Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

L'il Sis wanted to be a ballerina this year. It made a nice change from princesses. Big Sis originally wanted to be a rock star, but changed her mind last night. In case you aren't sure what she is, she's a "Marine princess." But this is also an improvement over last year when she decided at the very last minute to go trick-or-treating and threw a pair of wings on over her school clothes and declared herself a fairy. *sigh*
At least I'm not spending a fortune on costumes!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, now what?!

Yesterday seemed to be one frustration after another. The light on the dashboard that had appeared the day before had decided to stick around, meaning I was going to have to do something about it. I thought I knew what it meant but checked the owner's manual to double-check. I was right: one of my tires needed air. Sounds simple. heh

So, I needed to put air in a tire. I also needed to buy cookies for my daughter's class party. I was supposed to send them in that morning but since I didn't remember until after the girls were in bed and there wasn't another adult around, I couldn't get them until yesterday. After dropping Big Sis off, L'il Sis and I headed to a nearby grocery store. I needed plain cookies that the kids could then decorate during their party on Friday. There were no plain cookies.

Later, we tried a warehouse store. Again, no plain cookies. Also no air at their gas station. Off to a super discount store. There was a gas station in front of it and it had air. But charged $0.75 for it. Guess who didn't have any change?

Finally found the cookies. Yay!

Went home. Fed L'il Sis. Cleaned breakfast area so I could set up the sewing machine. (I should mention here that I don't sew.) I'd cut out fabric the day before to make a cape for the girls. The plan was to put it together that day. By the time I had everything out and put together, it was time to go get Big Sis.

While picking up Big Sis, I notice that there is a sizable hole in one of my fog lights on the car. But I don't remember this happening and can't figure out where or how it happened.

After we got back, I tackled getting the needle threaded and starting the project. It took me about 30 minutes before the first stitch was made. (Have I mentioned I don't sew?) The sad part is I brought this project on myself. I looked at the pattern in the store (it was marked as an "easy" project) and actually thought, "how hard can it me?" Pretty darn hard, it turns out, if you don't sew!

I managed to get most of the pieces put together. It wasn't beautiful. But by then I was subscribing to the "close enough for government work" theory of doing business. (There is a reason I don't sew!) It was time for dinner but I still had a few things to do with the sewing machine. So I left everything where it was and took the kids out for dinner. On the way back, I remembered I still needed air for the tire. Found a gas station that had free air and (hopefully) fixed the situation. At any rate, the light went off.

After getting home and getting ready for bed, L'il Sis picked Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst for her story. How appropriate. \

Maybe I should move to Australia? Oh, wait, they're moving into summer there and we're finally moving out of it here. Never mind.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Harvest Fest

The church we've been attending here had a Harvest Fest today. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than I realized. I thought we'd be there for half an hour tops. Try a little over 2 hours.

We stopped off at the pumpkin patch first but I guess I'd left it a bit late. The pickings were pretty slim. We still got a pumpkin to carve but there weren't any little ones left for Big Sis (L'il Sis got hers earlier this week during her preschool trip to the patch).

The craft fair area was pretty small and didn't have much that I could browse with my 2 girls in tow. But then we went to the rummage sale area and Big Sis found a toy stable for her
horses. The best part was it was only $2. She could afford that.

Then we went out to the parking lot area where there was a stage set up, food booths, a firefighter static display, games and rides, and facepainting. Big Sis immediately wanted her face done. After getting tickets, that was our first stop. L'il Sis was more leery of the whole thing but soon decided she wanted a bunny on her hand. (The child is obsessed with her bunnies!)

Then we hung out waiting for the pony rides. It was hot out there and there wasn't much in the way of shade. Isn't it October?!

After pony rides, Big Sis wanted to try out the bungee-trampoline-jumping thing. L'il Sis wanted to go down an inflatable slide and then a jumpee-obstacle course. By this time, I was seriously starting to wilt from the heat and sun. Fortunately, it was almost time for the puppet show. So I herded them toward the blessedly air conditioned area for that.

I took some pictures with my camera-phone while we were there and sent them to Stretch. But it would've be so much nicer if he'd been there in person instead. One more week!

Friday, October 24, 2008

the confidence of being 4...

When I compliment L'il Sis (whether it's telling her she's smart, pretty, sweet or anything else), her response is often, "I know."

Update: This is a picture from L'il Sis' preschool outing to the pumpkin patch at our church (it's also where her preschool is). The scarecrow gave them their mini pumpkins and then they each got to buy a slightly larger pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Relocation bonus

Today, I managed to find a benefit to our new home. I had a doctor's appointment, my first since moving here. And you know what? I saw an actual, honest-to-God doctor! And that wasn't all. She actually took the time to listen to me, ask questions, make suggestions, and discuss what the next few steps should be. I was floored and left her office with a positive feeling. It's been a long time since I actually liked the person responsible for my health care. Too long.

