Thursday, August 30, 2007


i'm thirty five weeks pregnant today. five weeks until the due date. two weeks until i'm officially considered "full term." one week until mom gets here.

i'm nervous and excited and scared and ready and completely NOT ready all at the same time. a friend of mine has loaned me a book about childbirth which has lots of encouraging stories in it. i'm actually a little surprised that i'm reading it, since i NEVER read books on loan from friends. but for the first time, i've started to realized i CAN do this.

well, for one thing, i HAVE to do this. no going back now!

but, when you stop to think of all the ways your body prepares for this moment, all the ways in which it makes way for this baby to come out and the baby prepares for that journey, it's really amazing. my body was made to do this. i've taken to patting my belly and telling Caleb that we can do this together. that all he has to do is get in the best position possible and i'll do everything i can to make it the easiest journey out possible. we're in this together, i tell him.
i can't wait to meet him!

i'm feeling SUPER pregnant this week. large, clumsy and uncomfortable. i tried to chase my dogs around the park the other day, and i'm sure i looked like a lumbering elephant. after about one minute, i was exhausted. i really hate the two flights of stairs in our three story town house right now. HATE them. and i really wish i had a doggy door for the dogs to let themselves out.

my sleep is back to it's bizarre state of constant interruption that it was before i was pregnant. between frequent bathroom trips and a resurgence of old skool kelly dreams, i have been waking up more times than i care to admit. last night i woke up at least three times to address people in my dreams. i even turned on my bedside lamp to help one of the people in my dreams find something in my room. i woke up two hours later with the light still on. i don't know if they ever found what they were looking for.

next friday is my last day of work. i've decided not to return to work right away. maybe some time next year. we'll see. on the one hand, who doesn't look forward to a final day of work every time the alarm goes off in the morning? on the other hand, i like the routine and the income and i'll miss my coworkers. it's strange to not know when i'll ever get a paycheck again. i like contributing to our income.

so here we are, not too far from the finish line. i can't believe how close it is already and how many changes my body and this baby have gone through. i can't believe i've housed a growing human for thirty five weeks in my womb. i can't believe that soon i'll get to see his tiny face and hold him in my arms. i can't believe i'll be responsible for making him the best possible Caleb Kazmierski.

i can't believe how lucky i am.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What can go wrong, will.

So here is the timeline of AAFES frustrations:

June 3rd - Purchased futon and futon mattress for mom to sleep on when she vomes and ordered a crib and dresser/changing table combo at the AAFES Furniture Store on RAF Feltwell. The furniture store agrees to hold onto the futon and mattress until the crib and dresser come in for one delivery. They say the crib and dresser will be in in about 6-8 weeks.

July 31st - Eight weeks has passed. No word on the crib and dresser. I call the Furniture Store and am informed that the crib has arrived, but the dresser has not. They estimated it will be in in a couple of weeks.

August 14th - Two more weeks have passed. I call the furniture store and am informed that the dresser is now out of stock from the shipper. They don't know when it will be in. It could be as late as Christmas. There are eight people on the waiting list for this dresser.

August 15th - I actually go out to the Furniture Store to see if there are any other crib and dressers in stock that I can buy in place of the ones I've ordered. There's nothing. Just two really ugly cribs, and another crib with a dresser/changing table attached that is currently out of stock. So I'd have to order it. And wait another 6-8 weeks. I agree to keep the original dresser on order, pay for the crib, along with a vanity I see while I'm there. I set up deliver for the crib, vanity, futon and futon mattress for the next week.

August 19th - I have to go back out to the Furniture Store because instead of charging me for the crib and vanity, they have charged me for the futon and mattress. Again. I've already paid for these things...back in June. Get everything straightened out and accurately paid for, and confirm delivery for Tuesday on all paid-for peices.

Today - I had to take an entire unpaid day off of work, which was not easy, to wait for the delivery. They won't even tell you if it'll be an afternoon or morning delivery. They just tell you to be available from 8 am to 6 pm. So I wait. And wait. And wait. I check my receipts a hundred times to make sure the correct address is on there and that there is a contact number in case they can't find the house. In my gut, I just know something will go wrong.

3:15 pm - The delivery guys finally show up. I open the door to see the crib and the vanity. No futon. No futon mattress. The delivery guys (who are contracted out and don't actually work for AAFES) know nothing about a futon or mattress. They bring in the crib and vanity, and leave. I scream and stomp up and down the stairs for a few minutes. Then I call the Furniture Store, nearly in hysterics, explaining that I had to take an unpaid day off and wait all day for this delivery just to get half of my order. "It should have been there," says Dave. "I KNOW it should have been here. I paid for it. But it's not here, " I explain. Dave says he'll research the matter and call me right back.

Luckily, Dave is a wise man and realizes he's dealing with a hysterical pregnant lady who's about to be pushed to the brink. He calls back ten minutes later to find out how to get to my house and personally sends out two AAFES warehouse workers to deliver the futon to my house. By 4:45, I have received all of my order.

