Friday, January 28, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks, Wife of a Sailor!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In
1.If you were a famous movie star, what types of movies would you star in?
I'm pretty sure if I was an actress I would be a bad one and the only draw to see my movies would be that I had some major drama going on in my personal life.  So, I would always star in very predictable, but always enjoyable romantic comedies.

2.What is a vacation you would like to take if money were no object?
My father immigrated to the U.S. from Germany when he was nine.  I had the chance to visit Germany with my family when I was 15, but I've always dreamed of going back there with my parents, my sister and her family and my husband and our girls.  It would be so neat to visit my dad's hometown together and enjoy a part of our family history there.

3.Did you have pets growing up?
I'm pretty much allergic to anything with fur, so we were limited to fish and birds.  I had a bird named Star who went crazy one Christmas and we found her/him/whatever dead one morning.  Fish were fish, but I always remember being really disappointed when the goldfish would die within just a few days of bringing them home.

4.What do you do for exercise?
We have an elliptical machine.  I go through long periods of pretending it doesn't exist and then I'll have a short period when I really enjoy working out on it.  Joel is a runner and has hopes that we'll start running together when he gets home.  I've been seriously having dreams about running with him but I can't get my legs to work.  So, I think I've already set myself up to fail.

5.What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a MilSpouse?
Wow.  This question is so tough for me.  I can't say that I've received a lot of advice, but I have gotten so much encouragement - from both those in and out of the military community.  I guess something that always means the world to me is to know that people genuinely support us and are praying for us.  Some days are really rough and I always think about the community of people out there who love us and are rooting for us.  That helps me to get through.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oprah: The Bravest Families in America

I stumbled on The Oprah Show today while I was at home with the girls.  I don't always watch Oprah, usually because PBS trumps any show that I may want to watch, but today, I had control of the clicker.

If you didn't see it, she did a show titled "The Bravest Families in America" and had on First Lady Michelle Obama, Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward.  The main point to the show was that our troops come home to a society that doesn't know how to support them.  They also talked about the unique struggle of military families at home while their soldier is deployed and the difficult transition that takes place post-deployment.

First Lady Michelle Obama talked about an extensive initiative that she and Jill Biden are working on to better support military families in all levels of government.  That initiative is scheduled to launch in March.

If you didn't watch the episode, take a look at the website where main points of the episode are highlighted.

Oprah gave a great voice to a cause that most of us know too well.  I can't wait to hear more about what the First Lady is working on later this Spring.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

Just wanted to quickly update you all on... nothing.  I'm still staying steady - with 3 pounds to go to meet my 25 pound weight loss goal.  I'm embracing the fact that unless I start exercising Biggest Loser-style that I'm not going to meet my goal before Joel gets home.

That's okay though.  I'm really happy with 22 pounds and like I've said a hundred times already, this journey has really been about being healthy and feeling good.  I still plan to get down to my goal weight, but it's just not going to happen before my hubby comes home.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let Me Get This Off My Chest

Joel's homecoming is coming up soon...  I always get asked the same questions again and again during this point in a deployment, so I thought I would just very quickly give some answers to those questions.

1.  When will he be home?
Soon.  That's about as much as I know at this point.

2.  How long will he be home for?
I have no idea.  The military isn't big on a "five year plan" for military families.

3.  Will he have to go back?
Probably.  The military doesn't issue punch cards.  Joel doesn't have to do "x" amount of deployments to satisfy the government.

4.  When will he be done?
He loves what he does so we don't have a time frame.

5.  Why does he re-enlist?  Hasn't he deployed enough?
It is ultimately his decision to make whether he re-enlists.  Again, he loves what he does and he's good at it. 

Those are the big questions I get and yes, I know I sound pretty curt.  Honestly though, I don't mind most of the questions...  I understand that 95% of our friends and family aren't military and we're a Guard family, so I will admit to knowing less than many out there about the confusing web that is military life.  But I will say very honestly here that I do get kind of annoyed that people assume that people who are in the military should only do so much.  They should only be gone for so long, they should only go on one or two deployments within a career...  That logic doesn't make sense to me.  Why would it make sense for a military member to only go on two deployments within a career or only have a few years in before they get out?  I know that some do and I'm fine with that, but if the majority of the military was like that, we'd have a very young and very immature military.  We need people who have many, many deployments under their belt and have had many, many years in so that we can have a strong, solid and mature military.  Why can't my husband want to be a part of that?

When I tell people that Joel's most likely going to stay in for 20+ years, I hear a sigh from them about 70% of the time.  It hurts me.  I get mad.  They act like my husband's deployments and service are somehow a burden to them.  Maybe they're sick of me talking about deployments???  I don't know.  I just don't get it.  This is his career.  This is the life that we've chosen together.  We fully know the cost of this lifestyle.  But I think it's an honorable one.

So, please forgive me for sounding so curt.  I'm mostly a nice person.  Promise.

But right now, I'm just looking forward to him being home.  I can't wait to settle back into a normal marriage and a normal routine with our family.   I just want to enjoy this time and not feel, in some way, that I have to defend the life that we lead.

200 Days

We made it 200 days.  Honestly, I was hoping that Joel would somehow be home before this point, but we're here.

I know many of you have gone through many, many more days than 200.  You've done 12 and 16 month deployments.  We haven't.  Joel's longest deployment was just shy of 180 and I was done at that point.

But 200 still seems like a huge number and a giant feat.  200 days without my husband here has been hard.  I've been working hard to maintain the household and take care of our two girls at the same time.  I've tried hard to honor Joel by keeping things up here as good as if he were here with me.  The house is clean, the laundry is all done and mostly put away.  We've been on time for all our appointments and Grace hasn't been late for school.  The refrigerator is packed with good, nutritious food and I've managed to still make homemade meals... well, at least a few times a week.  The girls have been bathed, fed, tickled, cuddled, read to and have had millions of kisses. 

I've even managed to look out for me.  I've read more in the last few months than I have in years.  I've made time to keep up with my friendships and I've worked hard to grow some relationships that have been sadly neglected. I've grown spiritually...  I've learned to trust God more, to continually seek His wisdom and to rest in the peace that only He can offer.  My relationship with Him is stronger now than I can ever remember it.

But with all that said, I am tired.  Worn out.  Exhausted.  And emotionally, I'm done.

Joel's homecoming is around the corner.  It is getting so close, but even though I know we're near the end, it still feels like he'll never be home.

I have much to do before I can leave to bring him home.  I have meals to prepare and freeze.  I have a pile of paperwork and mail to organize so that he can go through it.  And I have to clean our room.  Our room has somehow become the dumping place for half-done projects.  It's my fault, I'm not going to try to pin in on one of the kids... although Grace has started "moving in" to our room.  So, that is my week's goal.  Clean our room.  Tomorrow.  It can wait one more day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Head over to Wife of a Sailor and join on in the fun...

1.What do you usually want to know about someone when meeting them for the first time?
What they do for a living, what the studied in college, if they have a family, what their children are like, what hobbies they have, what kind of books they read.... I like to ask lots of questions :)

2.Would you rather know everything about your spouse, or be regularly surprised?
I would rather be surprised. Lord willing, Joel and I will have a full life together, and I like to find things out about him as we grow together.

3.If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would you live?
Seattle. I've only been there once, when I visited my best friend a few years back. I loved how Seattle has all the conveniences and attractions of a city with really beautiful surroundings. I can't wait to go back there soon.

4.When you go out of town, what one material thing do you ALWAYS take?
My makeup. It's like bringing a toiletry and a hobby with me.

5.Using no more than 10 nouns, and ONLY nouns, describe yourself.
Woman. Mom. Wife. Friend. Idealist. Christian. Shopper. Music. Student. Teacher.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Support Project Love Day

One of my best friends, Karla, has a food blog called The Culinary Enthusiast.  Besides being a wonderful wife and momma of three awesome kids, she has a major love for food.  She's that friend who makes things from scratch and doesn't find it some sort of torture.  She loves to cook and bake and her kitchen is hands-down one of my favorite places to be.

During the months of January and February, Karla is donating all of the ad revenue she receives and will match it.  The money will go to support World Vision, which is working to end human trafficking. 

