Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Thoughts from this Air Force Wife

Thirty three days. Seven hundred ninety two hours. And counting. . . That is how much time is left until we are a complete family again. Two pay periods. Six Sundays.

Currently my husband is serving a 120+ day tour over in the Middle East with the Air Force. This is his eleventh year of enlistment and roughly the 20th deployment that he has been on during these years. He has seen the desert sands of Saudi Arabia , Iraq , Kyrzgstan and Afghanistan , the tropical beaches of Curacao, and many states here in the USA . He has been gone from only a few hours, days and weeks to several months at a time. He's been safe in some places and he's had to wear full body armor and a Kevlar helmet in others.

During these times when he is sweating and fixing airplanes as fast as he can, we are at home living our every day lives. There are still meals to fix, homework to be done, doctor's appointments to go to, bills to pay, and the inevitable broken down car or ER trip to be made. There is a saying among military spouses, "Whatever can go wrong WILL go wrong - during a deployment." Ironically enough, it usually happens the day they leave or less than 24 hours later - your kid falls off the bike and breaks their leg or your water pump decides to die on you in the middle of rush hour on the interstate.

After nearly a decade of living the military life, I've grown pretty accustomed to his comings and goings. Sometimes, you almost wish there was a deployment coming up because after a few consecutive months of being together, they're driving you crazy! I know many times I've said, "Shouldn't you be deployed or something?" Not that I don't love him, but when you're so used to not counting on their presence it can get a little smothering! I do miss him and worry about him when he is deployed but after these years, I have learned to shut off parts of myself. If I don't, I know the worry would eat me alive. As a military spouse, when your better half is gone, you learn certain things, a "Not To Do" list of sorts, because if and when you do these things, you're very likely going to break down and that's not a great idea in the midst of Wal-Mart.

For instance, you avoid all military related movies at all costs. Especially those more centered on what it's like for the family like "We Were Soldiers". I've never seen the movie "Black Hawk Down" in its entirety, even though my husband has told me that everything turns out okay - there is one part I can never make it past. There are also times when certain songs come on the radio; you will leap over any obstacle to switch the station. I've scared many a passenger in my vehicle with a sudden burst of "Oh I don't THINK so!" and violently searching for any other song, even if it is a polka. Mr. Toby Keith, I love your songs, but let's not have "American Soldier" aired when my husband is gone, mmmkay?

It also takes you weeks, if ever, to learn not jump every time you hear a car door, and God forbid, two of them, slam shut outside your house. You wonder every time if it is someone from the base coming to deliver the worst possible news. I've sat in my house many times, holding my breath, waiting for that doorbell to ring. I've finally gotten used to it after realizing my neighbor runs an in-home day care - if I didn't I'm pretty sure I'd have gotten an ulcer by now.

If you think military spouses are some of the toughest people you've ever met, I'd have to say you're wrong. While we do have a lot on our shoulders, I believe that it's the hardest on our children. I can understand and rationalize why my husband is gone, when he should be back, and why he needs to do his job. I can also sit and explain this to my children the simplest and best way I can, but that doesn't mean that they truly understand it. How do you explain to a child, who simply wants his daddy to come home to tuck them in or make them feel safe during a thunderstorm that you just can't? The sacrifice these children make is so great and they do it without complaint. Yes, there are days when mom is the absolute meanest person in the history of mothers and they want Dad home now, but never do they ever complain to Dad on the phone.

Father’s Day this year was especially hard on my oldest son, who is nearly seven. We were out shopping, and everywhere there were families together – happy families, families bickering, but the common theme was the fact that they were complete. Never did I think my son would notice this, until he looked up at me and with tears in his eyes said, “Mom, I just wish my dad were here. Can we call him? Can we tell him Happy Father’s Day?” There was nothing harder than telling him no, we can’t call him; it just doesn’t work that way.

