Plumber and Mechanic

March 30, 2008

I know I should be happy with whatever profession my children choose in the future. Currently Noah vacillates between being a garbage truck driver, tiger trainer, and taxi driver. But I would really, really like it if one could become a mechanic and the other one could become a plumber. Seriously every family should have one of each, right? It is now early Sunday morning and the emergency plumbers are here "helping" us for a very "nice" fee. They are nice guys and it is a relief to know we caught the problem before leaving town....50 gallons of water stagnating in our house for a month would not have made for a happy homecoming! But back to my original thought/desire...I hope I have a future plumber and mechanic in the making. Now to stock our home library with plumbing and mechanical books for kids.


So it is now 1 in the morning. While I was blogging a little earlier this evening about our wonderfully relaxing day on the river, Adam asked me to take a look at the floor in the hall. He said "Does it look bumpy to you?" ... "Well, yes, it does look bumpy". Turns out our water heater has been leaking large amounts of water which have now crept under the wood floors. Adam is on the phone trying to get in touch with an emergency plumber to deal with the leaking water heater. And I guess we will also need to contact someone about the floors. And yes, guess what? We are supposed to be leaving tomorrow morning....I guess it is a good thing we discovered it before leaving again. Can things get any crazier? Guess I should stop asking that question.


A year ago Noah begged to take part in the free kayak rides at the spring river celebration....but we said he had to become a stronger swimmer. Today he did it! It was a great day. Live music, beautiful weather, picnic with friends, two happy kayakers, and a welcome escape from the recent stress.

Urine and Vapor Rub

March 28, 2008

I think those pills must be working (or maybe it is just my sleep deprived delirium) but when these events unfolded this afternoon all I could do was laugh. I sent Camille outside to eat a popsicle. She was naked because that is the best way to eat popsicles when you are two, but she insisted on wearing shoes. All was going fine until she peed all over her leather shoes. I brought her inside and started to fill the bathtub. All was going fine with that until Noah decided it would be funny to lock the door to the bathroom and pull it shut behind him...locking us all out of the bathroom (Camille and I were standing in the hallway dealing with the wet shoes). Luckily Noah made the wise decision to shut the water off in the tub before doing his monkey boy business. While I was trying to figure out how to pick the lock. Little Miss Monkey (still covered in urine and popsicle juice) decided it would be fun to smear Vick's Vapor Rub all over her already sticky body. Let me just say this in case you ever wondered...Urine and Vapor Rub is not a good combo. And rubbing Vapor rub on one's favorite bunny is also not a good thing. Looks like we'll be doing a special little load of laundry before bedtime tonight.

Losing It

The stress of all the recent travels, changes, deployment details, upcoming travel, my dad's upcoming surgery, the messy house and mounds of mail are starting to get to me. I have not been able to sleep for three days and today I broke down in Camille's classroom when I realized I had brought her to school without shoes. I should have payed more attention to the state of my mental health when I took her to the park yesterday and realized too late that I had forgotten to put any pants on her...yes, that dirty (but happy) child running around the park in a diaper yesterday was mine (but at least she had shoes on). Camille's teacher is one of the most calming people I have ever been around. She has a very soothing voice and reassuring presence. We all love her (Camille even named one of her favorite baby dolls after her). I now know part of the secret to her amazing calmness. In the midst of my little breakdown, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a pill and instructed me to drive down the street to the health food store for the supplement she takes when feeling stressed or anxious. I followed her advice. At the health food store I explained my recent sleep and anxiety issues to the woman in the pharmacy area, she gave me a knowing look, told me her husband was currently deployed and yes, these pills will help. I left the store feeling hopeful.I came home took my first dose (L-Theamine), took a long shower, and I do feel better. Now just hoping to finally get a night of good sleep. I have so much to do and being so tired I can't seem to get anything done during the day.

Teacher of the Year

The reason we went to Portland was because Adam was attending a large military medicine conference. In addition to attending lectures, he gave one and also competed in a poster presentation. He always enjoys this particular conference because there are so many interesting lectures and we have fun catching up with folks we haven't seen in awhile. The highlight this year was when Adam was awarded teacher of the year (amongst all military family medicine residencies across all branches of the military). He was very shocked especially since this is only his second year of teaching in a residency program. But I am not shocked. Adam is a natural teacher. He has incredible patience, energy, drive, and creativity. He puts a lot of thought, time, and planning into his work. He loves what he does and it shows. I am so proud of him and so happy that his skills and his hard work have been recognized in such a big way. This photo was taken at last year's conference. I wish I had known he was getting the award so we could have been there to celebrate with him.

