Monday, August 30, 2010

Marriage & Upcoming Posts

One of the topics I want to cover over the next short while is maintaining a marriage while your spouse is deployed.  Now let me be clear - I do not think, feel or believe that my marriage to Joel is perfect or that after 3 deployments and 7 years of marriage, that I have this complex-thing called marriage figured out!

We've had our mountain-highs and our desert-lows over the last 7 years - some of those highs and lows were brought on by the military life and some were just brought on my normal, crazy-busy, stressful life.  But I think that maintaining a marriage through a deployment brings about a whole set of challenges - some obvious and some not so much.

So, I've been thinking over this topic for some time now and trying, in my head, to organize my thoughts and figure out exactly what parts of our marriage I want to share.

Please post a comment and let me know if there's a particular topic you'd like discussed and I'll try to fit it in. Otherwise, you're simply stuck with whatever comes to mind.

Friday, August 27, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Go over and read what other military spouses said this week at Wife of a Sailor.

1.What secret indulgence do you act on while your spouse is away? (from Devil Dog Darling)
Shoes!  Although I don't think that Joel would call it a secret indulgence.  I love them and usually add some new pretties to my closet while he's gone.

2.If you were a spice, what would you be? (from New Girl On Post)
Vanilla Bean.  Seriously, good vanilla-anything rocks.  Try Starbucks' Vanilla Bean Frappuccino ice cream.  It's amazing.

3.Where do you go for support when your significant other is deployed? (from Texas Meets Washington)
I have a few close friends and family that are my go-to people for emotional support, spiritual and practical support.  There are just a few people who really truly walk this road with me and know my ups and downs.

4.What is the oldest thing you own? (from A Troop’s Girl)
Hey, that's my question!  :)
I'd have to say our house - it's somewhere around 90 years old.  Joel would say that it owns us.  And for anyone who owns an old house, you know that's so true.
But as far as a personal belonging, I have a tshirt that I got at a youth conference my freshman year of high school - so it's going on 14 years old.  It's barely holding together at this point, but I can't part with it.

5.How did you vision your future pre-military? (from Daddy’s Duty)
This would be pre-Joel since the military was part of the Joel-package when I found him.  I thought, in college, that I would move back to the Chicago area and do PR/Marketing for a firm in that area.  I'd so museums on the weekends and hit-up coffee shops during the week. I'd have a closet full of awesome shoes and designer suits.  My life is so different than I imagined, but I'm so happy with the way it's turned out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

One pound lost this week.  That brings my total to 12 pounds lost since Joel left.  3 more to go!

My sister and her family will be visiting in a few days - I'm just hoping I can keep up with decent eating habits while they're here and still work out a few times a week.  *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Proud Momma

My girls thrill me.  Seriously, they give me so much joy and some days their hugs and kisses get me through.

Being a mother is hard.  It zaps so much energy from you.  Some nights, I can hardly walk up the stairs to go to bed.  Some mornings, I just want to pull the covers over my head and plug my ears.  But my two sweet girls need me for everything right now.  And honestly, it's a joy to be their everything.

We are, without apology, a Christian family.  Joel and my faith is at the center of who we are as individuals, who we are as a couple and it shapes the decisions we make for our family.  We go to church, teach Sunday School, read the Bible and live our life as best we can according to how we believe God would want us to.  That's not to say, we're perfect.  Believe me, we're not!

One of the most important jobs as Christian parents, is to provide opportunities for our children to learn about God - whether it's on Sunday at church, through other Christian activities or by simply talking about our faith with our kids.  We work hard to equip Grace and Autumn to make good decisions and to someday decide what they believe for themselves.

Grace has been asking a lot of questions lately about who Jesus is and what he did while he was here some 2,000 years ago.  We've had some really great conversations about him and what his life on earth means for us today.  Last night at dinner, Grace asked me what sin was, so we talked about it some.  She told me that sometimes she sins - whether it's by being selfish, being mean to a friend or lying to me.  I told her that Jesus came to earth to die, so that our sins could be taken away - but that we need to at some point, come to a place where we admit that we sin and that he is the only one who can take them away for us.

She had some other questions and I told her that it was an important decision and that she could continue to ask me any questions she wanted, but ultimately it was something for her to decide.  I went in the kitchen to get some more dinner and I heard her praying at the kitchen table.  The conversation from that point went something like this:
Me:  Grace, what are you doing?
Grace:  I'm praying to God.
Me:  What are you saying?
Grace:  I told Him I'm sorry for doing bad things.  I want Jesus to take away my sins.
Me:  (kinda stuttering around at this point)  Um, wow.  That's great.  Is it ok if I pray with you?
Grace:  Ok.  What do you wanna say?
Me:  Well, I just want to sit with you while you pray to God.  Is that ok?
Grace:  Yeah, will you help me?
Me:  I'd love to!

So, I sat next to her and held her hand and she prayed that Jesus would take away her sins and come into her life. 

Yes, she's four.  I realize that's young.  I was four when I sat with my Awana leader some 25+ years ago and said a similar prayer.  I still remember it very clearly and that moment helped to form who I am today.

It was a very sweet moment.  She was very excited afterward.  I can't wait to walk beside her and be a part of her growing faith.  Although just a child, it's beautiful that she has an understanding that there's a God out there who loves her through the good and bad of life.  Right now is a not-so-fun part of life, but she asks God every day to be with her and to take care of her daddy.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

"And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."  And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them."  Mark 10:13-16

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Deployment Bubble

"A penny will hide the biggest star in the Universe if you hold it close enough to hide your eye."  - Samuel Grafton

I admit it - I'm in the Deployment Bubble.  I eat, drink, talk, sleep, walk, drive, pray, cry and sing deployment.  It's my world and I'm looking through its lense.

The problem with the Deployment Bubble, is you begin to forget there's a world out there who isn't living in it.  People all around you are living their lives outside of your bubble, and living in their own.  Maybe it's a Jobless Bubble.  Or a Loneliness Bubble.  Lots of those are living in the Broken Marriage Bubble and the Illness Bubble.  We're all walking around in our own world, often forgetting all those people around us that are struggling each day.  I wish I had a giant pin and could pop all these Bubbles.  We'd all be better off if we'd take a moment to glance into eachother's lives, hearts, strengths and trials.

So, yes, I've been living the last 40+ days obsessed with this deployment and all its crazy affects on my life.  It was just this week that I realized how many people around me, whom I love, are really struggling in their own ways.  I feel like I've been a bit selfish to assume that I'm the only one struggling right now.

I hope that I can keep a better perspective from here on out.  That's not to say that this deployment doesn't shape how I live my life and feel each day.  But there's something to say about being there for those in need, even when you may be in need yourself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Last week, Wife of a Sailor asked military spouses to come up with questions - so there's are all from other milspouses out there.  Jump over to Wife of a Sailor to see what ladies came up with the questions this week!

1.If you could be a fugitive from the law for whatever reason, what would your crime be?
If you see my face on the evening news, it's because I've gone on a Taser Spree.  I've stolen a taser from a cop (you know who you are) and went around tasing annoying people.  That annoying lady in the super market who takes forever deciding on what banana bunch to get?  Tased.  The rude person who talks down to the lady working retail?  Tased.  The old woman who thinks she can touch my baby?  Tased.  The teenagers swearing in public around my kids?  Tased.  And my neighbor who lets his weeds go?  Tased.  It would be fun.  And you know you'd want to join me!

2.How long do you think you will be a military family?
Joel has about 10 years in.  Another ten and he'll retire.  We'll see - maybe he'll stay in a bit longer then 20 years.

3.What’s your favorite recipe?
Lasagna.  Hands-down.  I had a friend from college who came from a very Italian family.  His mom taught me and my best friend how to make a traditional Italian red sauce.  It's delicious.  Joel married me so he'd have a lifetime of lasagna.

4.What would you want your last five words to be when you leave this life?
I'm ready to see Jesus.

5.Where do you hope to retire?
I'd love to retire in the Carolinas somewhere.  Joel thinks it's too hot there.  So, maybe New Hampshire?  I need mountains!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

One pound lost this week.  Actually, I'm surprised I lost any weight considering that I had pizza twice and fast food twice.  Yuck.  Today, the elliptical machine and I have a date.

In non-food related news, Joel and I talked for nearly an hour last night.  It was so nice to chit-chat before bed - almost as good as having him here in the evenings.  I've also noticed that with whatever line he's using to call, there isn't the delay I so fondly (or not so much) remember from his last two deployments.  It's so much easier to carry on a conversation without the weird pauses which make for a really choppy conversation.

Joel seems to be in pretty good spirits.  Maybe a bit sleep-deprived and missing food from home, but pretty up-beat still.  The marshmallow fluff that I sent was a hit and more was requested, so I need to start on the second care package...

The girls and I are doing really well.  Autumn is a super easy baby and is starting to laugh and coo more.  She's sleeping in her crib at night for 9-hour stretches, which makes me a pretty happy mommy.  The last week or so with Grace have been great - she's been very cooperative and a fun mini-companion for me.  I have lots of play dates scheduled this week which makes time go fast and the days seem a little less lonely for me. 

Thanks to everyone out there - you've been a great encouragement to me!  41 days down.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bedtime Success

I'm sure bedtime is a struggle for most parents.  Life isn't always routine, and I think the lack of routine really takes a toll on kids.  Throw a deployment into the mix, and bedtime goes from bad to worse.

Grace has struggled with bedtime since Joel left.  Some of it had to do with the fact that Joel and I let her stay up late with us for the month leading up to his deployment.  As soon as he left, I was ready to get back to the normal 8 o'clock bedtime - Grace wasn't into the idea.  At all.

The last several weeks have been rough come 7 o'clock in our house.  Grace was fighting bedtime, although she was obviously tired.  She would come in and out of her room - begging me to go to bed, too. I know much of this was because of separation anxiety.  But I was tired and just wanted a few hours of "me" time.

I was talking about this with a girlfriend of mine, and she mentioned a book she read on the subject - Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.  Now, I haven't read the book, but much of what she said made a lot of sense to me.  She suggested I start putting Grace to bed a bit earlier each night and eventually work toward a 7 o'clock bedtime. 

I decided to cut out nap time at our house, and rename it "quiet time".  Grace has to basically chill out in the afternoon for one hour - she can read books, play with her dolls and listen to stories on her CD player - but she has to lay down and she isn't allowed to talk.  Most of the time she's pretty agreeable with the whole thing and sometimes she'll fall asleep for an hour or two. 

Bedtimes have gone so much smoother here the last two weeks.  Grace is tired by 6:30, so after dinner she gets in her pj's, picks out a few books and we read and talk until bedtime.  It's actually been a really peaceful routine for us!  Praise Jesus.  Seriously, PRAISE JESUS!

We haven't fought.  There has been no yelling.  She's not b-e-g-g-i-n-g me to go to bed with her.  She's tired and ready for bed.  And within an hour or so, she's asleep and I'm able to do housework, spend time with Autumn and relax.  I feel like a whole new person.

I'm crossing my fingers and praying that this new routine becomes our permanent routine.  Please Lord, this momma's tired.

Friday, August 13, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Hop on over to Wife of a Sailor and see what other military spouses are saying.

1.What is ONE thing you’d like civilians to understand about being a military family?
Much like cops, firefighters and health care workers - holidays, weekends and special occasions aren't an automatic day off.  So many people (even after 10 years of this) don't understand Joel's schedule.  People must assume that the military shuts down so people can have Christmas, birthdays and weekends at home with their families.

