Monday, October 04, 2010

Where Have You Been, Missy??

Edited to add: Blogger is giving me fits with adding pictures, so I am going to add the rest in the next post with little captions that tell you why the actually apply to THIS post!

Hmm. I am starting to write this, while at the same time thinking no one will read it, because everyone probably thinks I have abandoned my blog forever. I know many folks have, in favor of facebook, but that is not my reason. And, since my last post was about getting a puppy, you might think that she takes up SO MUCH TIME that I can't blog. That's not it either, although it is part of it. The real reason is that I honestly cannot keep up with my life. I keep thinking I am almost caught up, and then something else crashes in.

But, I have decided to publicly admit that I really do want to write. Not just this blog. But, really write something. So, I should be writing everyday, and therefore I start here. Just to get in the habit or what have you.

Here's an update. Soldier boy came home at the very tail end of April (after having waited in Kuwait for a couple of weeks thanks to the volcano in Iceland of all things). It was amazing. We have never gotten to participate in a deployment ceremony or a welcome home one. He has always left early and come back either early or late, so the big ceremonies never include us. I sent an email to a bunch of friends, and TONS of people came to the airport to welcome him back. Then, we got home and TONS more people were in our culdesac. It was just amazing. It was so touching!! He was shocked and overwhelmed!

Since he didn't have to be to school in Kansas for a few months, he went back to his old office here for a that time, instead of wasting all the leave. Turns out, they just happened to need him to go to Hawaii for a training exercise. And, we just happened to have enough credit card points to pay for 2 airline tickets. So, for the cost of 2 airline tickets, our entire family got to go to Hawaii for 12 days. Really--how amazing is THAT? Very amazing, considering that we had been planning a giant trip when he got home, and then we cancelled it to save money since we would need it for the coming year because of the next thing to update on...which is--

The kids and I were supposed to go with him to school in Kansas. However, it is a 10 month school, and then we would move AGAIN. The oldest child is in 5th grade this year, and that is a BIG deal here. It is like senior year. Last year he was so close he could practically taste it, so it was killing him the idea of not getting to be here. And then, the idea of moving them only to have to do it again the next year just seemed cruel. J is in kindergarten, but he's been at this school for the last 5 years with the other boys, so it is comfortable to him. I didn't want his first 2 years of education to be in continuous flux.

Therefore, we decided that the kids and I would stay here, and Soldier Boy comes to visit an average of once a month when he has a long weekend. You would think that after 15 months apart, we would want to be together. And that is true. But, we weighed the pros and cons and we thought about the fact that something was going to be difficult either way. Either adjusting to a new place, all the while anticipating the next move, so not bothering to get too familiar or entrenched or daddy being gone. We decided to go with the second option because that way the majority of their lives stayed stable. And, as Army kids--Daddy being gone a lot is actually normal and part of our definition of stable.

The first time he left was painful, but he has been back and forth to visit now, and the kids are seeing how quick the times goes between visits, so it has actually been pretty ok.

The only problem is that I was not quite prepared. Before the Iraq deployment I made a lot of plans are prepared myself for a lot of things, so I didn't start getting tired until about month 13. This time, either I didn't have enough "recharge" time, or I didn't prepare well enough, because I already feel like we should be at the 8th or 9th month, and it is only the third. I am getting better though. The routine of school is helping. Which brings up the next issue...

J started kindergarten this year. Who knew it was going to throw me into a self identity crisis??? I certainly didn't anticipate it! I already have kids in school, so why would it be any different to have one more (the last) kid in school? I wasn't sad on the last day of preschool. I figured this would actually help me not be so tired all the time because of the...the what? it's not a deployment. Separation? We aren't actually separated, as far as the accepted meaning of the term...so what is it? I don't know. I'll call it the "assignment."


So, I thought it would make this assignment easier, since I would have time to run errands, go to doctor appointments, etc. without dragging J along (who was an ANGEL during errands his last year as a preschooler, but I still felt like a jerk making him do that stuff all day) or without trying to rush it all through during his 3 hours of preschool.

Well, guess what. It's killing me. I expected to face this issue when he left for college and I became an empty nester. At least that has a title that I could google for ways to handle. I don't even know what this is!! But, that kid went to kindergarten and I broke down. Not in the "my baby is going to kindergarten and I don't want to let go of his hand" way. I didn't even feel sad as he was walking to class...just proud of him and excited for him and happy that he was getting to be one of the "big kids" officially now. AND THEN...I walked out of the school. My heart fell apart. I didn't know what to do or where to go.

