The trip to Seoul was wonderful. I went up on the bus with my friend Sara. She has a nursling just one day older than Shane. This seemingly extraneous bit of information will be important later.
We had a nice breakfast and cruised around the BX, which always has different stuff than ours. I admired this Michael Kors bag, but resisted its many charms. Then, off to the thrift store, where the universe delivered on the two bags it owed me after I lost my 'Kate Spade' totes in the great mold epidemic of '08. Note the resemblance between my $6 messenger bag and the $300 MK. I even like mine BETTER.
The highlight of the trip was a massage at the Dragon Hill Lodge salon. The massage room has three massage tables in it. When I went in, there was someone in there already, getting a massage. They pointed me to my table and stood there, waiting for me to take my clothes off. So I did. The massage was unusual in a couple of ways. First, she started on my... umm, errrrr.... 'chestal region'. I had been away from Shane for a couple of hours and I was a little worried that the masseuse would get an eye taken out by Colostra's golden bounty, if you know what I mean. And I think you do. I had my eyes closed and I didn't hear any screaming or dismayed-sounding Korean chatter, so I guess if she got hit it wasn't in a vital area. Then, she kneaded my innards. After that, my arms, legs and back got a lotion/hot towel/treatment and a vigorous slapping around, and she finished by yanking my hair for a few minutes. It doesn't sound very appealing, I agree, but it was surprisingly relaxing.
We had Mexican food for lunch, then got back on the bus to come home. The bus ride wasn't so fun; we had to sit on opposite sides of the bus so it wouldn't tip over.
Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, the author 'Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay' has posted a chapter of her new book, 'Naptime is the New Happy Hour' on her blog. Read it, it will make you feel good, if you're an ordinary good mom. I'm an ordinary good mom, and tonight I hollered off my patio to a friend on the sidewalk that my kids had popsicles for dinner while Shane climbed up the fence wearing nothing but a popsicle stained t-shirt. If that could happen at your house, you will probably like Stephanie's post, and her books. On the other hand, if you are reaching for the phone to dial CPS and report me, the link is probably not for you.
In other news: Tomorrow, I am going to have a relaxing massage/shopping day with some friends, and I am very much looking forward to it. I will have a full report over the weekend.
And, I have received some wonderful entries in the SFK contest; it will be hard to choose a winner. Here is a site I found inspiring while I was doing SuperHero research: The League of Maternal Justice
Today I have a guest post from my friend and neighbor, MeLissa Thresher. We are lucky to have her here- she volunteers everywhere and is always the first one to offer help where it is needed. And, she is hilarious, even in the throes of pain. Here, see for yourselves:
The Kidney Stone Saga.....
Today I felt so good around 3 pm that I naively supposed I must have passed my kidney stones without realizing it.
About 5 pm I started having some strange sensations that I attributed to the lack of chocolate in my system so I ate some.
About 7pm I had the slight notion that perhaps things were not going as well as I thought in my plumbing region.
Currently, 1 a.m., I am in the unmistakable and maniacal grip of the kidney stone fairy who is trying to scrape its way down my pipes. IT HURTS! I am on percocet (took a dose early even) and it still hurts!
My husband, who has suffered this at least 3 times prior, once told me it could be likened to having a baby. I was less than sympathetic and told him unless his kidney stone was the size of a watermelon coming out his hootie-hoo, it was not comparable and stop making such asinine comparisons. I AM NOW WILLING TO SUBMIT! And, I feel totally guilty for those smug thoughts during his traumatic illness.
I am making deals with God at this point and we are now up to agreeing never to miss another church service in my life, and I am afraid volunteering to help with Sunday School is going to pop up unless this terrorizing grip of pain is availed soon.
I know this will not kill me, but I am stunningly close to wondering if death would be a sweet release. Not that I would want to leave my children or my husband mind you. I promised him a few more torturous years than this.
I thought that chocolate could help the situation, but it is strangely ineffective. That is curious since I thought it had such magical properties. Maybe I just need some good Belgian chocolate....hmmm. However, if I ever stop feeling like a razor blade is running down to my bladder, I will probably give chocolate the credit.