As you know, human trafficking is a hot topic - millions of women and children are sold into slavery and forced to do unspeakable things.  By simply visiting Karla at The Culinary Enthusiast and looking at some  yummy recipes, you can help to financially support an organization that is trying to end human trafficking.

You can read more about why she is choosing to do this now and what the money will go to, here.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that I've had the pleasure of eating, straight from Karla's kitchen:

Blueberry Scones
Cinnamon Rolls
Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Biscotti

Wednesday Weigh-In

After a week of good eating and lots of exercise, the scale stayed steady this morning.  No movement from last week.  What?  I fiddled with the scale to make sure it wasn't broken.... I brought in my hand weights to make sure it was accurate.  Grr.  But I guess staying steady is better than gaining weight.  So, I'll go with that.

Before I got on the scale this morning, Grace wanted to go on.  And then I went on.  What did her little voice say?  "Whoa!  Yours goes way up, Momma."  Um, yeah.  Thanks, kid.  Jerk.  Uh, I mean Sweetie.

School was cancelled today because the roads in the area are so bad.  So now I'm trying to figure out what to do to keep two kids occupied, happy and whine-free today.  I see lots of coloring, singing and Candy Land in my future.

Friday, January 14, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks, Wife of a Sailor.  I missed doing this... glad you're back at it!

1.What are you looking forward to most in 2011? from Jessica Lynn Writes
Easy, easy... Joel coming home!

2.What is something random you do on a boring night when your significant other is away? from Lovin Ma Soldier
I watch videos on YouTube - makeup gurus are my favorite.

3.What has been your greatest adventure as a MilSpouse? from Misadventures of An Army Momma
Since we're a Guard family, we haven't lived in any exciting places or had opportunities to travel the world on the military's dime, so I would say that my great adventure has been being a single mom without the support and understanding of a military community nearby.

4.What is the ugliest fashion trend you ever bought into (I’d like to make fun of you, so can you please provide a picture as well)? from More Than An Army Wife
Gosh, I wish I had a picture... but I totally loved my white Reebok high-tops with the Velcro at the ankle.  Second grade was filled with 80s fashion trends for me.

5.What was the high point of last month?
I went with our girls and my parents to California to see my sister and her family...  There is too much land between California and Indiana - miss them so much!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

Seriously.  Every Tuesday night I have a major freak-out session, just thinking about getting on the scale the next morning.  I've had a few bad weeks...

But I'm happy to say that I'm back on track with my weight loss and have 3 pounds to go to meet my 25 pound weight loss goal.  Joel is coming home very soon, so I'm trying to keep that in the back of my mind every time I think that sitting down with a giant bowl of ice cream is a good idea.

I'm still thinking I'll need a miracle to lose 3 pounds before he comes home... considering how hard the last few pounds have been.  But I'm going to try.  And I'm going to try and keep in mind that health is my goal, not really a number.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Gentle Reminder - Thanks God

So I wrote this post earlier this's all about going to God first when things are good, bad and ugly.  God wants to be the first "person" you go to...

So, just a few hours after I wrote this I was on my way out for a girls-only night.  I went to pick up my friend for dinner and within a few blocks of my house I got into an accident.  The side roads were really icy, and as I was driving, another car simply couldn't stop at an intersection and our cars collided.  Thankfully, no one was hurt, and neither car was damaged too much.  My first reaction was to pick up the phone and vent to my friend who I was about to pick-up.  But instead, I remembered what I had just written and decided to take a moment, get back in my car and pray.

God, thank You for keeping all of us safe.
Thank You that no one was hurt.
Thank You for protecting us, because it could have been worse.
Let this all work out.
Help me to remember that there are bigger things in the world then a little accident.

Within thirty minutes we were all on our way.  I picked up my friend and we met another friend for dinner and shopping.  It was great to be with them tonight and to laugh with them.  I needed to laugh and they delivered.  Thank God for dear friends.

So sorry, Joel.  The Dodge is going to need another bumper.  Poor car has had it's share of new bumpers.

Who Do You Go to?

Christmas is behind us, but I've still been in a very reflective mood lately.  I've spent this deployment reading through much of the New Testament and time and time again, I'm reminded how amazing Christ's entrance into this world was.  I mean, for God to come as an infant... really, that's amazing, and just the beginning of how He displayed time and time again, His willingness to humble Himself for us...

