Friday, January 30, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Sometimes I wish I Twittered. You know, for the times that I have just a little something to say, but not a whole post worth. Like today. This is what I'd twitter:

Breakfast at Tiffany's: cold pizza, bbq chips, jelly beans.

Of course, Tiffany is not her real name, but I have a policy that no one gets outed on Stories from Korea. Except for me. And sometimes Lloyd.

But the Twittering wouldn't tell the whole story, limited as it is to 140 characters. It's not as if Tiffany INVITED me to breakfast and then served junk food. No, I went there for an entirely different purpose, and if the truth be known, I invited myself. Once there, I realized I had missed breakfast, second breakfast AND elevensies. If you have ever met me, you will know that I was in a foul mood. Purely as a result of deprivation, I can assure you. Out of her generous spirit, or well-developed instinct for self-preservation, Tiffany offered up the contents of her well-stocked kitchen. After roaming it, sniffing the air like a cartoon wolf, I inhaled the pizza, chips and jelly beans.

Hey, wait a minute. I just realized the whole story doesn't make me sound so good. Excuse me while I go rethink this Twitter thing.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You can teach an old blog new tricks!

I found a new thingie! I added a 'reaction' box to the posts. If you want, you can click on one of the boxes under each post. You can choose from 'I likey' or 'not so much'. Don't worry, if my feelings get hurt I'll just take the boxes away. And go eat worms. Long slim slimy ones; short fat juicy ones. They go best with wine.

Scene today

I went out this morning for my semi-daily trek to the BX/post office. As on many days before this one, I deeply regret that I didn't have my camera. Even if I had had my camera, the pictures would never have lived up to the fabulous ones I can see in my head, so it's probably for the best. Here are some imaginary postcards from Osan:

1. Partially clothed, full-sized dummy laying in a pristine, snow-covered field surrounded by troops dressed in full camo, helmets and gas masks.

2. Harried mom with a bandana in her hair, grasping stroller tire and jumping into cab outside apartment building.

3. Large snowperson, approximately eight feet tall, armed and dangerous and facing north.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The trouble with boogers

I love boogers. There is nothing so satisfying as honking out a big, green, sticky booger. You know you think so, even if you won't admit it. That's okay, you don't have to fess up to me. Just never, ever try to deceive yourself. That's your unsolicited advice for today from Stories from Korea. The only thing that even comes close to the BSQ (Booger Satisfaction Quotient) is ripping off a big crusty scab that's starting to flake around the edges but still has a good grip on the interior. You know what I'm talking about.

On to my booger problem: I think we've established that I have a pretty good handle on my own boogers. The boogers in question are Weston's. He has a snootful of thick, clingy, green boogers sticking to both nostrils. There is no picture; you're welcome. He is not able to blow them out, and he won't let me touch them. I can't stand it; they are RIGHT THERE on the edge, just begging to be yanked out. I have tried EVERYTHING: kleenex, a warm wet washcloth, the baby booger sucker. I have tried to pry them out while he's sleeping. I have had conversations with the boogers:

Me (in high-pitched singsong voice): We love being in Weston's nose. We're having a booger party! We don't want to come out!

Weston (shouting): NO! We hate you, you ugly boogers! You're mean and not cute! We're going to get you out right now!

He is then willing to have me try to get them out, in an attempt to ruin the boogers' fun, but they're stuck to his skin and don't readily come off, and we're back to square one. Yes, I am tempted to hold him down and rip them out by force. Very tempted. But I won't. His body belongs to him, boogers and all, and I respect his right to decide what is done with it or to it. But I'm not giving up the blogging rights; my respect only goes so far. If the boogers were life-threatening, it would be a different story, but so far the only negative consequence is my child-induced humiliation. And I'm no stranger to shame.

So if I see you on the street or in the store, and I start the conversation with, 'HiHowareyou. Yeah,wehavecoldsI'vetriedeverythingtogetWeston'snoseclean,whatcanyoudo,' you'll know that what I really mean is: Please don't think I'm a bad mom and tell the next ten people you see about my kid's gross nose, thanks.

