Archive - July 2006

Carnival of Family Life #12
Swimming Lessons
Lessons from Coconut Syrup
Finally, a victory!
More Frustrations
Some Milestones
Where Rebecca is From
Writing Contest
Blogging Chicks

Carnival of Family Life #12

The Carnival of Family Life #12 has been posted for your reading pleasure!  Check out all the fun entries here:



There were lots of entries this week, so you’ll have fun going blog hopping.  Make sure you read the whole list of entries and find the surprise about ME!

Swimming Lessons

The first week of swimming lessons is over. In spite of a rough start, the week went well. On Friday, the class moved out of the 3 ft junior pool, put life jackets on and went in the big pool. A good portion of the moms were wary, wondering how their children would do. Most of them were fine. Boo wasn’t worried at all and swam back and forth across the width of the pool with no problem. Pumpkin Girl wasn’t worried at first either. However, when trying to swim across the pool, she just wasn’t strong enough to propel herself forward. The wake of the other swimmers made her start drifting across the pool. Her instructor, who is maybe 17 years old, but GREAT with the kids, did rescue her and helped her across. On the way back, Pumpkin Girl got a face full of kicked up water and started crying. Again, the instructor got her and brought her to the side of the pool and helped her out. We calmed her down and I gave her a hug and she agreed to try again, now that most of the class was on the other side of the pool. She did great.

Then the class moved on to going down the water slide. I thought there was no way Pumpkin Girl was going to do it. A couple of the kids didn’t and just jumped into the pool from the edge next to the slide. But Pumpkin Girl marched right up there and went down! She cried when she popped back out of the water, but the instructor encouraged her and she was fine. She gave me a thumbs up as she swam by. But once she reached the edge of the pool, I could see she was about to cry again. I got her out, gave her another hug and told her she was doing great. She perked up but said she didn’t want to go down the slide again. But while we were talking, the class started down the slide a second time.

In the meantime, the sun had come out and I needed to move myself and Nicholas into the shade. When Pumpkin Girl’s turn came again, I remained out of her view, but ready to step in if need be. But again, she surprised me and headed up the stairs and the down the slide.

Later, she said her favorite part of the class was getting her face wet. Go figure!

One of the things I have been really happy about is that the instructor does not insist on the parents staying out of things. I was once told by a potential gymnastics instructor that I would not be allowed to stay with Boo, then 3 years old, and I needed to “kiss-kiss him goodbye.” She actually made kissing noises. I stopped filling out the paperwork right then and she ended up kiss-kissing my $175 goodbye. I know my own children, I know their strengths and weaknesses. I knew that Boo would need me to be there, not quite right next to him, for about 2 or 3 classes, then he’d be fine. He had wanted to take gymnastics classes, just needed some additional reassurance. But I wouldn’t want my child in any class that couldn’t understand and respect the emotional needs of a 3 year old.

So I was pleased to see that the instructor actually allowed 2 of the moms to get right into the pool with their children. Those little girls are probably not ready for this level of swimming, but at least their moms are right there, where they need them. And when another mom and I needed to get our children out of the pool for some hugs and reassurance, the instructor was good with that.

Lessons from Coconut Syrup

My parents went to Hawaii in 1977 and brought back some coconut syrup. I had never tasted anything like it! It was so delicious and thick and I can almost taste it all these years later. I think we used it about twice before it started getting saved for special occasions. But you know what? Those special occasions never happened. One day my mom finally decided that yes, we could use the coconut syrup. Sadly, though, it had gone bad. We had to throw out that wonderful syrup. Now we didn’t get to use it at all.

Has this ever happened to you? Is there something in your life that you are saving for special occasions? Is it special china or fancy table linens? Those expensive, great smelling jar candles? Or maybe it’s your family’s favorite meal? Now I’m not talking about those things that are a part of a specific holiday celebration. Some things really do belong just with Christmas, Thanksgiving or a birthday. I’m talking about those things that you have stored up in some closet that you are saving for “some day.” Well, you know what? Today is some day! Get those special things out and use them before it’s too late.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. Use my grandmother’s good china with my rough and tumble crowd?!? Maybe not so much, I’m with you there. But maybe you and your dh can use the good china once a week, perhaps on Sundays, while the children use the more durable stuff. And while you’re at it, bring out the crystal candle holders. Whether you light the candles or not is up to you, but at least let them decorate the table. I’ll venture to guess though, that if you lower the lights for a candle lit dinner, the kiddoes will be so enthralled that they’ll forget to bicker with each other. They may even eat.

