July 30, 2008

Yesterday Noah and I attended a great workshop at the library about worms. In addition to learning all sorts of interesting things about worms (did you know they have five pairs of hearts?), we also built our own wormery. A simple process: take a clean and empty liter bottle, add dirt, red wigglers, lettuce, and shredded newspaper. Wrap a piece of black construction paper (leaving a window for worm viewing. Place in a dark, cool spot. Check every couple of days and add a mix of veggie/fruit scraps and newspaper. We plan on using ours as a "starter" for a larger worm composting system (stay tuned for details on that).

I have been interested in worm composting since seeing my first fancy worm composters in Seattle....just never thought it would be possible with all of our frequent moves. But after yesterday, I am feeling fired up again about worms (did I really just write that?). I also never thought I would be taking worms to lunch with me but that is also what happened. After the workshop yesterday, Noah and I met up with some family members at a local Chinese restaurant. And since it was very hot we couldn't possibly leave our new worms in the car to be cooked alive. So yes, we walked into lunch with our worms. And then proceeded to take them with us to the grocery store and the book store....turned out to be a big day for the worms!

And speaking of "big days"...today is Adam's birthday! Happy Birthday! We miss you and love you very much. And inquiring minds want to know...are there worms in Kuwait?

Two and half years old

July 29, 2008

In addition to the quickly changing emotions, take note of the recent "trim" she gave her bangs. Our spirited little Mei-Mei is growing up quickly. She is proud of her age as evident in her recently crafted self-introduction: "I am Camille. I am two and half and my Noah-boy is five and half."

Day 23

July 28, 2008

Adam has arrived in Kuwait. He was able to call us this afternoon and it was so good to hear his voice. Sounds like it is very hot (guess I can't keep complaining about the Louisiana heat). So hot that they don't even need to turn on the hot water...the cold water is already hot and the hot water must be scalding. He is getting settled into the group tent and has already ventured over to the galley for a couple of meals. He's also been running into familiar faces and people he knew from previous duty stations. So glad he made it there safely and is getting settled.

Thank you for all of the recent messages and comments of support. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family members around the world supporting us through this deployment.

New Iberia City Park :Summer Adventure #1

We are finally starting our Summer Adventure Challenge (although it feels like our whole summer so far has been one long adventure challenge!). Since we are late in starting we are going to be visiting local spots (not to mention I just don't have the energy to pack a suitcase for quite awhile). Most of the places on our list are places I visited as a child but have not been back to since becoming a parent. I am looking forward to seeing what has changed and if my kids enjoy these places as much as I did as a kid. And since I haven't lived in Louisiana in over ten years this is also a good way for me to get re-aquainted with the Acadiana area.So this morning we headed over to the New Iberia City Park to feed the ducks. It may not sound like a grand adventure, but it was perfect for us this morning and if you ever happen to be visiting New Iberia, Louisiana it is a nice park to visit for all ages (I think all tourist info...books, sites, should include information about the local parks...when traveling with the children it is so crucial to know where the nearest playground or duck pond is, isn't it?). We were able to be outside despite extreme heat and humidity because of the huge oak and cypress trees surrounding the duck pond. Loaded down with a huge bag of bread crusts ( left over from the "crustless" cucumber sandwiches at the wonderful tea party in honor of my grandmother's birthday). I was surprised by how many different kinds of ducks live together in this pond. The kids were thrilled to be surrounded by so many feathered friends and few furry ones, too (hungry, but friendly squirrels). After handing out all of the bread we meandered around the pond slowly stopping to look at minnows, duck feathers, and good rocks for tossing in the pond. We also checked out the funny cypress "knees" (one looked like an alligator's head peeking out of the water). And even discovered a rat under the bridge. We all left the park sweaty, happy, and hungry for lunch...isn't that how all summer morning adventures should end?

Details: In addition to the duck pond, there is: a nice shaded playground area, a skatepark, walking paths, boat launch into the bayou, rec center, and a pool with a splash park (but as we discovered today it is only open from 2:30pm-4:30pm). Cost: The park is free. The pool costs $1 per person. What to bring: Bread for the ducks, snacks and water for the humans, sunscreen and possibly bug spray since there is a fair amount of shade.

