Welcome to my deployment diary! Everything you will see here may not be pretty. It may not be happy. It may not be what you’re expecting. But, such is the life of an Army wife! My husband recently deployed to Afghanistan and this is where I’ll be posting my daily anecdotes. I expect some days will be better than others and many worse!
July 8, 2013
Long time, no see dear deployment diaries. It’s been a hectic past month… I’ve stumbled, tripped, fallen, and gotten back up again just long enough to find my footing and fall again. Single parenting is for the birds. My mom was a single parent, my grandmas, and my mother-in-law- all working single moms making it work day-by-day. I’ve always admired their strength, but more so now than ever before (and I don’t even have a real 40+ hours/week job(s) nor the financial uncertainty of my role models).
I deal with attitudes, blatant refusal to listen, temper tantrums, forever hungry bellies, demands, high expectations, and then some multiplied by 3. When things are running smoothly, I find myself dropping everything else to savor the 14-20 minutes of peace. The mornings when all three kiddos are reading side-by-side peacefully, the hot summer afternoons outside in the kiddie pool, sleepy Sunday mornings watching cartoons, and quiet Friday evenings catching a movie on-demand (because all three in the theater would be unthinkable). These are the moments I wish I could stretch out and slow down. I find myself neglecting dishes and the vacuuming in honor of these moments. Nearly single parenting has taught me to live to fight another day and to count my blessings each and every day. Above all, nearly single parenting has taught me to never judge. I’ll never judge another child with mis-matched clothing and ripped jeans, a mom in her PJs in Target, or the parent struggling with a fussy pre-tod in line at the grocery store.
The deployment experience has taught me so much as well…
#10 Drop the friends who feel neglected when you need to take a week to regroup as a person and as a family. Drop the friends who don’t understand your need to stay busy and occupied. The ones who warn you of the terrible fall-out. They will only hold you back from reaching your full potential.
#9 Now is the time to break a bad habit or establish a new/healthy one! Make new goals that can be measured over the length of the deployment!
#8 Establish a regular routine, a new one that is unique to your new family dynamic. Your kids will thank you and you won’t have the daily ” mom, what are we doing today” struggle.
#7 Find a dependable baby-sitter, book hourly respite care in advance, and take time-out for yourself on a regular basis.
#6 Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
#5 Accept help when offered. I still have a hard time doing this, especially when the kids are sick.
#4 Call your mom to vent. Most likely, your battle buddies will be going through the same exact things you are. You don’t want to make their situations seem less significant in your vent sessions. So, call your mama, sister, or a friend whose hubby isn’t deployed. They won’t judge or compare apples to apples.
#3 Table those arguments. Arguing long distance is also for the birds. It is so difficult to solve anything via email or Skype. Time is precious and perhaps that argument isn’t as pertinent as you think it is. Take a step back, a day to breathe, and then see if you’re still upset.
#2 Make friends with the same interests and goals or, better yet, make friends with those who inspire you! You’ll find yourself with the best work-out buddy, running partner, crafty friend, Zumba dance partner, and bunco group a gal could ever ask for.
#1 Say, text, type, and vlog “I Love You” to your soldier as often as possible. Your soldier will feel like he/she is missing out on your new life back home (because they are), so let them know that your love has not changed and that it burns strong for them.
I’m almost certain I learned a lot more than this, but that’s all for now!
May 25, 2013
I cannot believe we are at the tail-end of this deployment!
Well, I CAN believe it. Every day is a struggle to get through the day without tempers flaring (on all sides). In fact, I’m writing this as my boys sneakily hit each other and as my dear 15-month old decorates the windowsills with lovely doodles in crayon. I’m trying my best to resist putting “for sale” signs on the lot of them and setting them at the curb for bulk pick-up. I can hear it now… “LeMay, do you take naughty children?” “Ummmmm, no ma’am. They have wine for that!”
Some people fantasize about winning the lotto. I have been fervently dreaming about my kids sleeping-in late allowing me an extra hour of alone time and quiet. That they’ll wake up happily, get dressed quickly, and quietly pour their bowls of cereal. No slamming of bowls or cabinet doors. No fighting about who gets what color bowl and spoon. No Lilli’s waking up cranky because her brothers are arguing loudly downstairs. No dog barking. No gun rounds at 0530. No dirty diapers. I dream of peace and quiet.
Ahhhhhhh. Calgon, take me away!
Of course without all this crazy, life would be void of all pure joy and happiness and of all the laughs and giggles that make our family what it is. I love my family. I love my kids. But, if it’s not raining outside, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to kick them out of the house and force them to play outside 😉
Playtime is healthy- for mamas and kids alike!
May 19, 2013
Dirty Girl Mud Run & Our 1st Deployment Fight
Yesterday, a group of Tommies & Manchus trotted, jogged, and crawled our way through the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Snohomish, WA! Many of us trained for this 5K and all of us really didn’t have to. There were walkers & joggers, fit-models & pleasantly plump-ers all working alongside each other. We talked about our deployed soldiers, comfort foods, wedgies, and eating mud. The run wasn’t timed and encouraged the type of sisterhood only to be found in close quarters.
I arrived knowing just a couple of the ladies and walked away muddied and embracing the entire group! We stayed true to our group motto and definitely “got down and dirty for our soldiers”!
The day before the mud run was TERRIBLE. My soldier and I got into our first deployment fight and I was a wreck. I’d definitely planned on having one or two, but didn’t anticipate it being so hard. Skype sucks. Email sucks. IMing sucks. You just want to cry and hold each other…
So, I trained hard for one event and didn’t have to…trained hard for another and it surely paid-off. The hubby and I made up within the same day and I was able to go to my Dirty Girl Mud Run strong and motivated!
May 14, 2013
“For the Bullied and Beautiful” by Shane Koyczan
This video of Shane Koyczan’s spoken word has really touched my core beyond measure. I’ve seen my children bullied, been the bully, and even worse, I’ve been a bystander to bullying.
As I dive into the realm of my self-esteem, Shane’s words resonate with me,
“I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean with toward the opposite”.
