Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Morning, Afternoon


This morning I was the creepy person taking a hasty cell phone picture in the school parking lot. It doesn't do the lighting justice, but I had to try. The golden sunshine through all those pine trees was just so pretty. I wanted to remember it, because the way those pines grow so straight and close on the flat ground is such a Carolina look, one that I am in danger of taking for granted, yet so unique to where we are right now. 

(No points being awarded for grammar in the above paragraph.) Moving on. 


This afternoon I grabbed some sewing time and continued work on new covers for the living room couch pillows. Nothing fancy, just fabric I've had on hand for this project for, oh, six months now?  Pillows always seem like such a simple proposition but they kinda take a lot of patience... especially installing zippers. One nice side effect of Amy being in school is that both kids seem to really miss each other, and have been spending huge chunks of time playing together in the afternoons with little attention required from me. Sewing time upstairs by myself for 45 minutes?  Good deal. And I could hear every word the little munchkins were saying downstairs, so there was no lack of supervision. 

And that is all.  The middle part of my day involved a lot of thinking - about nothing personal, just big-picture, societal-problem-type stuff... too heavy, really.  Felt grounded by the moments in these two pictures. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Week: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Well I find myself here on a cool Saturday morning, alone in the house because Don took the kids fishing, and thought I'd take a moment to recap our first week of kindergarten, for our own enjoyment, and I hope for yours as well. And I should say that despite the title and organization of this post, it was on the whole a fantastic week. Here we go.


- Amy did an awesome job. She was cheerful and excited every morning and was just as cheerful and excited when I picked her up each afternoon. She has had no shortage of details to share about her classmates, classroom rules, each day's specials, the lunchroom, recess, and everything else. Her account of everything sounds great and she seems to be truly enjoying the experience.

- Amy's teacher spoke with me on two separate mornings about Amy's reading ability, reassuring me (though I had not said anything) that she would be working with Amy on a higher level since she already can read. It pleased me to no end to see that her teacher had tuned into her so quickly, even in a class of 30, and seems to be actively considering ways to work with her individually.

- I really am pleased not only with her teacher (actually teachers, there are 2 plus an assistant), but her classroom and the school in general. It just has a good feel to it. I love that it is only 2 miles away, and I am also happy that I can still drop her off and pick her up.

- Don has still been on leave this week and it has been wonderful to have him around to help us all ease into this new routine. He's stayed with William for most of the drop-off/pick-ups so I haven't had to schlep everybody out the door together quite yet (though I did it one day and it went fine).  The boys have gone on some adventures during the day, I've spent more time one-on-one with William, and I've enjoyed the mornings just the three of us together.

- Also, Tuesday was our eighth anniversary - eight years!  Don and I have been apart for more anniversaries than we've been together for, so it was special just to have him around.

The BAD:

- Waking up early. I realize plenty of people do it all the time. But I have had the luxury all summer of kids who sleep soundly till 7:30 or 8, and I am not enough of a morning person to get up before they do.  So a 6:00 wake-up call for me and a 6:30 wake-up for them has been a bit of an adjustment.  The mornings only got better as the week went on and Amy seemed the least tired of all. Friday morning the first thing she said to me upon waking up was "Hola!"

- The adjustment in my own routine. For a creature of habit it is always a little tricky to establish new habits... again, the week only got better as we went along but Monday and Tuesday definitely found me not knowing what to do with myself halfway through a really long morning.


- Despite Amy's unflappable energy level and general positive attitude, some predictable signs of stress crept out through the week. Every day had some minor tearful incident, usually over something that otherwise would not bother her.  Then last night, during clean-up time before bath, William moved all the trains which she had carefully arranged on the track they spent all afternoon playing with and O M G did she flip out.  I mean, full on, freak-out temper tantrum the likes of which we haven't seen since she was probably three years old. It was kinda funny. But of course she did get a grip, fixed the trains, and the incident was quickly forgotten. It was nice to be reminded that she is, after all, still a little kid.

But like I said, this week has been great and one I will always remember quite fondly. Proud of Amy for going out in the world so successfully, pleased for her that she's got nice teachers and a nice school environment, pleasantly surprised at the academic attention she'll be getting, happy to spend time with my little boy, thrilled to have had a nice week with my Donny home - a rare treat. I know the weeks ahead will have their natural ups and downs as we continue to adjust to the new routine but whatever comes I'm just happy that the first week was so good.

I'll sign off with a couple of pictures: Mommy-William park time, fishing with the boys yesterday, and a nice little Saturday project with Daddy. Time for lunch now; I'll be back soon with a post about something other than school, I promise. Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, August 19, 2013

School, and Everything Else


(With apologies for the less-than-awesome picture. Amy insisted on holding the zinnia, and was in the middle of some speech to her brother when I was trying to take her picture - oh well).

