Long Distance Family

For the next twelve months our family will be on a new journey.  We will be living life and loving each other over sometimes long distances.  My solider is home from his deployment, but he will still be taken away from home for many months at a time due to trainings and duties he must perform away from where our family lives.  We will see him MUCH more often, but many bedtime hugs and soccer games will be missed.  As I said goodbye to him this morning after 12 glorious days all together under the same roof, I cried.  I love him!  I really actually like him!  I need him!  He is my partner in this life and it makes it so difficult to say goodbye, but I must stay strong!  We have twelve months to go.  We just started this.  Today is day one of our new journey.    

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I try…

I really try to remain positive and most of the time I do!  I plan fun things for the kids and I to do.  I spend my mornings getting us ready for our fun filled days and I spend my nights cleaning up from them.  I make sure we have “down time” and time to relax.  We’ve spent almost every holiday since our solider has been gone doing really very “normal” holiday activities, so that we don’t all mope around feeling sorry for ourselves that he is gone.

Today, New Year’s Eve I planned to have friends over.  I planned to eat pizza from our very favorite pizza place, I got party hats, blow horns to make tons of noise, and sparkling apple cider to toast with at midnight.  Only thing is… I’m sad.  I want to be with my soldier.  I want him here.  We’ve lived apart for over 7 months and I’m tired of it.  I want him back.  I want to cuddle with him tonight and kiss him at midnight.  We’ve been apart for 4 out of 13 New Year’s Eves since we’ve been married.  I know that is pretty good odds, but seriously, I am just missing him tonight.  I miss his laugh, his scent, his voice, his touch, his presence in the house… I just miss him.

So, 2015 I’m excited and happy that you are here!  This year will bring my reunion with my solider!  We will spend more months together this year than last and that is something to be very thankful for!

Happy New Year!

My List

Remember when I wrote that blog post a couple months back about 44 things to do while my soldier is gone?  Well, today I re-read the blog post and guess what?  My soldier has been gone only 1/3 of the time that he will be gone and yet my kiddos and I have already done 22 of the 44 things that we planned on doing!  That’s half!  How awesome is that?  So, yay for us!

We went to the drive-in.  Um, CRAZY NIGHT!  But, seriously I am SO glad that we did that!  We may have been the loudest truck there with my five kiddos switching seats every ten seconds and calling, “Pass the popcorn,” loud enough for the entire drive-in to hear us, but it was a BLAST!

We visited the beach!  SO GLAD WE DID THAT TOO!  I love the beach, it is my happy place!  My sister-in-law came to visit and we took five kiddos, two chairs, five buckets and shovels, snacks, drinks, diapers, towels, shoes, toys, and a camera to the beach and made it out alive and still ready to do it again someday!  Success!

I teach my daughter’s Girl’s In Action class at church almost every Wednesday night and LOVE IT!  Being with her and her friends and teaching them about missions is a joy!

I’ve taken the babies on walks at the park, watched my oldest play soccer and basketball, taken tons of photos of everything we do and so much more!  I even signed my son up for drum lessons and that wasn’t even on the list!

So, three months down, six more months to go and only 22 more things to check off my list and then my soldier will be home!

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!

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.

Four Days

Four Days…

That’s about how long I can go without talking to my soldier and still feel nice… after that all bets are off.

I feel antsy.  I feel stressed.  I feel mad.  I feel drained.  I feel sad.  I need him!

I look around and see other couples.  They don’t hold hands.  The husband doesn’t have his arm around his wife.  The wife has a sour look on her face and I just want to scream!  “Don’t you know how lucky you are?”  “Don’t you realize how special it is that you have the love of your life sitting right next to you?”  “Don’t take that for granted!”

He will call when he can.  He always does… every chance that he gets.  And, when he does, I will feel nice again.

314 days and 44 things to do!

314 days is way too long! I will NOT be making a paper chain countdown to represent that amount of time! That would be depressing! Instead, I have divided the time by weeks and we have about 44 of those left to last through! Here are some things I would like to do with my time!

