Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Third Of A Year In One Shot

So....I can't get my blogging shit together.
I'm really not sure why.
No. I do know why. Our office is the least baby friendly room in our whole house.
That's why.
That's mostly why.
 
But we have this little girl in the family that is a scant few weeks away from celebrating her first birthday. And it's reminding me that I am doing a craptacular job of documenting her first year.
 
So, let's catch up.
Pictorially, anyway.
 





 
Yes, she is now 11 months old, but have I managed to get those pics uploaded from the camera? Of course not.
 


Monday, January 27, 2014

Blazing In The New Year

I hate fireworks.
 
Okay. Not totally true.
 
I'm all for watching professional firework shows. You know, the ones where I can watch from a blanket under the stars located many, MANY kilometers from the danger of the actual fireworks. Shows that are fun to watch because they're pretty and orchestrated to music. And most importantly, they're operated by people that have degrees in chemistry and explosives...and those people are not somehow bound to me by marriage or blood and I don't have to get super upset when they do something stupid and blow off their own hand.
 
Yes. I'm all over those magnificent explosions of the periodic table.
 
But I hate fireworks.
 
You know, the ones sold on the side of the highway. They ones whose construction is dubious...at best. Made in China (I checked). Do I want the explosives I'm about to set off in my backyard to be made in China?...somehow shipped to the US?...yeah, I'm not worried at all about the conditions to which these chemicals have been exposed over the last...wait, does anyone have a clue how old these things are?
You know, the kind of fireworks that make a lot of noise and way too little visual beauty. The kind of fireworks that ANY Joe Shmoe off the street can walk up and buy...and light...even though they barely passed their high school science classes and spent last New Years in jail for a DUI.

Yes. Those fireworks scare the crap out of me.

Unfortunately, the guy I married does not feel the same way.

To be fair, he does have more training than the average Joe Shmoe. There's all that medical background, but even before he did that stuff, he went to fire school with the plans to become a fireman. (Things veered a bit when he was finishing his clinical hours for his paramedic license that were part of his fire training....he realized he really liked medicine.)
This helps ease my mind a tiny bit when it comes to the fireworks thing. A tiny bit. But a tiny bit doesn't take much out of my Mount Everest of worry. Eh, you can pretty much consider it negligible. Regardless of whatever knowledge he holds, I still think he is entirely too excited about exploding things in our backyard. As you can imagine, this tends to be a recipe for marital distress around holidays like New Year's and the Fourth of July.

So New Year's Eve rolls around...
The last few years have coincided with us visiting Texas during most of the firework inducing holidays, so it's been a while since we've done anything at home. But this year we had just returned from a week in Texas for Christmas. We weren't in the mood for much more than watching the Aggies play football, still, it didn't surprise me when late in the afternoon, the dreaded phrase was uttered.

"Let's get some fireworks!"

Sigh.

It didn't take long to discover that a few blocks down the road from us was the nearest fireworks stand. Bryan let the kids pick out a few things. They didn't buy a lot probably because of all the bitching I did last July 4th when people bought way too many and the fireworks dragged on forever and got really boring, and most of what they did buy were the seemingly innocuous things that little kids enjoy - sparklers, the pops that you throw on the floor, etc.

Now, very few people in this family consider staying up till midnight to be a fun - or wise - decision. So by 7pm we were ready to let the kids do a few fireworks so we could hunker down with the football game in our PJ's. Bryan took the big kids in the back yard. I stayed inside with the baby. Our back door is mostly glass so I set Lola in front of it to watch the shenanigans going on outside. I started to clean the kitchen. I'd barely had time to put a dinner plate in the dishwasher when I heard Georgia start crying outside.

Well, no surprise there. There is always someone in this family crying and it is usually one of the girls.

Georgia proceeds to bring her crying into the house.

"Mommy, there's fire!" (Loud crying voice, not an excited one.)

"Well of course there is fire. You're doing sparklers."

Now there is something you should know about Georgia. She does not "cry wolf". Ever.
If Georgia says there is a spider, there is a spider. If Georgia says there is a mouse in the kitchen, there is a mouse. I have learned to listen to our third child because every single time she has made some crazy claim...she has been right. So if Georgia says that a baby alligator is eating all of the cereal in the pantry and that it's raining purple frogs outside and hurry up, cause she wants you to come see it...then you better be ready for an alligator and frogs. The girl doesn't play.

