I'm just an ordinary girl doing ordinary stuff.

I just happen to be a single mom in the military.

My kids are part of the military too.

When I deploy, their heart breaks too.

They're strong little guys.

Being their mom is the most humbling experience I've ever had.

Follow the adventures

See if you can keep up with me as I serve my country holding my kids in my arms.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wise Big Brother

Caden: Sean I'm holding your feet. You gotta do situps ok?

Sean: Ok. You'll hold my feet good?

Caden: Yep.

Sean: Ok!

Kids Work Too

I love taking my kids to work!

Friday, November 4, 2011

You Can Make it Turn


We moved to Colorado in the middle of August. We drove for about 23 hours and when we arrived I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. But I was too nervous about the new job, new home and being away from Patrick to allow myself to fall in love with the place.

The kids started daycare almost immediately after the first weekend. The first day I brought Caden and Sean to their daycare classes, an indoor potted plant with a cardboard pinwheel sticking out of its soil greeted us. It was huge, brightly colored and boy did it just call Caden's name. He went straight for it and started blowing.

"Caden, it's too big to spin when you blow it. It's not a toy pinwheel. It's just a decoration." I was too much in a hurry to meet their teachers that watching him blow at this thing over and over was making my head hurt.

Finally he stopped and grinned at me. "Well," he answered, "I can make it turn." With his little index finger he lightly pushed at the yellow cardboard wing and watched as the whole pinwheel slowly turned clockwise. With wide eyes he squealed in laughter and pushed it again, this time a little harder.

Sean, who was busy looking through the glass doors as this was taking place, whirled around at the sound of Caden's laughter. Instantly, he laughed and jumped up and down, squealing, "It's turning!"

I couldn't help but smile at them right then. Alone in my car while they were settled into their classrooms, I marveled at the simplicity of Caden's answer. I can make it turn. There I was, in this gorgeous state, spending so much energy being nervous and feeling heartsick that I didn't even think that maybe all I had to do was make things turn. Change is never really easy. And of course I was going to miss Patrick. He's three states away! But it didn't mean I was stuck with a decorative pinwheel. I could make this a beautiful adventure. I wanted this pinwheel in the first place and now that I have it, dang it I'm gonna make it turn.

Now, almost 3 months have gone by and not once have I hated being here. Sure there are days when I get lonely. There are times when I hate the parking lot in my apartment complex. And twice I almost slipped on a sheet of ice. But I don't forget to make an effort to enjoy this assignment. It doesn't mean I will love it every day. It means that I'm going to be excited about life, whether it's snuggling up with my kids in front of the fire place or simply reading a book. My life is not a decorative pinwheel. It can turn and be a glorious whirl of colors. If I just choose to make it turn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pepper Pots

It was a frustrating night.  Bruce ran away for about the fifth time since we’ve moved in.  We were out on a walk and with his nose to the ground, I had a feeling he already knew there was a bunny out.  Sure enough, his head bolts up and he spots the unsuspecting bunny a few yards away.  In a flash, he springs forward and the leash is stripped out of my hand.  Ticked off, I go back inside the apartment with the kids who are now nagging me about how we have to get Bruce back.  I don't want to go after him.

We moved into the apartment about a month ago and since then we've been living with boxes everywhere and everyone stepping all over each other.  Bruce is 90 lbs and is constantly squeezing past the kids and me. Now, at my new job, we get home later than usual and sometimes even VERY late so I haven't had much time at all to unpack as quickly as I'd like.  Don't get me wrong- there's been lots of progress, but there are still boxes in our way.  To summarize it all, we have little quality time at home and we are squished!

So, I finally got Bruce back and proceeded to get dinner started.  Meanwhile, the kids were being really loud as they jumped on the couch and played with their Iron Man toys.  Between chopping onions and bell peppers and calling to them for "quiet voice," I could feel my blood pressure rising.  However, we managed to get through dinner. 

As I was washing our after-dinner dishes, Caden approached me with two toys in his hands- Iron Man and a plastic Lego woman.  “Mommy, I have Pepper!”  He held out the Lego woman so I could see.

“Pepper?” I asked, caught off guard by the announcement. At this time I was tired from a long day of work, pissed off at Bruce for running away again, irritated with the high volume of children playing, feeling claustrophobic from all the opened boxes and unorganized junk everywhere, and my mind was preoccupied with the checklist of to-do items like laundry, bill-paying, etc.  The last thing I could think about was who exactly Pepper was.

“Yes!” His eyes were wide and a smile was stretched across his face.

Then it hit me.  “Oh!” I exclaimed, “Pepper Pots!”  I watched as he turned from me and ran off toward Sean.

“Sean, Sean!  I have Pepper!”

I stood there for a moment and listened as they role played two Iron Mans and Pepper Pots fighting bad guys.  I finished the dishes and approached them.  “So, Pepper Pots isn’t a superhero is she?”

Caden grinned up at me, slightly surprised that I had taken an interest in their activity.  “No, she’s just a friend.  But she’s really cool.”  Then he held the plastic Lego girl up so I could see her.  “Here, Mommy, you can be Pepper.”

I smiled at him as I realized that this entire month has been filled with frustration.  I’ve been doing nothing but learning my new job and fulfilling my motherly tasks as caregiver and housekeeper.  I haven’t been engaging in any real play with them.

As parents, we do that a lot.  We keep ourselves in this little tunnel and only see the things that are constantly attacking us.  We get so involved with tasks and stress that we get too tired to stop and play with our kids.  And sometimes when we do “play” with them, all we really do is give them the courtesy “that was cool” comment or the fake laugh when our minds are really thinking about budgets and unpacking our boxes.

I took the plastic Lego girl in my hand and grinned.  “Hey, Iron Man,” I said, facing the toy toward Caden’s.  I took the Mommy hat off and tossed it aside for the night.  Tonight, I thought to myself, I’m pepper Pots.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brothers

Caden: See I'm making a McDonald's, Sean.
Sean: That's a really Really big McDonald's.
Caden: Yeah and you can't go in because you're too big.
Sean: I'm too big for that McDonald's?
Caden: Yeah and you can't bring your toys in.
Sean: That's a cool McDonald's.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Standing Up for Others

"Hey that's mine!"

I watched from a distance as Sean's face filled with dismay.  His little cheeks were red and his lower lip stuck out in an angry pout.  He glared at the 6 year old boy who had run up to him and snatched his beloved Buzz Lightyear right out of his hands, smirking and saying, "Ha! I got your toy!"

We were at the small playground on our apartment grounds.  It was a fair size, never crowded with children, and I usually let Bruce run off leash since it was gated and he was great with kids of all ages.  The location of the playground was chosen wisely as we never once had the sun beat down on us.  Or maybe it was just because I only took them there when the sun was lower in the day.  
Today there were three other children at the playground... and no adult in sight other than myself.  Two of the children, a boy and girl, appeared to be siblings around the ages of 7 or 8.  They looked alike and played with each other.  The third child was 6; I found that out later.  This third child, a boy, was by himself and seemed to cope with his solitude not by playing nicely with the other two kids who were closer to his age but by immediately sailing to mine who were 4 and 2.  

