Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Wurst Years?

Mike got the official offer today. We are moving to Germany! I have to say the finality of that email really hit home. It's a mixed reaction that I have. I've always told him though that I really am happy wherever I am. It takes some time, but I'm happy. The year long stay in my home town has been a rocky ride. I hadn't lived here in about 10 years so the adjustment period had been hard. I've had to come to terms with a lot of things in my life that I didn't have to deal with for a long time.

Moving to a neighborhood that was less than desirable for the majority of folks in our demographic had proven for me much more difficult than I had thought. Trying to "fit in" with my "demographic" has also been difficult. It seems to me from my experience, that a military community is much more "inclusive". When we first arrived in Yokosuka, it was easy to make friends because, figuratively and literally we were in the "same boat". I really did enjoy the diversity that the military community offered. A small microcosm of America all mashed together in 1 1/2 square miles. Coming back home, I found a much more "exclusive" environment. Not that folks were "mean". More like, they already had their lives, their family and their friends so really making new friends for them is on the low priority list.

I learned not to talk so much about Japan because sometimes it turned into a very uncomfortable situation. I also learned that many folks are intrigued when I say that we lived in Japan for several years but once I say it was with the military, they aren't so interested. It felt like I was being labeled as something, which really makes me sad, because that negative attitude towards the military, especially coming from a so-called educated crowd, just seems very one dimensional. I'm proud of the work that Mike did for our military, the mission, and our country as a whole. I'm also really looking forward to our new opportunity in Landstuhl, Germany. Working with the hospital could really provide a whole new realm of volunteer opportunities for me as well. I'm sorry if I sound a bit brash, but this was my negative half portrayed in a general sense.

Now, maybe on to the other half of my feelings for leaving. We haven't told Joshua yet. He has just started school again in 2nd grade and talks about his future all the time. How he can't wait for Samuel to start school at his school and how he will have so much fun showing him everything. He talks about graduating 8th grade from there and how he loves being in his new class.

Being here has really been wonderful for him. For the first time in a long time he's been able to experience extended family. My mother and Joshua have really been able to spend a lot of time together and both my boys are thrilled and light up every time I say, "Alright guys, get your shoes on, we're going to Grammi's!" My brother and sister have really enjoyed my being here (even though they'd never admit it). My sister loves Samuel and my brother, I think, is just starting to relate with Joshua. He also has a whole slew of cousins that he's so excited to see during every family gathering.

I've been able to finally connect with old friends. Friends that I've had since grade school, and it's been great trying to play catch up. I feel like after months we are finally starting to find our place... just barely.

So here it is. Months ago, when I received the call that Germany could be a possibility, I was thrilled because I was having such a hard time fitting in here. Now that I feel a little more comfortable in my shoes, moving has now become a reality. I think the beginning will be difficult like everything else, but I think it is just one more chapter in our lives as a family. I've found that every move that we've made has somehow added a new dimension to our family and made us more of a cohesive unit. After all, my motto has always been, 'If it's not a challenge, then it's not the Corry family!'

For those readers who have followed us from Japan, or for those that are just starting to read, look for us some more on our new blog, "The Wurst Years".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

San Francisco and Sausalito

I've been feeling a bit stressed as of late, so on Thursday Nicki suggested that we get out of town this weekend, even if just for a day. The kids haven't spent much quality time in the Bay Area, so we thought it would be fun to go there for the day. We started out in Sausalito, which is the community just north of San Francisco, immediately across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Discovery Museum in Sausalito is tons of fun for little kids, and ours helped the place live up to its name. We had a blast between the art room, the wave room, bay hall, and the outdoor exhibits and play areas. Nicki had packed a picnic lunch for us, so after an hour or two of playtime, we took a break for lunch before getting back into the action. By about 1pm, Sam started to act very tired, so we decided to pack up and head out.

The good news is that our next stop involved crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, which is just awesome (I'm a civil engineer, so the nerd in me was totally jazzed). Surprisingly, traffic wasn't too bad crossing into San Francisco, so we made it to our destination - Japantown - in little time. To our surprise, they recently opened a Daiso location in Japantown, so Nicki spent an eternity looking through all the various goodies the store had to offer. She returned to us, bag in hand, with all kinds of edible treats and a few dishware items. After Daiso, we walked a few blocks of Japantown before heading back to the car. I gotta admit, walking through Japantown reminded us a lot of our four years in Yokosuka, Japan. It's probably the first time since moving back last year that we truly missed the sites, smells, and tastes of Japan.