Well, except for the dresser/chaning table. But we'll have to wait a few months on that anyway. Assuming it actually does come in at all. At this point, I just have to pretend it will.

But the crib is finally here. Once I get some help putting it together, I can start decorating the nursery. And the futon is finally here, so mom will have somewhere to sleep when she gets here in a couple of weeks. And hopefully the dresser will come some time down the road. It'll all come together, sooner or later. But boy, they sure don't make it easy on you, do they? Sheesh.

International Living

I'm sitting at home this morning waiting for AAFES to deliver the baby's crib and a futon and mattress I ordered so my mom will have somewhere to sleep when she gets here. It's all starting to come together, finally! Well, the dresser/changing table won't be here for a few months, but what can you do? I just can't wait to get the crib here and built so I can bring out the baby bedding and start making the nursery look like a nursery! Currently it's a mostly empty room with two wardrobes and a crib mattress in the corner.

My mom and I were talking about our time in Italy recently. When people ask me how it was to live at Aviano, I always wax nostalgic and remember golden afternoons of walking to Lindy's house and picking figs along the way, traipsing around the hills just below the Dolomite mountains we lived below, and school field trips to places like Venices, Florence and even a journalism conference in Germany. Military members and their families always want to know what other bases are like, and I always tell them, "I'd go back in a heartbeat. I'd PAY the military to send me there!"

And it's true. But talking to my mom the other night, I realized that going to Italy now would be drastically different than living there the first time. Of course, I knew it would be different. I mean, I'm not in high school any more, and none of the people I knew still live there (well, except for Lisa, but she's moving to Turkey soon! And Lindy's parents, but even they are retiring!) But as I was talking about the inconveniences of international living, and my mom was listing all the things that were huge hassles for her to deal with. I realized that all of the things that drive me crazy about living in the UK would, for the most part, be true of Italy, too.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying my experience here so far. I'd be enjoying it even more if I could do some more traveling, but it's tricky to plan trips when you're pregnant and alone. But there are things about America that I really miss, like electrical plugs in the bathroom for your hair dryer or flat iron, or a means of venting your clothes dryer that doesn't involve dragging it out to the middle of the kitchen and leading the vent hose out the window.

At the same time, these are what make up this experience. If it was convenient and comfortable, it might as well be the States. Learning to live without air conditioning and figuring out what to do when an ambulence comes cruising up the road is what makes this international living. It's what makes this interesting and challenging.

I'm looking forward to my husband's return so we can take day and weekend trips around the UK. There's so much more of London that I still want to see, and I can't wait to make it to Bath and Brighton, among other places. But there's plenty of time for all of that. We're eight months into a four year tour. I don't want to spend the next 40 months looking forward to going back to the states and miss out on all of the opportunities over here. I want to make memories and take pictures and come home with a toddler who calls soccer football. So maybe it hasn't been the easiest assignment yet. But here's to making it a rich a rewarding experience all the same.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mrs. Clean

i have two polar opposite tendancies when it comes to cleaning. i can be a complete and lazy slob who won't touch her dishes for days and won't clean the house for weeks. and then suddenly, and unexpectantly, Clean Kelly wakes up, and in a terror of concentrated energy, will tackle not only the dishes and house cleaning, but any other project that's been on the backburner for months.

i like Clean Kelly. she's a little psycho about the cleanliness, but i wish she'd be around more often.

when i was younger, the trifecta of cleanliness was to go to bed in clean pajamas on clean sheets in a clean bedroom. it was a lovely, if rare, peice of heaven.

these days, there is one more element that completes the quadfecta (is that a word?) of cleanliness: clean dogs. so tonight i will be hitting the sack in freshly washed pajamas on freshly washed sheets in a clean house...AND with freshly bathed dogs!

i was so ambitious today. i cleaned the house, did all of my laundry (not just washing and folding...but putting it away, too!), did poop and weed patrol in the back yard, cleaned out the dogs crate, AND gave the Z's a bath. how motivated was i?! seriously, i deserve an award!

i wish i knew how to bottle this concentrated energy and motivation. if i could somehow come up with a motivation pill, i'm sure i'd make millions. or at least finally finish the wedding scrapbook i've been "working on" for over three years now! that thing is truly the bane of my existence. i NEED to put it behind me.

maybe the next time Clean Kelly wakes up, she'll bring Creative Kelly with her. surely there is a team that cannot be stopped!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

the curse of military friends

(cross-posted from my myspace blog. originally posted on Sunday, July 15th.)

the older i get, the harder i find it is to make friends. without the mandatory social settings of school, youth group and the like, it's difficult to connect with people on anything other than a superficial level.

and yet, i've found myself really blessed to have found some fun people here in the UK early in our tour. naturally, the first couple tommy and i became friends with left this month. i miss josh and michelle and eflie! but i've been able to hang out with some coworkers that are really fun. and even more exciting is discovering old friends in new places.

