Flannel in Florida

Yesterday, it was HOT.  Just like today is hot, and the upcoming forecast is all hot, and last week was hot and it’s been hot the entire time we’ve lived here.  Go figure…it’s Tampa.  It’s hot.  I get it.  You know it’s fall because it’s just a little less hot than it was last month, and the nighttime temperatures, on rare occasions, dip below 70 degrees.


Peter has his first soccer game on Saturday, and he does not have soccer shorts.  The team doesn’t provide them (that’s fine), and he isn’t restricted to a particular color or style.  Just comfortable shorts.  He’s been practicing in his regular shorts which are mostly heavier cotton, many with zippers and pockets.

Yesterday, I decided enough was enough and went to Walmart to buy him some athletic shorts: elastic waist, nylon.  So the kid wouldn’t be quite so HOT in this HOT weather.

There were no nylon shorts available.

The only shorts that were available were denim or khaki (school uniform).  And there weren’t that many of them.

When Bill came home from work, I asked him, “Was it HOT today?  Do you know what they were selling at Walmart?”

“Flannel shirts?” He guessed, but he was joking.

“YES!” I said.  And long sleeved shirts, and long pants and fleece vests.  I couldn’t even find any clearance racks with shorts or other summer weight things.

My kid are still using the pool daily.  The unheated pool.

I finally looked in the girls’ section and found 3 pairs of boys shorts that looked like they were waiting for a clerk to find a home for them.  One was size 4, one looked like it was the bottom half of a pajama set, and the last one was size 8.  It might fit Peter, but I’ll likely have to stitch the waist to make it smaller.


Awkward Moments

Before Mass, I was speaking with a woman and she realized ours was a military family.

“Oh, there’s a group here of military wives…did you know that?”

“No, I didn’t,” I replied invitingly.  Perhaps, I thought, that is what I need.  Homeschool friends are great, Catholic friends are great, but I really really think military friends are The Best.  I have some absolutely wonderful military friends.  Unfortunately, we have all moved away from each other.  That which brought us together has also pulled us apart.

The woman mentioned the name of the group and some of the things they do.  “They’ve had quite a number of funerals, too.”

“Oh.  Really.” I said soberly.

“Yes, one man had never seen his baby, except on Skype.  Another one had been over there only one day.”

“Oh.  My.”  I replied, thinking, perhaps this is not the group for me.  I don’t know how other military wives feel, but a group whose mission ends up being bereavement support is not something I can get excited about.  I don’t mean that I wouldn’t be there for my friends, or even complete strangers, if that was required.  If anybody ever needs to go shopping for funeral attire, I hope they call me, for no one should go alone to do that.  But it is one thing to step up to a task set before you, and quite another to go looking for people to help. 

I’m sure the group is not really a bereavement ministry, but the woman didn’t really sell me on it.


During the homily, the man behind me leaned over to his wife and whispered, “What is that sound?”

That would be my baby, loudly eating his dinner.  I felt myself blush, and didn’t hear the wife’s answer.  Mary was the same way, and I hated being in a quiet, public venue with her.  I looked it up and he must be doing it with his tongue, since his lips are properly turned out.  The website said it’s only a problem if it hurts the mom (it doesn’t) or if the baby isn’t gaining enough weight.

About that…

I have to go back to the doctor in 9 days to have him reweighed.  I have been weighing him periodically since his last appointment 9 days ago.  After 1 day, he was up 1 oz: good.  Two days after that, he was down almost half an ounce: terrible.  The next day, he was up almost 4 oz: fabulous.  Two or three days later, he was the same weight: depressing.  Today, he was up from the beginning weight by just shy of 8 oz in 9 days.  This is a fine weight gain in that time period, especially since he has had zero formula.

Oh, but the emotional highs and lows of reading that scale!  Sheesh.  It’s almost as bad as the emotional highs and lows of measuring my own weight.

Undivided Attention





“What does ‘mmmmm’ mean?” asked the 4 year old.

Technically, it means, “I am reading an article on the computer.”  But instead of saying that, I said, “It means, ‘What do you want, Mary?'”  Then I deliberately turned from the computer to face her.

I’m trying to model respect and courtesy.  Trying to give real people the attention they deserve.  These distractions aren’t going away, and will only get worse in time.  I think I need to establish a media-free period of time every day…

George at 2 months

George had his 2 month checkup last week.  We are now at the point where he only gets a bottle for my convenience, not out of necessity.  I’m confident in my milk supply and positively convinced that he is satisfied with his feedings.  He nurses often, yes – all my children did.  But he’s not constantly clamoring for more and unhappy all the time.  No, that was how things were in July and some of August.  But not now.

And yet…oh, the child is scrawny.  And the doctor was very unhappy with the reading on the scale.  “This is the World Health growth chart,” she said, meaning not just well-fed Americans were used to calculate the data, “and he’s at zero.”  Zero.  Hey, Mom, you’re a big failure.  Your kid’s a big fat skinny zero.