May 6, 2013
Something happened when I had a daughter. Deep down inside my subconscience a nerve was triggered. But before I get to all that, here’s my back-story.
If you don’t know me, I have two boys who are just barely 15 months apart. Having my boys back-to-back left very little time and opportunity to really take care of me.
I started with attending Baby Boot Camp once Liam (2nd) was older and weened. I loved being outdoors with other moms, but it was always difficult working around 2 toddler’s schedules and moods.
So 2+ years go by and I’ve spent one too many mornings and nights at my desk chair in my studio sitting on my forever-growing ass. One day I woke up and I’d gained like 25 pounds! My jeans were too tight, my arms lost all tone and definition, and don’t even get me started on my muffin-top.
Things just weren’t pretty. I didn’t feel pretty anymore & my husband, ever-so-patient and kind, never said a word. His mom struggled with her weight all her life, so he is very empathetic. His loser of a biological father told my husband that he left his mom because of her weight gain. What a winner, right? Anyways, I hated being naked & blamed it on child-bearing…it’s my right, right?
I hated the look of myself in tagged Facebook pictures and pretty much hated the sight of myself in ALL pictures. Suddenly I started disappearing from all our family pictures. My Father-in-Law would always say, “Now, I just need a picture with YOU in it!” I would just nervously laugh it off and blame it on not having a photographer around to take our pictures 😉
So Fast-Forward a wee bit & all of sudden, I found out I was pregnant…again. I gained 75 pounds at the peak of my pregnancy- depressing. I didn’t have that much weight to spare!
Then, on February 2, 2012 I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl. Within the first couple hours of her life, I vowed to be a better me for her and for my family.
To just affirm my dedication to the cause, I completely changed our family’s eating habits. Over the years, I’d slowly started switching to whole grain, organic, all-natural everything, but now I started to kick into full gear. I threw out snacks, stopped buying processed junk, and kept healthy choices within arm’s reach for the kiddos.
Then, I started running again using the Couch to 5K iPhone App. But with the demands of my husband’s career and 3 children, running just didn’t happen most of the time.
Then, on November 6, 2013 my husband deployed to Afghanistan. A wife from our unit started a group called Raider Run to Afghanistan with the goal of running or exercising enough miles to reach Afghanistan! It lit a fire under me and that week I signed-up all of us for memberships to the Y! It became our new family activity and every day to this day, we still go to the Y for some activity or another. It is the best, most positive change I’ve ever made in my life for myself and my family alike!
Like a domino effect, one healthy change has led to another. I started juicing and my first 3-day cleanse was a killer (see older posts for juicing info)! My kidneys were sore on days 2 & 3 from all the crap flushing out (pardon the pun). I continue to juice daily & I love the results! I also started the monthly squat challenge!
Fast forward to today… I see a trainer at the Y through their 12-week program and have been doing so for a month now! I had my 4-week follow-up with my trainer and my weight & BMI are down! Hooray! I’ve added weight-lifting & Pilates into my exercise routine and already feel so much stronger.
I still have a long road ahead of me and it’s my *NEW* goal to be the healthiest, most fit me before I turn 30 (I’m 28)! So, I’ve started the Advocare 24-Day Challenge in order to lean up. I don’t eat enough protein, so this diet (which consists of 3 square meals a day with protein at each meal) should set me on the right track. I’ve also signed-up for two 5Ks!
My most favorite thing about making a commitment toward a better healthier more fit me is seeing the positive effects on my children who now choose water over soda and bananas over potato chips! I’ve also seen Facebook friends & family implement changes and message me to tell me I was their inspiration…ME?! My two closest friends have told me that they’re proud of me and I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.
These days I juggle 3 kids, a part-time career as a designer (and I say “career” in the loose sense), a deployed husband, a Hamster, a dog, and friends while still having time to work on a healthier more fit me. It is possible!
My daughter is growing at warp-speed and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting it’s that our kids learn by watching us. They learn love from the relationship you establish with your spouse. They learn healthy eating habits by eating the same things you do. They learn time management by watching and participating in what you do daily. They learn kindness and compassion from your interactions with friends and strangers alike. They learn manners from your words and actions. It is my hope that my daughter sees a healthy & confident mom as grows so that she, too, will one day be a confident and healthy woman, mother, lover, and/or spouse. The same can be said for my boys!
Here’s to a healthier family- mind, body, and soul! Cheers*
April 24, 2013
Guess what everyone!? Some of our soldiers are beginning to come home starting tomorrow! Excitement is in the air with sign-making parties, gift basket making get togethers, email exchanges, phone calls, etc.!
EVERYONE is excited! The picture above captured all 3 of my kids going to town during a sign-making party! You should have seen Lilli after this….marker from head to toe!
This morning, I received an excited phone call from a parent who can’t be present upon her soldier’s return.
Will there be a live feed?
Are you taking pictures?
I’m so sad I won’t be the first to hug him!
The other day I received an email from anxious parents awaiting the exact redeployment details!
What time should be leave?
How long will it take to get a pass?
This excitement leaves ME feeling excited and anxious for my own soldier’s return. The kids have mixed feelings, a little confusion, but all-in-all they’re plenty excited that their dad’s return is soon upon us.
April 11, 2013
Hey folks! I have an update in my juicing world. So sorry if you’re not interested in juicing…somehow this has become an all-encompassing life during deployment blog!
I recently returned my Omega 8004 (fabulous machine) in order to purchase the Omega 8006. Say whaaaaaaa?! Yeah, I traded in my 3rd juicer…I might as well lease these things out, right? The Omega 8004 was everything I’d hoped for in a machine and then some, but the 8006 promises to be 8X more powerful and wonderful so that’s why I decided to trade-up! Here’s a great comparison: http://omega8006guide.com/omega-8006-vs-8005/
It will be here on Saturday and I couldn’t be more excited. Oh, how I’ve missed juicing this week.
