Monday, March 30, 2009

My breaking point.

There is a lot that I can handle by myself. Massive poops that blow out the diaper and ruin pants and onsies, cleaning and cooking, tantrums to end all tantrums. All of that I can handle with some humor. However, when I went into my dining room this morning and found something that looked like this by the cat food dishes I nearly lost it.

That is not a picture that I took. I ran from my dining room and refuse to go near the one I found. First, I was going to be all brave and throw the "dead" bug out. But, as I approached with my dustpan and my brave face (all for Nathaniel's sake because when I freaked he immediately freaked too) the roach waved at me.

Which made me freak again and run and grab the closest thing I have to bug spray. Bleach cleaner.

Well, that only made it freak out even more and do a little dance. So, I left it alone. Yes, my cats are thirsty, but getting their water dish means going near our little visitor.

The office says I have to empty out my entire kitchen of dishes and food in order to have the bug guy spray effectively. That's exactly what I want to do tonight after the boys are in bed. Oh, and we get to be gone all afternoon tomorrow too. Right during nap time!

I would almost rather light my apartment on fire and buy all new things and move.

I hate bugs (and the filth that attracts them, which means one of my neighbors is not sanitary because I clean thoroughly at least once a week, if not more).


Humorous edit: Things Nathaniel kept saying today: "Mom, there is a big, huge, bug!" and then he would say, "Mom! I'm a spider (because he kept calling the roach a spider)!" Then he would lay down on his back and wave his arms and legs in the air. Amusing, but gross. (And yes, the bug is still belly up on my floor. I won't go near it because every time I try to get it, it moves even more and I refuse to have a live roach in my vacuum cleaner forever! Let the bug guy deal with it tomorrow!)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hanging up the towel (or underpants).

Well, after really trying to get this kiddo potty trained I think it's time to take a little break. I have tried everything I can possibly think of to get this kid trained. Fun incentives, talking about how he can be a big boy, bribing, just putting him in underwear and letting him go...nothing has worked. He really likes going pee in the toilet, but he only goes if I tell him to. He rarely goes on his own incentive and it really isn't "training" if I manage to catch him before he goes in his pants.

So, we are taking the weekend off, I'm letting him go in his pants (diaper/pull-up) and am using reverse psychology on him. He was reading his Elmo potty book this morning and I said, "Oh, well, Elmo can go potty in the toilet, but you can't. You are just too little." We'll see how that goes. Next week is a new week and maybe I will be a little more sane.

As you may have noticed, Sam actually updated the site! He is able to get on regular internet from his room with his new laptop. We have been talking everyday on Skype which has made a world of difference. I don't know why, but perhaps seeing him makes it seem like he's here. Nathaniel can see and talk to him, and Aaron can hear his voice. When Nathaniel acts up I can have Sam speak sternly to Nathaniel so it seems more of a team effort.

I also spoke at Friday chapel for church yesterday. It was fun, but frightening for me. First of all, I haven't taught people over the age of 18 since preaching class a year and a half ago. Second, almost everyone who goes to Friday chapel is retired. What can I teach? I preached on James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you face trials of many kind..."

It went really well. The boys were really well behaved and I only had to throw Nathaniel the "look" once to get him to sit still. It is awkward for me when people give me positive feedback afterwards though. Mainly because I teach Jr. High students who don't even pay attention, much less think of having a dialogue with the teacher afterwards.

Other than that, things are going well here. Had my post-partum check up yesterday and I'm cleared by the doctor. My internal stitches are starting to work their way out through my incision, which is weird, but normal. My weight is coming off fast, which is extremely encouraging. I am 7 pounds from my original weight and 15 pounds from my ideal weight. I figure that it shouldn't be too hard since I'm not a student anymore and am much more active than I was after I had Nathaniel. We'll see how it goes. I have five months until the 10 year reunion so I have a good window of time.

Hope people are doing well!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live from Kosovo

I finally got my computer! Now I have full access to all the stuff that the Army filters (like youtube, bloggers, itunes, and the like). I can connect my camera and actually send pictures.

Kosovo is an interesting place. For one, I see more American flags here than I do in America. The Albanian populace, even 10 years after Operation Allied Force, where we bombed the poop out of the Serbians (which, by the way, we just passed the 10th anniversary of the start of that campaign-24MAR), they still very much love and adore American Soldiers. What is facinating is that the Serbs who live here have a respect for us as well. I just talked with a Serbian leader on the 24th, he took the time out of his busy schedule to meet with us, and he was very cordial and polite. Yes, they mentioned that they were solemn because of the day; however, they recognize that we, KFOR, are impartial and provide a Safe and Secure Environment for all people of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity.