Holy cow, it seems just a bit of time has slid by with nary a word on my trusty little blog - sorry!  I'm not going to try to do any of it justice, but just to catch up on the last couple of weeks in summary form: 

-enjoyed spontaneous, expensive-but-worth-it second trip of the summer back up to my folks' house... just wanted to get up there one more time before school started/baby arrived... it was so lovely... kids played outside the whole time... saw my parents' kitchen redo in progress... tons of fun.
-returned at same time Don returned from a short underway trip, and a day before he started two weeks of leave (finally!)
-next day went for 20 week ultrasound - baby is great, kids came along and were fascinated, and we were all thrilled to find out we'll be adding a little GIRL to our family! yippee!! oh, and I got the whole thing on a DVD - how cool is that? 
-the next day Don started leave and we all went to the aquarium downtown... we are members... it was free... fun, but crowded and good golly, it has been hot down here lately... just the walk from the car was almost too much... busy weekend followed... saw an old friend... cleaned out garage (well, Don did) after finding black widow spiders... ick... Monday was regular OB visit for me... also fine... Tuesday spent big bucks at the grocery store in preparation for guests...
-Don's parents arrived late Tuesday night for their "yearly" visit... glad to have them... busy week, playing hostess-with-the-mostess, but I really do love the chance to do that... we were all joined by Don's little sister and her guy friend... more people = a big strain on this pregnant introvert, but lots of fun all the same... kids loved all the attention... we went out and did some fun sight-seeing things all together... the weather was mercifully cool and gray... everyone left yesterday. 
-and today Amy started KINDERGARTEN! it's probably better that I was too busy to dwell on it all week - I had two minor, late-night meltdowns about it as it was... but she was nothing but confident and excited and had a terrific first day, so that is all Good. 

And there, you are caught up. Some other quick thoughts on school: I continued to struggle all summer about whether or not we'd made the right choice for Amy's schooling this year. Still really attracted to the homeschooling idea, and it sure seems that all the Cool Kids are doing it these days.  The thing I hate about regular school the most is being, as I've said it before, a slave to the school calendar. Everyday, with hardly any days off, early morning to early afternoon my girl will be away from home five days a week. She is only "allowed" 10 absences in the year. I bristle at an institution telling me what is allowed and not allowed as to how my daughter spends her time. I understand they have to do it to protect the kids and keep tabs on parents who are not nearly as committed as we are.... but still... makes me twitchy.  And my meltdowns mostly went like this: "I'm not going to get to eat LUNCH with Amy anymore!!!"... somehow this lunch thing has been a recurring theme.  For Amy, this was her favorite part of the day. For me, it represented a gaping hole my daily routine. But really, the day was fine and it occurred to me last night that this is after all, just kindergarten, not college.  And sure enough she was home at 2:20, glowing, an inch taller, and full of stories and things to tell about her excellent day.  She is still my Amy. 

So I'll just keep having the schooling conversation with myself (and with you) as the year unfolds, and as we move around over the next few years, and the right thing will make itself known. For now though she's got a great teacher and a sweet classroom in a nice little school and she's happy, so we will just take that and roll with it. Experientially, if not academically, it will be excellent for her. 

Good luck to all my friends with little ones starting or continuing school in these next few weeks!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Three, Eighty-Three


My three-year-old boy is getting so grown up. He has the funniest things to say, a blend of sophisticated words and clever phrases with a healthy dose of "L's" still pronounced like "W's". He's got a big-kid haircut. He's in big-boy undies after an overnight conversion to the religion of the Potty Trained. He has two skinned knees and a skinned elbow, and only a few minutes after I took this picture he managed to fall off this stump in a spectacular tumble, but stood up quickly, brushed his hands together and said "I'm Okay!" 
I love three. 

This sugar maple was 83 years old, if I counted the rings right. That means it was planted in 1930. It was growing before my grandparents were born. Forty years old when the house was built. There are older trees I'm sure, but this might have been the oldest tree I knew personally. It had to come down because it was cracked and threatening the house. Its sister tree, maybe older, is still standing about fifteen feet away. 
I love trees. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The List

I probably shouldn't be blogging tonight. I am tired and emotional and I know the expression "even a spotted pig looks black at night" definitely applies here. But the way I see it I can either write about it here or lie awake for the next hour or so thinking about it, and I believe writing will be more productive. This gets filed under the venting/whining category; I share only in hopes that someone out there will tell me I'm not alone.

