Auf Wiedersehen Deutchland, Hello Mother England!

We are jetting away for a long weekend in the UK! The three oldest kids and I just had to take advantage of some great rates. I am so happy to see old friends, visit some sorely missed shops, and pick up some items that we just can't do without. We have to say goodbye to some great friends who are relocating to Delaware (just a space-A plane trip from Ramstein!). We will post some pictures and events when we return. I think the fact that I won't touch a diaper or stroller for the entire weekend is so worth the trip. Cheers!


More cute photos

I couldn't resist! I love these photos that Tammy took! Logan is the only one who has
really changed (he is 4 months in these).

At a loss

Whenever I sit down lately to post, it seems that my mind is just a bunch of clutter and I just can't seem to finish thoughts in a fluid manner. Spring fever? Perhaps. The weather has definitely taken a turn to the warm side. Just last month we had snow, and it is staying in the 70's with predicted 80's later in the week. I just hope the house stays cool-A/C is not common here and fans just blow hot air. Blech. I hate, hate to be hot-but I digress.

I have checked various blogs and websites this week, and have enjoyed being on the sidelines this week. When I was in college I would find myself visiting the library the week of finals as a way to be sidetracked and avoid what I really needed to be doing (umm, like studying?). Strangely enough, my bedside table has been collecting an assortment of books the past weeks. Do I detect a trand here? Maybe my thoughts are so jumbled since life is jumbled by running around most days with errands, appointments, meetings, and parties. The rest of the days are spent catching up on things that were left undone since we've been out. Just how have we spent the last week!?! I can't believe that it has been a week since I posted any type of info. Here is a rundown of some events:

  • passport renewal
  • medical appointments and new eyeglass purchase!
  • preschool screening and OT consult for Nick
  • re visitation of perspective local kindergartens for Ryan
  • end of year party for Girl Scout Troop (cupcakes required)
  • shopping for last minute items and send off of oldest daughter to Barcelona
  • Mother-Daughter Girl Scout Tea (Can I just say how much I love teas?!?)
  • Allen and I celebrated our anniversary!
  • a mild stomach bug that has kept Logan feeling icky for a week; Lauren had it a few days; Allen one day; and me for a morning (whew!). I had innocently avoided those diaper changes, as DH finally commented. Darn, I was hoping that he wasn't keeping track. We have an upcoming plane trip to the UK, and I am hoping that it has gone on it's merry way. (Nobody wants to be sick mid-air :(. )
  • scheduling plane and van reservations for upcoming US trip
  • the unpacking of spring/summer clothes since it has finally warmed up! Of course it then means piles of laundry to be washed (even though I washed before I stored it in bins...crazy...I know). I won't even go into the winter clothes that need to be sorted into keep/toss/donate.....they were just placed in the storage room for "another day" :).

It seems like we have been doing more, but I can't come up with anything relevant right now. I am now in the process of mentally packing for the weekend trip. Since we are only taking a carry-on bag with severe weight and size limits, it is taking more planning than I would like. I am a confessed "over-packer", and it's so hard to change. As soon as I don't have something, I will wish I did. It's a sickness.


New photo

I added this photo quickly before I need to pick up Ashlyn. She has been away since Thursday evening enjoying Barcelona, Spain. I have not been to Spain, so I am excited to hear all about it! She went with her Girl Scout troop. It was at least a 12-hour trip! Ugh. I know she will be tired, but happy to be home.

There is a new title photo that my friend Tammy from T. L. Brown Photography has sent me to download from her files. She took these in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmund a year ago. The day started out rainy and cold, but soon warmed up and the kids had a blast running around. Tammy now has her site up and running-check it out here! She currently lives near Ely in the UK, but is relocating this summer to Ohio. She does a fabulous job, and spends so much individual time with your family-it's amazing. Thanks Tammy!


It's that time of day

where my house (on a day like today) transforms from a quiet, me-time, boys-napping one to a noisy-snack negotiating-homework helping-school paper signing and review-chatting household.

The girls are due home any minute.

I am bracing myself.

Computer time is over.

Self sufficiency

Recently I was putting away laundry and came downstairs to find this:And this:

Since it was lunchtime, I obviously had been slacking in my mommy duties and failed to provide food for my guys.

No worries!

