Sunday, July 27, 2014

Keep the Party Going

Now that all the kids are here (and my MIL is visiting), we are truly running ourselves ragged. Last weekend we went to visit 1/2 of our bff couple friends from Manila (the other 1/2 is still in the Philippines and will arrive back for home leave in a couple of weeks). Amazingly, S's mother opened her lovely Long Island home to our entire crazy family.* We spent three days hanging out at the LI shore, saw a broadway show with an iconic dinner at the Palm, then we took all 8 kids into the city for a marathon tour of NYC. We walked from Penn Station all the way up to Central Park and then all over the park before we were ready to throw in the towel and head home. It was an amazing trip with amazing people, but that drive! Oy, that drive! It took us 6 hours to get there and just shy of 8 to get back thanks to the shit show that is MD-DC-VA and its mess of totally incapable drivers. As fun as it was, I just don't think I could face that drive again.

This weekend we went to Shenandoah Valley with some other good friends from our last post. They are here for language refresher, as well, but they are headed out to post a few months ahead of us. So we were keen to try an get our families together before we head off to different parts of the globe. On our way into the park there was a notice for a blackberry festival going on at Skyline, which is about mile marker 40-something. If you've ever been to Shenandoah you know it is an enormous park and the road that goes through the park is single line and very windy. Most cars cruise at about 25-35mph, so it can be slow going. Unfortunately the blackberry festival was not quite as we had pictured it to be (we could hardly even find fresh blackberries - mostly it seemed to be a lot of local crafts), so we wasted a lot of our hiking time with travel too and from the festival because the hike we went on was back at mile marker 9! We had chosen an easy hike to a waterfall that was supposed to be a little over a mile roundtrip because our friends have two little ones and we had N with us. It turned out that the hike was rather steep, and we didn't even make it to the waterfall before N started to break down. Luckily their kids were also pretty cranky so it was a team decision to turn around and head back without catching a glimpse of the falls. Unfortunately for us, the way back was all uphill. N was close to a complete break down, so Husband grabbed him and took off for the car. I was left with A, whose little legs just could not make it up that steep path. I ended up having to have him jump on for a piggy back, and I hiked all the way back up with that 35lb ruck sack on my back! I was a sweaty mess! Luckily our friends were familiar with a local restaurant, The Apple House, whose apple doughnuts are to die for! There is a really neat looking soft serve stand next door, but we were too stuffed from lunch to try it out this time. 

After we made it back to our part of VA, I met up for dinner and drinks with my friend J who just got back to the US to begin a 2-year assignment here. It was great to catch up, and since she's just around the corner from us hopefully we'll actually get to see each other.** Today we took it easy(ish) and caught up on our food shopping. Then I took a page from my own teenage rebel days and helped C streak her hair red. It was so fun that my MIL and V also decided to get a few of their own!

*I asked multiple times because we simply could not believe that her mother was okay with us bringing 6(!!!) children to her home!
**Most of my friends working DC assignments are hardly around thanks to their long hours and long commutes (not many people can afford to leave in/near DC on what the State Department pays in base salary)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Closed For Business

It is with great sadness that I must announce the boob shop is officially closed. After I went back to work (and flipped our body schedules by exactly 12 hours) it seemed I was never able to get back on track with my supply and had to start supplementing right away. Baby N immediately displayed a preference for the fast drip of the bottle over the natural nipple and so began my battle to keep breastfeeding. It was really disheartening for me. We both shed a lot of tears out of sheer frustration (well, maybe his were more from hunger). But now that we are just shy of the 6 month mark, he has absolutely no interest in nursing anymore. It makes me feel very sad that I wasn't really able to share this special bond with him as much as I did with the other three. At least I can say that I gave it my best when I throw in the towel.

Enough with the sad stuff. I am back to insomniac sleepless nights thanks to all the other stressors currently competing for my attention, and I just don't have the energy to keep being sad about this one. Life keeps moving so quickly. T&V are already here, 4th of July has come and gone, and J already went to her first week ever of overnight camp (!!). Oh, and A got the crap beat out of him during UFC tennis practice.*

For 4th of July we decided to stay in. We did the National Mall the last time we were here, and I just did not have the will to do it again, especially with the baby. So instead we set off our own fireworks show in the backyard. C and her friend** brought sparklers and a flag, then we all played Monopoly. Well, in reality Husband tricked the kids into trading him their best properties and he mopped the floor with everyone.

The following week we dropped off J at horse camp about 30 miles away. It was her first time away from home, so I wasn't too surprised to get a call on Wed from her. Apparently a lot of the other girls were regular riders at this place, so their parents were local and would stop by during the day to watch their lessons. "You know, Mama," she said, "You could stop by if you want. It would be okay." Broke my heart! So we took an extended lunch break on Thursday to make the trip out to see her. She was so happy, she even hugged A.***

Then T&V arrived to complete the summer craziness. We celebrated T's 14th birthday. Hard to believe we have two high schoolers now!

*Okay so he tripped and kneed in the face, but it looks like he was in an MMA fight.
**Just a friend. Her boyfriend is in Brazil with his family until August. 
***To which he responded, "Ew! Get off me!"