Working with our NATO and Non-NATO allies is interesting as well. In our own company, we have Greek (or Hellas, as they like to be called), Polish and Ukranian soldiers. Our higher in KFOR HQ is headed by a Spainaird, and I talk with a Lithuanian Captain on a regular basis. The European armies are in many ways different; however, there are a lot of universal facts about being a soldier. A dread of staff work, controlling bosses, and being away from the family.

Well, that is enough for now; I have to get to work!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biting the bullet.

Well, I have decided to jump into the whole potty training thing with both feet. I've been straddling the fence for so long about it that I'm just not getting anywhere and Nathaniel is comfortable with where he's at (peeing on the potty or in his pull-up, wherever he happens to be). So, today after nap time I pulled out the Mickey Mouse underwear and had a talk with Nathaniel.

Me: Nathaniel, this is your big boy underwear which you picked out, remember?
N: I wear big boy underwear!?
Me: Yes, but if you wear this, you cannot pee in your pants, you have to pee in the potty!
N: Pee in the potty? No, I pee in my diaper. (gives me his winning grin).
Me: You won't be wearing a diaper, you will be wearing your underwear and if you pee in them everything will get wet.
N: Oh, I pee in the toilet? (because everything he says is a question these days)
Me: Yes, pee in the toilet.

I also showed him the difference between the make up of a diaper and underwear. I realize that's over analyzing things, but I don't know what kind of a learner he is yet so I thought I would cover everything.

Well, we had success tonight. He kept his underwear dry from after nap time until bath time and peed in the toilet. I am so proud. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I'm not willing to take him out in public or over to a sitter's house without a pull-up on, but we do have long periods of time where we are at home we go. He can only learn by trial and error. (Lord help me with the loads of laundry I foresee in my future!)

On a completely different note, I have also decided to suck it up and start working out. I got my Wii fit a few weeks ago and brought it out two weeks ago. May I say that the little balance board is a little naggy? If I skip one day it gets all attitude-y with me and says, "Too busy to work out yesterday, eh Carrie?" Or, if my weight goes up a pound it asks me why I gained weight (but never congratulates me if I lose weight, what a butt!).

But, after two weeks of yoga, and random strength and aerobic exercises I am down four pounds! I only have about 8 pounds left to reach pre-Aaron weight and about 15 pounds to reach my goal weight. And all in the comfort of my living room. Yay!

That's about all that's going on here. Aaron is still balking at a schedule. I can't get the kid to go longer than 2.5 hours between feeds, and nights are worse. I don't know if it's me not training him well and still being in survival mode, or if I expect too much out of my almost 6 week old. We will see. I know he's thriving because I had to adjust the car seat already to the next strap level and he has almost outgrown the bassinet (not cool because I still need him in with me due to the up three times a night thing).


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adventures in the post office

On Monday I mailed Sam a package which included his new laptop. Of course, I had to make it difficult for myself by purchasing the box at the post office, which meant getting in line twice (one of my pet peeves is people who aren't prepared when they get to the front of the line and therefore take FOREVER). I tried out a new post office because I had heard good things about the one in Cypress. So, I braved the post office with the boys and a giant box of stuff to mail Sam.

The line was long, but the line is always long when I go to the Post Office. So, I stood in line watching Nathaniel run back and forth and tried to figure out which box I needed (it was the biggest one). Nathaniel was wearing his "daddy" shirt, which is a shirt from Sam's first deployment to Iraq (Sam has a matching shirt, which is why we call it his "Daddy" shirt). As I neared the front of the line a man behind me asked me, "Is his dad overseas?" I told him yes and it was like the Post Office became a musical. You know, where everyone knows the steps to the dances and the harmonies to the songs? It was crazy. Another lady (who had been loudly questioning my parenting skills by trying to tell Nathaniel to quit running and stay by me, I chose to ignore her up to this point because I hate when people try to parent my kid when I'm standing right there. Besides, I had my eyes on Nathaniel the entire time and there was only two doors in the place so he wasn't in danger of being kidnapped or anything) immediately asked me, "Oh my gosh! And you have a new little one too! How are you doing? Are you coping okay? Can you handle everything?" Other people asked if Sam made it home for the delivery of the new baby (and were shocked and visually saddened when I said no). The man who originally asked me if Sam was overseas took my hand and shook it and said, "Please tell your husband thank you when you talk to him again."

When I got to the front of the line and bought my box everyone began trying to help me put it together. The first guy grabbed tape for me, and when I was told that using that tape meant I needed to mail it priority shipping (which I was planning on doing anyways) he got snotty with the mail clerk and said, "Well, don't you have any other tape for her to use!?" Other people were offering to help me to my car. It was so bizarre and surreal!

