20 June 2007

15 Things About My Husband

1. He's an incredibly loyal friend. He chooses his friends carefully, and he considers them friends for life. Even if he hasn't seen them for awhile, even years. Even if he doesn't keep in touch as often as he'd like. If friends are in need, he will be there.

2. Same with family.

3. He has a tender heart. It's well-hidden, and sometimes I blunder into piercing it, thinking he is invincible. He's not.

4. He has this innate sense of self-confidence and optimism. Even when things look bad, he knows that everything will work out one way or another. I envy this.

5. When I'm with a group of women, talk sometimes turns to husbands. And human nature being what it is, often the stories are negative. And I sit there, with little to offer. Except this:

6. He hates cheese. Except on pizza. And sometimes on enchiladas. But other than that, no cheese. Also? He has a myriad of other food rules. I just learned a new one this year, by violating the rule with a new recipe. I blame his mother. :) Unfortunately, his little food quirks get me exactly zero sympathy from other women on the continuum of "things my husband does that drive me crazy."

7. He thinks very logically. He looks at many angles of an issue before making a decision. Often, he has thought about something for a while before he even mentions it to me. Nevertheless, he always asks for my input, and sometimes I even come up with something he hasn't thought of. (He, of course, usually comes up with about three things I haven't thought of.) We make all big decisions together, and most of the little ones, too. We were married for some time before I realized that this is not always the norm.

8. Last week, he cleaned out and vacuumed the interior of my car. He even wiped down the dashboard. And he takes out the trash every week, which is a much nastier and more complicated endeavor here in Germany, especially in the summer. (Rotting food and maggots and flies, oh, my!) That? Is true love.

9. He is the strong, silent type. But when he talks, I listen. Because he always has something valuable to say.

10. He is a spectacular gift-giver. Me? Not so much. Poor guy.

11. Sometimes we can crack each other up in the middle of a fight. I love that. It tells me that even when we disagree, even if we hurt each other, we can find our way back. We're in it together.

12. He gets up at 7 am on Saturdays and Sundays with Katrina and lets me sleep in. In a way, he has no choice, because Katrina considers weekend mornings to be Papa time. In fact, she's been waking up earlier on Saturdays than on weekdays, so she can have more time with Papa. When I get up with her on the weekends to try to let him sleep, Katrina cries. That's because:

13. He is an amazing father. Patient where I am not. Gentle where I am edgy. And what little girl wouldn't adore being swept up in those strong arms, especially when Mom can barely lift her now?

14. He is hard-working, at home as well as work. He keeps our finances in line, and is careful about saving for the future, giving to others, and having a little fun now. Plus did I mention he cleaned out my car?

15. He has unshakeable integrity. He doesn't make promises he doesn't intend to keep. He tells the truth, even if others don't want to hear it. When he makes a commitment, he keeps it.

We've been married 15 years today. With the divorce rate in America so high, one might wonder what it takes to maintain a marriage that long. You know the secret? Choose a good man, and then appreciate, love, and respect him. I know I don't always love Jon as well as I should. It's easy to get into a rut when life gets busy.

But I did do one thing right: I chose well.

16 June 2007

Let's Play!

Mama, I'm a puppy, and you be my owna! A puppy doesn't know how to wash its hands. You have to help me. A puppy can't brush its teef, Mama! You bwush my teef. OK, I can climb in bed. Tomowwow when I wake up, I'm still gonna be a puppy, OK?

Mama! Let's play with this (Polly Pockets riding horses)! Mama! You be the blue one and I'll be the pink one. AWWW! Her hat won't stay on!!! Mama, can you help me? Mama, I can't get this dwess on, you put it on her. Mama! It's your biwthday pawty and you'we my sistew and I'm going to go buy your pwesent. Ding-dong! Open the doow, Mama! Happy Biwthday! Hewe's your pwesent! Now I'm going to make your cake.

Mama! Fiwst we have to eat what's good for us. I'll have pizza and you can have a cheeseburger. Our fwiends (she lined up about seven small stuffed animals complete with plates, tea cups, and a single piece of hard candy on each plate) can just eat that candy. OK! Time for cake! Blow out the candles! Oh, they'we the candles that light back up. Blow again! No, they'we still lighted. Let's both blow on them! No, they still came back. Let me do it. OK, they're out. Want a piece of cake? Oh, that piece is too big for your plate. That's bettew. Now my cake. The amimals don't need cake. They just eat their candy.

Now it's time for our sleepovew pawty! Mama, move this table! There's not enough woom for our sleeping bags. OK! Time to sleep! I need these amimals to sleep with. Which ones do you want, Mama? OK, now it's time to sleep. Sssh! Don't open your eyes!

BOO! Wake up!

(Later) Mama! I'm a secwet agent looking for a lost kitty. A WEAL lost kitty, not a stuffed one. Kitty! Kitty!

Look, Mama, I found the kitty (cradling a stuffed cat)! I'm a secwet agent, and I have to keep the kitty safe fwom the bad guys. No, I don't want to take a bath because I'm a secwet agent.

Mama! Keep watching that kitty! The bad guys want to TAKE it! And they want to take its collar, too.

Mama, I'm a gekecktive! I look for lost kitties and lost PEOPLE. I'm a, a, kee-gec-tive.

Oh, no! I forgot the kitty! Come hewe, kitty.

Mama, why did Wapunzel mawwy the bad pwince? (I took her to see Shrek 3 today) Why did hew haiw fall off? Was she weally a boy? What happened to hew haiw?

OK, Mama. Good-night. I love you.