Ideally, they want babies to gain an ounce a day, but a half ounce a day is still acceptable.  He is at that bottom range.  I think, since he hasn’t been to see a doctor since he was 2 weeks old, that his gain is better now than it was a month ago, but she wants me to come back in 3 weeks to prove it.

BTW, we discussed the whole issue with not being able to come in for a weight check at one month, and she said that I could have called the nurses at the clinic directly or brought him in for a sick child appointment instead of a well-baby weight check or whatever I mistakenly called it.  She wasn’t being accusatory, as in, I should have done it…rather, helpful, as in, here’s how to game the system.  This makes me really mad – not for me, because I already know those tricks – but for other moms, including myself back in 2003 when Bill was deployed and I was negotiating Tricare for the first time and I had a starving newborn and really needed help.

Weight issues aside, this kid is a cutie.  He is happy, interactive, alert.  When the nurse came to do his shots, he completely derailed her litany of what to expect and how to deal with it by his smiles and facial expressions.  And even after getting three shots, he calmed down very quickly.  He’s just easy to please.  Within reason.

School with a newborn is difficult, even if he is good-natured.  The big kids help out by holding him whenever I let them.  I think Billy is reading history or geography here.

I see this view a lot: baby slung over a sibling’s shoulder.  I’m still his favorite, but he loves everybody.

Do you think my boys need haircuts?  Not the little guy, but the big ones.

The only thing, developmentally, I’ve noticed about George is that he doesn’t coo as much as my other kids did.  Maybe it’s still early.  I remember Mary didn’t use many words when she was 15-18 months old, but she cooed when she was an infant.  Maybe he’ll be the opposite: silent unless speaking profound thoughts.  I think his genes are making that unlikely.

All of these pictures were taken in the last week.  George doesn’t mind being placed on his tummy as long as it’s not for too long.  Katie has gotten him to roll over, but his arm was just right.  He doesn’t know yet how to make his arm just right.  When the earlier photos were taken, he was doing a good job holding up his head.  By the last photo, he was pushing up his chest as well.  By the time I got the camera, he was tired, so it was not nearly as high as it had been.  But they grow so quickly, these babies.

And do you see that intently focused look in those top two photos?  He is, I am sure, admiring the neat hand-stitching of his new quilt, a gift from Barbara.  Isn’t it pretty?

Incorrigibly Lazy

We live in one of those gated neighborhoods which are very common in the Tampa area.  I’m not a snob, and I have no illusions that the gate does much to keep bad people out.  There are paths on either side of the gate, so you can freely walk into my neighborhood.  And all you have to do is wait for a car who has the coded sticker on their window or a driver with the right code, and follow them in.  This just happens to be where I found a house in our price range, big enough to comfortably fit us, and available when I needed it.  The gate was not a factor in determining which house to rent.

Because of the gate, the school bus doesn’t come in.  Students get dropped off at one entrance or the other – one about a half mile down the road from the other.  If you made a complete loop through the neighborhood, including the outside bit along the public road between the two gates, you will have done a 5k – convenient for those of us who run, or wish to run.

By this calculation, the farthest any student would have to travel from their home to the bus stop would be under a mile and a half.  Every time I go out in the afternoon to take a kid to something or run an errand, I see a dozen cars or more parked at the entrance, waiting for the bus.

I realize that, like me, some parents need to rush their kids off to after school activities or on errands.  Or they need the kids to come home quickly to do homework before rushing off to activities.  Or maybe sometimes the weather is bad (afternoon thunderstorms being very common this time of year).  Or maybe a kid is injured or has some other condition that prevents them from walking.  And maybe that kindergartener who lives all the way in the back of the neighborhood would have a hard time trudging that full distance.

But is it possible, even likely, that most of these parents just think it’s too much for their children to walk home?  Or too dangerous to walk down the sidewalk in a gated neighborhood?  I know that in some communities (on military installations, for example) an 11 year old would not be permitted to walk home alone (and I think that is ridiculous), but must they be picked up in a car?  Surely, not all these children live clumped at that mile-plus section of the neighborhood.  I’m sure they are spread out – a half mile or three-quarters of a mile away instead.

We have NYC outlawing soda in large quantities in the fight against obesity.  I think the problem isn’t the food we eat as much as it is the reality that we just won’t exercise, even when it’s the natural and necessary thing to do.

Home Ec

If not for Katie, we would be eating PB&J for dinner every night…late.  I have a menu plan.  And I have the food in the pantry or fridge or freezer. 

But things always seem to crop up when it’s time to actually start prepping the evening meal: hungry baby, cranky baby, soaking wet baby…husband in a time zone 7 hours ahead who wants to skype before bed…just things.

Today was meatloaf, and I was on step one when my husband emailed saying he was available to talk.  Katie offered to take over and I have a recipe, so it would be easy enough for her to follow along.  Some recipes are in my head and not very specific (search fridge for available ingredients, add some spices, cook until done), but this one is written out.

I went to the office to call him and told her to ask me if she wasn’t sure of anything.

Like Worcestershire sauce.  She didn’t know what that was.

And I had some penciled in correction regarding the eggs that the recipe required.