As I drove home I felt happy. Normally I don't like the attention that having a deployed spouse brings. It isn't very often that it comes up with strangers, but sometimes it does (I'm not going to lie when someone asks me) and I am usually very uncomfortable with the "I'm sorry your dog got hit by a car" looks I get. But this time I felt encouraged. Kind of like society isn't so bad. People really do care about others, which in this self-centered culture I'm surrounded by was enough for me to stand up and take notice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sam update with pictures.

Here is the latest update from Sam with pictures.

The castle is 13th century Byzantine which was conquered by the Ottomans when they invaded. We went out today to Vitina and had lunch in a great cozy restaurant. There was an Albanian, Kosovo, and US flag flying outside and inside. It was delicious, and they served us coffee on the house.

We also went to see where the Serbians dug their tank positions in 99 up inthe mountains facing Macedonia. They were anticipating a NATO invasion,so those tanks were pointed at us. However, they capitulated and KFOR was able to roll into KOSOVO unthreatened. We also visited a beautiful Albanian Catholic church. Painted on the walls was the OT story, the NT story, and the Catholic Albanian story. Also painted were large portraits of Mother Theresa and Skenderbeg. Skenderbeg was an Albanain war hero who converted back and forth from Islam to Catholicism (acouple of times) and fought the Turks. He is a national hero. I suspect that the church testifies more to their national identity than their religious identity, but I am slightly biased...
I know it sounds like he's playing a lot, but I suspect he's working a whole lot too. I mailed out his new laptop today and will be able to have more pictures then (since he can download them directly onto his computer and email them to me from his room). I also have a story from visiting the post office today which I will post tomorrow. It was kind of cool...

Some resemblance of normalcy

Now that Aaron is a month old we have some normalcy going on in our household. Yes, he is still getting up every two hours to eat during the night, which is really starting to wear on me, but at least I know I only have two hours of sleep in a chunk. Plus, I have found that when Nathaniel wakes up really early throwing a fit, if I just ignore it he will calm down quicker and will play quietly in his room until I get up later. Before, I would try to calm him down which just made things worse for everyone involved. So, Nathaniel gets his morning meltdown out of the way in the privacy of his bedroom and I get about an hour extra of sleep in the morning. It's a win-win situation.

I went back to volunteering at church on Tuesday nights last week. I had gotten to go out for about an hour by myself on Monday and realized that it was exactly what I needed, so I arranged for my "manny" to come back on Tuesday evenings so I could be with my students again. It really revitalized me and I realized that I am a much better mom if I can get some real "me" time a couple of times a week. More than simply an hour or so in the evening between Nathaniel's bedtime and Aaron's first bedtime (although, last night he was awake until nearly 1am without sleeping at all).

I also got a chance to start playing viola again in preparation of Palm Sunday and Easter. I need to figure out when I'm going to practice because some of this music is a bit difficult, but it was nice to actually be playing again (Aaron sits in the rehearsals with me and Nathaniel goes over to his friend's house to play).

We got our new laptops. I think something is wrong with mine because when I close the lid and put it in hibernation mode it won't wake up so I have to do a forced shut down. The internet also freezes a lot and I'm not used to the touch pad being where it is so I often erase everything I have typed because I accidentally highlight all while I'm happily typing away. It's maddening, but I will adjust (and figure out how to get the computer to wake up).

That's about it here. Sam is still doing really well. I have some pictures of him out and about which I will post on another update (I need to download them from my email first).

Monday, March 9, 2009

What is it that you exactly DO?

Lately a lot of people have been asking me what Sam does overseas. It's a great question and I realized that I have no idea. Aren't I a great wife? It's like when people ask me what Sam wants to do with his Philosophy degree once he's finally finished I'm not sure what to say beyond, "be a philosophy professor". I'm not sure exactly what emphasis he is looking at (ethics? Metaphysics? I know it's not religion...hmmm, I think it's metaphysics. What is Notre Dame known for besides football?).

So, today when Sam called me wanting his father's phone number so he could call him for his birthday I asked him, "What is it that you are doing over there?". He had just told me all about going and visiting some 13th century castle and visiting the church of the Black Madonna where Mother Theresa received her calling. To me, it sounds like a great vacation, not work.

