Monday, June 17, 2013

Still Here

It’s been two weeks since I last published anything. That’s not a long time when you look at my posting history—I may post every day at some times, but it’s also not all that unusual for me to go a month without posting anything. I think it just feels like longer than usual to me because I actually do have several blog posts in my head—one even written down—and because of why I haven’t written or posted them.

My last post was published just a few days after the arrival of our HHE. I spent the next week in a flurry of boxes, paper, packing tape, knives … unpacking at a feverish pace, hoping to have it all done, organized, and put away before we go to the States for home leave later this summer. I made great progress that week, getting most of the house into a livable state, though most of the drawers are stuffed with items that don’t belong there, the closets are empty or have a few random items that may or may not stay there long term, the cats’ room is still an obstacle course of random objects that I swear reach out to grab my feet as I walk by, and the basement is still full of full boxes. That’s not counting the living room, which stayed full of boxes until just a few days ago, when the newly-ordered cables and connectors and other electronic components arrived so that it made sense for Jeff to take the pieces of our home entertainment system out of their protective boxes and start setting them up. (There are still a couple of boxes in there, and we’re still using the smaller TV that eventually will go into the playroom, as I think we’re still waiting on some more components to arrive before Jeff can get it fully operational … and we need the guy who keeps postponing to come install the AFN satellite dish already.) So that week was very busy, to say the least.

Saturday was busy, too, though not with unpacking. One of Jeff’s coworkers had left for R&R in the States, and unlike our other offices, this office is staffed with exactly as many people as are required to get the job done—no extras, no room for someone to leave for a while and everyone else to be a little busy but ok until the missing coworker comes back, no margin. Everyone is needed at all times. When one goes away, a temporary replacement (known as a TDYer, or "Temporary Duty-er") needs to come in, or it’s complete insanity for whoever’s still there. So one had left, and one had come in. And of course, although we can’t really help that the TDYer stays in a hotel alone, without his family, and eats most dinners alone, without his family, we can at least offer him a chance to spend some time in our home and eat a home-cooked meal with our family on the weekend. (We would have welcomed him during the week, too, but he was working later, and with a little one, holding dinner is not an option.) So Saturday I made a supermarket run, tried with predictably limited success to make our “just moving in” house look a little less “just moving in,” and then cooked dinner for the first time in a week—we’d been ordering all week so that I didn’t have to reserve any of my time or energy for cooking, as Jeff had been unable to take time off work to help with the unpacking, and we both wanted all my efforts there.

Sunday the bottom fell out from under me. I’d been fighting off some minor cold symptoms all week—“I do NOT have time to be sick; you’ll just have to get over it,” I told my body—and my body decided it was time to show me who was boss. Overnight, my minor cold became a not-major-but-I-need-to-rest cold. One more night and there were silent tears streaming down my face as I sat in a chair, contemplating the energy required to get up and walk across the room to the table where Alexa was eating breakfast and considering how I was going to find the energy to care for her while Jeff went in to the office—no margin there means no ability to just call in and say that he’s staying home today to care for his daughter and his sick wife. There were a few things he absolutely had to get done that day, and he promised to come home as early as he could.

Monday morning was spent on the couch, trying to stay awake while I allowed Alexa to simultaneously watch Netflix cartoons on the TV and play Curious George, Mickey Mouse, Angry Birds, Singing Monsters, or any other game she wanted on Daddy’s iPad. Jeff came home around noon, and I stumbled my way through Alexa’s naptime routine, then stumbled up the stairs to my own bed, leaving the afternoon’s contingent of plumbers (who needed to fix leaky pipes and a disconnected dryer vent) for Jeff to handle. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jeff stayed home in the mornings to let me sleep—the best medicine ever invented for what by then was a raging chest cold—then went to work after I’d woken up and showered, usually just in time for me to put Alexa down for a nap and then expend what little energy I had unpacking a box or two, doing a load of laundry, and finally collapsing in front of the computer for a daily email/Facebook/blog check. Thursday was harder, as Jeff had to spend the whole day in the office and theoretically I was recovered enough to get up early. By Friday I was feeling much better, though I still tired easily and I still cough as if I have the plague.