Moving on, we wanted to show the kids the Fisherman's Wharf area before heading out, so we hopped back in the car and headed back north. Sneaky me, I took a hard right turn at Lombard Street, a detour to tackle the world famous curvy section. Heading east on Lombard gets very steep at certain points, and we actually had trouble getting up the final hill before the curves. Our poor little Vibe just doesn't have the get-up-and-go pep that is needed to traverse the streets of San Francisco on a regular basis. After peeling out a few times on the way up the hill, we had to become accustomed to the smell of burning rubber. But eventually it was our turn to go down the hill and the kids loved it - especially Joshua. Though he admitted that he wouldn't want to live anywhere near that road (I bet he'd feel different if he knew what those houses were worth!).

We eventually made it to the wharf, where we immediately parked and hiked up to Ghirardelli's famous location. After stopping for a couple large cups of the delicious ice cream, which we shared with the boys, we strolled back to the car and headed home.

Upon our return, Joshua asked, "Did we have dinner yet?", to which I replied, "Yes, you had ice cream". Without a moment's pause, Joshua replied, "Great, I want dessert!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My 7 year old

I can hardly believe what I just typed. I am the parent of a seven year old... well, in a few hours anyway. As he said his prayers and we tucked him in tonight, I told him the day that he was born was one of the most blessed days of my life. He then asked with a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his face, "More better than when Samuel was born?"

His sense of humor has definitely matured. He's slowly catching on to sarcasm and his wit is getting much quicker these days. I was just reading a quick article on BabyCenter titled, 'Welcome to 7' continued: '

"Congratulations on another step down the road toward growing up. Sevens are delightful to be around. They've shed a bit more of the neediness and uncertainty of younger years, and bring enthusiasm and curiosity to everything they do. Mastering skills like reading and simple math gives your child a confidence and excitement about academics.

Sevens tend to ask lots of questions, because they're keen observers with a big need to know about everything. They thrive on order but are better able to roll with change than they used to be.

Your 7-year-old is mature enough to form his own opinions about many things. He looks to peers and other adult authority figures to inform his ideas. But his parents firmly remain the shining lights in his universe. Sevens still like to cuddle, hold hands, and show their affection in ways that typically vanish (at least in public) over the coming years."

What a way to sum things up. I always thought it would get easier as he got older but it just seems to change. Sure I get a lot of my time back as a mother but all that time is sucked up by thinking about how I should address new issues.

I love how he still needs me, or maybe just wants to be around me sometimes (although most of the time it's Dad). What a loving a kind brother to Samuel he is. He's taught him so many things. Songs, animals, sound effects, words... so many words... good ones, how to clean up, how to jump and run and climb. Right now he's working on the potty. He has a true compassion for others and good spirit within him that I hope never is broken down. Just the other day as we passed a homeless person, he closed his eyes and covered his face. When I asked him what he was doing he replied, "I'm just sayin' a prayer for that sad man". Such a gentle sole.

This Summer we read books, had swim lessons, and did a few Math workbooks. He's worked his way all the way up to triple digit addition and subtraction! He also sped through his money counting book and can now count all his coins. Such a smarty pants and I am so proud of him.

I truly thank G-d for giving me such a beautiful boy. Happy happy birthday eldest & good luck in 2nd grade!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Jane's Turning 2

Our favorite souvenir from Japan is turning 2 years old. She's traveled more than most kitty cats. Jane was found on the train tracks and was turned into care at a Japanese animal rescue. Animal rescues in Japan are independent privately run places. Unlike the US, the government or state does not provide for lost or abandoned animals. These facilities many times work with the American PAWS facilities to find homes for these little kittens. Most likely Jane was a ferrel kitten. The Yoko PAWS society keeps kittens until they are able to eat solid food, have their shots and are spayed or neutered.

Joshua had a very difficult time becoming potty trained. His training went on for years with many set backs and frustrations. I have to say that potty training has been, so far, the most difficult thing that we've had to go through with Joshua. Finally around preschool I tried to set up a reward chart for staying dry through the night. I promised Joshua that if he could stay dry through the night for a month we would get him a cat. At first he was excited but after a few days it fell through and we could never get through even a whole week without at accident. A friend of mine suggested that instead of just promising a cat at the end of the dry month, to instead allow him to pick a gift for the cat after every week of dryness. For example, after week one, take him to the store and have him pick out a food dish, a cat toy, a scratching post, etc. That would then build the excitement of a new cat and keep him focused on his goal. Well, after a couple of set backs, the plan worked! We took a special drive to the PAWS facility on base. Out of all the cats, Jane stood out.