And, to the boogers I say: Live long and prosper, my friends.

Fort Neptune


Yesterday, Weston and I started construction on a fort on our deck. It's not just any fort, mind you. It's a fort on Neptune. I first proposed Charon or Pluto, but Weston informed me that they are not really planets, and so it would be foolish to build a fort there. He decided Neptune would be a much better place. Better resale value, perhaps. So far, materials used include seven trash bags full of snow, three gallons of warm water and 23 ml of food dye in yellow, purple and blue.

Fort Neptune will be staffed by armed snowpeople of various hues. The 116th Neptune Infantry Division will stand up this afternoon. If construction of a prison is required increased taxes in the amount of one ziploc full of snow may be assessed. The Fort Neptune prison facility is not an option for displaced prisoners from Gitmo.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy New Year!


Happy Lunar New Year! Monday is New Year's Day, lunar edition. This weekend is a huge Asian holiday. Traffic is terrible all over the Korean peninsula because everyone is traveling, and it started to snow yesterday. We have about five inches now, and it's snowing like crazy. I'm super glad everything we need is a short walk away. Tonight, the road condition is red, which means no one can drive on base. I just saw a couple of Air Force members in dress blues walking down the middle of the street. The dress blues are the fancy outfits with the shiny shoes. One of them was a woman, and she had on the skirt and pumps. Crazy.

We went out sledding today in our emart/thrift store sleds, and a good time was had by (almost) all. Shane has steadfastly refused to slide, which is a little perplexing, because he is completely fearless in almost all other regards. Today I watched him grab the kitchen counter with his little monkey hands and walk up the vertical cupboard door, spidey style. He didn't quite make it all the way up, but it was close.

I have to say, I have a small issue with the sleds myself. Neither Lloyd nor Weston seemed to have this trouble, but I could not get the sled to stay straight and upright. I veered off and crashed every time, and I could feel every pebble and blade of grass under the snow as I gracefully glided careened painfully down the hill.

I felt like the heroine of the princess and the pea story, remember that one? Just to refresh your memory, somehow the princess gets screwed over and forced to masquerade as a poor person and is later proved to be a princess because she can feel a pea under twenty mattresses, ruining her precious beauty sleep for the evening. Boy, I could tell her some stories about mattresses and pee that would curl her hair; she wouldn't even need any beauty sleep! I was feeling a little snarky about princesses just now, but then I started thinking: princessing is probably a pretty hard gig these days. The Prince Charmings (or is that Princes Charming?) are going broke or getting indicted, or both; and the nail salons are closing all over town. It's a rough life, sweetheart. Not that princesses have anything to do with sleds. I know that, really. I just don't like princesses. So sue me.

Anyway, I carefully examined the flimsy sweat shop sleds for any sign of lumps, bumps or other manufacturing flaws that might affect their performance, but found nada. I am forced to conclude that if something is misshapen, it is probably me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Epidemic


Holy cow, I got ANOTHER email from a disenfranchised Sudanese girl. Her name is Fanny Deng, isn't that cute? And I love how she calls me dearest. Check it out below. Can you believe it?! It's an epidemic of plane crashes, conspiracies and evil uncles! The next thing you know someone's going to come up with some hare-brained scheme about the Kennedy assassination. What is this world coming to?!?!?!? Well, no matter.

What's important here, obviously, is helping this poor girl. And collecting my portion of that $10.4 million. I still haven't gotten all that money you wired me for Jena Justin Yac, so get cracking, people!

Hey, I just had a brilliant idea! Shocking, I know. Maybe these two gals could form a union, and/or start a class action suit against the evil uncles. If I was still on my first glass of wine, maybe I could even think up a good name and acronym for the union.