So on this Fourth of July, while you’re sitting in your boat on the lake, watching the fireworks, and stuffing yourself silly on all the BBQ goodness, remember why you’re able to do all of these festivities. Remember that it’s not only for those who have sacrificed before your time but for those who continue to make those same sacrifices today. It is because of the airman working a 16 hour shift to get a jet launched, the soldier dodging IED’s, the Marine baking under the sun on a mountain side looking through a scope, and the seaman 500 feet below the ocean surface tracking mines that you are able to freely enjoy life. But don’t forget their families and all they are sacrificing – the privilege of having their spouse there for the birth of a child, video taping t-ball games instead of having dad or mom on the sidelines cheering, a shoulder to lean on when times get rough, and someone to tuck them in at night and assure them that all is right in the world. The Fourth of July is about more than jet skis, BBQ’s and fireworks. It is about celebrating our country’s freedom and everything it took to get it, and how we continue to fight to stay free.

Until then . . . .seven hundred ninety one hours, thirty three minutes, and seventeen seconds. . . . .

"Be safe Daddy. . ."

(Updated in 2013 to fix picture that disappeared some how. Originally posted July 1, 2008)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Catching Up

So, I've been a bad, bad blogger. I have been a slacker.

My apologies to all 3 of my readers.

As you can see above, I've had to change my once witty name to something else and yeah it sucks. Give me some time and I'll think of something better and equally as witty or B.A. as Mr. Cook would say.

Formerly in Germany...yup. I have left my beloved Deutschland and traveled 5,000 miles give or take to Nort' Dakoooota. Yea of all yeas. We are currently FREEZING our tookus' off here as it's a whopping -50* below zero. I like saying that I live where Absolute Zero is a common weather phenomena.

We arrived in North Dakota shortly before Thanksgiving and have reintegrated ourselves into the American lifestyle again: We have cell phones, a new house, and a gas guzzling SUV and topped it off with a Sam's Club membership. YAY.

The kiddos are doing great and settling in, and now I'm just wishing for the spring thaw. I've heard that it should be here sometime in July. I'm terribly excited.

Well I'm off to dreamland before I get to go freeze my arse off in the morning to take the eldest to school and then I get to go 'relax' in the dental chair for a bit.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Forking A'!

"Stop forking the wall, son!"

These are the words I heard my husband say to my 2 1/2 year old son. Not something I thought I'd ever thought would be said in my house, and is now on the ever growing list of "Things You Never Thought to Say to a Child" ...and it's quickly becoming Volumes I & II. Look for it on bookshelves in fall 2008.

This particular instance came into light during supper the other night when our youngest, who happens to be high functioning autistic, decided to depart early from the table and begin scraping his fork up and down the wood paneling wall. Which resulted in a "delightful" noise that can only be best described as . . . .annoying and ear-piercing.

The son, giddily looked up at his father, and said "No!! My fawrk!" and then went running down the tiled floor hallway with said fork in hand. Oh yes, this was a great idea.

Hubster takes off down the hallway after the child, muttering along the way about who decided to invent forks for toddlers anyway, and the child is giggling manically and then *SLAM* goes the bathroom door. Thankfully the child has yet to figure out how to lock the door, as you need a key to do it, but that doesn't make it any easier to shove his little 35 pound body away from the door safely.

Well the fork is away from the child and the walls are safe from any further performances. . .for this weekend anyway.

Stay tuned for our next chapter.... "Son, stop licking the cat!! That's gross!!!"

Friday, June 8, 2007

Pheasants of the world beware!

I recently returned from a trip home to the homestead in South Dakota. Just a quick trip to see my baby brother graduate from high school, and being as it was a 'quickie' I had the opportunity to go it alone while the Hubster stayed at home with the kids.

FREEDOM is a sweeet thing lemme tell you. 5 days, 4 nights with no kids, no real responsibility. It was a much needed and refreshing time, that is for certain. Hubster's experiences were, well, far less relaxing than mine and that is definitely another blog for another time.

