Life As I Know It

The lead up:

It’s been 5 days since we’ve met the 2nd sonographer who gave us the rather un-informative news about Toby.

What he told us was that the baby is extremely small, but that the organs have been developing normally- heart beat was strong, brain was looking good, and he couldn’t see any physical abnormalities sans the smallness. He looked at the placenta and said it is about 1/2 of what it should be, and the blood flow within it is poor. My blood flow to it is good, I am giving it everything I should be.

We asked to find out the sex of the baby even though we previously said we weren’t going to because if things were bad then baby needed a name. The baby is just as much a person as any of us and a name really makes the baby real. Not that he wasn’t real before, but when there is a name, it changes the situation. I don’t know if you understand what I mean, but hopefully you understand.

We learned then that he was a boy. I was totally wrong about the baby being a girl. Then he said “He probably will not make it, you’ll probably choose termination.” That was a shock. We asked some more questions and he relented and explained that  the baby is coping for the time being but the placenta wouldn’t hold out but didn’t say how long. All he would say is that we could cross our fingers and wait 4-5 weeks to come back and check.

Two things: One, Termination isn’t something we wouldn’t consider unless Toby was in very bad shape and suffering. That isn’t something the guy could say was going on. He said the opposite, that he was coping and doing fine for the moment. Two, sitting and waiting around isn’t something we agree with either. This is our baby and we will do anything and everything to give him EVERY chance possible, so sitting and doing nothing is not on the agenda.

We discussed it with our regular OB who explained that there aren’t a ton of specialists who can deal with pregnancies like this nor facilities. Those that do exist are very complicated to navigate being on the state system (in Austria). She recommended that we would probably feel more comfortable coming home to where there are multiple specialists and hospitals dedicated to the care of high risk pregnancies and babies- which was something we privately were talking about anyway.

The Present:

So here I am at home- Josh and the kids get here on Wednesday since we couldn’t get the house/dogs situated to be able to all fly together.  I have an appointment with the head perinatologist at St. Luke’s/Presbyterian in Denver. I can’t say how much I wish it were Tuesday all ready.

Waiting the few days is agony. Waiting to see him and hear him is almost more than I can take. Every time I sit and don’t feel him move for a while, I panic. When he does move, it’s a relief, but part of me worries that I might be wrong about it being him.

Emotionally I am wrecked. I’m in a state of trying to maintain, to be positive and not worry. But that is hard, I am a worrier by nature. It is what I do best. When I am not busy or trying to keep my mind occupied the dark “what-if” thoughts come creeping in. What if he doesn’t make it? What if I go on Tuesday and he is gone already? What if he’s there but they don’t think he can hold on 3 more weeks?

I swing from being distraught, sad, and worried, to being able to laugh at a joke. It doesn’t feel right. But I think it’s perhaps part of a coping mechanism. I don’t know.

As a heads up, I can’t deal with emotional people. I’m not in a place where I can comfort others, (besides my husband) right now. So as harsh as it might sound, if you need to be sad and mopey I need you to do it somewhere else not around me. I need strength, not pity and more sadness.

We’ve done the research on what needs to be done if Toby leaves us, and that’s the last I will think about it. I’m not talking about it again unless it happens.

Instead I am focusing on the positive and what could be. Maybe he’s small, maybe he spends some time in a NICU, maybe there is more we can do to help him. I’ve already flown over 5,000 miles to try and give him any chance possible, and I will continue to do anything that needs to be done for him. I am not giving up.

Maybe one day Toby will be bigger than all of us, and we can call him Tiny Toby as a joke.



The Cheesecake That Wasn’t

I had a good one for you guys today. But I screwed it up. Sorry bout that. I am a failure (today)

There has been a recipe in the Facebook news feed this last week for a Red Velvet Cheesecake and it looks to die for. So I thought I would make it for you all, but do it in a video blog (vlog) so you could see all the steps and whatnot. I spent all day working on this damn thing. The cake part turned out great, but the cheesecake- not-so-much.

