Friday, March 24, 2017


..I have been researching my ancestors.

As a gift for our 10th anniversary, Tim surprised me a six-month membership to! I guess he could tell how intrigued I was whenever I would see the commercials. I jumped right into building my family tree, and it is the biggest time suck ever. I am never going to get anything done around here ever again because I am so fascinated by all the little bits and pieces I'm learning about my ancestors. Here's an example: In 1882 Bernard and Julia Berning had a little girl named Margaret, and four years later, a baby boy named August. Both of those children died a year a year after that. (A five-year-old and a baby both lost the same year -- unimaginable.) Two years after that they had Julia, my great-grandmother (mother's mother's mother) and she lived to be in her 90s. She was a survivor. I have to get one of my aunts to fill me in completely on the details of this story (which did not come courtesy of ancestry, btw) but when she was a little girl she followed her younger sister (Mary, who would only live to be 9) into the street and got hit by a trolley. She lost an arm, and grew up to be first a typist using one of those old typrewriters that you definitely could really use two hands for; then a wife and mother of six kids. She raised six children with only one arm. She changed cloth diapers that required pins, with one arm. But back to her mother, Julia the elder. She gave birth to 10 children altogether, and five did not make it to the age of 10. It made me so sad to think of her burying all those babies, and I wish I knew how they all died. The first one was born while she when she was 25 and the last baby who was lost after a year, was born when she was 42. I was surprised to note a few ancestors on both sides of my tree who've had babies well into their 40s and it's serving as kind of a heads-up for me. It's not that I thought nobody had babies in their 40s; I just didn't think the chances of it were all that great.
My great-grandmother Julia with her first three kids. My grandmother (my mom's mom Miriam) is the one holding the doll.
I'm in danger of neglecting the living people in my life in favor of all the deceased, but it is such a fun diversion. The kids want me to do the DNA test too, and I'm thinking about it, but really, even just going a couple hundred years back in time, I already know the answer. I'm a little bit of everything, but mostly Irish and German, and (this last one is new to me) French. I'm trying to build Tim's tree too, but on that side the dead aren't giving up their secrets easily. I haven't gotten far, but I've traced his mom's side to Italy, and his dad's side to Russia and Nova Scotia, and I know further back will take me to Ireland as well.

The frustrating thing about this ancestry business is that the little bit I learn from public records makes me wish I knew so much more.
..I've been filling up the calendar.

We've got some exciting things coming up! My mom is visiting for a few days next month right before Easter. Tim's parents are visiting Mother's Day weekend for Annie's First Communion. My sister Grace and her fiance Joey are getting married on May 19. This is a recent development and I waited with bated breath those few days she spent trying to get a date locked down. I kept telling her not to try to schedule it around us but when it turned out we'd be able to go, I was like woo-hoo! Dresses and shoes are already on order for the bride and sister bridesmaids! Then in mid- June, we'll see her, my parents and a couple of my other siblings and their families at our beach vacation in Topsail, NC. The end of June and July will be consumed with moving stuff. The Big 3 will be in Massachusetts with their grandparents while we take care of that and while Tim goes on more work trips (boo to work trips as we're organizing and moving all our stuff overseas). Then we will get out of here ourselves and join them. Tim's sister Karen and her fiance Matt will be tying the knot August 5! A few days after that we fly to Seattle, and from there to Japan.

As busy as we're going to be, in no time at all we'll be moving away. And I'm not ready for that, not at all.
..I've been doing a lot of driving.