They can fend for themselves and even select a variety of foods, if you can overlook the fact that they are in the wrong food category. It's good to know that they are self sufficient and don't need my assistance all of the time. You can see that the fruit basket was also within reach, but waffle cookies were much more tempting. I'm also glad to know that the sweet tooth gene lives on!Disclaimer: Please excuse the mess of our pantry. Since it is our only cabinet for food items, except for a very skinny cabinet that holds cans, teas, packets, etc.....it's always a work in progress! It doesn't help that I have many helpers that explore and reorganize it daily. Really....all I wanted for Christmas was a cabinet lock. Honestly. I am longing for the day when I have a locking walk-in pantry....and closets instead of wardrobes.

Spring cleaning-the blog way

I did it again. After searching through some websites, I came upon some interesting blogs and added, yet some more, blogs to my "bookmarks". This list is growing and I really need to sort through them and toss out those that initially looked interesting and are now less than spectacular, somehow organize those that are worth visiting, and file those that I frequent often. Any ideas? This is a whole new problem. I like to organize, but this is uncharted territory.


Wish me luck

Update: Whoo Hoo! False alarm. The big bad lady's door was closed today! We had a super friendly dietitian instead. We will overlook the fact that they were having computer and printing issues, thus taking for-eeever and making me late in all other errands....resulting in a late pick-up of the girls after school. But what else is new in my time-keeping flaws? It is a characteristic that I am continuously working on. And you thought I had it all together, didn't you?

I have an appointment today with an office I am not particularly happy with lately (a current trend). At the last appointment I was going over some paperwork with this woman and she told my boys two or three times to be quiet. Now, I really don't mind if somebody corrects my kids if they are really misbehaving, honestly. On this occasion they were sitting at a little table in the room playing with blocks and cars. They were using a louder voice than I would have liked, but they weren't running around, screaming or similar behaviors. I have seen them way more active-believe me. The first time she said it I felt slightly embarrassed- maybe I just wasn't paying attention? When she told them several other times, I was becoming frustrated. Logan was also corrected for pulling at a poster on her wall (attached with Velcro), and trying to walk behind her desk while I was signing paperwork. He's one.

This is an appointment where bringing your children is required-all of them young. Why would I willingly bring them if I have to sit through paperwork? So, why isn't this a more "kid friendly" environment? Why isn't there an area where they can play while parents talk with the professional?

I do not allow my children to run wild through the offices, but when I am there for over an hour discussing and looking at paperwork, and there are signs everywhere "No food or drink"--and it's past 2:00 p.m.....well, we are going to have some issues. I thought the boys were doing well in those circumstances. The problem is that I felt myself getting frustrated at my kids for not meeting her expectations. I also totally stopped listening at the end, and missed some important bits of knowledge (future procedures).

While I was there, I considered gathering my things and going, but I didn't for a silly reason. I had unpacked things from my bag for the kids and we had coats/hats/etc. and it just wouldn't have made a "smooth exit". Make sense? If I could have just picked up my purse and taken their hands...we would have left after telling her that I could tell that we were inconveniencing her. Or something else cleverly stated.

This time I am better prepared. I won't feel the pressure. If we do get the same woman (which we may not), I will respond appropriately if she wrongly corrects them. I am going to really, really warn them before we go in...and reward them immensely when we walk out. Go me!


Why is it

.....that a toddler can spot the tiny drop of oatmeal that you dropped among the fifty-odd Kix on the tray and smear it before you can wipe it away?

...that your three-year-old steps on your flip-flop for the umteenth-million time and the flip part comes off the flop....at the hospital...30 + minutes from home...and you still have another appointment? I tell you what you do-you buy some super glue at the shopette-glue it-stand innocently in an inactive hallway for it to dry and wear it like a no-class momma (after you have casually unstuck it from the floor and put a napkin beneath your foot so it wouldn't stick to the flop). It was a frustrating-inconvenient-craaazy solution, but I am glad that I am giggling about it now. :)

.....that the fifth child seems to learn things so much quicker than the others....even though you don't want him to?

.....that kids sleep in on a day when you need to get going (and waking kids is painful for me ).

.....that a scheduled trip to visit to London to visit friends makes your life seem so much brighter? (Yay!!!)

Thoughts on Aging

These thoughts have been heard around our house lately:

Nicholas: "Mom, when I am fifty-five I will be all grown up".

Ryan : (I asked him if he was going to be a dad some day) "I just want to be me, Ryan, a little boy".

Cute :)



I may edit or delete this post, depending how I feel after the frustration cloud disappears. This is just how things are going, and I know that my rose-coloured world has been thorny as of late.