I don’t know what happened to it. I used my own recipe, but something went awry- it is crumbly/watery at the same time and kinda eggy in taste. Josh said to use it anyway, but I decided to wait and get it right. I want it to be beautiful and creamy, like the caramel cheesecake I made for Christmas a few weeks ago. THAT was the perfect texture/taste.  This cake is a sad, pathetic, deformed something that can’t even really be called cheesecake. It’s like a cream cheese quiche.

The baby at least loves it and has been chowing down.  One happy customer I suppose. Though this does nothing to build my repertoire of  cheesecake recipes so one day when I win the lottery I can open up my own shop and work for myself.

In any event, good news, there is red velvet cake in the freezer for when I can re-try the cheesecake. Bad news, cream cheese is mad expensive here. Keep your fingers crossed that Josh gets his physical scheduled soon so I can just go to the commissary and get a whole bunch.

At least I can spend some time learning how to edit the video on this thing. Which reminds me, if you’d like to see a video on something from here in Hungary, leave me some suggestions here or on Facebook!


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Jet Lag, Babies, and Being Sick

The title pretty much sums up my life for this last week since we’ve returned to Hungary.

The only person who seems to be sleeping regularly is the Smaller Captor, Oliver. Though, he’s beyond extra slow in the mornings. So slow, it’s painful. At least he gets a full night of sleep I guess.

The poor baby has been sick since the plane trip. She had been asleep for a while on the flight from Denver to Frankfurt and woke up needing a pants change. I took her, changed her and noticed she was a touch warm. I didn’t think much of it though because she was sleeping on us, so it would be easy to get rather toasty. As we got back to our row, the Bigger Captor was sitting there with a tray full of napkins, and empty food containers. And when the baby proceeded to start throwing up on me about 2 minuets later he just sat there and watched rather than try and grab something to help minimize the damage.


By the time we got home, I was covered in baby throw up, spaghetti sauce the baby flicked on me from the plane food, and pickle juice that the Bigger Captor dumped on me. Ode de airplane!

Since then though, the poor thing has been super sick, high fevers, not sleeping, snot factory, etc. At least she only threw up the one time. She doesn’t sleep for beans though- and wants to be in our bed, or held.

Night before last, I had finally gotten her to stop tossing and turning on the bed and lay across my chest. She had been quiet and baby snoring for about 10 minutes when the Bigger Captor decided to roll himself over and take her feet off of him. This of course woke her up. (Internal scream)  The Bigger Captor says he was pretty sure I was about to make him go sleep on the couch with the puppy. I should have.

Yesterday I had to call in late to work to take a nap in the morning before coming in since I had been up with the girl all night. I couldn’t even see straight. I planned my nap time carefully and I had banked on the fact that my hair was in decent shape from the day before so I wouldn’t have to wash it meaning I could sleep longer. But as I got up and started getting ready I noticed that one side of my hair was matted to the side of my head. Matted because it was full of dried baby snot.

I would say gross, but all I can do is shrug and go re-shampoo. I am so tired, I don’t even care.



And The Time We Almost Went Back To Europe

I should be on a plane right now. In fact, I should be on a 2nd plane by now. But instead, I am typing in the dark whilst the Tiniest Captor baby snores in the pack-n-play between the two beds in our hotel room. I had to wait in the dark for her to fall asleep before I could open the computer, since all she wanted to do was play peek-a-boo with me and babble nonsense. She’s too cute for her own good.

I checked the flights first thing when I got up this morning, everything looked good. Around the time we completed the obligatory “finish packing/the last minute cleaning/try not to scream at each other” phase of the trip we got the news our flight had been cancelled from my mother.

I got online and checked for myself. The Denver to Washington D.C. had been cancelled, but the Washington D.C. to Vienna was still a go. Just no way to get to D.C. Awesome.

Thus began the 3 some odd hours I would spend on hold with United over various phone calls.

After the first hour and 6 minutes of holding, I finally was connected to someone. And once that happened, the call dropped. I can’t list the expletives here that ensued. If you’ve ever seen Robin Williams standup routine about golf, you’ll know what I mean when I say “!*%& hope”

The Bigger Captor was scared.

