I may actually be Supermom

Oh, I am tired.  What a day.  It was a day full of very nice things, but I am worn out, and I have given of myself to a fault . . . which is not new, but the grace with which I did it definitely is.


The first part of my day was normal:  feed kids, change diapers, try to make naps happen, play games, clean up, help make more messes, overfill the washing machine, clean the soapy water off the floor, keep the dog from eating B’s snack.  Normal Thursday.

078Then I took the boys to the park with a friend who has two kids (one a few years older than B, one Liam’s age).  Oh my.  I’ve taken B and Liam to the park together before, on my own, but the addition of other children that they know added an element of chaos that I was not expecting.  Liam is also big enough now to require being entertained in his own right (I can’t just stick him in the stroller the whole time).  It went just fine, but it really wore me out.  B was trying to keep up with his older friend, and they got in to all kinds of shenanigans together (I’m not sure B’s shoes will be dry for tomorrow) and he learned important lessons (i.e, if you let go of the chains on the big-kid swings, gravity takes over in short order).  And Liam had a lot of fun trying to keep up with B (thank goodness he can’t walk yet).

Then we all went to dinner (my friend and her husband, their two kids, plus all of us Calles), and halfway through Dan gets a call from his uncle.  Who is here.  To see us.  (This is the first we’re hearing about it.)  We knew he was in Austria, but not having been able to coordinate a visit with him before he left, we figured we wouldn’t see him at all.  Surprise!  So, Dan goes out of the restaurant, leaving me with the boys, to figure out a way to rendezvous with his uncle, who does not have a working phone and who is planning to drive back into Vienna to see us immediately.  “Back” because he drove into Vienna earlier today to see us, showed up at our door, and when no one was home (see park story, above) decided to walk around Vienna in the hopes that he might run into us.  When that didn’t work, he drove back OUT of Vienna, borrowed a phone from someone and called Dan.

Dan was in and out of the restaurant for the rest of the meal, looking for his uncle, who is planning to meet us at the restaurant.  His uncle shows up just as we’re leaving, and we say goodbye to our friends and go back to our place.  We show him around and visit for a few minutes, but then I have to go put both kids in the bath (together, which I haven’t done before) because Dan has a Skype appointment.

So, we make plans to meet up with his uncle tomorrow.  And then I put the boys in the bath, get them both clean, get them both out, get them both dressed, get puked on by Liam, get him clean and dressed again, get Benjamin a bottle, feed Liam, put Liam down, get Liam back up and then get him back to sleep.  (At which point, Dan joined me to brush Benjamin’s teeth, but then Benjamin asked that I read him his story before bed, and he’s so sweet, and we got so little one-on-one time today that I said yes.)

I got a little grumpy with Benjamin at one point in the bath when he was splashing Liam and wouldn’t listen to me and stop, but otherwise, I did all of this and didn’t even freak out.  I’m not even mad or frustrated with Dan.  (Really.)  I think I may qualify for sainthood.  I haven’t tried walking on water recently, but maybe I should give it a shot.  (Or maybe I should wait and see how tomorrow goes, first.)

Out of rhythm

Having house guests can be stressful.  It isn’t anyone’s fault — it’s just that adding on to an already busy “to do” list, while disrupting the rhythm and schedule of life, can cause chaos.  We’ve just had 10 days of house guests.  Our schedule was a disaster, the boundaries and rules with the kids were bent all over the place, we all shared a bathroom, we gave up our bedroom and slept in the living room, we stayed up too late every night.  I’m really glad they came to see us, but we are all exhausted now.

In addition to the logistics, it’s hard to live with anyone for 10 days.  I don’t think 10 consecutive days have ever passed between Dan & I where one of us hasn’t gotten a little frustrated, irritable or snippy with the other.  In a marriage, you learn which battles to fight and which to leave, and you develop a give and take of how to handle these routine frustrations.  With guests, it’s harder.  There is, of course, still plenty of reason to get frustrated, irritable or snippy with each other, but you try really, really, really hard not to.  It’s rude, it seems petty (especially when you’re only spending a few days with each other), the damage done is disproportionally severe when compared to the impact of whatever little irritation caused the situation in the first place and, of course, you’re trying to be on your best behavior.  (I have a tendency to be irritable, especially when I’m stressed out — which is often — so this kind of “letting go” of little things is something I’ve been working on in myself for years.)

Our guests left this afternoon, after 10 days of, truly, a very nice visit.  But now, we’re all exhausted, and we’re out of sync with the way we usually do things.  Since they left (about 8 hours ago) Dan & I have snapped at each other at least twice, Benjamin has been in “time out” twice (up until today he had been in time out only twice since we’ve been in Austria), Dan has slammed a door, I’ve slapped my hand on the kitchen counter in frustration (ouch), Benjamin is currently crying in his room because he doesn’t want to go to sleep, Liam took three tries to get down to bed and he was even tricky to feed at dinner.  Basically, we’re a mess.  We’re trying to get back to normal, but we’re tired and we’re all at our limits, so we take it out on each other, a little bit, which I wish I could prevent.

