Monday, June 29, 2009

Past Perfect

I just finished watching a couple hours worth of video from when Elsbeth was a baby and in doing so I felt the sharp pangs of an unidentifiable emotion. That was a bittersweet time for me because in one sense everything was so easy; I was living at my parents house in my old bedroom and had no domestic responsibilities except caring for Ellie and working out. But on the other hand it was a difficult time for me. My Husband was halfway around the world in a war zone, communication with him was limited, and I was living in a sort of limbo between the reality I was experiencing and the reality that awaited me at my home in Mississippi.

It was only two years ago, but in that time so much has changed. Not only with us but with the course of the world itself. The wave of excess Americans had been living had crested and we all seemed unaware of what was about to happen next. In all of the videos there is the presence of my Father's voice because at the time he wasn't working; he liked to say he was retired. We were constant companions and content to be so. A far cry from the relationship we shared in my teenage years. Now his Denali has been traded in for a Kia and he leaves for work every morning, albeit still whistling most of the time.

Since then so much has changed in me; in our lives. My husband returned safely and we resumed our lives picking up where we left off as if the hiccup of deployment had never happened. But you can't go to war and not be changed. Sometimes we talk about the things that affected him: sending boys off to fight knowing that some would never return. What a bomb sounds like exploding in the dessert. These are things I'll never know.

We moved from a house that like so many others we were unable to sell due to it's loss in value. We found a new home in the capitol and had another baby. How easy it is to sum up the course of some years in a few words when the truth and the reality are written in the lines on our faces and the miles on our souls. It's not a bad thing. It's just a thing. And it happens to us all. I struggle to grasp the depth of this experience that seems to be speeding past me.

Now, once again, I am losing my Husband although it's not a war that separates us, but a goal. To finish two more years of school. I vow not to be a detriment or a hindrance and so I think that the best course for us is once again for me to find myself with my children at my parents. Not for the entire time, but for extended periods of time. As I struggle to put a name to what I feel about the past; I chart a course for the future. It is a future of uncertainty in uncertain times but as it always has, my faith will carry me through and I will draw upon the strength of my family.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome to Korea Town

So as most people who regularly read this blog will know, we recently moved to an apartment building so that Jeremy could be closer to school. This experience has been a new one for me as I've never lived in a place where I had no access to the outdoors unless I walked out the front door of a building. That is to say, I've always had some form of personal outdoor space in which I could grow something green. Plants are very important to me and most people that know me will attest to the fact that in the summer I can usually be found digging in the dirt and growing things. That has probably been the hardest part of adjusting to life in a high(ish) rise apartment building. Even though there are communal outdoor garden and park areas, it's just not the same. It's not MY piece of Earth and dirt to do with what I wish.

I've also discovered that the majority of people living in these buildings are Korean. I've only spoken with a few of the women as many of them recently moved here and don't know much English, and admittedly, my Korean could use some work. Despite the language barrier, I have come to greatly appreciate the little things I've learned about their culture and what I'm assuming is Asian culture in general. The children are some of the most polite I've ever seen and they ALWAYS hold the door open for me even though they usually have to wait awhile as these days I'm found pushing a stroller the size of a suburban around. At the swimming pool the line their shoes up in a neat row against the fence of the kiddie area, and I'm assuming it's the same inside their homes.

I took a walk last night with Ari and as it always does during evening walks, the voyeur in me came out and I looked into the open windows of apartments to glimpse a moment of the lives of others . What I saw was heartwarming. People sitting around a table playing cards and laughing, a Father and Son reading books together, children playing with toys. Not one TV set did I see, which is more than I can say for my own home these days. Since the baby was born PBS is synonymous for babysitter on some days.

But by far the strangest thing of all that I've observed living here is the foyer table and it's mysterious contents. Upon entering my building, there is a table that sits under a mirror against the wall where the hallway splits in two. Nearly every day that I've passed it I've noticed objects left there. Sometimes it's clothing, other times it's a toy, others a book. But they are almost always gone the next time I walk out. This puzzled me for a long time until recently. What was this? Were these items lost and this was a makeshift lost and found? Then I realized that people were merely giving these things away. And I thought, what a beautiful thing!