We had to promise to keep her in the house. Feline AIDS disease ran rampant in Japan and to keep her safe from infection, it was required that we keep her in. That wasn't took difficult as she was so used to it. As she became older she became a little more difficult. We started calling her Jane the Pain.

The move to California came up fast but she traveled like an old pro. Once here we tried to keep her inside but the pull to go out doors was too strong and we decided not to fight it anymore. Jane is now an outdoor cat who we bring in at night. She sleeps in the garage. Actually preferring the attic amongst the insulation. She spends most of her days outside chasing squirrels, eating grass, picking fights with the neighborhood cats, and now taking the top grates off of the drainage pipes in the backyard.

For her birthday month, I went to Petco and got her a water "fountain" drinking bowl. At first she freaked out but after a while she's really enjoyed it. Jane has really become such a fantastic part of her family. She loves attention - in fact if both hands aren't petting her it's not enough. Apparently this makes sense. We think she's got a little Japanese bobtail breed in her. She's also extremely tolerant of Samuel, who loves to tackle her and "pet" her - mainly by pulling her fur. She takes it in stride though and loves to curl up with just Mike and me in the evening.
Happy birthday Jane. We hope to spend many many more birthdays with you!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Negative Nellies & Busy Bees

Being negative is usually not my MO. I'm usually the annoying one at a party pointing out the positive in a ugly situation. In other words... Pollyanna. This Friday we had pizza and movie night and watched Pollyanna. Joshua and I were snuggled up sniffling at the end even though we knew the ending. If anyone out there hasn't seen the Disney classic, I highly recommend it. It's got all the things in a movie there should be and those classics for some reason have a wonderful knack of being family friendly without being corny. At any rate, after watching that movie again and then reading my girlfriend's blog I realized that this funk that I'm in has prevented me from opening my eyes and seeing all of the wonderful blessings in my life. So, I'm making a birthday resolution to try and tune out the politics of things and the comments of others and stick to what matters in my heart and what I know feels good in my life.

Joshua is on the road to starting second grade... I KNOW! It really came up quick. We are sticking with St. Mary's again. We were really happy with the attention and religious guidance that they give. It really parallels our ideals and in our opinions, made school such a well rounded place to be. The second grade room is designated as the Busy Bee room. The room is decked out in bees and a bee hive corner for reading. School has come up fast mainly because we have been so busy this Summer. In the beginning of the season, we flew out to Virginia to finally spend some much needed time with Mike's side of the family. Baba and Granddaddy were able to spoil their grandchildren rotten and Mike and I were able to get away to Monticello. I love love love all that historical stuff! After spending about 10 days in VA, we came home to some very sad news. Some friends of ours, a family that we met in Japan but were stationed in WA, were involved in a car accident and the husband didn't make it. My mother was kind enough to take several days off of work to watch our boys so that we could drive up to OR for the funeral. Despite the somber reason for driving up north, we really enjoyed seeing a part of the country we had never seen. Oregon is absolutely gorgeous. We stopped over night in Eugene (GO DUCKS!) and then on to Portland the next day.

When we returned, Joshua had already started his first day of summer school. Because we came in late to the 1st grade year from Japan, I wanted Joshua to go to Summer school at St. Mary's as well so he could pal around with some of his classmates a little longer. He took 4 classes: Road Runners Club, Bee the Solution, Gifted Gardeners, and Lego Engineering. He was out by 11:30 and we all ate lunch and got ready for Sam's naptime. While Sam napped we would work on workbooks. Over the Summer, Joshua has learned how to count money and do triple digit subtraction and addition. With Summer school ending, Joshua wanted to continue a little longer, so we enrolled him in a week of Bible Camp. There he learned about a new Saint each week. I can't remember all of them but they were all very unique an interesting.

After constant urging from my mother, I decided to enroll Joshua in swimming lessons. He has had swimming lessons before, but they were infrequent and probably not the best kind. I was planning on putting him in the community lessons but was afraid they were all booked because I was late in the season. So I enrolled him in Dolphin Swim School just down the road from our home. They are supposed to be the absolute best place and I have been really really happy with them. Joshua can now swim almost to the other side of the pool doing a (sloppy) freestyle stroke. This only took him 3 lessons. I was completely amazed. I suppose this is the Joshua Summer, mainly because he has been showing such interest in different things. The last thing that we most recently did for him is get him set up with guitar lessons. He's been wanting this for months, so we finally bit the bullet. We also bought him a 3/4 size acoustic guitar. We were planning on getting a used guitar, but Skip's Music had a beginner's package which included the guitar, carrying case, tuner and picks for $100 which didn't seem too painful. His orientation with his teacher is on Tuesday evening.