- Dearest,I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart.My name is Fanny Dominic Dim Deng, 22yrs old, female and I held from Sudan. My father Lt. Gen Dominic Dim Deng and my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials had been on board when the plane crashed on Friday May 02, 2008. You can read more about the crash through http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7380412.stm After the burial of my father, my uncle conspired and sold my father's properties to one Chin ease Expatriate and live nothing for me. One faithful morning, I opened my father's briefcase and found out the documents which he have deposited huge amount of money in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I traveled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care of myself. On my arrival, the Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in person told me that my father's instruction to the bank was the money be release to me only when I am married or present a trustee who will help me and invest the money overseas. I am in search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own sister. Though you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you may be the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle have threaten to assassinate me. The amount is $10.4 Million and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso. You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable business venture in your Country. However, you will help by recommending a nice University in your country so that I can complete my studies. It is my intention to compensate you with 10% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment. As soon as I receive your interest in helping me, I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am affraid of my weaked uncle who has threatened to kill me. Sincerely yours,Fanny Dominic Dim Deng

Dangerous fun

video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Look at my fabulous new header!


Speaking of talent, look at my new header! Isn't it awesome? As much as I would like to claim art of any kind on my own personal list, I try not to tell any huge lies on Stories from Korea. The full credit belongs to my immensely talented brother-in-law, Stefan. He is VERY clever in multiple artistic arenas: graphic design, photography, furniture design, architectural details, metalwork, and woodwork. If there was a decathalon in the artistic Olympics, he would totally win. What? There's no artistic Olympics? What a ripoff! But it's a new day in America; I'll just add that to my list for when I'm Queen of the Universe. It should happen any day now; I'll keep you posted.

This is a recent picture of Theodore Bear at 6.5 months, proof of Jennifer's number 3 talent.

Talents

After I wrote this post, my sister chastised me. She told me that instead of writing all the things I can't do, I should list the things I'm good at. What a good idea, I thought. I could call it 'The Shortest Post Ever'. Here are some things I can do:

1. I can read fast.
2. I can stay on a diet. If I want to.
3. I can make food out of almost nothing.

I really like this idea; if you want to, please make your own talent list in the comments!

Monday, January 19, 2009

When I am queen of the universe....


As Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day draw near in the United States, I am thinking about dreams. Here in Korea, MLK day has come and gone, and it's already January 20th. I know lots of you can't wait to hear how this historic inauguration goes, so I'll let you know hours before you can see it in the states. Stories from Korea is always ahead of the curve!

My dreams are more modest; I don't even want to be president. Good thing, too, because I think there might be some highly incriminating photos out there somewhere. No, I just want to be Queen of the Universe, and when I am:

1. Military spouses will never, ever be referred to as 'dependents'.

2. There will be a stroller/wheelchair ramp on every single sidewalk/road crossing.

3. Formula companies will be prohibited from their evil and deceptive marketing practices across the world.

4. The greedy, ruinous activities of paid special interests lobbyists will stop, saving our democracy from a slow, ugly death.

That's it. For the first day. Next on my list is 'evil dictators', followed closely by a variety of bad '-ists' and '-iles': racists, misogynists, conformists and pedophiles, to name just a few.

Neighbor kids

The neighborhood kids around here are very entertaining. You just never know what you're going to get when the doorbell rings. Once, we got a turtle from a couple of little girls carrying it around in a tupperware-type container. 'Our mom said we had to get rid of him,' they said. Unfortunately, Lloyd was home at the time, and so, the turtle was invited to live with us. I reached out to take the container, and the older sister said, 'Our mom wants that container back.' Now I have a turtle AND I know what dinner invitations to decline.

Last night a charming and polite little boy I didn't recognize rang the bell, looking for Miss Julie. I told him where Miss Julie lived, and he went on his way. About ten minutes later, the bell rang again. When I opened the door he said, 'Excuse me for interrupting you again. I don't mean to make fun of you, but is this the house where the washing machine caught on fire?' We assured him that, no, that wasn't our washing machine, but the next door neighbors'. He then shared some personal information about his family and asked all of our names and how old Weston and Shane were: 'And how old is this little guy?' Then he asked if we were SURE that it wasn't our washing machine, because he had heard it was our apartment number. Lloyd helpfully pointed out the correct door and told him to go ask them about it.

