Friday, August 28, 2009

Iraq Bundles of Love

Anyone out there a sewer or knitter? I'm a little late to this party but there's an amazing soldier in Iraq who is organizing a donation project to provide supplies to Iraq - bundles of fabric, thread, other notions, yarn - whatever. I KNOW if you sew you have fabric lying around and this is an amazing way to pass it along to someone who needs it.

One point: he's leaving Iraq pretty soon so you need to jump on this right away. Please make sure your box is postmarked by September 7th (that's a week from Monday so probably aim for Friday as the last day to ship it). Also, he's trying to get this done for Ramadan and the 7th is the last day to get things over there before Ramadan ends. I understand he's trying to set up a way to keep the project going even after he heads home but for now try to get things over there as soon as possible. He has nice detailed instructions for making up a bundle here on his blog: INSTRUCTIONS and a post on what to include right here: WHAT TO SEND. Finally, just leave him a comment on any post anywhere on his blog and he'll send you the address to ship to - you'll be shipping at reduced rates thanks to the APO address (he doesn't want the address on the internet since it is a time-sensitive program so I'll let him get it to you).

International folks: Check out his post here on an option for shipping.

I love this whole idea - giving the sort of stuff that no one thinks about but that can make such an enormous difference. Oh, and if you want to tuck anything else in, like small stuffed animals or something I'm pretty sure that would be okay too. I think probably no food, and (he insists) nothing for him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Child 1 whizzed through for one last weekend. It had been gone just long enough to make us all go, 'oh yes, THAT'S what it's like having another body around the house' a bit but not so long that having it back felt strange. Of course it was only here for the blink of an eye - a few meals here and there, a visit to its Grandparents, a single load of laundry and off again.

I dropped it at the airport for one of those modern goodbyes. It seems ridiculous to do the hugging and last wording part at home but at the airport it's all exhaust fumes and patrolling security guards and impatient cars so it was given a kiss and half a hug and sent on its way. I didn't even have time to watch it go through the doors; it was gone in no time anyway without even a backwards glance.

So now Child 3 and I can actually settle into The Way Things Are Now. For the past three weeks there were still belongings scattered and drawers half full. Child 3 was half moved from one room and into another waiting on that final visit.

We know it will be back of course. The internship is only until January, and although it's going to find a place of its own it will also be around for dinner now and then. But there is a door-shut sort of feeling at the moment, a lovely feeling that Child 1 has happily ended the small, play-house world of being a kid.

It's very nice of it not to have left us all behind there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Child 2

Ah... Child 2.

Does Senioritis translate? The strange illness that besets students towards the end of their studies - lack of motivation, general malaise, marked antipathy to the school/teachers/administration/school system/evil parents who have put them in this situation? Maybe it's an Americanism but I'm going to bet that the disease is universal.

Child 2 had it last year.

Had it bad.

Had it so bad its fingernails itched with it, it's skin crawled at the very thought of studying.

Which, what with the kinda, sorta need to... I don't know... TURN THINGS IN... produced a bit of angst. In fact, the last semester of Child 2's high school career was, erm, tense.

I would be the lowest sort of hypocrite if I didn't say at once that I behaved eggzackly the same way my senior year, flitting through classes, ignoring little things like attendance and assignments and the simple need to PASS in order to graduate. There was, however, one rather startling difference.

Child 2, apparently for a number of months, had been giving serious thought and consideration to What Happens Next. I was more of the 'neener-neener, I can't hear you' school of thought and blithely ignored little things like college admissions or employment.

Not Child.

University, it reasoned, was something it was not yet ready for. Employment with only a high-school diploma and a set of skills heavy on the rhetorical side but light on the practical, was going to be an issue. Child knew it was facing a year or two of minimum wage jobs that were, however necessary, likely to be menial and unfufilling.

But, and here's the bit that really amazes me, Child didn't stop there, the obvious stopping place which would have resulted in three weeks of sulking and then a scramble to land a fry cook spot at the Greasy Pit down the road. It wanted to do something to earn its way into university, to actually learn some reasonable skills and get some valuable experience AND it wanted a job that would, in its own words, be something important, something meaningful.

Does anyone see where this is going? Because I didn't. It's obvious now, but at the time, and knowing Child 2? Nope, totally blindsided me.

It went to talk to the military recruiters.

Which meant it had to take the basic entrance exam, the one everyone has to take, the one that neatly sorts people into job categories. Now, this isn't the most difficult test in the world, but it does include two sections that Child is, sadly, not terribly qualified to take: automotivey stuff and practical engineery type stuff. The rest is easy peasy maths and reading comp and things. And Child? The Child who wasn't, apparently, up to the difficult task of writing up a two paragraph response to a short story?

Child got a perfect score. Didn't miss a thing - not even the bits that asked about throttles and spark plugs and widgets and things. I have no idea how it pulled it off.

So the recruiters's eyes got all misty and shiny and I forcibly pulled Child into each and every office (talk to them ALL and see who has the best offer) and it was agreed that basically the military would be delighted to have Child doing any job - any job at all that it wanted.

What it wanted was to learn a language and go through the rather rigorous school in Monterey. Which meant another exam, far more difficult, and another extremely impressive result, and while I'm sort of flapping my hands aimlessly and bleating, 'but you don't HAVE to do anything if you don't want to...' Child is calmly and steadily qualifying itself to do exactly what it wants.