The kids' schools are a half hour away, and most of the time they take the bus to and from, 45 minutes each way (yikes). This semester Delaney is doing two clubs after school, art and sign language. On those days I have to leave at 2 to pick up Annie and Timmy at 2:30, then drive to Delaney's school and wait there until she's done. On Mondays we wait 45 minutes, on Wednesdays an hour and 10 minutes. Annie just started gymnastics a few weeks ago, and the place I take her is right down the road from their school. That's on Tuesday evenings. Yesterday I drove Delaney and a couple of neighbor kids to their school dance that started at 4. Delaney got off the bus at 3:15, changed into a dress and we left at 3:30. I am really, really, really hoping and praying that in Okinawa we can live close to school and to other things. I always have this feeling of dread anytime I know there's something else going on at school, or something else they want to do, and I know how much more driving there's going to be. At the same time I want my kids to be joiners and doers, and I want them to have opportunities to find things they enjoy, develop their talents and make friends. In the case of Annie especially, in the past it's been a real puzzle to figure out what she likes, and she loves going to gymnastics. She can't seem to stop cartwheeling and climbing and hanging from things like a monkey every chance she gets.
This was taken just before heading out for the dance. Delaney was so cute and excited, and I was so happy later when she told me how much fun she'd had.
At least Timmy's tee ball (sorry Tim, baseball) is on base about two minutes away. That's 6:15 to 7:15 Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would definitely not be a happy camper having to drive a half hour home at 7:15 on a school night! 
...I've been running.
Tim has been training me hard and not to brag, but I finished first in my age group (35-39) in a 5K. My prize was a ride home. (Tim had warned me if I didn't beat my age group I would have to walk home.) I didn't do quite as well as hoped to (my time was 23:53, and I would have liked closer to 23), but the thing was I had belly issues that entire day. I managed to 'mind over matter' it for the race, but I do wonder how I might have done if that hadn't been a factor. Tim let me use his Garmin(?) watch and it was a good thing I did because there were a couple times I thought I was going fast enough and the watch let me know I needed to pick up the pace.
When I think of where I started a couple months ago, with just trying to get down to eight-minute miles, I'm pretty pleased.

.. I've been sneaking in some reading here and there. 

I'm working my way through The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis as part of a little reading group with my mom and sisters. We do three chapters a week, and the chapters are short and easy to digest. Lewis' writing is so clever and funny, and I keep nodding along because I see myself in all the insights into human nature and descriptions of ways the devil tempts people.

I devoured The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy within the span of a short few days. I read it on my phone every chance I got, and I was actually happy to be the one taking Annie to gymnastics because I knew it was an opportunity to sit in a waiting room and read for an hour without having anything better to do. Maybe it was because I was starting to feel wistful about having to move away, but I was curious to read literature by a local author. Once in awhile I find a book that just grabs me from page one and won't let me go until the end, and that's what kind of book this is. The writing is beautiful, the fictional town he describes is pretty obviously the one we live in and that's a fun connection; but it's the story and the characters that are so compelling. It's about some kids (now grownups) who grew up in pretty much the most dysfunctional family ever. Lots of bad stuff happened. But there are hilarious stories woven in too, and lots of breaks from the heavier parts. I'll have to check out some of his other books. I hope they're all just as good.


.. I've lost control of my house.

And I know that I'm in big part to blame. Just see above for all the ways I mismanage my time. But now Joey whose sole aim in life is to dismantle, destroy, and unravel, has outsmarted the cabinet locks. Now I can't keep anything put away. Right now on my high kitchen counter is a bag. Inside the bag are the contents of one of the cabinets of the desk. I have to reorganize it all and find a new home for all of it. On another counter are two stacks of serving bowls. I was so unnerved by the sound of them all clanking together as Joey pulled them from the cabinet earlier today, that I hurriedly piled them up there. Then I found myself wondering, Why do we have so many bowls? Do we really need all these bowls? What if I just got rid of them all?

We do not have enough high places to put things. I am drowning in the mess. I had to go to the commissary this morning, and I tried not to look around as I headed out the door. It actually hurts me to leave things all in disarray. I won't even go to bed at night until the kitchen is clean, counters wiped down and dishes are either hand-washed or in the dishwasher. I can't get to the bigger items of cleaning that are desperately needed in this house; I am too busy cleaning up the same little messes again and again. And now with my cabinets no longer safely closed, it's like playing whackamole. 