1. Take the kids to the drive-in
2. Take the kids bowling
3. Visit a farm
4. Go to the beach
5. Eat healthier
6. Get pedicures with my daughters
7. Watch classic movies with my oldest
8. Watch my big kids play soccer
9. Watch my ballerina practice ballet
10. Write my soldier love letters
11. Send my soldier care packages
12. Swim in our pool
13. Make “Daddy Books” for each of my kiddos
14. Memorize scripture
15. Teach my daughter’s GA class
16. Pay off debt
17. Save money for a family vacation
18. Have a pool party
19. Make my soldier a monthly “memory book.”
20. Make a “Fun” Christmas card
21. Go on a “Girl’s night out!”
22. Read more books
23. Take kids on walks at the park
24. Sing loud in the car with my kiddos
25. Plant more flowers
26. Plant more blueberry bushes
27. Write letters to my grandpa/ call my grandpa
28. Do a Bible study
29. Finish decorating the living room
30. Talk to my soldier as much as possible
31. Take more pictures
32. Make “daddy blankets” for the babies
33. Lose ten pounds
34. Plan a special Christmas for the kids
35. Give more to others
36. Blog often
36. Write more of my prayers
37. Do more service work
38. Learn to make Kombucha tea
39. Exercise with friends
40. Help people
41. Snuggle my babies
42. Watch my oldest play basketball
43. Be kind to myself
44. Breath and relax often

314 days is too long! We will just take this deployment one day at a time!!!

Ecclesiastes 3:1
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”

Isn’t technology wonderful!

Little Man and Baby Girl have lived with us for the past 6 1/2 months and my husband has been out of town preparing for deployment for the last 13 days. With that in mind, I have to say, things are still going pretty well at home with all five kiddos!

Our youngest daughter cried herself to sleep the first couple of nights, but as days went by and she realized that she was still going to get to talk to daddy almost every day, the crying stopped. Little Man loves to say, “hi,” “love,” and “bye” each time that he sees an opportunity to talk to, “Da” on the phone. But, the cutest interaction had to be between “Da” and Baby Girl last night. He called on FaceTime, so that we could see him on the IPad and she was so adorable talking to him! She kept chirping and screaming at the iPad screen and tapping on it with her little pointer finger. He would answer her chirps and screams with,”Hi baby, how are you” and “I miss you little princess” and then she would start the whole chirping and screaming thing all over again, tapping on his face on the screen all the while. Over and over she would do this, putting her head to the side as if to say, “How are you in there daddy and if you really are in that thing, get out and play!”

Isn’t technology wonderful!

The Calm Before the Storm

There is an eerie calmness that I feel.  I keep thinking, “I should be freaking out about this,” but I’m not!  Deployment is a big deal!  Being married to a man in the Army, it kind of comes with the territory, coming and going, moving from here to there, being separated.  But, we have been really blessed!  Our family has been together for the majority of the time over the last few years.  Sure, there have been the occasional trainings, schools, or the time when my husband was in Korea and we were home in the United States for 7 months, but other than that we’ve been together.  Others have not been so lucky!  Friends of mine, close friends have husband’s who have seen the desert far too many times.  So, we’re blessed!

Each family goes through their own “pre-deployment” phase.  Some of us get clingy.  Others of us pull away in preparation.  This time around our family has the unique opportunity to be separated for six weeks and then together again for an entire month before the actual deployment starts.  I guess I look at this as sort of our “trial period.”  It will show us how we’re going to deal, what we’re really made of, I guess!  I’m excited about this period of time.  I am glad that we will have this time to “practice” living apart again.  We’ll work out the kinks.  We’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll figure out how the kids are going to react.  I know how I THINK they are going to react to Daddy being away, but I don’t actually KNOW how they will react.  So, here it goes, the count down.  We have one more week together.  One more week of sleeping in the same house, under the same roof.  One more week of goodnight kisses and bedtime prayers.  One more week of happy bliss and enjoying every last second together.  One more week.