Before he left, I asked him if his mom knew where he was, and the truth came out. He said, 'No, she's at the movies, but my dad knows where I am.'

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thirsty kitties

I walked into the kitchen this morning after hearing the 'glug, glug, glug' of the water dispenser. Weston and Shane were crawling around in a big pool of water and licking the floor.

They explained that there were thirsty kitties and had to drink off the floor because that's what kitties do, forcing me to actually utter the words: 'The next time you need to drink off the floor, please put the water in a bowl first.'

I followed that up with another winner: 'Hey! Wanna watch TV?'

Friday, January 16, 2009

I have to teach someone social skills now?

There is no shortage of things I am not good at: sewing, solving a Rubik's cube, trimming my bangs, scrapbooking, and playing poker, to name just a few. But my social skills are really substandard, and always have been. I was a gawky, awkward child; a tentative, self-loathing teenager and now I am an adult who reluctantly muddles through social situations with clenched teeth and crossed fingers. So how the hell am I supposed to help Weston figure out how to solve his social problems?

I obviously can't model successful behavior for him so I am reduced to mouthing platitudes when Hannah doesn't want to play kitties, or when Jack wants to play Star Wars clones and Weston doesn't. I have tried several things, and I was really optimistic when I taught him to ignore someone. We role played and everything. I played Weston first, to show him how to ignore, then I played Jack while Weston practiced ignoring me. It worked great, and he loved the game. Yesterday he had a chance to showcase his new skills.

We were playing at Jack's house and Weston didn't like what he was doing. I have no idea what it was he didn't like and I don't really care. All I wanted was for the squealing to stop, immediately if not sooner, and I reminded Weston of the techniques he has at his disposal when someone's behavior doesn't suit him. He decided to ignore Jack and was super excited about it. So excited that he said, 'Look, Jack! I'm ignoring you!'

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Family pictures


These are some pictures taken by my friend Tori last month. Aren't they GORGEOUS? I am really excited about them, and I haven't even seen them all yet. She also did some wonderful nursing pictures for us.

Alas, Tori has moved back to the United States of Target so all us Osanites are out of luck. But if you live in Maryland and want some family photos, she is definitely the girl for you.



If you can send a geologist to the moon....

Why can't you send them all there?


*updated to add: I have no idea what is wrong with the font on this post; I have tried to fix it and failed multiple times. But then, I'm just a stupid geologist.


Nothing like a little geo-humor to liven up the day, right? You might be surprised to know that there are many, many geologist jokes. And by that I mean actual jokes that are funny. To geologists. Not geologists that are jokes. Though of course there are many, many of those, too. But, here's the real surprise: Geologists are actually useful sometimes! Engineers, not so much. Except when they calculate how many beers, to the nearest tenth, you can have per day and stay within your alcohol ration.

Source of Moon's Magnetism Found

Moon rocks delivered to Earth by Apollo astronauts held a mystery that has plagued scientists since the 1970s: Why were the lunar rocks magnetic?

Earth's rotating, iron core produces the planet's magnetic field. But the moon does not have such a setup.

Now, scientists at MIT think they have a solution. Some 4.2 billion years ago, the moon had a liquid core with a dynamo (like Earth's core today) that produced a strong magnetic field. The moon's magnetic field would have been about 1-50th as strong as Earth's is today, the researchers say.

The MIT team found evidence for the molten-core theory by analyzing the oldest of all the moon rocks that have not been subjected to major shocks from later impacts — something that tends to erase all evidence of earlier magnetic fields. In fact, it's older than any known rocks from Mars or even from the Earth itself.

The rock was collected during the last lunar landing mission, Apollo 17, by Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the only geologist ever to walk on the moon.

