Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Curse of the TDY

For the entire month of August, Tony was TDY in Scotland. In the military life, it is well-known that bad things happen while your husband is away on a TDY. Armed with this knowledge, I steeled myself as Tony pulled away in the wee dawn hours of the morning. "I can do this", I told myself. He has been deployed for a whole year. This is one month.

My husband, at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2016

The first incident was not too bad, considering that it could have been much worse. There was this annoying little light that would come on the van's dashboard every time I went around a sharp curve. As soon as the curve straightened out, the light went off. Surely, I thought, if it was a big deal, the light would stay on. Wrong thought. I was extremely low on oil for some odd reason. I was relating the funny light story to a friend at church who immediately checked my oil level. It was bone dry. After adding 3 quarts, it barely reached the safe line on the oil dipstick. A real tragedy avoided, praise the Lord!

Next, my sweet little son, when told 'no' by his mother, threw himself face-first into the couch. He hit his front teeth on the hard part of the couch. The next day, he told me it hurt to eat. Then, about a week later, I noticed his two front teeth were turning gray. The dentist said that only time will tell if he damaged the permanent teeth. He is not quite as photogenic as before, but he is still a cutie-pie to me.

Then, Peter's birthday and my broken arm. Yep. No husband to help. Praise God again, for Sophie was here. If she had not, I honestly don't know how we would have handled that first week and the surgery. But poor Sophie did not get to do any of the sightseeing we had planned.

Usually, three things is par for the course in a typical TDY. But we had one more. Jack has suffered from ingrown toenails for years. Things got really bad right as Tony was getting ready to leave and it was decided that he should have a minor procedure to help. Of course it was scheduled for the day after my fall at the skating rink. We rescheduled it and it seemed that everything went smoothly. But one of his toes developed an awful infection. We are still in the midst of solving that problem, but once again, praise be to God, for Tony got home on Sunday and I am no longer handling it all alone.

I have tried to remain positive throughout all this craziness, but I must confess that I did lose it a time or two. I am trying to keep in mind that God's will be done and not mine, and that there is a reason for everything, even if I can't see or understand it right now. To help me, I decided I needed a physical reminder, something I could look at, to help me turn to Our Blessed Mother when I was emotionally spent. A dear friend, though we have never met in real life, makes beautiful rosaries and other religious items. I bought a bracelet to help me maintain peace of heart and mind. Her Etsy shop is full of beautiful, well-made rosaries. I have bought them for my own children as well as for the young adults I have sponsored for Confirmation. I received my bracelet two days ago, and it is perfect. I can glance down at my wrist and know that I can trust in God 100%, no matter how hard it seems. Thank you, Barbara, for my lovely bracelet and the cover for my Magnificat. As always, I am so amazed at your talents.

Sunday evening, we all camped out on the front porch to wait for Tony to arrive. It was our first days of truly hot days here in Germany, so the breeze blowing through the porch felt so nice compared to the inside of our not air-conditioned house. Every time we heard a car, my heart would race. Finally, we saw his car turn the corner. A huge cheer erupted from us all. We were all together again. Praise God!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Before the fall

Poor Peter. His birthday was going along just nicely until his mother interrupted the fun by breaking her arm at the actual party.

 A couple of days before, Jack and I went shopping together for gifts. I always like those rare days where I get time to focus on just one kid. Jack and I had fun searching through the German toy store. He also made note of several items he wanted for himself. We brought home our stash and hid it away. On the morning of Peter's birthday, I let all the kids wrap the gifts for their brother. I was hoping to avoid that moment when another kid gives in to jealousy by getting them involved in the giving. It worked.

I simply cannot fathom how my baby, my youngest is all of a sudden four. His bright eyes, and the dimple on one cheek when he smiles melt my heart every time. He amazes me with his insights and attention to the little details of life. What a blessing he is! Happy fourth birthday Peter!

"I'm four!"

Now he has his own scooter to keep up with his siblings.

best euro I ever spent!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yarn away

Well my friends, I will be carefully packing away my current knitting projects for the foreseeable future. Which is unfortunate in many ways, but mostly because it is my anxiety reducer. And right at this moment my anxiety level is mighty high.