What else do you have stored away? I’m a hoarder of scented candles. But they don’t do me any good at all in the linen closet. They even lose their scent over time. I made a commitment to myself that as part of my morning chores, I would light a scented candle in the kitchen. I am really enjoying my nicely scented house everyday. And now that my candle stash has been significantly depleted, I have no guilty feelings about buying more when they are on sale.

But it’s not just “things” that we save for later. How many times a day do you tell your children “not right now” or “later” or “I’m busy.” I’m right there with you again! I’ve got 3 children at home to care for, crafts that I want to finish, and faithful blog readers waiting breathlessly for my next entry. I’m a busy girl! And my children have a knack of wanting my attention right in the middle of my most profound thoughts. Or when I’m in the bathroom. Or up to my elbows in poopy diapers. Sometimes they just have to wait. But there have been many times when I’m not really doing anything all that important. Or what I am doing can be put on hold. And while playing three rounds of “Pretty, Pretty Princess” may not be high on my list of priorities, it is important to Pumpkin Girl. Just like we put off the coconut syrup for another time, I found myself putting off the children’s requests for another time. Just what am I saving my time for? Is there anything more important than spending time with those you love?

So I have resolved to set some time aside for my children. Not school time or hauling them around on errands or sitting around while they watch a movie. I mean real time. Doing something THEY want to do. Even if it’s playing “Pretty Pretty Princess” or reading “Shrek 2” (ug!!). I try to make a point every day of telling them, “Hey, I’ve got some free time for you, what would you like to do?” They get so happy when I do this! I’ve even started keeping a list of the things we’ll get to “someday.” Craft projects, books to read, games we haven’t played in a while, all go on this list. While these things won’t go bad in the cupboard, my children will grow up and I’ll find that “some day” never came.

What are the coconut syrups in your life? Are they actual things? Or is it your time? Or both? What can you do to make sure you enjoy the blessings God has given you before they go away?

( Epilogue: My husband recently went to Hawaii on a business trip and brought me back some coconut syrup. I used it on my pancakes every week until it was all gone. I even let my children have some, but only a little! It was just as good as I remember it. I’m sorry it’s all gone, but I am glad that I ate it instead of having to throw it away.)

Finally, a victory!

Well, believe it or not, swimming lessons were a “Go” today! I will spare you my complaints and just focus on the positive. Several of the families that were there yesterday didn’t bother showing up today, so the class was a much more manageable size. Boo and Pumpkin Girl both got into the water without me. In fact, I had turned my back to get Nicholas settled in the shade and when I turned around, they were both sitting happily on the side of the pool with their instructor. They were facing me for most of the class, so I could encourage them with over-enthusiastic clapping and thumbs ups.

I have been trying to get Boo into swimming classes for about 4 years. The first attempt failed miserably. He was about 3 years old and cried and cried. Poor little guy. He was out of the pool within 10 minutes and we were able to get all of our money back. He refused to even try again until this year. With him refusing, it was pretty pointless to try to talk Pumpkin Girl into lessons. I was very proud of him and quite relieved when he joined the class and got into the pool without so much as a glance over to me.

During the class, he did look to me several times, mostly with a big grin on his face, as if to say, “Hey, look what I can do!” Pumpkin Girl looked to me mostly for encouragement. She was a little more nervous about the whole thing and hestitant to try new things. She said she enjoyed herself, though, and is looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson.

They had “free swim” for the last 10 minutes of class and they both seemed to be so much more comfortable and confident in the water. The experience was such a good one that I briefly considered getting them into all the rest of the sessions. But then I remembered that these classes are every single day for 2 weeks. Do I really want to commit to being at the pool every day until September? Not so much. I think that after soccer ends in the Fall, I will look for a local YMCA where they can take additional lessons.

More Frustrations

You know, my summer is just not frustrating enough.  I made the mistake of mentioning on my blog  that Bip is sleeping better.  Well, don’t you know that set the Great Cosmic Gears a-turning and for the last couple of nights he has been downright difficult.  He is probably our worse sleeper EVER.  (there, maybe the Gears will start turning the other direction)  I’m so tired it hurts.  Mostly in my head.

Yesterday I found that the ant colony that tried to hide their eggs under my baby kimchee pot outside twice, and that I killed twice, then moved on to hide their eggs in my geranium pot, and that I killed again, had established residence in my gerbera daisy pot.  I attempted to kill them again.  I probably just killed the plant instead.  I saw them marching happily all over our porch again this morning.  How many times do I have to kill these ants?!?

