Friday, February 28, 2014

Bucket List

Now I know I am getting old.  Writing about my bucket list!  Ha!  I am quite often thinking and remembering things and events about each of the places we have lived.  Where I was pregnant.  Where the kids were born and all that went on around that.

I know I will probably either start to lose my memories as they fade away, or I will embellish them, making my life seem even more fantastic and amazing than it already has been so far.  And I am nowhere near to being done!
When we first went overseas, we were assigned to Chiang Mai, Thailand.   69 Tung Hotel Road was our address.  Near the train station.  We were only there for about 6 weeks when Nick got borrowed by the embassy in Bangkok.  After about 6 weeks in Bangkok, with each of us taking turns being one or the other place,l we got transferred to Bangkok as a permanent assignment.

I would love to see that house in Chiang Mai again.  The place we lived in Bangkok has been torn down and used in some capacity by the US embassy.

The next place we lived overseas was Poznan, Poland.  We lived at Ulitza Groditzka. in a big house that had been divided into three flats and a full basement.  We had a big, fenced yard with at least 12 apple trees, pear trees, grape vines- not many grapes, and walnut trees.    There was a gasoline pump in the back yard where the US diplomats from the consulate would get their gas.   We got our gas there.  Embassy folk on their way west to Berlin, through Poznan got their gas there.  You wrote your name and the amount of gas you took and the commissary billed you for it.  I bet I still have some receipts from then.  I would like to walk by that house, and the US Consulate- which isn't a consulate any more.  I would love to go into our house.    That's where Courtney learned to walk, and where Morgan was conceived.

We went back to Thailand after Poland.   Back to Chiang Mai, as a permanent post this time.   Our house was not the same house we lived in the first time we were in Chiang Mai.   This house was on the end of a dirt an gravel road that was bordered by jungle.  A distant neighbor had a howler monkey that we could hear.  The neighbor across the road had a chicken farm.  Bwaakkk buk buk buk.     I think our address was 9 Suthep Road.  Morgan learned to walk there.  Courtney had her fourth and fifth birthday parties and we had cake and games.  Of course, Morgan had birthdays too, but they were more family centered affairs because he was younger than Courtney.

Between Chiang Mai and Tromso, we bought and lived in our current house, here in Reston.

Tromso, Norway is next.  7 Ivar Aasund Vei was our street address.  I have found in on Google maps.  It's still there.   We had the most fantastic views, looking out the big windows at the ships and boats and wind surfers all on the fjord.  The basement opened up into the actual stone of the mountainside we lived on.   Darcy was born there and learned to walk there.  Courtney home schooled in our dining room, and also attended Norwegian public school.  We had snow.  Oh boy did we have snow.  From late September into May, we had snow.  I love snow!

Back home to Reston where Austin was born around 9 months after we got back.   I was so domestic.  I love being domestic.  I had lots of friends, mainly through La Leche League.   We were busy all the time it seems.  Getting kids to do their homework.   After school concerts and science fairs and baseball and Camp Fire.    And LLL occupied a lot of my time and energy.  And of course there was the usual stuff- doing laundry and washing diapers.  I think I only sat down to nurse -which was fairly frequent.

Taipei, Taiwan was next.  We lived in a former US military house in a neighborhood full of look alike, brick ranchers.  We got the biggest house because we had the most kids, 4 at that point.  That house had a good floor plan.  Decent sized bedrooms and a living/ family room arrangement.  Big kitchen and dining room.   I honestly don't remember our address.  I am sure I have letters from friends with that address.   Made a play group and joined a cooking group and we kept pretty busy.   The three oldest kids were in school, so I had Austin all to myself.  That was nice, and easy.   Nick and I took the kids and drove to the southern part of the island to meet another LLL person I had corresponded with.   Went to a great, hands on children's museum.   Only problem (for us) was that all of the narrations at the exhibits were in Chinese.

Next came Guangzhou, China.  We arrived there with me pregnant, Austin still nursing and the three other kids in school.  We lived in the same building that the US Consulate and offices were in.  All a part of the White Swan hotel somehow.  We had crummy furniture, but with a pack of energetic kids, it worked.  There was a pool we could see from our 5th floor apartment window that was called the "Snoopy Pool" because it looked like Snoopy's head.     The kids and my pregnant self went on road trip to some hot springs resort.  We went with about 25 others from the consulate.  Adults and kids alike.   Nick didn't go, he probably had to work.  It was a fun trip, and, we got to stop in a pretty little rice growing village and see the people and their life style.

About two months before Chance was due to be born, my water broke and Chance was born about 36 hours later.  Nick was on a business trip, and I was home alone with the four other kids.  The three oldest left to catch their school bus.  Then pandemonium, broke out.   My kids were all farmed out to the families of other consulate kids.  So they were with people they knew, and Nick was nowhere in sight. The consulate nurse and I managed to get on a train to Hong Kong where we were met by an ambulance and immigration officers.  Chance was born at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.    It all worked out in the end, mostly.  Chance was a sick baby and I ended up returning to the States with him and Austin.  Nick and the older kids followed a few months later.