In the midst of lessons, classes, and camps; Samuel had blossomed into a stink flower of a toddler. He is a handful and I never really did realize how easy Joshua was until our little Sam came along. Sam climbs, throws, hits, scratches, pushes, screams, laughs, chit chats and jumps around and he can do a whole cycle of this in a 5 minute period!

Add to that, our backyard has been in the hands of a landscaper for 2 weeks, and I'm lucky I haven't pulled out all my hair! When we bought our home, the backyard was in need of some serious love. A portion of the backyard fence was down and the rest of it was termite ridden. There was no lawn just weeds, which was OK in the rainy winter but once Summer hit the yard turned into a brown dirt clot-ridden mess. We think too at one point when the house was vacant that some homeless folks tried to start a fire in the backyard. As we cleared out the weeds we found all kinds of things. Broken bottles, beer cans, golf clubs and basketballs. This turned into another bite the bullet moment we decided to hire a professional to design a functional backyard. One that our kids could play in without happening upon a shard of glass or a rusty nail. My cousin recommended Raymond Perez at Custom Landscape & Design. We are really really happy with our backyard. Because it was such a big area, we had to work within a budget and I'm so happy Raymond respected that. We basically had them do the trenching and leveling of the yard, irrigation, drainage, concrete and sod. It really made such a difference. We did the shrub planting. Near the house are gardenias, leading down the path to the front are orange and red lantanas, I've got a small succulent garden near the sliding glass door. In the front yard, we had Raymond's team install sprinklers and a mow strip. We've put in river rock, bark, about 30 box wood bushes, and several azaleas (purple and coral color). Because the lawn in front was riddled with roots it was recommended that we plant seed. So, right now our lawn is growing. But, once everything is in, it really will look beautiful.

Pictures will soon be coming. In Mike's own words he's been working like a dog. He's out there right now fixing the back fence and gate. Needless to say we have been so busy. But it's a good kind of busy. There has been some hurdles but the end result has just been so fulfilling. I hope this blog entry finds all the readers out there in good spirits too!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Was I this annoying in my 19-early 20's? When kids hit college age, even if they aren't in college this age for some reason turns otherwise wise crack teenagers into young adults who think they can change the world by just telling me how they should live it. What is that? Apparently they know how I should discipline my children and what I should be feeding them on a daily basis. Oh yes, and how they should be acting. Along with my children, they are the experts on politics and culture too. Wow, they must know a lot with all that book reading and cruising the internet. After all, if something is written down, it's a fact. Especially, if it's armed with statistics!

Monday, April 26, 2010


I had forgotten how much I loved Judy Blume's books until I picked up Superfudge at the library to read to Eldest. I think that I had read it in 4th grade or so. So, I wasn't too sure that Eldest would get it.

One thing I didn't quite understand as a child and now looking at it as a parent was how "middle class" Peter's parents were. How they (gasp!) rented a little 2 bedroom apartment in New York City. In fact, when Tootsie was born (the 3rd child) they didn't really have anywhere to put her but the living room. I started to come to the realization that maybe, just maybe, this is how most families lived in the beginning. How most couples that first got married didn't have a house or brand new cars. That they actually were eating mac & cheese, and that their kid's big treat was maybe a Popsicle every now and then. Going out to eat was a super fancy treat and many times we relied on our friends and relatives to help us out. Kids went outside and played and got into trouble and most times it was chalked up as kids being kids. What has changed?

One might say it's a more dangerous nation out there, but I'm not so sure. Crime since the 1980's is down. In fact in many areas, it hasn't been this low since the 60's. I have a lot of theories as to why this is and there are many folks more educated than I, who I'm sure have even better theories. So why are we more protective than ever over our children? Why do we feel like we need to have a ridiculous amount of material things before we have children? After all, we as humans have been having children since the dawn of time.

Many might say that education and knowledge are power, but depending on how we look at it who ultimately gets that power? And who is educating the masses? It seems as though many colleges are pushing big government these days. The media seems to rely very much on fear inducing tactics. Many marketers and companies are using fear to sell these days. There is another line of thought that alludes to the idea that inducing fear in a society is another type of power grab. After all, when we are all tuned into reality shows, our iPhones, and video games what time to we have to pay attention to what rights are being taken away?

I must admit I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to zoning out. I just have to come to terms with the fact that "back in the day" hand me down clothes and leftover nights were the family norm.