While we are no strangers to separations, brief or otherwise, it has been a while since Pete traveled. If you are a new reader, and don't know our history with DS, um, in a nutshell.. With this lifestyle,when posted domestically (being attached to a detail/field office), the spouse of a an agent can end up having a good amount of "alone" time. This can be good, bad or somewhere in the middle.
Maybe it had just been a while since I had an extremely active toddler while Pete traveled. Maybe the issue was that I now had three vs. two, and the two older children are in separate schools, with 7 weekly activities between them (the irony is that comparatively speaking, they are massively under-scheduled for this area). We don't send them to tutors or language school, and to be fair, I count CCD as part of their weekly activities. However, they still add up, and two weeks ago, with Peter slated to go to UNGA for 12 days, I realized that we were going to be kept hopping on a daily basis.
We started off slowly, on a Thursday. Nothing more than soccer practice in the afternoon, and I only needed to drive the carpool and drop the kids off. Friday came and the only events were a play date for Kelsey, and the beginning of choir practice (at the church) for both girls. Kelsey decided to join (has been chomping at the bit since last spring), and despite Cait's efforts to ban her, she is going each week and really enjoying herself. We figured we would have an "easy" dinner, and opted for our favorite pasta place. For whatever reason, maybe the heat (was over 100 F most days Pete was gone), but everyone was a bit cranky, Nicholas included.
I ended up making the executive decision that we would avoid eating out again until Pete came back, but it would require a bit of planning and restraint on my part. It just seems so much easier to say, "Let's go out for pizza!", and be done with it.
Though I promised Kelsey we could sleep in on Saturday, this fell flat when I realized the soccer game was at 9 a.m. Nothing like not catching up on sleep when you really need it! We made it to the game (they won), and hurried home to change and back out to the Farmer's Market. The Saturday morning routine of the Farmers' Market has become so ingrained that the girls are upset if we even consider not going. We simply can't pass up stand after stand of fruit and veggies, from the boxes of freshly-shelled English peas to the bunches of basil. It also doesn't hurt that the Green Lantern Catering Company normally shows up to whip up a veggie fritatta and grilled artichokes that are simply out of this world, but do not break the wallet. The owner is not only a part-time caterer, but also the executive chef at Standford's in Walnut Creek.
Thankfully, dinner was at a friend's house. As a part of our monthly international dinner, we dined on samosas, lamb biryani, and cauliflower. It was mildly spicy, and deeply satisfying. We headed home, and Nicholas fell asleep on the way. Sunday was a sleep-in day. Seems great until you try to get moving and realize nothing is going as planned...primarily because there wasn't a plan. It hit me that if I didn't quickly come up with a something, my week was going to be a disorganized disaster. Four days in, and I was completely frustrated already.
I quickly planned out meals from Sunday to Friday, and it saved me. No last-minute "What do I make" or "let's just go out!". We ate in every night, and it was so methodical, the girls didn't think twice. Yummy leftovers made great lunches the next day, and we rolled from school to activities, volunteer and otherwise, smoothly. Still exhausting, and I was up late with laundry, cleaning, and the like, but far easier than expected.
Friday night arrived, and Kelsey was busy with a play-date, choir practice, and movie night at her school. Cait had her 6th grade social, choir practice, and then volunteered at movie night. Nicholas and I took the time to relax, and have quality time in between the various pick-ups and drop-offs.
Saturday rolled around once again, and with a later soccer game, we had time for the Farmers' Market early in the morning. There was face-painting, aioli mustaches (grilled artichokes were back!), visiting with the kitties needing foster homes (and both girls desperately want us to become one), and the 4-H with a bevy of bunnies and chickens. We made it to soccer just in time, and Kelsey shocked us all by volunteering to play goalie. I was able to quickly upload a photo via Facebook, and "Coach Pete" was able to see despite the 3,000 mile/3 hour difference.
Jamba Juice followed, and we had just enough time to head home, swelter for a bit, and depart for a spaghetti dinner at the home of one of Cait's Chorus leaders. She is a member of a local quartet, and in the midst of a fund-raiser for a trip to a much anticipated international competition. Not only did we enjoy great music, and a yummy dinner, but Kelsey won not one, but two baskets in the raffle (back to back, even more amusingly).
Despite the organization, and the overall ease of the week, we were still swamped, and it hit me hard on Sunday. While a friend watched Nicholas on Friday so I could get a much-needed massage, it is still very hard being "on" 24 hours a day. I realized we all needed a break, and kept our activities to a walk to the movies, a light home-made pesto dish for dinner, and Cait attending the first of her CCD classes.
Monday and Tuesday passed quickly, and before we knew it, Peter was pulling up in the shuttle Tuesday afternoon. He was gone 15 minutes later, as Kelsey had soccer, but he was home all the same. Though here it is a few days later, and I keep thinking he will leave any minute. It seems as though I almost fell back into my Virginia self, forgetting that he normally doesn't travel (that much), and that he won't be gone again for a while. So, he is back, we are together, and quite enjoying family time. It's a crazy life sometimes, but I think anything less would simply not be for us. And, now, perhaps, a nap.