Although this all sounds awful, I actually think we’re handling this level of stress better than we ever have before.  Our moments of frustration have been fleeting.  Benjamin sat quietly in his time outs and went right back to being his happy, playful (and mischievous!) self.  Liam is now sleeping peacefully . . . and I think Benjamin may be (finally) too.  We’re still tired.  I have a mountain of laundry to do (including the sheets for our bed, which are currently wet in the drier . . . sigh) and tomorrow, life goes back to normal.


I’ve wanted to go to a Heurigen since before we got here, and today we went.  They are Viennese wine taverns, which were, historically, run by vineyards to sell their new wine.  Now, they seem to have evolved as restaurants that sell “microbrew” wines, locally cultivated (many even within Vienna itself).  We first learned about it while watching the Rick Steves episode on Vienna (which we watched several times as our “homework” before moving here) and it seemed like it would be a very Viennese experience, so I’ve wanted to go ever since.

111We went this evening.  It was fun — we had some of the “new” wine (from last fall) which they say is an acquired taste, but for those who like sweet, white wine and who know absolutely nothing about what they’re drinking, it was pretty good.  The food was simple and served buffet style (which was fun, because you get to try a little of everything).  We ate outside in the wine garden, which was lovely (if a little hot today) — there was live music and pretty landscaping (including a fountain, which Benjamin loved).  It started raining just as we were packing up to leave, and the rain followed us all the way home.

I do think it’s a fairly unique experience to Vienna, and I’m really glad we went.  I would like to go again.  The one we went to was effectively chosen at random (we had a recommendation from a friend, but we ended up finding a different one by accident) and we really didn’t know what we were doing.  Having been, I would choose a different location, order different things to eat and have a different expectation of the experience.  It was less about the food and drink and more about experiencing Vienna — which is what we’re here for, anyway.


Date night

After being here 3 months, Dan & I had our first opportunity to go out, just the two of us, last night.  We put the kids in bed, left Dan’s parents in charge and went out on our own.

We went to a cafe near our place, sat, and had a snack.  We were only out for an hour, but it was really nice to have a break . . . together.

Life is intense right now, and there has been very little time for anything beyond the bare essentials.  Everyone gets fed and cleaned every day — everything else is a bonus.  We’re just starting to get organized and relaxed enough for me to take a little (much needed) time for myself every week — time as a couple just hasn’t been in the cards (exacerbated by the fact that we don’t yet have child care here).

As the leader of this parade of craziness, it’s easy to live a lot of my life in a space of organizer/facilitator/dictator with Dan as chief-co-executor of my very well laid plans.  That’s great, and we definitely have developed some impressive skills in terms of making things work.  But it is good, every so often, to take off my “CEO of the Calle family” hat and just be together.  It’s important, at least, that we check in and make sure we still like each other.

So far, so good.

Playing host

So far, so good:  I made it to the arrival of my guests without having my head explode.  Success!  (Although, the last minute getting together of stuff and random cleaning did almost send me over the edge.)

Dan’s parents arrived safe and sound (and without getting lost) right at the end of nap time today.  We hung out here for the afternoon, and went to dinner.  Benjamin is having an awesome time playing with them, and Liam is loving all of the attention and activity, as well.


In addition to enjoying having them, we’re really looking forward to getting to be the relative experts for a few days — after nearly 3 months of always being the least informed person in a conversation, it’s an exciting prospect to be the ones who know what’s going on, where things are, and even a little of the local language.  (I’m kind of used to being a smarty pants, and I’ve grown unaccustomed to that feeling.)  We already experienced a little of this at dinner tonight:  it’s inevitable, because we live here, that we’d know where to go and what was good on the menu (which would be true anytime anyone visited in a new city) but we got to add to that knowing a little German (at least enough to order and ask for the check).

We have sightseeing plans for the weekend, as well as normal errand running (we still have things that have to get done, after all).  I’m looking forward to getting to revisit some of our favorite locations around Vienna.  And, I won’t lie, it’s going to be fun to show off a little of what we’ve learned and figured out.

Preparing for guests

Dan’s parents will arrive tomorrow — they’ll be our first guests since we moved here.  We’re all very excited to be able to show them around the fun stuff we’ve found in Vienna, and Benjamin is absolutely thrilled that his “Topes” are coming to see him.  We are very happy that they’re coming.

I’ve been busy over the past week or so preparing to have them visit:  we still have lots of unpacked boxes (which is not going to be completely addressed by the time of their arrival), cleaning the house as best we can (the moutons are putting up a good fight) and rearranging things so that everyone will have a place to sleep that is relatively comfortable.

All enthusiasm aside, I’m a little stressed out.  I think that a minimum of stress is unavoidable in my situation:  I’m dangerously close to the limit of my capabilities every day, so adding the work required to prepare for guests is asking a lot.  (In addition to that, this relationship is not the easiest or most comfortable one that I have, and that raises the stress levels, too.)  I woke up this morning irritable, with my nails chewed and my back aching — and our guests have yet to arrive.

We’ll see how things go.  We are excited to have them visit, and I am doing everything I can to prepare things to be as nice and hospitable as possible while still maintaining my sanity.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . .