Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Over

Christmas is over.
Plates of goodies left on the porch by neighbors, over.
Running to Target for the 15th time for that "last thing I have to get", over.
Eating cookies by the dozen without guilt because it's Christmas, over.
Trying to wrap every time my kids leave the house, over.
Keeping a stash of dollar bills in my purse for the Salvation Army bucket, over.
Listening to Andre sing to the tune of Joy to the World, 'Joy to the world, Bawney's dead! We chopped off his head! Don't wowrry 'bout the body. We fwushed it down the poddy. And wound and wound it goes! And wound and wound it goes! And WOUND and WOUND and wound it goes!', over. Finally.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I try to make my life easier by planning. Planning on when I will do things, how I will do things, if I want to do things. But things don't always work out how I think they will.

Last week Matt asked me to send him a new pillow. Apparently the pillows in the Middle East are sub-par. Who would have thought?  He asked would I be a dear and send him one? And could I also slip in some Propel drink mix? I got the pillow and the drink mix and got a box from the store and got everything all packed up for him. I get to post office and of course, it's Christmas time, so I wait for about 20 minutes in line. When I finally reach the clerk at the counter he informs me that it will be $35.00 to ship the package but if I split the contents up into two smaller boxes it will only be $20.00 total. I'll take it. He shows me the size of the boxes that I need to use to get this rockin' deal from the post office. They are about the size of a shoe box. The drink mix fits in no problem. The pillow is another story. I show the clerk the size of my pillow and he says, "Hmmm, it might not fit." To which I answer, "Ya think?" He hands me a roll of tape and directs me to a clear spot on the floor to attempt to stuff this pillow in this box and tape it up.

I spend the next ten minutes attempting to cram and shove this oversized, extra firm pillow in this teeny, tiny box which seems to be getting smaller by the minute. I can actually get the pillow in but I have to hold my weight on the box to keep it closed. This leaves me with no hands to tape it up. I ask my five year old, Andre, to put his hands on the box and hold it while I tape it up. It was like opening a can of springy worms. The pillow came popping out of the box. I could have just given up, but I would not be beat by this pillow. Did I mention that I'm still on the floor of the post office? There is still a line out the door. I'm in a T-shirt, a heavy sweat shirt, my heaviest winter coat and a knit hat. After wrestling with this pillow for going on 15 minutes, I'm working up quite a glow. And people are STARING at me on the floor while I try to manipulate the simplest of things, a pillow and a box, into joining and becoming one.

I start to mutter under my breath. "Go in! Go in! Go in pillow! It's your home! Are you to good for your home??" Yes. I am that crazy lady in the post office in a weird knit hat (it was a very bad hair day) talking to her packages. Finally, after much stuffing and cajoling, the pillow and box work out their differences and fit together. That and about half a roll of tape to keep this thing from popping open somewhere over the Atlantic. I should have just paid the extra fifteen bucks.

My second plan that didn't work out quite as I had thought was the situation of hiding the Christmas presents. I have actually had my chidren's presents for awhile and they have been stashed all over the house in various spots. Storage bins. Unused drawers. In the cat's litter box. Just kidding. But if I did hide something there, the kids would never, ever find it. 

I start wrapping but I don't want to go to the effort of re-hiding everything. I decide to leave all the wrapped presents in my room and just lock my door. I have a good lock on my door. It's very hard to open. In fact, you need a special tool that came with the doorknob to get it open. And I have the only one. Which turns out is actually a problem.

I locked myself out of my room. I could see the tool in my mind. Sitting on my dresser next to my jewelry box, completely out of reach behind the locked door. I spent 20 minutes taking off the doorknob to get the tool to unlock the door and and then putting the doorknob back on. It was a very productive day.

But that isn't the worst part. The worst part is I did it again two hours later. Or I thought I had. I actually left the tool in my car. But since I couldn't find it I assumed it was locked behind the door. Again. So out come the screwdrivers and off comes the doorknob. Andre walks by me and says "Really, Mom?" Thank you, Andre. I know. Of course I search my room. No tool to be found. Aidan comes in from the garage after I picked him up from school and says "Hey, Mom. Isn't this the tool to unlock your door? Did you know it was in the car?" No, Aidan. I didn't. But thank you.

Just goes to show you no matter how ahead of the game I think I am, I always end up two steps behind and it's usually my fault. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Having Dirt Or Really Really Bad Stuff

The other day I caught my son, Andre, systematically dismantling the photo albums and scrap books that took me years to compile. He was sitting there, completely content, just popping open the 3-ring, leather covered binders and sliding the shiny, protected pages out of order. "Andre!!!!" I screamed (of course), "what are you doing?!?!" He looked up at me, all nonchalant and said, "Mom, you started your mom's couch on fire and this isn't as bad as that."