Sunday was Peter's fourth birthday. He asked us to take him to the skating rink. So I bought him a pair of cute roller skates that fit over his shoes, along with lots of other little trinkets. Sophie has been here with us and it has been a joy to have all my kids together under one roof. So we all loaded up into the van and went to the skating rink. The big girls and I took turns shuffling around the rink with Peter. Anna and Jack are quite good skaters and Therese almost matches them in ability. So, when Peter took a break, Therese asked me to skate alongside her. We were having such fun, coasting around the rink. Then, I lost my balance and went down. Hard. I heard the bone break. I looked at my arm. It did not look like my arm because it was in such a funny shape. At the ER it was determined that even after reducing the fracture, it would require surgery. So, that is what I will be doing tomorrow. I am filled with anxiety and I cannot knit! Prayers are most appreciated.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

where we visit a castle

Today we did some cleaning up in the morning in preparation for a houseguest arriving tomorrow. Then, we packed up and headed out to the city of Cochem to enjoy a festival at the castle.

It was a good thing that we invited Olivia's friend Aaron along and that he accepted our invitation. My GPS decided to conk out about halfway there. He let us use his phone to navigate us the rest of the way. Note for next time...I am printing out written directions, just in case.

We spent our first hour in Cochem cruising around looking for a parking place. We ended up very, very far from the castle. But it was a beautiful walk, and one of the prettiest days weather wise in a long time. I chose to purchase some ice cream for our walk up to the castle. Wise choice, if I do say so myself.

After paying the entrance fee, we wandered and meandered and observed and tried our hand at things. It was a good, good day.

view of the castle from where we parked


getting close

inside the castle

I wish I knew how to draw on a photo because at the bottom of that vineyard is our little van. That is how far we walked.

making giant bubbles

even bigger bubbles

They each got three shots at a wooden target shaped like a boar.

He really got into shooting the crossbow.

These guys were quite entertaining in their dueling. There were also musical acts and jugglers.

We took a tour inside the castle too.

From the bridge on our way to the car.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Where I think about life, death, and how to make the most of our time

As summer slowly draws to a close and the new school year looms on the not too distant horizon, I have been in a somewhat contemplative mood. I am hopeful that the changes being implemented in our curriculum this year will naturally lead us into a life I wish for us. I want to foster a lively curiosity in my children in the world around them, how it works and how it came to be what we see today.

This week has been most out of the ordinary for our family. We have been up early, packing lunches, and heading out the door for VBS and theater camp. While I think it has been good in some ways, (the older kids have been most helpful getting the little ones ready and helping to pack lunches), I look with longing to the return of our mornings that are ours alone.

Realizing that we were low on bread, I got ready for the day and then walked down to the bakery to procure freshly baked bread. Have I ever told you that our village very much reminds me of my father's small home town in West Virginia? The landscape, the smallness, the slowness are all so similar, I find myself reminiscing quite frequently of my childhood summer visits to my grandparent's house.  As I walked down the hill this morning on the single lane road that is used as a two-way street, I drifted back to the summertime in West Virginia, sauntering down the gravel alleyway with my grandfather. With his pipe in his mouth, he never walked, he sauntered. The alley had well-worn tire ruts, with lots of potholes strewn about, usually holding a small amount of muddy water. We kids would either walk beside him, or maybe try walking along the top rail of the white wooden fence on the side of the alleyway. We would eventually end up at the small brick post office, and then, more often than not, would stop at the local ice cream shop.

Life was slow and it was all mine. We didn't have to tell anyone where we were going. We just explored. I remember standing with my eyes closed by the crick, just listening to the water run over the rocks, breathing in the smell of moss and old railroad ties that formed the footbridge.  I would lie in the damp, cool grass searching for a four-leaf clover. I would be hard-pressed to recall with such vividness any of my days in the classroom. That is why I am planning to spend less time at a table and more time experiencing the world around us.

We returned home this afternoon, tired and worn out. I had pictured myself relaxing for a bit before starting dinner, letting the kids just chill out too. But Anna's shrill cry of "Mama! I think Marlin is dead!" made me dash down the stairs.  Her fish was indeed no longer living. Little coincidences are seldom lost on me. On the drive home, we had listened to the chapter in the Ramona books where they had to bury their pet cat. After discussing whether to bury or flush, she decided to flush. But she just could not do it herself. I really had a hard time too, but I gently laid him in the toilet, closed the lid, closed my eyes, and hit the flusher. I hit it again for good measure. Then Peter lifted the lid and confirmed that Marlin was on his way to a better place.

And now, I think that tonight is definitely a 'mustgo' night for dinner. As in 'everything must go that is in the fridge'. That way, we have easy cleanup and can go on a walk and talk or explore or just contemplate life in the fields of rural Germany. Too bad I don't smoke a pipe ;)