2.What is your favorite mistake?
I got into a too serious relationship too fast early-on in college.  For a time, I thought he was "the one" and my heart was broken when I realized he was not.  I learned so much from that relationship - who I was, who I wanted to be and what characteristics I wanted in a husband.  Although I didn't realize it at the time, it was a great experience for me and I appreciate my husband so much more because of it.

3.What indulgence could you give up for a year?
I love lip gloss.  It's an addiction of mine, to be honest.  I could easily go without purchasing another lip gloss for a year and still have more than 3/4 of my "supply" left.

4.If you could be a winged animal, what would you be?
A penguin.  They're adorable and come with a cute little outfit.  I could swim and eat seafood all day.  Well, at least at the zoo.  March of the Penguins taught me a side of penguin life that doesn't look like so much fun.

5.What is one question you’d like to see asked in a future MFF?
What is the oldest thing you own?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

I missed posting my weigh-in last week and I didn't think it was a big deal.  But a few of you asked me how things were going and said you missed me posting it last week.

So, here's my weight update:  Even with my friend here last week (and eating McDonald's 3x, ugh), I managed to lose 2 pounds.  As of today, I'm down an additional 2 pounds.  So far, since Joel left, I've lost 10 - so 5 more to go!

I'm thinking about adding 5 more pounds to my goal - making it 20 pounds.  But, I'll wait and see how I feel after losing a few first.

Thanks for your encouragement with this.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Package #1

I'm in the middle of gathering odds and ends for the first care package of this deployment.  Right now there are a bunch of random things that Joel's asked for - magazines that have come in the mail, magnets for his locker, a card he forgot at home and Marshmallow Fluff.  Random, right?

I became a pro at care packages during his Iraq deployment... I had a stack of labels already filled-out, I had the packing tape figured out so it wouldn't stick to itself and I had an abundance of boxes and envelopes around.  I'm a little rusty right now and not looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the customs forms.  Ugh.

So, question for the other military spouses and my trusty veteran follower (you know who you are): What are other goodies that I should include in care packages?  I need some help because I'm totally drained of any creativity at the moment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

30 Days

Today marks 30 days since Joel left.  I woke up feeling blah.  Grace came in my room to wake me up and by some sort of miracle, I convinced her to crawl in bed with me and read books.  So, she "read" a stack of books while I slept for a bit longer.  Right now I'm counting down the hours until I can crawl back into bed.

This past week, my best friend from college was here for a visit.  We went to a museum, the zoo, did lots of shopping, went on walks, played with the kids, drank gallons of coffee together, talked and laughed until we cried.  It was a perfect visit.  It's a blessing to have friends who you can be 100% honest with and 100% yourself with.  There are no walls and no masks.  Just complete honesty.  The ways friendships should be.

She left yesterday and my in-house grown-up companion was gone.  I realized how distracted I was when she was here.  I didn't constantly worry about Joel.  I wasn't anxious at night about being the only adult in the house.  I felt like me.  But now the worry and anxiety are back and I'm, well, lonely.

I shouldn't be ashamed to say I'm lonely.  I don't think it would surprise anyone to think that months and months without your spouse, would leave you feeling lonely.  But, there's something about saying it - admitting it to the world.  So there it is - I'M LONELY.  I want someone to do life with.  I want someone to cook for who appreciates it.  I want someone to talk politics and theology with.  I want someone to sit next to me while I read.  I want someone here to help with baths and help pick up toys.  I want someone to play with my kids, so I can sit for 10 minutes without interruption.  I want Joel here.

Hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

Joel - wherever you are today, I love you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor.  Great questions this week.