And then she wanted to know what “cat soup” was.

“Cat soup” is spelled c-a-t-s-u-p.  That was pretty funny.

Then she wanted to know how to mix it.  I think this was the first time she ever touched raw ground beef with her bare hands.  She survived.

Dinner was yummy.

Madagascar Moment

My husband told me he had to go TDY (out of town on Army business) for 45 days.  I took it like a cheerful, yet resigned, Army wife.

Later, he realized the miscommunication and told me it was only 4 to 5 days, not forty-five days.

Imagine my elation.

Keep in mind, if I had heard 4 to 5 days originally, I would have been just as cheerful, yet resigned.  Now I am simply cheerful.

New photos

 I downloaded some photos.

Katie’s 11th birthday.
All the kids, some with red eye.  I don’t know how that happened.
Bill had a birthday, too.

Mary is upset because her birthday is LAST.  Billy’s is in February…and then we go through everybody, but she is last.  She does not at all understand that we all get them annually.  She thinks we’re just being mean and making her wait the longest.  It’s not fair, I hear, all the time.  She knew that Katie was first, and then Jenny and then it was her turn.  When we threw Daddy’s birthday in there, it was like we were letting him cut in line.

Capturing special moments.

 Fritz has some rash, mainly on his legs.  Definitely an allergic reaction to something.  Of course, this appears in the late afternoon on a Friday before a holiday weekend.  We called the doctor on call who was not particularly helpful…really, what can you do over the phone?  Take benedryl and call me next week if it hasn’t gotten better.  Bill went to the store and could not find liquid benedryl.  Fritz has been unable to swallow pills, which makes life difficult when you are adult in size, and need medicine.  He had a delayed gag reflex as a tot, too.  We convinced him to try – again – to swallow a pill since they were small and gel capsule-types.  He did it!  I fussed and told him how proud I was and tried to get a picture to always remember this special day.  But these teens are always so camera shy…

Mary fell asleep reading the newspaper.

How I found her.

What was underneath.

I got some shots to update my sidebar.  I have to add George, as Jennie pointed out, so I may as well fix them all.


Not so.

This kid needs a haircut, badly.

Formal portraits mean no smiling, apparently.
Biggest brother.

Littlest brother.



You just want to eat him up.
Hair still wet from swimming.

5 minutes later – dry hair and an unexplainable cut on her lip.  Lovely.
This is how I look half the time – “Child, do you know what you are doing?”

Nice, but take one more for good measure.

Last one by Billy.

Katie’s shot.  I got new glasses.

 Perhaps, soon, I will update that sidebar!  And fix the header.  And write the birth story…

Computers, booze and football

On my new header: {sigh}  Too wide.  And I don’t have time to fix it.  But at least we’ve gotten away from hot crossed buns.

Bill and I went to the Class VI and found they have a “clearance” aisle.  We “needed” a bottle of rum, having finished our other bottle.  There was no rum on the clearance racks.  There was a wide selection of wine, so I picked out a few.  Then Bill made a lady who worked there laugh out loud when he said, “Oh!  We’re gonna need a cart!”  They had two bottles of Himbeer Liqueur, which we also happened to be out of, also on sale.  We took them both.  Good stuff.  We usually go through 1/2 to one full bottle per Oktoberfest.

On our Oktoberfest: I was worried about the parking situation in our new neighborhood, since we had not EVER seen a car parked on the street.  But last weekend, somebody had a cookout and lots of extra cars.  I am relieved.  Now we just have to pick a date.  This will be our 8th annual one.

Billy was absolutely convinced that the NFL season started TODAY.  Even the schedule at ESPN did not do enough to calm him down when he could not find any games on TV.

If it’s not football, it’s Civilization V on my computer.  But I have bills to pay and weekly school lists to print (and blog posts to write), so I told all my nagging boys that they could not go on the computer until I was done.  But I wasn’t on the computer, I was holding the baby.  They protested, but I said it was very difficult to type on the computer while holding the baby, so they would have to wait until he napped.  Suddenly, the boy who is quick to hand the baby to mom at the first whimper is all about holding the baby no matter what.  Just get your work done, Mom.

On fantasy football: Two years ago, Bill created a fantasy football league for our family.  He called it the Hanseatic League, because he’s a dork like that, and teams include cities like Riga and Dortmund.  There are ten teams this year.  Three belong to extended family adults.  Last year, two teams were friends of the boys, but they dropped out this year.  This is fine because Katie and Jenny wanted to play for some reason.  So now alongside the Koblenz Krushers and the Danzig Defenders, we have the Pomerania Pink Puppies and the Saxon Purple Ponies.  I really don’t think football was supposed to be that estrogen-laden.

My poor husband, though, was lamenting that 7 of the 10 teams are in our immediate family.  He’s the one who does most of the managing, and referred to the project as “Bill’s fantasy football league.”  Billy has much more time on his hands, and is way more interested in following the sport, so I think Bill needs to show him how to do it.  Of course, that’s one more thing to do on my computer.

OK, enough fun for the day.  Back to paying the bills so that I can get off the internet.