Last year when he was in preschool 3 days a week, I worked in N's class one day, R's class one day, and J's class one day. I usually got one Wednesday a month off from preschool, so I crammed appointments and un-kid friendly errands into those hours. And now, I have all these hours that they are all away from me. I have had some time away from them, of course, with babysitters or whatever, but this is different. I don't hire babysitters so that I can "go out." I have babysitters so often for things like PTA meetings, etc, that I don't think it is fair to the kids (or financially responsible) to go "out." But, those times away from them were specific missions that I returned from immediately. Now, they are away from me whether I have something to do or not.

I don't know what to do!!!!! I don't like being alone. I would rather be with people ALL THE TIME than not. So, this is very odd for me. At first, I just stayed at the school. The teachers can always use help, so I just went into a classroom and said "give me a job." Then, I started shopping. (Not in the "shopaholic" sort of way--just catching up on things we need since the kids had been home all summer and they DO NOT LIKE to shop. Things like a shower shelf and study games etc.)

Now I am trying to create a schedule for myself. I always function better within a set of rules, especially if I create the rules, so I think that will help. I am going to write at least 3 days a week on something and I am going to start going to the Farmers Market so we can eat healthier. I am going to scan all my pictures so I have them on disc (or drive) and I am going to work at the school 10 hours a week. I would like to say I am going to work on enjoying time by myself, but that is a lie. I don't enjoy it. I would rather have someone drop by and hang out when my house is filthy and I am folding laundry than be by myself. So, instead I will fill the time.

Kid updates:

R broke his arm the first day of school (riding his scooter at the park). It was horrendous. They had to sedate him to set it, and they almost had to do surgery because it kept popping back out of place when they got it in. He has been in a cast for almost 6 weeks, and gets it off this Thursday. He is in second grade and loves it. He has the same teacher N does, and her personality fits R even better. I love her very much, so I know it will be a great year for him.

There is a little boy in his class who moved here from Vietnam 3 weeks before school started. He doesn't speak any English, and neither do his parents. R has decided to be his personal teacher/bodyguard/helper (whether Tri likes it or not). They are very similar in temperment, and have had a great time getting to know each other--even though they can't speak much with words, they communicate well. It is so cute!

J loves school, which I am so thankful for. I thought he might be one of those that complained about it every morning. I knew he would be happy once he got there, but I was not looking forward to daily complaining about going. His teacher has somehow made him completely buy into the whole thing, and he loves it. I am struggling a little though, because he is having trouble with things like letter recognition and sounds, and the other two "just knew" that stuff. I don't have a clue how they did, they seemed to just absorb it as soon as you said it, and he hasn't. His teacher is not terribly concerned right now, and I am not freaking out thinking he has a problem...I'm just worried that he will eventually have a problem because I don't know what to do to help him. He shouldn't be punished for having an incapable mom! Which brings me to the next thing...

I am coaching J and R's soccer teams. TWO SEPARATE TEAMS. I always volunteer for this stuff because I want to be involved in their lives, and I figure that by the time they are 8 they don't want a girl coach, so I will be irrelevant in about 3 years. I have all these great intentions of improving kids self-esteem, teaching them to work as a team, learn to love the game, etc...Then we get into the season. And we get SMASHED. And then I feel like a big jerk because the kids are basically being punished because they are on my team and I don't know how to coach like the other coaches do, and the other coaches are guys and they care about winning and I don't (I know that's hard to believe about me, but really--when they are little I don't care if they win. I want them to feel GOOD about it.)

So, J's team has gotten completely crushed in our first 3 games. Then this week we WON BY A LOT!!! Like 9 to 2 or something! Ri's team tied his first two games, and then had a bye. I am actually the assistant coach on that team, but the head coach was out of town this week. I worried all week about how we would do. But, I have gotten to know the kids really well and I know their strengths and weaknesses, so I created a lineup that would let everybody play offense and defense, but they would also be able to cover for each other. I was DISTRESSED, but we won!! I don't even know what the score was, but something like 4-1 or 5-2 or something. It was great. And made me feel a little better about myself, just for that day.