Now for the back story. The last 2 duty stations we were at, my PCM (primary care manager) was a nurse practitioner. In theory, I don't have a problem with this unless I have a serious illness but I'm generally pretty healthy. I said in theory. Because I'm sure there are some wonderful nurse practitioners out there. I just wouldn't count the 2 I had as being among them. Both were extremely condescending and dismissive toward me. And for those of you who know me personally, you know how much I hate that! Every time it happened, I wanted to scream at those women that I probably had more education and a higher IQ than they did so they should stop treating me like an idiot and just listen to my concerns for 2 minutes.

3 tours back, the doctor I saw the most was an OB (it was when I was having L'il Sis). We were at a duty station where we saw civilian doctors. And although the OB wasn't my PCM, she was who I saw most of the time due to the situation and short time we were there. I wasn't an interesting enough case for the her though, so more often than not, she was out of the exam room practically before I had a chance to open my mouth to ask a question.

So you can see why I'm so appreciative to have gotten lucky this go-round. It was about time!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holy smokes! It's a miracle!

Last night, L'il Sis not only stayed in her bed all night, but she managed to actually sleep all night. She did not wake up and then wake me up with screaming or crying or room invasion. I put her to bed last night ONE time. She stayed in her bed without getting up for her usual wander-around-for-a-bit routine. (She always has some reason for it: bathroom, water, needing a hug) There was no 3 a.m. wake-up call. When I woke up this morning, there was no pint-sized visitor laying next to me. She was still fast asleep in her own room! Yes!

I know she's had a rough year and a half between 2 moves and the deployment in between. But believe me, the no-sleep thing has been rough on me, too!

I woke up in a much better mood than usual this morning. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a trend and not just a fluke!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

the gremlins are back

True to form, Stretch is gone so the gremlins have come to play. It's not a good thing to find your FREEZER dripping with water. It was everywhere...

So, now, instead of getting out of the house to do something fun with the girls, we're sitting in the house waiting for a repairman who will be here sometime between "now (it was 11 a.m. at the time) and 3" p.m. What a way to spend a beautiful Saturday.


Update: By 3 p.m., there was still no sign of a repairman. So I called the company our landlord has contracted for these issues. The snotty girl on the other end of the line said they'd called and left a message indicating that he was running late. Um, no, since I've been home ALL DAY and no one called and there were no messages on our voicemail. I asked what number they'd called. It was completely unfamiliar and probably either belonged to our landlord or the previous tenant. The other number they had was Stretch's cell phone (yes, the same Stretch who is in another state for the month). Then she offered to delete Stretch's number (which they also had not called) from their database. WHAT?! Oh, wait, of course, because it would be SO helpful to delete the ONE phone number with which you'd have any chance of reaching the actual occupants of the house.

Seriously, I can't stand idiots or people who waste my time. Oh, and the repairman finally showed around 4 p.m., spent about 5 minutes replacing a part and declared the fridge fixed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

more insurance, please?

Stretch and I have a running joke about insurance. When I feel like he's not taking good care of himself, I'll often tell him he needs to buy more insurance. It's a choice: take care of yourself so you'll live longer or get more insurance. (It should go without saying that I'd rather have him around than the money.)

Currently, Stretch is attending something where injury is a possibility. Hopefully, it isn't a probability. Every evening he calls and tells me about his aches and pains. He's using the heating pad and soaking in boiling hot baths. I think he should find a sports masseuse where he is, too.

(tongue firmly in cheek) Is it wrong that I'm also wondering if he has enough insurance?

Monday, October 13, 2008

On not cooking

The night before Stretch left, I made a "real" meal. We had steaks and I remarked that it would probably be the last time I cooked until next month. A few days later, he asked what we were having for dinner. By then, we'd had leftovers and pizza and I was considering takeout and pancakes as options. He laughed. He brought up what I'd said about not cooking while he's gone. Did he think I was kidding?

The problem with cooking is that the kids almost never appreciate it. Yes, there are occasional meals and certain dishes that they really enjoy. But I don't want to spend the time and effort to make a nice dinner, clean it all up, and have 2 kids not eat it or have to spend the entire meal saying, "Take a bite." It's just too frustrating. When Stretch was gone for the year, I cooked "real" dinners 2 or 3 times a week. But he's only gone a few weeks this time. So I'm making the executive decision to give myself a break. Over the weekend, I ordered Chinese takeout. Big Sis turned her nose up at it (except the rice, she took half the rice). But L'il Sis tried the egg drop soup and LOVED it. The next night she asked if we could have Chinese food again.