"Many people think that it's the most interesting lunar rock," said MIT's Ben Weiss, who is senior author of a paper on the new finding being published in the Jan. 16 issue of the journal Science.

Weiss and his colleagues used a commercial rock magnetometer that was specially fitted with an automated robotic system to study the rock's faint magnetic traces. The results helped them to rule out the other possible sources of the magnetic traces, such as magnetic fields briefly generated by huge impacts on the moon. Those magnetic fields are very short lived, ranging from just seconds for small impacts up to one day for the most massive strikes.

Rather, the rock readings showed it must have remained in a magnetic environment for a long period of time — millions of years — and thus the field must have come from a long-lasting magnetic dynamo.

That's not a new idea, but it has been "one of the most controversial issues in lunar science," Weiss said.

Until the Apollo missions, many prominent scientists were convinced that the moon was born cold and stayed cold, never melting enough to form a liquid core. Apollo proved there had been massive flows of lava on the moon's surface, but the idea that it has, or ever had, a molten core remained controversial.

Their findings fit in with the prevailing theory that the moon was born when a Mars-sized body crashed into the Earth and blasted much of its crust into space, where it clumped together to form the moon.

Introducing C Mike Dish

C Mike is my dad, and C Mike Dish is his new blog. You can find it here, or on the sidebar right under the OPN community blog. For your reading pleasure, here is the introductory post:

It was always fun to "go down to Renton" on the weekends and pa was always generous in taking us along when he went. Downtown in those days was really where the action was. Three movie house on 3rd street (Roxy, Rainier and Renton); Hub City Drugs (lots of toy guns and caps); eating out at Longacres Cafe where my mother worked for awhile; just the general break in the rather rural routine at home. Trouble was, to GET to Renton and home again required two passbys of The Boulevard Tavern, aka "Frenchy's". This watering hole, just north of the south entrance to Gene Coulon Park, was a social gathering place for local folks and pa had trouble not stopping there to visit and drink with friends and neighbors. So we kids, either eager to get to the big city or tired and wanting to go home, sometimes both, would have to stay in the car in the parking lot for at least one beer. If his visit lasted awhile pa would come out to the car with treats, usually a nickel cellophane bag of Planters Peanuts. While we were happy to have the peanuts we also knew the "wait" was really on. This routine was actually one of the more harmless associations I have with Frenchy's - quite a few family and friend's tragedies were spawned there - but I hated it nevertheless and vowed I'd never do that to MY kids. And I never did. I just kept on driving.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two years ago

This is a picture of Weston from early 2007. I found it while looking for some pictures for a double top secret project, soon to be revealed. No luck with what I was working on, but I love this picture. Funny, though, I don't remember it at all. Perhaps because I was enormously pregnant and preparing for an upcoming PCS to Korea while my husband was in the sandbox. Boy, those were some great times.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Excuses

I have a jillion and three entries in the pipeline: musings on social skills, ramblings about the future, all the latest from Korea, and a few little surprises. Fascinating stuff, I tell ya. But:

1. The swimming lessons are kicking my butt;

2. It is January 13th and it seems like the entire year has gotten away from me already; and

3. Lloyd is working a weird schedule this week, forcing me to do bedtime BY MYSELF. This pretty much ruins me for the entire evening and into the morning, when I have to do the swimming lessons, which, as I may have mentioned, are KICKING MY BUTT.

So, we have been watching tv and not blogging. Or cleaning, or cooking. Or getting dressed, if you must know all the dirty little details. Which leaves me with a question for you: When did Sesame Street stop ending with the 'Adventures of Trash Gordon' and start ending with those ridiculous 'Adventures of Gina the Veterinarian'?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fire in the hole

I went to the grocery store this morning. I always go on Sunday because the commissary is closed on Monday, and the period from seven o'clock on Sunday night to ten a.m on Tuesday lasts approximately as long as Operation Iraqi Freedom when you have no coffee, chocolate or baby wipes. While I was paying for my goods, the fire alarm went off. Smoke started pouring out of the customer service area at the front of the store, and the sprinklers went off. Fortunately, I had already checked out so I got to take my groceries with me, but most people had to abandon theirs. On the way home, I started thinking.

