Friday, January 30, 2009

Good morning, sun.

Well, shoot.

Apparently I accidentally changed the time on my alarm clock last night when I was trying to set it. Because instead of getting up at 5:45 this morning, I got up at 4:45. Only I didn't realize this until I had already showered, gotten dressed, done my hair and make up, woke up Caleb and gotten him dressed to.


Anyway, I've been wanting to updated my blog for a bit, but frankly haven't had the time. I guess this is what it'll take to get it updated these days, accidentally waking up early.

Which brings me to an important question. Which is worse: accidentally waking up early, or accidentally sleeping in? If you wake up early and don't realize it until too late, you can't go back to bed and have to find something else to fill your time. On the other hand, you can try and get stuff done and actually have breakfast for once.

If you sleep in, you generally wake up in a panic, try to get all your normal stuff done in a tiny amount of time, and probably get in trouble for showing up to work late (depending on how late you sleep.) But on the other hand, you also managed to sneak in a little extra sleep. Although I suppose you lose the gratification for extra sleep in the panic of trying to get ready. So I guess waking up early is better.

Okay, back to updates. Work is going well. I feel very comfortable back in my old job and my new coworkers have been great. I like being the part-time teller because I get some half days here and there, which allows me to run errands and try to do homework.

Caleb is adjusting well to day care. He had a rough first week, but I suppose that is normal. Yesterday the teacher said he had a really good day. He only cried when we dropped him off and not at all the rest of the day. In fact yesterday was the first day he didn't cry when I picked him up. He was at the window playing with a toy, and when he heard my voice, he turn around with a huge smile and ran up to me with open arms! Ahhhh! I LOVED it! The teachers all say what a good eater he is (really, the boy can pack it away!) although he still getting used to his new napping schedule. (He goes down about 3 hours earlier than he's used to.) I do find that he goes to bed MUCH easier than he used to. No fussing or crying. I put him in bed and give him a kiss, and he says, "Ni ni!" and rolls over and goes to sleep! Awesome!

School is...going. It's harder than I anticipated staying on top of my school work now that I'm back to work. I didn't calculate the fact that I'd have to go to bed a lot earlier than I'm used to, which cuts into my homework time. So I'm trying to make the best of my half days and catch up. Although I think it'll be another week or two before I'm really back on top of my game. In the mean time, all I can do is try my best to accomplish a little every night. I keep reminding myself I only have one more class and then my comps (comprehensive exams) in June and I'll be done. Not much longer now.

So that's about it! Well, now it's time for me to brush my teeth and get on my way. Hope you have a great day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Two Years

This will be a quick one, because I'm technically doing homework. No, really! I am! Promise. But every student needs a break now and again, right?

So, yesterday was our 2 year anniversary in England. I know this because I wrote it on my calendar. I'm a nerd about remembering things like that. I always privately observe work anniversaries, even small ones. I wish my dogs a happy birthday every year. (Incidentally, I'm late this year. Zeus and Zoey turned 6 on January 12th. Happy Birthday, poochies!) And yesterday, I did take a moment to remember our arrival in England two years ago.

I can still vividly remember getting off the plane into Gatwick airport and thinking, "Oh. This is it?" (Gatwick, and Heathrow for that matter, are rather ugly airports. Give me Atlanta or Detroit any day. Gatwick and Heathrow can go join Chicago O'Hare in the ugliest airport category.) I remember the two hour bus ride from the airport to the base and being so excited that I was finally in England. The country side looked so English! The sky was so gray! The air was so damp! And at that time, I thought that was quaint and exciting! In fact, it all was. Driving on the other side of the road, paying in pounds, learning to dial international numbers. It was all so exciting.

Of course, two years later, the excitement is gone. But in its place is a comfortable feeling that this is my home for now. It won't always be, but it is for now. And so I get frustrated that the intersection near my house isn't a roundabout. (Honestly, there's so much traffic for the high school I can't get out some mornings. Dear council, put in a roundabout!) And I know where the speed cameras are and to pay and display at most car parks. I know which radio stations are worth listening to and where to get fish and chips within walking distance. I have my own preferences when it comes to off-base shopping (hello, Tesco and Matalan!) And I'm resigned to not having a dishwasher for now and having to drag my dryer into the middle of the kitchen to vent it out the window on laundry day.

This is my home. And I'm happy. I miss the States, sure. I miss Famous Dave's and Target. I miss American Chinese food (oooh, crab rangoon, how I miss you!) I miss straight roads and adequate parking on residential roads. And mostly I miss family and friends.

