Marriage is what bring us together today

Moira Mouse was an unexpected blessing. Some say the term is “honeymoon baby.” She was born 9 months after our wedding. And while we were completely thrilled, we were also a little surprised. We had just bought a log house way up on a dirt road at the end of nowhere. (We actually had a bear in our yard one evening.) We had just discovered the pregnancy when Scott got word (he recently retired after 23 years in the Air Force Reserves) he was being sent to Good Fellow AFB in San Angelo, Texas for training. For nearly 5 months. Now, it may have been the hormones, or maybe just good sense, but I shed BIG tears when we found this out and longed to argue with Scott’s commanding officer. He wouldn’t let me. Apparently when the military sends you somewhere, you have to go, whether your new, pregnant, bride wants you to or not.
So Scott left in mid-October and I stayed behind in our cozy, lonesome cabin. I was working as a special education teacher at the time. I’d come home exhausted, sore and hungry, suffering from morning sickness long into the evening. I’d fix tea and toast with side-dish of self-pity and wish I had someone to rub my feet or get me ginger ale in the middle of night.
It was one of the snowiest, coldest winters on record (of course.) During one storm we got a whopping 27 inches. I was so scared of being snowed in if something happened I went outside every 2 hours to shovel the steps and a path to our 4-wheel drive SUV. I was 6 months pregnant. I was working full-time, going to school part-time, taking care of the house, which included lugging in wood for the wood stove that heated the house. The cabin, which had seemed romantic and inviting when there was two of us, now seemed ridiculously remote and impractical as I tackled it alone. This was not exactly how I had pictured my first year of marriage, or our first pregnancy. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but those would be my last months worrying only about me. I could eat, read, sleep, shop, and watch TV, whenever I wanted to, according to no one’s schedule but my own. It was literally the last time I ever slept in a bed alone and I didn’t even know enough to appreciate it (I’ve slept without Scott since then, but never without at least one kid and a dog or two!)
I called Scott one Saturday afternoon in January, feeling glum. The laundry and dishes were piling up, I was behind in my homework, there was nothing good to eat in the house and I was nearly 8 months along and not in the mood to do much of anything. But, he couldn’t talk, he said, because the maid had just come in to clean his room and he needed to get to the barbeque the guys were hosting so they could all watch the Big Game together. At this point in the conversation, I uttered a few choice words and hung up on him.
Those 5 months he was gone were hard. They were demanding physically and emotionally. I was lonely and tired and hormonal. I was happy and sad and pissed off. But, looking back, what feel is pride. I did it! I was so tired I once fell asleep on the floor in the teachers’ bathroom at work (true story), but I survived. I took care of myself and a new house, a new job, a first pregnancy, and I did all by myself. I felt like a lived through a chapter of Little House on the Prairie. I felt strong and invincible and like if I could manage wild snowstorms and morning sickness, below zero wind chills and swollen ankles, I could do anything! When Scott got home in mid-February I was so thrilled to have him home! It was an awesome feeling to want him, but not need him, and to absolutely know the difference.
In a few short weeks we will celebrate our 11th year of marriage. And in our years together, we’ve moved 5 times, had 3 kids, endured a deployment, and numerous other challenges. And though our first year of marriage was less than traditional, it prepared us to get through the tough times. It allowed us to recognize our own independence and skills and to know that being together is a choice we make every day. Our commitment to marriage is what brings us together today….

Wake up Call

clock

The other morning around 4:30AM Scott’s alarm clock went off. Loudly. Beeping. He does get up early, but not that early and not usually with such volume. He rolled over and shut it off, whispering that he hadn’t even set it. (Having three dogs and three kids sometimes makes the need for a morning wake-up call redundant.) About 10 minutes later – same thing. This time he gets out of bed, figuring he might as well get up and get to work early. He goes to shower while Maggie crawls in the bed beside me snuggling and we are just nodding off again when … BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Are you kidding me? I jump up, run to his side of the bed, can’t figure out how to shut it off, so I rip the plug out of the wall and crawl back into bed. And it goes off AGAIN. Scott comes running from the bathroom in a towel only to find it beeping AND unplugged. Huh? I won’t repeat what he said. Maggie might, and probably in front of my mother-in-law, but that will be another story.
So, yes, we threw the clock away. And that night Scott got out the iPod to use as an alarm clock. He had a little trouble setting the alarm, though. The iPod thought it was February 26, 1967!!!