Here is what Sam does for the Army over in Kosovo. Sam's job is (oh crap, what was the exact title...?) basically to assess what the soldiers are doing with the locals. He is the Officer in Charge of missions, which means that people come up with a plan on how to help the locals in the area, then they go and put those plans into play. Afterwards they write up what they have been doing and Sam reads the reports and evaluates them and assesses what they are doing, seeing if it is what they should be doing or if they can be doing better things. Also, he does problem solving, working with the soldiers to see how they can work better with the other military presences over there (like the Greece troops and the Polish troops, etc.). Sam is loving his job, mostly because when he gets out of the office and into Sterchy (sp?) he does about 15 minutes of real work and then gets to go and play with the locals. This means drinking coffee, eating pastries, going and seeing 13th century castles...lucky duck.

So, that's what Sam does over there.

And, for the record, even though by the time Sam is finished with his time in the Army he will have 13 years in, he does not want to finish up the next 7 and retire. We HAVE looked at the benefits and weighed them with the costs and realize that the costs on our family and Sam's career goals are too costly. I say this because recently people keep trying to convince me that Sam should stay in the Army and retire since he's been in so long. We really don't want three more deployments and Sam is not an Army person at heart, he really is more of an intellectual.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Care packages to Sam.

I talked to Sam this morning for awhile. He is doing very well and was able to get to Sterchy (not sure of spelling) again for work--which means lots of Turkish coffee and eating out at local dining establishments, must be rough. We were talking about care packages and he started listing the following things that he would like:
coloring books

I stopped him and asked him why he wanted those things. He said that the schools really need supplies out there and the kids could really use some fun things, but humanitarian aid is not allowed to be sent through APOs (army addresses). But, if people happen to send things to soldiers that they like to do (like color a lot) then they can give out those supplies to the kids and schools in the area.

So, if you are going to send Sam a care package, please include some of the above things (lots of them). Here is Sam's maling address (you can get free boxes for shipping packages to APO addresses from the post office and it's only 11.95 to mail the box, no matter the weight):

CPT Samuel S. Grummons
Task Force, RLMT, KFOR 11
Camp Bondsteel
APO AE 09340

Also, some other ideas for care package stuff (for Sam) would be movies from the 5.00 rack at Target (fun movies), music for him to download on his ipod, magazines and snack food (beef jerky, fun snacks from Trader Joe's, etc.).

Just thought I would put it out there. Sam really wants to make a difference in the community around him and I hope we can help!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The one that's not all about the children.

Sam and I moved out to California almost five years ago.

That's hard for me to believe, but as I look back on the past five years I realize so much has happened. Not only have I finished my degree (the whole point of coming out here) but I have also had two beautiful children (okay, so it's a little bit about the kids) and have gotten to know some amazing people.

I think I realized that this place is my home when I can go out to run an errand and it takes awhile because I run into people I know and have conversations. Or, when I'm out at the beach and see former students surfing. Or, when I'm out driving and end up next to a person I know and can honk the horn and wave like a lunatic.

These are things that I never experienced much in Iowa City, the place I hold fondly in my heart. It reminds me of being in high school a bit. It reminds me that this is where I belong--for now.

Now, if I could just get Sam to actually live here too, my life would be complete.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I think we're going to make it.

This is a really cute video I got of the boys last night after bathtime. It was one of those moments where I felt like we were really going to survive. I had both boys bathed and jammied up before 8:30 (which is bedtime). I even got to read to Nathaniel and sit with him for a bit before bedtime.

I think what has made the most difference is my ability to get out and drive. It breaks my day up a bit more and keeps us from going crazy. On Saturday we didn't get out at all and the boys were both crazy all day long, which made me go crazy as well.

Of course, people providing meals for us the past week has also helped us a ton since I don't have to make dinner and the clean up is minimal.

On the potty training front we are having more good days than not. Today was an off day, but Nathaniel did take a three hour nap which kind of puts a cramp in the training (not that I'm complaining about the nap!). Tonight he actually did a #2 in the toilet, which is a milestone for sure!

Not too much else going on. I'm trying to get Aaron on a schedule so I can start pumping and get back to "work". I am going to help out with a new "intern" at church, which is exciting to me to pour all I've learned into a new person who is interested in doing youth ministry. I also just want to be able to get out more and know when food time is for Aaron. I don't want to leave Aaron with a sitter until he's more on a schedule either.

I'm also itching to start working out again. I hate not being able to go running or really work out. I've been walking briskly places though since I've been feeling so great. I think this Sunday I may actually try to walk to church if it isn't too hot. My stroller pushes really easily and it is only a mile away so...we'll see. Although I have things going on every single Sunday through Easter now after church so probably not.

On a random note, Nathaniel is watching Elmo's Potty Time and there is a song montage about being potty trained and all of these kids are dancing around proud to finally be potty trained. I swear, all of the kids are about 4 or 5. Please, shoot me if my kid is four and not potty trained!