Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School Days, Hot Men, and Possums

So, school started again this week, and while Caroline is taking it very well, I can't say I am. True, I'll have more time to myself to exercise, study, play, read, think complete thoughts, clean without someone running behind me making a bigger mess, and catch up on correspondence. But you know what? I'd rather have her here. I will miss having hours to play and cuddle every day. I will miss taking her down to the dairy farm for fresh milk, and to the self-pick for flowers. I will miss taking her to the zoo and watching her scream in delight at everything she sees. I will miss her following me around wherever we go, reading from the National Geographic and trying to educate me on global warming and endangered species. 'Cause really, would a day be complete......?

Instead I will hold her hand every morning now as I walk her to her bus stop and kiss her good bye just before she gets on. And I'll wander around every day by myself. I will be getting stuff done and having conversations with other adults that are not interupted because an acorn to beat all acorns has been found, but I won't be enjoying my day as much. I will sweep the floor and it will stay clean because no one will be trampling mud through the house, but I will be lonely.

She, on the other hand, was quite happy to be starting school again. Understandably, she was anxious to see her friends, and dive into the the repertoire of adventures her wonderful teacher has planned.

She was also excited to try on her new glasses, which I picked up and brought to her at lunch time. And man, does she ever look cute in them!

She is astounded with the change in what she can see and keeps taking them off and on to compare how wonderful the world is now with how blurry it was then when she didn't actually KNOW it was blurry. In short, she's a happy camper. Or as my dad says, a happy cabbage, whatever that means.

And Calvin was happy about the start of school too, though it's going to mean an extra huge workload on top of his already huge workload. He is, in case you hadn't heard, the new PTA president. He had to make his first speech as president yesterday at the first-day orientation. 'Course, his reputation may be ruined now that his wife stood up in the first row and started snapping photos like the most seasoned and pushy paparazzi. He should just be grateful that I didn't run up and grope him because, for real, tell me this isn't tempting!

Yeah, so now you know what kind of temptation I live with daily. He's kind, smart, funny, responsible AND he has lovely shoulders. What did I do right? Next time he gets up on the stage, I'm throwing my panties at him.

In a few days, our good friend, Francesca, will be arriving for a three week visit before she returns to Australia. The last time she came to visit, Calvin was in Diego Garcia and we had THE BEST time. We took a girl's trip up the East Coast and laughed 'till our stomachs hurt. Even when we got lost on the way from New Jersey to Massachusetts......and ended up near the border of Ohio. Even when every window in the car suddenly fogged up for no explicable reason and she was forced to hang out the passenger window making hand signals to the other vehicles and screaming "Go left" and "Go right" and "Stooooooop!" directions to me. And even when I hit a possum in the road and scared the dirt out of the sleeping Francesca with my ensuing shrill scream. She never slept again in the car after that, but she did laugh; that's just what kind of person she is. So yeah, if she can put up with us, we're glad to put her up and keep her. Welcome Francesca! And please feel free to stay forever because....well, we love you!

So here's to a new school year, good company, possums that stay out of the road, great school adventures and the PTA!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Laughter and Sadness

So, Calvin has been on TDY for 8 days now, and over the last few days Caroline and I have been having lots and lots of Girl Time. Which basically means that we turn off the door bell, and we sit in the living room or on the balcony and play monopoly and giggle alot, or we build things with the Lincoln Logs while watching one of our favorite DVDs. It's been good fun and I enjoy the crap out of spending time alone with her. There hasn't been enough of it lately, and now that school is about to start, I'm soaking up as much Girl Time as I can get. While I'm excited for her about a new school year, I'm not looking forward to having her gone for 6 and a half hours every day. I will miss her.

She's not looking forward to going back to school though either, and that is somewhat disturbing to me. By the end of every summer of my childhood, I was chomping at the bit to get new school clothes and a new lunchbox and take off to my new class. But not Caroline. The education aspect is no problem for her, but the social aspect seems to disturb her a great deal. She has pointed out to me several times lately--including today when I took her to one of the on-base playgrounds so she could get some social time and sun--that none of the other kids want to play with her. That they think she is "weird" and that she has become increasingly embarassed to speak to them or be assertive in her efforts to make friends because she is afraid they might think what she has to say is "strange and stupid".

I don't know where this is coming from exactly. I know she doesn't speak like a 7 year old and that she uses very adult words and phrases, but really, could that be it? She's still a kid and she has a brilliant imagination and a ready laugh! Are the kids confused by her because she likes to talk about her books and the stuff she's read about in National Geographic instead of about Hannah Montana and Barbie? Or is it in her head because she suspects she's different and has developed a complex? Is this more to do with the afore-blogged subject of religion and hell that they harassed her about in school? Either way, watching her today at the playground as she sort of skirted around the edges and looked longingly at the groups of screaming, laughing kids just broke my heart. When she came to me and asked if we could just go home and play a game broke it even further. It isn't that I don't want to play games with her, obviously. It isn't that I don't love being home with her. It's that it seems unnatural for a kid to want to hang out with mom and watch Shark Week on a gorgeous sunny day, rather than run around screaming, covered in mud and laughing. I could have cried. Her sweet little face looking so sad and lonely just kills me. I just don't understand and I welcome any thoughts on the subject, those of you who are listening. I have a smart, funny, good-hearted little girl with a great sense of humor. Why is making friends so hard for her?

On the other hand, this revelation of difference that affects her so when she's around other kids doesn't seem to affect her at home. She came into the bathroom to brush her teeth tonight with streaks of her hot-chocolate all over her face, particularly in her eyebrows and on her forehead. I could see she was trying very hard not to giggle and to maintain an air of fierceness.

