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Today ends the Xavier birthday saga.  Poor kid, on his birthday everyone was sick and I was too busy taking care of the sick to really hang with him.  Then on the proposed day of his party, I was sick and we had to postpone the party.  Chase was the best dad and hung with Xavier, played games with him, and generally made him feel better.  So today we finally had his birthday party.

Let me start by saying, I very much limit the number of children who attend a party to the number of children I can handle.  We had one birthday with tons of kids, but it also included parents and outdoor activities.  Xavier wanted a game birthday party, and he’s now old enough that parents feel comfortable dropping off their children and leaving me with a household of rambunctious, school-age children.  Therefore for only a small number could be handled, both for everyone to be able to play the games and for my personal sanity.  So I only invited two families worth of boys.  Unfortunately, one family could not attend the postponed party.  So we only had one family worth of kids coming.  I was down with that idea.  I decided the kids could play and celebrate a birthday and the adults could have their own game night.  I invited the whole family.

Xavier didn’t mind the short guest list.  All the kids had great fun.  I honestly can’t tell you what they did.  I think video games were played.  The little girls for whatever reason brought the contents of Clara’s kitchen downstairs with nearly every blanket in her room.  At one point the entire entry was covered in pink blankets.  But everyone played well together, and they all picked up when the party was over.

Why did I not know exactly what the kids were doing?  Well, I could hear that nothing bad was happening, the kids were all happy, and I was having way too much fun.  I love game night.

To start the evening our guests brought over some of their favorite games.  I picked Munchkin after hearing the description: Kill the monster.  Steal the treasure.  Stab your buddy.  Yep, “stab your buddy” I was intrigued.  I couldn’t wait.  It was fun.  I lost, big time.  However, I think that next time I’ll be more competitive as it took a minute to get the hang of the game.  I can’t wait to play again.  Then we pulled out the top rated game of this house.  Phase 10.  The laughing was endless.  At least on the wife side of the table, but the husband’s seemed to enjoy themselves as well.  The guests won that game as well.  They wondered if they’d ever be invited back to play games again.  They don’t understand how my competitive streak works, they will be invited back until I win, I must have victory.

Today, my baby turns 10. So he’s my oldest baby, but my baby nonetheless. In theory, it should have been a day full of fun and celebrating my child. Watching his favorite movies, playing video games, presents, a special dinner, and a birthday dessert. I started out knowing it wouldn’t be quite that. With a physical therapy appointment in the morning and a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, the poor child was going to spend the day keeping his brother and sister occupied in various offices. Plus, I had received a note from Amazon saying that our shipment would be delayed a week, so no presents from Mom and Dad.
Turns out his birthday wasn’t even that nice. Yesterday night, Clara showed symptoms of Xavier’s virus from earlier in the week. Instead of getting it over and done with quickly like Xavier, my youngest child was up all night long. My faithful washing machine ran all night, and I am so thankful for the sanitize cycle. I didn’t get much sleep by the time Chase was leaving for work, but since I was up I called and canceled/rescheduled my appointments. I couldn’t risk exposing Clara’s germs to others. Finally, around 8, instead of pouring out love on my child, I went to bed. At noon, I got a text “Coming home, please unlock the door from me.” The virus struck down another member of my family. When I went down to let my husband in, Austin informed me that he was ill as well. So Xavier spent his 10th birthday as the only member of the family not sick or exhausted (while I didn’t get sick, taking care of everyone and cleaning up after everyone did take it’s toll on me.)
Now I get to brag on my kid. He was a total trooper. He was bummed for a bit, but when Chase had woken up from a nap I let him open his present from Grandma and Grandpa. Armed with a new Lego set he went off to play with a huge smile on his face. He still got his dinner and dessert, and at the end of the day he said it was “the best birthday ever.” It doesn’t take much to please kids.

Austin turns 6 today!!  I can’t believe that he’s growing up.  He’s still short, and he is skinny and scrawny.  But he’s looking older.  Fewer people are commenting that he and Clara look like twins, though she’s catching up to him in height (and weight).  I first sang “Happy Birthday” to him at 1:45 am on the way to the airport.  I think all flights in the summer arrive here at 1:30 in the morning.  I’ve made that trip several times in the past year.  At least it’s not dark.  As we drove north from the airport we were able to watch the sunrise (didn’t see it rise, but saw the beautiful colors of a sunrise/sunset on the horizon).

The plumber came.  I’m very glad to have had use of my sink all day long and the ability to wash dishes, but wow, it’s expensive to have a plumber visit on a Saturday.  To be an Army wife, I need to become a little bit more hooah, learning how to fix some of these things myself.  Maybe then everything would all stop breaking, the fear of knowing Chase can fix them keeps them in order while he’s here.

Then it was time to decorate the house for the party.  Streamers and balloons.  We had fun hanging Lego colored streamers (ie streamers of all colors since Legos come in all colors) all over the house.  Michelle helped blow up the balloons.  Heeheehee.  Boarding at my house may not cost money, but my cousin has learned that I will extract some form of payment.  Last year it was hiking with me, this year filling dozens of balloons.  She then taught my children that they could rub the balloons on their heads and the static electricity  build up would allow the balloons to stick to the wall.  They thought that was cool.  Xavier found a way to stick the balloons on the ceiling of the entrance.  It looked cool, and they boys were so excited about it, I left it that way.

Then Michelle took us out to lunch.  I am going to now reveal something that may leave some readers who know me well shocked and stunned.  We went to Red Robin and I did not order the Teriyaki Chicken Burger.  Take a deep breath and recover now.  I think I’ve ordered something other than that maybe three times since I first feel in love with that burger when I was sixteen years old.  And I eat there a lot, it just so happens to be my favorite restaurant.  I was just in a hamburger mood.  So I did something different, and it was delicious.  However, as good as the Whiskey River burger was, next time I will go back to my old friend the Teriyaki Chicken burger.  After we ate the waiters delivered an ice cream sundae to Austin and sang to him.  I wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face.  He loves being the center of attention.  I read somewhere that young boys who are smaller than their peers (that is Austin) tend to make up for their lack of stature with humor and become the “class clown.”  I may have read that ages ago (possibly around the same time I discovered the Teriyaki Chicken burger at Red Robin), but I think they somehow transported to the future and were describing my son.

Then it was time to go back home.  We finished decorating, I wrapped presents.  Then it was time for cleaning.  But I just did the bare essentials.  It was a beautiful day and I had a six-year-old to celebrate.  We read some of his favorite book, White Fang, and then I took the kids outside.  First sunny day in ages, I’m glad I got over the dust and the fact that I really needed to vacuum to go out with the kids.

Then it was Austin’s party.  Unfortunately only one child came.  I had a feeling that two of the invited children wouldn’t be there (their Dad’s home on R&R, I can’t blame Mom for deciding that it was more important to have time with him doing family stuff).  I could have invited more children to replace them, but there were still two children who were planning on coming, and I knew that I’d have my hands full.  I can handle children only in small doses.  And I wanted a happy party not a stressful one.  But those two children didn’t make it.  But even with only one party guest the kids still had a blast.  We didn’t actually play any of the party games I had planned.  But the kids were having so much fun on their own, I just decided to let them do their own thing.  Plus, Julie bought Austin the coolest game, HeadBandz.  We all played.  Clara mostly told us what we were wearing, but the boys were all getting into asking and answering questions.  It’s a way cool game.  Did I already say that?  Well, I just like it that much.

After the party was over, I got the kids ready for bed.  Then I sat on my bed to check my e-mail and fell fast asleep.

I’m wondering at what point during the past week I completely lost my ability to reason.  Two important things are happening on the 16th, that needed prior planning and thought, and until today I was totally blowing them off as if they were no big deal.

#1 Austin’s birthday party.  So we planned it out about a month ago.  Presents were ordered two weeks ago (and arrived earlier this week).  Invitations were given, verbal not written (I so totally suck as a party-planning mom this year).  Somehow I thought that would be enough.  Today, suddenly I remember that we might just want to decorate.  I need to do some preparation for some of the games.  We need food to eat.  We need a cake.  With an abundance of kids, paper plates might be nice.  And those presents, they need to be wrapped.  While I admit to be a disorganized disaster, I didn’t think I was really this bad.

