Absolutely Normal Chaos: My Personal War
(Mom) plus (Five kids) minus (Dad in Iraq) plus (one year) = chaos
By: Amy Efaw

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Monday, 22-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Continuing where I left off

Update on the car: transmission is kaput. $2100 to get it fixed. That makes over $4000 in less than 6 weeks on car repairs (this doesn't include the body work and tire blowouts and etc. from earlier posts).

Soccer tournament highlights: Anastasia's team played pretty badly this weekend, but they did play some tough teams. One team was so tough (or at least their players) that Anastasia got kicked in the face while coming out of the goal and diving for a ball, saving a goal. I was standing down on the sidelines at her end of the field, and I actually saw her head snap back from the impact. But Anastasia didn't let go of the ball until the ref blew the whistle. The opposing forward got a yellow card, and Anastasia (after a couple min. of crying face down on the grass w/ her face in her hands, her teammates surrounding her) stayed in the game. She now has a bruise under her left eye on her cheek and across half of her nose. One of her teammates commented: "Anastasia, you're so lucky. You get to go to your first day of middle school w/ a huge bruise on your face. That's so awesome!" And she meant it!

Arianna played her first game this weekend as a legitimate member of her new team, Rush Nike. It's one of the top teams in the state at her age group. Basically, Rush (the soccer club here in Denver where my kids play) moved her up to the top team last week. Her coach is a woman and really cool. She played Arianna all over the place, trying to figure out where she fits into the team. Arianna mostly played either outside left midfielder or left forward or center midfielder. She even scored a goal and made a bunch of assists.

Anastasia's first day of school was today. She was a little stressed, but I think mostly because she was worried she wouldn't be able to get her locker open. She really doesn't know anyone going to her new school. We got there about a min. late (I have to get the morning drop-offs' timing better), but it was no big deal, really, because it was a school day only for 7th graders so they'd be familiar w/ their schedules, etc., before the official first day of school starts (tomorrow).

After getting her situated in the auditorium (the principal was talking to the 7th graders when I left), I went grocery shopping. When I got home around 11:30 (Arianna and Kat are the only ones home), I noticed that Anastasia had forgotten her lunch; she left it on the deacon's bench right by our front door.

I made dinner (yay! Two days in a row -- practically a new recent record) and then took Arianna and Kat swimming at our rec center. They played around while I swam a mile. It was empty except for us -- really cool! As close as you can get to having your own private pool!

After swimming, I busted butt into Denver to pick Alix up from school; she had a 4 p.m. soccer practice. Then I had to pick up Andrew and Anastasia. A long loop that took over an 75 min. to complete. I got to Anastasia's school about 40 min. after it ended. I ultimately discovered that picking Alix up from school for a 4 p.m. practice just isn't going to work. It just takes too long to get into the middle of the city and then out again and head north to the north western suburbs to pick Anastasia and Andrew up at their respective schools. It's a recipe to make everyone late.

Talked to Andy today. He seemed kinda depressed. I think mostly because he found out today that he won't be home until next Tues. at the earliest. He has to take a week to outprocess, something that a normal, semi-motivated person could accomplish in about 2 days. Typical Army scheduling.

Okay, now to vacuum the downstairs and mop the kitchen floor before midnight strikes!

Hasta!




Friday, 19-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Grinding to a stop

Just a quick update while I'm waiting for clothes to finishing washing . . . soccer clothes to be precise (for yet another weekend of soccer tournaments).

Well, I got a call from Andy today. He was in Maine! This after a grueling couple of days, sitting on busses for 12 hours on run ways, etc. etc. and delaying about 3 days his departure from Kuwait. He had stops in Romania and Iceland before getting to Maine. I hadn't heard anything from him via email or phone for days, so I didn't have a clue about what was going on w/ him. Except Wed night (or early morning) at about 1 a.m. he called from Kuwait to tell me that he hadn't left as scheduled. I really don't remember much else from the short conversation -- I had been in the middle of REM sleep and my brain wasn't exactly firing at the moment.

Anyway, got a call from him around 10:30 this morning. He had to cut it short because he was about to board a plane from Maine to Ft. Dix, NJ.