Here are some recipes I make frequently:
For pre-gym mornings: Spinach, carrots, butternut squash, 2 apples, 2 oranges, beet
Curly Kale, Carrots, Pomegranate, Beet, Celery, Orange
Snacks: Carrots, Orange
If you’d like to read a great comparison on juicer options, check this out: http://www.squidoo.com/best-masticating-juicer-reviews
March 25, 2013
If you have kids, stop what you’re doing and go read the article “Why I don’t Make My Son Share” by Very Bloggy Beth. My friend posted a link on her Facebook Page and I just had to read it because I am definitely in the sharing camp and welcome debate.
After reading the article, I couldn’t help but wonder, “whatever happened to just wanting your kids to be good people?” If a toy is taken, I teach them to move on to another toy. I would never expect another child to give up their toy for my children. But, I have taught my children to always take turns. Always- no ifs, ands or buts. I’m in the sharing camp because I want my children to value friendship, kindness, and love rather than material possessions. I want them to nurture their relationships and interactions with the world around them making the “real world” a little more pleasant one Johnson kid at a time.
I also teach my kids that patience is a virtue and my husband and I show them the value of hard work. So, is this the new hipster parenting philosophy? To raise little unfeeling self-involved Ayn Rands with no friends? One is a lonely number. Share and you may make a friend or two or three.
March 8, 2013
Is it really March? Wow, time flies!
Today, I want to share my adventures in juicing! I started a 3-Day Juice Cleanse last Friday and it seemed to go on forever…hahaha! Not what you wanted to hear? Well, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. I bought the most affordable juicer at our Main Post Exchange, a Dash, and by Day-2 the thing had broken (along with my spirit). I drank nothing but vegetable and juice mixtures for 3 days, only eating raw apples and edamame when cravings struck!
Day 1: I was an evil devil. I hadn’t quite learned to drink a TON of water and keep juicing with hunger cravings. Suffice it to say, I took one or two naps to keep the crankiness at bay.
Day 2: I was a royal BEEEEE (if you know what I mean). I made about 6 juices on Day 2 and remembered to drink lots and lots of water. My system decided to flush itself out on this day as well. I know, yuck. My juicer died, so I bought an Omega Vert Juicer, which is one hell of a machine!
Day 3: I was seeing the light! My kidneys hurt just slightly, probably because my system was clearing out. But, I felt clear headed for the first time in forever. My skin also started to clear up and I was back to my normal self.
Day 4: I eased out of the juice cleanse by juicing 2 times in the morning and devoured a large Pho at night 😉 Since juicing, I’ve been caffeine-free and find that I have much more energy. I’ve also continued to juice at breakfast, lunch, and pre-dinner!
Here is my best advice for those of you considering a juicing cleanse:
-Do your research before buying a machine. If you plan to juice fruits, veggies, and leafy greens, the Omega Vert or a Breville is the way to go. If you plan on juicing only leafy greens, the Omega 8006 is the way to go.
-My juicing/health idol warned me, drink TONS of water. So, DRINK TONS OF WATER.
-When you feel the onset of headaches, DRINK A BIG GLASS OF WATER & juice again!
-Juice more veggies and leafy greens than fruits. Fruits have a high sugar content!
-Buy FRESH, seasonal, and organic for the most nutrients. If you buy off season or older, your juices will be bitter tasting.
-If you find yourself wanting to devour EVERYTHING, eat an apple. It satisfies the chewing and crunching one might get out of eating a normal meal.
-Don’t stop juicing at the end of your cleanse! Incorporate it into your regular diet.
* I am NO pro, this is all advice from my small amount of experience.
Some of my favorite things to juice: Italian Kale, Fennel, Oranges, Spinach, Pomegranate Seeds, Beets, Celery, Carrots, Parsley, Butternut Squash, Pineapple, Apple.
February 22, 2013
The Army is telling me that we’ve hit the “Sustainment Stage” of the deployment when routines have been established, new support systems have been forged, and with those I’m supposed to have a sense of confidence. Well, I have to say Army, I’ve tried very hard to establish new routines, but new germs and flus keep raining on my parade. If I look or seem confident, it’s out of necessity. I can definitely fake the funk. And, by new support systems, do you mean we’ve had to rely on contingency plan F after failed plans A, B, C, D, and E?
Well, the information DOES say months 2-5, so since I’m new to all this I’ll give myself until month five to find my stride. To be honest, I’ll find my groove for a day or two and then some freak accident will happen (some sickness, car problems, family news) and I’m trying to find my bearings all over again. It’s pure exhaustion.
I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I hung out with friends outside of Zumba! For now, I’ll keep faking the funk until I’ve reached sustainment.
February 9, 2013
How’s it going blogosphere!? I hit an all-time low and it all started with pure happiness! Let me preface by saying that we had a wonderful little party for Lilli & came out on top with report cards and everything school related! We are rocking it! Then, a couple of days ago, I received word that one of my creations was accepted for publication. As you can imagine, I was over-the-moon! It has been way too long, a year to be exact, and I thought I didn’t stand a chance after being away for so long. But, one of my creations squeaked by for a stamp of approval!
That evening, I hit rock bottom. I was a blubbering, depressed, sappy mess. I planned for my soldier’s absence on those big occasions: birthdays, bike riding, first steps, etc. But, I’d not planned on submitting and I didn’t plan on anything being accepted and I most definitely didn’t plan on the sudden sadness I would feel not having him to share in my happiness.
Until this afternoon, I was in a funk. But, I got up, got dressed, and worked out! My friend treated me to coffee (thank you friend) and we spent the evening eating Pho and playing Just Dance. Things have turned around for me and I’m so thankful.
It’s funny how the little things sneak up on you. You can’t prepare for everything! My friend told me it’s needed to have that good cry and I totally concur. Hopefully, from here on out (until next month, maybe) my emotions won’t be on a hair-trigger.
January 28, 2013
Ding Dong! The sickies are dead! CJ is well, Liam is much better, and Lilli is nearly there.