Ferries and Fairies

March 27, 2008

Fairy houses continue to be a popular activity...even while traveling. It became a little confusing when we told Noah we would be staying at a house near the "ferries". Our brief stay on Bainbridge Island was fun because we had a rocky beach and a front row seat to the ferries. It reminded me of our little house on Shore Drive in Bremerton...similar beach, daily ferry viewing, and bald eagles. Bainbridge Island Fairy House
California Fairy House built by Noah and his cousin, Brooke

Coming and Going

March 26, 2008

We have been caught up in a whirlwind. After our time in Portland, we headed north to Washington state where we had a great time catching up with friends from Okinawa now living in Mt. Vernon and then then back down to Bainbridge Island where we caught up with more wonderful friends. Our trip was cut short when we received the sad news that Adam's grandfather had passed away so we headed south to San Francisco. Gramps was 98 years old and quite a character. I have vivid memories of him dancing at our wedding party...8 years ago with the spirit and energy of a 19 year old. He painted passionatedly, loved telling jokes, and didn't hesitate to share his thoughts. May we all be blessed to live such a long and fulfilling life!

While in California we received more details about Adam's upcoming deployment which has sent us into another whirlwind of planning and preparation. We decided that since Adam will spend the month of April working out-of-state that the kids and I would join him to maximize our family time. We returned late last night and spent today unpacking, washing, and starting to pack to leave again in three days. My head is spinning with random details, my body is exhausted, and my nerves are a little frazzled as I try to regain some stability in the midst of our recent comings and goings. I'll try to post more photos soon from our recent travels.

Portland Museums

March 19, 2008

My first trip to Portland was when I was around ten (one of our stops during our summer long train trip around the United States). I remember being so impressed by the science museum and was excited to visit it again...strange to return so many years later with my own children (they actually still had some of the same human body exhibits up!). The highlight of OMSI was the submarine tour. Former submariners were on board to point out details and talk about their experiences....I don't know how that many people can live and work in such tight quarters!In addition to the science musuem, the kids and I visited the Forestry Museum and the Children's Musuem. Both were very impressive with a wide range of hands-on activities. Karla and the kids met up with us at the Children's Museum. The boys had fun playing with clay, acting on stage, and shooting balls up into the air. The girls had fun running around trying to keep up with the big brothers. It was one of the best children's musuems I have ever visited (but I guess with so much rain the indoor activities need to be good!).
The other thing I am impressed by is how family friendly this city is. Many local restaurants have kid play areas...funny to walk into local brewery where the lego table is next to big windows overlooking the brewing area!Also, as a note to those from the Nook (or anyone who has recently read "Omnivore's Dilemna") most menus in local restaurants identified the sources for their produce, meat, dairy etc (same in some of the groceries, too). And way too many good restaurant choices...a foodie's delight. So many things to highlight about this city and I haven't even touched on the great local transportation, the easy lay out of the city (seems you can get every where in about 15 min), the friendly people, and all of the interesting local and international culture (didn't realize until too late that Marcia Ball and Bettye LaVette were performing in Portland this past weekend). We're sad to leave but can't wait to get back again soon (hopefully during warmer and sunnier months!).

Portland Gardens

March 18, 2008

An amazing city of gardens. Hummingbirds, blooming trees (Camelias, Japanese Magnolias, and Cherry Blossoms), and good friends on a Sunday morning in the Chinese garden.Picnic and duck feeding in the Rhododendron garden . Cherry trees blooming throughout the city reminding us of Japan and our last Cherry Blossom season in Okinawa. Brief moments of sunlight and time for exploring the neighborhood. Yards filled with bulbs bursting into bloom, vegetable gardens being prepared for spring planting, and cherry tree "snow" (Noah's favorite discovery).

Portland Books

March 17, 2008

We are having fun in Portland...cold and wet, but lots to do. Since the weather hasn't been so great we have been having some fun book-related outings. We are staying in a great little neighborhood within walking distance to some fabulous restaurants, shops, parks. One of the places Noah was excited to discover was this great little bookstore in a caboose. He loved climbing up to the top reading nooks.

One of the "book" highlights for me was visiting Beverly Cleary's childhood neighborhood which was the setting for many of her books. We were able to locate the house and then had a great time playing in the local park which features a statue garden with some of her most popular characters. Camille was confused and kept thinking we were going to see "Rabbi Mona" (the rabbi at her school and one of her favorite people!) and when we finally discovered the "Ramona" statue she still kept looking for Rabbi Mona.
And yesterday Noah and I had a great time watching "Horton Hears a Who" at the old theatre around the corner from our little house. It was a fun movie and the theatre was also great. I love being within walking distance to so many great spots. All this book fun and we haven't even made it to Powell's yet (one of our favorite Portland spots). We are headed to the Children's Musuem today where they have a new exhibit based upon illustrations from children's books...can you tell we love this city?

The Jar

March 12, 2008

We created this jar last year. We filled the jar up with activity suggestions and I am happy to report it is still "working". It works great for rainy days or those times when I just don't have the energy to come up with something, not to mention it is always fun to be surprised. It is on my mind because this week we created a similar box for Noah filled with suggestions for activities he can do by himself. A way to counteract the words I have been hearing too much lately "I'm bored" and "I want to watch tv". We sat down after dinner two nights ago and he came up with ideas (dig a hole in the back yard, play with legos, draw, etc). My favorite ones that he came up with: "collect poky balls (those poky things from the gum tree)" and "ballet by myself". I know that he will probably be embarassed to read this as he gets older. But our boy is a dancer and he loves tutus. I hope he always loves to dance.
Doesn't the start of this post sound so wonderful and idyllic...a happy family jar of ideas. A mother and son making a new one together. That was two nights ago. Today the house is a wreck,Adam woke up with white spots on his tonsils, Noah is begging for a turn on the computer, I am cranky from staying up too late and avoiding the packing that still needs to be done. I love to visit other blogs for inspiration, but sometimes I wonder "how can it always be so wonderful there?". I know it isn't and it certainly isn't always sunny here. It feels like the pendulum on our blog swings from posts of happy, adventures to whiny, rants and back again. And lately it has been more on the whiny side. Sorry about that. If I can get those suitcases packed, I know that a little trip will be good for all of us. But I think I will procrastinate a little bit longer and pick something from the jar because digging in the dirt or dancing in tutus is always more fun than packing and whining.

Please send me a wife!

March 11, 2008

I have often thought it would be so nice to have a "wife". Another set of hands to help with dinner, change diapers, commisserate over loads of laundry, and share the worry and guilt that sometimes engulfs me as I stumble through motherhood. This afternoon was one of those days when I found myself wanting that wife so badly!

As I opened the door to Camille's room to pick her up from her nap, I was accosted by a very foul odor. I quickly discovered that poor Camille had an explosive diaper and she was covered with diarrhea (head to toe). I somehow managed to get her in the tub without getting myself too filthy. And while I was scrubbing her down, I heard Noah excitedly calling me: "Mama, Mama, Come and see what I found!". That type of excitement usually means he has discovered a lizard or a frog. He was excited because he had discovered "bees" (actually several large wasps nests) and he proudly told me had been hitting their "hives" so they would come out and fly around. Instead of being worried or concerned, he gleefully left the bathroom to continue his wasp exploration (despite my repeated shouts for him to stay in the house).

If there had been a second wife, she would have been able to intervene in the wasp hunt while also starting the load of very contaminated laundry (the sheets, the beloved bunnies, the clothes). She would also have been able to handle the phone call that came in the midst of this messy afternoon. The phone call telling me that the yearbook pages I had worked on so diligently needed to be re-done (do preschoolers really need a yearbook?). The saintly second wife would have been able to quickly make the yearbook corrections while also starting to pack. Yes, pack. Because we are getting on a plane in two days...which means I am begging/praying/demanding that today's explosive diaper is just a random occurrence and not a nasty stomach bug that will attack all of us. Wasn't last week's bout of influenza enough? I am seriously thinking about placing an ad for a wife on Craig's List. Wish me luck.


March 10, 2008

These pretty little blooms have been popping up in our back yard garden. Summer gave me several packets of heirloom Nasturtiums for my birthday last year (thank you). We have grown the "regular" ones every year with success (in the cooler months in the South). They are an easy plant and great with kids....large seeds, quick to bloom, and fun to teach about edible blossoms (although a little spicy). I am really enjoying the heirloom varieties because of their smaller size and dainty blooms. What a pretty way to welcome spring!

That Woman

March 9, 2008

She drives me crazy. Over and over again. And I know there must be some lesson to be learned. Something the universe is trying to teach me about myself. It is a specific type of woman. Every time we move I think, "whew so glad I won't have to deal with Madam X anymore". And then guess what? She reappears in my life...a different part of the world, a different name, a different look but the same grating personality. I like to think of myself as a tolerant and open minded person. I sincerely love learning about others, their stories, their culture, the things that unite and differentiate us. But when it comes to this specific set of personality traits...brash, bossy, controlling, over involved with a sugar coated topping of fake friendliness...when she rears her lovely head my stomach clenches, my jaw tightens, and I realize that "she" has found me again. I try to convince myself that it is just a personality clash or just that specific person. I used to think I would get more tolerant and overlook these petty,middle school feelings as I grew older. I can't. She still gets to me and I wonder if I will ever get to that point of maturity when I can just move past her. I would see her coming and just walk past her without getting flustered or angry or feel obligated to be friendly when I don't want to be. I am sure that on some level I am bothered by this personality type because there is some part of myself in her (isn't that what "they" say?). But I don't like thinking about that so I continue to struggle with "her". And I continue to foolishly hope that she won't find me when we move again.