Way to Go, Jo!

July 27, 2008

My Aunt Jo won three gold medals and one silver for swimming yesterday in the Special Olympics. We are all very proud of her. She works so hard all year training for this big event and it was so nice to see her big grin last night as she walked into her victory celebration.

Tissue Paper Vases

July 26, 2008

Here's a way to assuage some of the guilt of occasionally feeding my children fast food. We save the little milk containers and recycle them into little vases. Water bottles and other plastic or glass containers would also work well.

Peel the plastic wrapping off.
Tear off strips of tissue paper and apply with a paste (water and Elmer's glue). When we made ours we only had pink and white tissue paper. So we did one vase with only pink tissue paper, one with white tissue paper, and one with a mix of both. We then used water color paint to add color to the white and mixed tissue vases.

Let the vases dry. Then add water, fill with simple summer blooms, and enjoy!

Perfect Summer Cookie

July 25, 2008

Perfect because you don't need the oven. Perfect because they are super easy and quick. Perfect because they bring back memories of childhood and friendship. I remember gobbling these up as a kid and was re-introduced to them by my friend, Chris when we lived in Okinawa. Here's the recipe she gave me.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of milk
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 cups of oatmeal

Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, milk and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to boil for 30 seconds. Stir constantly. Let cool. Add peanut butter. Mix well. Add vanilla and oatmeal. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper or cookie sheet and chill. I ended up adding additional oats to the 3 cups which helped the cookies set up better.

We made these cookies yesterday and today they were a little lifesaver...one of those pull-my-hair-out days... so nice to be able sneak to the kitchen for a little bit of chocolate (me, not the kids) and great for bribing cranky children into sitting at the table for a few minutes of sugar induced quiet.

Day 19

July 24, 2008

Nineteen days since we said good-bye to Adam at the airport. During this time he's been at a Marine base taking part in training exercises and preparing for desert life (although I don't think they will have really acclimated since the temperatures have been pleasantly in the 70s...I think they should have done their training in Louisiana since the heat here has been pretty intense). The nice thing is that we have had fairly regular phone contact and even one successful Skype conversation. We have been so busy getting settled in our new surroundings that so far it has felt like he is just on some sort business trip. But soon they will be departing and then I know things will be different. We will no longer have cell phone contact. I think this will be one of the biggest challenges. Right now I can just pick up the phone any time of day and even if I don't reach him at least I can leave a message and I know that he will call back. Once he gets there, we will have to wait for him to call us. That's going to be hard. Right now the kids have been having lengthy phone conversations with him several times a day. And I have been able to pick up the phone with any questions I have about those things he usually takes care of...bills, technical stuff (setting up the computer, re-programing the new cell phone, etc), and medical stuff (can we get allergy med refills?) It makes me realize how much he does to keep our lives running smoothly (don't check the kids' nails because he is the one who usually does all the nail trimming).

And on the emotional front we are all really missing Adam. Camille goes to sleep each night crying about how she misses her daddy and her grandpa. And her nightly prayer includes this heartbreaking request "God, make Daddy come home from work". It is so hard to explain to a two year old that six months "at work" (deployed) is not just an overnight thing like his usual call-nights at the hospital. Noah has been even more rambunctious than usual. Partly due to the weather...either raining or too hot to really get him outside each day to burn off energy and partly due to Adam's absence. He and Noah usually spent the late afternoon in the back yard playing soccer or swimming. And I am exhausted. Crawling into bed each night hoping to finally wake with new energy, but instead being awakened each morning at the break of dawn by a grumpy monkey girl...this single parenting stuff is exhausting. I worry that I am not able to be and do all that I need to for the kids. They have moments when they test me beyond my limits and others when they are the sweetest they ever been. And I really miss Adam. He is such a big part of our little family and it feels different without him. But overall, I think we are doing pretty well. We'll just keep crossing off the days until he is home again.

Summer Table

July 23, 2008

A few of the good things on our table.

Our favorite new kitchen "gadget": a butter pot (not to be confused with pot butter which came up when I did an internet search!). We were introduced to this by our friends, the Bensons (who seem to have every kitchen gadget under the sun) during our March visit to the Northwest. And then we happily discovered one in a kitchen shop in Charleston. Our little butter pot has now been used in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana all in less than four months.

Frogs. Noah set the table a few nights ago and added a couple of frogs to the mix. And you know what? It is perfect for a summer table setting.

And the last of the summer tomatoes from yesterday's visit to the New Iberia farmer's market. I discovered that a little miss monkey girl had been enjoying these little treasures...sucking the "marrow" and leaving skins of her discarded tomatoes in the bowl. I guess that's what summer is about right? Sucking the marrow from life/tomatoes and being too lazy, too hot, and living too much in the moment to care about the aftermath...

Almost a month

July 22, 2008

Well, Noah's new glasses almost made it a month. Tonight I discovered that one lens (for the eye that really needs it) is missing. We ran several errands this afternoon and we took an evening walk which means that lens could be in a lot of places. I am just too tired to even think about looking tonight. Luckily we have a back-up pair (thanks for the suggestion, Nisha). Active, five year old monkey boy and glasses.... not an easy combination.

Dishes and other domestic thoughts

July 21, 2008

We are finally starting to feel a little more settled. We are renting an apartment owned by my family. It is an old house that has been divided into an upstairs and a downstairs apartment and it has been primarily occupied by various family members at different points in their lives. And now it is our turn. Our upstairs apartment doesn't have a dishwasher so I have now added that chore to our daily routine and strangely it is something I look forward to each day. This is probably just the honeymoon stage and I'll be missing my dishwasher soon, but for now I am enjoying it. Actually reminds me of what the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn wrote about doing dishes as an exercise in mindfulness. I can't say that I am always "mindful" or meditating while doing it, but there is something so soothing about dunking my hands in the hot, soapy water and such a nice sense of accomplishment when I get rid of that pile of dirty dishes. As you can see from the photo, the kids have also been enjoying their attempts at dishwashing. They used up an entire bottle of dish liquid while I was trying to get things moved into the apartment. On one hand it seems so wasteful, but on the other hand(that of a now single parent!) it was so worth the money and mess for their enjoyment and distraction so I could get some work done without my little helpers.

Another recent discovery in the apartment is a little George Foreman Grill that was left in a cupboard. I remember hearing others rave about this little gadget when it came out, but I am now a convert. Especially since it is too darn hot to turn on the oven and wow, does that little grill work quickly. I think that will be our primary source of cooking for the next six months! If you have suggestions or good recipes for an indoor grill send them my way, please!

Oh and here is one more domestic realization. It isn't a new one. It started during our escapes to Oura Wan and has continued with our recent travels. Less really is better. We have a very comfortable set up here thanks to my generous family, but it is also a very scaled down existence. Minimal furniture. Minimal toys. And minimal dishes. And it is a good thing. In fact
the less dishes the easier the dishwashing...if you only have four sets of dishes, you only wash four sets of dishes. There's my deep thought for the day.

Chair Photos July 2008

July 20, 2008

I took these a few weeks ago since I knew we wouldn't have the chair with us for the next six months. Noah at age 5 and half. Camille at age 2 and half. I especially love Camille dressed as Bob the Builder with a tutu. She loves Bob just as much as Noah did at that age. And as you can tell, Noah wasn't thrilled with the idea of taking photos that day.


July 19, 2008

I took the kids to the movies this afternoon. Camille's first movie experience and she did great. And most surprising of all: I really enjoyed the movie. I am not a science fiction person and not really an animated film person either, but the kids earned a movie day on their sticker chart and Noah really wanted to see it since it involved robots. So much rolled up into one little film...romance, drama, adventure. Very little dialogue and yet so much to discuss....man vs. machine, taking care of the earth, the impact of excess, love in strange places, survival (one very impressive roach in the film), connection, music, collecting, recycling, re-building, destruction and renewal. I kept wanting to lean over and have a philosophical discussion with my children...but they were glued to the screen. Afterwards I left the theatre bursting to talk about the film. Noah thought it was an "ok" movie with some parts that were "too scary". Camille said she liked the "robots on big tv". But I can't stop thinking about it and now I need to find other adults who have seen it. Nice to be surprised by a movie. Seems like these days my limited movie outings are way too expensive and too predictable and/or disappointing, but Wall-E was pleasantly different.


July 16, 2008

So after my last post things went bad. I should have been prepared for this because I read about it in my "surviving deployment" book but honestly I think we have had enough bad luck to last us for awhile. The book says to expect that things will break or malfunction during the first week your spouse is gone. And that has happened. My mom's dogs destroyed the new cell phone Adam bought for me right before he left. We have never bought a phone before (always just used the crappy "free" ones that came with our service contract) but since that will be my primary phone while he's gone he got a nice one for me. He programed in all of the phone numbers/contact info for everyone and taught me how to use it. Not even a week old and the phone was so badly destroyed that even the sim card was useless. Which meant I found myself buying a new cell phone and bursting into tears in the store when the sales clerk gave me the bad news about the sim card which was essentially my address book and my contact with everyone. And here's the kicker. I wanted to just get a replacement for the exact same phone since I had just learned how to check the voice mail and unlock the keypad (have I mentioned how ignorant I am when it come to cell phone technoglogy?). Turns out they no longer carry the same phone. Meaning the one Adam bought for me two weeks ago is now "old" and unavailable. That brought on more tears (can you tell I have been more tired and emotional than usual). So I now have a new phone and I am learning how to work it. I am also starting to re-build my address book.

In addition to the cell phone loss, my car died (left the headlights on overnight) and I got locked into two different rooms on two different days (don't ask...small children, old houses, and one stupid, tired mama). We have been invaded by wasps. Alright not really...but I have killed three wasps in the past few days. Two were inside the room where Camille was supposed to be napping which is another sore subject.

Camille who has always been our easy, schedule loving, super sleeper has in the past month decided she's done with that routine. I know a big part of that is all of her anxiety about daddy leaving and all of the related changes. I also think a big part of it is her recent decision to sleep in a big girl bed. Just like potty training I wasn't planning on making that move until we got more settled. But she insisted on sleeping in the big girl bed (which currently means a mattress on the floor). And with that comes new found freedom of movement. Suddenly naps and night time have become much more time and labor intensive. Lots of back rubbing, singing, and putting her back in bed multiple times a night. It is starting to get a little better each night but I am very eager to get her back on track with the sleeping issue since that means I will be sleeping better and we will all be a little less grumpy.

Not all is bad. The kids started swimming lessons yesterday which they love. We have attended some great library programs. We got internet access today and the kids got their first package from Adam. I got some beautiful flowers from Adam. And we are all happy to be close to family...literally. We are within walking distance to three sets of aunts/uncles, my grandparents, and several cousins (and probably many more relatives who I don't even know....this is a small Cajun town which means everyone is probably related multiple times over!). It is so wonderful to see the kids getting to know their family better...they beg to play with their cousins each day and so far they have! My Uncle Dan has been working like a crazy man getting our apartment in good shape. And everyone else has been helping us make it feel cozy and comfortable. And did I also mention we can walk to the bakery, the library, and the bayou (once it gets a little cooler!)?

Good-Bye and Hello

July 11, 2008

One sad little girl. Two well-loved bunnies. A sad family good-bye at the airport. After saying good-bye, the kids and I got on the road. Spent one night in Pensacola visiting with the Hess family (always good for our spirits!) and arrived in Louisiana the next day. We are slowly getting settled, visiting family, getting library cards, and missing Adam. Hard to believe our first week here is almost done.

Happy Birthday

July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July! And Happy early Birthday to Adam! We had a little celebration since we won't be with him on his birthday this year. Tomorrow is our last full day together. Trying to cram in lots of packing and family time....this whole deployment thing is starting to feel more real.

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