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Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Fun!

As a younger version of myself, I never wanted a large family.  My secret hope and dream was to somehow be an only child.  Although I was the second of five and new this to be a technical impossibility, I still dreamed.  When in high school and of an age, I would only babysit for a certain family that paid enough to drag me from my friends because cuddling babies never really appealed to me.

However, when Brandon and I married, I realized that somebody else had different plans for me (and no, it wasn't Brandon - he would like everyone to know that).  So despite firm avowals that children wouldn't even be mentioned until our first anniversary, Kathleen was born three and a half months after that anniversary.  The second anniversary was baby-free, but I spent the third anniversary 8 1/2 months pregnant.  And this anniversary?

Yes, it wasn't spent alone again.  After having had two warm-weather babies, we're welcoming the next one in mid-December, in enough time for me to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday exiled to North Carolina under competent medical care while Brandon spends a lot of time in a big, empty apartment in Cairo.

One day our life will calm down, and by then we won't know what to do with ourselves.  Until then, however, we will enjoy the fun.

Friday, May 29, 2009


When Kathleen was born, Brandon and I lived in a 1-bedroom apartment.  We had no room for a real crib, so she slept in a Graco pack-n-play.  Following that apartment, we moved to a 2-bedroom duplex and thought about buying a real crib.  However, we weren't sure where and when and who would be paying for our next move.  

So Kathleen vacated the pack-n-play, now a little dished out on the bottom, for her little sister Sophia.  Despite 9 additional months of residence in our duplex, we never got around to buying a real crib for Sophia either because when plans were finally made clear, any crib that we would have bought would have gone into storage anyway.

One day last week, however, something came in the mail.  It was heavy, it was 
made of wood, and when we put it together, it looked suspiciously like a crib, the kind that has to be bolted together and can't fold up to fit in one's trunk.  Yes, after over two and half years of children, we finally own a crib.  It's not full sized, but it also isn't made of polyester fabric either.  We all have to take baby steps.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

When Brandon and I married, we set some ground rules for our life together.  Birthdays are important.  He mows the lawn.  We eat meals together at the table.  And holidays are not allowed to be used for anything but holiday-making.  So in that spirit, we headed down to Maryland to my aunt and uncle's house last weekend.

In the TV series Wooster and Jeeves, Jeeves is always going to someone's large house out in the country for a weekend house party.  That is what Brandon and I did.  My aunt and uncle live in beautiful spacious house on a hill overlooking Breton Bay in southern Maryland.  They own a sailboat, a motorboat, have a verandah overlooking the water, and a long, straight driveway that leads to their brick house surrounded by large lawns and gracious trees.

We arrived Friday night and caught up with my parents and brother Mike.  Then we said hello to the cousins-in-residence J.J., Julia, Robbie, and Greg.  After that I admired my cousin, Linsday's, soon-to-arrive baby, said hello to her husband Colin, and met a friend of the family's wife who he brought up for the fun.  

The next morning all of the males in the household + the young men from my uncle's ward + the young men from another ward had a 4-hour paintball war.  The girls went on a walk.  In the afternoon we all went sailing, and that evening the all but the parents went to Lindsay and Colin's summer residence (Colin's parents' house) and watched a movie with their projector.

Sunday we went to church, took long naps, and talked much too long into the night.  Monday was more boating, more friends, and more food before straggling home and trying to stay awake on the drive.  After so much fun, Brandon and I put the girls to bed shortly followed by ourselves promptly at 8:00.  We're still recovering.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dorothy Never Knew

This morning, while trying to keep the girls quiet as breakfast arrived, Brandon started singing.  He often does that, and Kathleen especially likes it.  Sometimes when she's trying to stall during dinner, she'll suggest we all sing 'Popcorn' or 'Happy Birthday.'

This morning Brandon brought out a new song and started singing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'  He has a nice singing voice, and I enjoyed the early-morning serenade and the girls stayed quiet.  Evidently too quiet.

I sat down at the table and we all folded our arms to pray (well, Sophia just looked around in confusion like she does every time we pray).  Only then did we notice Kathleen's face crumpling and hear the beginning of high keening.  Then she started bawling.  'That's a saaaaad song,' she sobbed to us.  'Sing a happy song.'  And her tears wouldn't stop falling until we had sung her several 'happy' songs.

Who knew 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' could bring a two year-old to tears?