I also thought typing on a computer like a mad women would help, but it is not working either. Maybe I can make myself feel better by googling the idiot who printed "Have a Happy Period" on my tampon covers and sign him up for every magazine subscription under the sun.....at least it would pass the time.
By the way, I have been a tad irritable during this ordeal. Mark already made the mistake of saying "Don't worry honey, this too shall pass". He should be recovered in time to move the magazines to the post office for us on Friday...unless he makes another corny remark to me.
Well the percocet is starting to kick in, I guess I will try to go back to bed. Have a happy night........or should I say morning.
Signed, A Very Grouchy MeLissa
PS: For those of you living in my building, if you hear a loud scream later this morning....it will probably be me..........or Mark if he wakes up corny
You decide. Weston is really turning into a boy. Before I had kids I could picture myself with a baby, or with a young, cute toddler. I would be the glowing mom with the flowing blonde hair, flawless skin, and shining white teeth. I would be wearing a spotless cream-colored irish wool sweater and some smart, wrinkle-free khaki pants. In a size 4. Oh, and boots! Brown leather, the kind that make you drool, but that you would never actually buy because they are too impractical and expensive. Weston would be the dimpled blond cherub, in a linen sailor suit. People would stop dead in their tracks wherever we went, in sheer wonder of our perfectness and cuteness. And yeah, it was great while it lasted. My fantasy, I mean. Which ended with the first slash of the OB's really sharp knife.
I could never picture anything beyond the small toddler phase. I didn't have any idea how to imagine having an actual kid. Now I have the kid, and I have no idea what to do with him. In the last week, he has made the following statements, multiple times:
"I am always right!" "I'm the smartest in the whole world!" "I'm the leader!" and my favorite, "I know everything!"
What to say? I have tried 'Nobody knows everything' and 'Nobody is always right' but he insists 'I do/I am!' Who can argue with that? Lloyd just thinks it's funny, and good for him to be so confident, but I'm not so sure. On the other hand, the universe has plenty of time and opportunity to grind him down and remind him of his many failings in the decades to come, so I probably don't need to waste my time and effort imposing humility on him now.
My friend Sara and I have been working hard on the back of our playgroup building so the kids can play back there. We bought a sand table, two kiddie pools, planters, bubbles and sidewalk chalks and paint, and did some more cleaning. Here are 'before' and 'after' pictures. The 'after' picture was taken at our 'backyard pool party' earlier this week. The backyard is not fenced in and we had to nab a couple of escapees mid-flight, so our next project is building a barricade on each side of the 'yard'.
My sister, a very fancy artist who got every single bit of artistic talent in our family, while I got SQUAT, very tactfully suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, my yellow and black construction paper boob-signal could be improved a teeny tiny bit. Well, that's a lie: what she actually said was that I should have a contest and invite people to design a new one because mine was really not very good. Only she said it in a nice way, and I love her idea. Here is the contest:
Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org by Midnight on Sunday, August 31st Pacific Daylight Time (equivalent to 4 p.m. on Monday, September 1st Osan StandardTime). The only requirement is that it be suitable for use on a t-shirt, and for beaming into the night sky, so it should be fairly simple. I like the black and yellow Batman-like motif, but I'm open to anything else. The winner will receive their choice of a t-shirt with the new design on it, a Stories From Korea t-shirt, or my choice of a Korean t-shirt off the economy. E-Lacta girl, Colostra and the others anxiously await your entries.
Most of the time we lead ordinary Osan lives- changing diapers, going to the playground, congregating at pizza night on Mondays, and frantically, furtively shopping online while we suck down wine. Oh wait, that last one might just be me. But when the lactaphone rings or the boob-signal lights up the night sky, beaming a beacon of hope in the shape of a huge shining mammary, we drop everything and bounce into action. I am Colostra, able to destroy vicious organisms in a single squirt.
Some people just call us 'Osan Breastfeeding Support Group, but we call ourselves 'Lactating Superfriends'. That has a much nicer ring to it, don't you think? Wherever nipple confusion rears its ugly head, we will be there. Whenever supply is low, we will be there.
What? I'm crazy, you say? Fine. Have it your way, but if that's the way you're going to be I'm totally not going to show you my suit.
