Saturday, August 04, 2007

I jinxed myself.

CPT Dick is one of God's most pathetic creatures -- a Red Sox fan. And though I joked that I would be decorating Munchkin's room in Yankees gear, when I found this Red Sox comforter set on sale, I clicked order before you could say, "The Green Monstah." We have an old twin bed just waiting for Munchkin for when he's older enough and I figured it would be cute to continue the team tradition.

Apparently, on some unconscious level, Munchkin understood this. Today, he decided it would be funny to start climbing out of his crib.

It was nap time -- not even two hours after I ordered the comforter set -- and we did our normal nap routine. Juice, story, kisses, the works. Five minutes after I sit down to work, who do I see peering over the side of the couch with a shit-eating grin on his face? Oh yes. My son.

We repeated this silliness about 8 more times before I realized that the thrill of the game would make it pretty much impossible for him to go down for a nap today. And this was hard for me to admit, because my son is a serious crank when he is overtired.

I knew this day was coming. He's climbed out of his crib before but only to retrieve his cup. We knew he was capable but, until today, he was perfectly happy to stay in it. And it is at this moment -- and of course when CPT Dick is away -- he's decided that he's done before confined.

Oh well. Onward and upward, as they say. Tomorrow I will drag the twin bed out of the storage room. For tonight, I just took the mattress out of the crib and set him up a little comfy spot on the floor. After gating him in the room (which he can also climb) and laying him down back three times after escapes, he seems to have figured out that he will not get another reprieve today. At least I hope not.

Thank goodness I have wine in the house.

Another rant.

What happened to the sense of personal accountability and responsibility? Seriously?

My start as FRG leader has not been a great one. Outside of the leader hand-off drama and the accompanying smackdown, my short tenure has been marked by ladies who believe my job is to pick up their slack when they make mistakes or decide not to bother to take care of their own business. A few examples:

(1) We have a wife who is in the states. Her husband was in another unit OCONUS and thought he'd be headed stateside. So he sent her back early on the Army's dime. And he did so against the advice of his command.

So what's now happened? She wants to come back and be with her husband. But she can't afford to move back here or live here on her own dime. So she wants to reneg on the agreement that her family made with the Army and make the Army pay for her to come back and provide her housing, all the while complaining about how the Army has let her down and doesn't care about families. And she's spouting this line to any and everyone who will listen.

But the best part? She's already managed to do this once. He was stationed overseas before and she choose to return early and then found a way to get back courtesy of Uncle Sam. It just pisses me off. We have so many wives who are doing the right thing, who are going through the long process of command sponsorship now made even longer by the Army's transformation. And now they probably have to wait even a few days more since the powers-that-be have to listen to this chick whine. Again.

(2) Our unit has a ton of pregnant ladies right now. And I know they've been briefed on family care plans. I know this because I could probably do the family care planning spiel in my sleep and I'm not pregnant. But still, we have a bunch of ladies who are about to pop who are only now coming forward and saying, "I want my husband to come home. I don't have anyone here to watch my kids when I go into labor."

Now, my civilian friends who are pregnant have two or three back-up plans and they only have to worry about their husbands maybe losing mobile phone reception for 10 minutes a day on the freeway. My one friend, L., has a list of no less than 6 numbers to call both in her wallet and taped on her refrigerator at home in the case that she goes into labor and is unable to make the calls herself. She jokes that she would tattoo all of those numbers on to her body, you know, if they weren't so wacky about pregnant chicks getting inked.

She's that serious about making sure that there is someone that she trusts there to watch her older daughters when it comes time to push. I wouldn't expect anything less.

This is your pregnancy. These are your children. Why would you not make sure that you had a family care plan in place so you could concentrate on popping that baby out in peace? And you are a military spouse, why would you ever assume that your husband would definitely be home? These are the most important points.

But then, if you are going to ask me for help, why on earth would you curse me out when I try to explain that I cannot guarantee that your husband can come home -- that is a chain of command issue -- and that you need a back-up plan at the very least for labor because I'm assuming that if your husband can come home, you won't be having all four of your other kids in the delivery room, too?