I had a lovely day on Sunday. I had a beautiful flower bouquet and some very nice cards. DH and kids made pancakes in the morning, and the afternoon included a nap, reading, shared Nintendo DS gaming, talking to my mom and a laundry party where everyone was invited! I know that laundry is not every one's ideas of fun, but the baskets to be put away were severely overflowing. I knew that I would be out on Monday, so I just didn't want to look at it in the corner of my room another day. Before we had this house I vowed that laundry would not be deposited in my room. I just hate that idea. However, since our room is the size of two rooms, it just happens to be the "laundry sort and distribute center". So be it. It's only temporary, eh?

So anyway, just over a week ago, in a rant, I told DH that I would not be celebrating Mother's Day. Part of the non-celebration that I was talking about was not attending a Mother's Day brunch at the Enlisted Club. It would have cost us about $80.00 for our family, with three children free. Insane.

I just haven't felt very positive about mothering lately. It's not a certain thing, it's just a whole bunch of frustrations that keep adding up. For example, today I spent some time catching up on the computer since I have not really been on it since Saturday a.m. During that time, despite numerous verbal requests and get-up and check incidents, this is what I found when I came out of the world-wide fog and surveyed my house.

  • Logan has also been tearing pages from magazines and spreading them on the floor. Some haven't been read yet. Ironically, one is the recent "Parents" copy.
  • The potty seat, normally located in the bathroom should a three-year-old have an "ah'ha" moment, is now conveniently located on my coffee table. Sweet.
  • There are shredded bits of toilet paper located in the downstairs bath and hallway. I cannot understand the recent obsession with toilet paper, wipes, and tissues with the two youngest, but it is getting old- fast.
  • Wii paraphernalia strung about the living room. Brand new, might I add.
  • A carton of milk taken from the fridge, left on the floor.
  • Various plastic cups retrieved from a kitchen storage bin are on the floor.
  • The usual assortment of toys (when did they have time for these?).
  • Several couch pillows laying around on the floor. Ask my husband-I HATE this. I swifter very often, but I don't like my pillows used as toys since there are many other toys. Maybe I just need to invest in some cheap pillows that the boys can throw on the floor. They probably will get carted upstairs, though.
  • The bathroom pump soap is sitting on the coffee table, thankfully unscathed.
  • Ryan closed the door on Logan, who is now crying.
  • The smell of a poopy diaper is beckoning me.

Add this to the recent lying episodes with the girls (about silly things, like sneaking a snack or whether they were on the computer before finishing a task); the stuffing of clean laundry with dirty laundry, on the wardrobe floor, or of all places...in a dollhouse; and bickering. If you have seen my laundry stack-and my mom is doing a very loud head nod at this moment, it is understandable just why this is so frustrating.

There' s also the finding tons of wipes that Ryan is using to clean (I guess) and stuffs under the coffee table, his wardrobe, and his dresser. No wonder that I am always refilling the wipe box. I think he does this on days when he doesn't nap and plays in his room instead.

A bottle of pulpy orange juice was left on the table yesterday within Logan's reach. I heard it fall and turned the corner to see him sitting in the middle of it------splashing.

Logan is also infamous for his ear-piercing shriek. These emit from his mouth when he is happy, playing, mad, tired, hungry, etc. We are teaching him to sign "please", and "more", and this has replaced the unpleasant sound somewhat. He has just been a very loud baby from day one. When we tell him "no screaming" or give him "the look", he just screams louder. Do you remember seeing families with a child like this? We remember seeing them and being thankful for our quieter kids. We have now become one of "them".

And can I add that Nick pointed out to me several weeks ago, with a smirk, that I have a "big belly". Mother's like to be reminded of this, don't they? He wanted to know why. I explained part of it was from having him and his siblings, and the surgeries to have them. We also talked about how he knew that it wasn't a kind thing to say, and why would he want to say something like that to mommy. I just was finding it hard to feel the love for this little man for a while. I'm over it. I think.

Many times I have heard people tell me that I make being a mother look so easy. I really don't know where they get that. I am a good mother, I know that, but it doesn't come easy. I love my children tremendously and I am thankful that my husband has a job that allows me to spend time with them. I know that God has entrusted these kids to me and that He knows that I will love them. I need to remember this on these days (or weeks) when I just want to disappear to a tropical place. I try to make things fun for them and I am teaching them to think of others. It's just sometimes I just don't feel like mothering.

Now, having said that, Häagen-Dazs and I are going to contemplate this mothering business some more. I wouldn't want to disappoint Nicholas and lose the belly.

