Thankful

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Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving was awesome this year!  The kids and I spent time together and pretty much did “nothing” all day long.  We ate what we wanted, played games, took naps, and seriously just hung out all day!  We missed our Daddy very much as he is still in Afghanistan, but we did get to talk to him today and he is safe for tonight.  Now the kiddos and I are all ready to snuggle up in our warm comfy beds.  The weather has cooled down a bit and it is on night’s like this one that I love to light the fire and drink hot apple cider while I catch up on reading my favorite blogs.  I hope your Thanksgiving was all that you hoped for and that you spent time with those you love!

Good Night!

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A soldier’s last trip home.

There is something about a tragedy that brings people together. I haven’t talked to so many Army friends in one day in a long time. We all reconnected again today talking about our fellow soldier and his family. We talked about memories and times together and made sure we all knew how much each of us meant to each other. Many of us have husbands and sons currently still over there in Afghanistan and we all shared our fears and our hopes that nobody else will have to die before this whole deployment is over! Our friend made the ultimate sacrifice and he will never be forgotten!

My friend’s brave soldier will be making his last trip home very soon and some of our friends currently serving in Afghanistan will be with him for different parts of that journey. He will be honored and remembered. They will carry him out of a country so filled with hate and war. It warms my heart that he will NOT be alone for this last ride home.

A soldier’s sacrifice

A soldier, a husband, a daddy, a son, and a brother died this week.  Tonight I learned the devestating news that a dear sister in Christ received the very worst and most unimaginable news that the love of her life will never come home.  He was killed in Afghanistan.  The thoughts and feelings that run through my mind and body right now are all too familiar.  I have never received the news that she had to endure this week, but something all too similar.

It was July 2004 and our first son had just been born a month and a half earlier.  We were blessed enough that my soldier was able to come home on leave from his deployment in Iraq to see his son be born into this world.  Those were the happy moments of 2004.  Then, there was July 1, 2004.  That day will forever be remembered in our house as the day that daddy came all too close to being gone forever.

My very best friend and I lived two houses away from each other on our military post at the time.  Both of our soldiers were deployed to the same base in Iraq.  We spent our evenings together, cooking meals for our kiddos and watching comedies to try and keep our minds off of our husbands being gone.  She was up that night chatting with her husband over the computer when suddenly he typed that he had to go.  The internet was being turned off.  There had been an accident, a very bad accident and families would have to be notified.  They didn’t want news leaking out to the family members before they could be contacted through Army channels, so all communication had to be cut off until it was done.  My friend’s last words to her husband were, “Do you know where (my soldier) is?”  His response: “No, I have not seen him today.”  Then, the line went dead.  She didn’t know what to do.  Should she call me?  Should she tell me what was going on?  We had a trip planned to keep us busy over the 4th of July weekend.  We were driving miles away and staying in her brother’s house while we shopped some of the biggest outlet malls in the area.  She decided to call.  “Have you talked to your soldier,” she asked.  “Yep, I did yesterday,” I said.  “He is on a convoy and will call me in a couple of days.”  Her heart sunk.  He was on that convoy.  “Well, be sure to tell your Family Readiness Group leader where you’ll be,” she said.  All Army wives keep in close contact while our husbands are away and its important that the chain of command know if we are taking trips or leaving base for any extended period of time while our soldiers are on deployment.  “I’ll email her,” I said.  I had a new cell phone number, so I emailed my Family Readiness Group leader my plans to leave town and my new cell number in case she needed to get ahold of me.  She never got that email.  I finished packing our bags that night and the next morning we left bright and early for the drive.