He was a scrawny looking boy with a very unique haircut.  His head was shaved except for the bangs, which were long and dirty blonde.  He wore a pair of faded blue jeans which were ripped at the knee and a black t-shirt.  All that was missing was the earring.  He was a cute looking boy with bright blue eyes and a smile that I'm sure would melt any heart around if it wasn't permanently formed into a smirk.  He was the playground bully.

He tried to bully Caden by grabbing his plastic robot, which Caden named Crisco (please don't ask why, I have no idea).  But his attempt failed when Caden smiled and said, "You can play with it.  He's cool!"  And the bully just left him alone.  I felt a bit proud of Caden then, seeing that instead of fighting with the boy he avoided trouble by being nice to him.  So the bully moved on.  To Sean.

He ran to Sean, who was just coming off the slide happily clutching his Buzz Lightyear toy, and snatched that toy right from his hands.  When Sean announced his dislike for such an act, the boy fed off this and taunted him saying, "Ha!  I took your toy!"

Instead of rushing to my little guy's rescue, I decided to observe.  I wanted to see not just how Sean would react but how Caden would.  And I was especially curious about the other two children who were there with the bully prior to our arrival.

I didn't have to wait long.  Sean chased the bully with tearful cries for his Buzz and the bully continued to run and laugh at him.  Finally, the girl stepped in the bully's way and said, "Hey, give that toy back to him!  Stop being such a bully!"

Immediately the boy tossed the toy aside and said, "Aw I was just playing with him."  He went on to playing by himself while Caden rushed to his toy.

I was amazed at this.  Caden, who is usually first to come to his brother's rescue, was too distracted by his own activities to check out the problem.  The girl and boy seemed to be talking to each other as the bully was attempting to mess with Caden and they continued to chat as he moved on to Sean.  And it was the girl who took the stand.  It was really interesting.

Most of us have experienced someone standing up for us at some point in our lives.  Maybe not a lot and maybe not recently.  But I'd be willing to bet we would all remember every occasion when it happened.  When I was in kindergarten, I always sat in the front row of the school bus on the way home because there weren't a many kids on the bus and my mom, who worked at an elementary school, was friends with the bus driver.  And there was this fifth grader who always picked on me.  She always told the bus driver that I wanted to be the one to open the door - and I never did!  I hated doing it.  I always felt like people were just watching me and if that handle was too hard to pull, they'd all get irritated with me for not letting them get out fast enough.

One day, I told her that I didn't want to do it.  She leaned up real close to my face and said, "If you don't do it, I'm going to stick a needle in your tongue!"  Friggin meanie!  I was so scared, looking at this crazy fifth grade bully who had big hair and pretty eyes.  I bet she became a friggin cheerleader too.

Anyway, Ben the bus driver, heard this and said, "Hey, get your ass to the back of the bus!  I'm not letting you bully other kids here.  I'm telling your parents what you just did."  He was my hero!  I felt like such a baby, hating to be rescued, but I felt as if he saved my life!  I never had any problems from that girl after that.

I watched as Sean sat in the grass playing with Buzz, smiling with his cheeks still tearstreaked.  I thought to myself, the world needs more people like that little girl.  We need more parents teaching their kids to stand up for others.  And we need to stand up for others more ourselves. Can you imagine what kind of world we'd live in if we stood up for people more often?  If we stood up for what was right?  If a little girl can stand up for a toddler, it tells me that we were born to love.  If she could recognize at the age of 8 that there was a need to stand up for someone else, then it tells me that everyone has that kind of courage inside of us.   I pray that when it's time for me to stand up for someone else, I will find in me what that little girl found in her and become a voice against hurtful actions.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Taking Leave

I had this dream last night.  Are you ready for it?  Here I go....

I was watching the next Toy Story movie.  In it, Buzz Lightyear kept breaking.  His leg broke, then someone fixed it.  Then he actually broke in half.  Some sad music was playing in the background.  The movie went on to depict the slow but sure wear and tear of poor Buzz.  Then, he eventually died.  And I was sad.

If you're a parent, single or not, you are going to have moments of just insane wear and tear on YOU. Acknowledge this and prepare for it by making plans for breaks.  A good friend of mine once told me to spend at least one day every other week just on me.  However, if you're like me and you can't afford the time you end up getting burnt out. 

When I woke up from this dream I realized I need a vacation!  Like a full week with just some ME time.  I think dreaming of and actually feeling sad about a cartoon dilema is enough to tell me I have not been taking any time out for myself and am feeling surrounded by kids.  In my dream I believe Buzz represented me!!  It was me who was experiencing all that wear and tear.  That's why I was so sad about it.

I put in my request for leave and it was approved... for next week.  Yay!  The majority of the leave will be spent catching up on housework-- mopping floors, shampooing carpets, laundry and dusting.  I also want to clean my car inside and out.  I know, I know.  What kind of vacation is that?  But trust me, having the time to do these things without being distracted by the kids will be such a blessing.

Also I'm completely broke right now so I don't have money for pampering.  However, I have a perfectly good massage pad on my chair, a nice garden tub in my bathroom, packets of Aveeno oatmeal baths, cool pedicure stuff and music.  I will have a spa at home!!

So, all you moms out there, make sure you take your breaks!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Single Military Mom Dilema

Being a single mom is tough enough when it comes to dating.  First, you gotta keep the guy outta your family until your relationship with him has proven to be solid after time.  Second, your choice in men might not only have changed for you but you have to realize that you have baggage that not many men are up to accepting.  Kids are frightening to single men!  Stepping into a family is a huge deal and it takes a special kind of guy to want to do it.  With both those obvious dating challenges being mentioned, think about the single mom who's in the military.  That's another huge chunk of baggage.

Being a single military mom doesn't only involve dragging kids to the base daycare at 4am for an exercise or bringing them to work with you when you get called in on a day off and you don't have a sitter.  There are deployments, short tour assignments to overseas bases and long assignments that can keep you at the next place for at least 4 years.  So dating comes with the understanding that you may not be at that particular location for as long as you might like.  It means that if you're deeply into the person you're dating and you get orders to another base, you are faced with a dilema.

I leave for my new assignment in two months.  I will be leaving behind Patrick.  We've been dating for quite some time; long enough for him to be there during all the cool and not-so-cool changes in my kids.  Long enough to learn what irritates us about each other and what completely woos us about each other.  We're currently friggin heartbroken about my departure. 

Although I am excited about the new assignment and being near my brothers, I am really really sad about leaving Patrick.  I've come up with all these ideas like leaving the kids with my brothers every other month for a week and flying to visit him.  Or Skyping with him.  Or writing (not emailing but handwriting) letters for some old fashioned romantic fun.  I've dreamt up all sorts of cool ideas that'll help make our distance tolerable.  But at the end of the day when the kids are asleep and it's just the two of us on the phone, I can't help but hang up with him because I don't want him to hear me cry.  I'm sad.  I don't want to leave him. 

I knew from the beginning that this time would eventually come.  We both knew.  We've talked about it and sometimes one of us would randomly bring up the "what if" question.  So it wasn't a surprise.  But the knowledge and understanding of him dating a military girl and me dating as a military girl didn't stop us from actually falling in a little too deep for military comfort.  The military doesn't stop people from dating.  Jeez, in fact people in the military date more than anything with the size of our population and constant opportunities to meet new people.  But it does have the expectation of commitment.

