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Sunday, November 13, 2011

And now there are six

Last Sunday, Brandon declared that it was time to decide on a name for the baby.  I turned to the girls who were coloring at the table and asked them whether they would like to name the baby William or Joseph.  "Joseph," Kathleen declared.  I turned to Sophia.  "Jospeh," she confirmed.  Brandon turned to me.  "Joseph," I agreed.

"Fine," he returned, "you win, but I don't have to like it."

And so without further ado, introducing Joseph, the newest member of our family.

He arrived without any trouble and is happy and healthy.  The girls are delighted with their new brother, constantly begging me to be able to feed him with a bottle, bathe him, change his diapers, and feed him.  Edwin loves to hold him, for about thirty seconds, before he dumps Joseph off his lap to go do something else.

I am doing well, and enjoying the wonderful help of my dear sister who has taken a week to come and help out.  The children have enjoyed more walks and parks this past week than in the past month.

We're all happy to have another addition to our family!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's time

This last week has been busy.  On Wednesday I sent off two tons of food to be shipped to Baku.  Then in the next few days I baked six loaves of bread, made a gallon of granola, switched all of the maternity clothes out of my closet and drawers, pulled out the baby clothes and things, took sent the children off for a sleepover, went out for one last evening with Brandon, took him to the doctor (bronchitis), cleaned out all of the random boxes from my stairwells, and set a new record for loads of laundry washed, folded and put away in one day (ten loads).  Today we went to the grocery store, and I picked up my sister from the airport this evening after taking the children to the park.

I think that I'm ready to crawl into my hospital bed and let them poke me with an IV of pitocin just so I can get some rest.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bringing Baby 'Home'

This morning as I was scrolling through Facebook, I looked through some pictures that my cousin has posted of her new baby.  As I looked through the pictures, I noticed the background - nice couches, a fire burning in a fireplace, attractive built-in bookcases, and a general sense of somewhere happy and lovely, filled with a happy family.

And then I thought of pictures when I bring my baby home.  Someone else's couch, someone else's artwork on the wall, paint I didn't choose, and a borrowed bassinet.  I thought about bringing home my other babies - same story with every one except Sophia.  And of course, six weeks after that baby comes 'home,' we'll leave for another 'home,' one filled with Embassy-issued furniture and Embassy standard white walls.

There are many many things I love about being in the Foreign Service.  So many, in fact, that we plan on staying with this gig for the next twenty years.  But, just as with any situation, there are downsides.  That's life; nothing is perfect.

And one thing that I realized when I looked through those lovely pictures of a lovely baby in a lovely home is that I'm not going to have that home for decades.  I'm turning thirty in a few months.  Since I left home at eighteen and went to college, I have lived in exactly one location where I owned everything inside.  And that was a little hole that turned from a place for a few months into a place for almost two years.  Every other place I've ever lived in I have had someone else furnish just about everything.

And that's not about to change because I'm too cheap to 1. buy nice furniture 2. pay to have it shipped around and 3. pay to have it fixed after it's shipped.  And I'm okay with that - it comes with the territory that includes household help, employer-provided housing, and weekend trips to Turkey.  So don't feel too sorry for me.

But I do look forward to that long, long-off day when I can ruin my own couches, choose (and pay for) the exact appliances I want, and choose my own dang light fixtures.  One day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Consumables Saturday

Last Saturday, it snowed in northern Virginia.  Well, first it rained, then it turned to freezing rain, and finally snow mixed in with the rain.  It was a nasty, cold, day - the coldest day we've had since coming here.  It was the sort of day where you put on a movie for the children, get out a book for yourself, and everyone drinks hot chocolate.

However, it was also the last Saturday before our consumables shipment is scheduled for pick-up.  And so that is how I found myself driving to Woodbridge in the rain with my entire car empty and ready to receive the bounty of my credit-card melting day.

My first stop was Sams Club, the only locally available source for McCormick chicken base (fifty cans), bulk Ghirardelli double chocolate chips (twenty-four pounds), and popcorn (one hundred fifty pounds).  Some very kind men took pity and helped load the car with my chocolate chips and various and sundry other items, including the obligatory and very necessary Charmin.

After a short stop at Aldi for milk chocolate chips (I had made sure to stock up on butterscotch earlier in the week) and sliced almonds, I continued in the drizzling rain to the Bishops Storehouse for 250 pounds of wheat and fifty pounds of black beans.  Once again a kind soul took pity on me and loaded my now quite-full car with the twenty-five pound bags.  I should shop more while thirty-eight weeks pregnant.

My last stop was Costco, this time in the rain mixed with freezing rain.  I rounded up my flat-bed cart amid the thronging Saturday crowds and started piling.  Paper towels, laundry detergent, dish detergent, whole grain penne and rotini, macaroni and cheese, napkins, contact solution, toilet wet wipes, goumet chocolates (I can't go two years without my tasty chocolate), and the all-important two hundred pounds of brown sugar piled my car higher and higher.

By the time I reached the register, I could barely push my trolley piled to the height of my shoulders, and I was nervous.  My car was already full when I came to Costco, and I had just as much, if not more things than were already in the car.  After fifteen or twenty minutes of checking out, I handed my cart over to a very nice man and fetched my car for loading.

Thankfully, he couldn't speak much English, so we just made wry faces at each other through the snow and started rearranging and packing the endless pile of stuff into my already-overloaded car.  By the time we were through twenty minutes later, I literally had boxes of penne crammed to the roof and my front seat was full of freshly-scented boxes of Bounce dryer sheets.  As I backed out of my space, I prayed that nobody would foolishly decide to walk behind me as there was no possible way for me to see them.

As I drove home, I called Brandon to warn him of his long, hard slog up the stairs to our townhouse carrying the fruits of my labor.  In the snow.  After an hour and a half of unloading, everything had made it into the living room, piled neatly and waiting for the movers and Brandon was soaked with snow and rain.

And now I can go into labor with one less thing to worry about.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating Halloween in the US

I've never been much of a Halloween celebrant.  I blame my mother.  We were banned from trick-or-treating after fifth grade, and the older I've gotten the less festive I've become.  I was quite happy to live overseas and miss out on all of the excitement.

Brandon recalls trick-or-treating once when he was five, and for every Halloween after, his father would cover the windows with blankets and pretend they weren't home while the family watched movies and ate candy.

So I blame Brandon for this Halloween.  We started the season early with a visit to a pumpkin patch.  And then for Family Home Evening we actually carved the things.  The last time we carved pumpkins was when Kathleen was two and I ended up scraping it off the porch in February right before we moved to DC for the Foreign Service.

Then on Saturday we went to the ward Halloween party where the girls dressed up as princesses.  Of course it was pure coincidence that I gave them princess dresses for Christmas last year and they dressed up as princesses for Halloween.

And tonight we lit up our pumpkins and dressed the girls up again.  Edwin and I stayed home (he went to bed) while Brandon led the girls around our little complex.  They came home after ten or so houses thrilled with the candy they had picked up and made a grand evening of stuffing themselves with more candy they had ever eaten in their short lives and making candy trails across the floor.

So that will be their only memory of Halloween, at least for the next few years.  And when they ask why we don't celebrate Halloween, I'll point out that yes, we did once, and I'll show them pictures for proof.