So I re-dialed and started the song and dance all over again. Take another hour off of my life. THEN finally a live human who can’t pronounce my last name to save her life (even though I’ve corrected her on it three times) comes on. She makes me wait on hold for another hour while they re-ticket our flights. She must me a sadist- in fact, I think that’s probably a prerequisite to be an employee in the airline industry.

At any rate, if I ever have to hear that hold music I might just lose my mind. It will be the trigger for me like Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” was for Derek Zoolander.  Except I won’t have a Malaysian Prime Minister to kill. It will be some unsuspecting bystander.

So that brings us here, to our hotel. We decided to come down to Denver while we were on the phone in case we could get on a flight this evening, but no dice. So we’ve seen some friends, and are relaxing while we wait for the flight tomorrow evening. Except the weather here in Denver is supposed to get bad tomorrow and start snowing tonight. It would be just my luck . . .







Hi there Friends and Family!

We hope that 2013 has treated you well. For us 2013 was the Hungarian calm before the storm and in 2014 our lives will be up in the air. (Whee!)

Oliver has been doing very well in the 3rd grade at his international school. He is reading a ton (big books) and doing math with the 4th graders. He has a huge vocabulary, which leaves us scratching our heads at the incredible things he says.  He loves his baby sister Sarah but is not so secretly hoping for a baby brother.

Miss Sarah somehow gets cuter by the day. She is inches away from walking but is so adept at crawling, she could care less about trying. She tries to repeat words and has sworn off baby food altogether. She only wants to eat what the big people are eating—teeth be damned! Sarah doesn’t know what it means when we tell her a new baby is coming, but we suspect she won’t be thrilled about it, since she gets so much attention now.

Elizabeth has been steadily working away at her job with NATO as well as kept up with her National Guard commitment (including re-enlisting for another 6 years!). She’s done lots of great things in her time there and has really enjoyed it. She has also really upped her game in the kitchen since practically everything we eat is now homemade (bagels included). She is a tad nervous with how the coming year and move will go. Juggling a move, while pregnant with small children and dogs will be a big challenge. She’ll also be looking for a follow up job that was just as awesome as NATO is, which is no small task.  Elizabeth is tough though and will handle it just as well as she has handled everything else.

Joshua has perfected lawyering from 5,000 miles away. He enjoys working in his pajamas (joking . . . sort of). He does actually enjoy getting to see baby Sarah a ton during the day. Our Hungarian hasn’t improved much, but Joshua has been teaching English to the international military partners assigned to the program in Papa. It is his reprieve from the house and lets him make a positive impact on the community.  The coming move is all Joshua’s fault! With the help of some really spectacular recommendations, he was selected to join the United States Air Force JAG Corps. We don’t know where his assignment will be yet, or even when he will start training. We’ve been told tentatively March, but much has to happen prior to then, so that date can easily change.

We’ve been lucky to have several visitors over the past year. Joshua’s sister Cece came to visit in the spring, and our good friends Jeff and Adam spent a week with us on our vacation to Italy! Joshua’s dad was able to pop down to Hungary for a few days while he was in Europe refereeing wrestling. We also got to celebrate a real Thanksgiving with our friends the Simpsons, who recently moved from Cheyenne to Germany.

One of the most fun things about this year has been having multiple au pairs to take care of (mostly) baby Sarah and Oliver. First we had Miss Genevieve from Cheyenne. This happened out of pure luck but got us sold on the idea of having someone live with us full time. After Miss Gen went home, we spent the summer with lovely Miss Lena from Lile, France. Lena came with us to Wyoming on our trip home over the summer, and we didn’t think we would be able to make her get on the plane back to Europe.  Then was Marek from the Czech Republic, Viktoria from our village, and currently Miss Brigi who comes from the other side of Hungary. Miss Brigi loves to beat us at every game we play with her and laugh at our Hungarian “skills.”

The biggest change around our house in 2013 was with our pets. While we were in Wyoming in June, Elizabeth’s dog Loki passed away rather suddenly. He and his antics are greatly missed. He’s been with Elizabeth for such a long time and will never be replaced. In September, we brought home a new furry family member to keep Kyah company and to lessen the pain from the loss of Loki. The new guy is named Zeke and happens to be a merle colored Great Dane. He is 6 months old now, and weighs around 80lbs. He will be a VERY big dog. Moving him back across the ocean will be an adventure in and of itself.