I wasn't completely alone, however. My best friend here in Germany was the Thelma to my Louise on this trip. Being a Texas girl and not seeing much of the Midwest "Thelma" accompanied me on my whirlwind trip to SoDak. Wanted to soak herself up some of our fine Midwestern culture and cuisine (behold: the glory that is Taco Johns!), and meet some of the locals.

What I don't think Thelma was prepared for was South Dakota wildlife. The deer, the pheasants, the skunks, and the raccoons. It's beautiful, untamed, and....suicidal.

Three miles into South Dakota, Thelma comments, "Uh, wow...sure is a lot of road kill around here." Me: "Yup." Approximately 50 miles later, "Are there any living raccoons in this state?" Me: "Not especially."

And then it happened. Thelma sees one of her first pheasants, it's flying not-so-gracefully out of the ditch and as she begins to comment on the beauty of it's feathers, when THWACK!! it becomes one with the tires of the Taurus. Said pheasant flew right into the fender well and became a memory. An expletive later, I mutter, "And so it begins. . ."

Thelma looks at me with some concern, wondering what the hell I'm talking about. I tell her that wildlife and I don't necessarily get along when I'm behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The last time I came home, I wasn't even there for an hour when I hit Bambi. Seriously. I'm certain it was Bambi...spots and all. She laughs and continues enjoying the scenery.

It's getting near dusk and I tell her to keep her eyes peeled because as my navigator, she's also responsible for deer watch in the ditch. Fifteen miles from my parents' house Thelma discovers her first kamikaze deer herd. The "herd" of 3 deer was simply chillin' in the middle of a state highway and didn't seem very concerned at my Taurus roaring towards them at 70mph. It's the ultimate game of chicken and being kind hearted, I relented first. Of course that didn't stop the deer from trying to run into the sides of the car or telling their brethren 3 miles from my parents house to jump out and say 'hello' as well.

We finally make it to the house and in one piece. I warn Thelma that over the next few days she'll more than likely see a few more pheasants and other SD wildlife up close and personal. I don't think though, that she was prepared for the final body count. Dad asks how the trip in was, and I say "Only hit one pheasant and no deer." Both he and mom are amazed at our good fortune.

The following days consist of many rushed trips of shopping, visiting far away relatives and helping in the preparations for graduation. And on each trip there's a common theme....pheasants!

Apparently winter had been quite kind to the South Dakota pheasant population and they were more than happy to greet out of state visitors! Every trip consisted of some psychotic pheasant careening out of the ditch at my rental and Thelma yelling "Dammit! There's another!" and more often than not, the loud thump and crunch of my Goodyear's welcoming our majestic state bird into the great beyond. I think it was Day 4 before she finally stopped involuntarily ducking every time she saw something move out of her peripheral vision while in the car though. . .

By the time we headed to Minnesota a few days later, Thelma was pretty much numb to the roadkill scattered across the highways and the wildlife recklessly throwing themselves into harms {our} way. We both decided that Ford Taurus' take a pretty good beating, as I'm pretty sure we nailed at least 1 out of every 5 pheasants that we encountered and that whomever supplied those breaks deserves a wildlife endorsement for the ability to stop so well while flying down a gravel road and dodging deer!

I'm pretty sure that Thelma will never look at a pheasant the same way again though!! What a trip! Oh and by the way, Pheasants: 0, Taurus: 6. . . .

Out of the garden and into the pond.

It's official. There's no longer a Kindergartener in my home. As of 2:30p.m. today, we have a First Grader. I can't seem to grasp this concept quite yet. As a Kindergartener, my son still seemed like my baby. My lil' man. Now he suddenly seems so grown up as he has an actual grade attached to him.

I'm not completely sure what to do with myself at the moment.

Yes, I know, you're all thinking I'm crazy. After all, school just finished for the year two hours ago and I'm already contemplating graduation announcements.

But in those two hours, a whirlwind of emotions have streaked through me. I'm realizing that I can't stop time and no matter what I do, he's going to keep growing up.

Soon he'll be riding that bike without training wheels, losing his first tooth, and crushing on his first true "love".