So I should have listened when she came into the house crying about a fire.

In the midst of my conversation with her, Bryan comes barreling into the house, grabs the rug near the backdoor, and dashes back outside with nary an explanation. This is when I start to get a vague feeling of unease. All moms know what I'm talking about. I know where everything is in this house and what everyone is doing, and if I don't know...then whatever is going on, is bad.

So I went outside to figure out what was happening...
...to find my backyard on fire.

In the space of about 2 seconds, I registered a few things.
Fear. A grass fire, five feet away from your house, rapidly spreading and your husband frantically trying to beat it out with a rug, tends to induce a good dose of fear. Then there's disbelief. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Am I really watching a fire spread across my backyard right now?
Naturally, there's anger. I mean, how many times have I said that this shit is dangerous and then I get accused of being a Debbie Downer. (I keep telling you all, I am a realist. And realists know that shit can and will hit the fan more than you want it to.)

At this point I still didn't know the how's or the why's of the situation, but Georgia had followed me outside, still crying, and Anabelle was on the verge of her own tears. Bryan was busy trying to kill the fire so no explanations were coming from that corner, but Anabelle, standing in the grass just off the porch, with a lit sparkler in her hand, shakily offers a recap of the whole deal.

"Georgia put her sparkler down...she got scared of it and she put it down...and now there's a fire."

Guess there is the how and the why I was looking for.
But as Anabelle is talking to me, I can clearly read on her face that she is terrified. She's looking at the fire, and then the sparkler she has in her own hands, and it's almost like I can read her mind.

A sparkler caused that fire...I don't want that to happen to me...I better put this down.

And even as she is talking to me she starts to bend down to get rid of the sparkler. I started screaming, "NOOOOO" and rushing towards her. It all felt like a slow motion scene in a movie.

Yep. You are guessing correctly.

There are now two fires in our backyard.

One more time, for good measure...Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

But despite my internal thoughts - and internal fear of chemicals combusting around the 800 degree mark (Celsius, peeps) and higher - there was another part of me that said, "Oh hell no. I will not lose the house I've owned for all of six months to a backyard fire started by a sparkler."...and off I went to stomp the crap out of Fire #2. Thankfully, I was close enough that some rapid stomping was enough to get it under control. And thankfully, I was wearing my running shoes that have a thick rubber sole.

 And even more thankfully, I finished my fire fighting endeavors to look up and see that Fire #1 was now getting smaller. Bryan had been hard at work. He hadn't even noticed the mini fire that Anabelle had caused.

The fires officially put out, we all just kind of looked at each other. I'm sure all five of us were thinking some version of, Damn, that was scary. (I don't have a clue what the baby was doing during all this. She was somewhere in the house.)

This should have been the end of any and all fireworks, but not wanting to disappoint the kids, Bryan did one more that was shaped like a rubber duck and was specifically made to stay in one spot on the porch. If this thing wasn't safe, nothing would be. And it wasn't safe. Well, we didn't have any issues with it, but I knew Bryan was nervous from the way he ran back and forth on the back porch, making sure any and all sparks that got within six feet of the edge were completely trampled. For my part, I stayed safely inside with the baby shooting death glares at my husband through the window for even attempting to do another firework. He must have gotten the message. The festivities were officially shut down for the night and we traded the terrifying excitement of fire for the much more palatable excitement of watching the Aggies win their last game with Johnny Manziel.

Post fire picture.


So, lesson learned...dormant Bermuda grass in Oklahoma is extremely flammable. I now hate fireworks even more than I did before. Of course, I also now have a good trump card for shooting down the fireworks idea in the future.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping that night. Realists are good at worrying. It was hard not to think of all those people that had been at the fireworks stand, and where exactly were they setting those off, and was one going to land in the pasture next to our neighborhood...

Turns out, my fears were not at all unfounded.
Before the first month of 2014 could even pass, I would find myself dealing with a much bigger, and much scarier, fire...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Returning

Maybe you noticed...
I took an impromptu break from blogging. Well, it started out as an impromptu break. Then it became a very deliberate break as the holidays approached and 2013 closed with a lot of hectic changes for our little family unit.
 