The commissary blaze is the third fire in less than two weeks. First was the New Year's Eve fire, then came the kitchen fire the other day. I didn't mention it earlier because it is slightly embarrassing: I put some oil on to heat up so I could brown some beef cubes for stew and forgot about it. It was pretty impressive as far as kitchen fires go- the flames were at least two feet high and they left scorch marks on the hood and screen over the stovetop.

Pretty weird, huh? But then I figured it out. The fires are my hummingbirds! I'm not sure why Jennifer gets the actual beautiful birds while I get hot, smelly, dangerous smoke and flames but I guess mine is not to wonder why, mine is to... wait, I don't want to finish that in light of the whole fire thing.

So, I get it, Wilma! Enough with the fires already!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dearest, I am writing to you with tears and sorrow from my heart

I got this in my email just now. Clearly, this poor girl needs some assistance. Please wire me much money and I will help her out right away. I am the only right one to aid her. Upon receipt of your transactions I will capitalize you with the proceeds. You will also help me get out of South Korea to your fine country where I will complete my studies.

Love to all my dearest,

Anna


Dearest,I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart. My name is Jena Justin Yac , 24yrs old, female and I held from South Sudan. I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart. My father Dr. Justin Yac Arop was the former Minister for SPLA Affairs and Special Adviser to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for Decentralization. My father Dr. Justine Yac and my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials had been on board when the plane crashed on Friday May 02, 2008.You can read more about the crash through the below site http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7380412.stm After the burial of my father, my uncle conspired and sold my father's properties to one Chinease Expatriate and live nothing for me. One faithful morning, I opened my father's briefcase and found out the documents which he have deposited huge amount of money in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I traveled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care of myself. On my arrival, the Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in person told me that my father's instruction to the bank was the money be release to me only when I am married or present a trustee who will help me and invest the money overseas.I am in search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own sister. Though you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you may be the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle have threaten to assassinate me. The amount is $14.9Million and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso. You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable business venture in your Country.However, you will help by recommending a nice University in your country so that I can complete my studies. It is my intention to compensate you with 10% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment. As soon as I receive your interest in helping me, I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am affraid of my weaked uncle who has threatened to kill me. Sincerely yours,Jena Justin Yac.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Swimming Lessons

Weston started swimming lessons this week. He goes on Monday and Wednesday for a half-hour lesson. While he is having his lesson with Miss Cathy, Shane and I go to the baby pool. The pool is about a quarter of a mile away. It's a five-minute trip by either car or stroller. Sounds easy enough, right? Shouldn't take too long; maybe an hour or so? What are you, NUTS? Or maybe you're a non-mom and thus unfamiliar with the logistical issues associated with taking two small children, well, anywhere. I could plan an invasion of North Korea in the time it takes to get ready for the pool, go to the pool, get ready for the lesson, have the lesson, get ready to come home, and travel home. I am not exaggerating when I say that the swimming lessons are consuming the entirety of the first half of the week, starting with Sunday night.

There is the endless preparation: Toys! Clothes to wear to the pool! Clothes to change into! Snacks! Drinks! Swim Diaper! Clean diaper for after! Extra clothes in case the first clothes get wet! Breakfast, not too early and not too late!

The decisions: Car or stroller? If car, stroller or no stroller? How to corral Shane while helping Weston change his clothes? Allow the crappy vending machine snacks or endure the screamfest? Is it okay if I don't hose them off in the shower before we get in the pool, because HOW DRAINING!

Then, the aftermath: The back-arching to avoid going into the stroller; the gross and time-consuming fascination with the brightly colored community flip-flops lined up by the door; the shrill, ear piercing complaints (I'm coooolllld! I don't wanna waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallk! I'm hungry! I'm hungry aaaaannd thirsty!); the fatigue that requires me to lay on the couch all afternoon with a wet cloth on my head, drink in hand, while the kids torture each other unchecked and watch 'Strawberry Shortcake'. Then it starts all over on Tuesday night.

