Saturday, February 18, 2017

Date Night

Alternatively titled: "In Which We Discover that After Nearly 10 Years of Marriage, We Are in Fact Strangers"

A friend of mine alerted me about a week or two ago, to a "Staying Connected" marriage workshop on base to take place on a Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30. Dinner would be provided, there would be games, and the whole thing was free. It sounded like a win to me so I signed us up and booked Ben next door to watch the kids.

Tim and I don't get out by ourselves nearly enough. I think the last time was over Christmas when we went out to dinner with Scotty and Faith. We should do this more often. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to try to pick out an outfit that's "casual, so I don't look like I tried too hard.. but a little dressed up .. with just the right jewelry.." I even successfully curled my hair for the first time. I finally found what works -- a curling wand! People, you have no idea what an accomplishment this was for me. I had just told me girls that my goal by age 40 was to learn how to curl my hair. With two years and four months to go, I have achieved it.

We snapped a selfie by the boat dock before going in. As soon as we walked in we were told to go right to the buffet line and get dinner. I liked that -- no messing around, just get your dinner and start eating. I liked where this night was heading.
We ate our spaghetti and salad and chatted with other couples there, some of whom we knew already and some we didn't.

I knew there was going to be a Newlywed Game - type thing, but in hindsight I really think we should have studied. "What's your favorite color?" "What's our best memory?" "What is it about me that drives you nuts?" Because from the very first question, I knew we were sunk. It was, "What does your spouse know the most about? A) Food Network B) HGTV, C) What Not to Wear, D) DIY network and E) something else I forget. Tim needed to answer the question about me. The problem is I don't watch any of these channels with any regularity, and don't know much about any of the subject matter. But I like Chip and Joanna Gaines, and I know Tim knows that so I wrote HGTV on my little whiteboard. Tim picked Food Network. Boo.

As the game went on and the 14 other couples kept answering questions (many of them correctly!), my anxiety started ramping up. Please let us get one point, just one! There were couples who were so in sync with their answers and as they grinned at each other from across the room I started to feel like, I kind of hate you right now. Then there were a few others who were having the same kind of luck as us, and getting mad at each other. But I couldn't even be mad at Tim for not knowing the correct answer to "What do you wear that drives your spouse crazy?" Nothing he wears really drives me crazy. I wrote down the ratty long-sleeve cotton race shirt he still wears that's 10 years old. I had recently said to him as I was folding it, "I can't believe you still have this." But his answer was, "She hates when I wear my shoes in the house." That's true, but not what occurred to me in that moment. Darn.

We got one lousy point out of a possible eight. The question was, "Which superpower would your spouse want? A) Superman speed, B) Hulk strength, C) x-ray vision, and a couple other things. Initially I wrote down that he would want superman speed, but as the men started saying hulk strength one after another, I changed my answer. We got it. Phew.

There were two couples who did worse than us: one had only been married seven months, and the other was missing the husband until the last five minutes of the game. I can't even tell you how uncomfortable this was. We kept shooting wide-eyed looks at each other, like 'WTH!'

There was only one answer I was peeved at Tim for not getting right: the one about my ideal date night. The possible choices were A) Picnic and bike ride, B) Pizza and move, C) Candlelight dinner, D) something else and E) Going to bed early. I had just been telling him as we were getting ready to go out about how I missed our date nights in. The kids would go to bed at 7, and actually go to sleep then too, it was amazing. He'd cook a delicious better-than-restaurant quality dinner and we would eat it by candlelight at the kitchen table. It was like all the best parts of going out to a restaurant without worrying about driving, parking, being disappointed by an expensive meal, finding a babysitter, etc. He picked something about comfy clothes and wine -- both things I like! -- just not the best of the choices given. He was like, crap.

It was safe to say that even though we had arrived that night with no tension in our relationship, it was now thick in the air and all around us. The one thing this workshop was missing was alcohol, and I could have really used a drink. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

The toughest question of all was one that most couples could not agree on an answer to. It was, "What did he do that made you laugh the hardest?" Oh, man. So like I said, nearly everyone was getting it wrong, even the adorable Couple Number 1 who had gotten almost everything right. That should have made me relax. But the wife half of that couple told the cutest story about how she had had an allergic reaction to something, and had itching, and sent him out to get her something and he'd come back with Preparation H. Her husband laughed about that and then revealed his answer that was something else equally hilarious. And it went on, with every couple sharing some really funny thing he'd done that made them laugh. And although Tim makes me laugh on the regular, I could not think of one good story. There was not one good story. With us it's all inside jokes, 'you had to be there' kind of stuff.