I've served my country for 10.5 years.  That's a long time and I've grown to love it.  The military and I have had a relationship that has been through so many changes and over time those changes only feed my commitment to it.  In the beginning, I swore I wouldn't reenlist.  I've gone from being a know-it-all young girl to a salty supervisor who's seen enough to know a lot but not enough to claim anything but experience.  Through my years I've learned that of all the things that are pounded into us, commitment is the one solid thing that is expected and with it I will succeed not only as a military member but as a woman, a mom and one day a wife.  That's because commitment isn't just about the military, it's about us individually.

When we deploy, we rely on commitment to keep our families strong and full of integrity.  Spouses that cheat on each other are good examples of that lack of commitment to each other.  When we date, we understand that because we are in the military our relationship isn't going to be in the lead.  The military will move you to another location one day.  Or maybe your work days will change to midshift while your girlfriend is a 9-5 worker.  You'll have to go on a temporary duty for a couple of weeks to another state.  There are tons of things that call us to duty and it makes dating challenging.  All the time.

So Patrick and I are currently sitting in this challenge.  I don't know how it's going to pan out.  If I could lead our relationship, I'd do it with the "We can do it" mentality.  I'm all for making it work.  Our relationship has been pretty darn solid and I believe it has great potential to turn into more.  I truly would grab Patrick by the hand and drag him (not literally or anything) through this relationship saying, "Babe we can do it.  This ain't a thing."  But I can't.  There are two of us in the relationship.  I can certainly display that optimistic attitude about it but if there's a fraction of doubt in his mind, it'll totally just kill our chances.  So I don't know what will happen. 

This is definitely not a fun Single Military Mom challenge.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Didn't Mean To!

"Mommy, why'd you break his toy?"
Did you ever have one of those moments where discipline turns into a nosedive into crap and you're left waving your little white flag saying, "All right, all right.  You win.  I suck."

It was ten o'clock at night.  I had to work late and we didn't get home until nine-thirty.  The boys were wide awake (they took a fifteen minute nap in the car on the way home) and decided to play in bed. 

After repeatedly going into the room and telling them to go to sleep, I finally told Sean (he was the culprit who kept getting out of bed to play) that if he came out of the room "one more time" I'd take his Buzz away.  So... he came out one more time and when he saw me stand and head toward him, he ran yelling "Don't take my Buzz!"

He got onto the bed, clutching Buzz and pretending to sleep.  I shook my head and said, "It's too late, honey.  Buzz has to come with me now."  Turning away from him with the precious Buzz Lightyear in my hand, I felt a strong pull.  Sean had grabbed onto Buzz's left leg yelling, "Don't take my Buzz!"  But when he grabbed Buzz, he pulled so hard that he fell back onto the bed and clutched tightly in his hand was Buzz's left leg.  The toy had broken.

In shock, I looked at the toy in my hand.  I guess I didn't believe Sean had actually pulled his leg off so I was looking for some kind of confirmation.  Sure enough the smiling plastic doll was staring at me with one complete right leg and a left thigh.  I looked at Sean.  He was in shock too, with his back still on the bed and his arm still in the up position from when he had fallen backward.  In his hand was the leg of the incredible, the mighty, the wonderful Buzz Lightyear.  His favorite toy.  The toy that he had to sleep, eat and bathe with. 

"His leg," Sean said in a small voice.  "It's broken."

At this point, one part of me is just torn to pieces because I kow how special this toy was to him.  The other part was laughing inside at how quickly and unexpectedly it all happened.

Caden, who had been quietly observing the entire event, said, "Mommy, why did you break his toy?"

Now Sean was sitting up with big eyes saying, "Can you fix him?  Can you fix him?"  His sweet little voice still had that baby ring to it.

"Here," I said, reaching out for the leg, "Let me take him outside to fix him."  I didn't want to stand there in the same room with them trying to fix the toy because I was fighting with all my heart not to laugh out loud.

As I'm standing outside the room, putting the leg back onto Buzz, I heard Caden's voice.

"She broke your toy."

Sean:  "No, she's fix it!  She's fix it!"

Caden:  "No, it broke.  It went like this, PSHHH!"

A miracle happened.  The darn leg was able to be reassembled back onto the toy.  Of course, if it were pulled hard again it would just pop back off, but it was a good temporary fix.  Whew.

Walking back into the room, I saw Caden laying on his side with his elbow propped up and his head in his hand.  He looked over his shoulder at me and said, "Mommy, why did you break his toy?"

Now I just felt like a complete jerk.  Sean's eyes lit up when he spotted a fixed Buzz in my hand.  "You fix it!"

I nodded and gave the toy back.  "You gotta be gentle with him.  Don't break his leg because it'll come off again."

"Mommy," said Caden one more time, "Why did you break his toy?"

I sighed.  "Caden, I didn't mean to break it.  Sean was disobeying me and I took his toy as a punishment."

Caden then turned to Sean and said, "You better go to sleep or she'll break your toy, Sean."

And that's when I waved my white flag.  Thankfully, the whole even motivated both of them to go to sleep without my having to come in and nag them.  Still, I felt like the biggest jerk ever.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

When He Answers

God answers prayers.  Many times we pray for something we think we want or need.  Lots of times we pray only for those things and when WE think we need them answered.

Last year I prayed to get out of my current base.  I focused on just leaving, not really putting any thought into where.  Instead I just wanted OUT.  I applied to an opening in Colorado where my brothers reside.  Not once.  Not twice.  But three times.  I got denied over and over again.  And shortly after that last time, I got orders to deploy instead.

While I was deployed I was faced with so many challenges and I grew so much closer to God!  Since I've been back I've focused on just doing God's will through prayer and endurance.  And I've been so blessed, seeing His work time after time in many things and through many people.  But I still needed a prayer answer.  I didn't pray to leave my current station like I did last year.  But for something I knew was a real need.  Help.

I know there are tons of women out there raising their kids on their own with little to no support.  But my heart has been aching for help.  Strapped for cash and pinned to a schedule that demands after hour childcare, I wept after spending about $200 in just one month's worth of babysitting on top of my already high weekly daycare costs.  I had no choice but to start bringing my kids to work with me on evening and weekend shifts.  My prayer from last year changed from escape to support.

There was yet another opening in Colorado.  I applied.  This time I prayed:  "Father, I applied because this assignment would bring me closer to family who will provide me with help.  I applied because the next time I deploy my kids will have an easier transition to a motherless six months.  But if this is not Your will, God, I pray you will guide me.  I pray, Lord, that you will bring me someone who can help me.  A friend.  Someone I can trust with my kids who won't leave me scrapping for change.  Father, I just pray that you will help me see how YOU plan to help me instead of me trying to figure it out on my own.  I thank you for all you've already done and for everything you will do.  In Jesus' name I pray these things.  Amen."

A week later I received an assignment notification to Colorado.  It never ceases to amaze me when I'm reminded how awesome our God is.  When you talk to God, acknowledging the struggles you're enduring and asking Him to help you see what He wants you to do about, He answers.  It may not be the way you want or expect it.  It may not be the time you're asking.  It may not even be the specific thing you think you need.  He knows your heart and your situation.  He just wants you to trust in Him to guide you.