#2 Cousin Michelle arriving in town for the day.  She might want to rest in a room not covered in rummage sale items.  She might want a shower in a clean shower, or at least the ability to use a clean toilet.

To top off my total thoughtlessness, it didn’t occur to me that even though both of these things were happening on Saturday, they would happen on the same day.  I know, I’m stunned at my inability to put two and two together as well.

But other than my inability to sleep right now, I think I’m handling the situation quite well.  I had plans with a friend today.  Even with what seems like a mile long to-do list, I didn’t cancel fun.  And I had fun.  I did some party shopping while we were out.  I’m also quite proud that once we were on our way home, I calmly handled matters when my middle child remembered he had left his hat at the restaurant we had just been at.  A detour that cost me about the time of making the guest bed and cleaning the guest bathroom.  I also upheld my motherly responsibilities over my party-planner responsibility.  I did the normal bedtime routine, including an entire chapter of Brisinger (and those chapters tend to be insanely long), instead of skimping on the routine in favor of cleaning.

Then I got to work.  Things were progressing smoothly and getting done.  Until I got to the kitchen.  Then the sink decided it was time for it to acknowledge the deployment by backing up.  This of course happened while I was running the dishwasher.  In our house the pipes to the dishwasher and the sink are connected, so if the sink is backed up, the dishwasher can’t drain.  So the excess water ended up all over my kitchen floor.  I get to spend part of my busy day tomorrow calling the plumber.  Joy.

So party guests, I’m sorry my house is a mess.  Please notice the balloons and crepe paper we will put up tomorrow and not the dust that I have decided can wait (not long, Chase will be home soon, and I have been making sure I have time to get everything perfect for him.  I think the whole R&R thing is where my mind has been and why it hasn’t been on other matter, like a birthday party).  Yeah, snacks and drinks might not be up to my usual par, but I’m still ordering Pizza Man pizza and we do have birthday cake.  Some of the games just won’t get played, but our kids will still have fun anyway.  Michelle, we’ll try to make the best of our time, even if it isn’t quite what either of us had originally planned.  And now I’m gonna go to sleep, gotta get up early to call the plumber.

We are officially at the point in the deployment that I miss my husband.  Not that I haven’t missed him the whole time he’s been gone.  But this is different.  It is total, complete missing him, there is nothing I can do that I don’t miss him.

I went shopping today.  Finally getting around to going shopping with my birthday money.  So while I’m all excited about my new clothes, all I can think about is showing them off for Chase.  I hope he likes the stuff I got.  I like it.  But as I sit here in my new top and shrug, I think it would be a perfect going out outfit.  I’m planning what jewelry and make-up I’ll wear and deciding for what event I’ll wear it when Chase is home.  I’m currently leaning to a night out, maybe dinner with friends.  What I’m really thinking though is how Chase will look at me throughout that night.  That look that says “wow, she’s gorgeous.”  I like that look.  I miss that look.

The other day I bought myself new glasses.  Let me tell you how much I missed him then.  My current glasses are who-knows-how-many years old.  I talked to Chase the other night and neither one of us could remember if I’ve bought glasses the whole  time we’ve been married.  I know for a fact I haven’t bought any since before Austin was born.  In those at least six, possible more than eleven, years my glasses have become seriously scratched.  Being that I have a week and a half before I can wear contacts again, I need new glasses.  There’s an issue here though.  To see what the new glasses look like, I need to take off the glasses I’m wearing.  To see, I need my glasses.  So I need the help of a trusted advisor.  Chase is good in the role.  He is my personal sunglasses shopper and I think he’d do very well helping me pick out glasses.  He’s halfway around the world.  My kids were there.  I’m not sure if helpful would truly describe them though.   Clara wanted me to wear purple glasses, because they were purple.  Even with my poor vision I knew I’d look horrible in them.  Xavier loves green, so his only help was to tell me that he thought I should get any of the numerous green pairs.  I will say my final choice will made Austin happy, I choose blue frames, his favorite color.  But I still wish Chase wast here.  Fortunately, he will be here within the take the back and exchange them period, so if they are horrible, we’ll be able to fix it.