Anastasia and Arianna and I took Rowdy for a bath at a "you wash your pet" type place. Rowdy's gotten to be so calm and well-behaved while getting her bath lately. She doesn't shake off the water until the very end. Also while we were bathing Rowdy, I was getting the oil changed on the minivan at Jiffy Lube a couple of blocks away.

On the way home, we went through the Good Times drive through (burger place -- it's beef that's natural and non-antibiotic, etc) and got us burgers and chicken fingers for Rowdy. I mean, what kind of person gets her pet a meal from a drive through fast food place? Yep -- a wack job.

Well, about 5 min. toward home, Rowdy puked inside the van (and within a few min. had eaten up her vomit in dog-like fashion).

After getting rid of Rowdy at home and having the girls get ready for an afternoon of soccer (and giving the car a quick scrub!), I then rushed to pick Alix up from school in the middle of Denver (35 min. from my house), then Andrew from his school (about 25 min. north and west of Alix's high school in a northen suburb of Denver (Arvada). I had a soccer practice to get Arianna to (4 p.m.) and a game that Anastasia needed to be at (5:30 warm-up).

On the way to Andrew's school, the car started sounding progressively weirder -- high pitched sound and lots of revving of the engine. By the time I was in front of his school picking him up, the car was getting pretty loud w/ it's revving and whining, and the acceleration was veerrrryyy slow. I drive another 5 min., and the car won't push past 20 w/out lots of revving. So, I pull into a Home Depot parking lot, turn off the car and start it up again. Fine. Except when I put it in reverse, it goes nowhere. I turn the car off, look under the hood. There's an odor like cooking fish coming from my car. I turn the car back on, and this time it goes back in reverse fine. When I put it in drive, it doesn't budge. The engine's still on; the car's just not moving. Right then Andy calls me again. I really can't process what he's telling me (I think he says he's at Ft. Dix, but they lost one of his bags (the one w/ all his underwear and changes of clothes) and that at 2 a.m., "they" are going to get everyone up to start perparing for a bus ride to Philly so that he and the others can fly to Fayetteville, NC outside of Ft. Bragg (final destination before home). But I'm barely listening. I just kinda interupt and tell him the car's dead . . . again . . . and I think I need to get it towed and rent a car.

I start the car up again, and it starts moving. So, wishful thinking, my plan is to get it to a car rental place (a couple miles away) and rent a car and get mine towed from there. Reality becomes: about a quarter mile later, I'm pulling over to the side of the road because the car isn't going faster than 15 mph and losing its ability to do even that very rapidly.

I call the car service place which got over $2000 from me last month, and they give me the number to a towing company. I call the towing company and set up the tow. I call my mother-in-law (who was waiting for me in front of a nearby Barnes and Noble, as we planned, so that she could collect Andrew for a picnic w/ friends that evening). She comes out and rescues me and the kids and takes me to a car rental place. I leave the key to my car under the floor mat for the towing guy.

I rent a Nissan Pathfinder for the price of a minivan (they were out of minivans) plus a 5 % discount because I told them my husband's on his way back from Iraq (at least you get some perks out of a year like this!). I load up my rental car w/ all the junk I grabbed from my car and head down to Anastasia's soccer game for her warm-up. She gets there 5 min. early. Miraculously.

That car fiasco started at approx. 4 p.m., and I was down in Littleton watching Anastasia warm-up by 5:30 with a car towed, 3 of my kids distributed to my mother-in-law, a car rented and Friday evening rush hour traffic navigated through. I think it's a record worthy of some note.

Anastasia's team won 2-1.

Oh, the wash is done! I'm going to bed so that I can get up early so I can drop kids off at their respective fields!

I think first thing in the a.m. I'll be needing a stiff java drink.


Tuesday, 16-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark



Monday, 15-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Two months later . . .

Arianna's new competitive soccer team winning the championship.
Um, somewhere I got kinda off track on this blogging thing.