Besides, there are a lot of meals that don't require "real" cooking. Last night we had pancakes. Made from a mix. I don't consider this cooking. But L'il Sis was delighted. Tonight I threw some canned rolls into the oven and emptied a frozen meal in a bag into a skillet. Again, I don't consider this cooking. It's more heating. We'd had this particular meal once before while Stretch was still home. L'il Sis greeted the pasta dish with this: "Dee-licious! I can't stop eating it!" Considering the usual response that I get from her ("Yuck! I'm not eating THAT!"), it's not inspiring me to actually do much "real" cooking this month.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Missing Daddy?

Stretch left here Wednesday morning after dropping Big Sis off at school. Three days later, on Saturday morning, Big Sis asked, "Where is Daddy exactly?"

She understood he'd be gone all month and has been good about trying to explain that to L'il Sis who just doesn't get it. L'il Sis keeps thinking he's coming home or asking if we're going to go pick him up. But still, I wonder about Big Sis' lack of curiosity for 3 days. Of course, this is the same child who once told Stretch when he'd asked her if she missed him shortly after leaving on a trip, "Not really. It's only been a day. That's not long enough to miss you yet." Ouch.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Flying Solo

I'm doing it again. Being a married single parent. The good part is that it's only until the end of the month this time. Much better than a year, let me tell you! 3 weeks should be a snap. Yeah, right.

Actually, so far so good. Despite 2 of us not feeling our best, the first couple of days have been decent. L'il Sis didn't stay in her own bed again last night, but then she almost never does, so it wasn't a huge surprise.

Big Sis had the day off from school today. So when she came downstairs and wanted to cuddle and watch TV after she was supposed to be in bed, I let her stay up a little later than usual. Besides, I have to get my cuddles with her when I can! She is much more reserved than her sister with affection so I take what I can get.

This morning, after dropping L'il Sis at preschool (and staying for their 1st chapel time), Big Sis and I went to Wal-Mart so she could start spending some of her birthday gift money. There's no denying she is Stretch's and my child: After picking out thank-you cards, she headed straight to the book section and picked out about $25 in books to spend her money on. She never even asked to go to the toy section (and, no, I didn't suggest it). After that, she wanted to go straight home to read her new books. Although I'm not sure why since she started reading them in the car!

Hmm, about 3 more weeks... Can a person completely forget how to cook in that time?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Big Sis

8 Years ago...
She always did have long legs like her daddy...
The birthday girl today...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mission Impossible

I honestly thought it would be a simple and quick errand. After school, Friday we would head over to C Creamery and order Big Sis' ice cream birthday cake for Monday. (That's what she asked for this year.) They were supposed to open at 1 p.m. but there was a sign on the door apologizing for the inconvenience and stating they would be open tomorrow. Hmm, now what? Oh, wait, there's a BR across the street and they have ice cream cakes! L'il Sis falls asleep just as we pull into the parking lot. No problem, I'll just have to carry her. In we go and peruse their cake book. Jackpot! They have a Spirit cake (the Disney horse) and Big Sis wants a horse on her cake because she is turning 8 and is completely horse crazy. But wait! You have to order these cakes a WEEK in advance. Well, that won't work since we need it in 3 days. Hmm.

I keep a small phonebook in my car and start looking through it frantically after we're in the car again. A DQ! But where is it? I think I can find it and we go looking for it. We can order a cake and they can draw a horse on it. Big Sis doesn't look thrilled but says she wants it. We order it but as soon as we're out the door (not even in the parking lot yet) she admits she really wants the Spirit horse figurines on her cake. So we go back in and cancel the order.

Then we have a little discussion that maybe she'll have to settle for a regular cake and not an ice cream cake. She is fine with this as long as Spirit and his companion are on the cake. So we try P grocery store (#1). No horse cakes. We go another grocery chain. Again, no horse cakes. How is this possible? We live in horse country!

We give up for the day and decide to try again on Saturday. The monsoon moves in before dawn on Saturday. And stays all day. By 11 a.m. I've decided, there's nothing else for it but we're going to have to go out in it. The girls don their raincoats while I take the closest thing I have (a windbreaker that's not quite up to the task). Our first stop is Wally World. I think we've hit paydirt. There is a cake with horses on it. It's not exactly Spirit but pretty darn close. But we celebrate too soon. They are out of that cake topper. Of course they are!

So then I change my paradigm once more. Maybe I can find the cake topper at a party or craft store and mommy will just make the cake. It wouldn't be the first time. I'm even willing to try drawing a horse on a cake at this point but she's not happy with that option. So we go to a party store. Half the store is taken over by Halloween costumes and paraphernalia. No luck with Spirit or any horse related items, unless you want to count My Little Pony, which Big Sis didn't. So we tried the craft store. Again, no luck.

At this point, I need sustenance. So we stop for lunch. By the way, it has been raining steadily the whole time. Occasionally it slows, but never stops.

After lunch, we try the creamery that we started with yesterday because they are supposed to be open today. False advertising. They are still closed. They still promise to be open tomorrow. But another super discount store is nearby so we go there. By now, the rain really is at monsoon strength. It is pouring and there is no such thing as a close parking spot. I park and grab the kids and the umbrella and make our way inside. We slip and slide our way to the bakery section but find no joy. On the way out, there is certain ubiquitous coffee shop. I'm sorely tempted to get a latte or machiatto or something. But I can't figure out how to hold onto L'il Sis, my car keys, the umbrella and a hot beverage while battling the monsoon back out to the car. Oh, well, I didn't need the calories anyway. By the time, we make it back into the car, the back of my pants are soaked. It's oh-so-comfortable.

We are across the street from BR so I think, "Well, maybe I can simply buy the cake topper from them. Although probably not b/c I don't think the cakes are made on site, but whatever, I'm desperate so let's try." The almost-human teenage boy working the counter didn't think it was possible. At least, that's what I think his grunts meant. I was too irritated to think about asking for a manager at this point. We pile back into the car. Have I mentioned that I'm now sitting in wet denim?

We go to P grocery store (#2). Still no horses but Big Sis decides she can live without them (she hopes for better luck next year) and decides on another design. The good news? It will be an ice cream cake, after all.

The worst part about the whole ordeal was that Big Sis kept apologizing, saying it was her fault that she'd picked such a hard cake to find. I felt bad enough as it was without her feeling bad, too. I kept trying to tell her it wasn't her fault at all. If it was anyone's fault, it was mine for waiting to place an order. But I honestly didn't think it would be such an ordeal. From a simple errand to practically the quest for the holy grail! Who knew it would take 12 stops and 2 days to accomplish the mission of ordering a cake?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

3rd grade math...

...has changed, people! The other day Big Sis' math homework started with 4 word problems. Okay, I had word problems in 3rd grade. (I think, after all, it's been a long time!) But these word problems seem to require algebra to solve. Or at least that's the only way I could solve them! Example: What two numbers have a sum of 39 and a difference of 11?

So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I sat there and tried to teach my not-quite-8-year-old some algebra, complete with x's and y's. She didn't much like having letters mixed up in her math. Can't say I blamed her. Where was her engineer-degreed father when we needed him?!

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments explaining the mysterious workings of 3rd grade math. How sad that I needed them! Of course, I wouldn't have needed them had the teacher bothered to send something home stating that's how those problem should be solved! But I digress. I still think it would make more sense to simply give them drill or practice sheets if they need to practice adding and subtracting (and believe me, they do!). Why go about it in such a round-about way? It seems inefficient and confusing to the kids (and parents!). If kids are struggling with math, this is not going to make them feel any better about the subject.

high praise

Cooking for my kids is so disheartening it might even give Rachel Ray pause. Seriously. Almost every dinner I make is greeted with "Yuck!" or "Eww!" or "I don't want to eat that!" It doesn't matter what it is or what it actually tastes like. Not to toot my own horn, but most of the time it is pretty good or, at least, edible.

This morning I made French toast for breakfast. I don't usually cook for breakfast so it should be considered a special treat. You'd think. Not so much. The oldest said she didn't want any. The youngest embraced them wholeheartedly. But she was hungry and fixated on the strawberries I promised her would go with them. I told Big Sis she couldn't have her "usual." (She puts frozen Chocolate Chip Eggo waffles into the toaster every morning before school, making her own breakfast.) Reluctantly, she sat down and inhaled her breakfast. But wouldn't admit to liking it. For some reason, she never remembers that this is a breakfast dish she actually likes. But L'il Sis sat next to her, eating and making appreciative noises. Then she turns to her big sister and says, "See. It's not so bad."

High praise, indeed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not exactly mother of the year

My friend Jody comes up with the best kid-parties. Her latest effort was a Jungle theme for her newly minted 5 year old. She managed to pull off another great party for her eldest shortly after moving into a new house in a new state. I have got to find a way to live in the same town as this woman, or at least within a couple of hours drive-time. Seriously. My poor kids have been short-changed this year. L'il Sis got a "family" party when she turned 4 in May and cupcakes taken to her preschool. Big Sis got a family outing for horseback riding last weekend (more on that later) and we'll celebrate as a family next week. And that's it. No parties. No themes. *sigh* Maybe I'll do better next year. Maybe I can talk Jody into coming down and party-planning for them...