(3) And finally, we had to set up an AER loan for a family of 5 that had no money in their bank account. Not a dime. But when I stopped by today to make sure that the AER was taken care of? Mrs. Spendy couldn't help but tell me all about the two Persian kittens that they *had* to get for their girls for $700 a pop. $1400 for kittens! I just about had kittens when she told me.

I don't know. I know that my heartstrings should be pulled when I read a story like the one that GBear posted on SpouseBuzz, but after doing the FRG thing for so many years, all I see are the inconsistencies in the story and the ways that this family probably did not follow advice or regulations. I see it every day. Now, that's not to say that the military doesn't make mistakes. It does. And when the Man messes up, believe you me, I will be the first one up there making a stink.

But people need to remember that God (and the Army) helps those that help themselves.

One More Saturday Night

I read in a potty training book that as you get ready to start training, it helps to leave your kid in a wet diaper (provided they don't suffer from horrible diaper rash or something like that) for longer than you normally would so they can start to feel uncomfortable. I can't say I totally buy that one but I have started letting Munchkin go a little longer in the evenings between changes.

Tonight, just before bed, my son was rockin' a pretty wet diaper. It wasn't hanging down to his knees or anything, but it showed definite heft. But since we were literally minutes away from bath time, I thought, well, we'll just leave it for now. And then, when I saw him hiding behind the couch and grunting, I decided that I'd let him finish up and then we'd do his bath and bedtime routine.

After all, it's never fun to realize that the bath toy your son is getting so much enjoyment out of is actually his own fecal matter. Trust me on this one.

So as he's pooping, the phone rings. It's one of those friends that you can't quite ever get off the phone. And as she gabs and gabs, my son has obviously finished business and is now running amok around the house.

Once I finally manage to hang up, I scoop up Munchkin and head to the changing table. The smell is overwhelming and it is so full that the sides of the diaper are drooping a little bit. I'm figuring I'm in for quite a nasty present.

But, oh no. When I open the diaper, I find nothing. Well, not nothing. There are marks on the diaper showing where the poop was at one point. And certain marks on my son's behind where that poop rubbed against. But the offending party? Not there. The poop has left the diaper.

You know it's going to be a fabulous Saturday night when it starts by a singles game of find the turd.


I signed Munchkin up for a toddler preschool program about 10 days ago. He has always loved going to group daycare for the couple hours that I hit the gym and run errands and this preschool deal sounded perfect -- 3 hours a day, 3 times a week. I could get my stuff done and he could participate in daycare with a curriculum.

And I have to say, even an education snob like me was impressed with that curriculum. They go over colors, letters, shapes, days of the week, etc. Plus, they give the kids a ton of play time and schedule bi-weekly field trips to local attractions. Very impressive and just what you should do for pre-school kids -- make learning fun.

Last Friday's trip was to a wild animal preserve about half an hour away from here. All week, the teachers talked about the field trip and how the kids would see ostriches, camels and tigers. And caught up in the excitement, I started telling him all last week about how he was going to the preserve and would see all kinds of great animals. A book he loves features a bunch of farm animals, I wondered aloud if he'd see pigs and sheep at the petting zoo portion of the preserve. I talked up how he needed to behave and use his listening ears while he was there. I was just so psyched for the little guy.

Until I go to drop him off on Friday morning.

Apparently, yes, the program schedules the trips. But a parent has to accompany each child in order for them to go. No exceptions.

So I get there and am told, for the first time ever of this rule. Okay, I get it. It makes sense. I probably should have asked. I mean, you'd have to be off your nut to take 10 two-year-olds off post for any extended period of time. But I was super-annoyed at this discovery.

One, because they should have spelled it out to a new parent. That's their job. I had to sit through an hour long orientation where they repeated themselves again and again about the need for sufficient diapers and emergency back-up numbers. They could have been more explicit about how field trips work. I looked over all of the paperwork they gave me after I got home that afternoon and not one piece of it explained that parents had to accompany children on trips. Not one.