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We should have known better.  Sophia has already shown her adeptness at opening her new cloth diapers - it's simple - just grab the velcro tabs and open them up.  And I've heard the stories of what can happen when babies have that ability.  She can't pull her pants off yet, so all it takes is a pair of pants and we're safe.

But unfortunately, she wasn't wearing a pair of pants.  When I walked into her room after nap time, I saw what happens when parents get sloppy.  

The room stank.  Sophia had opened her diaper and had its contents on her clothes, her blankets, her crib, her sheets, and most horrifying, her face.  When I gasped in disgust and amazement she looked up at me innocently with confusion on her face, contrasting poignantly with the other substance on her face, and I couldn't help but laugh.

She will never, ever live it down.


Recently, I bowed to my over-burdened conscience and switched to cloth diapers (I know that yes, this begins to qualify me as Earth Mother, but I haven't gone so far as to purchase cloth diaper wipes.  That is a step too far for me).  

Inherent in the fear of cloth diapers is what exactly does when your child gets around to messy issues.  We can all deal with #1 - it's one of the first lessons of motherhood - but I don't know anyone personally who isn't at least a little squeamish about dealing with other problems.  My husband personally would rather deal with vomit.

So as they always do, the day came this morning when Sophia decided to really test the capacity of her nice, new, pristine, white diaper.  As there was no one else around to fob the job off on, I tackled the problem at hand.  First I shook.  Then I wiped.  Then I wiped some more.  And finally, realizing the wisdom of generations of mothers before me, I took a deep breath and dipped and swished.

I never thought I could do it.  I walked away from the bathroom this morning triumphant and proud, secure in the knowledge that I can do it.  I can tackle poop.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Appearances can be deceiving

Every morning before Brandon heads off for work, we try and have family prayer.  As with most things 'family' it usually includes me, Brandon, and Kathleen because Sophia is almost always asleep.  She'll make up for lost time later.

As with all two year-olds, part of the challenge of family prayer is getting them to sit still, fold their arms, close their eyes, and be quiet and still.  I have decided that the 'keep your eyes closed' rule no longer applies to mother because they have to police their children.  One day I'll get to pray for myself again.

Usually family prayer involves either myself or Brandon keeping Kathleen held down by force with our goal simply being arms folded.  We'll get to eyes closed later.

This morning Kathleen decided to kneel herself and sat there so piously I was beginning to be impressed.  Her arms were folded with eyes closed and bowed head complete with solemn expression.  Perhaps all of our attempts were beginning to have an effect.  It was only after the prayer that I realized the reason for such piety - she was trying to keep her red car carefully tucked under her chin and could only keep it there by very quietly bowing her head.  Perhaps we should try this in church.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And then the rest of the story

Like all good stories, everyone already knows the ending.  We're going to Cairo.  And so, secure in that knowledge that everything ends Happily Ever After, the story can unfold with everyone worrying how it will work out with the security of knowing that it actually will.  Stories are best told after they have concluded, not in medias res.

Six days after Flag Day, Brandon received a call after work from his CDO.  Cairo was no longer an option.  Med had not cleared Kathleen for Cairo because of a medical condition that is really, not much of a condition at all.  However, Med is Med and they have their own, strange criteria for medically fit areas of the world.  Evidently it didn't include Cairo, but did include Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Skopje, Macedonia; Mumbai, India and Lagos Nigeria.  

So we were left with four options and after discussion Brandon was kind enough to honor my preferences and we decided that the Dominican Republic was the place for us.  

Brandon sent out a few e-mails asking Cairo Med to accept us (they wouldn't) and asking Med why in heaven's name Nigeria was supposed to be more medically fit for small children than Cairo (dengue fever, malaria, car jackings, and home invasions vs. an incredibly slim chance of hospitalization?).

Meanwhile, we got ready to go to the DR.  I did the most important thing and looked up resorts we could use our 21 holiday days on.  We looked at cars and how much we wanted to spend on them.  I looked at flights.  We planned a nice R&R to Tortola.  And I thought about spending the next two years in a crumbling Caribbean country.  Not that bad of a prospect, really.

So the next Friday morning came, and Brandon composed an email to his CDO informing her that the DR was the place for us.  Before, however, he could send it, we got this email:

Mr. Sherwood, I have reviewed your daughter’s case and have approved Cairo for her. She is still a class 2 and needs post approval for her next post. judy

And so, all thoughts of Caribbean beaches disappeared in a pouf of sand, honking cars, and Egyptians.