Today, we got out without too much trauma, because Monday's experience gave me some hard-earned lessons. I took Shane in his sleeper so we wouldn't have to mess around with his shoes. I strapped him into the stroller so he couldn't run off and get wet again while Weston was getting dressed and I gathered up the 16 cubic yards of crap we can't go anywhere without. Then, we came out of the pool and Weston saw the playground next door and remembered I had told him last time that he could play after his lesson next time if he wasn't screaming when we left. And he wasn't, so I had to let him play. I let Shane out of the stroller to play in his sleeper, because, really, what else was I going to do?

They were playing happily when a woman walked by, saw Shane in his sleeper, and turned and gave me a very unpleasant scowl. Obviously, she must be child-free. I could read her thoughts as clearly as if she'd had one of those cartoon thought bubbles over her head: 'God! Can't she put some clothes and shoes on that kid? It's 35 degrees out here! How much effort can it take? When I have kids I'll never be that lazy!' I hope, someday, if she does have some, she will remember this day and feel very sheepish.

As an aside, this sign was at the playground. Should I be concerned? I certainly don't want my children exposed to some lowlifes who might be doing an IVF cycle or taking interferon, epinephrine, insulin or some other illicit substance.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The mama is kind of crummy



Weston has been really interested in families lately. He plays mama and takes care of his baby, he pretends to be the baby and makes Shane be the big brother, he plays mama and daddy with the neighbor girl. The game where Shane is the big brother is the funniest, because the 'baby' spends all his time ratting out the 'big brother': 'The big brother let the baby play with something sharp! The big brother kicked the baby and he doesn't even feel bad inside!' The game with the neighbor girl is entertaining to watch, too- last time, they were going to have a baby, and it was going to be a girl they would name 'Llama'.

He also makes families out of toys and found objects. There is always a mama, a daddy, a big brother and a baby. Each family member is of the appropriate size: the daddy is the biggest, the mama is medium-sized, the big brother is a little smaller, and the baby is the littlest.

This morning we were walking back from church together and he wanted to collect pine cones in the grass out in front of the Turumi Lodge. I was enjoying my coffee while he bustled around, until I heard, 'Hey! The mama is kind of crummy!' CRUMMY?!?! Why, you ungrateful little....

Bristled up, I said, 'What do you mean, mama is crummy?!?!?! You'd be crummy, too, if you were up half the night and a baby was sucking the life out of you one drop at a time, and...' Then, I looked down. In his hands was a bent-up, medium-sized pinecone, and he said, 'The mama's crummy. Look, she's all mashed!'

All I can say is: I hear you, pinecone sister; it's tough to be a mama!

Friday, January 2, 2009

I love a good mystery


I think it's safe to say I have plenty of laundry experience. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew everything I needed to know about laundry, which is that I loathe it. Oh, I don't mind the washing and drying part. In fact, there is something supremely satisfying about decimating a huge pile of dirty clothes. No, it's the folding and putting away that I can't stand. But I never realized laundry could be mysterious.

Behold, the unknown objects of mystery retrieved from the dryer, with the pack of gross green apple gum for scale. There are four of them, and it looks like they might possibly fit together somehow.

I have never seen them before, and have no idea what they could be part of, or where they came from. I suppose it could be bits of the innards of our low-bid Government issue laundry equipment. The rounded yellow piece looks a little like a helmet; maybe one of the sweat shop rodents that turn our state of the art Mouse-a-Tronic 5000 dryer drum has lost his protective gear. And the orange piece looks suspiciously like a mouse-sized ray gun, which concerns me more than a little. Workplace violence is a serious problem, especially if it might spatter blood, hair or entrails on my off-whites. But at least we don't have arsonists in our laundry room. I have recently learned that the great New Year's Eve fire was started in a washing machine, which makes me think there might be more going on here than meets the eye. Perhaps the laundry work force is trying to unionize and the big laundry bosses are trying to keep them in line, the rat bastards. That's so typical, The Man trying to keep the workers down. Workers Unite! Power to the rodents! On the other hand, I haven't seen any furry bits, making the whole mouse scenario seem a bit far-fetched.