If I got my assignment to Colorado last year, I wouldn't have been tasked to deploy.  That deployment brought me closer to God than I've ever been in my entire life!  God knows what He's doing.  He already had plans for me.  While I was praying for escape from my current base, He was sitting back saying, "Hold on for a little bit.  I've got something better in mind."

Now, after my deployment, I will be leaving this base a better woman of God than I was last year.  I will be arriving at a new base with Him at my side.  I am getting that assignment I wanted at a better time in my life than I was when I was asking for it.

I pray that I will continue to remember the kind of God He is and to always trust in Him with everything in my life.  And I pray that I will live my life the way He wants me to live.  I thank Him so much for who He is!  Not just for what He's done but for being God.  In Jesus' name I pray these things.  Amen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's Prep Time for Thanksgiving LoL!

I love growing my hair long.  It's easy to keep up in a uniform and you can do so many fun things with it.  A few years ago, though, I found something REWARDING and useful about long hair.  I can donate it!  There are children with cancer or disorders that cause hair loss and believe it or not hair costs thousands of dollars!!  I learned that for one hairpiece, roughly 10 ponytails of donated hair is needed.  This hairpiece is super expensive.  Locks of Love (LoL) is a charity organization that collects donated hair and pays for the creation of hairpieces for children whose families cannot afford to purchase them.  Their website totally moved me and inspired me to donate my hair.
Locks of Love is committed to providing the highest quality hair prostheses (hairpieces) to every child suffering from long term or permanent medical hair loss. The hair prostheses provided are custom-made from donated ponytails and would retail between $3,500 and $6,000. Locks of Love provides them for free or on a sliding scale, based on financial need. These prostheses are different from synthetic hairpieces because they form a vacuum seal, and do not require the use of tape or glue. Only the wearer of the prosthesis may remove it, by breaking the vacuum seal at the temples. Children can dismiss insecurities about classmates pulling off their hairpiece, or losing it during sports. They can also swim and shower with it in place. Wigs do not provide these needs for every day activities of active children. This sense of security allows the children to get back their self confidence and be kids again. -- http://locksoflove.org/mission.html

After learning all about these little children who wait for their own full head of hair, I was deeply moved and in December 2007 I donated eighteen inches.  I walked into my shop the next day and the priest I worked with stared at me with a dropped jaw.  "What have you done!" He exclaimed.  "A woman's hair is her glory!"
I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders.  "Someone else will have my glory then," I answered, quite happy that I was able to give. 

I made a promise that I would donate everytime my hair got long enough.  It costs me nothing but a haircut.  And some kid out there is gonna have a bigger smile on their face when they get their finished hairpiece in the mail.  That is amazing to me.

So... the preparation will begin.  Right now my hair has lots of grays in it.  Although LoL accepts gray/white hairs, they don't use them on the hairpieces.  Those hairs are sold to help with manufacturing costs.  I'm thinking of dyeing it but not until I get closer to cutting day.  Also, my hair is layered.  The longest length is right at my rear end and the shortest is at my waist.  I think I'll have it cut straight across so they're all one length.  I've got a few things to do before giving my hair to someone else.  I want to make sure I give good healthy hair and not dry strands with split ends.  Which is why I've decided to prepare my hair months in advance.

My goal is to donate at least ten inches, if not more, on Thanksgiving day this year.  The hair will be shiny, healthy and soft.  I'm thinking maybe some multivitamins will help. 

Say a prayer for me!

Find out how you can donate your own hair!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mommy Needs A Break

Holy smokes.  I'm friggin exhausted.  Work has kept me really busy, going from one project to another.  People are pulling me in different directions, each asking why I'm not responding to them quick enough.  My new official boss gives me two tasks, both which have an ASAP suspense and both which have sat at his desk while I've been deployed and gone for about 9 months.  So of course I'm expected to swoop in and magically make them FINISHED so his name can shine on top of them.  The other boss in my shop is a chauvinist who insists that because I'm a woman, I should be taking better care of the kitchen in our facility.  Then I get home and ...

the kids need to be fed, they're thirsty, they wanna play, they want a snack, they're still thirsty, they need baths, Sean poops twice and both times his diaper explodes, Caden and Sean fight over a toy, Sean screams his head off because Bruce licks him, Caden finds some juice in the fridge and shows me that he can still have some more because we still have juice, Sean unrolls the toilet tissue in the bathroom, dinner is burned because I'm breaking up a fight, Sean brings me an empty coffee cup thanking me for my coffee, Caden wants milk before bed and he whines like a baby, Caden then whines because he's insisting that he is NOT a baby, Sean is screaming while in time out for hitting Bruce on the head with his Buzz Lightyear, Sean gets out of bed seven times, Caden calls from the bedroom "Sean's sleeping in my spot!"  Finally, finally FINALLY I lay down on the couch and put my feet up hoping to send an e-mail to a friend and before I know it I'm fast asleep with my laptop on my belly.

Anyone wanna be a live-in nanny?  I swear they're the easiest kids in the world!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pups in Heaven

Today was a great day.  We took Bruce for a nice walk, went to the beach where we got mobbed by sea gulls, buried Caden and Sean's legs in the sand, played with Caden in the water, and just had a wonderful family fun day.  But when the kids hit the bed and Bruce fell asleep at my feet, my heart had a little bit of a throb in it.  Like it was missing something.  And that's when I remembered.  I don't think I'll ever forget.
Today is Boston's 3 year anniversary of going from "Mommy's Baby" to "Missing."  Who's Boston?  Just one of the few angels God had sent to me.  If you don't know me very well, you'll need to know this:  I love animals.  I love them like I love children.  I believe God has given us these wonderful things as gifts and we're responsible for appreciating them if not because we just love them, then at least in honor of His love for us.  So from time to time, you'll come across a blog post about a past pet or any animal that has touched my heart in some way.  In honor of his memory, I'll tell you a little story about him.  I think I need to write about him anyway.  It'll probably help me deal with it tonight. 
While I was married to X, I had two dogs: Prissy and Boston.  I had Prissy way before I met X and Boston was adopted maybe a year after we married.  Both were lost at the hands of X which marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey to departing my and my kids' lives from a life of abuse to one of victory.
Prissy was an American Eskimo Spitz and Boston was a Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix.  They were both so different in personality, Prissy being well.. prissy and Boston being a bouncy little pup.  Like all dogs, they wanted nothing more than affection and love.  They gave me more than I could ever give them and in the end that proved true.
During my marriage life was very chaotic and I suffered from depression and anxiety.  The three of us (the dogs and I) endured abuse together.  Prissy and Boston not only comforted me when I needed a friend, they eventually gave their lives.  I won't go into the details of everything because this isn't meant to be a sad story.  But I will highlight that Prissy's death and Boston's disappearance opened my eyes to something I wish I had the courage to see earlier: LEAVE.  But if I left earlier, I wouldn't have two beautiful children in their place.  No, I believe I left when the time was right.  God already had things planned out for us all.
Three years ago today, Boston left.  But he left behind wonderful memories of life in his presence.  He always reminded me of Scrappy, Scooby Doo's nephew.  Remember Scrappy?  That little pup with all the spunk in the world?  That was my Boston.  When he ran, he hopped.  He could chase a tennis ball forever.  In fact he would be dead asleep and if I accidentally dropped his ball, he'd bounce outta sleep and come looking for it.  There were so many things about him that just melted my heart.
One of the sweetest things he did was carry this small, beat up teddy bear around.  It was like his comfort object or something.  He'd sleep with it or just want it near him.  He chewed a hole in the thing and still wanted it around!  I still have the bear but I keep it in a safe place where sticky toddler fingers won't reach it.  :P
When Boston left I was terribly sad.  My heart just sagged.  I remember even praying, "God I know you can do miracles, please bring him back!"  Foolish, I know.  But at the time I didn't care.  I loved him so much.  Losing him was like losing a child.  He was such a good dog.  He was quiet, followed me everywhere, loved anyone who would cuddle him and anytime I cried he was right there looking at me with his big brown eyes.  Both he and Prissy gave me so much love during the times I really needed it.  Losing the both of them was devastating.  And I struggled with my faith when I lost them.  A few Christians I asked told me that the Bible doesn't say anything about dogs going to heaven.  That not only pissed me off but it broke my heart!  But after speaking to a couple of chaplains about it, they both told me the same thing:  Just because it isn't mentioned in the Bible, it doesn't mean they don't go to heaven.  If you read through Revelations, you'll see that Jesus comes down on a white horse!  That itself tells me there are animals in heaven.  :)
So tonight, I guess my heart is just aching a little for them both.  Even though it's Boston's anniversary and not Prissy's, they both were lost to the same cruelty and both gave me such an incredible boost of courage.  I thank God for giving me these two little angels to comfort me.  I know that whether they're in heaven or at the bridge waiting for me, they're happy and healthy. 
Whenever the Lord decides to take me home, I know they'll be running to me at full speed.  So to the both of them, "Goodnight, babies."

