Monday, December 31, 2007

Mommy Brain and Kissing the Cat

For me, there is never a dull moment raising three kids ages 4 and under. In fact, I don’t remember the last time that I was bored. Speaking of remembering, I still have a bad case of “Mommy brain.” My short term memory (even the long term memory) seems to have shorted out.

Just the other day I was talking to my husband on the phone and there was something cute and significant that my three year old had said that I couldn’t recall to tell him. I remember thinking when she said it that I had to remember this and then the typical crazy stuff happened and of course, I forgot all about it. Last night while I was brushing my teeth I had a flashback as to what that something that the three year old had said was. She was showing me a scratch on her foot. I asked her how she got that, and she replied that Pokey (our cat) had scratched her. I carted her off to the bathroom to get a band aid and antibacterial ointment, and I asked her why Pokey had scratched her (that’s not really like him).

She replied, “Because I was brushing him.”

“What were you brushing him with?” I asked.

“The brush teeth (otherwise known as a toothbrush)” she replied.

I began to scold her and asked which toothbrush she had used, fully expecting it to be either hers or one of her siblings since they were easily accessible.

She honestly answered, “It was the noisy one.”

I demanded that she show me which one, and she took me out of her bathroom into my bathroom where she pointed out my electric toothbrush that was sitting on the sink. Did I mention that I recalled all of this WHILE I was brushing my teeth? Funny how memory works sometimes.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Latest Project(s)

The first 3-6-9 pattern I made for my youngest daughter

Now that the holiday busyness is over, I can finally get back to finishing my latest project. When I found out that my husband was deploying, I thought it would be nice to make a quilt for him and our children that integrated pictures into it of us as a family and individuals of them and Daddy. My idea was it could be something that they could cuddle up with when they miss him, and I called it a "Daddy Hug Quilt." Unfortunately his deployment came a lot sooner than I had expected (I'm also not that fast at quilting either), so I wasn't able to finish the quilts before he left.

I still feel like a novice at quilting, but I was fortunate to find a quilt store here that had very patient and helpful employees. The ladies at The Quilt Company introduced me to the "Three-Six-Nine" pattern, something the store owner, Karen, designed (she also designs beautiful fabrics). It's a pretty easy pattern, and I have enjoyed making them (all 4.)

My son's quilt.

I'm finally completing my oldest daughter's and son's quilt. I sent my husband's quilt off right after I made it, so unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it completed. This is the layout of it, and I had the kids put their hand prints on the quilt. He loves it (adds a bit of color to his otherwise drab "hooch"- like a trailer.) I was also very surprised to find out how cold it gets in Iraq. During the day the highs are somewhere in the 50's and at night it can get well below freezing. I knew the desert would be cold at night, but I thought it'd be warmer during the day.

Lately the kids haven't asked as much where Daddy is, but I think the holidays was a good distraction for them. In March Daddy is coming home for 2 weeks, so I think they'll "need" something like the quilts all the more after he leaves again. Fortunately, after March there will only be 4 months left of the deployment.

My oldest daughter's quilt

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Third Culture Kid (TCK)

My least favorite question is, "So where are you from?" From the age of 4 I grew up overseas in Venezuela because my parents were (and still are) missionaries (which also makes me an MK - Missionary Kid.) It's something I personally love and one of the things that makes me unique. However, I often struggle with where I'm really from. Perhaps that's another reason I love being a military wife because we move so often.

I was blessed to attend a university where there were many individuals who could relate to me. At one point, if someone asked me my dreaded question, I would respond with, "Do you mean where was I born (Ft. Worth), where I call home (Caracas), where I go to school (Arkadelphia, AR), or where my driver's license if from (Mississippi)?" Now I try to respond with "Oh we're a military family" since only two of my three children were born in the same state. It'll be something my children will have to contend with, but I see advantages with it broadening their perspectives. However, it does also cause a bit of an identity crisis and restlessness. One of my favorite books, Grandfather's Journey, has a quote that sums it up. "The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other."

I recently came across a list that made me laugh an put things into a humorous perspective.

You know you're a TCK when:

- You've heard this 'textbook' definition of a TCK before: "A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents' culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs."