Then today, watching tv, I hear the song from the musical card I bought him for Valentine’s Day last year.  It made me want to dance with him.  So what did I do?  I bought it on my I-Phone so I can torture myself with it for the next few weeks, and then he’ll be home and we can dance to it.  Speaking of torturing myself with music, I need to just stop playing music until Chase comes home because it all makes me think of him.  I either want to dance, or there is a memory associated with it, or it’s one of his favorites.  There’s one song I keep playing all the time that covers the first two very well. But it’s the song I play nearly every time I start playing songs.  “Six-Pack Summer”.  As winter has finally really left the great state of Alaska, the first verse is perfect: “The winter sure was cold and miserable cooped up, shoved dow baby it was pitiful.  Anyhow it’s over now we owe it to ourselves to have a little fun.”  Yes, I love Alaska even in the winter, and I’m sure in a few months I’ll be ready for it all over again.  But currently I’m over it, so I’m feeling those lyrics.  However, by the time you get to the chorus “Sing to me babe, I’ll be your dashboard drummer.  Turn the radio up as loud as it can go.”  I’m transported to another time.  June 2001, riding around Cleveland in my new-to-me car windows rolled down with Chase at the wheel, radio blaring this song.  What makes this memory so poignant?  We got married June 2001.  It also happened to be the first summer we spent together.  School was out, normally we went our separate ways, but that summer we got married, we were finally together forever.  And being in that memory, all I want to do I grab Chase and dance and share the memory together.  By the end of the song my heart aches for missing him.  Yet, I torture myself with that song at least once a day, often more because “the winter sure was cold and miserable.”

It doesn’t help that he will be home soon, so I’m making plans and getting ready for two weeks of paradise.  Getting myself ready.  Trying to decide what would get that eye-popping “that’s my woman” look from him.  Doing some shopping to get ready.  New clothes.  The good shampoo so my hair looks like a million bucks.  Do I have the right make-up?  Irresistable-smelling body wash (and linen spray so our bed smells divine).  Making plans for a hair cut and color so I look fabulous.  Making sure I exercise regularly.  Not expecting to lose weight, but wanting to make sure I have the stamina to do whatever hiking we want to do, and trying to make sure my shape doesn’t get any more out of proportion.  Organizing, making sure cabinets and closets have all that they need so we lack nothing while he is here.  Constantly asking myself, what would Chase like?  That doesn’t make me miss him less, that’s for sure.

But above and beyond all those things, I miss him no matter what I’m doing. When putting on moisturizer on in the dark getting ready for bed, I remember how that’s how I do it at times when Chase is home. Because he’s already laying down for bed and I don’t want to turn on a light and disturb him.  Then I want to be able to look over at him lying in the bed and say something, or do something to get his attention.  But he’s not there.  Folding clothes I can picture him helping me, and I think of what I’d do if he was there.  As I’m finishing getting the kids ready for church I can almost see him at the sink taking care of the breakfast dishes, and I want to flash him a smile and let him know that I appreciate him.  Watching tv, I think of the analysis I’d be giving him.  At the store, I see movies I think he’d like and I imagine watching them with him.

I just really miss my husband.  And it’s hard right now.  But I’m grateful that it’s that hard.  I’m grateful that we have the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” kind of love, not the “out of sight, out of mind” kind of love.  I’m thankful that I’m married to my best friend.  I’m thankful that I just can’t seem to get enough of my husband.  And I hope that a year from now, when I’m starting to get used to him being back I remember just how much I missed him today and I appreciate him all the more for it.

 

Lyrics from “Six Pack Summer.”  Phil Vassar.  Phil Vassar: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, 2006 BMG

So I think one thing that is being lost in modern culture is treating women like ladies.  And especially teaching young women to treat themselves like ladies.  Recently it has hit me that I might just be a hypocrite on this point.  Am I treating myself like a lady?