I think it fell apart when Andy came home on R and R. He got home on July 6th and stayed home for about 17 days, I think. It took him about 4 days to get over jet lag (4 days in which he slept sporadically and not much, so consequently neither did I. His eyes would pop open around 1 a.m. and then he'd spend some time tossing and turning until I, too, was awake, and then he'd say, "Let's go downstairs and watch T.V." or surf the web, etc. etc. I finally told him that I've been on Denver time for a looonnng time now, thank you v. much, and I'd kinda like to not have to get over jet lag, too.

He left the day after a soccer tournament started in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy. He got to see Anastasia and Alexandra play a game each, then had to fly early the next day. Since then, one kid or another (or all) have had soccer tournaments (2 to be exact), and there's one planned for this upcoming weekend. All this before the soccer season actually officially starts (Aug. 27th).

This past weekend, Arianna played w/ her new competitive team she tried out for at the end of May (see blog entries). It was the first time her team had played together after only about 4 practices. They won their division, making them tournament champs. Arianna scored 9 goals in 5 games -- 2 "hat tricks" and one penalty kick among them. She had a blast. And I (and poor Andrew and Kat) had the dubious pleasure of watching 15 plus games in those 5 days (actually 4 days because one of the days was rained out and all those games had to be rescheduled). By the end of the weekend, I was bleary eyed and exhausted (and I didn't do anything but watch!).

Today was a BIG day in our Efaw history. Alexandra went to her first day of high school. She's going to George Washington High School in the inner city of Denver. If you recall, she got into the IB program there, and because of this program, George Washington (or "George" as the school's affectionately called) is ranked 92 of all public high school in the country.

Well, today she entered the school of 5000 students not knowing anyone but one kid from her junior high. She'd gotten her schedule last week at registration, but none of her classes were with this one girl she knew. But Alix didn't seem nervous at all. She told me, "Mom, I get more nervous before soccer games than I am now." My mind flashed back to my first day of high school, and it seemed, literally, like last week. My mom embarrassed me beyond belief by insisting I stand in front of my high school's sign and have my pic taken. Today, I planned on dropping Alix off at the main entrance, but she insisted I come inside w/ her. "Are you sure?" I asked. "There aren't a lot of parents coming in w/ their kids. I don't want you to be embarrassed." She observed for a minute, then pointed out the one or two parents making their ways into the school among all the freshmen. "See, Mom? There're some parents right there." So, we went in together (behind a girl all dressed up in a multi-colored burka. No kidding) and followed the throng to a table where 2 women were handing out revised schedules (if necessary) and student ID cards. Alix was told to go into the auditorium and wait for further instructions. So right there in the midst of about 1000 urban freshmen, she gave me a big hug and kiss and then strode into the auditorium. No problemo.

Tomorrow we're taking Denver's public bus (RTD system) to her school because from tomorrow onward, she's prob going to be taking the city bus to school. She's not a bit afraid of that either; she just wants me to take it w/ her the first time so she knows what to do. Way braver than I ever dreamed of being as a 14 year old!

It's really quite pathetic that I can sum up the past 8 weeks in a few short paragraphs, isn't it?


Thursday, 30-Jun-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

More braking news. I got the mini-van fixed last week. Got it back last Thurs. after tossing $1500 at Tilden's auto care shop. While driving it the 4 plus miles home, I noticed the rear was creaking . . . loudly. Friday I drove it around a little, but decided that I shouldn't continue driving it until after it got checked again. Plus, the brakes were sticking and not stopping quickly enough at stop signs and red lights.

I took it back in on Monday. I stowed my mountain bike inside so that I could ride it back home after dropping off the car. Andy's timing w/ calling was right on target (most of the time he calls at the wrong time), and I was on my way down to dropping the car. He was on the other line as I drove the car around w/ the mechanic inside, listening to my blah blah banter. He also overheard the diagnoses. I left the car, got on my bike, and since Andy was still on the line, I rode back home along Cherry Creek w/ my cell phone on my shoulder (or in my right hand, steering the bike w/ my left). I got lots of looks!

Anyway, the prognosis is that they put in a defective part. So, they have to order a new one (it'll take 3 days), and it's unsafe for me to drive my van around in the interim. Also, they discovered that I need new rear brakes. Cha-ching -- $200 more. I'm borrowing my in-law's Honda Accord (and stuffing my 5 kids into it everywhere we go).



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