Just in case you missed it before (or the earlier hints in this blog didn’t tip you off), we are expecting baby Tolin # 3 in May! We’re blaming the Italy trip for this one. Just like with Baby Sarah, we will NOT be finding out the sex of this baby. We figure that life only gives you so many true surprise gifts, so why open the wrapping early? Elizabeth hopes for another girl because we already have everything a baby girl could need (and then some.) Joshua hasn’t said whether he has a preference, but has caved at least subconsciously and says “girls” when talking about Sarah and the new baby. Oliver insists that if we don’t have a baby boy, that we need to adopt a brother for him. We’re not opposed; we always talked about having 4 kids total, but Elizabeth has declared that she is not EVER going to be pregnant again. So we shall see.

We sincerely hope that you all are doing well, and we hope to be able to see more of you in this next year! Our door is always open, no matter where in the world we are. We will welcome you with a warm place to sleep, legos on the floor to avoid, fresh cinnamon rolls, and a large dog for cuddles.

All our love,

Elizabeth, Joshua, Oliver, Sarah, and Baby Tolin #3.

P.S. Here’s a slideshow of our last year. It’s kinda long, but there are pictures of just about everything we did! Enjoy, skim, see if you can spot yourself, whatever you’d like!



Antelope and Then Some

I received the strangest thing EVER for Christmas from my family this year. I did not see this one coming, the same way the bunny down the road didn’t see the big truck coming . . . anyhow . . .

A while back when my Grandmother was getting ready to move, she had asked everyone if there were things in the house we all would like to have, so she wouldn’t sell them or toss them out. The Tolin clan had laid claim to a few random things; An oil painting of my Grandpa’s parents (he was very worried that no one would take it and it would end up in the trash) the 1950’s turkey roaster that works like a champ, the piggy cookie jar, and last but not least, the antelope bust that hung above the stairs.

Grandma had shot it herself, and it would be a shame to send it away! Plus, we don’t hunt, so the likelihood of us going out and getting one of our own is pretty much nilch.

Somehow in all of the who-wants-what-planning, the antelope was left off the list for us and my brother swooped in to lay claim to the antelope bust. A dramatic Facebook fight ensued, but unfortunately the posts have somehow vanished.

At any rate, at some point during the debate, I volunteered to take the ass-end of the antelope if it could be located . . . I should have known better than to open my mouth. One day MAYBE I will learn.

The ass-end has been located.

I now own that ass-end, and it has eyeballs on it.

They call it the "Prairie Owl"

They call it the “Prairie Owl”

It’s no James Garfield ala “The Bloggess” but Patrick is awesome!

I had always imagined it to have the back legs still attached and just hanging there- but that just goes to show that you need to be specific when you say you’ll accept a certain part of a dead animal. I can’t hang it up in Hungary since the walls support absolutely zero weight for hanging things. (Brick covered by some paper, then painted) So Patrick the Antelope-ass Prairie Owl will have to wait till we go to our new house- wherever that may be!


Wild Blue Yonder

The Bigger Captor gets to sing a new song– The Air Force Song! That’s right, the Bigger Captor is going to become a United States Air Force JAG Officer! (attorney)

It took FOREVER to get the phone call! Between then Government shut down, and all the other nonsense going on in the world, the notifications of the boards were about a month behind. We had our guesses as to when we would hear something written on the calendar. Both came and went, with no news.

The Bigger Captor was more nervous than the general public would be if Miley Cyrus took a pregnancy test. Let that sink in for a moment.

I might have been snooping through the email notifications  on the phone one morning, when I saw one from the guy the Bigger Captor had interviewed with. All it said was “give me a call when you get a chance.”

I screeched out for the Bigger Captor to come running, and within seconds had the number punched in, listening for the ring.

Lt Col Carter answered, the Bigger Captor said hello and who he was, and was met with a “JOSHUA TOLIN!! CONGRATULATIONS MY MAN!” It sounded as if Bob Barker was preaching it from the stage of The Price Is Right.

I’ve never actually seen anyone melt before, the the Bigger Captor did it. He melted into a puddle of happy and relief. (No he did not relieve himself in a puddle- just in case you were wondering.)