Here you have two adorable salt and pepper shakers, which I was tempted to take, but thought better of it.
This was the sign that cleared things up for me. They even bothered to fi=old them and tape them together. How thoughtful!

I'm so used to American consumerism and capitalism where everyone is out to make a buck, myself included, that I'm used to saving up all my "junk" for a garage sale or listing it on craigslist or Ebay. But not these people. Instead they graciously just pass them along to someone else who could use them. Like a communal pool of goods. And it was the icing on my cake yesterday to be able to contribute to the pool. What did I leave? A copy of David Sedaris's new book which I devoured and gladly passed on. I questioned whether Sedaris's humor would resonate with these Conservative, quiet people and thought that I would have to reclaim my book because it sat there for the better part of a day. But then this morning when I went out, it was gone.

People of Korea, I bequeath you David Sedaris, an American treasure! Although he lives in France.

Later, my book was joined by a shirt and bag of undisclosed items

The Foyer Freebies will be a continuing series of mine and we'll see what kinds of goodies can be found here. * I have yet to take anything.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Magic of Summer

In one week Jeremy begins a two year residency program and we will rarely get time together as a family after that. So, we've been trying to take advantage of every available moment that we have together. Last week we visited Knoebels again. Why do we choose to drive almost four hours to a relatively obscure amusement park when we have several large, better known parks much closer? Well, for it's quaintness and Bavarian charm. I think it's the trees that encompass everything here that make the experience so wonderful. That and the fact that most of the rides have been there since the fifties or longer and have a definite vintage look.

What is it about Summer that makes me so happy? I can't quite place it, but every year around this time I feel like a manic depressive in "Manic" mode. And that's not such a bad thing.
Here the dentist samples some delicious cavity making spun sugar candy
I absolutely love this photo. She's growing up so fast.
And what would summer be without fireflies and a jar of them sending out their phosphorescent love letters on your bedside table?

Lauren, these photos are mostly for you because you don't like blogs without photos. See, I care.

And this song? Well, it's mostly for the fireflies.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mother Guilt

I remember expressing sadness to my Mother once about feeling remorse regarding something trivial I had done or not done when Elsbeth was a baby. She told me, Jill there will be plenty of things to really feel guilty about as a Mother, so seriously, don't sweat the small stuff. I thought that was pretty sage advice and I have tried to keep that philosophy in perspective as a parent and remind myself, that despite my attempts at being the perfect person, I am still just a mere mortal. So I haven't lost much sleep over the minor issues, but there are those times that I just can't shake and I am left wondering if I have done more harm than good in certain instances.

I spanked my daughter today for peeing on the floor. There, I said it. I didn't do it out of anger, I didn't even do it hard enough to make her cry, but I still felt bad afterwards. We've been working on potty training for several months now and just about every time she has it down pat, we have had to travel and she regresses back to square one. Public potty performance anxiety I guess you could call it. I always said I didn't want two children in diapers and yet here I am.

The tipping point to move exclusively to underwear came when I asked her if she needed to use the restroom and she said that no, she'd rather just go in her diaper which she promptly did. In my opinion that's old enough to know better. So, yesterday I said that's the end of the diapers, you're going to wear underwear from now on and you're going to go in the toilet. And she did. All day. We were out car shopping all day yesterday and she didn't have one accident. I can only assume that she didn't because she didn't want to have an embarrassing moment of peeing in front of strangers. She even slept overnight in underwear without an accident.

Fast forward to today. She wakes up, we go straight to the toilet and she does her thing. I shower her with praise and she even gets a rolo. Throughout the day I've asked her if she needs to go to the bathroom and have even taken her in to sit on the toilet a couple of times with no success. Then she pees in her room. I explained to her that these were underwear and not diapers and that they wouldn't hold it in anymore. I told her she was big enough to use the toilet and that's what I wanted her to do from now on. But I did not punish her, it was an accident. Not too long after that we had another accident on the bathroom rug. No hard feelings, at least she was trying to make it in there. I delivered the same speech again and cleaned it up. Then there was her bedroom again. She didn't tell me, she just kept on going and tried to hide it. This time after I had cleaned it up I told her if she did it again she would get a spanking.

We're at the table for lunch and she's eating a piece of watermelon. I stand next to her to place her sandwich on her plate and feel something wet splatter my foot. I peed she says as she looks nonchalantly at me. So I did it. I spanked her for peeing on the floor for the fourth time today. She didn't even seem upset about it, but I immediately felt guilty. Why? What would you have done?

Friday, June 5, 2009

If It Isn't One Thing It's Another

The first time I was pregnant I consumed almost as much pregnancy reading material as I did Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I said ALMOST. I read everything from What To Expect When You're Expecting, to The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy, and Jenny Mcarthy's books on babies and being pregnant. Because if I am am anything, it's lazy and I believe I acquired my voracious reading habit as a child to have a studious looking excuse to lay my ass on the couch all day while everyone else was engaging in physical activity. Perhaps that's how I got the endearing nickname "Baby manatee" from my father.

There I would sit all sweaty and reminiscent of Jabba the Hut, devouring not only my doughnuts but every last juicy morsel of gestational wisdom that was out there. I thought I was well prepared. Stretch marks, I could handle them. (Although, miraculously I never got any...I credit my oily, Italian skin) Irrational mood swings, hey I wasn't going to be the one suffering the brunt of those. Saggy boobs, nothing a few bucks and a good doctor couldn't fix. Even hemorrhoids I was prepared for. And the first time around it all went rather smoothly. Sure there were a few bumps in the road. Mainly the fact that I was nearly torn in half and then sewn back together by Jack the ripper, but that was all behind me after a few weeks and I was good as new.

So the second time around I felt well versed enough not to have to rehash all the old books. Plus, there just isn't time to lounge around drinking icing and thumbing through books while watching court TV when there is a two year old hell bent on destroying every breakable thing within a two mile radius. Eye complications aside, my pregnancy and labor were easy, mainly complaint free. When I hear women saying that they only pushed for about an hour I nearly faint. An HOUR! That sounds like an eternity because, quite frankly, once these gams were in the air and after a couple pushes, POP goes the cork and the babies were out. And therein, I've recently discovered, lies the problem.

Apparently, in order to birth large children with such speed and force one is left with a birth canal reminiscent of the Lincoln Tunnel. No big deal for now, right? Because they say us women, we're like rubber bands, stretchy and stuff. Well, that's what I thought until I discovered one day that I was oddly giving birth to a second baby that had somehow gone unnoticed for the past nine months and now determined to meet the world. And then after some contortionist moves that would have gotten me hired at Cirque Du Soliel and a hand mirror I learned that it was not, in fact another baby but rather MY WOMB! And here for your viewing pleasure just because it needs resurrecting I shall insert the DUN DUN DUN!

NONE OF THE BOOKS MENTIONED THIS PART! Well after spending several hours googling my new found malady I was relieved to find that it was only my BLADDER trying to break free from the 'Ol pelvic corral. Apparently I share this affliction with the female geriatric crowd. That and my crazy eye. After many frantic calls to my doctor and one hasty visit I was told that this is fairly common and everything should return to it's place within a few months. And the male doctor added with such finesse that if I dropped thirty pounds it might help too. That from a guy whose stomach hung so far over his belt I bet he hasn't seen his penis since the Nixon administration. Thanks Dr. Chubs, but that just wasn't good enough.

Last night I spent some time searching for alternative treatments for my new little "issue". After a few pages I came upon a holistic medicine site with some women discussing their experiences with this in a forum. At the bottom of the forum was a questionnaire from a homeopathic Doctor. I would like to share it with you because I have NEVER in my life seen anything like it. Let's have a little fun, shall we?
* I've decided to answer some of my favorites for your enjoyment*

You have provided a good summary of all your complaints, but need a few more clarifications in order to suggest a remedy.

You need a deep acting (constitutional) remedy which takes into consideration all your mental as well as physical symptoms. You might have to take this remedy for a couple of months before you see its effect.

Here is a questionnaire.Please try to answer as many questions as you can. Skip those which you have already answered.

Try to answer as many questions as possible. Some may be irrelevant to you. Just skip those.