Day at the Beach

What a gorgeous day it was.  At seven this morning it was already in the seventies.  The sky looked a little gray, so I checked the weather:  Morning clouds with afternoon sunshine.  Beach weather.  Ah yes.  Caden had been asking to go to the beach lately.  At eight this morning, I sat on my porch with a cup of coffee thinking how nice it would be to just go back to bed and lay down.  But I remembered Proverbs 6:9-11, "How long will you lie there, you sluggard?  When will you get up from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."  I couldn't waste the day away.

We left home about ten o'clock, grabbed some corn dogs and a jumbo coney for me.  When we got there, there were hardly any other people around.  Just the way I like it.  Just us, the sand... and the birds.  I guess they were sea gulls or something.  They were freaking us out!  They spotted the food in our hands and were hovering over us as if they were waiting for one of us to pass out or something.  Caden was getting a bit nervous. 

That was before he figured out he could ROAR them away.


After the birds moved on we were able to enjoy the sand and water without worrying about getting pecked to death.  The boys had a blast playing under the sun.  Caden followed me into the water, which was nice and cool, as Sean played at the shore.  I was hoping all the running and jumping they did would've put them right to sleep in the car but they wouldn't be my boys now would they?  Nope.  It's nearly five in the evening right now as I type and our home is filled with screams of laughter as they play even more.  Bruce and I seem to be the only ones in the house who appreciate a nice relaxing time.  :P


Friday, April 8, 2011

Bruce

He's my rebound dog.  Sweet.  Adorable.  BIG.  Bruce.  I don't know why he chose me but I think he knew I needed him.  When he was brought out of the kennel, he came up to me and gave me the most gentle welcome.  He put his paw up for me as I knelt down and petted him.  When I rubbed his ears he immediately slumped onto his back looking for belly rubs.  The workers that took him out said that he's usually shy, so it was odd that he warmed up to me so quickly.  He acted as if he knew me.  I knew then that I would be taking him home.

The humane society labeled him as Rottweiler/Shepherd mix because of his coloring.  But the vet said he looked more like a bloodhound mix.  I researched the Black and Tan Coonhound, which he resembles very much.  I'm thinking he's mixed with that and Lab or something.  He bays like a hound dog.  Walks with his nose to the ground trailing a scent with his tail up.  And he's got such a droopy face.  I don't care what he's mixed with, I love him.

He's great with the kids, super gentle despite his 77lbs.  And he actually loves kids.  Very patient.  And all he wants is to be rubbed on.  He's such a ham.  All this goodness aside, though, there is one thing that breaks my heart about him.  He has hip and elbow dysplasia.  The poor guy was in a lot of pain-- so much that his front legs shake when he sits.  So our vet, who is just wonderful, suggested some treatments for him.

We started laser therapy last week, we're 8 days into it, and he showed an immediate response to it.  He's able to jump into the hatch of my SUV without any help or encouragement from me.  He's walking better (his hind legs are a little more limber).  And he just seems so much happier!  The other day he picked up a toy from the floor and did a funny slow-moving gallop around the living room.  He seems to be very mindful of his size, though, which is a huge relief for all of us.  He's very gentle and doesn't push or shove. 

This week we started him on Adequan injections.  After a month of treatment, he'll go down to just once a month injections.  Poor dude.  I don't know how long he lived with his pain but I pray that God will continue to bless me with the ability to get him the help he needs.

So I guess he's a rebound dog with some baggage.  We're kind of made for each other in that way, I guess.  :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend at Patrick's

About once a month, sometimes once every other month, we take a 3 hour trip to see Patrick.  And of course Patrick would be more than happy to come to our town, but his place is just so much nicer!  His home is in a really woodsy area.  He has lots of land, trees and ... nature.  Just outside his door.  Being at his place is like going away on vacation.
The kids had a great time, playing with sticks and rocks.  Oy.  Boys and their dirt.  :P  Sean couldn't get enough outside time.  At home, we have a nice walking trail on the apartment property.  It has a lake with ducks and turtles.  So we go outside every evening soaking in some fresh air.  But at Patrick's?  Ahhhh.  It's like going to a place where fresh air comes from!  And the boys sucked in enough of it to last a little while after we left.  :) 

A neighbor has a couple of young horses, both Quarter Horse colts.  They are super sweet and gentle.  As soon as Caden saw them by the fence, he hauled butt in their direction with me running closely behind.  Katy, the neighbor's daughter, came out to teach the boys how to feed and pet the horses.  She was so sweet to accommodate my guys.   She'll be starting the horses on saddle breaking this summer.  They've got a future of barrel racing ahead of them.  Can't wait to follow their training!

Patrick and his son Michael got to work on cleaning out their shed.  I forget what it's like having a man sometimes-- men come with so many gadgets and tools.  Patrick is an auto body man and he has all sorts of machinery in his shop.  His shed is FULL of guy stuff.  So.... I stayed out of it.  He and Michael seemed to be doing just fine on their own.  I'm better at making sure their bellies are full and they aren't dying of thirst.

Patrick is not from this little county.  He's from a big city where the pace is fast and the traffic is crazy.  But he stayed in the country to be close to his sons.  I tease him sometimes, telling him that he secretly loves the country life and wouldn't go back to the city if someone paid him.  Personally, I absolutely love nature.  I'm not and never will be a city girl.  I like the laid back stillness of a small town where deer can walk into your backyard and coyote cry at midnight.  There's just something magical about it. 