"Caroline, why have you got hot chocolate on your eyebrows?!"

Beaming proudly, "It's warpaint!"

"Warpaint? For what? Who are you at war against?"

"Those who think I should go to bed!"


Friday, August 15, 2008

Bespectacled and Bewitched

Well......so we knew it was a great possibility, and today it became a reality. Caroline needs glasses.

In the German optometrist's office this morning, as Caroline was being tested, it became immediately obvious that there would be no question: Caroline would be starting school with a new pair o' spectacles. Even the larger lines proved difficult for her. It sort of scares me wondering how long she's gone on living with this short-sightedness and not knowing any better. But at least it can be fixed now, huh?

Lucky us too, glasses aren't the social death of a kid anymore. They make them in all shapes and sizes and they are more often cute than not, and Caroline had a ball trying on pair after pair until she found the one she liked. Her only stipulation ahead of time? NO PINK!

After trying on all sorts in wild purples and greens and blues, she shocked me by going for a very sensible, wire-rimmed copper colored pair. She looks adorable in them and seems very anxious to go pick them up next Friday.

Pictures will follow. ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August August

It's a big month for us this time, August. We've got our close friend, Francesca, coming to visit from Australia at the end of the month, and our friends Fiona and Zev (who we also met in Australia) are getting stationed here. Small world huh? It will be so nice to have Fiona (sweetest woman ever!) and Francesca (who we consider family) together again. I can see the girl-dates now and the laughter that will ensue. I'm looking forward to it more than I have anything in a long time.

Caroline also starts school this month. She'll be going into the 3rd grade, and will be fortunate enough to still have Mr. Zappey as her teacher. She had him last year too, and we could not feel more pleased with this hard-working, caring, intelligent, imaginative and supportive man. Knowing Caroline is in his hands every day does incredible things for my ability to relax. She couldn't be in a better class.

This summer, unfortunately has been a bit ugly on the weather side, so the outdoor adventures I had planned for us on a daily basis haven't panned out as planned. We did get to Sweden though, and have spent time at the zoo, dairy park, self-pick flower garden, and farm. Caroline also got to spend lots of time with her good friend, Mila, who lives in the apartment downstairs.

Mila's mommy, my friend Alex (the artist who is responsible for the header photograph), has just been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts, throwing a sad shadow on our lives. Alex has been and is being brave and optimistic, and keeping up a great sense of humor, despite her atrocious taste in hats. She doesn't like my taste in hats either---apparently, I pick out hats that go on eccentric old ladies. Alex? She likes looking like a pirate. There, I said it in public instead of just teasing her constantly like I have been. Despite this, we love her and the sunshine she brings to everyone she talks to and we're hoping very hard for a speedy, easily-won battle. She and her beautiful family mean so much to us.

Beautiful Glamourpuss Alex

The other morning, Mila was over having breakfast with us, having spent the night giggling and playing monopoly with our own Sprout. And, like my mother (and probably her mother before her) I was following the family tradition of dancing around the kitchen, making up silly songs with the names of whatever children happen to be around while simultaneously flipping pancakes. I never thought of this as a particularly strange activity, as Caroline loves it and I've always done it. Never thought it strange at all, that is, until I looked over at Mila to find the strangest expression on her face. It seemed to be a mixture of "If I run now, can I make it to the door before you?" and "It's amazing I survived a night here with this fruitcake who is obviously dangerous".

So I asked her, "What's wrong Mila, doesn't your mom sing to you?"


"What about your dad? He doesn't sing to you?"

A very small pause in which she appeared to be considering how to put the bad news gently, and.....

"Um, Trinity, that's what the iPod is for."

Hm. Yes. Well, I bet I can ad-lib better.
Caroline and Mila, as Pocahontas and Mulan.

This month is also Calvin's birthday (the 12th for those of you he's refused to tell. Shhhh!). He's gone on a business trip but we'll be celebrating it when he gets back.

Playing in Sundsvall

He is now 41. And he doesn't look a day over 41. Still fine as ever. Actually, better. The cute little baby face is gone. Also, most of the hair. And yet......he's just a stunner. Caroline, you're a lucky girl to have such genes. And I'm lucky to look at my husband 11 years after I met him and still think, Wow, I'd totally ask him out!

So Caroline wanted to make her dad a birthday cake when he returns. Not just any birthday cake, though. Chocolate? Nah. Vanilla? Snore. Yellow? Haven't we done that a million times?
No, this cake must be special. A serious multi-decker fantasy. Her idea? 41 layers. 41 different flavors for the layers. Topped with....now get this.....41 power bars, 41 Oreos, 41 Pop Tarts, 41 kinds of frosting, 41 Diet Cokes (oh yeah, she knows this man) and 1 candle. 41 candles might set off the fire alarm.

If I can work up enough energy for this gargantuan task, I may perhaps consider it.

At least we didn't forget the obligatory sock and underwear gifts.

Today, Caroline had her school physical. I was there as she took the eye test and I watched her read the lines the specialist told her to read. And I watched as she got nearly every letter wrong. Well, we know her reading skills aren't in question, so that only left one conclusion. The doc referred her to an optometrist on the economy. It is entirely possibly our little girl will be sporting a pair of brand new glasses soon. Stay tuned for photos.

Caroline, Daddy and I love you.

Alex, we're all with you and we love you.

Francesca and Fiona, we eagerly await your presence and the fun that always accompanies you and we love you.