I racked my brain as it came closer to my turn, and the best I could come up with was, "Tim and I laugh about a lot of things that make sense only to us. One thing I could think of is that we like to tease each other about how "I only started dating you because you slept under my porch all night." But I butchered the whole explanation and Tim tried to help me. The line was from the movie Up and it was, "I was hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I come in?" Tim's answer: "I have no idea."

UGH.

I felt considerable relief when that game was over. Then the leader passed out booklets for us to write answers to questions about ourselves and our marriage in. I found myself stumped by all of them, and I think Tim felt the same way. We kept sneaking looks at each other's answers. But there was to be no grade! And no sharing of any of the answers, so I just crumpled it up inside my purse at my first opportunity.

After that there was a Valentine themed craft for us to do, and it is the cheesiest, but kind of fun. In the example she showed us, the 'V' in love was supposed to be someone's footprints. But adult footprints are not cute, amiright? Most of us quickly figured out there was no way for a handprint and two footprints to fit on this canvas. Everyone did their own thing instead, and here's what we did. Our handprints, one on top of the other. Aw...
We got a little more than we bargained for with this date night, but we'll probably do something like this again. It was fun overall even if some parts were a little painful. We are going to study each other like crazy for the next time so we can be the nauseating couple who know everything about each other. Smooches and high-fives, lol!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Joey: 14 Months

We now have a toddler!

He finally, on the very day he turned 14 months, decided he likes to walk more than he likes to crawl. I thought he was my latest walker, but I just checked my blog archives and read Timmy's 14-month update. Timmy was still not walking at that time, so it's just another reason I'm so glad I write these things down. My memory stinks! Reading through that update, it looks like Joey is Timmy all over again. The kisses and high-fives on request, the climbing everything, and the phasing out of the morning nap .. check, check and check.
As I type this he is having a morning nap, but that has been more and more seldom an occurrence. For one thing, life often interferes and a morning nap isn't possible. But half the time, whenever we are home, he refuses to take one. My favorite baby sleep book says that most kids don't give up their morning naps until they're about 16 months old. But it also says all kids are different, and I already knew that.:) So I am holding onto it for a little while longer, but it is soon to be a thing of the past. Just like I said in Timmy's update, it is really better for me once the morning nap goes away. I get out and do things more in the morning, with that nap excuse gone.
The one glaring difference between Joey and Timmy at this age has to do with nighttime sleep. Timmy slept from 7 to 7. Joey goes to bed easily at 7, but he usually wakes up once or twice in the middle of the night, crying like someone pinched him. I go in there, pat this back, whisper sweet nothings, and then tiptoe out. Then several minutes go by and I hear him crying again, I do the same thing, and then it might even happen one more time. He's allowed to get up for the day at 6, but oftentimes wakes up crying hysterically at 5:40. Why, Joey, why?
He babbles and points at things all the time, and I talk to him about all the things he points to with his questioning chirps. He said his first word, "Hello," while holding my phone to his ear. I found that funny considering he hardly ever sees me use it for talking. I don't like talking on the phone much.

He's doing a much better job eating this month. He's kind of picky and he still doesn't do well with certain textures, but I can get him to eat something every meal. I give him a fruit and veggy pouch every day with either lunch or dinner to make sure he's getting enough of those because he may or may not be able to handle the texture of the real thing. A long-time believer of baby-led weaning, I never wanted to get into the habit of giving him purees. The other kids didn't need them. But it turns out they have their place. When I have a little guy who's not getting as many calories as is optimal, not eating as many kinds of solid foods as I'd like, and I'm trying to cut back on nursing at the same time .. for all of these reasons I am finding them useful. Those pouches are the easiest thing too -- he just sucks it all down. I foresee taking many of those pouches with me on a long plane ride in the future.
As I already mentioned, everything I talk about comes back to Okinawa sooner or later. When it comes to Joey, it is usually with a feeling of horror that I remember that this moody kid who is most manageable (really ONLY manageable) at home in his familiar routines, is going with us. We are going to be displaced for weeks and living out of suitcases before we settle down into a home there. Deep breaths.. I might as well face it, I'm scared. I keep pushing it out of my mind and then it keeps coming to me. 

Between now and then I am looking to cut back nursing to no more than three times a day, but preferably two. He does not nurse much while traveling, and I do not want to pump on a plane or in an airport. This week I've dropped the dinnertime session, and that leaves four times: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before the afternoon nap, and before bed.