I stood there. I was shocked because A- it was true. I had started my mom's couch on fire. And B- how in the world did he happen to come upon this information? He slowly started to place the pages in their correct albums (they're color coded) as I walked away. I was speechless. What do you say to that? I went in my room and thought awhile and what I decided was that first, my son shows remarkable promise for being a great lawyer. Who wouldn't win a case where you have dirt on the opposing counsel? And second, somebody in my family had been talking.

There was always a lot of teasing between me and my three younger brothers. Although I must say what I considered teasing, some of my younger brothers considered torture. It was at this point that I then realized that the wheel of pain had turned because now my brothers were filling my kids in on all the really bad stuff I did as a kid. Some things (other than setting the couch on fire, that cat is out of the bag) that I did that I would prefer my children to never know about include, but not limited to, are:
     1. Pushing my brother through the dining room wall (technically he didn't go through it, but he went pretty far into it).

     2. Taking my mom's car without permission and bottoming out in a ditch, punching a hole through the oil pan. I parked it in the driveway like nothing had happened and when she came out for work the next morning, guess what? Oil all over the drive way. Needless to say, it wouldn't start.

     3. Knocking over my mom's china cabinet. Breaking the glass doors to the front of it and all the crystal in it (I had help with this one).

     4. Locking up my brothers in various locations and feeding them Kool-Aid with a turkey baster.

     5. Coming home with a nose ring. Enough said.

Reading this you may or you may not be thinking, wow, Kelly was a real naughty girl. Or hell-raiser. Or delinquent. But get this. I was actually one of the good kids in my family. Good by comparison. Growing up we were all a little naughty. Or just really bored.  As I mentally scrolled through this list, I realized that if anymore of this information got out, I could be in even more trouble than I was as a kid.

"Oh, yeah. Mom, you know that new dent in your car? Well, you totally broke your mom's car and this isn't as bad as that."

"Mom, what do you think of my belly button ring? At least it's not on my face like yours was."

"Sorry I locked Andre out of the house. You locked your brothers up in the house and that is definitely worse."

I'm starting to feel sweaty and sick to my stomach. What am I going to do? I will tell you. Bribery. I will have to give my brothers something that means more to them than shocking my children with the highlight real of "The Worst Things Kelly Ever Did".

But then I sweat more because I realize that there is nothing in this world that is as great as seeing your sibling squirm. Nothing is better than getting back at someone after 25 years of holding injustice close to your heart. Now I will be the one locked up. I will be the one that will smile sweetly and be forced to say prettyprettypleasewithacherryontop 16 times because I am the one who is trapped behind a row of bar stools.

Please, my dear, sweet, kind, intelligent, and above all attractive brothers. Play nice.

PS Just a little note about setting the couch on fire. Much to my children's disappointment, I did not burn down the couch. Aidan asked me the other day where I got the oil to start the fire going. Oil? What oil? The tale was getting taller everyday. I had to set the story straight. What really happened was I was playing with a candle (fire was my friend) and decided to sit it upright on a cushion while I got a drink. Of course, it tipped over and burned a hole about the size of a small orange on the arm of the couch. It mostly burned the arm covering, which I hid in my brother's closet. I then artfully positioned the pillows to hide the damage. Very well, I might add. We were leaving for Yellowstone the next day and I was worried if my mom saw it, she would say we couldn't go. When we get back from vacation and I am surfing a geyser and hot spring high (geology was my friend too) and have completely forgotten about the burning-of-the-couch incident. She goes to put my brother's clothes away and guess what comes tumbling down off the top shelf. The evidence. I remember getting caught, but that's it. I really don't remember a punishment. Maybe I blocked it from my mind.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Really? I Mean, Really?

I woke up Sunday morning to a dead car battery. Nothing in this world is less fun than getting in your car, turning the key, and hearing nothing. I sat in my car silently for a few seconds, and then I began ranting to myself, the steering wheel, and the mail on the passenger seat. "Stupid car! Stupid car! YOU STUPID CAR!"

I'm usually not prone to uncontrollable rages, but we had just gone through a whole phase of our car not starting. Something with the fuel gauge in the fuel tank. The car would have half a tank of gas, but the gauge would tell the car it was empty so the car would shut itself down.I never knew when it would start. I would go out every morning with my fingers, arms, and toes crossed hoping against all hope that today it would start. Over two thousand dollars later, (it needed a little more work than just a fuel gauge) it now starts. So you can see why I was so upset by this dead battery.