I showed the pieces to Weston and asked if he knew where they came from. He has a pretty good handle on our toy supply, but he didn't recognize them either. Then, he started speculating about where they might have come from. Someone could have come in and put them in our laundry! Who would do such a thing, I asked. A baby would! How would a baby be able to reach the washer? The baby used a stool! A stool? Very clever, this ninja baby. But how would the baby get in the house while we were gone? The baby brought the stool to the door, climbed up and opened the door!

So, there you have it. If you see a sneaky-looking baby cruising around with a stool and a bag of little plastic toys, lock your doors! I don't think the baby can pick locks just yet. And invest in some teeny-tiny picket signs and a full-sized fire extinguisher, just in case.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last night, thinking about last night....



Did your mother ever tell you to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident, and make sure your house is clean in case the Fire Department has to break in? Turns out, that might actually be good advice.

Last night started inauspiciously enough. Ella and Bennett came over to play while their parents and baby sister went to a party. Weston and Ella took all the sheets, blankets and pillows in the house and piled them on the deck chairs in the living room to build a fort. Shane and Bennett pushed cars, trucks and trains up and down the hallway. At bedtime, Ella and Bennett went home and Weston and Shane reluctantly brushed their teeth and went to sleep. The blankets, sheets, pillows, cars, trucks, trains, toothbrushes and other assorted detritus from the festivities were scattered willy-nilly all over the house.

Lloyd and I had a glass of wine and were getting ready for bed about 11:30 after having messily scattered more stuff around when the fire alarm went off. Now, this is not just any fire alarm. It's a very loud woman's voice coming through a speaker in the ceiling. The voice firmly repeats: 'May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. A fire has been reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit and evacuate the building.' Then there are three piercing shrieks, and it starts over.

We've been through several of these alarms in the past, all thankfully during the day, and we had talked about having clothes and things ready to go in case there was one in the middle of the night. But as you probably know, talking doesn't really get you squat, in terms of being able to put warm clothes on yourselves and you children in the middle of the night. So, out we went into the frigid windy night, dragging blankets and dangling children. Lloyd was relatively well-dressed, but I had on summer pajama bottoms, an inside-out sweatshirt, mismatched socks, and clogs. The hallway outside our door had the acrid smell of burning chemicals, so it probably wasn't just the neighborhood hoodlums out playing with roman candles. After we got outside, the Fire Department herded us into the hospital lobby to wait it out with all our friends and neighbors.

So, there we were, just minding our own business, when the Fire Department came looking for us, because they needed to CHECK OUT OUR APARTMENT. 'Su-ure,' I stammered, 'Go ahead, it's open, and don't worry, there's nothing to find there, I stashed my weed and my grenades here in my purse.' No, no, I didn't really say the last part, but I was thinking it. One of my character flaws is making jokes when I should just keep my mouth shut, so I figure I did good. Or better than usual, anyway.

Off they went to check out the apartment and I was left sitting there, thinking 'At least we weren't in an accident.' We made a mad dash for the hotel on base and camped out for the night, enjoying the sounds of a loud party next door until after 3, when Lloyd went over and asked them to quiet down. The Fire Department let everyone back in sometime after we went to the hotel, so I guess everything is hunky-dory now. Everything looked normal when we came back this morning, and the smell was gone. Lloyd looked around and said, 'This place sure is a disaster!' I replied, 'Maybe the Fire Department tossed it,' and he said, 'If they did, we'd never be able to tell.'

As I type this, Lloyd is frantically cleaning the living room, getting together a 'midnight fire alarm' kit, and running a load of unmentionables.

Happy New Year!