Pipe Dreams

Not that I'm planning on dying anytime soon, but driving a convertible is on my mental "List of Things to Do Before I Die". The weather has been perfect for it the past week, with highs in the 60's and some 70's. More sunny weather is predicted through the week. I think this is the most continuous sun that we have seen since September! Yay!
Wouldn't it be nice to bypass the family van and step into something similar to this? Speaking of vans...I was driving home yesterday on the autobahn going 75-80-ish and this BMW passed me in the next lane. It was going so fast that I felt my car jolt! Within seconds the car was outta sight. Maybe that is the last thing they will do before they die--hehe. Just joking.


Growing way too fast

I guess I must be doing something right.

Happy Mother's Day to all who help me be a great mother.


The new comfort zone

When we first moved here, I didn't think about how strange it would feel to not be able to understand the language around me. Being in a different country was not new, but language in the UK was strangely...similar. I was out of my comfort zone. Being a literal person, I am constantly reading signs, posters and the like to try and figure out just what was on sale, what event was scheduled and where to find that particular building to fill out that form. Even listening to the radio--I could pick out some obvious words "George Bush" , but the rest left me wondering what exciting news events had today's interest.

I can now pick out the "survival words". By this I mean the things you need to do in going about your day. I can have a basic conversation with a store or city worker. This is when I speak to them, but I feel freaked out when they ask me something. Help! I know numbers and basic food items when ordering, and can sometimes understand the amount, but I check the display anyway so I don't look silly.

I have even picked up on conversations of people here and there and noted that they are not speaking German-maybe Polish or Russian. That's progress, right? Maybe, just maybe I will have some fair conversational skills by the time we leave. Or not. I think the age for optimum language learning is before age 7, and I am waaaaaayyyy beyond that. Ryan will start at the nearby German kindergarten this fall. I guess he will be the German speaker in the family.

Just now, DH is asking me to look up an ingredient in some potato salad that he bought ---"ei". Oh! "egg"-good to know. Just avoid the ones with "zwiebel" (onion).


The logistics of it all

I took logistics in graduate school. It was a good thing that it was an undergrad class and pass/fail, because I hated it. Nothing made sense, it was just numbers and theories that were confusing and I passed by the seat of my pants.

Fast forward to the present.

Allen and I are in the midst of planning a trip to the US this summer. We haven't been to the States in almost 5 years. There are grandparents, a great-grandmother, friends, aunts, and cousins who are waiting to meet some of our children. You can imagine the pressure on us to make sure that this trip goes well. We are slowly realizing why we have waited so many years to take on this enormous feat.

Just how, and by what means are we going to get 5 children (with all of their stuff) across the Atlantic Ocean by air and into a car to visit three sets of grandparents in two states, three cities and at least a thousand miles between them?

First, there's the pre-leaving planning. Cleaning out perishables, finish laundry so mildew doesn't take over, bleach in toilets, blah blah. I always get the house in order before we leave, because I lothe coming home to disarray. Sad, but true. I will be the one quickly straightening and checking things as Allen loads kids and stuff into the hired transportstion taking us to the airport (oh yea...one more thing to check on). Our landlord is tiling the stairs and repairing some water damage on the third floor while we are gone. I will tactfully show him how to use the vacuum so he can clean up his mess before we arrive. Believe me, I have seen his aftermath. Oh--but that is another post.

We are at the point where we have secured the days off and we are waiting for the travel office to give us some flight options. We are debating the cost effectiveness of flying out from a different destination, and eliminate a two day drive back to the airport (make sense?). It will cost more to drop it off in another state, but won't it cost quite a bit for gas, food, hotel (two rooms?) for two days of travel to turn it in? I also factor in the hassle for another two days of solid travel between here and there. There's not a monetary price there, but the sanity price is very high. So, once we know our options, we can reserve a rental van and maybe make tentative hotel reservations.

There's also the luggage issue. With airlines limiting allowance to one suitcase per person, do we ship some items? Do we just buy some items when we get there (toys, booster seat, pack-n-play, etc)? Will two strollers be needed ? (slooow "touch everything" 3-year-old Ryan). Will the van have a DVD system? Not that we are totally relying on it, but when you have a thousand mile trip, it would be nice to have some sort of diversion. My kids are great travelers and usually spend the time looking out the window, talking, sleeping or reading, but I think we may be pushing some boundaries here. So, do we take our own DVD in case?

What are we carrying with us? Nintendos? Game cartridges, iPods, books, toys, GPS, changes of clothing, snacks?