Aside from all those wonderful benefits of visiting Patrick, the real joy is just in his presence.  Everytime we're together, it feels like everything is as it should be.  We all just fit together.  All of us.  And the two of us are an awesome team.  Sometimes I struggle admitting it but today I have to just shrug my shoulders and agree with myself:  I'm totally smitten over this guy.  He just melts my heart.  Can't wait for another weekend at Patrick's.

The Golden Arches

"Look Mom!  I made McDonald's!"

I was busy with laundry when Caden ran up to me with sheer excitement on his face.  "You made McDonald's?" I asked.

"Yeah!  Look!"  He disappeared from my sight, calling me over to the living room.

I put the laundry aside, followed him and sure enough he made McDonald's.

Caden loves McDonald's.  What kid doesn't?  When I was a kid, just the smell of McDonald's made me happy.  It wasn't the food.  It was the fact that you could walk in and get a meal made especially for a kid.  It's called a Happy Meal of all things.  And it comes in a special little bag or box.  With a special toy.  And kid sized fries and a kid sized drink.  And in many McDee's restaurants, there's a really cool jungle gym/slide where all the kids can just go crazy.  It is great!  And you can spot this magic place from a distance because of its bright golden arches.  LOL

To a kid, places like this just make them feel special.  So, when Caden ran to me saying he "made McDonald's" it made me remember what it was like to be a kid. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Changes in the Pack

This is the second time I rehomed Charlie.  When I brought him home he was a stray about to be brought to the pound.  I couldn't stand another dog in the pound.  One more dog in means another cage needed, which means someone's gotta  go.  And you know what that means-- unnecessary death.  So I brought him home.  And it was one wild ride.

With two kids (and Sean was just a little baby) in my life, I don't know what I was thinking bringing in a puppy.  And boy was he a big puppy!  With his long legs and gigantic head, Charlie ran and jumped and did all the normal puppy things.  When he got older, about 7 months, I just couldn't handle him and two little guys.  So I found him a home with a big fenced yard.  Four months later his owners called me and said it wasn't working out because their other dog wouldn't get along with him.  He's a good boy who gets along with anyone and anything, but he can be overwhelming and their chihuahua just couldn't tolerate his high energy.  So I took him back.

Now he was even bigger!  But I didn't want to give up on him.  I worked some training into him and at the time we lived in a house with a backyard, so I took the time to exercise him.  And with enough walks and backyard run time, he did great.

After my deployment I moved into an apartment.  At first it was great!  It was just the two of us, going for multiple walks and jogs a day.  But once I brought the kids back home, all hell broke loose.  I realized I couldn't take him for walks as much as he wanted.  Having to haul two toddlers down a second floor for a walk as often as Charlie wanted was just not happening.  We'd go for a long evening walk and as soon as we went back inside, he was at the door wanting to go back outside.  He started getting stir crazy.

When the kids napped, poor Charlie was sitting by the door wanting out.  If I didn't take him out, he'd find something to destroy and just destroy it.  Though he was potty trained, I would come home to find poop and pee on the carpets.  The poor thing was just so cooped up that he was acting out in crazy ways.  Shredding anything he could get his jaws on, peeing in the kids' rooms, peeing on the couch, barking at the door for yet another walk.  He was just going nuts!  Even though we walked him for an hour in the morning and two hours in the evening on the weekdays, and then three walks a day on the weekends, he just couldn't get enough outside time.  I realized he wasn't going to do well in an apartment like I hoped. 

I found a family who was looking for a dog.  The husband used to have a German Shepherd and decided their dog would be of that breed.  I spoke to them about Charlie and they were dying to take him.  So that night I packed all his toys and leashes up.  As I was doing so, my heart began to sag.  Even though he was such a pain, he was still my baby.  He reminded me of Marley in the movie Marlie and Me.  Crazy but lovable.  I reached behind the TV on the entertainment center and found his squeaky toys.

I hate his squeaky toys.  And he loves them.  He carried them in his mouth all over the place just squeaking and it drove me insane.  But I never had the heart to throw them away.  Instead, I'd just hide them and he always found them.  I put the squeaky toys in his bag.  And that's when the tears came.

I called Patrick, who did all he could to console me even resorting to humor saying "He'll be fine!  They'd probably give him a better home than yours."  Of course that just made me cry more and he immediately explained that he was only kidding.  Men!

When I brought Charlie to his new family, all the worries I had about them faded.  He went straight to their yard, which is a huge fenced area that wrapped around the back and sides of their home.  Their kids (older ones, thank goodness) opened the gate and let him in and off he went.  He ran with all his heart.  He ran in circles, jumped, rolled on his back.  I knew then that this was the life he needed.  A place to run unleashed.  A place to burn his energy.  Anytime he needed.  Older kids who wouldn't get knocked over when he decided to go on a pupy run.  Two adults in the home so one could take him for a walk while the other stayed in with the kids.  A balanced home.

They had his own room prepared-- a sunroom filled with toys and a dog bed.  They explained that he'd have free run of the house but at night they wanted him to sleep in his room.  That all changed a couple of days later when they called and said he now sleeps in their son's bed with him.  That made me happy.

They love him.  And they have room for him.  And he doesn't need to wait at the door for everyone in the house to get ready for a walk.  He just goes out their doggy door and runs.    I sent them his puppy pictures.  And they sent back stories of what he'd been up to.

Being in the home without him seemed strangely calm.  Which was a nice change.  But it also left a void.  Since I had been a single mom, I always wanted a dog with us.  Something big that would provide an appearance of security.  Not an aggressive dog, but something that might make predators think twice before messing with us or even just a single woman living without a man in the home.  Sometime after Charlie was rehomed, I visited the humane society.  And that's where I found Bruce.

With the perfect temperament and energy for a single mom with little boys in an apartment, Bruce filled a hole in my heart.  A big part of me knows he's a rebound dog.  I missed Charlie.  I missed having a dog in the home.  But he's more than a rebound.  If you keep your eye out, you'll get to know more about Bruce in an upcoming blog.

Totally Loved

Every girl loves to hear that she's pretty.  That her work was done well.  That she's smart.  Trusted.  Loyal.  And many other wonderful things.  For lots of us ladies that's our love language.  That's how we are shown love.  Through verbal affirmation.  For many of us, it's not a vanity or egotistical thing.  It's more of a reassurance.  Just like respecting our men is how to show them love, we women are emotional creatures and we are shown love through praise and appreciation. 

In my home there are me and two boys:  Caden and Sean whom I constantly care for.  Ladies you know that your children don't always like the food you cook because they want pizza instead, cookies instead, etc.  I certainly have days where I work hard at a fantastic spaghetti (well, I thought so anyway) just to have my boys eat a third of it and ask for peas instead.  Patrick lives hours away from us so he only gets to taste my cooking once a month or so.   I don't get too many "thank you for the hard work" comments.  Nah.  I get much cooler comments than that!