Today, we went back to the normal hustle and bustle of activity and it was much-needed! I was starting to feel a little too stationary and the dark thoughts of deployment started to creep into my mind. I tried filling my time with crafting, but even in those glorious moments the grey would settle in. Yesterday in an attempt to chase away the blues, I ate 2 pecan bars a sweet neighbor brought over and I definitely paid for it today as I attempted the Jacob’s Ladder machine at the Y! LOL! My newly fatted thighs were a-shakin’! Watch out!
During my grey period, I had a lot of time to think about my needs. I’m usually the type to think of everyone else’s needs before my own. I’ll go months…a year…without a haircut. I’ll prepare a meal for a friend or family in need and order pizza for my own family the very same night. I guess it goes with the territory of having 3 kids and a husband in the Army. But, who am I kidding? I’ve always been this way. Always putting others ahead of myself.
For the first time in my lifetime, I’ve decided to put my needs first. Deployment can really bring out the survival skills in all of us- sink or swim. Do I choose to sink or do I choose to swim? I’ve cut ties with clingy friends, taken naps mid-day, and have chosen to put my health above all! Without a healthy me, my house wouldn’t function. Period. More importantly, I’ve rediscovered my love of crafting with a new intensity!
It just goes to show that we can “bloom where we are planted.”
January 18, 2013
Last week, I left on a jet-plane to accomplish 3 things:
1) The weaning of Lilli.
2) Some much needed ME time.
3) To help with demos at the Faber-Castell booth at CHA Anaheim!
This was the first time I left Lilli for longer than 4 hours, so it was gut wrenching. I flew out my mom and brother’s girlfriend, Chelse, to stay and look after my brood. My first night was rough, I couldn’t sleep worrying about Lilli, not to mention my boobs were rock hard and sore! The second day was FAR better. I was able to reconnect with most of my crafty bffs and I had an awesome time demoing! Teaching is my thing. I love sharing my love of arts & crafts with people, especially those who are willing (unlike the hubster).
My days at the convention flew by, faster than the speed of light, and in no time at all I was back home with my newly weaning Lilli and my two smelly boys
Then, there were car issues…
My car had an oil change prior to my trip and somehow (as if my magic), it started to leak all sorts of fluids from all sorts of places of which I do not know their names. My first instinct was to take it back to the oil changer to have everything tightened up, but 4 hours later they came back with a nasty diagnosis of leaking parts. My car is now being tested and I’m fearing the end result-
Why does this stuff ALWAYS happen when the guys are away? WHY OH WHY? If Chris were here, he would totally perform the necessary work on my vehicle. Now, without him I have to pay out my ears for this, that, and another whatever for my car. UGH- I wish there were a new car fairy or a mechanic fairy that could come solve my problems for me overnight.
Wish me luck!
January 5, 2013
Happy New Year to all! I’m not gonna lie- Christmas morning was a bust.
Christmas Eve was a different story! My extended family in the area welcomed us in with open arms, showered all of us with love, and filled our car to the ceiling with surprise gifts. LOADS of laughs were had and lots of good home cooked food ingested! It was all good…until Christmas morning.
The presents under our 3ft fake seemed to have multiplied like hamsters overnight. The kids were excited and I was anticipating their big smiles and giddy laughter. What I didn’t plan for (someone should have told me to do my homework) came about 7 presents into Christmas morning. The boys wanted to rip everything open and play with everything! I had not a clue as to how to take some of these out of their boxes nor did I know how to play with any of it!!! They rushed at me with box after box, question after question.
How do I start the DS? How do I play with this Beyblade? Could you open this box for me? I want to put together this bajillion piece lego set now!
Before you knew it, I was in tears. Just blubbering like a baby. It was the first time I’d ever REALLY felt my husband’s absence. On Christmas mornings past, I’m cooking, cleaning, sorting..basically doing what I do best. My husband is the one navigating toy boxes, batteries, and instructions. He’s the one who fields all the boys burning questions and he does it with so much patience and tolerance.
ME? Nope. I threw the biggest hissy fit this house has ever seen! In fact, there are 3 HUGE toys I’ve refused to open! After taking all the plastic thingies off of the cardboard thingies, putting batteries in this and that, reading about how this is inserted that way and this is inserted another way, and breaking down a million boxes for our recycling bin…I gave up! It will just have to wait.
For my sanity- it will wait. Maybe they’ll forget about them and then I can rewrap them for birthdays…. Nah. Probably not.
December 22, 2012
My soldier’s 3 packages arrived safely in Afghanistan! I was over-the-moon to see this picture show up on his Facebook wall. He never shares any pictures or status updates…ever. From the looks of this picture, he’s already devoured his Life Saver Gummy Book (our little family Christmas treat tradition)!
So, I’ve gotta ask- how’s that Christmas to-do list of yours? Mine started out about 2 pages long and after several missions accomplished and a whole lot of omissions, I’ve dwindled it down to 2 tasks. Having my husband gone for the holidays has really forced me to narrow down the important to-dos.
Everyone will get Happy New Years/Thank you cards.
Presents will be sent after Christmas with said cards.
The Christmas treats I usually bake for the neighbors and co-workers will have to wait until next year.
I don’t feel comfortable with these compromises I’ve made, but my kids are happy to see a happier me. I’m usually wound tight around the holidays trying to execute all my to-dos! Don’t get me started on our normal Christmas feast… We always go the seafood route with dishes indicative of my culture and upbringing (aka tedious), but this year we’ve opted for a couple appetizers and a dessert.
The kids and I have made some new family traditions in our soldier’s absence, where less is more and having imperfectly baked sugar cookies for ourselves to enjoy far outweighs perfect cookies for the neighbors. We’ve also welcomed Cookie The Elf into our family with giggly eager arms!!! Almost every evening she does something so incredibly over-the-top naughty, which means I can almost always count on two boys in hysterics the following morning!
I’m enjoying this trimmed down version of Christmas, but I have to admit, I miss my hubby who brings out the Clark Griswold in me. He makes me excited for the holidays. He makes me want to make and do the very best for our family. We’re just not the same without his love and joy.