My dad swung by Sunday evening and he jumped the car. But guess what. On Monday morning I went out to start the car and again, dead battery. Now we have a problem. I know I wasn't leaving my headlights on or anything like that so the battery must be going bad. I have to jump it myself. I'm not a total moron, I know how to jump a car and have assisted many a neighbor in jumping theirs (I'm always home). But the thought of doing it myself leaves me in a cold sweat. Literally. I am DEATHLY afraid of electricity. I don't know why. I've never been shocked, never been struck by lightning (unlike my little brother). But I was sure that jumping the car by myself would surely lead to injury and/or death. I read through the owner's manual just to make sure I'm doing it right. I am physically shaking as I hook up the cables to the batteries. Red on positive. Okay. Black on negative. Oh good heavens don't let me end up a smoking pile of blonde flesh on my drive way. As you can guess I managed to successfully jump the car by myself. Mission accomplished. 

I drive to Auto-Zone and stand in line ready to inform the technician of my predicament (they will test your battery for free). I should tell you now that I hate cars. I hate everything to do with them. I hate fixing them. I hate buying parts for them. I hate washing them. I hate cleaning them out. So standing in line at Auto-Zone I'm not too happy. After testing my car the technician informs me that it is in fact not my battery that is the problem, but my alternator. Lovely. I put in a call to Rick. Rick is my car-mechanic god. I love him. I would kneel down before him and worship the ground he walks on, but since he's my step-brother, I don't. As soon as he sees it's me on the caller ID he's asks 'what now' because I am always calling him with problems on my car. As I tell him what is wrong he doesn't seem to think it's my alternator. We talk on the phone for another 5-10 minutes debating what-in-the-world could be wrong with my car. While I sit there with the car off, I hear a mysterious ticking noise coming from the passenger seat and since I don't believe in ticking ghosts, I check it out. I discover that the motorized control for the power seat adjust is stuck in the down position. Are you kidding me? I just subjected myself to the torture of jumping my car myself and then going to the place where all evil resides, a car parts store, all because my leg pushed the lever down Saturday night while I got something out of the car? Rick, the car-mechanic god, is laughing and assuring me that is what has been draining my battery. I guess I should just be happy that I don't have to shell out more of my husband's hard earned defending-the-country paycheck to fix the car. I fixed it myself. By pulling the lever up. You should be impressed. I was.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Single Life Of A Military Wife

Many of you know that my husband is in the Army. Many of you know he is deployed right now. What many of you don't know is that we have spent the last three years and three months living separate lives. Why? Let me tell you. 

June 17, 1995. I went on a first date with this cute guy named Matt. We really didn't know each other that well so we are telling our stories. Ten minutes into the date he says "Oh, did you know I joined the Utah Army National Guard last week? As an M-day soldier." "That's cool." I answer while in my head I'm thinking 'who cares'. Little did I know I would end up caring a lot. A whole lot for that matter.

I ended up marrying that really cute guy named Matt and for the first five years of our marriage the National Guard didn't really play that big a part in our lives. The M-day soldier is the one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer guy. It was peace time. Things were peachy-keen.

In 2001 we had some financial bumps. Lots of them. My health went down the tubes and we had to pay lots of money out-of-pocket for some surgeries and blah, blah, blah things. And we were expecting our third child in three years. Our need for money was outpacing how fast we were bringing it in. Turns out Matt could make more money in the National Guard than at his current job. He switched from being an M-day soldier to being a full time soldier. It was a regular desk job. Every Friday off. We made more money, free health insurance. We felt we were set.  

Fast forward to 2003. We got a late call on a Sunday night that Matt was being deployed to the Middle East on Wednesday. Um, hello? Some notice would have been nice. He was gone for 14 months.

When he gets back, we have another baby, buy a new house, get on with our lives. Turns out Matt, who was enlisted at the time, wasn't that happy at work. He was continuing to move up the chain and as he did there were fewer and fewer positions. Opportunities were becoming scarce, but not if he became an officer. There was a catch though. He could not become an officer while in the National Guard. He had to what? That's right. Join the Army.

Let me just say for the record I was not happy about this decision. We were in the middle of not one, but two wars. Who knew what the future held? He applied to go to OCS (Officer Candidate School), and he got accepted. 

Now the plan was for him to go to OCS, do a little additional training with the Army, get a new position somewhere out-of-state and once that was done, rent our house in Utah, and move us to wherever he was. Six, maybe seven months, tops. Yeah, right.