My boys are superb at complimenting their mama.  Last week I painted my toenails a bright red color and on my big toes I placed a white flower sticker and went over it with a clear coat.  While I was painting, Caden was observing so closely!  Finally, he said "Oh!  Your nails are so pretty Mommy.  The flower is beautiful!  Aw you're so beautiful!"  It just melted my heart.  And Sean?  He loves my hair.  Sometimes when we're playing he runs his fingers through my hair and says, "I like your hair!"  And he'll hold a lock of it and brush his cheek saying "It's so soft!"  Talk about swooping a girl off her feet.  These guys just rock at charm.

Even though I only have Patrick's embrace once a month, his eyes twinkling at me when he tells me I'm beautiful, I get a healthy supply of verbal affirmation from my kids.  And even if it might sound vain that I get such a kick outta my kids telling me I'm pretty, I don't care.  Because if the ones I love with all my heart can grin with wide eyes and tell me that my hair is soft, well darn it I'm gonna feel like the prettiest girl in the world.  Their compliments totally trump anyone else's besides God's.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Much Do You Love?

"Look!  My arm's gone!"

I looked over at Caden, who had shoved one of his arms out of his sleeve and into his shirt, attempting to appear as if his arm was missing.  It was bedtime and we were in the middle of one of our bedtime songs. 

At bedtime, we all lay down together and I lead them in prayer.  We thank God for everything He has given us, everything He has allowed us to endure, and for His wonderful mercy and grace.  Then after prayer, Caden asks me to "say" about Patrick.  So we go into a small quiet discussion about Patrick which leads into Caden's requests to visit him.  There are times when I have to correct him because when I speak about Patrick, Caden will start praying to him.  LOL  It's pretty cute when he interrupts me and says "Dear Patrick, thank you for giving me a car.  And thank you for hugging us.  And thank you..." and so on.  I usually have to tell him that we can call Patrick instead of praying to him.

After the Patrick discussion, I'll sing them one or two bedtime songs.  So the other night, I was in the middle of a song when Caden shoved his arm into his sleeve, pretending his arm is gone.  Aware that he was just stalling sleep, I was too amused to remind him it was bedtime.  Instead, I entertained it which lead to the sweetest thing.

My eyes widened and I stopped my singing.  "Caden!  What happened to your arm?"

His eyes widened in response and he said, "I don't know!  It's gone!"

So I turned to Sean, who had now sat up in bed, and said, "Sean, Caden's arm is gone!"

Sean frowned at Caden, who was now wiggling an armless shoulder and waving his other arm.  "Where'd it go?" Sean asked, concerned.  He glanced around the bed and blamed the dog for taking it (which is a regular thing lately).

"No," I said, "he didn't take it.  Where did Caden's arm go?" 

Finally Sean held his right arm with his left hand and said, "I get you one, Caden!"  He began pulling his right arm, then moved onto pulling his hand instead.  "I can't do it!  I can't do it!"  I realized then that he was trying to give his own arm to Caden!

Finally, Caden sprouted his missing arm and said, "It's okay, Sean!  It came back!"

After big hugs and kisses, I settled them back down for bed and we all slept soundly together.  But before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn't help giggling at the sight of Sean trying to take his own arm off to give to his one-armed brother.  After my giggle fit, my heart just sighed and I asked myself why kids were so much quicker to give their own arm for another than we adults.

Have you ever given whatever you had for someone else who needed it?  Have you ever loved someone else enough that you'd sacrifice your own money, time, clothes, etc just so they could have what they needed?  Have you ever given a shoeless person the shoes off your own feet?  This is the kind of love God has for us.

He loved the world so much that He has given His only begotten son.  So many of us know that bible verse, yet lots of times we forget to actually feel it.  We don't relate to it enough to actually appreciate how much God loves us.  Imagine having a son and then sacrificing him to pain and suffering that would lead to his death just for the lives of others.  Others who don't know it even happened.  Others who do and turn the other way.  Others who don't believe it.  And others who will hurt others.  Thankfully there are some who do know it's true.  Some who thank our God for His love.  And some who realize that He loves us THAT much and so they choose to live their lives for Him as best as they can.

It is amazing to me how children can have a love like this so much more than adults or at least quicker to act on it.  It's because the world hasn't had a grip on them, they haven't been molded by the world.  It makes me hug them tighter and touch their faces, praying that I can lead them to keeping God's work on them fresh and unspoiled.

I thank God for His wonderful works, His saving grace and love for me.  I pray for his forgiveness of my sins.  And I pray that He will keep my eyes and ears open to the daily reminders he sends me that tells me He is here with me at all times.  I pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen. 

May you have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Too Blessed

I have a confession to make.  Returning to my home unit after deployment was a scary thought.  Scary enough that I started losing weight about a month before leaving my deployed unit.  In fact, I acted as if I wasn't leaving.  Up until the week prior to my departure, people would ask when my last day was and I'd spout out the date and would shrug nonchalantly when they raised their eyebrows in surprise and said, "Wow!  That's coming up quick!"  I procastinated in starting my out-processing checklist.  It was like a big black spot on a good article in a magazine.  Even though I knew it was there, I'd try to read around it anyway and just get annoyed that it's there in the first place.  I used the "If I pretend it isn't there, I won't deal with it." concept to cope with it.  The truth is, I was scared shitless.

I didn't exactly enjoy my home unit.  I've served here since the summer of '07 and haven't yet taken a liking to it.  Not that the location is bad.  The town is small and quiet, just the way I like it.  There is a beach just minutes from my base.  If I want a woodsy environment, Patrick lives a few hours north of me and his home is in a tiny quiet town surrounded by trees and country life.  Cost of living is fair.  The local people are equipped with charming southern hospitality.  So... I'm stationed in a great location.  Could it be the base and its mission?


No.  The base is fairly large with great facilities.  The mission is... well, it's a mission.  Not a special mission but a normal one that requires the average amount of sacrifice from its people.  I don't have to work nights and worry about not seeing my children.  I don't work 12 hours a day.  Nothing ridiculous is asked of me.


I think it's my job.  The unit is small enough to be considered a family and large enough that you can pick out a favorite.  Like all families, there are cliques and "cool" people, the weird folks and the "black sheep."  There's gossip and manipulation.  But there's also kind of that "No one picks on my brother but me" mentality.  And right before I deployed, there was some gossip about me that was spread.  Even though I knew better than to take it personally, I did.  It hurt my feelings and humiliated me.  So, the thought of going back really stressed me.

I've prayed a lot and God has put it on my heart to return with an open mind. And all I've been doing since I've been back is observing, analyzing and adjusting. Whether I like it here or not doesn't matter, it's the attitude I plan to have about it.  Instead of coming to work with a scowl on my face, I've been polite and determined to get my work done.  And to be honest, having a better attitude about it has actually helped me cope with being here.  I feel... content.

Ephesians, Chapter 4 Verses 11-13 says "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

After lots of prayer, I finally asked myself "Who am I to complain?"  Honestly, I am just a silly human.  I didn't create the world.  Or the universe.  I am not entitled to anything.  God has blessed me with a job, where others are jobless.  I have a home, where others are homeless.  And I have my children, when others have lost their own.  I am blessed!  God has kept me from being too poor to feed my family.  He has given me family to be with my kids while I was deployed.  He has shown me so much love and grace.  I have nothing to complain about.  Nothing at all. 