That night we stopped to have dinner at a restaurant and were just ordering when my friend’s cell phone rang.  I watched her reach into her purse and move things around looking for her phone.  Finally finding it, she put it to her ear and said, “hello.”  Within seconds her face went white.  She wasn’t smiling and didn’t look happy, but scared.  Without saying a word, she took the phone from her ear and handed it over the table to me.  It was at that very second that I knew something was terribly wrong.  I took the phone.  “Hello,” I said.  “Baby, its me and I’m okay, but there has been an accident.”  I knew it was him, but his voice didn’t sound right at all.  I later learned that it was because his tongue was swollen out of his mouth, so talking was extremely difficult.  The connection was also terrible.  He was calling from a satellite phone half a world away.  The conversation was short.  We said, “I love you” to each other a hundred times and then he hung up.

After that, I did all of the things that military wives do.  I called his parents.  I called my parents.  I called my husband’s commander’s wife and that is when I learned the details.  My husband had been riding in the back of an unarmed Humvee.  He was in the turret when all of a sudden he heard something that was so loud that he immediately couldn’t hear anymore.  He was thrown up into the air and then came back down, his leg and ankle getting caught in chains.  He was hanging upside down with dust and blood covering his face and eyes, so that he could not see.  There was chaos, voices, and dust.  Another soldier from the vehicle behind his ran to my soldier and got him down.  They took him to the side of the road and called for a medic.  “What happened,” he asked.  “An IED,” they said.  My soldier tried to get up, he kept telling them he was okay.  He was not okay!  He wanted to help, he knew his friend was dead.  He knew his other buddy was still pinned inside the truck.  He wanted to help, he wanted to get up, but they wouldn’t let him.  It wasn’t until the medic got to him that he knew that maybe he wasn’t “okay.”  A very young medic showed up beside my husband and hollered, “Holy hell,” when he saw his face.  Blown completely open like a banana when it is peeled, the flesh beneath his nose, mouth, and cheeks were all totally exposed.  Blood everywhere and debris too, my husband suddenly had the urge to spit.  He did, and then immediately regretted it, feeling metal and hard chunks leave his mouth and thinking that he may have just spit out his teeth.  After that, his mind is kind of a blur and the next things he remembers are all inside of the mobile medical station.  They x-rayed him, finding a metal bolt from the vehicle lodged inside of his shoulder and tons of metal shrapnel in his face.  As he lay there looking up at the ceiling his thoughts finally came around to us.  He thought about how scared I would be.  Moments later, he was in surgery.  After over 700 stitches were used to put his face back together and the bolt removed from his shoulder he woke up in recovery and was given a satellite phone to call home.  That is when he called me.

There were more days that he stayed in Iraq and when it was safe they flew him to Germany.  After a two week stay in the hospital there, they flew him to Walter Reed in Washington D.C.  After that, he came home to finish his recovery with me and the kids.  He doesn’t like to be called a hero.  He says he just survived.  To me, he is a hero!  Yes, he didn’t die that day, but he carries the scars of that event with him every single day of his life.  There is not a day that goes by where someone doesn’t ask him about his face.  NOT ONE DAY!  For a while we didn’t go too many places.  Having to explain those scars was just too much.  Now, he wears his scars with pride because it gives him the opportunity to tell people about his friend and fellow soldier who died that day.  He gets to tell people about his hero, the young man who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

“I wish I could do more…”

“I wish I could do more…” These words mean so much to me, yet also so little. Our children’s social worker is such an amazing person and so dedicated to her job of protecting and advocating for young lives while also trying to keep biological families together. I cannot say enough about this worker. She has proven time and time again that she is not in this line of work for the money, the benefits, or the accolades (as there are none). She is in this for the kids! But, when she says to me, “I wish I could do more,” I know it is because there IS more that she can do, but that her superiors won’t let her do it.

“Frustration” with Foster Care is an understatement for me these days. It is not the individuals involved that I am frustrated with, but with Foster Care as a whole. I thought the whole point of Foster Care was to remove innocent children from dangerous, abusive, and neglectful situations to allow family members time to change the current situation to make it one where a child will once again be safe and well cared for. I thought the whole point was CHANGE!