So the news is that sometime in 2014 we will me moving to a location unknown, date unknown, all while having a third baby (May 25 due date), and juggling the Smaller & Tiniest Captors, as well as the Captor Hounds. It’s seriously looking like I will have to move a household alone while pregnant, or with a brand new baby. I’m taking applications now for a helpy-helperton. If you have time to kill want want to come to Europe for a possible cross-Europe or Trans-Atlantic trip, let me know!

In all seriousness though, I’m very proud of my dear husband, the Bigger Captor. He will serve this country well- just as he does our family. I hope I can be as supportive to him as he has been for me these last 2 years of job/moving craziness. I know it will be a strange and probably stressful year coming up, but we are no strangers to adventure and I welcome this next one in our lives. More stories to tell, and new people to meet. I love you dear husband, keep kicking tucas!


tire, tire, tire, tire, TIRE!!!!

Ok, I mean really. Who else does this stuff happen to?

We were on our way home in our jalopy of a rental vehicle (which they are replacing tomorrow or heaven help them!) when the weirdest thing happened. We were sitting in the left lane of Dell Range at the stop light. It wasn’t in front of Wal-Mart, because that would have been all too appropriate. Not to mention, somewhat expected.

At any rate, I looked up in time to see this tire and rim come rolling through the intersection- sort of like in a movie, after a crash. First thing through my mind, was “huh, a tire, that’s odd” then it set in that it was aimed right at our van. Without yelling I managed to start sputtering “tire, tire, tire, tire, TIRE!”  as the Bigger Captor stared at me in confusion. (I know that is how he usually looks at me, but whatever)

He looked from side to side, wide eyed and noticed it the last second. The light had turned green, so he tried to dodge it, but no luck. It impacted the van with a loud THUMP and then promptly fell over and took a nap in the road. The Bigger Captor said, “uh, what do we do?” I shrugged as we pulled off at the next light and got out to look. Sure enough- big giant black rubber and grease mark all down the back door and back side panel.

All I could think was “well, shit.” It’s a rental car, and I don’t want to have to pay for the damage, plus how do you even explain that? It’s so random that I don’t think the people would have even believed us.  So we went to go and try to catch up with the guy. I had seen the truck pulling a trailer with no wheel on it- perhaps it hadn’t rolled away too far.

Sure enough, since we had only gone a block, he hadn’t been able to escape yet. We pulled in behind him and got out of the van as he rolled the recovered tire through a parking lot. He smiled hesitantly and asked how we were doing, I said, “Good, except we got hit by your tire.” He cringed and said, “I thought so.”

He told us how he noticed it was wobbly when he turned the corner and he had thought he needed to get off the road ASAP, then he looked back again to see it rolling away towards our van. He hadn’t seen where we had driven off to, though.

Thankfully, even though it was the entire wheel, we only got hit with the tire part. The inside of that trailer rim would have done some serious damage to the body, plus if we had run it over, it would have REALLY been bad.

The guy offered to pay the bill if we took it to a body shop to get it off, but we explained that they were swapping the van out tomorrow and the guy jumped into action to look for something that would work. About the time we were going to give him our number and address he came back with a magic solvent and a rag- which buffed it right off! (I did not take a picture because it could TOTALLY be incriminating evidence- at least with the blog I could have plausible deniability.)

The whole thing was pretty comical in reality and we were laughing about it the entire time. It’s the craziest thing! However I  did get accolades from both my mother-in-law and husband for not yelling when the offending tire came hurdling towards us. I think I have earned a prize- just please not a tire.



A Moment With Oliver

Short & sweet (short yes, but sweet–debatable)

One day I might make a compilation of all the things that come out of the Smaller Captor’s mouth- and maybe turn it into a book or something. I can think of about 3 people who would buy it, but it would make a great gift for someone who is thinking about having children. Then they could read about what it’s really like.

Initially I thought I’d call it “Sh&t Oliver Says” but that title has somewhat been used already. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with something, or rather, Oliver will probably come up with something.

