Time for a “Little Things” post because my brain is at half speed this week. I’ve picked up some weird sleep cycle that has me up at really odd and early hours for no apparent good reason. Last night was better and I’m hoping it makes for a clear-headed and not so sleep deprived day of productivity. I could use one of those. So here are some little things from the last week that took the edge off of all the other little things that put me on edge in the first place.
• Monkey sleeps in a tent in his room and I let him because it works. He’s happy to get in his sleeping bag and zip up and he stays there all night. It’s been the best sleep aid we’ve ever used for a kid who traditionally does not sleep well at all. Truth be told, Monkey loves to make “tents” wherever he can. For a kid who spent his first few weeks in an incubator, I should not be surprised that he loves little confined spaces to sleep in. Last week, he made a tent out of couch cushions, the ottoman, and a couple of poncho-liners in the living room and slept in it all night. In fact, it was the best night’s sleep he has had in months. It was tough not to laugh and smile when he woke up the next morning rumpled and content as could be. We all should find something so simple to be happy about when we open our eyes each day.
• I regained my appreciation for the architecture in my home town Saturday morning as I walked along the oceanside cliffs near my parent’s house. Not having taken that walk in ages, I had forgotten my love for all the amazing Victorian cottages that line the path to the water. The more ostentatious summer dwellings I have never been that impressed with, but the simple, silvery wooden-shingled, cozy homes with their widow’s walks and wrap-around porches have always been high on my list of architectural beauty. My hometown is littered with examples of classic house design. When I was thinking about college and what I wanted to be, I considered going into architecture so that I could restore old homes to their original beauty, but at the time, cookie-cutter boxy developments were in vogue and I just couldn’t stomach putting in time working on anything like that, so I took a different path. But now, every time I walk by an old house with unique features and character you just don’t see any more, I get a pang in my chest for not going in that direction. Some day, when I build my alternate universe machine, I’m going to see where that path would have taken me. In the meantime, I’m bringing my camera with me next time I go for a walk around town.
• One of the reasons we went visiting last weekend was so that R could participate in a Greek dance event at the church I grew up going to. She just started learning and for only having tried it once or twice before, did not do badly at all. I learned to dance by going to weddings and larger church functions (back in the days when I wasn’t allowed to be the heathen I am today), but R isn’t growing up like I did. I think it’s wonderful that the opportunity for her to learn these traditions I took for granted while growing up is there even if I find the timing and location of the events somewhat inconvenient. But I try to accommodate because they are part of who we are. Being Greek and all that goes with it is a significant part of who I am, and I’d like to think that the more R learns about it, the more she might understand me, too, as she gets older and wiser, and maybe forgive some of the baggage that goes along with large Mediterranean families.
Getting back to the dance… The “big kids” in the group were technically very good and certainly earnest in their performance, but I was amused at how serious one of the boys was each time he was out on the dance floor. He obviously has talent, but was missing some of the looseness that comes from the feeling that makes you want to dance in the first place. For all of R’s missed cues and bad timing, she had that look of joy on her face that comes from letting go and enjoying the moment. If it weren’t for a very tired and cranky Monkey on my lap (it was his bedtime after all), I might have joined her.
• One of the things I miss the most when K is not around is the regular adult conversation. I don’t mean to imply that he and I talked to each other constantly without one small child or another interrupting, but the option to talk without having to explain a joke or big word was always there if we wanted or could take it. I don’t live close to most of my best friends, and sometimes online chat is the only way I get to be an equal and not just the hermit care-taker of ankle-biters. It’s not ideal, but I take what I can get. I don’t work in an office anymore and the majority of my time is spent with a kid who is a few years behind in speech. I am fluent in 3-year-old (and dog). But I miss witty banter and inside jokes and shared life experiences and especially commiseration conversations that you just can’t get from your kids no matter how smart and clever they are. These days, my good friend and former deployment buddy, H, comes over one night a week to be the co-adult in the house which gives my brain a break and is going to earn her a spot in heaven to be sure. Especially since she agrees to get make-overs from the 9-year-old fashion consultant living in my house… H knows the pitfalls of a deployment and to ask what it is I need before she offers something. I get to cook for another adult, too, which is probably toward the top of my list of favorite things to do. I am lucky to have her around. Taking my good fortune on the road this past Saturday, a goofy chat with D had me giggling and feeling like a kid and about 10 mental pounds lighter, and then I capped the night off with an evening out sans kids with my best friend, L, and our other good friend from high school, J. We talked about serious stuff, not so serious stuff, and enjoyed a plate of nachos and a beer (in my case) until the restaurant closed. The antisocial misanthrope in me always thinks I can get by on my own just fine, thank you very much, but then I am reminded that I really am a social animal and that my pack (or herd, or flock, or gaggle) is important to my mental well-being. I am privileged enough to have fantastic friends both on- and off-line to talk to and I really appreciate them all and don’t tell them often enough. They probably think I’m a bit strange and clingy these days, but that’s because they are my sanity in a world of cartoons, pretend play and preteen drama.
• It’s no secret I love the hell out of my dogs. I’m not shy about showing it, but I have good reason. While CaseyJones is my puppy soul-mate, Zoe has certainly earned a good sized chunk of my heart this week and earned her second mention in a “Little Things” post. Apart from her usual night time snuggle-fest where I take full advantage of her thick Winter coat to mimic an electric blanket, she has taken to watching out for the kids too. She always walks the kids as close to the bus as the electric fence will allow (even if she’s in the middle of eating her breakfast, which says quite a bit—she is a Lab after all), and she greets them with a lot of waggles and kisses when they get home. But the other day, she sat watching Monkey as he went “skating” on the ice patches just beyond the boundaries of our yard. She didn’t take her eyes off him until he headed back to the house with her trotting along side him. She always looks after the kids when they are out (I watch through the windows if I’m not out there with them) and I always know when they are up to something because she barks at them. Her help is unexpected but very much appreciated. I might just have to change her name to “Nana” like the dog in Peter Pan…
• While I’m very sorry my friends and family in the DC area are getting pummeled with snow storm upon snow storm, but I am grateful it’s not me this Winter. The last two winters have been long and we’ve tallied anywhere from 6-8+ feet of snow each season. The first week we lived here, we accumulated 3 feet of snow before I could unpack our boxes. So I thank you for suffering through the snow so I don’t have to. Maybe I’ll send you all some extra baklava this spring to make it up to you.
Finally, just to keep everyone up-to-date on K’s whereabouts, he’s still here in the US training. He and his unit have been out in the field for over a week now and I haven’t heard from him since they left their former training area for this new one. In all honesty, I’m not sure I’ll hear from him until he gets to his final destination. So, for now, no news is good news. (That’s an important rule, so keep it handy the next several months.) I will let you all know when I hear from him though.
I have been busy doing some freelance design work when not falling on my face exhausted this week, and as I finish up the jobs, I’ll be around more. My time is, as you might guess, limited, but like the Terminator, I’ll be back.