Anyways, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t experiment with every activity and recipe on your Pinterest boards! Go hug your spouse and enjoy the warmth they bring this holiday season and if you can get in a good group hug (kiddos included)!
December 20, 2012
I’m going to label yesterday under the #mamafail category. Do you ever mess up your priorities so terribly that you just know you are going to fail the moment you make that wayward decision to go against your gut feelings? Yesterday, I failed miserably. I failed my children and myself. Both kiddos had holiday school parties back to back and I made a commitment to attend both weeks ago… But then, I got ahold of a sizable turkey…21 lbs. to be exact. I hadn’t cooked anything since Thanksgiving and I swore up and down this turkey would be epic. EPIC. For whom, you may ask? For the men and women attending our unit Christmas party.
Now, I approached this monstrous turkey as one would a 5K.
I charted the course of action, writing down my defrost, brine, and bake schedule. I went through countless play-by-plays in my head of basting this massive bird every 30 minutes until it reached its golden perfection. I read through the recipe and practiced each little step in my head over and over and over. I obsessed over this bird entirely too much that the morning of the boys’ holiday parties (which also happened to be the morning of our unit Christmas party), I was exhausted. I over did it. I obsessed over every little detail a wee bit too much (or more) so much that I didn’t get a wink of sleep.
So, the following morning, I justified my wayward decision to avoid (bail) all the morning school festivities. I told myself, “Liam will be content just making something with candy. There will be plenty of parents there to help! Why should I bring an overactive infant to something so crowded?” Also, I convinced myself that CJ was always embarrassed of my presence at every school function. That he always shies away from me and seems determined to hang with his friends…so I told myself.
My stomach churned and there was a sour taste at the back of my throat. I took it as a sign of dehydration and hunger and stuffed myself with water and chocolate. For some reason, the yucky feeling wouldn’t go away. And, the moment my boys came home from school all snot-nosed and red-faced, I knew I made the wrong decision.
My turkey came out great.
I didn’t win a medal. Nor did I receive a certificate of achievement for having made the darn thing. In fact, only 1 person thanked me. HA!
Instead, I’ve had to endure the recounts of my boys’ hurt feelings over and over and over. I’ve begged for forgiveness and sought redemption…but karma’s a bee.
Moral of the story: get your priorities straight and then KEEP them straight. Family first- everything else comes second. Build and create lasting memories for your children. Let’s face it, no one is going to remember the turkey you baked to near perfection 10 years down the road. But, your son will remember that one time you played the dreidel game with him and beat everyone in his entire first grade class…
December 15, 2012
The morning of the boys’ Christmas Musical, news spread like wildfire of the shooting at a Connecticut Elementary School… Hearts all around the country dropped, tears were shed & prayers fervently whispered. Every single parent at the musical couldn’t help but smile at the innocence up on stage. Our children were safe and singing about their two front teeth. All was right in our world. In some other parent’s world, presents will go unopened. Sigh* Hug your kids & tuck them in tight. Tell them how beautiful and special they are with sincerity. Be grateful.
December 10, 2012
One month down, eight more to go!
I can honestly say that this first month has been easy peasy. YES, I miss my husband, more than he’ll ever know. YES, the kids are a challenge. YES, I eat Lean Cuisines more than I’d like to admit. YES, I’ve had some rough days. But, I haven’t experienced the massive fails that usually curse most spouse’s first months: car problems, flat tires, losing of one’s keys, major illness, etc.
I’ve experienced minor #fail(s) and major successes. First on my list of major successes is the fact that we’ve decided to stay physically active as a family while our soldier is afar! We all have YMCA memberships and right after school, we scurry off to various activities. This is something very new to me as I am against too many extra-curricular activities for the littles. But, while it does consume a lot of time and burn a ton of energy, there are so many more advantages to disadvantages. We are staying fit, the kids are learning new skills, they also have gained a handful of positive role models, I get some ME time, and we are building a stronger family bond. I just might continue this craziness when the hubby returns, that’s how much I love it!
On the other hand, I’ve had my fair share of minor #fail(s). I spilled a brand new iced-coffee right in the grocery store as my bestie was walking in at the same time. Kid #2 has gone to school in PJ’s without his backpack. #1 had pneumonia and #3 currently has a double ear infection. I’ve missed countless Skype sessions with our soldier due to our new schedule. I’ve forgotten to wash my face at the end of the day from pure exhaustion.
I’ve resorted to hiring someone to help me keep the house clean. To me, that is part #fail & part success because I’m usually very prideful and refuse help. On the other hand, I’m gaining extra hours in my week to focus on more important things like stress-free homework time, reading to the kids before bed, and shaving my legs.
More than the anything this month, including the sum of my successes and #fail(s), I’ve come to know the large community of loving supporters who are like guardian angels to me. The gals from the Sizzix Design Team have teamed up to mail me little prezzies every week, my bestie checks up on me via text every day just to see how my day was, my mom calls every day and every night to listen to me vent, I’ve gotten to know some of the ladies in our unit and it’s nice to share some laughs together, and I’ve have friends who are so incredibly understanding of my need to focus on learning our new routine as a family.
So, I bid farewell to my first month as I knock on wood.
November 30, 2012
As per A-girl’s request, I’m posting new posts at the top of the page. I really enjoy writing in a chronological sense as one would in a real diary, but whatev. I guess A-girl’s thumb got a sprain from over-scrolling. Oh, first world problems!
Meet Chris’ Charlie Brown Deployment Christmas Tree. I tried my best to make it feel like home using ribbons and stickers from my stash! I even made a special photo ornament in place of the shiny red one that came with the tree. I wish I could squeeze all of us in that little ornament to spend the holidays with our soldier… Alas, Skype will have to do.
So, my trial week of chaos has passed! We had various after school activities lined up for the whole family Monday thru Thursday and I’m shocked we made it! We even enjoyed ourselves! Although we were a couple minutes late here and there and ate some sub-par dinners every other day, I am proud of us. I’d much rather fill my days creating new and exciting memories with the kids than sit by this computer waiting for my soldier to Skype or email. Plus, while we’re at it, we’re getting fit!
