Last Post from Belgium (for now)

Liam had a big day today. He has figured out how to drink from a straw! Actually, he’s probably been able to do that for some time, but I haven’t tried him on it for a month or two. He really loved his juicebox — so much, in fact, that he very nicely requested and got a second. Here’s a pic of him sitting on the living room floor sipping away. As you can see, he was very intent on his task! The other first came at suppertime: he fed himself his entire meal — with a fork. Chicken, broccoli and cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. It was great seeing his intense concentration as he wielded the fork, and then the look of accomplishment when he speared a piece of food. Oh, he also used a fork to eat his grapes!

Sorry about the quality of the pic. I had to recharge the batteries in the camera today, and I think it must default to a setting somewhat less than we normally use. But, no time to figure that out right now. I’ll worry about then when we return from NNY.

Tomorrow afternoon Liam and I start our long trek. We’ll be going to a friend’s house tomorrow, as they will be carting us to the airport at the crack of dawn on Tuesday. So the next post will probably be Wednesday, from my parents house in NNY. Don’t expect too much, however. They have dial up and I don’t have the patience to deal with uploading oodles of pictures at that speed. Yes, it’s true. There are still people in the world with dial up. Don’t judge them; pity them. And bear witness to the greatness that is ADSL. Oh, and don’t be too smug about it. Most of you all are still riding the Windows bandwagon. Jesse and I are trying very hard not to judge you for that.

The first half week.

So, the first three days of the USAF senior NCO academy are over. It’s the first class of this fiscal year, and there are something like 450 students in it. The class is broken up into 30 flights, or homerooms. I am in flight 30 (started in flight 17, but got moved on day one, no idea why).

I think up to this point we’ve had 5 or six hours of actual academic training. The rest has been orientation and the like. Today we took our preliminary fitness test. I didn’t do as well on the run here as in Belgium a week ago, which I thought was strange. Yesterday was a two hour pre-test (possibly the same test as the final exam here) which we will never know the results of. We were told the idea was for the school to be able to measure what we didn’t know when we came against what we know when we leave. I’m not pleased to give that much time to a test to not get feedback on what I could use more study on.

Walking the Bear

Today, in preparation for Liam and me leaving the country next week, Meisje went to stay with a couple of our friends. As I was collecting her leashes, bowls, and toys, Liam took a fancy to one of the leashes and wanted to play with it. So I found a stuffed animal he never plays with and put a collar and leash on it. Who knew that this would buy me hours of peace and quiet?

Now, I gave this to him inside to play with; however, as he is the master of all doors in our house they were quickly strolling around the back yard.

Yes, I know it is a white stuffed animal. Well, it was a white stuffed animal.

No photos, please! Can’t you give me some privacy?!

One of the things I like most about taking a walk is the time alone to contemplate. Doesn’t he look deep in thought? I wonder what’s going on in his mind…
Why is the sky blue?
What would it have been like to talk with Plato?
How can I bend Mommy to my will?

Single Parenthood

It sucks. It really, really sucks. I think Liam has really begun to figure out that Jesse is gone, and as a result he’s acting pretty insecure. (sorry, J, not trying to make you feel bad. just telling it like it is.) He doesn’t want me more than two feet away from him, and he doesn’t want me reading or doing dishes or laundry or anything — I should be watching him, and preferably holding his hand at all times. We’ve had a number of tantrums over the last few days, and they’ve all been much more intense than his normal act. It’s worst around suppertime, when I have to do something other than cuddle and pay constant attention to him.

As long as I’m right there giving him one-on-one, though, he’s pretty sweet. AND he’s even more affectionate than usual. I’ve been getting double the amount of hugs and kisses. So there are some tradeoffs, I guess.

Just in the last few days he’s started mimicking lots of animal sounds while reading some of his books. He’ll “moo,” and “baa,” and “honk” and so forth. He’s also started making his toy cows “graze,” meaning he’s mashing their faces into the floor and making chewing/smacking noises for them.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m beat, what with keeping up with Liam, keeping up with the house, and preparing to take off next Tuesday. I’ll leave you with one of the few photos I was able to get today. This is Liam playing with his toy digger.

Picture of the Day

While Jesse is gone, I’m trying to post at least one pic a day of Liam for him. So you all get to benefit as well! The photo essay below doesn’t count, as those pics were taken a week or two ago, and J had already seen them.

Why is he standing on the book? I have no idea. He was being goofy, clowning around for the camera. So he decided to walk over, very carefully position himself with both feet on the book, and start dancing. It was hilarious.

A Room with a View

A few weeks ago, our living room was over run with toys. And our sun porch was over run with spiderwebs. So I decided to turn the room into a play room for Liam and reclaim some “grown-up” space in the house. After settling the spiders in their new home (inside the vacuum) this is what I came up with:

The toolbench was a gift from Grandma Bonnie last year. Yes, it’s blocking the door, but that’s a good thing. I want to control the one exit point so I know where Liam is. Otherwise, he’ll be hitchhiking his way into town before we know it.

Here’s Liam standing in front of his toybox. The first day he fell headfirst into it — twice — but since has managed to figure out a way to reach the toys on the bottom without up-ending himself.

Our old dining set is now serving as the art corner. Liam has a love/hate relationship with paint. At times he is fascinated by it and loves smacking his hands into a plateful; other times he’ll cry pitifully when I attempt to get him to dip his pinky.