Two, because when I said I could not go -- I had scheduled an FRG-related meeting for that morning and could not reschedule -- they looked at me like I was the meanest Mommy in the world. The director had the audacity to say, "But the kids have been so looking forward to it! Munchkin loves animals so much I know he'd love it!" Well, guess what? You're right. He would have loved it. And if you had done your job and made sure I knew the rules, I could have rearranged my day and my kid wouldn't have to be disappointed.

That was the worst part. Munchkin was disappointed. He watched his new friends file out the door on their way to the park while I had to usher him into the hourly care room with all the babies (I won't even mention how mad I am that I had to pay for the hourly care, too). I was heartbroken for him. And as I heard the teacher start singing "Oh, MacDonald" in that perfect, Mary Poppins voice that all pre-school teachers seem to have, I felt about about an inch tall.

Mental note: mark all future field trips on calendar and schedule around them.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Completely overwhelmed.

Between pseudo-single parenthood, taking on this whole FRG thing and work, I am utterly and completely overwhelmed. I am trying desperately to keep up but always feel like I'm falling short in one area or another.

And the worst part? I did this all to myself. I took on the FRG at my husband's request. I said I'd do more with it so I could show crazy former FRG leader who is boss. I sent out all those queries and accepted the article assignments. I agreed to the deadlines.

So really now the only thing to do is push on through.

And, of course, somehow teach Munchkin how to sleep past 6am.

Knowing is half the battle.

Deployment postponed.
I'm mostly happy about it. But I swear, it wasn't even two minutes after I emailed the news out to our family that my mother-in-law wrote back and said, "With the pullback, maybe he won't even have to go!"
Uhhh, no, Mom. Sorry. Doesn't work that way.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What a drag it is getting old.

How much do you care about a candidate's personal life?

How much does a presidential candidate's personal life matter to you? Seriously.

I've had friends say that they couldn't in good faith vote for Hillary because she stuck by Bill. Others say that they would vote for her because she did and showed the importance of marriage. Most don't notice that several of the candidates are on second or third marriages, even when Mitt Romney likes to interject that he's only on his first whenever he gets the chance.

But then there's Rudy. Joan Walsh blogs about how much his marriage to Judith Guiliani might cost him politically. Like I said on a recent Hooah Wife and Friends post, I'm torn between Rudy and Hillary, of all people. And for whatever reason, it's the personal lives of these two that bring about the most consternation in voters.

But I guess I wonder what we really want as Americans in a President. Do we want the one who is best qualified for the job? Or the one who looks the best on paper? Which is it?

Smackdown complete.

My meeting with the outgoing crazy FRG leader happened today. With the full weight of the battalion's family readiness leadership behind me, no less.

It went about as well as could be expected. I was in total corporate mindfuck mode -- you know, I buttered her up about what a great job she did, asked her how I could make the transition smoother for her, let her tell me how she wanted information to flow up and down the structure, etc. And then when she got all comfortable, BAM!, I explained that (a) a POC needs to be reachable and (b) she needed to feed information about meetings and issues up the FRG chain. Non-negotiable. Period. The end.

She hemmed and hawed a bit, said she worked, she was busy, her husband didn't give her messages, she handled the issues herself and didn't need to tell us, she didn't reply to emails unless she was specifically asked to. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

And, of course, she threw a helluva lot of blame on her old co-leader. It was a classy touch that made her look incredibly foolish in front of the leadership.

But ultimately, it looks like even if she doesn't like it, she at least understands that things are going to change around here. Of course, exactly how remains to be seen.

This should get interesting.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yeah, so I'm not really that cool anymore.

My son had a playdate with a very nice little girl the other day. After the playdate, we had dinner with the family and Nice Little Girl's Daddy asked me, "So what are you into?"