N is in 5th grade and it is about to kill us both. He has so much homework that I truly doubt he is learning anything. He can't commit any of it to actual memory, because he is too busy doing the work. One day he stayed home because he was sick and I went and got his assignments. It was TWENTY SEVEN pieces of paper to be completed and turned in. The theory is that she is getting them ready for middle school, which I appreciate. I know they will have to manage themselves a lot more since they will have different classes, etc. But, at this point, we are BOTH overwhelmed by it. And, the younger two get completely neglected when N needs my help. I think we are getting better though. We created an organization system for him, and the last two weeks he has earned a homework pass, which means he turned in every single assignment on time. That may seem like not a big deal, but believe me. They are a rare commodity!

He is, of course, also playing soccer. And somehow, this year, he has become a force to be reckoned with on offense (that was his coach's term!) He has scored 4 goals in 3 games. This past week, his team was tied 0-0. Then exactly 3 seconds before the whistle, N scored. It was awesome. And, in case you are wondering, he is not doing cornrows like last year. No, he didn't cut his hair. This year he is wearing braids. I can't tell you how much time it takes. Actually, I can. One week it took 3 hours. Now I do bigger braids, but it still takes over an hour. Ridiculous, but apparently good luck, so we will continue to do it!

Soldier boy is doing well. He likes the school he is in because he feels like they really do work on things that they will use in the future (for example, one week they were assigned to be a battlion commander and an incident had just happened in the foreign country they were serving in, and they had 1/2 an hour to prepare for a press conference.

He is also doing a Masters' program in Administration with an emphasis in leadership. He will finish it by this summer, and it is very inexpensive for us. It has been a personal goal for him for a while, so it is good. It also works out that we didn't go with him. He has class Friday evenings and all day Saturdays every other weekend. There is NO WAY I could have approved of that if we were there! Been gone for 15 months and now you live with us and are STILL not going to help with soccer carpool?? I don't think so! But this way, it fills his time, and they don't meet on long weekends so he can come home to see us! Works out great! God always has a plan, you know?

The only other thing that has happened is that I sold my bedroom furniture. It was very, very big, and I didn't really like it from the time I brought it home. I think I was rushed into making a decision because the kids were with us (and remember they were little--6, 3, and 1) and by the time it got to the house, it didn't even look like I thought it did.

Anyway--I sold it to a friend who is thrilled with it. I was going to move the guest room stuff to my room, but instead left it where it is. I am by myself, and I do in my room is sleep. I don't have a reading nook in there or the computer or anything. So, I moved the kids "TV room" upstairs to the Master. The Wii is there, and the futon and a loveseat. Now, it is so much quieter downstairs! And, IF WE EVER have guests (which never happens) they can have that whole room. Plenty of sleeping space for 5 or more people, and the bathroom is attached.

The downstairs has very little furniture now, and I love it. I am leaving it that way, because I am learning a lot about myself right now, and one of the things I've learned is that I like open floor space in my house! So, I will not buy new furniture until I know ( and can afford) exactly what I want. Because, I know myself well enough to know that if I get something cheap, just to have for now because we need SOMETHING, I will not be able to bring myself to replace it until it falls apart. And we all know that when you want something to fall apart, it never does!

So, that's it. I am off to try to decide what to get my kids for Christmas because I have absolutely no ideas for two of them. The other one is finished. Ridiculous. The good news is, I have trained them not to ask for stuff. They don't constantly harrass me with "I want this or that!" when they see a commercial, and they don't wander Target screaming "I want a toy!" The bad news is, I have trained them well enough that they don't WANT anything. They want to play outside. Which is great. Until you have to figure out what to give them for Christmas. I can only buy so many basketballs!

Let me know if you have suggestions!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Minnie

Sometimes I am jealous that I don't have a little girl and I don't get to shop for all the cute dresses and hairbows and stuff like that.

Now look what I have! She is a 1 lb, 6 oz yorkshire terrier/poodle mix. Yesterday was her 2 month birthday and her name is Minnie (in honor of my first precious puppy, Mickey...and in a cute play on words--the fact that she is "mini.")
And, yes, all of this stuff is absolutely essential. She has a different bed upstairs in her kennel, but this one is for downstairs for the FEW MOMENTS that no one is available to hold her. The bed has AN ARMY LOGO STITCHED ON IT!!!
The blankets are because she is always cold, and we only had Incredible Hulk ones here. Tiny pink toys, food bowls (that are currently taller than she is) an extra water bowl for upstairs, and a tshirt that says "princess." The shirt is for dogs that are 6 inches long--and it is twice her size!
Now I just need to get a bag to carry her around in (so I can hide her in stores since she goes everywhere with us!) and some hairbows...think she'll wear them?




Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2010

I'm not sure what this year will hold. That's an interesting thought for me. Although it should have dawned on me long ago, since in this Army life (or really any life?) we never know what is in store for us.

I have always been so consumed with trying to get things to turn out exactly how I want them, exactly right. Lately I have been trying to focus more on LETTING the right things happen, and making myself have the right attitude about it. Basically, my frequent prayer is "Please give me insight to know Your plan for us, and please give me peace in my heart to accept it."

So many times the parts of life that I have railed against have turned out to be fantastic. Of course, some have turned out to be just as horrible as I expected...but I'm trying not to focus on those!

I have a lot of questions about this upcoming year. There are decisions and plans to be made. The children are in stages that bring new challenges for them as people and me as their parent. I'm not sure I'm happy about all of it. But, I also don't KNOW that I won't be happy.

Not very sensible, this post. And yet, its the best I can do to explain my thoughts about 2010. I have no resolutions. For someone who has always been into long term planning, setting goals, and working TOWARD something...at this point--I just want to hang on and see.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Video

I don't know if you guys have heard this song...but it is amazing. I found this video that someone made to go with it. I love it, but it hurts a little...don't look unless you have some tissues ready!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6p7HtoYlwY

Christmas Poem

I don't know who wrote this. And it made me cry. But there are parts of it that rang really close to me this year...not just the part about him being gone, but about REMEMBER them so that they know you loved them like they loved you...

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."


" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."


This is not S! Just a cool pic!



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Funny

I was talking to a friend yesterday about S coming home for R&R in February. "Can you believe it?" I said. "It's only 2 1/2 months away! It's like he's practically here! I can't believe it is that soon! Isn't it weird??!"

"Yes," she said. "It is weird. It's weird that you think 2 1/2 months is soon."

And that, my friends, is a lesson in perspective!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

The thing that I am thankful for today is that Thanksgiving is just another day. I don't say that with bitterness, sarcasm, or anger, or even sadness. I truly say it with thanks. One of the things that worried me most when we first got married (and spent our first Christmas apart due to our first deployment!) was that I would fall apart at holidays.

I'm really good at falling apart. I seem to have it down to a science. I don't really need a catalyst, but if I have one, gracious sakes, it is a sight to behold--or to hide from, if you can get away...

That Christmas actually turned out fine. Most of the other wives in our unit had gone home, since their husbands were deployed. I didn't have vacation time from work, so I couldn't leave. I woke up Christmas morning and went over to our chaplain's house. He and his wife and their little girl let me join in their Christmas breakfast. I will always love chocolate chip pancakes because of that day. (The words "chocolate chip pancakes" in my head are always said with a New Jersey accent because of them!!)

Then, guess what! Chaplain D took me to the office and I got to talk to S on the phone!!! This was before we had a computer, much less internet, and we got one 15-minute phone call per week. It was the greatest gift ever! And then, everything was fine for the rest of the day.

Since then, I've kind of just taken the holidays as they come. I don't like the stress that is created by making sure that everything is "exactly the way that it is supposed to be," so we do things differently every year. No one gets disappointed, and we have some great memories of all the different things we've done for holidays over the years.

But, best of all, I don't ache with missing him when he isn't here. I miss him the whole time he is deployed, but holidays don't make it worse. The Army has taught me that the 2nd Tuesday in October is just as special and wonderful as December 25th if your family is together. We enjoy the time we have together, AND we find ways to enjoy the time that we have to be apart. We look forward to him coming home, but we refuse to be miserable while he is gone.

Today we will have brisket and ribs at the home of good friends. I made chocolate chip pecan pie (that will probably taste horrible because I cooked it too long) and we will finish the plan for our Black Friday shopping trip. We will miss S, and maybe we'll talk to him on Skype for a while...and maybe we won't. But, we will be THANKFUL and we will be HAPPY and we will celebrate a VERY SPECIAL holiday in February. No one else will think it is a special day, but it will be bigger than all the other holidays combined for our family...and we'll be thankful then too!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Football

R's teacher has a son who is a senior at "our" high school and plays on the football team. At the beginning of the season, I made R a tshirt with Mrs. J's son's number on it. He's worn it to all the games, and this week--the last game of the season--he actually got to meet him before the game.
W is the biggest player on the team. R--not such a big kid. It was so cute to watch him pick him up--he literally looked like he was picking up a piece of paper!! R was THRILLED!! It was like he met a rock star!