The swap party this afternoon was a big success; tons of great stuff and a good turnout. I wish I had taken the camera; clothes and cookies were flying everywhere. The leftovers went to a group that sends them to an orphanage in Nigeria after we picked out a bag to give to the CDC to supplement their meager collection of extremely ratty clothes. We have had the crud here and I still didn't feel right, so I didn't do to much digging, but I did come home with an inflatable earth ball for Weston, a swim toy for Shane, and a small bag of clothes. Weston loves the globe. He has been playing planets and space games lately. He spreads out a blanket, which is his space lab, and lines up balls for all the planets. Then he invites people over to 'space' to have special space food and drinks, play with special space toys and look at his planets he's discovered. He's an impeccable spacehost, really. When I enter, he says, "Please come in. My name is Weston. What's your baby's name?" When I leave, he says, "Please come again soon". I have been thinking of getting him this.
After the party, Shane and I went to the store to get some popsicles and chicken soup for Lloyd. The first pomegranates of the year were in. It seems pretty early, but I bought one. It is the size of my fist and cost about $4. I hope it's good, but if not, it would make a pretty good Mars.
This is the existing passenger terminal here at Osan. Lloyd's squadron operates it, but it's not part of his department. Earlier in the summer they had a work party to put up the sandbags. They do this every year in preparation for monsoon season, to keep the water out of the terminal. So far, monsoon season has been a disappointing yawner, but the terminal just suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Shane, and it will probably never be the same.
Yesterday we were all invited to the terminal for a squadron lunch. We scrambled over the three-foot high sandbag wall and Weston and Shane headed straight for the Doritos. Weston was also very excited about the prospect of eating hot dogs. He is always interested in eating something he's never had before, and when Lloyd mentions hot dogs he always makes it sound like a real treat, using the super enthusiastic voice I reserve for broccoli and organic tofu.
We had a nice lunch, and the boys had fun being fawned over by the Korean ladies. I was having a nice chat when I heard a shockingly loud noise, followed by explosive laughter. Lloyd had been holding Shane, talking to his boss, when Shane unleashed holy hell in the form of what appeared to be quarts of orange-flecked cottage cheese. Lloyd's flight suit and boots were drenched, and it flowed across the floor. And then he did it again. I had no idea you could fit that much puke into one small human. While I was staring at Shane, slack-jawed in wonder and awe, Weston dug into the hot dog pan with both hands.
What would you do? We ran. Ran like the wind with chunky Dorito-flavored milk splashing behind us and hot dogs falling out of our pockets, like a demented Hansel and Gretel. I think the sandbag wall held back the stinking, glistening tide, but I didn't look back. Lucky for all of us, the Corps of Engineers is working on a new terminal. Entirely coincidental, I assure you.
I'm no stranger to shame; I have kids. This morning Weston, Shane and I went down to the BX to dump some hot chocolate on ourselves, get some black t-shirts for Lloyd, mail a couple of packages, and pick up the mail. The place was packed with Marines, and there was a very stern-faced three star general front and center. The boys were strapped into the stroller, but Shane always starts to howl and squirm as soon as the stroller stops. I had to get him out because I couldn't get the packages out from the under-stroller basket with him in his seat. The second I let him out, all hell broke loose. He is impossible to hold when he wants down- he stiffens up and flings himself while twisting away. I set him down and gave him a little bowl of cheerios, hoping he would be quiet and relatively still for the 30 seconds I needed to mail the boxes. Before I could say 'No insurance, but I'll take all the extra humiliation you have, please', there were cheerios all over the post office floor and both of them were running in circles around the line, hooting like drunken monkeys. The extremely nice person behind me in line picked up the cheerios, and I finally got out of there with Shane tucked under my arm like a football, shrieking like a hyena (Shane, not me). We left the BX and went to the playground, where I vented the morning's frustration to several of my very lovely friends while Shane and Weston ground some dirt into the chocolate on their clothes and skin. I felt better and we went home for lunch. I was working in the kitchen, and all of a sudden it was entirely too quiet. I ran and opened the door, and sure enough, there they were, all the way down the hall, almost to the elevator. Right in front of one of those moms whose kids are always clean, well-dressed, and quiet. Because I am a good mom, I waited until the sitter arrived before I left for the thrift store.