Back to Reston and then on to Australia.   My next installation.   I must go to bed

A rod for my own back

This is an expression I heard from time to time when we lived in Australia.  It took me a while to understand it, and I am still not really sure how to explain it.

Here is an example of how it is used   "to do something that is likely to cause problems for you in the future People say that if you let your baby sleep in your bed with you for the first few months, you're just making a rod for your own back."

Another way to think about it is, creating your own work by not expecting or allowing others to do it.  Teaching people how to treat you.

I often feel like I do it all.  I know, intellectually, I don't.  But I feel that I see a lot of the things that need to be done and those things are not even seen or cared about by anyone but me.

I grew up in chaos.  Our home was mostly tidy and clean, so I don't mean a hoarder's chaos.  But there was emotional turmoil, which is, after all a form of chaos.  I never knew if I was going to be spanked, or why.  I couldn't be sure I looked right- was my hair brushed.  Was my dress, or play outfit clean.  Did I have clean nails.   I was never right.  Never stood straight enough, or sat tall enough.  We were all tense.  All the time.

When I danced my little girl ballet dances in the living room, wearing my pink tights and black leotard,  my dad would yell "Damn it Ruth, does she have to dance around here like that?  She's half naked".  So I had to go change out of my light, happy sprite of myself and be a good girl.  In good girl clothes.

I think that cleaning house was the one thing my mom felt that she could do well.  It was her job and she was good at it.  We did chores too like washing dishes and occasionally running the vacuum cleaner.  I remember my job was cleaning the bathrooms.  I liked that because I made everything sparkle.

I think when your life is so  out of control, making something shine, even if it is just a faucet handle, you feel accomplished.

I cleaned houses for other people- for money- when I was in high school.  I did a great job, I got paid, and I got out of the house.

Now, my problem in my here and now life.  The rod for my own back.   I do too much.  I care too much.  I want the house to shine and sparkle and make me feel proud.

I have virtually no time in the house alone.  That's when I would clean if I had a chance.   When I try to clean when I am not alone, one of two things happens.  Either one of the guys will step over the dirt and ignore it.  Or they will try to help.  

If you want to help me, do one of the many other jobs that need to be done.  Don't help me sweep the kitchen floor when I have it under control.   I have played the "Mommy can I help you" game with all of our kids.  But they were encouraged, even when I knew that they would make it worse.  They felt needed and important and they learned something.  You know how to sweep and clean.  I'm not your mommy trying to teach you.   This is a huge, seven bedroom house.  There are lots of parts of the house that need your help getting clean.

Ok, now understand.  I am not saying that you cannot clean the kitchen.    Just tell me and I will get out of your way.  This of course involves wiping down all of the surfaces; stove top; kitchen counters; Kitchen table, sweeping and mopping the floor.  Oh, and cleaning the inside of the mircowave.

My own study is a mess.  It bothers me, but it is all MY mess.  I can take care of it all.   Most of the stuff on the various tables in the house, is not mine.

I try to fix things. I try to track down orders for shoes that have not arrived in Richmond.  I try to figure out Chance's prescription info so he can get a better price.

I make sure the bills are paid- to the best of my ability with what I have.  Utilities; gas; water; electricity; trash, cable and internet.   Tuitions  and allowances and rents and house payments.  Car insurance.  Maintenance of three of the cars.  Or I suspect they would never get their inspections done and their oil changed.

At bed, when I am lying and tossing and turning I am thinking of all I have before me in the morning.  Laundry.  Wiping the streaks off the counter tops.   It keeps me awake.

I know that my family, who I am living with, care.  Not that they are bad people.  They just really don't understand.  They don't see with my eyes.

I know for the most part it is just the family laziness.  Nobody feels stress over the fact that the carpets have not been cleaned since around Christmas time   Nobody but me that is.  Sometimes I get made fun of bu my family.  How rude

Yup, it is after 5:00 am now.  I should be warm in my bed knowing that I won't be coming down to last weeks newspaper spread all over the kitchen table.  

Okay, now I am thoroughly exhausted.  Maybe I will be able to fall asleep without thinking/ dreading what the morning brings!

If I weren't here.  Sick in the hospital, traveling, spending a few days with my sister maybe,would my absence be noticed and noted?  Would the table tops get dusted?  Would the floors be swept, mopped and would there be gunk in the microwave, and junk on the tables.   Ok, my meter is running out and I am about to shut off

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014

I am about half way through the Gold's Gym 12 week challenge.  I was leery at first, but decided to give it a try.  So I have been going to the gym for what seems a non-stop run of classes; Yoga, Pilates, Spin.  I rook one Belly Dancing class and then it got replaced by something else.

I know that when I do go to the gym twice so far this week, about 6 times last week, I always feel better.  But right now I am in a slump.  No, I don't think it is because I am bored with it.  I love it, really I do.   I have more energy and think I can feel some changes in my body.  Not much though.  Nothing really measurable.  That's discouraging.  But I am not going to stop.