Is this really my life?

Do you ever have one of those moments? One where it is as if you are watching yourself, starring as you, in a clip of your own life and you think, “Really? Is this really me, doing this…” I’ve had a few surreal moments this week. For instance this morning I found myself in the yard in the gray, pre-dawn light, wearing my nightgown and a pair of old flip flops following the dog (one of them) around with a plastic dish trying to catch his urine. Yes, really. You’d think for the $300.00 I paid yesterday the vet might provide that service, but you’d be wrong. Not only did I have the fun of collecting the specimen, I got to carry the container to the car and schlepp it to the vet’s office before going to work. Milo has been marking all over the house and we need to rule out a UTI. I sort of hope he has one, because otherwise I am at my wit’s end and have no idea what to do next. But he is really starting to piss me off. Pun intended.
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Next surreal moment.
Last night Scott was late and the kids and I ate supper at Gilligan (our counter island in the kitchen) as we often do when it is just us. And poor Moira is trying to tell me about this great and interesting experiment she did in school. And Sam wants more garlic bread and Maggie needs her ravioli cut up and I am listening, but half distracted, when Maggie suddenly starts to cry and shows me her arm. And it is red and a little swollen with a dark welt on it that sort of looks like a hive. Now, when you have a kid with a severe food allergy who suddenly seems to have hive like things breaking out at the table… So I whisk her off to the bathroom where I can look at her in the bright light and I’m breaking out the Benadryl when she says, “Do you want me to tell you what happened?” Um, yes. That’d be good. “Well, I bit myself,” she says. “And it really hurt.” I may not have been the most sympathetic mom.

Rest time is so over

Snowy Friday afternoon. Sleepy Maggie, ready for a rest in the big bed with Mommy. Yes, shamelessly, I will lay down and read books and wait for Mags to sleep and then lay quietly beside her, long shadows falling across the floor. Sometimes I just watch her sleep. Sometimes I read my book, or fold laundry, or sit beside her and correct my students’ work. I thoroughly enjoy nap time, knowing full well we are on countdown to no more naps. And I admit freely and willingly that I will shed tears when they are a thing of the past. Even my older two look back fondly on their family naps in the big bed, when the three of us would lie together and read books and sing songs and wait for the lovely afternoon slumber to overtake us. We loved cuddling together like a basketful of kittens, snuggling in the warmth of blankets and each other, and they still talk about it with nostalgic affection.
So, this past snowy, blustery Friday I picked Maggie up after work and we went home and got into “comfies” and climbed into the big bed. We read “All You Need to Make a Snowman” and “Olivia makes a Snow Girl” in deference to the weather. Maggie’s eyes drifted shut and I sighed and listened to the silence. And the squeaking.

Squeaking? What is that squeaking? What is that sound? That is a strange noise… By now I am sitting up in my bed and looking around…. And I am just in time to see a mouse dash across the floor and up the curtains. And to see the cat right behind the mouse, also climbing the curtains. And then the mouse comes down and goes under the treadmill and the cat waits… and pounces… and more squeaking. Oh, My God! And the mouse is free, back up the curtains and by now I am yelling and Maggie is sitting up and we are watching with horror and awe this real-life Tom and Jerry episode in our very own bedroom. I screech and throw a book at the cat and Maggie looks at me and then back at the cat, who has climbed up the curtain and is now at the top of the window and I have no idea where the mouse is….
“Mommy, can we go downstairs now?” She asks in a small voice. “I think rest time is over.”
Smart girl. Yes, indeed. Rest time is over.

Vacation

I love having the kids home. No school means no morning routine: No packing lunches, (their chore, but still) no homework in afternoon, no rushing out the door… I know I am lucky enough to have a work schedule that allows me to be home with them. Though, now that I think about it, it really wasn’t luck that made that happen. Scott and I made some financial choices that made it possible for me to quit my full-time job to be home. And, I love it when they are home with me!

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The cold weather didn’t deter the kids and the dogs from hanging out in the backyard.
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It has been a long 2 weeks… but I think we all feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to tackle 2014. Happy New Year!
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