Sometimes blogging feels like I've given myself a lifelong homework assignment.
 
But despite that feeling, I really do enjoy documenting our family life. I suck at keeping up with the kid's baby books. I might remember to order pictures, like, once a year. And sadly, I've had to backtrack on Facebook more than a few times just to recall when one of our kids did something important. But when you know at least a handful of other people are looking forward to your new blog posts, well, that helps to keep this train moving.
And I appreciate that. Because it really is great to be able to click back a few years and see what we were doing. It's amazing what you can forget over the course of just a few months. Ultimately, the person I blog for is ME.
 
So I am now making a concerted effort to get back into the swing of this. Most of the hectic changes that have kept us busy aren't all that exciting or blog worthy. Mainly we've been trying to settle into the new schedule of Bryan's career. Lola is SUPER mobile now and that has not helped me sit down to blog one little bit. We had planned on staying in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving but our plans were drastically rearranged when my grandfather died the Sunday before that holiday. We ended up traveling to Texas (about an 8 hour drive) twice during the holiday season and that pretty much made me too tired to blog for all of December.
 
But hey, new year, new goals. Right?
I'll try, anyway.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Six Year Old Girl

Six years ago I had a baby girl.
 
 
She turned into a pretty cute one year old.
(And don't worry, she has one year old pics with our traditional sign, but she isn't smiling in any of them - or even looking at the camera for that matter - so I went with this one instead.)
 
 
I've spent the last week trying to decide if the last six years have been the quickest six years of my life, or the slowest. So much "living" has been condensed in the last six years that it's somehow both.
 
 
The above picture made me laugh. I guess 2 year old Anabelle wasn't that interested in posing with her sign.
 
 
Okay, so maybe a LOT of her two year old pictures make me laugh. I haven't looked at them in years. Apparently, the faces she makes at the age of 6 are just the more grown up version of the faces she was making at the age of 2.
 
 
Anabelle has always seemed older than her actual age, and that was especially true around the age of three. I often catch myself thinking that Georgia seems younger than she is, but it's because I'm always mentally comparing her to how Anabelle was at three -  completely unfair, I know. Also not intentional and incredibly hard not to do when your kids are the same gender.
 
By three we were seeing the super emotional side of our second child. All emotions. She was stubborn, she was sweet, and, wow, could she cry over anything and everything.
She is still ALL of those things.
But at six she is better at controlling her haywire emotions. Or maybe that's just the difference between boys and girls. I don't know. Braden is still probably our most sensitive kid, but Anabelle is the one most likely to cry over any perceived slight.
 
 
I'm looking forward to the age of 6 with Anabelle. It was a good year with Braden, so I'm expecting...hoping...for the same with her. All the awesomeness of having a big kid in the house, but without the snarky attitude that we now get out of our first child.
But don't get me wrong, the kid can still be a big ol' bag of grumpiness - as evidenced by the fact that she has gotten very little good sleep over the last week and I'm getting the brunt of that every morning. The problem? She STILL coughs like a 50 year old chain smoker when she gets a cold or ANY drainage in her system. I just keep thinking that surely, one of these days, that cough will get better. But...I can't say that it has. Not really. The other night I listened to her body clenching outbursts, because you know, as her mother, I can't sleep when she's having one of those episodes. Seriously, every twenty seconds for 30 - 45 minutes.  Then she stops for half an hour or so, but it always starts back up again despite my efforts to help her out. I guess I still have hope that she'll outgrow the severity of her coughing. In the meantime, it's pretty easy to forgive her grumpiness knowing how exhausting her nights have been lately.
 
 
Anabelle is in kindergarten this year. It's full day kinder, so her first year of doing a full school day. Last year in Georgia she was doing gymnastics. We didn't let Braden get involved in extra-curricular activities until the end of first grade. That was intentional. I wanted him to understand that school comes first. You show me that you can handle a full day at school and keep up good grades and a good mood...then we'll talk about adding in more activities. But last year I let that slide a bit with Anabelle. She did fine, but she was definitely tired after working in two nights a week of gymnastics with her pre-k schedule. For that reason, I've held back on letting her start any activities since we moved to Oklahoma. Master kindergarten, my sweet girl, and then we'll talk.
Maybe in the spring I'll let her start something.
 