1.What is something you wished you’d learned to do earlier in life?
Sew.  I learned the basics in 7th grade home economics, but I forgot everything I've learned.  I can't hem.  I can't sew a button.  I can barely thread a needle.  I've always lived with someone who can sew for me - my mom, then my best friend in college and now Joel.  I have a sewing kit - it's pink and has all the fun essentials, but I don't know what to do with any of it.  So, I bring my pink sewing kit to Joel, along with my puppy dog eyes, and he steps-in where my domestic skills lack.  Perhaps this should be one of my goals for the deployment...

2.What is your biggest pet peeve with the military?
Oh my gosh.  Just one, eh?  We have had so many issues with our health insurance.  But it's rarely a Tricare problem.  It's almost always a problem with someone from the base messing up paperwork, so suddenly we come up as ineligible when time comes to fill an important prescription or see a specialist.  I would guess in the last 7 years, we've had at least a dozen problems with the base messing things up.  It always happens on Friday afternoon or the weekends, when no one is available to fix their mistakes.  So, we have to wait.  There doesn't seem to be any accountability when the same people make multiple mistakes.  It's so frustrating.  I could keep going.  Believe me.
3.What tourist attraction near you have you never seen?
In over 20 years of living near Chicago, I've never been to Navy Pier.  Honestly, I'd rather spend time on the Magnificent Mile.  But I guess, I need to make at least one stop in my lifetime.

4.What are you avoiding doing right now?
Paperwork.  We recently moved Grace into her new bedroom - our former office.  So all the office stuff is piled in the basement.  I need to go through it and organize it, but everyday, I just walk by the piles on the way to the laundry and tell myself I'll start on it tomorrow.  I swear the paperwork is growing down there.  The piles seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

5.Wine, beer or liquor?
It depends on my mood.  But if given the option, I'll always choose a margarita.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Missed Calls

I broke two of the most important deployment rules.  I turned off the ringer on the home phone, and I kept my cell phone buried in the diaper bag.  I missed three calls yesterday from Joel.  So, for the last 18-hours, I've been checking my email constantly and walking around the house with the phone right next to me, just in case.

I've done this before, and it still feels awful.  I always get an extreme amount of guilt when I miss his calls.  But three calls equates to triple the guilt.  I've emailed him apologizing a few times.

I have no idea when he'll get to the phone next or when he'll have access to a computer.  So, right now, I'm just sitting here feeling really guilty.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I'm overwhelmed right now.  But in the best way.

I have been so surprised by the number of people who have come out to support our family right now.  People from my past who I haven't seen in over 10 years, people that I know, but not very well, and a group of people who I've never met and probably never will.  I get messages several times a week from people who offer their prayers, concern, encouragement and support.  It means so much to us to know that so many are standing behind us and beside us during this time.

So, thank you.  Thank you for praying for us, for sending words of wisdom our way.  Thank you for saying that even though you don't understand how we feel during this time, that you're willing to be an ear for us.  Thank you for the unexpected phone calls and gifts.  Thank you for the hugs.  Thank you for blessing us.

I am so encouraged to know that people all over this country - many whom I've never met are praying for us.  During the lonely nights and times when I don't think I can do it, I think of you, knowing that you're praying, and I tell myself I can do it.

God is good to us and I feel an incredible sense of peace right now - the kind of peace that can only come from one Source.  So, keep praying!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Monday, August 2, 2010

Coupon Counting

I love spending money, but not nearly as much as I love saving it.  Joel and I love Dave Ramsey's financial philosophies and are working toward becoming debt-free.  I can't wait to be debt-free.  But we're not there yet and right now I'm just trying to save money in any way that I can.

One very easy and painless way to save money and keep the budget tighty is to coupon and utilize savings that stores offer.  I get the weekend paper just so that I can have the coupons and I subscribe to business emails just so I can get exclusive savings and coupons.

I really want to see exactly how much I save by clipping coupons and using store offers.  So, I decided for the month of August that I would track every coupon and offer I use.  I would love for you to join me!

I started tracking today and saved $8.50 at Babies 'R Us just using coupons! 

Happy couponing.