Sadly, it's been so long that anyone has actually asked me that, it took quite a while for my mind not to be a complete blank. And then? Well, the images that flew in front of my eyes were really, really pathetic. They included:
  • Curious George.
  • Bath time.
  • Grover Monster.
  • The fish in our fish pond.
  • The Great Muppet Caper.
  • Playgrounds with really long slides.

And I had to stop myself, because, dammit, that's what my kid is into. Not me! My kid! And my inner feminist started raring, "You are more than the mother of your child! Think, think hard, woman, about what you -- YOU! -- are into! Certain there is something!"

And I came up with:

  • My son (obviously).
  • The new Harry Potter book.
  • My newly fixed washing machine.
  • My brand new Dirt Devil Centrino sweeper which has me totally hypnotized with its cool cyclone-like suction power that is surely able to, pardon the expression, suck a golf ball through a 60 foot garden hose.
  • Bed time.
  • Chianti.

I was too embarrassed to utter any of those things aloud. Because all of them (save bed time and Chianti which will retain their sheen through the rest of my life while my son lives at home) will lose their lustre along with their newness. So I couldn't actually say one of them without totally feeling like a hoser. Instead, you know, to make myself seem even more fabulous, I asked for clarification. "What do you mean, what am I into?"

"Like, how about what kind of music you are into?"

The choices once again were not all that exciting. The Sesame Street Platinum Collection, anyone? That "Umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh" song that I only heard for the first time AFTER it fell off the #1 spot on the pop charts? All the Phish that my husband, the dirty hippie, subjects me to? Or the songs of my youth that I play to remind myself of when I was all cool and cutting edge? When I knew all the new underground music? When I had the super-fabulous haircut? When I remembered to put on eye make-up in the morning? When I went to plays and independent movies and read things like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" for kicks? You know, YEARS before now.

It seemed most prudent to remain silent.

What can I say? I'm a Mom now. Maybe I'm not so cool anymore. But you know what? Munchkin loves my frumpy self anyway. Perhaps even more so since I can rock out so convincingly to the "Lambaa-baa."

Save the drama for yo' Mama.

As I said in past post, CPT Dick wrangled me into FRG leadership again. I am taking over from two co-leaders whose families are remaining with the company. Not the best of circumstances.

There had been some concern that one of the two ladies would take the transition badly. She loves, loves, loves being an FRG leader and it was unclear whether or not she would feel that she was being usurped out of her rightful place. And if so, what would her reaction be? Most believed that she would decide to take her phone tree and head home. But she and I chatted on the phone before I left our last duty station and she said would take a key role within the FRG. And so it seemed all was good.

Until I got here, that is.

Now, the woman will not return my phone calls or emails. Which, considering she is a POC for the phone tree is a little disheartening. She calls the other former co-leader and asks her to call me to tell me the mundane shit ever. Last night, she rang her at 11:00pm to ask her to call me to see whether or not I was going to bring cups to the next FRG meeting. Cups! When I see her in public, she snubs me.

And the best part? She announced to all of the key volunteers for the company that though I was leader in name, nothing would change. She would make sure that she was getting information from the battalion and disseminate it. I guess she figures that if she pretends I am not here, I will just go away.

Drama, drama, drama. What I would like to ask her is how she figures she will get information from the company commander -- you know, my husband -- when they deploy if I don't exist. But perhaps she's flexible enough to acknowledge my existence when information is going down the FRG chain.

So it's time for a little FRG smackdown. I gave it a couple weeks, gave her ample opportunity to make a little room for me but now things are going to get a little ugly.

Why couldn't she had staged the power coup after I was a little more settled? I swear, the absolute inconsideration of it all.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

At least I still have some sense of headline sensitivity.

I clicked on this CNN headline this morning: Kiss singer sidelined with heart ailment.

With a quick glance, I thought it was about Henry Kissinger. And I worried that the man, who has got to be at least 162 by now, might be ill and possibly dying. But why would a proponent of Realpolitik and suspected secret Iraq advisor to the President merit a headline third down the list? What the hell was I thinking?

After all, whether or not Paul Stanley will be able to paint his face and rock'n'roll all night and party every day is so much more important.