I learned something really neat last week.  It is kind of a guide to prayer.  It isn't a rule or anything, but something that helps us pray with integrity.  It uses the acronym of ACTS.  Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.  Here's something I found on ACTS:

ACTS (Click here for the source)One structure for prayer is given by the acronym "ACTS", representing adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (or intercession.)  This is one order, where we start off focusing on who God is, and praising him for that. Others find a CATS pattern helpful, beginning by clearing out of the way the things that sadden God in our lives, before we can go onto praise him.  Let's look briefly at each in turn : 
Adoration is to adore God, to worship him and to fulfil the commandment to love him with all of our heart, mind and soul. As we spend time in adoration, we praise God for who He is - our Creator, our Sustainer and our Redeemer. (more about praise and adoration.)
Confession allows us to clear away the things in the relationship between you and God which are displeasing to Him.  All of us have sinned. St John writes in his epistle "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (I Jn 1:8,9)  (more about confession.)
Thanksgiving.  From childhood we are brought up to say "Thank You" when someone does something for us, or gives us a gift.  Each moment God is blessing us, every minute we can recall the wonderful things that God has done for us, and the gifts that we have been given. And so, we need to be constantly thanking God for his blessings. In writing to Timothy, Paul makes it clear that we also need to be giving thanks for everyday, worldly things " I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Tim 2:1.
With all this said, I've got to repeat that I'm pretty darn content.  :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

After the Deployment

So I've been without a computer for about a month.  My wonderful little pink netbook has died.  It just ... DIED.  No warning or anything.  And a replacement has been really low on my list of things to purchase.  I had more important things to buy... like a couch.

You know it's pretty bad when a couple of guys bring a couch into your home and your toddlers jump for joy saying, "A couch!  A couch!"  And your 4 year old jumps on it, hugs the pillows and says, "I missed you, couch!"  Thanks, Caden!  Now I feel like such a jerk.  :P

We're all moved into the apartment and have been just getting things settled and organized.  It is nice having my bed back!  And it is especially nice having a washer and dryer hooked up.  Oh!  And speaking of the washer, I was quite proud of myself.  I hooked it up all by myself.  I even figured out how to balance it.  You know how the washer and dryer wobbles when you first get it in?  Well, I learned (and not by accident, but by actually Googling the answer!) that you have to tilt it towards you at about a 30 degree angle and let it drop.  It balances itself.  How cool is that!  So I got to finally do my laundry!

Since I've been back, I've focused primarily on getting the family back together and settling in our home.  I didn't realize what a job that would be.  Whew.  And there is one big thing that has identified itself as an unfortunate deployment side effect.  Kids and separation anxiety.

The first night I was home, Caden woke up at midnight whispering, "Mommy?"  When I opened my eyes, I saw him creeping up to me really quietly.  "Yes, honey," I answered.  He gave me a big hug and said, "Thank you for getting me."  During the remainder of the week, he'd wake in the middle of the night and say, "Mommy?  You're home?"  Talk about breaking my heart.  As sweet and innocent as it was though, it escalated rapidly.

If I leave the room, he follows me just to make sure I'm not leaving the apartment.  He'll say, "Mommy?  You'll be right back?"  And if he and Sean are doing something naughty, all it takes is for me to say, "All right, guys, we need to have a talk about this" and Caden is quick to run to me and say, "Mommy please don't get mad!  I don't want you to get mad!"  The look on his face is something stricken and panicked.

Daycare is getting harder every day.  In the morning, he cries because he doesn't want me to go to work.  He wants me to stay at daycare with him.  He cries about it in the car on the way to daycare.  And then he cries on his way to his class room.  When I leave the room, I hear him screaming "I want my mommy!!  I don't want her to go to work!"  The poor little guy. 

What I've been doing about the daycare anxiety is simply encouraging him for going, asking him about his day, showing him how cool it is that he's in daycare.  When I drop him off, I tell him I'll be back to get him before the sun goes down.  It seems to be making a difference.  When I pick him up he gets excited and tells me, "Look mommy!  The sun is still up!" 

Sean, on the other hand, is going through his terrible two's.  So Mommy leaving him at daycare doesn't upset him at all.  He had far more important things to scream about.  Like other kids having a ball and not him.  Or that his Buzz Lightyear toy can't wear Woody's cowboy hat.  Or that Charlie licked him.  Or that Caden has an "aircrane" and he doesn't.  Whew.  I can't wait for him to get over this phase.

I've got so much more to write about this post-deployment transition.  But I'm using my work comp and if you tell on me, I'd be in a bit of trouble.  ;)

Peace.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Progress ... and A Visitor

I'm feeling a little proud of myself today.  I've been making a dent in the storage room so I've been a little more motivated.  I do quite well filling my little SUV until it's about to explode.  This last trip, I got to cram a bookshelf, a few big boxes, a couple of large stuffed animals, the frame for my bed and more in just one load!  Not bad for not having a truck.

Oh!  And I was able to lift that bookshelf up nineteen steps all by myself!  I was a little proud that my 100lb self could do it.  Ha ha!  I rock.

It is annoying having a bunch of empty boxes in the place as I unpack things, but I know that in time I'll get it all straightened out.  What I thought was super cool was that I was smart enough to store almost EVERYTHING.  I super-sealed a box of my spices and seasonings!  I also don't need to buy toilet tissue, paper towels, trash bags and all the little things you usually have to buy when you move.  Heck no, I even have dishwashing detergent!  How awesome is that?

It would've been perfect if I could've been able to store frozen food or even if I had ordered from Angel Food Ministries so that I could pick up the groceries as soon as I got a place.  :)  Ah well, It can't all go perfectly, right?

In the midst of all this moving, I was afforded the pleasure of having a surprise visitor.  Last night, Charlie and I went to Sonic for some coffee.  After getting out of the car, we headed up the stairs and out of nowhere came this cat!  It ran quickly up the steps at Charlie's side.  When I opened my door, Charlie ran in ... followed by the cat.  I stood there, stumped.

It went inside and started rubbing its little body all over the place!  Charlie tried to play with him but Charlie is a big dog who is more like a giant puppy, so when he plays with other animals he can be... overwhelming.  So the cat swatted Charlie on his face and Charlie decided to follow him around instead.

Now anyone who knows me knows what a sucker I am when it comes to strays.  Heck, Charlie was a puppy about to be surrendered to the humane society!  Now almost two years later, I won't shake him off.  So, this cat couldn't have chosen a more perfect sucker.  But.  I am in the process of moving, haven't even brought my kids into the home yet, PLUS Patrick is allergic to cats.  I could not keep this cat in my home.

So, before I let him get comfortable, I had to put him back outside with a towel by my door so he wouldn't get too cold.  Of course he had already wandered off by the time I peeked outside to check on him.  This morning, I asked a neighbor about him and she said he belongs to another tenant and just roams the place.

So, to sum it all up, I've been having a very progressive move.  So progressive that someone's cat decided to try to move in with me like I wouldn't notice.  And I found that I could lift something like a heavy bookcase up my stairs without any help.  So it might get even better tonight and tomorrow!