- "Where are you from?" has more than one reasonable answer.
- You've said that you're from foreign country X, and your audience has asked you which US state X is in.
- You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either.
- You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
- You have a passport but no driver's license.
- You go into culture shock upon returning to your "home" country.
- Your life story uses the phrase "Then we moved to..." three (or four, or five...) times.
- You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
- You don't know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
- The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
- You think VISA is a document that's stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
- Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.
- You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
- You consider a city 500 miles away "very close."
- You get homesick reading National Geographic.
- Your minor is a foreign language you already speak.
- When asked a question in a certain language, you've absentmindedly respond in a different one.
- You miss the subtitles when you see the latest movie.
- You've gotten out of school because of monsoons, bomb threats, and/or popular demonstrations.
- You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.
- You know how to pack.
- You have the urge to move to a new country every couple of years.
- The thought of sending your kids to public school scares you, while the thought of letting them fly alone doesn't at all.
- You think that high school reunions are all but impossible.
- You have friends from 29 different countries.
- You sort your friends by continent.
- You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
- You realize what a small world it is, after all.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For me, the days after Christmas up to the Three Kings Day (Epiphany, I think, otherwise known as Jan. 6th) are the best time of the year. It's the time that I can truly relax and reflect on the season with no outside stresses of school, ballet lessons, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meetings, church programs, or many other obligations for that matter, time to enjoy my holiday decorations, relax with my family, and do the things that I don't normally get to do when I'm on my "regular routine." I don't even think about taking my holiday decorations down until around the 6th, something I picked up on while living in Venezuela since it's a tradition there.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy the events leading up to Christmas. I try to "de-stress" the holidays by doing my shopping in advance, limiting the outside-the-home activities, and simplifying as much as possible. I also put a great deal of emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas, doing a nightly advent calendar with my kids that tells the Christmas story. However, it's just a busy time of the year and I miss those care-free days of my childhood, when I could just sit and enjoy my tree.

This year was a bit more challenging since I was doing the holiday preparations by myself. Plus, I wanted my husband to have a special Christmas too, so I spent some creative energy into sending him some holiday loving (I did the 12 days of Christmas with a variety of things he'd enjoy- little tree, nativity, Christmas CDs and DVDs, socks, boxer briefs, assorted food, etc.) I also made him a scrapbook that has a page for each child every month, so he can see the things we're doing and how they're growing (not to mention a stocking and a few other odds and ends.) He was very appreciative, but it was hard for him to get into the holiday spirit where he is. Thankfully my parents were here prior to Thanksgiving, so I was able to get the vast majority of my holiday shopping done before Black Friday. They also helped me get the tree set up and the holiday decorations out.

Not only that, I obligated myself to visit my in-laws for Christmas. My husband is an only child, and from the time that we got married they have been pining for grandchildren (my father-in-law wanted 5 grandkids- we have 3 children plus a dog and a cat) with dreams of them spending the holidays at their home so they could show off the grands to their friends and family. This required me to drive the kids 8 1/2 hours all in one day (10 1/2 with pit stops- and I've got it down to a science) to their home all the while praying there would be no inclement weather nor major traffic jams and PLEASE no explosive diapers nor vomiting children. I did this for selfish reasons too because next year my parents and sister and her family (all of whom live overseas) will be back in the States for Christmas, so I we will have the Christmas holidays with them. The whole trip went off smoothly, but I was so relieved to be back to the comforts of my own home.

Now I have every intention of sitting back, recharging, and doing the things that I want to do. I may stay in my pjs all day and read books (a page here or two for me and 20 books to the kids), catch up on some unfinished projects, etc, etc. I plan on savoring each and every moment and welcoming in a blessed new year of hope.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Here I Go!

For the longest time I have wanted to blog. I love reading my friends' blogs, but I just wasn't sure what I wanted to write about and time is always a factor. However, I became inspired watching the news tonight. There was a story about an Army Reservist's family and how they got through a year without their husband. I can relate. My husband is in the AGR (Active Guard Reserves), and this summer he deployed for a year to Iraq. It's not been easy on us. I'm home with three small children, ages 4 and under, and he's working 12+ hours seven days a week with people who tend to drive him crazy. I'm proud of him and what he does, but sometimes I miss him so much it hurts. A part of me wants to chronicle the rest of this deployment, how God strengthened us, and it's something I know we will one day be able to look back on this and smile.

Today we made it through what I feared would be one of the hardest days of the deployment. We love to celebrate Christmas in our family, and I've tried very hard to "normalize" things for my kids. I decorated the house, watched the Christmas movies, read the Christmas books, sent out the cards, and went through the advent story. We even managed a trip to the in-laws home for Christmas which turned out a lot better than what I was expecting. It's not ideal, but we've made it by God's grace. I think this whole experience has somehow made the true story of Christmas more real to me. The first Christmas was not in an ideal situation, but Mary and Joseph made the best of it, to God's glory.

Although having my husband deployed has been difficult, we have been so blessed. God has provided an amazing support group in an area we have not lived for a whole year. My husband and I can also talk every day and occasionally do the webcam. We are at about the halfway point of this deployment, and it feels that time has gone by quickly. The last few months may drag by, so this will keep me occupied (among my other hobbies and activities.) We stay busy, but that's good. Because my husband is not here physically to protect us, I won't use my children's real names nor his name. I probably won't even reveal where we live, but I look forward to this being a great outlet for all those thoughts that come to mind that I just need to get off my chest.