This morning we all had to go to the dental clinic for exams as part of overseas screening. All the dentist wanted to do was look in Joey's mouth and count his teeth. That was the extent of the exam; he didn't even make him sit in a chair. But Joey wouldn't have it. He buttoned up his lips like nothing to see here. I'm guessing that when he finally does have to start visiting the dentist for cleanings and exams, it's going to be about as much fun as it was getting his hair cut the first time. *eyeroll* But at least there will be no scissors involved.
Just wanted to throw in one of my shots from our photo session on the back of the truck:)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Adventure Awaits


Right before Christmas I proudly posted this on Facebook to share with one and all:

This week we got some news we've been waiting a long time for -- Tim's been selected for promotion!! I'm SO proud of him and looking forward to seeing where our Marine Corps adventure takes us to next.

It was not a big surprise at least to me; it was just a matter of waiting for what felt like weeks and weeks to get the news. But the promotion was not a given and it's a huge deal to us. That was the first piece of news we needed, and it was great. I basked in the heaps of congratulations that came our way because I am so proud of him and his accomplishments, and I love seeing him be rewarded for his years of hard work.

Then we settled in to wait for the next big piece of news we would get: the part about where the adventure would take us next. We -- or at least I -- were pretty confident we'd be headed back to eastern North Carolina. Tim's friend who is in the know, was certain this would be the case. This was going to be the logical next step in Tim's career, because the next thing he's hoping to get is command of a unit there. I just couldn't wait to have those orders in hand so we could apply to base housing on Cherry Point.

Tim said to me somewhere along the way that the people getting orders to Okinawa, Japan would be the first to receive orders since they needed the most time to prepare. He said once those people got their orders, we'd know for sure we weren't going there. He wasn't ruling out the chance of getting Okinawa orders mostly because in his 22-year career, he's never gone there before. He kept telling me not to count my (Cherry Point) chickens before they hatched, but I was looking into the schools, moving into the house in my mind, and imagining being a half hour away from my favorite beaches again. I kept saying to him, "Have the Okinawa people gotten their orders yet? What's taking so long?"

A few weeks ago while he was away on a trip, I got a FaceTime call from him right after I put the kids to bed. Our conversation went something like this:

"How did your day go?"
"Eh, just a pretty typical day."
"Are you ready for me to change that?"
"Do you have some news for me?"
"Konichiwa."
"We're going to Japan?"
"Yep."
"Ohmygosh, hahahaha...."

Then Delaney and Timmy came running out and said, "We're going to Japan?" Tim mentioned not having wanted to tell them yet and I said, "You shouldn't have called at 8:15 then!"

So we talked for a little while about it, mostly about how we'd be so happy for this opportunity except that it means being so far away from our families. We also knew that just the logistics of moving there are staggering and mind-boggling. Then there's getting used to being in another country, in a completely unfamiliar area. Tim was taking the news harder than I was, because what it means for his career is uncertain. It's not that it's a bad thing, more that it's a detour, and he was feeling a little like WTH, Marine Corps? He hadn't seen it coming. But he says he had kind of seen it coming.

I asked him if it was a sure thing, and he said the monitor had told him it definitely was. I reminded him of what happened last time he got orders to Okinawa, and how nothing is a sure thing.. but everything works out in the end the way it's supposed to.

I felt like I took the news very much in stride considering how completely out of the realm of possibility I'd thought Okinawa was (hahahahaha, says anyone who's been a Marine or been married to one). I was just like, "OK, this is what's going to happen. We're going to make the most of it!" Then that night lying in bed I could. not. sleep. My mind started going a million miles an hour. I started to really feel sad for what was not to be after all; and then I tried wrapping my head around most likely three years of not seeing our families in Massachusetts and Ohio. Ugh. Impossible. Why do we have to go so far away?

A couple days later I shared this to Facebook:

Well, the suspense is over for us. Okinawa, Japan it is! This comes as a little bit of a shock. Not sure what I think about this. Japan is a long way away. As soon as we told Delaney she said, "Sushi. And slides." Oh boy!

And the comments I got on that post blew me away in the best possible way. Friends who are there and/or have been there chimed in telling me about things to see and do, how the schools are top-notch, the beaches are beautiful -- so much great stuff. Most of all, just being reminded again about who is already there, friends I look forward to seeing again, was so reassuring. This is something we never would have chosen for ourselves, but since the Marine Corps chose it for us, I was ready to embrace this amazing opportunity and take it for what it's worth. I love to throw the term "adventure" around when I think I'm moving five hours north to somewhere we've already been twice, but now we're looking at a no-kidding adventure. Especially with four kids in tow!

Since that day, every conversation we have either begins or ends with Okinawa. There is a long process for getting there, and we're now in the thick of it -- lots of paperwork, medical and dental stuff, passports.. I feel like it's eating up huge chunks of my time. Not to mention we are making lots of plans for places we want to go and loved ones we want to see before our August departure.

So that's where we are now. The Marine Corps threw us a curveball, but I think everything's going to be OK.