What ended up happening was that instead of just a little additional training with Army, he had 18 months of it, and then as soon as he was done with that he was placed in a unit that was already deployed in Iraq. Bam. Another seven months. When he got back from that little jaunt we had lived apart two years. Except for when he was deployed we did occasionally see each other during this time. He would fly home for 4-day weekends. It wasn't very fun. I don't recommend it.

After he got back he was placed in a position at Ft. Riley, Kansas. We were faced with a decision. Rent or sell our house here and move out there, or stay here and do the back and forth thing. The whole time I'm singing in my head "should I stay or should I go". We make preliminary plans to move out there, but it just never felt right. There was always some reason that staying here made more sense than moving out there. And honestly, Ft. Riley wasn't exactly my dream location. I'm a west kind of girl. I want my mountains. My dry air. My ocean a maximum of 700 miles away. So we stayed. He goed. The kids and I would make kamikaze trips (1,000 miles in 16 hours) out to see him for two to three weeks. He would take a week of vacation and come home. We went on like this for a year, and then the bottom fell out. He was getting deployed. Again. For thirteen months. Now I at least knew why it never felt right. There was no way I was going to be stuck somewhere like that without him.

So here we are. When he gets back in October of 2011 he will start another training class that will take until June, 2012. At that point, we will be able to be together again. Jealous much? I didn't think so. People hear that my husband is deployed and ask how long he's been gone. I answer two months, but in my mind I say three years. It's just too hard to explain to people. And it takes too long. And it's painful. And it makes me cry. Sobbing in the bread aisle at Wal-Mart isn't good for anybody. 

How do I do it? The same way you do things. One day at a time. When I think of the date June 2012, I break down. So I don't think about it. I have friends. I have family. And just in case this has been too sad, here are some benefits to leading the single life of a military wife.

1. I get the WHOLE bed to myself. I don't sleep in the middle, but his side is a convient storage place for clothes I don't want to hang up and books I'm reading. It's like having another night stand that is attached to your bed.

2. I pick what we eat for dinner every night. Mac-n-cheese it is kids!!

3. I don't ever have to watch sports. I loathe sports. I can tolerate actually going to the game, but then to watch the highlights after on TV? Kill me now please.

4. No motorcycle helmets or jackets on my kitchen table. 

5. I can watch Keeping up with the Kardashians as much as I want without worrying what anyone thinks of me. It's horrible, mindless, terrible reality TV, but I love it. 

6. I also get the WHOLE closet to myself. Matt's stuff has been shoved and pushed to the very back. Ahhh... the space!

7. I get the whole bathroom counter and BOTH sinks for myself. No shaving mess here.

8. I can lay around in pajamas all day (which I do sometimes) and not clean a single thing and nobody comes home and asks oh so casually "hey, what did you do today?" I will answer that now. Absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Am Dum (Or Stoopid)

I've become dumb. I say 'become' because I wasn't always dumb. It happened some time in my 20's. Interesting. I also had three children in my 20's. Hmmmm... Coincidence? I think not.

Specifically I have lost the ability to spell, and it sucks because English and spelling used to be 'My Thing'! I was in honors English classes all through middle and high school. I did pretty good on my ACT's and I was even published in college (yeah, it was only the community college little creative writing book, but it counts). So hopefully by giving you this little resume I have convinced you I wasn't always the idiot I appear to be now.

What happened? One word. Pregnancy. I felt my former correct-spelling self actually slip away as I delivered my first child. Who knew that spelling isn't controlled by an area of the brain? It's actually controlled by your uterus. It has to be, otherwise my spelling wouldn't have been so affected by having kids. I think I can actually remember the doctor telling me everything that was going on. "Baby. Afterbirth. Oh! And here is your ability to spell correctly. Don't need that anymore." I really don't know. Maybe the doctor didn't even see it when my baby was born. Maybe it accidentally fell out and got kicked under the bed and then Matt and I just left it at the hospital.

I have, every now and then, regained a little spelling ability. But of course, I get pregnant again so any growth that little spelling gland has done is completely undone by having the baby. And now that I have done this four times, I fear I have permanently damaged my spelling uterus.

Here is an example of a few of the words I ALWAYS misspell -
1. Guard  - I can never remember the order of the A and the U.
2. Priest - It just looks wrong. It seems like it should be one the those exceptions to the I before E rule.
3. Definitely - I always put an A where the second I is.
4. Medieval - Shouldn't it be mid-evil?
5. Across - is it one C or two?
6. Address - so if across is one C, shouldn't address just have one D?

I tell you all this, my dear friends, hoping that if you see some of my spelling errors, you will just smile and think of my beautiful children. And remember that once upon a time, I could write a paper without hitting spell check 37 times.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sexy Russian Spy

I underwent a transformation a couple of weeks ago. I took my limp, shoulder length, dishwater blonde hair and changed it into something new. Cut, color, everything. I was a new me. I went over to show my friends and got rave reviews. And one review that was strange.