1. What is the main reason you need treatment?

2. Describe your complaints giving the following details:

Complaint 1 :
A. Location (Part of body affected)
B. Sensation (Type of Pain)
C. Time (When does it happen, Variations during the day/night)
D. What makes you feel better or worse.
Pretending to be
someone else, preferrably Shannyn Sossamon.

E. Accompanying complaints.

Complaint 2 :
A. Location (Part of body affected)
B. Sensation (Type of Pain)
C. Time (When does it happen, Variations during the day/night)
D. What makes you feel better or worse.
E. Accompanying complaints.

3. Past Illness history?

4. Ailments in the family? (BP, Diabetes, TB, Cancer etc )

5. What medication are you taking currently (or taken in the past)?

6. What foods do you crave? List from the strongest craving to the weakest.

7. What foods do you have an aversion to?

8. What foods aggravate you? (including allergies)

I don't know, but sometimes the way the broccoli
looks at me, I get so mad, I just want to punch it right
in the stalk.

9. Level of thirst? Normal water intake during a day?

10. Digestive functions (Appetite, bowel , acidity, bloating , gases etc.)

11. Energy level throughout the day? Rate it from 1-10 (10 being excellent).
Is this before or after the meth binge?

12. Perspiration: How much do you perspire? Where? Smell/ stain of the sweat? Are the stains easily washable?
Lately, my eyeballs have been perspiring. Some may call it crying, but I know the truth. It smells like lost innocence and cheap wine. The stains may come off of my face but they will forever remain on my heart.

13. How is your sleep? What position do you prefer to sleep in? Is there any position you cannot sleep in? Do you walk/talk/grind your teeth when you are asleep?

14. Describe your dreams in detail? Do you had any recurring dreams or images/ pictures/ themes?

15. Gynecological History

a. Describe your menses (periods): Pain or associated complaints during menses? Colour / amount / odour ? Clots? Stains easily washable?
I bleed skittles, the colors of the rainbow. There's nothing a little bleach and elbow grease can't get out.

b. Leucorrhoea? When? Stains ? Of what colour ? Easily washable?

16. Obstetric History:
pregnancies / abortions / deliveries ( normal/ caesarian/ forceps) etc . Any complaints during pregnancy?

17. Which season do you like the most? Why? Do you need fan ? How much covering do you take? Woolen clothes? What temp of water do you prefer for taking bath?
I prefer summer for it's heady green smell and bounty of outdoor festivities. I DO need fan. I take much covering only when threatened by immenent danger such as tornado, hurricane, or attack by insurgents.

18. Is there anything else in the environment you are sensitive to? ( car sickness etc…)
People with poor taste in accessories and fake beggars.

19. What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? Describe in detail.
This one time, at band camp...

20. What part of your life do you have the most difficulty coping with? Why is that?
The fact that no one has realized that I should be famous. VERY famous. For what, I don't yet know.

21. What was your childhood like? Describe your parents and your relationship with them. Describe your relationship with your siblings and other extended family members. Did anything in your childhood have a profound effect on you? Describe your school and college life.
OY, we better not go there.

23. What is your occupation? What differentiates you from the other people in your place of employment? What difficulties do you have at work?

24. What is your self-confidence level ?

25. What fears do you have? Do you have any phobias?
I fear mistaking super glue for eyedrops and ruining
my one GOOD eye.

26. What parts of yourself or your life would you change if it were at all possible?
You can't change perfection. :P

27. What do you do to relax? what are your hobbies?
Well, what I USED to do and what I do now differ
greatly, but I enjoy some nice wine and coma
inducing "romance". Does eating count as a hobby?

28. Describe all other aspects of your nature in detail.
There are not enough hours in the day.

I mean seriously, how LONG do we have? I could have gone into an in depth psychoanalysis on just about every aspect of my being that would take far more time than any Doctor has or wants to give but would that really fix my problem? I know I've become disillusioned by the mainstream medical community and it's lack of compassion and propensity to treat symptoms instead of solve problems, but COME ON. There has to be some middle ground. Maybe I'm wrong, because I do harbor the feeling that as humans every aspect of our being is tied to the other and you cannot separate the physical from the spiritual and emotional, etc. But for now, could I just get some duct tape and gorilla glue?