But I felt really luck to be embarking on this adventure two years ago. And I still feel lucky to be hanging out in the Queen's country for a while longer. So here's to two more years of watching the original Deal or No Deal and watching American commercials dubbed over in an English accent! Cheers! (So much for a short entry, right? Okay, back to homework!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's All Coming Back, All Coming Back To Me Now..

I feel surprisingly calm tonight. What could have been a very chaotic and stressful day was pretty smooth and uneventful. And I'm so thankful for that.

Today was my first day back to work in 16 months. I had forgotten the thing I dislike the most about working isn't work itself, it's getting up early every morning and attempting to get out of the house on time. The latter part of that equation is, of course, complicated by trying to get Caleb up and ready and out of the house with me.

Caleb went to bed an hour early last night, but that didn't stop him from giving me the "What the heck are we doing up so early?" glare when I got him up at 6:20 this morning. After I got him dressed and ready, I put on Bear in the Big Blue House on TV so I could get my last minute preparations together. Thing were going well, I was on time. And then I went to put on Caleb's coat and discovered that he had engaged in a total bowel blowout that went straight through his diaper and messed up not just his shirt, but also his jeans. Typical of a first morning, right?

Well, luckily that was the biggest hiccup of the day (if you don't count the fact that I sat on the teller line for at least an hour with an open zipper. But hey, at least the customers couldn't see that!) We managed to get out on time, but not before I snapped a few pictures of my big boy on his first day of "school."

His drop off went well. He got there just in time for breakfast, I handed over his supplies and changes of clothes to the care taker, gave him a kiss and a hug, and went on my way. And I felt fine. Of course there was a twinge of sadness because I've spent the last 15 months with Caleb almost every hour of the day, and I knew I would miss him. But I didn't have the emotional meltdown I anticipated. There were a few slower times at work that I could really feel the pull of missing my baby boy, but I still managed to hold it together. (If you know how easy it is to topple my tower, emotionally speaking, you'll be impressed!)
Work itself was great! Totally like getting back on a bike. In the words of Celine Dion, "It was so long ago, but it's all coming back to me now!" I forgot a few things, but a lot of it was pretty natural. It was a steady enough day without being really busy, which was perfect for my first day back. Just enough work to give me a taste of things I had forgotten, but not so much that I got overwhelmed. And my drawer balanced! (At one point, there was real concern that it wouldn't, and I kept saying, "I won't be that teller! I won't be the teller who doesn't balance on her first day!" Luckily, we found the error, and I wasn't that teller. Stupid rolled quarters!)
Tommy picked up Caleb and we had dinner together at the bowling alley on base while we watch our new President get sworn in. I love big historic moments like inaugurations. (Incidentally, I keep accidentally calling it his "coronation," a true sign I'm living in England!) Tommy said the care giver told him Caleb had a few crying bouts throughout the day, but was generally easily distracted by a toy or activity. I'm sure it'll take some adjustment for him, but I know he'll be fine in the end.
Class was great! The teacher is genuinely funny and disarming. I really enjoyed it. There's a lot of classmates I know from previous classes, which is always fun. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. We talked about some interesting aspects of genetics and personality and coping mechanisms tonight that really got my mind working. I'd love to blog about it, but this was supposed to be a MINI-update. Ha. Right. I'm so bad at small blogs.
Anyway, I just feel so peaceful and calm right now. I'm excited about the opportunities I've taken and am looking forward to see where they take me in the next weeks and months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Back to Work I Go

Oh, boy. I'm nervous.

I'm returning to work on Tuesday for the first time since Caleb was born. And I do mean returning, as I'm going back to the credit union I worked for while I was pregnant. I'll be starting off as a part-time teller and going from there.

Caleb has a spot at the Child Development Center on base and starts the same day I go back to work. We met the assistant director and his room leader yesterday. The room he's in is so very cute and fun, and we like the two care givers we met. Caleb had a ton of fun in the 20 minutes we were there. Our orientation with the director was very reassuring. We learned a lot about the policies and procedures in place that made us feel comfortable.

I've been looking for a job for a couple of months, and now that it's happening, it feels so fast! I feel ready on one hand, and on the other hand I wonder if I'll ever be truly ready. I feel so blessed that I've been able to spend the first 15 months of Caleb's life hanging out with him every day. I know it's going to be a challenging transition to leave him at day care, probably more so for me than for him. I'm fortunate that he doesn't really seem to have any separation anxiety, so this is probably a good time for this transition. But even if this is the perfect time for this change, I know I'll probably be a blubbering mess on Tuesday morning. (And yet, I think, even if I waited until he want to Kindergarten to send him off on his own, I'd still be a blubbering mess, right?)