Eek .. the woes of Rachael. Alright, off to see if I can get something done with what remains of his nap. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Joey: 15 Months

Someone said to me recently that her teenage son had said to her, "You know that baby who sits in front of us at Mass? I can't believe how much bigger and older he looks every time we see him. How can he change that fast?" She replied, "That's what they do."
A couple weeks ago when  it seemed as though Joey had given up that morning nap for good, I decided at Tim's suggestion to avail myself of hourly daycare on base once or twice a week just to have some time to myself in the mornings. Registering him there necessitated a trip to the doctor to have a form filled out. I thought we were right between the 12 and 15 month checkups but we were closer to the 15-month than I realized, and he treated it as a regular checkup instead of just filling out the form based on his last visit like I thought he would. Joey was weighed and measured, and I was pleased to hear the doctor say that he had grown a remarkable inch and a half in height (he added that three inches over the course of a year is considered acceptable) and had gained at least a pound. I might have been tempted to think there'd been a little error on the part of the people measuring him, but I had been noticing how much better his 12-18 month clothes were fitting, and how he'd been filling out his footie pajamas. I actually thought I'd been shrinking his clothes, but this is great news! It felt like getting an 'A' this time. I had the exact numbers jotted down on scrap paper which has since disappeared, so I'll have to get them next time I go to the naval hospital.
We did the hourly care a couple times after that and it went well enough, but in the last week or so his nighttime sleep has taken a turn for the worse again so he's been needing a morning nap. He's napping right now as a matter of fact and that is the one good thing I get out of this. I'm thinking maybe teething is to blame. Every time I look in his mouth I see glimpses of all the teeth he's getting and all the ones he's just gotten. He won't let me look and feel for more than a split second or two, but it's so many teeth and swollen gums. It's like he's getting all the remaining teeth at once. I'm like OK, let's just get this over with then! It's torture. I give him a dose of ibuprofen before bed. He wakes me up anywhere from one to three to maybe even five or six times a night. I go in there, cover him up, tell him to go back to sleep and leave. Then at 5:30 this morning he woke up and would not go back to sleep, so he's already adjusted to daylight savings time. I am so, so tired. Fatigue is my constant companion. I am such a wimp when I'm not getting adequate sleep. Then I torment myself by looking at Facebook and seeing all the fun things people are doing on the weekends while I'm just enjoying not getting up at 6 and not schlepping the kids around to and from various things. Weekends are about what I'm not doing. It's been a challenging time for me, that's for sure, and I gave up complaining for Lent but I'm being sorely tested. He's been taking great naps, though, and I am grateful for that.
I remember Tim saying to me when he was a few months old and just coming out of that colicky phase, "You've loved him into submission." Well, that battle is ongoing but I have plenty of help around here. His dad and siblings love on him every chance they get and it's easy because he's so cute and because he pays back the love when he's not being an ornery little booger. He gives out his adorable open mouth kisses, hugs and high-fives on request. He plays 'ring around the rosy' with us and laughs when we all fall down and he doesn't. He loves when Annie holds him and I pursue him and she trots him away just out of my reach again and again. I love to see him bouncing on her hip and squealing in delight as they go around the corner.

He folds his little hands at dinnertime when we sit down to say grace and it melts my heart. He loves the playground behind our house and can climb up and go down the tall twisty slide backwards on his own. He can also go down steps backward, but wants to try walking down them (which he can't and that's scary). If I chase him, he can't run so he staggers like a drunk and then lies down and waits for me to get him. He loves to dance and his favorite song is "Cake by the Ocean", which Annie plays on my phone for him. Then I want to take a video but I can't because it's playing on my phone, so I go to get my camera but the moment passes.. :( I'm making it my mission to get that video now that I think of it. I'm always going to want to look back at that sweet baby dancing to his favorite song.
He's getting to have a temper when things don't go his way. He screeches, falls to the floor, hits the floor with his hands, and puts on quite a performance. He has zero ability to entertain himself and will not play with any of his toys. What he wants is to empty out the top desk drawer that has all our staples, paperclips and that kind of thing. Otherwise he wants me to carry him around on my hip all afternoon. He never wakes up from a nap happy.

He's been eating really well, and I guess that would account for the growth spurt. Lately he's been loving strawberries. He gobbles them up as quickly as he can. He likes most things, but not breakfast foods. He doesn't care for eggs, cereal, pancakes, toast, any of it. He's a funny little man.