"Yeah, I like it," my male neighbor said. "You look like a sexy, Russian spy."

Um... thanks? I think.

Me. A sexy. Russian. Spy. I've been called many things before in my life but sexy, Russian spy was definitely a first. I went to a close friend with this information. "Does my hair say sexy, Russian spy?"

"Yeah," she said. "I can see that."

"What about it says sexy, Russian spy?" I ask.

"The bangs. Definitely the bangs."

Funny. I thought bangs said things like I'm stuck in the 80's or I'm 36 going on 11. But never Eastern Block counterintelligence seductress.

I thought about this idea for awhile. And then I started to like the idea. I thought I would try it on.

Well? What do you think? Do I look remotely sexy? Forget about that. Do I look remotely Russian? After looking at the picture I decided I didn't look like either. All I saw was a girl looking like she was trying out for Charlie's Angels (that is supposed to be a fake gun in my hand, so realistic).

But if I was going to be a Russian spy (let's just drop the sexy, it's never going to happen, at least not while I've had four kids), I would have to come up with an alias. Something like Svetlana or Natasha. And I would talk like this "Heel-o, my nyame is Nyatasha."

What kind of spy would I be? Would I be like James Bond all martinis and seduction? Probably not because we already dropped the sexy part. Maybe Ethan Hunt? No, because he is part of a team. I work alone. How about Jason Bourne? Yeah, I could do that. I love the idea of secret safe deposit boxes full of money and different identities. I would kick butt first and ask questions later. I would speak six languages (one of course would be Russian). I would know how to jump off buildings into windows across alleys. I would have a gun on my hip and a secret knife strapped to my leg. I would be able to disarm a man with my pointer finger. You can tell I've thought about this. A lot.

Anyway. I'm not a spy. I'm not Russian. And with the amount of time I spend in mismatched pajamas I'm surely not sexy. It was fun to pretend for awhile. And if I ever get bored with my life I'll just go to the hairstylist and say "Geeve me zhe sexy, Russian spy look."

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Know Me Better Than I Do

I am going through a phase of really missing my husband right now, so I am going to tell you a favorite story of mine about him.

When I was pregnant with our first son, Alexander, I had a wicked sweet tooth. A wicked fat-frosting-glaze tooth. I was addicted to sugar, flour and deep-frying. My drug of choice was a double chocolate donut from 7-11.

The craving would really hit me about 8:30 at night. You know the feeling, when you have already had dinner so you're really not hungry but you need something. I'm telling you, a double chocolate donut is that thing. Matt would sweetly volunteer to run out and get us each one. When he got home baby and I were satisfied by a glass of skim milk (I was so health conscious while I was pregnant) and that wonderful double chocolate donut. Matt would also pick one up for himself but would leave it for the next day.

Turns out the next day Matt forgot about it before he left for work. I woke up and saw it there. Tempting me. Calling my name. It would say "Kelllllll-y... don't you want to eat me? You really should eat me. By the time Matt gets home I will be all dried out and tasteless. You would really be doing Matt a favor by eating me so I don't ruin his day. Okay, just eat half of me. Matt won't mind..."  Who here wouldn't listen to a talking donut.

So I ate it. The whole thing by the way. There is no way you can eat half of a chocolate donut. It would be like driving a Porsche on the freeway at 30 mph. You're just not getting the whole experience.

Matt gets home. He's really not that surprised it is gone. We had been married for two years at this point.

The next night, that old craving hits me. Matt asks me "Do you want me to get you two?" No-no-no-no. I answer. I'm getting too fat. He leaves and comes back with a little bag of happiness with a hole in it. I eat it. I'm happy. Matt does the smart thing and eats his also so there is no doubt he will get it.

The next morning I wake up and all I can think about are chocolate donuts (I told you I was addicted). I sat there wishing Matt hadn't eaten his the night before because I would shamelessly eat it again. I go out to the kitchen and guess what is sitting on a plate? A beautiful, pristine chocolate donut. He had actually bought three.

I call him on the way to work. As he answers his phone the first thing out of his mouth is "You ate it, didn't you? You wanted it, didn't you?" Yes, I answer, it was heavenly and sinful at the same time. I drove to work thinking the best way to start your day is a surprise donut on the counter.

I guess I'm just going to leave this little story with you. This happened almost 13 years ago. Whenever I think of it, it always brings a little smile to my face. It also explains why in my first pregnancy I gained 30 pounds in four months.
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