Scene: grocery store checkout line

Characters: Myself and the Smaller Captor

Me (upon getting a whiff of the kid’s breath): DUDE! Did you even brush your teeth today?!

SC: Yeah, I used the timer and everything.

Me: What have you been eating?

SC: I dunno, food?

Me: Have you been using your swooshie? (Swooshie is what SC calls mouth wash)

SC: YES! I use it every day.

Me: Well, let me know when you are running out so I can get some more. Since we’re already here, should we get some?

SC: No. I have plenty.

Me: Ok.

brief pause

SC: (very excitedly) When it gets low, I just add more water to it- and it makes more swooshie! Then we don’t have to buy any!

Me: Excuse me? You do what? (Intense stare of horror)

SC: Yeah, I just add more water, it still kinda tastes like swooshie, and it has some color left too! Cool huh?

Me: facepalm & groan

People in line behind me: (They have no idea what has just happened, but they are laughing)


The kid is nothing, if not extra special.  Bless his heart for trying to save money though.


Trainee McClure Reports As Ordered

The first day of basic training was interesting, but it certainly wasn’t the only comedic day.

Let’s face it, I do a pretty good job of playing the scared animal. I don’t run and hide, I don’t bark back, I am frozen–nay, petrified; both metaphorically and physically. I worry about doing the wrong thing and about getting in trouble whether I was the one who committed the crime or not. I worry about everything, a lot.  I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my childhood, but let’s not go there. We’d need a therapist probably, and it would be too expensive.

Not too long after I had arrived at Lackland AFB for training, and everyone was to go to this Christmas party “thing.” Basically it was an outdoor event for all the trainees, and had food, games, a movie at the theatre, jumpy castle things, and a dance floor. Our TI was rather displeased with the whole scenario and referred to it as “BMT Gone Wild.” And it was. It was basically a free-for-all. The definition of insanity. People gone and lost their damn minds.

I thought it was a trick, a trap perhaps. They’d wait till it got really out of hand then the TI’s would descend upon us and the reaping would begin. Needless to say, I walked around not wanting to do anything, or eat anything for fear of getting in trouble. Then I started noticing how the field we were in was just getting destroyed. Trash everywhere, food/game tickets all on the ground, people screaming, and yelling, and even worse, grinding on the makeshift dance floor.

I started to cry (remember, I am a crier.) People thought I had been hurt and came to check on me, worried that perhaps I’d been accosted or something.

I was just pissed off. I had traded Christmas and New Years with my soon to be two year old son, to be stuck in a field of hooligans making complete jack wagons out of themselves, and I just KNEW that the wrath of the devil himself was coming for us all. I’m pretty sure the line I used in between lip quivering and gasping breaths was, “I gave up Christmas with my son for THIS?! A bunch of people being idiots and we’re all going to get in trouble for it?!”

It was at that point that the TI’s charged with babysitting the crowd just shook their heads at me and walked away. One told me to go get a cookie and calm down. (Probably sage advice) They had to go deal with the dance floor grinding anyway. As some would put it, there was no room between people for Jesus.  I don’t think Jesus would have helped in that matter, I think a stick upside the head might have been a better solution.

At any rate, I decided right then and there that I was going to clean the whole field. So I grabbed a bag, and set about picking up all the trash I could find, and putting all the food/game tickets in my pocket. Amazingly enough, others joined in too. They assumed it was time to clean up, so a few jumped in. We didn’t actually clean the whole field and after about 20 minutes, we got told to stop.

By this time I had amassed quite the pocket full of food/game tickets. I found a table of familiar faces and sat down with them, explaining my tear stained face and red eyes. Then I mentioned the tickets and some of the guys faces lit up brighter than the north star. Within about 10 minutes, all the tickets were gone, and I had people coming from all over to ask me if “I was the girl who had all the tickets.”

I had become some sort of underground dealer. I had the goods, and they wanted them. Except I was all out of goods with no source. So, I guess I was a pretty crappy dealer in the end.

I don’t really remember the rest of the night except for more exclamations of “BMT Gone Wild!” I wish I could say it was due to all the top shelf margaritas I had consumed, but that would be a lie. And, then I would be worried about getting in trouble for the lie. I’ll just save myself the agony . . .