Here is a picture of Lloyd in front of a rice paddy. He is actually standing on a little lip above the ground surface, so the plants are taller than they appear, probably 4.5- 5 feet high. There were not any flowers or heads that I could see.
The red peppers are ripe and are drying all over the place on little covered tables or in huts. We still can't find any local corn, even though there are cornfields everywhere, filled with what appears to be mature ears. We have even seen some brown, withered stalks, so clearly someone, somewhere, is getting some corn. Just not us. The commissary has some packaged corn from the USA, wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, that I refuse to buy. Tomorrow we are going to check out the Emart, because Lloyd is getting desperate: "Corn, corn, my kingdom for some corn!" Too bad his kingdom consists of some moldy luggage and a bunch of pee-soaked cheerios, or maybe someone would pony up.
Ever since I used the word 'whom' in my last post, I have been obsessively worrying about whether I used it correctly. I know the rule, I applied the rule, then I spent a not-insignificant amount of time revising the sentence to avoid using either 'who' or 'whom'. If you are looking for perfection, please click away, nothing to see here.
Speaking of clicking, we were driving through town the other day and I saw an intriguing store. I said, 'I wonder what's in that junk store'. From the back seat, Weston said, 'Click on it and find out'. Think he's been on the computer too much? He has been learning about the planets, and we have been listening live to space online. At show and tell on Friday he took a space book we checked out from the library and told all the kids about the planets. He knows them all, in order, and knows different things about each one.
We went to Vacation Bible School today, then we went bowling. Weston had a good time, but it was torturous waiting for the balls he rolled to make their agonizingly slow way down the lane while trying to keep Shane from climbing the ball racks and running down the lanes. I tried using his 'leash' for the first time but it didn't work out so well. He detested it, and I felt like a cruel jailer.
My most beloved footwear ever, my black motorcycle boots, have been destroyed by mold. It must have happened very quickly because they were in the bedroom closet, and I get shoes out of there all the time. Several other things are moldy, but salvageable. We looked around the rest of the house and some suitcases and other things we have stored in the laundry room/storage area are moldy too. I can live without the suitcases and other junk, but I am pretty broken up about the boots. We have had a long, happy relationship and my new motorcycle bootless reality has not quite sunk in yet.
My nameless friend, whom we shall call Alena, tells me that her husband has corrected her information on the number of beers you can drink per day and still remain under the ration limit. Her husband, who is an otherwise perfectly charming man, is a stickler for accuracy by virtue of his profession. According to his no-doubt flawless math, you can in fact have 6.1 beers per day. So rest easy, beer lovers, and stay out of my way in the wine aisle!
Thank God, they don't ration the wine. Here in Korea, or 'on the peninsula', the military has a ration control system in place. You can read about it here. If you are an authorized shopper, you get a ration card, which looks like a credit card. They scan it when you shop for groceries, or if you buy beer and liquor. The purpose is to deter military and family members from buying items in bulk and selling them on the black market. It seems to me that there is an ample supply of junk food, alcohol, counterfeit purses and other crap available off base, without any need for a black market, but I could possibly be mistaken, as hard as that is to imagine. Anyway, I am much more interested in any potential angst or inconvenience to ME. So far, I have not encountered any issues associated with ration control, although I am guessing we are close to the grocery limit every month. This will change quickly, though, if they start rationing wine. I was talking with some of my friends, who will remain nameless to disguise their lush-like tendencies (you know who you are, ladies!), and found that to stay under the beer ration limit you can have two (2) beers per day. Now, that is plenty for some days, but not nearly enough for others. Why take the risk when there is apparently no black market demand for mid-priced California reds?
I got this email (below, in italics) from my dad this morning.He thinks we should write a book! What do you all think? Anyone interested in participating? I think he is brilliant, except for the Julia Roberts part. She is about the right age, I think, but not nearly haggard enough.Who should play you? Let me know!
Hi - I've been looking at your pals blogs along with yours. Looks like a lot of good stuff for articles and/or book - what ever angle(s) you want to take - foreign posting; child rearing/frustration; military marital angst; or all of the above and more. Not sure how you get permissions to use. Maybe a collaboration with a couple of them. But I definitely see an Erma Bombeck or Betty MacDonald type blockbuster. Who will play you in the movie? Is Julia Roberts old enough or too old? Hey! Can you act?