Rainy Day Felt

March 7, 2008

One very rainy day. Two sick kids. Lots of felt left over from my felt food craze. Fanciful creatures made by Noah. One felt board and three storytellers. A good way to spend the morning. (note to self: washable markers rub off of time use sharpie or fabric marker)

Spring Garden

March 3, 2008

I have been working on getting the school garden prepared for spring planting. Last week the kids gobbled up the last of the lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower we planted in the amazing to see two year olds begging for more raw broccoli! We are getting ready to start harvesting (and eating!) the strawberries and carrots. We built a bamboo teepee for the sugar snap peas which are starting to sprout and we have a new compost container. Getting ready to dig a new bed for our ABC garden (plants for each letter in the alphabet...ambitious, but exciting!) My library bag is full of beautiful garden books with bright glossy photos of herb gardens, children's gardens, and secret gardens. I love garden books. And I love the change of seasons. The excitement of planning, planting, and dreaming of what is to come. The azaleas are in full bloom like southern belles in their big fancy, flouncy dresses. The oak trees are covered in bright green leaves. It is spring in the South!

Napping House

March 2, 2008

Is it really bad to enjoy the fact that my son has a fever? Sounds terrible, but it is true. I don't like seeing him in pain, but when he has a fever he is so cuddly and snuggly. My normally very active monkey boy suddenly becomes my sweet baby again. Snuggled under the covers reading books and here's the kicker....for the last two days he has been taking naps. Yesterday our house truly was a napping house. Camille, Noah, and I all took three hour naps. And it was wonderful.

One of the many books we read yesterday was one of my favorite books as a child.It is a book that I have thought about through the years. I could see the images in my head but I could never remember the title and I hadn't been able to find it in the library. Until last week when my sister sent me a list of her favorite childhood books and there it was "The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine". I was able to track down the one copy at our library. A very well loved copy. And here's the thing...I loved reading it again with Noah and Camille, but I don't think it is a book I would have picked up on the children's shelves these days. It is a pretty simple book and the illustrations are just ok (although they mangaged to stay in my head all of these years). More than anything I think it is the premise of the book and the fact that I was so fascinated by the idea of a human washing machine in the middle of the woods. Noah loves it and keeps studying it. Makes me wonder what books my children will keep in their hearts and heads as they grow. What books will they want to read to their children that bring back memories of their childhoods? Will it be one of those books that drives me crazy, but I still read it to them because they love it? Will it be one that we all love to read together?


March 1, 2008

Here's my horoscope for this week:

Aries (March 21-April 19): What's the opposite of freak out? Lets call it a freak in. I suspect you're about to enter this state. That means you will have at your disposal all the intensity of a hysterical fit, but you'll be able to express it artfully as you accomplish acts of amazing grace. Time may even seem to expand for you as you slip into a wildly relaxed perspective that unleashes exuberant insights with practical applications.

I am not usually a horoscope person,but this one caught my eye because I do feel like I am on the verge of freaking out (but I kind of like the idea of re-framing it to freak in). But I am not sure I will be able to live up to the predictions of using that frantic energy to produce something with grace and exuberance. Adam's deployment is still up in the air. Every day seems to bring a new twist...a different destination, a different timeline, and most recently everything on hold which means we are back in waiting mode. Knowing it will be happening but not sure when or where. And then a few days ago Adam found out he will be spending the month of April working at a military hospital in South Carolina. We weren't expecting this and we'll make the best of it. The kids and I will probably spend a couple of weeks up there with him. But the part I struggle with is the unpredictablilty. Give me a plan and I can adjust and adapt. But living with constant changes and uncertainty drives me crazy. I know I shouldn't be complaining. It could be so much worse. But the past few days I can feel myself getting more anxious and edgy. And just to push me a little closer to the edge, Noah is sick again and Adam is leaving tomorrow for another week at his fellowship...why are the kids always sick when he is gone?! So I am hoping I will suddenly wake up tomorrow morning to find I have acquired that "wildly relaxed perspective that unleashes exuberant insights with practical applications"... but what does that mean? stay tuned to see if I can successfully put my freak "in" to good use.

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