What a fool I was to buy special art paper!!!! This is a paper grocery bag, obviously, and works perfectly well for the purpose. This particular piece was made when Liam was having a *good paint* moment. About two minutes after he finished, he decided he HATED PAINT OH MY GOD GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF!!!!!!!!!

We made a caterpillar out of egg cartons. What, you’ve never seen a caterpillar like that? Listen, I’m not Van Gogh. I’m doing the best I can.

This shot shows some of Liam’s artwork on display, as well as some nifty storage of oodles of annoying plastic toys that would otherwise be all over the place. The window faces in to our dining room.

I think he’s pretty happy with the arrangement, don’t you?

Liam hams it up for the camera

Remember when I posted that it was quite difficult to get good pictures of Liam, as he kept trying to chase me down and grab the camera? Well, he still does that, but there are times when he’ll actually pose and cooperate…

sort of. Mom asked for a photo of Liam’s stuffed rabbit for a project she is working on for his Christmas. What follows is my attempt to get a picture of Liam and Peter, the bunny. Note that these are the pics that survived the cut. The other dozen or so were too blurry to use, as he was throwing himself backward on the couch every time I asked him to look at the camera.

Here’s one of him caught in mid-hurl. You can tell he’s enjoying himself, but doesn’t it kind of look like he has a rabid rabbit going for his throat?
(like the alliteration in that one? I have a degree in English, you know.)

Nice one, if you can excuse the peanut butter in the corner of his mouth and the rather cheesy grin he has on his face.

This one reminds me of a slide of my cousin Jason as a child. He had been asked to pose with the dog. So he sat on the dog. I asked Liam to sit in his rocking chair with the bunny. You can just make out the bunny’s tail and one foot in the chair. It must run in the family.

I said, “show me the bunny.” He did.

A shot of Peter alone, so as to provide one that can actually be useful to Mom. Doesn’t he look soft? Truly, this is the softest, sqooshiest, most real-feeling stuffed animal I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Kees and Ingrid!

Liam goes incognito in hopes of losing the paparazzi.

Actually IN Ala-freaking-bama

Well, the trip yesterday was uneventful and long. But, I got here without too much trouble. Karena’s big suitcase got a bit damaged (one of the feet got cracked), but everything made it with me at least.

The room, though decent, has it’s faults. The bed must be queen sized, and they tried to put a full sized fitted sheet to it. Stupid. Looks like I’ll find housekeeping tomorrow and get a regular flat sheet. The internet connection is oviously workinng, and it seems to work quite well. Except, I think the system charged me a couple extra times after I reconfigured my wireless adaptor for the new location. I’ll get that sorted at the front desk when I hunt down housekeeping.

Tomorrow will be to locate the exchange and commissary to stock up. I found the chow hall and the school. So now I just have to settle in to the routine and plow through this course.

How was MY day?!

Well, I woke up at 5:30AM to take Jesse to the airport. It took two hours and fifteen minutes to make what should have been an hour-long trip. Goodbyes were said. Maybe I even cried. Then Liam and I were back on the road for the hour and a half trip home.

Lucky we made it when we did, as the septic-sucking guys who were supposed to show up in the afternoon were buzzing the doorbell about half an hour after we got home. Dog barks ferociously, Liam cries hysterically and runs shrieking for his mommy. I direct them to the garage doors, where I am unable to find a key for either of the back doors out of the garage. Jesse’s at 3000 feet by then, so I can’t consult with him. So I have to bring them and their sucking hose through the house. They work, they leave. An hour later, repeat door-buzzing scene. It’s the landlord, come to meet the septic-sucking guys so I don’t have to deal with them. I hand him the bill. He hands me a bag filled with six huge heads of lettuce — because the ten he gave us a week ago must be long gone by now.

Fast forward to this evening. Liam has settled peacefully to sleep, and I am about to begin the project I have set for myself during Jesse’s absence — the painting of the dining room. I prepare tools. I move furniture. I slosh out to the garden shed to retrieve the step ladder. I then spend five minutes trying to pry open a can of paint. You know how the top on a can of paint sort of looks like it has an inner ring and an outer ring? You want to pry on the outer ring. I know this… now. Perhaps I should have seen this as a sign of things to come and given up then. But no, I am sick of the peachy color of those walls and I am anxious to prove myself a great interior decorator through the project. Once the lid is pried off I see a beautiful soft yellow color. Perfect. I stir. It’s goopy. I stir more. Goop, goop, goop. Is the paint bad? How do I know? I didn’t have goopy paint when I painted Liam’s room, but that was good (read: expensive) paint and this is — well, not. We’ve had the paint sitting around for some time. Maybe it’s separated beyond the point of use? I take a brush and splodge some on one of the walls. Too thin to be of any use. It looks — horrible. Sadistically, I try a few more strokes. Maybe if I stir some more… About a quarter of one of the walls in the dining room is now a half-hearted yellow. I gave up.

But, I refuse to be bested by this. And I refuse to leave another project poorly done and/or incomplete for Jesse to redo/finish when he gets back. I found some advice online that says to tip the can upside down for at least fifteen minutes, pry it open, and then stir like the dickens for at least five minutes. Any other suggestions? Maybe I should put it in the blender. (I’m half-kidding about that one.) Seriously, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Aside from all that, our first day without Jesse went okay. Liam was good. I don’t expect him to realize Daddy is gone for a day or two, as he’s used to Jesse working shift work and not being around for days on end. The dog however, senses something is up. She’s already in mourning. As for me, I miss my husband. Luckily, however, when Liam’s awake there isn’t much time to think about it. The evenings will drag, though, hence the project. Maybe I should buy new paint?