourself?”

“No, honey, I just didn’t want to go twice.”  I’m not sure this explanation satisfied her.  It’s much easier to assume that her mom, like her and her sisters, must instinctively use the buddy system when going to the restroom.

An unbiased observation of Fatherhood

In discussing Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis with Fritz, we talked about how a “being” could not possibly observe any sort of law of human behavior merely by watching humans.  So, whereas, one might observe squirrels and say, “All squirrels gather nuts,” one could not say “All men are kind” or “All men kill” or “All men would try to save someone who was drowning” or “All men eat meat.”

The other kids tried to come up with some.  Katie suggested “All men drink water” but many people drink lemonade or soda instead, so that wouldn’t strictly be true.  I also discounted things like “All men breathe” since we’re not discussing life functions but rather life choices.  Squirrels, I suppose, might choose to not gather nuts…but they don’t.  Humans, though, routinely choose things that are not in their best interest, for good or ill.  Humans might not gather nuts or do any other activity which would prepare them for the needs of tomorrow or next month or next year.  But then other humans do, some to excess.

Great discussion.

Mary’s contribution, though:

“All dads drink beer.” 

Such is the view from her eyes.

Baby Fever

A friend I hadn’t seen since 2010 made an unplanned visit on Friday.  My kids hadn’t seen her kids in 3 years…too long.  None of us had met her youngest baby who is the cutest thing and at a great stage – crawling, laughing, smiling, nursing upside down, squirming away from diaper changes. 

Later, I told Bill about the visit.  “Dominic is so cute!” I gushed.  “He makes me want to have another baby.  Can we?”

“I think I can arrange that,” he said.  It’s so nice when a couple agrees on such matters.

From Discipline to Politics

I had a meeting on post last night.  I brought everybody, except for Fritz who had CCD.  Billy was not at all happy about having to come.  He wanted to stay home with Fritz, and he is old enough to do so.  But, unfortunately, this child has demonstrated that following house rules when parents aren’t around is not a priority.  We have a no TV or computer rule for school days, but that just doesn’t seem good enough for him.  I’m not mad about it; he is still very immature, and some personalities are less obedient than others.  I have accepted that I will likely battle him over every single rule until the day he leaves home.  He, though, has not accepted the reality that I will battle him over every single rule until he leaves home.

“Aw, Mom, can’t you give me another chance?” he pleaded when I explained why he didn’t get to stay home.

“Of course I will,” I said, patiently, “when you are older and have matured a bit more.”

“But I’ll be 50 by then!”

“Yes, that is very likely,” I agreed.

At the front door, with me pointing to the van loaded with everybody else, he tried his final argument.

“I want to spend time with my brother!”

I answered him with silence.

“He’ll be going away to college soon!  I need to spend as much time with him as I can before that happens!”

It didn’t work.

*******

It’s military protocol to have 8 x 10 color glossy photos showing the chain of command posted on some wall in every unit.  I don’t know all the rules or requirements, but, for example, if you walk into a military hospital, somewhere there will be a photo of the hospital commander, and probably the hospital Command Sergeant Major (the highest ranking NCO)…then there will also be a picture of the hospital commander’s boss, and that person’s boss, and that person’s boss…all the way up to the Commander in Chief.  It’s actually not that many pictures – no more than a dozen.

The same series of photos is on a wall in my husband’s office building showing his battalion’s chain of command.  Last night, after the meeting, I encountered Mary and her dad looking at the photos.

“That’s Obama,” said Mary, pointing to the Commander in Chief.

“That’s right,” I said.  Then I asked,  “And who is Obama?  What’s his job?”

“He kills babies,” said Mary.

Um.  Political rhetoric a bit high at our house, you think?

For the record, I did have her repeat the title: President of the United States.

*******

Speaking of politics, I am convinced that Fox News really thinks that Mitt Romney is The One to take on Obama.  And I think they’re kinda freaking out about Rick Santorum.  This is the only way I can explain why all the articles about the impending Alabama/Mississippi primaries were how Gingrinch would likely win because he’s a good ole’ boy, but that Romney was still going to do really well and how he is polling strongly.  And then after Santorum won, they’re all how inevitable Romney’s victory is anyway, and why don’t these other bozos just give it up for the good of party unity, and how, really, when push comes to shove, more people think Romney can defeat Obama than Santorum can.

I’m still trying to figure out how the same article can say that polls show Romney beats out Santorum among fiscal conservatives, but that Santorum wins among Tea Partiers.  Um, last time I pad any attention to the so-called Tea Partiers, their agenda was all about fiscal conservatism and had nothing at all to do with social issues, which is why I didn’t really get involved.  I think fiscal conservatism is important, but I think it goes hand in hand with social conservatism (for example, if more women got married before having kids and stayed married while they raised their children, there would be fewer woman and children requiring government assistance to meet basic needs…funny how that works…).

We’ll see where it all goes.  But I find Fox News’ coverage very interesting.

Picking my own poison

The past few weeks (months, really) have been stressful (hellish) as we’ve watched our estimated date of moving shift ever closer to my baby’s estimated due date.  I have lots of experience moving, and I have lots of experience having babies, and one thing I feel very strongly about is that these two “events” should not happen at the same time.

In many ways, moving and having a baby are very similar.  Both change your life, and life-changes are anxious times.  Both require a certain amount of preparation.  Both have a time of intense chaos that lasts a few days or weeks, followed by a time of less intense insanity that goes until a month or so post-event, followed by a hopefully easier, but still somewhat stressful period as everybody involved makes their final transition to the new normal.