Take my house.  Would I be okay having Queen Elizabeth over for dinner, and watching a movie in my living room?  Would I let her sleep in my bedroom as I have been taking care of it?  My bedroom is generally the least cleaned room of the house.  Mostly because it’s the last one guests will come into.  The downstairs is cleaned regularly, not enough, but regularly.  The kid’s rooms and guest room will made to be spic and span (as long as you don’t look under beds and in closets).  But my room, there exists a lovely layer of dust over everything.  And on my bed, where I put myself to sleep is a huge pile of laundry needing to be folded.  I clean two of the bathrooms, or have a child clean, two of the bathrooms in this house weekly.  But my bathroom…it gets regular Clorox tabs in the toilet and I do the whole after shower spray after each time the shower is used, but not much else other than that.  I would never let Queen Elizabeth see that bathroom, much less have her prepare her daily toilet in there.

Speaking of a daily toilet, that’s another area where I could do better.  I know that my super dry skin would profit by moisturizing daily, but lotion only happens when my skin is so dry it hurts.

Today, I also realized that if I’m going to treat myself like a lady, I need to be aware of what I am watching and reading.  I should only subject myself to that which is lady-like.

This goes for food as well.  A lady would eat food that tastes good and is healthy.

This year New Year’s resolutions didn’t go very well.  Deployment stress had me going from super high expectations, to über low expectations.  I think I’m finally at a point where I can think more clearly.  So I’m making a birthday resolution.  Over the next year I am going to work to treat myself like a lady.  My house will more reflect that a lady lives here.  Especially those spaces that are particularly mine.  I will dress myself like a lady.  I will conduct my affairs as if I am a lady.  I will eat like a lady and take care of myself like a lady.  I’ve already started.  My bathroom I clean and smells like lavender.  I am getting rid of some books and movies.

As a parent a side benefit I’m hoping for is that my sons will learn how women should be treated and my daughter will learn to treat herself like a lady as well.

So last week I bought myself some birthday presents.  I bought several sets of the Lego Friends.  Note to people shopping for my daughter, if that’s what you want to get her later in the year for birthday or Christmas, ask me what we have, although I will say duplicates will be welcome, we can always use more pink and purple Legos. Anyway, I was so excited.  Then it hit me.  Rush Limbaugh (get over the source and stay with me here) celebrated his wife’s birth week when they were married.  I’ve always thought that would be a fun tradition.  So I asked my husband if I could be allowed a birth week, instead of just a day.  He said yes, probably laughed at me at the same time, but my wish was granted.  After asking, I thought of course he’d be okay with it.  We’ve been doing unofficial Lori birth week for the past few years.  He’ll get me a present he’s so excited about that I’ll get it early.  Then there’s my actual birthday, when I get to open presents from everyone else and go out to a nice dinner.  Then there is the day we finally get around to eating my birthday cake, because we were all too stuffed from eating out to touch a cake.  I’m spoiled, I fully admit it.

Asking for a birth week is something I would have never done years ago.  Somehow I got it in my head that all the cool people didn’t want to celebrate their birthday.  They just downplayed it as another day.  So I downplayed it thinking I was too cool for birthday shenanigans.  Then, one year I caught myself dropping hints about my upcoming birthday.  I heard what I said and thought with horror this is what sad people do when they really want others to acknowledge their birthday but don’t want to ask for it.  Turns out. you know what, I want fun.  Please don’t confuse fun with singing waiters and waitresses.  But I do want the birthday tiara and all the fun.  Laughing, sharing stories, playing goofy games and eating lots and lots of birthday cake.  So I’ve stopped denying my birthday.  I fully plan to enjoy it.

So I planned to start the party train today.  Didn’t know how or what, maybe just putting together a Lego set.  But even though I got up early I didn’t have time today to do the whole birthday thing.  It’s not that I had a lot I had to do, it’s just that I spent the morning doing little things I wanted to do, like call some companies while they were still open since I could.  Then at about 2:30 when I was exhausted and didn’t want to get any more done, I still had the stuff that had to be done tomorrow left to do.  Clara’s room had to be made ready for her new furniture arriving tomorrow.  I had to finish the worship stuff for PWOC.  If not for the gotta do’s I would have decided it was break out popcorn, candy, and a movie at about 3.  But then it hit me, today isn’t the start of my birth week, today would be Lori’s birth week plus one day.  So all my hard work this morning was just knocking stuff out of the way so that I can really celebrate Lori’s birth week, without little things hanging over my head.