So. Coast Guard. I don't talk about it much, mainly because it has been rather good to us. Let me tell you a little about our CG journey, so you know where I'm coming from tonight; I don't think I've ever supplied many details:

Don and I talked about military service practically from our first date. After a few false starts exploring options with other branches of service, we started pursuing the CG shortly after we were married in 2005. Don's college degree and near-perfect ASVAB scores put him in good graces at the recruiter's and upon his enlistment we got a nice four-figure bonus and a guarantee of our first assignment being somewhere in New England. That first job ended up being a 175' buoy tender out of Newport, Rhode Island. Very cool. We happily loaded our goods in a 14' U-haul after boot camp graduation and drove a few short hours to start our new CG life, just about at our first anniversary.

We spent just short of two years in Newport, enjoyed every minute of it (the location, if not the job), and became a family of three there. Before graduating from A-school near the end of that time in RI, we were faced with The List of billets for our next station. Don was ranked number one in his class, so we knew we would get our first choice. We had a lot of good options but settled on a small-boat station in Southern Maryland, coincidentally where a couple of our good friends were already transferring to. We wanted to try the mid-Atlantic; everything about the choice was a good one for both career and family.

We moved to southern Maryland in the spring of 2008 and spent three and a half very happy years there. Our house was small but functional. We had an awesome neighborhood, best friends across the street, a very pleasant town and amenities, and were near enough to family to drive home every other month or so. We kinda hated Don's schedule, but for the most part, life was good, and a lot of happy memories were made there. We became a family of four, and a year after that learned of Don's acceptance to Officer Candidate School.  The four-month period of OCS wrapped up our Maryland chapter - the kids and I moved out halfway through to spend time with my family, in Connecticut, near where Don was at school.

Halfway through OCS we got The List again, and once again my amazing husband was in the enviable position of being ranked first in his class. Again, we knew we would get our first choice. This choice was a bit tougher, because it came down to two very different but equally appealing options. In the end we chose, and moved to, Charleston, South Carolina. Happy choice for me, to be near some family, and for us, to see what the south had to offer, and a solid choice for Don's first officer assignment. We live in a beautiful house and while I have some issues with our surrounding area it is in general a privilege to live so near such a vibrant southern city. Don's job and schedule have been challenging, but in general this has still been a happy assignment and one I was excited to get.

And now, here we are at the very start of what is actually our first "normal" PCS process. The List was published today. There are a few attractive options on it, but in the category of jobs that Don wants/needs, there are way more unpleasant options. This is the first time I have had to face the fact that we may be sent somewhere that I do not want to go.

This is the fist time I've had to face the fact that I might, in fact, be something of a spoiled brat in the realm of military wives. As we have been closing in on our last year here and starting to look toward our next assignment I have let my head fill with fantasies of getting to live in our next desired location, perhaps buying a house, being near friends or maybe even family, truly settling in for a change. I had hoped we might be able to eek out some stability as Amy gets rolling with school. I thought we might be lucky enough to get assigned to a place where I actually want to stay for more than two years. And we might yet, but based on The List, the odds are not in our favor.

I am grateful for the Coast Guard, I really am. We have had seven happy years of nice places to live, interesting work for Don, and a fairly respectable income. I love my husband for wanting to serve his country so faithfully, and I love him for doing his best to make me happy while doing it.

But I really, really, really don't want to live in Puerto Rico. Or Miami. Or California. I want to pound my fists and shout "you can't make me!" But what choice do I have, if it comes to that?  This is, as I often remind myself, What We Signed Up For. I've been happy to be the rolling stone and the cheerful Coastie Wife each time the CG has moved us to the next shiny place that I want to go. I feel that willingness completely leaving me as I think about the possibility of an odious duty station.

Again, this is all somewhat premature; we could very easily be blessed once more with one of our top picks, and I will read this in a year and laugh at my doubting self. Or we may not and I may read this in a year from my house in who-knows-where and laugh at my myopic and close-minded self.

I would like to be reading this in a year looking out the window of a house I own in a temperate East Coast town, thinking about where to plant my garden.

I am realizing that my most immediate dreams and goals do not quite match up with my job title of Military Wife.

Not sure where that leaves me other than to put on a happy face until we know, MONTHS from now, where we will be going. Will do my best to enjoy the moment and not dwell on the abstract future. I will try not to whine, or cry, or pout. I'll keep my little homesteading dreams close to my heart and maybe, maybe they will come true sooner rather than later. Anybody who knows this plight and wants to leave me an encouraging comment will make me quite happy indeed.  Thanks, all.