Osan living is like living in a teeny, tiny town where everyone knows everyone and everything they're doing. And I do mean everything. You don't want to linger too long in the family planning aisle of the BX, for example, if you know what I mean. Or park your stroller in front of the mental health clinic. Or brandish your oh-so-discreetly-wrapped-in-brown-paper package at the post office. And you DEFINITELY don't want to make any jokes about throwing cans of beer at a dog. Even a mean dog. Just for the record, I was not actually planning to throw beer at a dog. Something less messy, like frozen chickens, would be much better.
Some things I have learned the hard way about the small base life:
If you are walking around with an unbuttoned shirt or a smear of chocolate on your face, or both, you WILL run into your husbands boss, or his wife, or both.
If you tell someone you are sick in the morning, by 3 p.m., at least 153 people will have asked you how you're feeling. Some of them you won't even know.
If enough people stop by unexpectedly while your house looks like the thrift store exploded, eventually you will stop caring. I wanted to put up a picture to prove that I am not exaggerating, even a tiny bit, but Lloyd put the kibosh on that idea, so you'll just have to use your imagination. He embarrasses so easily; sometimes I almost feel sorry for him that he has to live with me. But that is another post (or two, or three.....) for another day.
I have always been a Paul Newman fan, of his acting, his interest in organic foods, and his philanthropy. Not so much the car racing, but he didn't ask me. I don't know why. Plus, of course, he is very handsome. But don't tell Lloyd; he has a bit of a jealous streak.
But now I really, really love Mr. Newman and Newman's Own. Osan Parents Network (OPN), the parenting and kids activity group I am involved with here, is one of 15 recipients of the 2008 Newman's Own Award. The Newman's Own Award is an annual grant for innovative programs to improve the quality of life for military families, courtesy of Newman's Own and the Fisher House. You can read about it here. We will receive $5,000 to develop a kids community garden, a drama group, a parenting library and to make improvements to the building we use, including some small climbing structures and a kitchen. Osan is a small base and there are not a whole lot of resources for toddlers and preschoolers, so this will make a huge difference for us.
And in other great OPN news, our website is up, thanks to the fabulous and talented Helen. You can check it out here.
In a few weeks, we are going to be having a kids stuff swap party here at Osan. Everyone brings their outgrown bags of kids clothes, maternity clothes and overpriced gear and plastic toys. We set it all up and then everyone digs through everyone else's castoffs and goes home with bags of new, free goodies. It's a ton of fun and it's great to get new stuff, but it really irritates me I can't think of a better name for it than 'kids stuff swap party'. Really, how boring is that? And it's not even accurate. It's not really a 'swap'; it's more like communism. Each donates according to her assets, if you consider Gymboree, OshKosh and Fisher Price to be assets. And I do. And each takes according to her needs, if you consider TCP, Hanna and Melissa & Doug to be needs. And I do. That's classic Marxism, right? I feel like a real little dullard that a clever name is not on the tip of my tongue. So I turn to you , my faithful reader, or Dad, if you prefer: can you help me out with another name?
Every week, Jezebel.com has a feature called 'Fine Lines', where they take a fresh look at all the books you loved as a kid, all the Judy Blume books, 'Go Ask Alice', and all the rest. Here is their take on 'Little House in the Big Woods'. This cracks me up, because I just posted about LHITBW a few weeks ago, and I do remember 'common taters on the axe'! It comes from 'Those Happy Golden Years', the book where Laura is in her last year of school, just before she and Almanzo get married. The whole town gets together every Friday night and has these soirees in the schoolhouse. One week they have a spelling bee (Pa wins, natch, on the word xanthophyll, if you must know, after Laura blows the ending because she is thinking of the word grecophil). The next week Pa and his pals dress up like "Darkies" with black greasepaint and all and sing a song and rattle some bones, and I just have nothing to say about that but sheesh. But the capper is when Pa walks up the aisle in his regular clothes, carrying his axe, with some potatoes impaled on the blade. Well, the whole town is stumped; he is acting out 'Commentators on the Acts' and not one of those townspeople can figure it out. That Ingalls has done it again!