recently i found an old friend of mine on myspace. kristy was one of my closest friends in jr. high, back when my dad was stationed at Tinker AFB in OKC. we kept in touch for years after we left OK, but lost touch about the time i graduated high school. i was thrilled to find her on myspace, and even more excited to discover that she and her husband are stationed right here in the UK, on the same base where i work!

and while it's great to rediscover old friends and start the process of making new ones, there's a nagging feeling in the back of my mind which has never been there before.

i've heard non-military members discuss why they don't want to become friends with military members and dependents, "because they are just going to leave!" but i've never been bitten by that bug. inevitable PCS's (permanent change of stations - mil speak for moving) have never really been a thought in my mind when getting to know people in the military.

but when you live overseas, if there is one date you know, it's your DEROS (Date Eligible for Return From Overseas – the date you're schedule to head back to the states.) unlike CONUS (continental US) assignments, OCONUS (overseas) assignments have tour lengths. our tour is four years. of course things can change, and people can extend. but most people live by that DEROS. I know people who have countdowns to their DEROS on their myspace profiles!

as exciting as it is when you first find out you're coming to the UK, it's just as exciting to think about returning to the states and seeing your family and eating a giant Joey Bag of Doughnuts burrito at Moe's. no matter how cosmopolitan and worldly you pretend to be, the bottom line is, you're still American, and you miss the convenience of a 24 hour Wal-Mart, no matter how much you hate to shop there.

so when you make military friends in the states, a part of you hopes they'll be around a long time, even though it's highly unlikely. but when you make friends overseas, you have that firm deadline when you know they'll be leaving. its a dark cloud on the horizon you pretend to ignore. having just recently arrive in the UK, i haven't met anyone with a DEROS later than ours yet. we'll be the last ones standing. and while i know there will be more people to come and fill the ranks, a small piece of me can't help but already mourn the loss of people i've just met.

of course, if I let each and every DEROS prevent me from making friends and living life, i'll just become a hermit whose only friends are my husband (whose gone most of the time anyway) and my dogs (who are very friendly and comforting, but aren't very good conversationalists.) it's an unfortunate but very real part of military life: people will leave. you will leave.

fortunately, we live in a comfortable time where the internet and places like myspace make it much easier to stay in touch with our friends and acquaintances, but that doesn't really lessen the initial sting of departure. all you can do is make the most of the time you have and hope to run into them sooner our later.

silent night

(cross-posted from my myspace blog. originally posted on Friday, July 27th.)

there comes a time in a deployment when (from a spouse's perspective) life falls into an easy, dull rhythm that makes time pass until your husband returns. you find a nice pattern of waking, working, taking care of the house and dogs, and going back to sleep. there's the quiet, constant ache of missing your best friend, but it's a chronic pain that can be medicated with business, distraction and numerous phone calls or IMs with family and friends.

but there are times during a deployment when one night can feel interminable. this can be preceded by a bad day or week, leaving the wound of your husband's absence exposed and feeling as fresh as the day he first left. this is understandable, as your emotional antibodies are weakened by the stresses of life wearing down your mental defenses.

and yet there are times when the ache arises unannounced, with no preceding warnings of bad days or missed phone calls. there are times when the unshakable sadness of being alone creeps up on you so unexpectedly that you are completely unprepared to deal with it. on nights like that, the few hours between work and sleep can stretch on for years. the silence of the house fills every void in your mind and body until you can hear nothing else. no amount of phone calls back home or television or internet or reading can distract you from the sense that, despite how well you've been doing, this just plain sucks.

i miss my husband.

this has been a long deployment so far, and we're not even half-way done. on nights like this, i look back at the naive girl who barely batted an eye when her boyfriend, on one knee in the Jacksonville airport, asked her if she was prepared for all the baggage that came with being a military wife. i thought my experience of growing up a military brat would prepare me for this lifestyle as a spouse. and while i do feel it has given me a better understanding of the general workings of military life, understanding and experiencing it are, of course, two different things. i knew it wouldn't be easy, but there was really no way to know how hard it would be.

tomorrow i'll wake up and be fine. it's supposed to be a sunny weekend. i have a hair and nail appointment, and may stop in Bury St Edmunds to check out the market and Mothercare. it's been a while since I've done anything off base or out of my house. i need to remind myself there is life off of military installations.

but tonight i'm reminded that it's okay to miss my husband, and to truly feel his absence. i couldn't live like this every day. i'd be a mess. but every now and again, i need to feel his absence to truly appreciate how wonderful it will be when he returns. i can't wait to have him back, to get to see his face the first time he sees our child. i can't wait to have my best friend here to make me smile and drive me nuts.

so tonight, i'll let myself have the indulgence of being truly, deeply sad that he is gone. because i know how fortunate i am to know he'll be coming home soon. and that's enough.