So far in this deployment, all 3 kids have gotten sick, I have broken-up with 1 friend, hurt another, learned 1 new skill (Zumba), reclaimed my most favorite hobby of crafting, we have logged nearly 111 miles or running & exercise for my hubby, attended 8 parties, hosted 1 party, co-hosted another, laughed about 500 times, cried twice, screamed out of frustration about 20 times, forgotten trash day twice, and I’ve cooked for our family maybe 7 times… Don’t judge. Life has continued in our soldier’s absence and I’m happy to report that he’s currently building up his network of battle buddies, which is a huge feat for my introvert.
Now, for my next challenge- hanging Christmas lights on the house! Wish me luck…
November 5, 2012
The day before my soldier left, we tried to snap some family photos! With the help of our tripod, a timer, and our dog who was leased near the tripod, we all managed to look in the same direction at the same time! It only took 20 tries, such is life!
The packing that took place after these photos was excruciating. I started to resent every flashlight, every pair of socks, every gosh darn patch that needed to be packed for Afghanistan. All these little things took away from our time as a family. I could also see the look of trepidation in my husband’s eyes. He was nervous. He was sad. He wasn’t quite ready for what was to come… This was even harder to see.
I knew at that moment, I had to be strong. There was no other choice but to hold it all together. If I began to fray, my husband would surely come undone.
We ended the day asking the kids what they would miss the most and the least about having dad around! The nervous laughter made everything so much more bearable. I have a feeling laughter will be the one thing that will get us through this!
November 6, 2012
It’s our 8th-year wedding anniversary and we bid aduei… We spent the bulk of the day with our soldier in his office nervously watching the clock. We new once it hit 11:30, we would be saying our farewells. When the time came, we laughed a little, gave a ton of hugs, and gave a few kisses. I couldn’t let go of my husband. He didn’t want to let go of me either. This was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. But, we’ll make it through this! This will make us stronger! This will make our family THAT much stronger. We must and we will.
When we asked the boys what they wouldn’t miss about having their daddy around, they both answered, “his stanky farts!” Oh boys…
November 7, 2012
Today, was the beginning of many days without my soldier. I went for a 3 mile run using the couch to 5K App on my iPhone, took all the kids to the book fair, got all of our flu shots, and Skyped with many loved ones! We were even able to catch our man on g-chat! You’ve got to love the internet and technology! And, of course, the chat session ended with the boys giggling about butts and stank faces… Today was a good day, but a recent issue plagued my every thought and action.
The day my husband left, one of my good friends chose to unfriend me both on FB and forever, I suppose. We’ve been through a lot and I’ve definitely gone above and beyond the call of normal friend duty to ensure her happiness. She was the first friend I ever really fought for. You see, I’m a military brat, so I’m used to friends coming and going. I’m used to moving on and dropping people easily. When I started to have kids and after PCSing several times, I realized the value of strong friendships and I swore I would never just let a friend go just because it was the easiest thing to do.
With this friend, I’ve invested a lot of time and energy. I’ve put my all into it. It seems as though with all my pre-deployment craziness, she may have felt neglected. This is probably why she’s chosen to “dump” me, so to speak. I’m only guessing because she’s not given me any reason. I guess this is my karma for having let friendships go in the past.
Now, that this person is out of my life, I know I can begin this deployment on the right footing. Many wives tell me that I will lose a couple of friends along this rocky path, but as of right now, I have all the friends a gal could need and I love every single one of them.
November 8, 2012
Last night and tonight, the family and I were able to g-chat with our soldier! He told me he was very grateful for all the awesome training he had prior to this deployment. I asked him, “is this a computer robot replacing my husband’s text messages?” and “is this what they told you to say like in basic training?”. I couldn’t believe the words he was typing. He’s always complained about having “to go to the field” or “to the sandbox”. If it’s not the hot hot days, it’s the cold cold nights he abhors. He gets sick of the calorie packed MREs and the smell of his own sweaty feet!
No, he was serious this time. Dead serious. He feels extremely grateful to have had proper training before going “down range”, aka Afghanistan (the real deal). For the first time in his 7 year career in the military, everything has come full circle. He’s suddenly realized what all those training exercises were for. ALL those USRs. ALL those tedious safety briefs and endless classes on how to wipe your own snot from your nose. He knows and feels the call of duty. I am very proud of him. The most I’ve ever been in our married life. And now, I too, am forever grateful for all those training hours…days…weeks…months…years that he’s logged in. From basic training to the officer candidacy school, from OBC to the captain’s career course, from Korea to Yakima and back to the NTC. I am grateful. He is prepared and safe. I can rest assured.
November 9, 2012
Who has their big girl panties on? Well, I absolutely refuse to “suck it up” and put them on! I think owning up to one’s vulnerabilities leads to a much happier and healthier life! Big girl panties just bunch up and hold it all in. I say SHRED em, CUT em, and make them into something worth looking at 😉
Tonight, a few close friends and I created these rag ribbon balls for hanging. I’ve chosen to display mine in my bathroom to remind me of the awesome battle buddies I have and of the strength in all military spouses. I truly believe the more you suppress your vulnerabilities, the more you begin to overcompensate.
It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to have cereal for dinner sometimes. The kids will love it 😉
It’s okay to scream and yell and throw a hissy fit.
It’s okay to be needy.
To mess up and say the wrong thing.
It’s okay to not have a clue what you’re doing.
It’s okay to have doubt.
To feel insecure.
To feel self-conscious.
It’s not okay to hide it all from yourself and most of all from others. Our vulnerabilities are our “je ne sais quoi” so to speak. They make us real. They make us who we are and it’s in owning up to these vulnerabilities and attempting to work through them where we find hidden strength.
From now on, my big girl panties can shove it- I’m working on being a better more well adjusted me!
November 10, 2012
I’m on restless night #2. No word from my soldier since Thursday and I’m feeling lonely. The nights are the worst. Although tonight is proving to be difficult, TODAY was amazing.