Which is why, exactly one week before Child 1 left for its road trip, we all went downtown to the same building where I said goodbye to Kirk over 20 years before and Child, a little pale but confident and determined, stood in a little room and took an oath. And then it flew away.

By choice, right now in Texas, it's facing some of the things it has struggled with terribly in the last year: it will be doing new things under pressure, strangers will be scrutenizing its every move, it will have no privacy, no quiet time, no escape. Before it left I pushed it to run every day, to do push ups and sit ups and anything else I could think of that might arm it just a little bit for what is to come, both of us worrying far more about all the things it couldn't prepare itself for.

It's called twice now, sounding miles and miles away. The run is doing okay, it says, the push ups and sit ups coming easily now. It boasted a bit about being toned and in shape, joked that the only muscles out of use would be for smiling. The words tumbled out though, about how it had been made dorm chief and was responsible for a gaggle of other recruits, about how it worried about them, fussed over them, folded their socks and gave them pep talks. It spoke about how it had learned that if you hate failure you have to figure out how to do things right. It sounded confident, older... different.

It's strange to have this Child, this Child who put off growing up for so very long, suddenly running so far ahead of me. It's strange to know that there are things now, and will always be, that I can't share anymore, that I will have to be an outsider to.

It's strange, but it's wonderful too.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Child 1

[Yes, the order imposed by the list in the previous post is not only going to be violated, it's going to be thrown on the floor and stomped on]

Some time during the last academic year I noticed, as I wandered blithely through the University campus, colorful posters enticing innocent young to attend a meeting. Normally I'm extremely dubious about these as they are usually of the, "come and see just how much money we're going to charge you to have what we're pleased to call a 'life experience!'" This one, though, had that magic word, "employment" on it. So I stole one of the posters and shoved it under Child 1's bleary eyes (for my mother: I stole one of thousands, there were at least five more in eye sight. Also it was replaced by the end of the day by some poster minion. Technically it's still theft but my blackened soul doesn't even twinge a little bit).

Child 1 brightened a bit at the thought of gainful employment that meant a) missing school and b) spending months in a state that actually boasts a real genuine beach*. It managed to get itself to the informational meeting AND fill out the online application and then we both assumed that it wouldn't hear for months and months if ever and that was that. You know, one of those things that would be very nice if it happened but is so terribly unlikely you don't want to dwell on it**.

Only it was contacted within a couple of weeks, and asked to have a telephone interview. And then it was, to our great surprise, offered a job - a job at the better of the two facilities. We sort of stood around all gobsmacked for a while until one of us (me) realized the other of us (Child) had better do a few things about insuring its scholarship wasn't roughly pulled out from under it, lining up plane tickets, figuring out logistics and the like.

Of course, the actual start date was months and months away. So far away that it was, once again, in the realm of the mythical.

Right up until about last month when I realized my baybee, my first-born, my own Child what I reared myself by hand, was LEAVING. As in going away for months and months and, here's the tricky bit, kinda sorta not coming back. Because we both agreed that this was a good moment to sort of make that first, desperate, wing-flapping leap out of the nest, and that when it finished its internship it would be finding a house/apartment and living on its own.

So Child, a few weeks ago, made its last sugary coffee beverage, stuffed half its bedroom into two suitcases and flung itself into a friend's car for a month-long road trip before facing the grim world of full employment and self-sufficiency.

It will be back for three days*** and then it boards a plane and realio-trulio heads out on its own.

It didn't even have the common decency to sniffle as it went out the door.

*Our town does claim a "beach" but as it is a) man made, b) less than 100 yards long [well, any one bit of it] and c) freshwater and full of stocked, farm-reared fish I refuse to even consider it. However, I do think it's funny that one may purchase postcards showing a tan young person surfing a ginormous wave with, "greetings from [local] beach!" in large, unconvincing lettering across the front.

**mythical events such as, say, a labor department actually doing what it is supposed to do...

*** During which time it is meant to take a hike with a friend, complete the "cleaning" it supposedly did of its room (into which its sibling moved the very evening it departed), visit all of its dear friends and relations and re-pack its belongings for the flight out.

NB - this internship may just require that Child 1 greet all and sundry with a sunny smile and the injunction to, "Have a Magical Day!" If this were Child 2 we're all agreed that there would be blood and mayhem within three days. However, Child 1 will not only willingly do this, it will MEAN IT.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Sorry! I'll respond to comments and emails in a bit but I wanted to break the silence before it got so thick I couldn't manage it.

Things I would have posted about if I didn't need to write that last post but now I can post about once I start posting again (which I have. Started I mean):

  • Child 2!
  • Child 1! (slightly less exclamation marky than Child 2, but still pretty markish)
  • Holidays, the taking thereof
  • Child 3, the interesting logic thereof
  • The Falafel King (no, really)
  • How Movies in Theatres Are Evil and (related) How My Darling Children Mock Me
  • (added) Totally Genuine Text Exchange, or: Why My Family Gets Odd Looks in Public

See, life has gone on rather a lot, it's just that this darn claim and the labor department and the legal implications and all of that gafuffle has rather drowned it out - at least bloggily speaking.

However, I'm back now, and primed with excellent blog fodder (see above).

I know you're all delighted.