But I digress on the purpose of this post.  One part of the Christmas story that always gets to me, is what happens right after Mary was told by the angel that she would conceive and give birth to the Messiah.  There are a few verbs that stand out, describing Mary's evolution of reaction:  troubled (Luke 1:29), confused (Luke 1:34) and humbled (Luke 1:38).  After the angel left her, Luke says that Mary got ready and hurried to see Elizabeth, her friend.  Mary had just received the most troubling, confusing and humbling news and her first reaction was to immediately go and see her dear friend.

How many times in our own life do we get news, however joyful or troubling, and our first reaction is to run to those who know our hearts?  I can think of so many times when I've immediately called my mom, sister, or dear friends.  You just have to talk to someone - either to release the burden or share the joy.

These last six months, with Joel overseas have been overwhelming.  Both in the best and worst ways.  I'm so thankful for those few who are close to me who I can run to and spill my hurt, sorrow, joy, happiness and raw emotions with.  There have been times when I simply do not think I can hold it together for one more second and it means the world to me to know that there are those who really know my heart and are willing to see me at my worst or celebrate with me when things are at their brightest.

I've been reminded these last few months, how God yearns for us to hurry to Him.  As easy as it is to pick up the phone or ask a friend to meet you last minute when your heart is hurting and your mind is confused, God wants so badly for us to go to Him.  Not only does He want it, He expects it.  James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."  It sounds pleasant enough.  But it's more than just a feel-good statement. It's a command (look at the surrounding verses in chapter 4). 

So, I'm trying.  As easy as it is when I'm stressed, troubled and confused to just pick up the phone, I need to go to Christ first.  He needs to be the first Person who I spill my emotions to.  He wants to know my heart and understand what burdens it.  And even when Joel comes home, God still needs to be my first stop.  Joel's second, but God has to continue to be first.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

I wish I had good news to share, but I don't.  I'm not even going to tell you what was on the scale this morning, because I'm in denial.  I will say this - all that talk last week about rededicating myself to good eating habits and regular workouts... Remember that?  Well, it didn't happen.  At all.

I pretty much ate to my heart's desire this week.  The forbidden foods were devoured.  I forgot how delicious a big pile of fried food is.  I forgot how much I loved eating ice cream at night after the girls went to bed.  I did all of my no-no's this week.

So, I'm hoping to regain some self-control.  Hopefully this will be a better week.  I'm not going to beat myself up over all my no-no's though...  It happened.  It's done.  And I'm moving on.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

A new year ahead...

I'm excited to finally be in 2011.  It means we are getting so close to my troop's return!  In July, I felt that January would never come, but here it is!

2010 was a good year for me: 
  • Gracie turned 4 - adios to 3, which is 100 times worse than 2 in my opinion
  • Autumn was born in April, and she has been such an easy and joyful baby
  • Joel left in July... but he left at a very high-point in our marriage which gives me so much hope for what God has in store for us
  • My best friend from Seattle spent a week with me and the girls - I'm so blessed to have a friend who really knows my heart
  • My sister and her family visited in August and our families had so much fun together
  • Grace started pre-school... she has learned so much and I'm amazed by how her mind has opened up to new discoveries
  • A great friend from Chicago came and visited for a few days - I was reminded that true friendships can stand the test of time
  • I've read through most of the New Testament and God has opened my heart and mind to truly seek His heart and His Truth
  • We had a very fun time in California over Christmas, visiting my sister and her family...  oh, and we survived the airport on Christmas day
  • I've been in and out of dozens of doctor's appointments... so thankful for the great doctors we have and for all the things we overcame health wise this year
  • I've heard from more friends from my past over these last few months... they've written me the most amazing letters and emails - Thank you for coming out of the woodwork and encouraging me
Honestly, I'm glad to say goodbye to 2010.  I'm ready for this new chapter.  I'm ready for our family to be back together and I'm ready to see what God has in store for us in 2011.  I'm invigorated to invest time and love into relationships this year and to enjoy each day as it comes and not be so concerned about the future.

May God richly bless you this coming year!  I hope that 2011 brings opportunities of growth for you!