First grade suddenly seems like a huge leap to me, like he won't need or want me as much. I know none of these things are true, I mean after all who else will wash his Toby Keith undies if not for mom. First grade does seem awfully grown up compared to Kindergarten - no nap or snack times, more actual homework, and you're no longer safe from all those "big kids" wandering the halls. He's suddenly one of the smaller fish in that big ol' pond.

But have no fear, I'm not completely out of the picture. He came in here a few minutes ago and asked me if I'd be in his school as much next year as I was this year. Oh you can count on it boy-o. Someone's gotta keep those girls away from you.

And while mom maybe a little trepidacious about this upcoming adventure - the boy certainly seems ready for it. He's terribly excited to be one of the big kids and do all the 'cool stuff' they're allowed to do. What the coolness is, I'm not completely sure yet . . .nor do I think he is either!

But one this for sure, watch out grade schoolers. Lil' Jack is on the move. . .

Sunday, May 6, 2007

For the birds!

"Mo-omm, can we do sumfin fun???" This is the phrase my 5 year old constantly bombards me with, day in, day out. Thirty seconds after the child walks in the door from a long day at school, this tirade usually begins.

"Okay, what do you want to do?" I ask.

"I dunno. Sumfin. Sumfin fun...like..." - And here is where it gets interesting. It's never a normal request like say, coloring or playing GI Joes. No. My child...he goes for the gusto.

"Can we go to the swimming?? You know that place with the waves and the water that dumped on our heads?? Can we go now??"

"Hon, that place was in Belguim and it's 2 hrs from here, not to mention it's Wednesday night & your dad is working."

Heavy sigh. "Oh. Humpf....okay. Well can we do sumfin else? Like...OH! I know we can bake a cake! The SpongeBob one!"

Said cake the child is refering to? Well, I made that cake for his fourth birthday...Wilton style...it took me 6 hours to make the damn thing.

"Okay son, how 'bout we color or build with Legos??", I ask.

"Pfffft...nah I guess I'll just go watch cartoons," says my oldest and dejectedly walks to the playroom.

Sheesh! I can't take the child to Belgium and suddenly I'm up for the "Worst Mother of the Year" award!

Feeling bad, I ask him if he'd like to help make dinner, something he normally leaps at the chance for. But I get rejected when I tell him, "No, you can't use the grill, because you are five." Now some may say I'm stifling his growing Wolfgang Puck abilities, I say I'm avoiding yet another trip to the ER and explaining to Family Advocacy why a five year old was grilling in the first place.

The weekends are usually when I try to make up for his "lack o' sumfin fun" days. Today for instance, I thought I'd be the "cool" mom. We were going to make bird feeders out of old milk cartons....the half gallon paper kind.

I bring out all the necessary supplies: paint, brushes, stapler, glue & my handy dandy Martha Stewart activity book. (Sadly, no I'm not joking about the book- it's real and I own it.) I holler at my child to come take part in "sumfin' fun" whilst his younger brother is napping. We lay out the newspaper, and begin painting away. I'm thinking by now, I'm gaining coolness points because he's telling me "Wow mom...In art they never let us paint on the milk!". As he's painting I'm whippin' up some bird feed - Martha style.

He gets done painting and asks what's next. I say we have to wait for it to dry then we'll put everything together, but he can help with the bird food bit. "Nahh....I'm gonna go back in the playroom."

Well, crap!

I'm being trumped for "Hot Wheels: Acceleracers"!! What the heck!?! My bird feeder idea isn't as cool as future-esque teenagers racing on Hwy 35?!? So I attempt to pull my project outta the gutter - "Hey son - ya wanna cut the hole out for the birds to go in??" Knowing my child, who never gets to use sharp, pointy objects would leap at the chance.

Or so I thought.

"Nope. You can finish. I'm done here."

Oye vey. Just when ya think you're cool, you're put in your place by a five year old.

"Mom, I'm so not impressed with you. . ."