I found out about a week and a half ago that my thyroid levels are low.  I have been taking Synthroid since 1995.  That's 19 years.   The doctor said I needed to "tweak" my dosages.  I asked about taking Armour thyroid, so I am.  This, according to all of the people on the internet with thyroid problems, it THE answer.  It would be nice.  I am not sure how I will know if it is working, or is it not possible?  I do go for a blood test next week to see how I am doing.

I am still not too happy about what I see in the full length mirrors at the gym, but I am getting used to myself.  And I try to just not look so much!

Far more important that all of that, it is Courtney's birthday!  My first born baby is 36 today.  Wow!

I have learned everything I know, or at least everything that is important, from my children.  They have made me laugh.  They let me bring out the crazy, occasional creative self in me.

Courtney, my first baby, taught me about love at first sight

I posted some pictures on Facebook, so I am going to see if I can get them to post here.

Me, liking a lollipop waiting for labor to kick in- at Prommitr Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand

Courtney about 2 weeks old.  I lost my belly right away!
Courtney 5 months old, back in the States

Courtney the business woman
Courtney the writer

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February tenth twenty fourteen

I took the weekend "off".  Yesterday I stayed in my pajamas all day and didn't even shower.

Today, I finally gave in and took a shower and got dressed.  And we went to our dinner group's monthly dinner.  Nick made deviled eggs.  Yum, they are the best!

A few weeks ago I entered five photos in a fine arts photography contest.  I didn't really expect to win.  But I did expect/ hope that at least one of my pictures would be selected for the competition.  Then they would hang on the walls in the studio and I might  at least sell one or more.  Not devastating, but dissapointing.

If I can figure out what files the pictures are in I will post them here.

I am sure that there were a lot of great submissions.  This is the first time I have ever tried to win anything with my work, so it comes as only a small surprise.

I like my pictures.  I know that I am a good photographer.   That's important to me.   It is also important that I be recognized as a good photographer.  Even if just by friends and family.  Everyone enjoys praise!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rabbit Rabbit

It's the first day of February and the year is already passing us by.  Again, I wonder and marvel at the passage of time.  Try as we might, we cannot control it or stop it or change it.   Breathing, walking, sleeping, working out, meditating.   The world goes 'round and 'round.   Bills come due and go overdue.   Babies are born, on time, early or late.  People die.  There's the "untimely death" and there's the "died peacefully surrounded by loved ones".   Breathing in.  Breathing out.

Night before last, Nick and I watched the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel".  It was the second time I had seen it.   Seeing it with Nick was great because we have shared so many "exotic" moments in the places we have lived and those we have visited.    Nick has been to India.  I have not.  But we can both share the feeling of what the noises and smells and crowds are all about.   Makes me want to travel again.

What a life we have shared.   I want to do so much more even than I have already done.   I want to go back and see all of the places I have lived and slept and breathed and left pieces of who I am.  I am made up of those places and experiences.   I know you can never go back, and be that person you were then.  Experience the same things and feelings.  I guess, maybe part of that longing to "go back" is a desire to affirm that you actually did do those things and lived those experiences.  

It's funny how our kids have lived in the various places we have been stationed, some even born there, yet, in many cases, they were too young to have formed any memories.  It is part of their story and their history.  Part of the family lore.  But not part of their every day identity.  I guess.

Of course, I know that I spent a part of my early life in exotic places.   Much of that is just a story to me.  Again, family lore.   I have snippets of memories from Greece and Okinawa.  Much more of Afghanistan of course because I was older when we lived there.  But my sister and brother,  being older that me, had much different experiences and memories.

Ok, so much for these profound thoughts.  Yesterday I was in the here and now and I was in a funk almost all day.   I went to the gym, warmed up, and went into the classroom expecting- looking forward to, belly dancing class.   It had been cancelled and replaced by a class that I would call aerobics.   The teacher was great.  The music was fast and fun.  But I felt dumb.  I was having trouble keeping up.  I looked at myself in the classroom mirrors- they are impossible to ignore.   I looked as dumb as I felt.   I know that it was such a small thing.  Not all that important in the whole scheme of things.  But it was a disappointment and I let it put me into a real funk.  All day after that I just felt blah.

I had a couple of new moms I had to call.  One was a follow up call to a mom who is having a rough time and really needed some information and support so she could continue to try nursing.  The other was a mom I had not spoken to yet.  I was setting up an appointment with her.  I put off these calls as long as I could.  I did not think I could call these moms without sounding too down.  But, as usual, when I spoke to the moms, I felt so much better!  I love being able to educate and encourage frustrated moms.

I know what a part of my funk was this week- I just remembered.   I went to a meeting to learn about filing reports and logging in my time sheets and going "paperless".  I left the meeting feeling like I didn't want to "work" any more.  I love being with moms and babies, but I don't want it to feel like "work"!   I do keep records and file reports.  But the whole business aspect of it sucks. 

Looks like I am not going to make it to spin class this morning.  That's okay.