Also yesterday, we spent the whole hot afternoon driving up and down the state of Virginia looking for school supplies.  OK, maybe not the whole state, but a good portion of Highway 1.  First stop, Target.  Any shopping trip to Target is bound to be a good one.  I picked up some funky socks for an exchange I’m in (Hi, Aunt Peggy!), found cute stickers in the dollar spot, bought a lampshade for the guest room…but no school supplies.  Well, they had school supplies, but no more than they normally have.  And not the Uber Organizing Binder I was looking for.

So off to WalMart.  WalMart always makes Philip and I a little silly.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s all the possibilities for some good consuming.  Plus, we haven’t been in a WalMart in over 3 years.  So we entered the store in high spirits.  That didn’t last long as  Boo spotted the McDonald’s inside and started up about how hungry he was and that fries would hit the spot.  And wouldn’t stop talking about the fries. Then as we made our way down the aisles, I was totally overwhelmed by how overcrowded it was.  Merchandise crammed in everywhere, including shopping baskets filled with stuff waiting to be reshelved. And I don’t mean one basket of a few things.  I mean 2 or 3 baskets, overflowing, in every aisle.  I took one quick pass down what I thought was the school supplies aisle, met up with Philip who had failed to find our favorite WalMart brand raspberry soda, and we left.  Boo expressed in great detail, his desire to return to this wonderful store for a snack of french fries.

On to Fort Belvoir and their PX.  After two tries, we found a gate that was open and made our way through the beautiful tree-filled Army base.  I can’t describe it, but to this Army family living on a tiny Air Force Base, being back on an Army base just feels good!  While we appreciate Philip’s 5 minute commute to work and all the other ammenities that living on our Air Force base offers, we do still miss the Army-ness of things.  Anyway, we found our school supplies, plus those ugly-in-a-cute-way Crocs that everyone’s wearing.  Pumpkin Girl has been asking for some, but they are out at the PX where we live.  They were $18 less than what I paid for them online.  I’ll be able to return the other pair, and even with the shipping, we saved money.  We also found a Thomas Kincade print I’ve been wanting.

Ok, so that wasn’t all bad.  And we didn’t get lost on the way home! 

And then there was today.  Do you know how much work it is to get 2 children suited up, slathered in sunscreen, plus one chubby baby all into the car and to the pool before 9 am?  Well, it’s not that easy.  But it’s ok, because we’re having Swimming Lessons!  Or not, as the case may be.  You may remember my rant about signing up for swimming lessons a while back.  I’ve had a bad feeling about these swimming lessons every since.  My fears were founded as I pulled up to the pool and found it closed.  More families arrived, about 25 in total, and still no pool staff.  Finally, Someone In Charge showed up and informed us that they couldn’t find the pool staff, but he’d be back with more information.  We wait and wait and wait.  The other moms and I exchange stories about how poorly run the swimming lesson sign up was.  The Man In Charge returned to let us know that there were going to be no lifeguards on duty until noon, so no lessons today,but come back tomorrow just in case.  The brave man did not return with an escort of military police, but since he gave us all his cell phone number, we let him live.  He told us to call anytime to determine the status of the swimming lessons.  I’m not holding my breath on this one.

Some Milestones

Well, looks like I’m at risk of being labelled a Bad Blogger! I think this is the longest I’ve gone without blogging.

Bip has apparently decided that crawling is so last month and has moved on to pulling himself to standing with the couch, then cruising along using the couch as support. He’ll use anything and anyone available to help him along. Now that he is highly mobile, we have really made an effort to baby-proof the house. He is also a happier baby than he has been in recent weeks. He often surprises us by peeking out from around the corner as he comes looking for us.

I’ve also made some great progress with his sleep issues. I’ve determined that he needs at least 30 minutes to get himself completely asleep. He doesn’t need to be nursing the whole 30 minutes, but I’d better not try to sneak away! Now that I know how long he needs to get to sleep, I can be better prepared to put him down. He goes to his naps more peacefully and sleeps better, which sets him up for a better night’s sleep.

I’ve been trying to teach him baby signs. He’s not picking them up as quickly as Pumpkin Girl did, but then again, we suspect that Pumpkin Girl is gifted in language. Nicholas is now waving goodbye, shakes his head “no” and can let me know he wants to nurse. We are working on “more”, “duck”, and “up.” The only problem is that he’s so darn cute! If he’s getting into trouble and I say “Bip, no,” he looks at me with that sweet little face and enthusiastically shakes his head “no.” Then I have to try to maintain a serious face, but I can’t help but laugh at his chubby self. Sigh. Not too good for teaching him to obey. Oh well.