As far as kindergarten goes, she's doing incredibly well. Appears to be a little angel in class (you better be). Her teacher had a baby the week before we did her conference, so I don't know much about where she stands academically. Let me rephrase that...I know she's doing fine and isn't struggling with anything. I just don't know details.
I do know that her reading has improved exponentially in the last month, just based on reading with her at home. Right now her reading is probably a semester ahead of where Braden was at this age.
We noticed between the age of 2 and 3 that Anabelle picks up on things really easily. That hasn't changed. I hate to admit it, but her recent reading progress is mainly due to her own tenacity and intelligence...and not because I've been working with her (other than reading nightly). She really spoils us...we don't have to work very hard with her. Well...maybe with her behavior, but definitely  not academically.
 
 
This year I've learned that Anabelle is really good with a baby. If I need someone to safely hold Lola, I call Braden, but if I need someone to play with and entertain her, I call Anabelle.
 
 
She's still very girly. She's been begging me all year to let her pick out a "party" dress for her birthday, so two weeks ago we went shopping. The picture above is what she chose. Pink and tulle and sparkles. And this is what we settled on AFTER I talked her down from the first dress she picked out. (Something involving fake fur and glitter...I just couldn't do it.) Have I ever mentioned that I avoided buying pink things during her pregnancy? Right. So naturally this is the direction she skips down every chance she gets. But of course, on her, I love it.
 
 
She still loves My Little Pony, but she balances it out with a mad obsession over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When we went school clothes shopping this year, she was super pissed off that they didn't make TMNT underwear for girls.
 
 
 This year I've noticed that Anabelle is becoming more and more of a rule follower. That comes straight from me. And I've also managed to turn her into a tooth brushing Nazi. The kid will NOT go to bed until the toothbrush has been employed - even if she was dead asleep in the car and you're trying to convince her that just this once, it'll be okay if she goes straight to bed.
She's still our best sleeper (aside from the coughing). It's not unusual for her to put herself to bed if it's past 8pm and she's tired. She has some of her Aunt Brandy in her!
She also like to talk in different voices. Sometimes it's cute. Sometimes it annoys the crap out of me. I get the feeling that she's picked up on this from some of the other girls in her class.
 
But mostly this year, I've noticed that her sweet side is at the forefront of her demeanor. I keep reminding myself to enjoy it. She actually wants to be with me. She wants to cuddle. And she says I love you because she actually means it and isn't trying to wiggle out of a punishment. I need the reminder because I'm not a very demonstrative person. And after being with an infant all day, I'm pretty "touched out" by the time evening rolls around.
But I know Anabelle won't be this way forever...won't be six forever...so I'm enjoying the cuddles while I have them.
 
Happy Birthday, Bellie Boo!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Months Old

Soooo....four seems to be the magic number of children that keep me busy enough to NOT blog. Or at least not finish a blog post and actually get it out into the cyber world. Apologies. But it's the reason you are only getting pictures...again...a month late...again.






 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's Worse Than A Pregnancy Scare?

 
A deployment scare.
And the two have a ridiculous amount in common. Let me count the ways...

1. It Drops Out Of The Blue On A Seemingly Innocuous Day
Like October 1st. A day you thought might be kind of shitty because of the looming government shutdown, but then you woke up to find that someone in the government decided to get a bunch of their friends on the We're Not Total Dill Holes bandwagon and managed to ensure that the military will at least get paychecks. Things are looking up. Only to crash - and crash hard - when a very reliable source informs you that the unit you are slotted to join is deploying.

2. There's A Due Date
January. You are supposed to deploy in January. Suddenly your family has a very clear timeline in front of them. You just spent three months away from your family and now you only have three months to enjoy them, prepare to deploy, and to prepare the whole household for you to be gone for a long time.

