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Friday, June 26, 2009

Everybody loves Goldfish (Especially Kathleen)

Recently, we have been having... struggles... with getting to Kathleen to bed. She goes happily enough but getting her to stay in her bed without getting out again and pushing bins over to her sister's crib or pushing her own bed around or rummaging through her drawers or drawing (with black pen) on the walls and window sills or screaming or talking at the door or asking 20 times to go to the bathroom is a problem.
First we tried taking her blanket away, but that raised such terrible howls that it was being counter-productive (it was waking Sophia up, and she was the whole reason Kathleen was supposed to stay in bed). Then we tried sending her to time-out in the basement. That worked for awhile, but then the fear wore off. Yelling didn't work, and neither did threats. The two hours following Kathleen's bedtime were beginning to become my most dreaded, instead of looked-for, two hours of the day.

And then I remembered a story that my mother had told me. There was a particular Primary class in her ward that had absolutely horrendous behavior. They wouldn't sit. They wouldn't listen. They wouldn't be quiet. They chased every teacher off that thought about taking them to task. Until a new teacher came to town, a devious teacher that knew the psyche of 8 year-old children. He brought an egg crate into class and labeled each cup with a class member's name. He filled each cup with an equal number of jelly beans. And then when a child would act up in class, he would simply look at that child, and begin eating their jelly beans. My mother commented that nobody had ever seen such an obedient Primary class after this teacher took them to task.

I am an ardent admirer of deviousness, especially when used on small children, because they can always resist brute force. So a few nights ago Kathleen got a cup filled with goldfish. The goldfish, we told her, would be all hers in the morning provided that we didn't have to come into her room and tell her to go to sleep. However, every time we came in, we'd eat a goldfish. After two goldfish consumed by me, Kathleen has come to realize that we aren't kidding.

And so silence reigns supreme again at bedtime and I am happy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh Boy!

After almost three years of motherhood I have started to get the hang of child rearing; I can give false choices (would you like to eat your dinner or go to bed?), I can bathe two at once, I can even clean poop off diapers.

So when I became pregnant with the third, I figured that we'd just add one more to the equation (plus a little household help) and life would continue on.  Then I got an ultrasound while visiting my parents.

At least I'll have household help to clean up the inevitable disasters.

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

This last weekend, my entire family gathered down in North Carolina for my youngest brother's high school graduation.  Nine years ago at my own graduation, I did not have the same feelings about my family as I do now - I think that immediately following graduation I took off and did something with friends.  Who wants to hang out with family anyway?

Now, however, with time and hopefully added wisdom (and also a precipitous drop in the number of friends nearby) I have come to not only appreciate but really enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy it enough that I will pack up my two children with all of their stuff all by myself so as to be ready the minute Brandon gets out of work so we can spend six hours driving down to see my family for two days before turning around and driving another 5 1/2 hours back up to Arlington to spend Monday recovering and nursing a sick child (somebody always gets sick on trips).

When I was a child I couldn't understand why we would go through such rigamarole and drive the incredibly impossible time of five whole hours just to see family for a few days.  But now I  understand.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and Kathleen adored her uncles Sam and Mike, and she used her last half hour of freedom to convince Mike to swing her in the swings one last time.  She and cousin Nathan had so much fun hugging that they almost fell off a bridge into my parents' fish pond.  Sophia enjoyed having a whole new house with staircases to explore.  And I enjoyed spending time with my siblings, their spouses and children and my parents without any fights.  For the entire weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lies We Tell

As a child, I suspect that my parents entertained themselves greatly by telling me all kinds of whoppers.  Great disappointment came one day when I looked in the mirror and discovered that my eyes did not change color when I blinked as my parents had always lauded me for.

Today, Kathleen, Sophia, and I went down to the nurse's office at FSI to get 'poked,' as Kathleen terms it.  Sophia took things fairly well, finding solace in her thumb and blanket.  Kathleen, who had been talking all week about the Swedish Fish she would get as a reward for bravery, did not as evidenced by her screams and attempts to kick the nurse.

This evening, as I was putting Kathleen down to bed, a health exam nurse (for life insurance - yes we really are becoming adults) came to our house.  Not being up to her usual bedtime antics, I told Kathleen that if the nurse heard her, Kathleen would get poked again.  I haven't heard even a rustle.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Unexpected Expenses

As Brandon is a member of the Foreign Service, our lifestyle varies somewhat from the typical middle-class American.  A lot of aspects in fact are very desirable - we don't pay rent or most utilities, we get paid plane tickets back to the states to visit family, when I come back to deliver #3 I'll get a stipend to pay for food, our moving expenses are always paid for, we live in foreign countries that have inexpensive hired help (thank heaven!!), we live in countries that have a favorable exchange rate (for Americans),and we don't have a mortgage or car payments.  One our acquaintances in Cairo termed this lifestyle "sacking cash."

A few days ago, however, I stumbled on a particular downside to the move-around-the-world-on-the-goverment's-dime lifestyle - luggage.  When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a set of two American Tourister suitcases.  I used those suitcases a lot.  They come home with me every summer and Christmas stuffed to the zippers (back in the good old days of two 75-lb bags per flight [and 3 if you flew Southwest]), carried my life out to Vienna, around Europe and Turkey, and back, carried it out to Egypt and back, and on numerous and sundry smaller trips.  But when we made the move out to Arlington, Brandon and I realized that the suitcases (including Brandon's suitcase that had schlepped his things around Ukraine for two years) had reached the end of their usefulness.

And that is how I found myself on my favorite shopping tool - the internet - contemplating the order of six (yes - six!!!) brand new very expensive Pathfinder suitcases.  All of which are now marshaled in my basement awaiting travel orders to Egypt.  And the cost?  If we put them in our 1996 Honda Civic, they'd be worth about half the value of the car.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

But until that baby comes...

When I was quite pregnant with Kathleen (quite a while ago now), Brandon's family had a reunion.  The Sherwoods live in southeast Missouri about an hour away from Branson, the place where Las Vegas stars to go die.  In addition to shows, Branson has a theme park, Silver Dollar City, which comes with the requisite roller coasters.

I enjoy roller coasters, but the park has rules about 7 1/2-month pregnant women riding roller coasters.  I vowed, however, that the next time I was able to go to an amusement park, I would not be so pregnant, and I would not be taking Kathleen with me either.

About 1 1/2 hours south of us lies Kings Dominion, one of the many amusement parks scattered along the East Coast.  Neither Brandon nor I had had the opportunity to go to any roller coasters since that time with his family, and I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass because who knows when the next time will come?  There certainly aren't roller coasters in Egypt - between the sand and lack of maintenance the roller coasters would be defunct in a month.

Last Saturday, I took our opportunity.  Our neighbor girl, Clara, was happy to babysit our little darlings while Brandon and I took off for the day.  I have a firm policy about children who have to ride in strollers and amusement parks.  They're not allowed.

We had a wonderful time, and rode every large roller coaster in the park.  Despite all of the twisting, looping, dropping, high-velocity roller coasters he encountered, Brandon was only scared by the upside-down Pirate Ship and vowed he would never ride one again.  He muttered something about bars failing and splatting on the ground below.

And the best part about our outing?  We didn't have to wipe a single bottom, not once did we tell someone to sit down, and when we got home the girls were in bed, asleep.  And that was worth every single penny we paid Clara.