Unfortunately, on Thursday, I started noticing symptoms in Alexa. It wasn’t too major at that point, but she was more tired and fussy than usual, she sounded congested, and her nose required wiping much more often than usual. When her nap was interrupted repeatedly by coughing, I got concerned about our lack of children’s medicine—we gave away what we had before we left Cambodia, as the expiration dates had passed or would pass soon; we intended to restock our supplies during home leave, and since Alexa had never required anything more than an acetaminophen, we felt pretty safe being supply-less for a couple of months … but on Thursday, I started missing those supplies. I contacted Jeff, and Jeff contacted the health unit in hopes of getting recommendations for locally available medicines that are safe and effective (medications overseas can be hit or miss). They did us one better, telling us to bring Alexa in so they could check her out, and then they’d give us what was necessary.

Accordingly, Alexa and I took a trip to the embassy late Thursday afternoon. Our practitioner checked Alexa’s ears and lungs (all clear), weighed her so that we could get accurate dosing information, and provided me with full-size bottles of children’s Claritin, a children’s decongestant, and a generic form of children’s Benadryl, with strict instructions to use the latter only if it got really bad. For good measure, she also gave us some fluoride tablets for Alexa and an expectorant for me … I think she wanted to listen to my lungs and check me out, too, after hearing my cough, but since I told her that I was recovering, she contented herself with giving me the meds.

Since then, things have just kind of drifted along. I’ve been doing what housework I feel capable of doing—meaning I cleaned the floors for the first time in two weeks, cleaned the bathrooms, did a little ironing, and unpacked a few boxes from the basement. Jeff has worked at work and worked at home, helping me in the basement and setting up the home entertainment system as much as he can without the remainder of the supplies—all the while trying to fight off what may be the beginnings of a bad cold of his own. Alexa definitely has a cold, which seems to be an annoyance to her during the day, when she tries to play normally, and a real problem during naptime and at night, when the congestion and coughing interrupt her sleep. We give her the antihistamine at night, as well as the fluoride she’ll be taking from here on out other than when we’re in the States, and we tried the decongestant once, but it seemed to make her hyper, so we’re trying not to give her that one again. We hosted our TDYer for ordered pizza and a movie Friday, and we made a trip to Camp Bondsteel to restock our frozen meat supplies on Saturday. Yesterday we just stayed home—we decided against spreading our germs at church.

This weekend I asked Jeff about his thoughts regarding preschool for Alexa; after all, she’ll turn three soon, and if we’re going to do preschool, it’s time to be thinking about it. We made a couple of decisions about that, which I’ll share in a separate blog post. I did write another blog post, on one of those afternoons when I was too tired to work but not too tired to type. I haven’t published it yet because I’m not completely sure about it … I’m not sure I’m happy with it, and even if I decide that I am, it touches on some issues that we may choose not to share on the blog. Nothing really personal—I think I’ve been more vulnerable and open here in that regard than we ever expected, but we’re ok with that—but more that the whole post is based on a comment made by someone else, and we aren’t sure if sharing that comment publicly could cause problems for that person or her family, and we can’t just ask her for reasons that I can’t get into. Jeff and I both are still thinking the whole issue through … and although I want to share the post, or rewrite until I’m happy with it and then share it, I have a feeling we may choose not to. I do have several other posts in my head, though, that I had hoped to share before we go on home leave. I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll write them in time, though, just as my dream of returning from home leave to a completely unpacked, organized, pictures-on-the-walls house is fading away.

So, we’re still here. Trying to get unpacked and settled. Fighting off, fighting through, or recovering from illnesses that are minor in the grand scheme of things but that feel like a pretty big deal at the time. Contemplating the sorry state of the house after two weeks of minimal to no cleaning, and trying to get up the energy to do something about that. Preparing for home leave, and for Alexa’s birthday celebration at the start of it, and for our Consumables packout at the end of it. Making and beginning to implement decisions about Alexa’s earliest formal education. Hoping to get blog posts written before they fade away into the shadows of missed opportunity.

I think I may get another post or two up before we go on home leave. Not everything I want to get written, but some of it. And you shouldn’t expect to see any new posts for several weeks once we go back to the States. But, when the posts stop, just be assured, we’re still here … other than the time when we’ll be in the U. S. But we’ll be back, and I’ll be back posting again.

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