3. There's Crying
Of course there is. Why wouldn't there be crying?

4. You Think Of The 8,764 Things That Need To Be Done Before The Day Gets Here
Three months. Only three months to get everything ready. Three months to make sure the family will be okay while a major pillar of it's structure is gone. I have to learn how to use the riding lawn mower. And weed eat. We need to have a security system installed. We promised the kids a pet, should probably get that while Dad is still here. We've never taken family pictures. Need to get a Daddy Doll for all 4 kids. Stock the tornado shelter. Stock up on toiletries, non-perishable food, detergents, diapers, medicine...lots of medicine. Get the van serviced. Do I need new tires? Do we have enough money for all this? Doesn't matter. Has to be done.

5. You Think Of The 8,764 Things That You're Going To Miss Out On
How much will your partner miss this time around? He won't be here for the second round of parent teacher conferences. Or any of Braden's cub scout meetings. Or your birthday, but that's not a big deal. It is a big deal that he'll miss Georgia's 4th birthday and...oh crap...Lola's first birthday. He'll miss the end of the school year AND the beginning of the next school year. And fantastic, he won't be around for the birds and bees talk with Braden. Guess there won't be any family vacations. It'll be over a year before I have "alone" time again and whatever plans I had to get back into running have now been delayed by a minimum of 12 months.

6. There's Panic
I can't do this. I can not do this. Why are you not writing me a prescription for anxiety meds right now?

7. You Keep It Secret For A While
Because it's the kind of thing where, until you have truly solid information, it's best not to go spreading it around. A lot can change. A lot can go wrong (or right). And since you already know this is a scare, probably you can see why we never said anything to anyone...even if that is incredibly difficult for someone's wife to accomplish.

8. There's Acceptance
Fine. I will do this. I will hate every effing minute of it and no one will want to be near me because of the year long bad mood I'm about to be in, but I'll do it.
Mostly because I don't have a choice.
And I don't really want to go to jail for holding my own husband hostage from the government.

9. You Look For the Silver Linings
Well I guess it'll be nice not to have anyone bug me about cooking good dinners for the next year. And I won't be forced to watch football ALL weekend. And you get paid more during a deployment so we'll be able to pay down debt faster.
Yeah, that's all I got.
(And don't list the cons...that list would be scary.)

10. There's A Lot Of Relief - And A Smidge Of Disappointment - When The Situation Changes
You've spent almost a month worrying about a deployment when one more piece of information falls into place and you find out that YOUR family is not going to be a part of the deployment. Your whole world is suddenly different. You expect the relief, but are surprised to feel just a tiny bit of regret. Maybe you had started to look forward to paying off that debt faster. And your soldier doesn't want to leave, but the deployments are necessary experience for him to get promotions and keep his career moving forward.
But mostly there is relief.
And you really notice the relief when it affects your life in small ways - like this past weekend when your husband was mowing the yard and you didn't have to make your 8 year old watch the baby so you could learn how to operate the riding mower.
You just kept folding clothes with a smile on your face.

***

There have been zero pregnancy scares for us, but there has been exactly one big fat deployment scare since Bryan came home. Funny, for this exact reason, I had avoided asking Bryan what unit he was slotted to join here at Sill. Maybe that sounds silly, but if you don't even know what unit he'll be in, you can't go searching for information you might not want to hear. For his part, Bryan was operating in the same way. He knew the unit, but wasn't about to contact anyone until he absolutely had to.

However, as a PA, his Army world is a whole lot smaller than it used to be. All it took was one of his friends signing into their unit to find out that his new unit was deploying.
Sometimes, the information finds you.

It often feels like getting accurate information in the military is near impossible. And deployments are situations where secrecy of information is necessary to keep both missions and people safe. So it's frustrating to feel like you're operating off of rumors and half truths, but you start to see why this happens. Bryan was right to want to keep the impending deployment a secret, because it turns out, there's more to the story.

Bryan took 30 days of leave after BOLC, so until this week, he has been at home with us. He signed into his unit last Friday. That's when we learned that his unit is deploying to the Middle East, BUT for whatever reason, only half of the unit is going and he is NOT one of the people being sent.
It still makes me nervous that they could change their mind and sweep more of the unit into the deployment, but for now, it looks like we get to have our family together for the next year or so.

Bullet dodged.
For now.