Once we are there, we have the issue of how long do you stay at each place? Where will everybody sleep? How will the kids get enough sleep? We have a super-early morning riser (grumble), and one who really needs his sleep or he gets very screechy. Not that I am mentioning any names, ehm Logan.

I know that once we get there we will have a great time! The kids-the girls especially-are looking forward to seeing people and things that they haven't experienced before. With both of them growing up overseas, many experiences will be new and I am excited to share these new things with them. We just need to get past this planning stage-figuring how the probabilities, the numbers and options.

Hopefully we won't pass this one by the seat of our pants.


Stop this ride

I did something today that I have not done in a very long while.

I had to call another parent about the inexcusable behavior of her son. It was so hard because this is a woman who lives just on the street below us--and I can see her house from my back windows...just down the hill...so I will obviously be in contact with her on other occasions. This lady has been so nice to me since we have moved here, and I know that she has difficulties now because her husband has recently deployed for 15 months--leaving her to parent her son and run a household solo in a foreign country. That is no easy feat.

I didn't want to add to the stress of her day, but when Ashlyn comes home in tears because the kids on the bus have been unruly (common lately) and Lauren is reporting (as she does daily) that this particular boy is cursing, running around the bus and being crude and touching another girl on the bum...

I have had it.


I called the transportation office, the school principal and the neighbor. I explained the behavior that has been reported to me by my girls and that is a daily occurrence. There is a bus monitor occasionally on the bus, but the transportation officer tells me that is for "safety". I don't know what he means, exactly, by "for safety". To protect the children if an unwanted person gets on the bus? Come 'on. Aren't the chances greater that the children will be injured in a motor accident if the bus driver gets distracted by the bad behavior? And might I add that part of the road between here and the school is narrow, very curvy, hilly (is that a word?), and it has some very steep places where it would be scary to retrieve a bus or car.

Nick will be riding that bus next year. Hmmm...I wonder what new ideas and words he will learn. Great.

Ironically, a few weeks ago this same little boy (2nd grader) was slapped in the face by a 15 year-old on the bus. So now my neighbor is dealing with that issue and now the fact that her son is expanding other children's vocabulary in ways that I don't even want to think about.

Really, it makes me sick that my girls have to sit through the 35-40 minute bus ride (each way) and observe his crude behavior. In all fairness though, this little boy has played at our house and is always very nice and polite. I guess he just found a way to get some attention from other kids on the bus-it's just the bad kind.

Maybe I was just a little quick to call his mother since we had another cursing incident a few months ago, but the tables were turned. The little boy called our house right after school to tell me that my oldest daughter had told him to "get away"-just using a more explicative term. I couldn't believe it!?! My daughter?!? No. She just isn't like that. I told him that I appreciated him telling me, and I would talk to her after she finished her homework.

She did admit to the deed. She said that he had kept bugging and bugging her, so she got really mad. We discussed a more "successful" way of handling it and she was banned from the computer and electronic games for a week (no IM-ing friends) and she had to apologize to him. I also think that she knew how disappointed I was-and that is usually punishment enough for this child.

So, I was more than happy to call and let his mother know that the principal would be discussing the issues with the children on the bus, and that her son's name had come up in the conversations. She was mortified. She said that she would be talking with him immediately after we hung up.

I do feel bad about the way that I handled it. I wish I would have taken a little cool down time before I spoke with her, because I felt that I was a little harsh, but it's done. I do have a habit of letting those words just fly out---and I desperately want to grab them and restate that thought.

I like the Monsters, Inc. quote (about the paperwork --we have seen that billions o'times, it seems) "Wouldn't it be nice if it all just blew away?". I wish this situation would just blow over.

I do have the option of driving the girls to school everyday, but the thought of rolling out the door with 5 kids by 7:25 a.m. and an hour (round trip) commute sounds like torture. With gas prices just shy of $4.00 per gallon-it could be very expensive as well.

Stop this parenting ride-I wanna get off.


What are you doing with your economic stimulus refund?

We're not sure.

We've debated about some gadgets for the van, a new table for the entryway, new seating for the living area, saving it for our vacation, just saving it period, or buying a Wii.

A new console, two more headphones and a back-up sensor would be fabulous for the van since it's a home away from home.

We haven't found a table that we like for the entryway.

Just maybe, we like a chair with ottoman that we saw at a furniture store.

Saving is always a good option.

Gas has gone up 22 cents here in the last week (!!!)...so we may need it to put in our tanks.

There are lots of things that we want to do on vacation in the States this summer.

No Wii needed because Allen won a Wii last week at an awards ceremony! Whoo hoo.

Any more ideas?