Hi! My name is Anna, and I am a blogaholic. But that's not my problem. My problem is that everyone else's blog is cuter and more clever than mine. I can stand it when it's a big-time blog that makes money and everything, but I also read a lot of blogs written by people I know. They have all kinds of designs, counters, sidebars and blogrolls that I can't figure out how to do, and that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that they are all having more fun than me, their husbands and kids are more accomplished and better behaved than mine, they look beautiful in green dresses, and they probably get more packages in the mail than I do. It's like getting a Christmas newsletter every day! I suppose they have no hair growing out of their big toes, no raisins mashed into their carpets, and no dents in their walls. Where are all the blogs written by grumpy, sloppy hermits? Besides mine, I mean.
Lloyd was talking about roosters tonight, and it reminded me of the story about a rooster named Rasputin. Since about four people might read this, and three of them already know the story, I'll try to keep it brief. When we were living in Pensacola, Lloyd used to buy quail and plant them in the bushes and then take Ranger out to train him to sniff out birds, or whatever it is hunting dogs are supposed to do. Besides fart and snore, I mean. One day when he was buying his quail, the redneck he bought them from asked him if he wanted a rooster for free, because it was fighting with his other chickens and he needed to get rid of it. So Lloyd brought it home, which is just crazy, because we lived in a subdivision with a no-chicken rule.
When he got home, he got out of his truck and heard a huge racket coming from the bird box, and it sounded like the rooster was beating up on the quail. Lloyd is a huge fan of the underbird, until he puts them in some bushes for a dog to eat, so he opened the box and grabbed the rooster. The rooster went crazy, and Lloyd swung him around, accidentally bashing his head against a tree. In our front yard. In the no-chicken subdivision. The rooster went limp and finally Lloyd started to think. He thinks, "Hmmm, Anna's going to be home soon and she is not going to like this dead rooster situation. I know! I'll throw him over the back fence and she will be none the wiser!" Behind our back fence was a strip of woods about 75 feet wide, and it ran the length of our chicken-free street.
The next day, I was laying on the couch. I should mention here that I was on crutches from falling through the attic onto the garage floor, so getting up and trucking myself to the back yard was not an easy task. Lloyd was outside messing around and he came tearing into the house yelling that I had to get up and look on the back fence. So I hobble into the back yard, and to my surprise, there is a brain-damaged rooster sitting on the back fence, with his head all cocked over, making a sort of demented warbling noise. At that point, Lloyd had to tell the whole story, and we named the rooster Rasputin, for he who could not be killed. Or, he who was difficult to kill, at least.
Pretty soon, Rasputin got his crow back, and he started to crow bright and early every morning, annoying the neighbors in the no-chicken neighborhood. One day, we had a visit from animal control. Some of the neighbors had complained of a rooster crowing in the neighborhood and they thought it was coming from somewhere around our house. Had we seen it? And could they check our back yard? Luckily Rasputin had some street smarts because he stayed out of sight. The chicken cops left and didn't come back. Then Lloyd started thinking Rasputin might be lonely, and one day he came home with two hens, and promptly chucked them over the fence. And for all I know, all three of them are there to this day, living in polygamous bliss.
Hurricane Daggett and Thundering Mama. Thanks to Dad for the suggestion; that's a winning combination for sure! I'll write the story behind 'Hurricane' soon. Thundering Mama speaks for itself, I think.
Weston and I are going to start our own roller derby team. Remember the Charlie's Angels episode where Jill goes undercover on a roller derby team? We'll be just like that. Now we just need to think of a name. I like something with 'Thundering' in it.
Here are some photos of Shane playing in a box that came in the mail from Grandma the other day. Weston went to Vacation Bible School this morning at church. He had a good time, though he didn't want to go beforehand. Lloyd stopped on the way home to check on his painting. It has the third ship burning in the background now, but the smoke is not quite right; it should be drifting with the wind and not going straight up into the sky. I'm pretty sure I could have learned some Korean swear words today if I had been paying attention, but they were hard to make out through the gritting-teeth smile.