And Pumpkin Girl had an eventful night! We were at church, attending the dinner/Bingo night. She had just taken a bite of hot dog when she realized that her loose tooth was finally ready to come out! Philip whisked her off to the bathroom and they returned, tooth in hand and Pumpkin Girl with a new gap in her smile! It is the first tooth she’s lost! Then during Bingo, Boo was getting bored and I was getting irritated at the family that had won 3 times and were still playing, so we were getting ready to leave. Pumpkin Girl wanted to stay one more game, so we did. And of course, she won! She chose a pink teddy bear, no surprise there. She was quite pleased with herself.

Where Rebecca is From

Where I am From (Rebecca)

I am from moving boxes, labelled and numbered, from Disney and soy milk.

I am from the military quarters with shared backyards, flags waving and Taps over the loud speakers.

I am from the tulips in spring, the petunias in summer, and the warm red tomatoes from the garden.

I am from pancakes and bacon on Saturday mornings and macabowwows, from Mary Esther, Marie and Maria.

I am from too many words that tell enthusiastic stories.

From "She’s a very nice baby" and "ok, that’s enough."

I am from Catholicism, Mass on Saturday, snacks in the fellowship room, flowing Baptismal gowns.

I’m from Yongsan Garrison South Korea, Hong Kong, California, Mexican and Chinese immigrants, hopeful for a better life.  From ravioli and the Halloween Dinner.

From Daddy’s grandpa disguised as a girl, "That’s my knee!" and "Boo can’t reach it!"

I am from Mama’s half finished scrapbooks, portraits on the wall, digital pictures saved on disc and a drawer full of photo envelopes.

I am from hearts weeping through the night but finding joy in the morning.

I am from Love.

This poem is in memory of our sweet baby, Rebecca Maria.  We miss you sweetheart.  You have blessed us more than you know.

[I entered this poem in the writing contest at Joy in the Morning]



How are you enjoying your summer?  Ours is heating up!  Today is supposed to be the hottest day in DC in 4 years.  Why is that?  Global warming?  Lot’s of hot air spewing from the politicians?  Nope.  It’s me.  I live in DC and I hate summer.  Anything over 75 degrees and I head for the air conditioned goodness of my home.  Today is supposed to be 100 degrees, with the heat index around 105.  Clearly, me being here is causing it.  I always bring the worst heat to whatever region I’m living in.  Don’t all start thanking me at once.

The good news is, summer will be over soon enough.  In about 6 weeks, the weather will be cooling down and it will be downright pleasant.  I remember the last time we lived inside the Beltway.  After a hot and sticky summer, September finally rolled around, bringing lower temperatures and cooling breezes. We had a block party on the last  Saturday of summer, what I will remember as the last weekend of innocence.  We gathered together, fired up the grills, dug into the great potluck dishes and celebrated Labor Day Weekend 2001.   Three days later everything changed.  September 11, 2001.  I’m sure you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard about the first plane.  My husband was the one who told me about the Pentagon, before the news had even picked it up.  One of his co-workers had seen the plane go in.

On September 11, 2006 the blogging world will pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks.  2,996 bloggers will write a tribute on their blog to honor a single victim.  2,996 bloggers, 2,996 victims.

If you would like to partcipate, just go here to sign up (or click the above graphic).  Once you have been assigned a name, the site has links to look up biographical information to help you write your tribute.  A simple Google search will help, too.


Writing Contest

Loni at Joy in the Morning is hosting another "Where I’m From" writing contest.  This time, it’s for kids.  I entered my poem in her last contest.  I didn’t win, but it was fun to read the other entries.  It’s a very simple contest, you can read about the details here.  Your child writes a poem using the fill-in-the-blank template based on the original "Where I’m From" poem.  The entries must be posted to your blog (or your child’s, if they have one) by Wednesday, July 19th.  If you or your child does not have a blog, she has set up a special blog for posting contest entries.  If your child enters, make sure you tell her I sent you!

P.S.  She is also accepting entries written by parents who have lost a child.  You can write the poem as if the child had written it.  I’m working on one for Rebecca.  I’ll be sure to post it here.


Blogging Chicks

I’m a Blogging Chick!

There is an expandable blogroll in my sidebar (gee, how many computer terms can I squeeze into one sentence?) where you can check out some of the other fun blogs on this list. Click on the little graphic to join.


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