My boys have been saving their change, we call it “booty” in our house, for quite some time. They’ve been saving up enough change to buy themselves an ICEE each. Today, while we were driving around, they noticed people holding signs up for the charity “Caring For Kids”. Being the inquisitive children that they are, they asked me what the people were doing with all the signs. To which I replied, “well, there are kids who don’t have warm clothes, new toys, or food for their hungry bellies. Those people are trying to collect what the kids need for the holidays!” They couldn’t believe it. What, no new toys? No snacks? Their young unspoiled minds mulled over the idea while we walked around the grocery store and on the way back home, they asked me to roll down their window.
My boys gave their every last penny to the “Caring For Kids” charity. They were so pleased with themselves! My heart was filled with love and pride. And to reward their efforts, mama kicked in for the ICEEs 😉 Shortly following ICEEs, a close friend brought me a soy chai and cake pops (Lilli devoured her’s way before the boys were able to get their’s down), we logging in 3 miles for our soldier, and played fruit ninja on the XBOX.
My day was awesome, but my night…no so good. I’ve tried getting lost in a book. I’ve tried falling asleep. I’ve hugged the kids twice over. Tonight is one of many restless nights to come. Hopefully, I’m able to get over this worry soon! Until then, you can find me counting sheep.
November 11, 2012
Happy Veterans Day! It’s strange to say “Happy” Veterans Day. Why not Honorable Veterans Day?! Or something more appropriate? I could be over thinking just a tad 😉
Happy Veterans Day!
My family has seen 5 wars. My great-grandfather helped the US defeat Japanese control of Guam during WWII. From there, the legacy begins. From Vietnam to a small revolution in East Timor and from Iraq to Afghanistan.
To all 4 of my grandfathers who served the US Army, thank you.
To my Dad who continues to serve in the Army, thank you. To my Father-in-Law who spent his youth in the Navy, thank you.
To my Uncles who proudly serve, thank you. To my little brother and my brother-in-law, thank you.
To my husband, my hero, thank you.
I feel nothing but reverence for each and every single one of you, for what you have done and continue to do.
Through 3 generations of Army soldiering, I’ve learned what it means to be strong. To be self-sufficient. Independent. Brave. Resilient. Competitive (oh boy, yeah never play a board game with me. I’m a sore loser!). I’ve also learned it’s necessary to have a sense of humor.
But, I’ve also come to know lonesomeness, longing, worry, and grief.
If there’s one thing I could take away from being a third generation army wife, it’s this. Nothing comes easy and freedom ain’t free. It comes at a price paid in blood, sweat, and tears. Freedom is built on the backs of its armed forces and their families. Never shy away from thanking a soldier and their family.
November 12, 2012
Let me begin today be listing my failures… I couldn’t complete a 2 mile run/walk. My kids kept tripping over each other’s scooters and complaining. Truth be told, I’m usually complaining in my head about having to run, so they totally won 😉 My kids watched an extra amount of Spongebob Squarepants I wouldn’t normally allow so that I could have some me time making a card. After the 3rd time being asked by the boys if they could have candy or dessert (after I’d said no numerous times), I sent them straight to bed.
Okay, so here’s where I rocked today… I made it out in the wind and cold to attempt a 3 mile run, oh and I made it 2 miles before giving up 😉 I had a little bit of ME time, which is rare these days, and even made a pop-up card which I love! My kids and I have not been eating tons of junk food. We’ve been keeping it healthy with fruits and veggies as snacks!
HA! Don’t you love my “glass is half-full” interpretations. I call it poetic license and you can call it rose-colored glasses. However you slice it, there’s always a positive to a negative!
Here’s something else I’ve tried to spin:
I missed my husband’s instant messages this evening BUT, CJ read me a book cover to cover. I can IM my hubby another day! Nothing is more rewarding than the sound of your child reading to you with enthusiasm and inflection. You know you’ve done something right in this world.
November 16, 2012
Every military spouse knows this scenario.
It’s been 3 days since the last time you spoke to your soldier. You keep checking your emails, refreshing your Facebook, scanning your Skype contacts, and you’ve still not heard a peep from your spouse. You can’t help but consider the worst-case-scenario, but you know in your heart your soldier is fine. You tell yourself that you would know by now if something terrible happened. But, what if they have the wrong phone number, an incorrect email address, ahhhhh! So you decline those friendly invitations to play dates, you stop running, and you rush for your cell every time you hear the “ping” of an email or message. Pavlov’s dog has got its claws in you-BAD.
This was my life for the past 3 days. Those 3 days were perhaps the most agonizing days of my life. I received word through chain of command that our unit suffered a fatality and several injuries. There was a communication black-out until the families were notified by the proper means. The black-out is to prevent misinformation leaking to the next of kin and the press.
So, the sound of FaceTime ringing at 5-ish in the morning never sounded so good! I was able to see and hear my soldier! The kids joined in and we had a little FaceTime party! Although I was happy to communicate with my husband, my heart had a big gaping hole for the families affected by the tragedy. It made this deployment a little more real. If you so choose, please send healing prayers for my fellow Tomahawk families- or good ju-ju and happy thoughts!
My lesson learned from the last 3 days, which I will apply to any and all other communication black-outs- KEEP LIVING! I can’t stop life in its path out of fear. I need to show my kids that our life is still normal without their dad. I need to set a good example, I must! I’m not saying life has to be all sunshine and rainbows, but trying to strive for the positive is way better than allowing myself to waste away in the negative.
In the famous words of fun-loving Dora in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Swimming, swimming.”
November 19, 2012
See my smiling happy children in the above picture? Yeah, I’m going to look at that picture every time we hit a rough patch. I’m going to label today under “crying over mashed potatoes”. Indeed, my oldest son, CJ, was a sobbing wreck blubbering, “I do not like mmmmm-aa—mmmaaa—mashed potatoes” at the school Thanksgiving Luncheon.
Let me rewind and start from the beginning. Today was the school Thanksgiving Luncheon when parents and siblings are invited to join their student for the typical Thanksgiving fare: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, salad, and rolls. I always feel hesitant joining CJ for school functions as he always seems part off-kilter and part embarrassed of my being there. So, I paid the money and decided to attend anyways! He’ll thank me later, right?