15 June 2007

Lyrical Friday: Moving On

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And the other's gold

A circle is round
It has no end
That's how long
I will be your friend

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

The kids sang "Make New Friends" at the preschool promotion ceremony last week. In the context of military life (and all of her classmates are connected to the military in some way), that last verse is especially appropriate.

Today is Katrina's last day of preschool for the year. In September, she will start kindergarten at the same Montessori school she's attending now. Many of her current classmates will not, however. Some are moving, in the inevitable round of PCS-ing that is part of military life. (PCS is short for Permanent Change of Station and is usually used as a verb "We're PCS-ing to Japan".) Most of her PCS-ing classmates this year will be moving back to the States, to DC, to Colorado, to Alaska, to Washington state, to Illinois. Some of her classmates will start at the Department of Defense schools on one of the bases here.

Only a few of the kids Katrina's age will continue into kindergarten with her next year. (Many of the younger kids will stay on, and there will be a few new kindergarteners thrown into the mix.) A number of kids will remain in the area, though, so I'm hoping that I can foster some ongoing friendships despite the school changes.

As someone who spent nearly all of her growing-up years in one town, in one house, in one school district, and with basically the same group of kids from elementary school through high school, I'm not sure how to handle the inevitable comings and goings among Katrina's friends.

Even if we were back in the States, changes would be common. The DC area--perhaps any metropolitan area--is prone to more transience. People move in and out all the time. Rural areas seem to be the only places where people tend to stay put. But there are not a lot of computer consulting jobs in rural areas.

Of course, Katrina handles making new friends far better than I ever did. She is just naturally confident and friendly. Put her on a playground full of strange kids (if they're near her age and speak English, that is), and on a good day she will be directing the play within minutes. A few weeks ago, she did just that. She ended up playing with two girls who were a head taller than she was, which tells me they must have been at least a year older. But Katrina was definitely the leader, and the other two were happily running along after her. She has a knack for either joining others in play or drawing others to her.

Which makes me think that all this ruminating about friends moving on is more about my own fears from my own decidedly less people-friendly personality. In any case, I'm sad about the school year ending, even as I look forward to not having to roust us both out of the house every morning for the next few months.

Plus, next year she's in school every day from 9 to 3. My miracle baby is growing up. She's looking forward to being the oldest at school, and she's already been helping some of the younger ones. No, it's me who wants time to slow down. Just a little.

09 June 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

This is what our week looked like.

Tuesday: "Goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you, you?"

After the zoo, a quick wash-down and then dress rehersal for Katrina's dance recital. They didn't turn on the stage lights for the rehearsal so the pictures aren't great. They're dancing to "Monster Mash," hence the orange costumes.

Wednesday afternoon we spent at the pool. We were there about four hours, and still Katrina didn't want to leave.

Thursday afternoon was at the playground. We were there about two-and-a-half hours, and still Katrina didn't want to leave. I'm sensing a theme here.

Friday morning was "Promotion and Graduation" at the preschool. You know, I generally think the whole "kindergarten graduation" is kind of stupid. But darn if those little graduates weren't the cutest in their little caps and gowns. All the kids got little sashes and diplomas, and the teacher got teary-eyed talking about what a great year they've all had. She called this year's class a "gold year" and said it was the best class she'd ever had. It's certainly one of the best-looking groups of kids I've seen (but then, I might be a little biased).

Today at one is Katrina's dance recital. We're taking the video camera and the regular camera, and probably jockey for position with the other parents. We've turned into the stereotypical doting parents. But, hey, everyone here has relatives living thousands of miles away. The videos are for them, not us, right?

01 June 2007

Lyrical Friday: Influence

I can taste the fruit of Eve.
I'm aware of sickness, death, and disease.
The results of her choices were vast.
Eve was the first but she wasn't the last.

If I were honest with myself,
Had I been standing at that tree,
My mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit.
Things I shouldn't know and things I shouldn't see.

Remind me of this with every decision.
Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know. ...

To my great-great-great-granddaughter, live in peace.
To my great-great-great-grandson, live in peace.
--Generations, by Sara Groves

I could write about more than one song on this CD. I listened to it over and over when I first got it, in 2001. Some other time, I'll tell you about "Painting Pictures of Egypt," which practically became my theme song that year.

But in the midst of the hardest time in my life, "Generations" inexplicably gave me hope. I was mourning my miscarriage and our preceding years of infertility. I was losing hope that I would ever bear a child.

And then this song would play, and I would sing along to the repeated bridge: "To my great-great-great-granddaughter, live in peace. To my great-great-great-grandson, live in peace." And a spark of hope ignited.

I listened to this album almost at random yesterday, and some of the other songs threw me right back to 2001. I am not in that emotional place anymore, and I'm glad of it. But "Generations," well. Here I am in the midst of it. Every decision I make...every knee-jerk reaction to criticize, every complaint, every spontaneous hug, every silly face...they are all imprinted in my little daughter's memory. And, God willing, someday she will have children, and my mothering will most certainly influence hers.

Parenting also gives you more insight about your family of origin. Both Jon and I grew up in (more-or-less) intact families with parents who did their level best to love us well. So many others did not. The two of us started out with this advantage, and that influences so much about who we are and how we parent, what we expect from family life and from each other.

I hope that we can give Katrina the very best of our families' legacies, and the very best of ourselves. I hope that Katrina will give any children she mothers the best of us, and the best of herself. And I always want to remember...despite the routine, the bad days, the sometime-sense that I am not accomplishing anything, that generations could reap what I sow. What do I want that harvest to be?

To my great-great-great grandchildren...live in peace.