Many of the decisions you make and the work you do beforehand, contribute significantly to the level of stress throughout the process and the recovery period.  For example, spending the last month of pregnancy cooking and baking and filling your big freezer with food your family likes to eat is, without a doubt, one of the simplest but most productive uses of that nesting instinct that pays huge dividends once that baby comes.

Savvy military moms might instantly recognize that having a freezer full of food is great for a new baby, but not at all conducive to a move.  In fact, one of the preparations for a move is to use up as much of your stocked food as possible, certainly, at least, the perishable stuff.

Another great preparation before having a baby is to have a well-sorted and organized house.

Not a house full of boxes.

The list of conflicting preparations goes on.  Hence, the additional stress. 

One thing that is good to do for both these situations is to think of all the things that can go wrong and how you will deal with them.  What if that luggage carrier you intended to put on the roof of your car won’t work (been there)?  What if you find out that your car can’t pull a trailer (done that)?  What if your household goods won’t be delivered for two weeks?  What if the babysitter gets sick and can’t watch your older children?  What if you have a c-section?  What if the baby has jaundice?  Of course, in working out these situations, often all that one can do is accept the possibility and know that you will just have to deal with it (in the case of a c-section, for example).  Other situations, like having multiple babysitter options or packing some essential kitchen supplies in your car, have tangible actions that can be taken to minimize the pain when things go wrong.

And even if you can’t do anything to prevent something from happening – like jaundice in a newborn – you can seriously consider that having movers at your house within days of the baby’s birth is not a prudent course of action.  Do I hear an Amen?

For weeks, I have been in a mental rut, spinning through different ways to handle these upcoming changes.  I came up with Plan A which, although imperfect in many ways, tried to ensure the most success of both situations.  The biggest downfall was that it was going to cost a lot of money.  Plan B cost less, but favored a successful move over a successful birth.  Plan C meant a good birth, but nothing else: no leeway if there were post-birth issues, and the move was certain to be a disaster.  My husband was not helpful in coming up with better plans.  I talked to several people, and they could help me see other issues and flaws in the three plans, but no decent solutions. 

I finally asked (begged) God for mercy and guidance, and did mange yesterday to come up with Plan D.  It’s not perfect, either, and I know it’s not done: details will change, possibly the entire time line may get shifted and we’ll likely end up executing Plan E or F or G.  But this is the first plan that has flexibility, that balances well the issues of both situations, and doesn’t cost too much (moving always costs some money, the question is how much, and that is generally answered by your personal comfort level and how much you enjoy sleeping on air mattresses…and when you are extremely pregnant or have a newborn, the answer is: not at all).

But now, at least, I have some peace of mind in knowing a basic timeline, knowing how that timeline may shift (to the right and not to the left), and knowing what needs to be done beforehand for a better chance at success.  I am much calmer this morning than I have been in a long time.

*******

Finally, after that productive meeting of the minds with Bill that got me a working plan for the next 4 – 5 months of my life, I remembered that it was a new month.

“Oh!” exclaimed I to my husband.  “It’s a new month!”

He looked at me.

“What are we going to name this baby and who will be the Godparents?”

He laughed.  “We have plenty of time for that,” he said.

“OK,” said I.  “We’ll talk again next month.”  

Just as we did last month and the month before.

The Evolution of Dinner

“I hope dinner turns out ok,” I said to my husband just now.

“How could it not?” he asked.  Rarely do I serve yucky food.  I mean, I like to eat, and I like to eat good-tasting stuff.  I really avoid food that doesn’t taste good.  My kids haven’t figured this out fully yet, and still actually turn up their noses at dishes like Apple Crisp.  There is some hope: Fritz has proven that, as they age, they get more daring (or just hungrier) and are willing to actually try different things.  Frequently, he will say something like, “Wow.  This is really good,” in reference to some dish I have been making for 15 years.

But tonight is an experiment in leftovers and things from the pantry.

First off, I had gotten a big pork loin on sale a while ago, and happily served it to a guest this past week.  The loin was huge – over 4 pounds – and we had more than half left over.  We ate some as leftovers, but that gets boring quickly.  I googled “leftover pork” recipes and found lots of stir fry type dishes.  I’ve done that before and wasn’t overly interested.

We also had a lot of mashed potatoes leftover, so I googled “Pork shepherd’s pie” and found a recipe that I used as a base for what is in my oven now.

Although we had a big pile of potatoes, I know that Fritz, who loves mashed potatoes, won’t be thrilled with the shepherd’s pie.  I had to reserve some potatoes from the casserole.  But I didn’t think there were enough potatoes to feed both my teen boy and make the shepherd’s pie.  I do have some more red potatoes, but…I also had two sweet potatoes that I’ve been trying to use up.  They came in the veggie box from a local farm I support.  We’re not huge sweet potato fans here, and my husband, especially, prefers them with tons of brown sugar and other things designed to completely disguise the taste of the sweet potato.  But I decided to risk cooking one and mashing it in with half the regular mashed potatoes to see how that tasted.  It seemed pretty good when I licked the beaters.  We’ll see what he thinks in a little bit.

Next, the recipe mentioned drippings/gravy.  I have a jar of turkey gravy in the pantry that I have had since, probably, Thanksgiving.

“There’s not much difference between turkey gravy and beef or pork gravy, is there?” I asked my husband.

He raised his eyebrows, wondering if, for once, my dinner would disappoint.

Lastly, I have a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer that needs to go.  I managed to get half the bag added in, even though the recipe doesn’t call for anything like that.

Oh, and I used up all my dijon mustard recently, and refuse to buy more until after we move, so I substituted some brown deli mustard I want to get rid of.

And so this is how dinner evolved.  I’m going to go clean the kitchen now and check the oven, and we’ll see how things taste in just a bit.