Upon walking into the cafeteria, I made eye contact with my son who was, at the time, very excited to see me!!! We exchanged hurried waves and broad smiles before we stood in line to receive our food. CJ has one of the best appetites I’ve ever seen (second to his father), so he was one of the first students waiting anxiously in the food line. I, on the other hand, was all the way toward the back behind other families.
CJ gathered his lunch quickly and found a seat for us. I urged him to eat his lunch while we stood in the long line for mine and Liam’s lunches. As I rounded the corner, more families started pouring into the cafeteria. More dads in uniform started to make their appearances to eat lunch with their students. I could see the hurt in CJ’s eyes. He started to tear up, so I tried to make my way through the line as fast as I could. When I finally managed to get through the line. CJ was in tears, blubbering something about not liking his mashed potatoes to the school nurse. When I approached him, he started crying even harder. So, I moved to a quiet secluded place near the back of the cafeteria to ask what was the matter.
“CJ what’s the matter? Why are you crying?”
“I-I-I do not know. I have a tummy ache.”
“No, tell me what really is the matter. I want you to tell me the truth or I can’t help you.”
“I do not like mmmmmm-mmmmaaaaa—maaaaa—mashed potatoes.”
“Ugh- well, then don’t eat them honey!”
I saw CJ scan the cafeteria in horror. He was completely mortified just having cried for no apparent reason in front of the entire first grade. He didn’t have to tell me exactly what was wrong with him because I already knew. Yes, he HATES mashed potatoes, but he missed his dad even more. Seeing all the dads in their uniforms there for their students made him realize just how much he misses his dad. An hour doesn’t pass in the day when I don’t hear, “mom, I miss dad.” A night hasn’t gone by when he hasn’t cried himself to sleep. Those mashed potatoes on his plate was just the straw the broke the camels back. He misses his dad and preferred he were there with him eating thanksgiving lunch over me, his little bratty brother, and baby sister. He thinks that being a big boy means not admitting why you’re sad. I’ve got to remedy that before things get worse. I don’t need my six-year-old trying to be “the man of the house”; I just want him to enjoy being a six-year-old. I wish I had a magic wand to take all his worries away….
November 23, 2012
Thanksgiving has come and gone. Black Friday is coming to a close. We celebrated Thanksgiving at 4 different parties. All in all, I cooked 1 turkey, 5 batches of mashed potatoes, 1 broccoli cheese casserole, 1 apple pie, and 1 batch of turkey gravy. I spent $0 on Black Friday (still waiting for that deployment money to hit the paychecks…heehee)!
Today, we watched 3 movies. I created 5 mini advent calendar trees for the boys and I ate 5 (give or take a few) chocolate chip cookies. As you can see, today has been all about counting. Liam has been counting the days until Christmas (32), CJ says there are 13 more days until his Grandma & Uncle arrive, and we all know there are many many many days until August 2013 when our soldier is scheduled to return.
The holidays are full of countdowns, making it both an educational tool for the kids and a torture device for me! I’d prefer to just keep busy, to let the days run into each other, and to never know the date or the day. I have a similar strategy when I run. Never look at the clock or the GPS. Just keep running and keep the surroundings fresh. I suck on the treadmill and any stationary exercise machine.
I feel like I’m running a marathon on a bleeping treadmill during this deployment. Whether it’s my kids counting down the days or random people asking when our soldier is supposed to return, I feel like I’m running in place and time cannot move fast enough.
So, I’m filling my plate with lots of dinner dates with friends, play dates for the kids, swim lessons, sports lessons, Zumba and Yoga classes, gymnastics for Lilli, FRG events, running, and cups of coffee. It’s hard for me to sit down and talk on the phone with anyone. I don’t like the pity. I hate all the questions. It’s like seeing the little light-up tick marks as you run that never-ending mile on the treadmill. Pity and encouragement are two separate things. The encouragement is empowering! It’s what gets me over the finish line at the end of every day. I love all the help and wisdom I’ve received from seasoned spouses. I love all the wine I’ve received too (lol). Oh, and I won’t pass up any deployment benefits like discounts at the YMCA or free child care 😉
I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you for all your encouragement.
November 27, 2012
About 5 posts back (or so) I posted a picture of a gift from one of my good friends, we’ll call her K-Dawg (only because I wouldn’t dare address her as such in real life, lol). K-Dawg called her gift a “happy thoughts journal” & I’ve been recording my favorite anecdotes throughout the days of this deployment ever since!
One of the happy thoughts I’ve added to the list, is the joy and warmth that filled my heart upon opening a surprise present from fellow Sizzix Design Team Member, Amy Friend. Today was long and trying and exhausting. On the way home, I checked my mail and VOILA, a surprise package of a notable size was waiting for me. I ripped open the packaging and I was overjoyed to discover a handmade ornament from the textile master herself!!! The little note she scrawled onto the handmade tag warmed my heart more than 100 chai lattés. Amy is THE master of all things quilted as well as an empathetic mom of 3 😉 Just take a look at her “Art To Go Tote“! It’s fabulous- she’s fabulous! Fabulousness all around!
Prior to checking the mail, the kids and I were at The Y for swim lessons! I LOVE The Y…can’t yell that loud enough! CJ’s beginner’s swimming class includes differently abled kids and I’m thoroughly impressed with the acceptance of all the children and the patience of the staff. The Y is cultivating an up and coming youth filled with tolerance and acceptance. THAT makes me ecstatic and hopeful!
Last night, a good friend and I attended our first Zumba Class, and all the laughs and giggles that were forged between us deserves a line in my happy thoughts journal. Seriously- Zumba is like going out dancing with your best girl friends (minus the alcohol)! I cannot wait to return! I’m holding out for a black light and disco ball Zumba one of these days 😉
Until then, during the hard times and long nights, I’ll look to my happy thoughts journal from my gal K-dawg and smile.