Over the past 12 months, I have not seen one single bit of change in our children’s case. In the beginning I would ask constantly, “did they call,” “did they do that yet,” “did they send that in?” Always, the answer was, “no.” So, I got tired of asking. Eight months to turn in one price of paper to a worker seems a little excessive to me. I know when I am told to do something by our social worker, if at all possible, I drop everything and work on that very thing until it is done. If the babies need something, they get it! If the worker needs documentation of something it’s done and emailed the same day! I answer my phone when they call. I return messages within hours. I clear my schedule for visits, appointments, and court appearances. I don’t ask our worker for a single thing! From day one, we have viewed these babies as 100% part of our family and I wouldn’t ask a worker to drive my oldest somewhere if she had to go. I wouldn’t ask for money for my oldest to get new clothes or play a sport, so why would I ask a worker to do that for my youngest two? It is just beyond me how anyone could go months and months and months with no contact, no care, no concern abut these babies and then in the 11th hour decide that they are “ready” now! Wow! That is all I can say. Wow!

So, yea I wish our social worker could do more too!

Please, don’t make me a liar!

Little Man has pretty severe anxiety. Most of this anxiety involves he and I being separated for any length of time. Whether it be staying home with a babysitter or staying in the nursery at church, we usually go through some kind of anxiety induced meltdown. I do a lot to try and help Little Man through this and I hear myself saying a lot of the following phrases.

“I’m coming back.”

“I will always be back.”

“I love you… You will see me in a little while!”

“Night, night. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You are safe.”

“Just breath, it’s going to be okay.”

I say all of these things because I mean them. I would never ever in a million zillion years leave him and never come back. I wouldn’t! Only thing is one day they might make me a liar. One day I might not be able to say, “see you in the morning,” or “we are going home.” Someday, I might be forced to say, “goodbye.”

The ABC’s of Oldest Boy!

Oldest Boy- age 10 years

Awesome, Believer, Caring, Dude, Easy going, Friend, Giving, Happy, Helper, Imaginative, Junior, Kind, Loving, Man of the house when Daddy is gone, Nice, One of a kind, Polite, Patient, Quiet, Rescuer, Son, Talented, Ten year old, Unconditionally loved, Very sweet, Wonderful brother, eXtra special, Young, Zips from one thing to another.

Feeling normal…

Our social worker has been on vacation for a week. We love our social worker, we really do and we totally enjoy her visits and our monthly chats. The only thing is, she often brings distressing news. So, with her on vacation for the past week, life has been… wait for it… normal! It’s crazy! There have been no visits, no emails, no phone calls. Nothing! We’ve just been a family and it feels… well, normal!

When people say…

When people say, “I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about… What’s going to happen will happen and there isn’t anything you can do about it.” — I want to scream and cry!

When people say, “Oh, I totally know how you feel… I miss my husband so much when he has to be gone overnight on business!” — I want to scream!

When people say, “Time will go by fast now, it’s the holidays.” — I want to cry!

When people say, “I don’t know why our troops are even over there anymore?”
— I want to scream!

When people say, “We love your family, what can we do to help?”
— I want to cry, only this time they are HAPPY tears!

The ABC’s of Middle Girl!

Middle Girl- age 7 years

Artistic, Beautiful, Ballerina, Creative, Caring, Darling, Daddy’s girl, Ever so sweet, Faithful Friend, Girlie, Happy, Imaginative, Joyful, Kind, Lovely, Motherly, Nice, Originally the baby, Polite, Quiet sometimes, Radiant, Singer, Talented, Unconditionally loving, Very giving, Wonderful, eXtra precious, Young, Zooms from one thing to another!

We love you our precious Middle Girl!

The ABC’s of Little Man!

Little Man- almost 3 years

Absolutely Awesome, Athletic, Brave, Cuddly, Determined, Energetic, Friendly, Giver of hugs, Hilarious, Happy, Intelligent, Inquisitive, Joking, Kid, Loving, always Moving, Noisy, Opinionated, Polite, Quite fun, Runner, Silly, Totally Talented, Up in the morning, Very loved, Wonderful, eXtra special, Young, with a Zeal for life!

We love “our” Little Man!