Anyway, I'm nervous and excited about returning to work, but most of it has to do with Caleb going into day care. It's kind of nice to be returning to a company I've already worked for, although it will certainly present its own challenges this time around. I'll be working at a different branch on a different base with different management and different coworkers. But it's nice to know I'll have a much quicker learning curve that I would have at a brand new job. I won't be completely clueless on my first day.

Knowing I'll be more comfortable on my first day of work is also reassuring because I'll be starting one of my six day on-site classes the same night. So on Caleb's' first day in day care, and my first day back at work, I'll have to clock out and go straight to class for the first four nights, and then a full day on Saturday and Sunday. Uggh. I'm not looking forward to this AT ALL. I know I'll probably go nuts, but that's just the way it's worked out, unfortunately. I just keep reminding myself that it's only 6 days long, and then I can work on getting settled in and being less crazy.

Until then, I'm trying to enjoy my last days at home with Caleb and get all my homework done for class! Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cooking with Kelly

One of my New Year's resolution is to try a new recipe each week. It really shouldn't be too hard, because I love reading blogs by people who love to cook. So far I'm on track. I've cooked Mexican Lasagna the first week and made Vodka Penna with Blackened Chicken tonight. Both recipes were really tasty and worth the effort. Here's the Mexican Lasagna.

At this point, though, I feel I should tell you that I'm not an instinctive, natural cook. I like to cook, and I love new recipes, and I think I do a pretty decent job. But I'm not someone who understands the laws of cookery and as such, I kind of screw things up sometimes. (But, hey! It's the thought that counts, right?)

Tonight I didn't really screw up the recipe so much as almost catch the kitchen on fire.

I started off innocuously enough, boiling water for the pasta. Then I preheated the oven for the blackened chicken. (By the way, next time I'll do the chicken first, since it seemed to take the longest. I seasoned the chicken, seared it for a few minutes in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, and then baked it for about 20-25 minutes. In the process, I set off the fire alarm for the second and third time this evening since I can never cook with oil and not set off the alarm. Same goes for bacon. Cooking bacon = fire alarm.)

When I began the sauce, I heated a couple of tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a pan and added a few minced cloves of garlic. (I'm all about my garlic press this week since I hacked up my index finger last week chopping garlic.) At this point, you're supposed to add a cup of vodka. I had a pre-measured cup of Finlandia waiting to be added. Well, I think I got a little to excited about cooking with alcohol, because I dumped that vodka in a little too fast. The vodka must have splashed up over the side of the pan, because the next thing I know, there were flames about a foot high coming off of my buttery garlic.

At first I thought, "Oh no! Alcohol induced flames! Well, it will die down in a moment, right?"

Not so much. The flames got higher.

At this point I panicked. I picked up the pan and started hollering for my husband. "TOMMY! FIRE! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! FIRE!" I thought about putting water on it, but then starting wondering if water would make the fire worse, as in a grease fire. So I stood stupidly in the middle of the kitchen waiting for my Knight in Pajama Pants to save the day.

(Let me take a moment to assure that Caleb was safely locked away behind the baby gate in the living room watching Imagination Movers on Playhouse Disney.)

My husband responded with the speed and clarity of a man who's worked in the military for 11 years. Immediately to my right was a sink full of cold water that I had been defrosting the chicken in just prior to my adventure in pyrotechnics. My sweet, thoughtful, and still coherent husband said, "Put it in the water!"

Put it in the water. Of course. This isn't a grease fire. It's a vodka fire. Put it in the water.

And I did. I dumped the whole darn pan of burnt buttery garlic in the sink full of water and watched the flames disappear.

And that, my friends, is why I married this man. He is rational when I am nuts (which is a large portion of the time.) He is intelligent when I've lost my mind. He is able to see the big picture when all I see are flames. (And he looks good in a uniform. That might have been another reason I married him. I can neither confirm nor deny those allegations.)

The good news is, I had more butter, more garlic and more vodka, so I was able to get back on the horse and give the recipe a try once my heart stopped pounding through my chest. And dinner turned out quite tasty (even if the blackened chicken was a bit too spicy for my tastes.) More importantly, though, I learned two valuable lessons.

1.) Vodka fires can be put out with water.
2.) When cooking with alcohol, add it slowly to avoid a fiery panic.
And now, for no other reason than because I think it's cute, here's an unrelated picture of Caleb playing pillow peek-a-boo on the futon in my office.