Julie's Mission at Home: A Soldier's Wife's Journey of Health, Family and Survival

Journey with me as I document my experiences in parenting, getting healthier, and being a wife to my wonderful soldier and a mom for my two boys!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blah, blah, blah

So today is one of "those days," if you know what I mean. I decided that I absolutely needed to write in my journal. I stink at it right now, but I don't WANT to stink at it. The ironic thing here is, this isn't the only post I've had since August 20th, even though it appears to be. I've missed posting but I've not done it. But I have in my mind. If you had any idea how many times I've composed this blog in my mind, hearing the words, sounding out how they felt, thinking about how I would say how I've been thinking about writing for a while now...and here we are, almost a month after my last blog! Do you do that? Do you compose things in your mind and never get around to actually putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard?
I am a crabby patty today. I'm so tired of fat, so tired of feeling disappointed in friends, worn out with the clutter that I have such trouble controlling, tired of always figuring yet another thing out. I know how blessed I am, and I realize how ridiculous and petty it is to write this out, but it is my friggin' journal and I can have this day today.

There are days, like today, when it is difficult to move. The last conversation I had with my husband, on Sunday, ended abruptly in the middle of him being relatively pissy. He and I were discussing the pros and cons of selling one of our cars, and the connection was bad and it was difficult to understand him. Sometime it appeared he just sat and stared with a blank look on his face (we were on Skype). I would say something and it appeared he just sat and stared. Then he seemed upset about my point of view about the car, and I felt I was being reprimanded or "talked to," if you know what I mean. This isn't a big deal, but the faulty connection made it more challenging, and then on top of it, we got cut off, right in the middle of the chat. Just like that. Then I had no internet connection for a long, long while. Hours. No reason, just--CUZ. So we had this unresolved conversation that just hung there...like a dangling participle, but even more annoying and aggravating!

So another day has gone by and he wasn't able to contact me, and I just have felt melancholy today. Add to just wanting to talk with my husband, I also just feel overwhelmed with my tasks right now. I have a car to sell, or not sell, depending on what we decide. There are things to do for that. I have school starting in a week. I have been an undergrad for almost half of my life...I am scared to death to be a grad student. It's not that I don't think I'm capable. Well maybe it is? Maybe I just know very well how to be an undergrad, but I am totally new at being a graduate student. I am scared. Excited and scared. I will have a lot of work to do!
I cannot seem to get the yard taken care of from other sources. Some people were asking astronomical amounts to do the mowing and general maintenance, and most have been unreliable with responding or coming or doing what they said they would. I've been ripped off, too. With my heart and my knee issues, I am uncertain about mowing the entire lawn myself, and Aaron hasn't done it before. But I think I will just have to figure out how, and do it. Maybe it is something that will take a few days to complete, but it will get done. And I'll save money, as long as I don't hurt myself! I am a lot of woman, so to speak, and I have had multiple surgeries that make my hills challenging. I am sick and tired of trying to beg and plead for people to do this and giving them money to do it. I'll keep my money and Aaron and I will team-mow, and the baby will be taken care of by whoever isn't mowing. Case closed.

I have had an intensely difficult time since Neal left to go back to Iraq. Nothing that needs medicated or intervened, okay? Just...very sad. Really feeling him gone. The space he occupied so wonderfully feels so incredibly empty. We had just a wonderful, blessed time. We cherished every moment. Now it is such a sweet, almost tangible memory, but I can't even describe aptly in words how much I do miss him. I feel resentment when people complain about their husbands, or say they can't stand being around them, etc...I am just baffled. I choose to love and cherish the time I've had with Neal, and I pray for his safety and look forward to every time we talk. You know, it was amazing to me. When Neal was home, some friends of mine had a Girls' Night Out--I would have gone, if it hadn't been during Neal's leave. But I actually had a good-intending friend say to me "Oh, I don't know Julie. I love my husband, but I still need a break from him from time to time--I jump on a Girls' Night Out!"---this after I explained why I wouldn't make it this time. I was...flabbergasted. If Neal were home, for good, okay. I agree. But the insensitivity of her to say that to me when my husband is in Iraq for the year and only home for 2 weeks...well. I don't need to say anything else. You get me, I think. I forgive my friend. I know she wasn't thinking about her words. But words are powerful, friends. They can cut like a knife. They must be guarded and thought about. Please.

The food addiction is a nightmare during about 1 week of the month, which happened to hit me the week after Neal departed once more. Holy smokes, I regained 4 pounds in that week. I just was very sad, and eating inappropriately. I also believe I had some post-traumatic stress from Aaron's bike accident the night before Neal left. I didn't even mention that yet here as a stressor...but yes, that was horrible. Horrible and very scary. And see, in very stressful situations and emergency situations, I'm great. I do really great. But after all is take care of, the ambulance drives off, or whatever...I let down and really feel it. So the week after Neal left and after Aaron's accident, I was regularly crying, sobbing, weeping...any variation on crying. Just a mess.

I'm not there anymore, thank the Lord! I am working my way out of the fog. But this particular fog has been more difficult this time, with this parting. I don't know why. Maybe just a whole lot to deal with currently. Don't know.

I am now going to list some things that I am so thankful for, in no particular order:

My children. My precious, beautiful children.
My husband.
My life.
My Savior.
My sweet, concerned, helpful friends.
My wonderful family.
My home.
My car(s).
My kitty, Sarah. So comforting and opinionated.
My church. Lots going on, and such a blessing.
The food we have access to as a family.
Weight Watchers, and Lynda. I look forward to my meetings every week, even when it's been a "bad" week.
The ability to walk, move, think, breathe. I have had some of these things compromised in the past due to illness or injury, and I do not want to lose the ability to continue these abilities.
My country--God bless the USA!
My freedom and my rights.

Okay...that has been my therapy for today. I have other things that hurt my heart tonight, but just talking about what I have today has made a huge difference for me. Thanks for allowing me to unload and share.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I am so excited about this time right now...it is a blessing, a true treat. You see, my husband is visiting on his 2 week leave, currently. :) I have been enjoying his company, cuddles, attention, long talks, "dates"(which mostly involve us eating and watching tv or movies with the kids, hehe), and just sharing SPACE together. Like I said in an earlier post, I have greatly missed the space that he takes up. Lately we've both been occupying *less* space than before, for which I am thankful...

I have been stinky in the last couple months about posting! I don't know why; I would suppose the normal day-in and day-out sort of busy-ness and worries have gotten in the way and I've felt a "slump" in writing. So here I am! I will try to update more frequently.

Perhaps I have felt discouragement here and there when I have had set-backs, and I didn't want to tell you. It's hard to start off so gung-ho about something, telling the world about your plans, only to have some trouble and feel embarrassed to share. But that's the point of keeping this blog! I have to remember that this is meant to be cathartic, which it IS, but only if I actually sit down and do some journaling and sharing. Not just sharing my victories, but also my troubles.

I had a rough bought with, well, I guess...depression. It was bound to happen. My husband being deployed caught up with me. After we visited up in New Jersey and New York in May, I felt myself sink inward a little. My weight loss reflected this. I went back and forth with the same 5 pounds for what seemed like forever! Frustrating! Disappointing! So then, I allowed THAT to depress me further! Vicious cycle.

I have broken that cycle, thank God. With His help, and only with His help, have I managed to get back to feeling like I'm on track with my goals.

One thing I do notice: my husband and I have to be especially careful when we are together with eating!! We tend to overeat together--not good! He has been getting healthier during his deployment as well, with running and working out every day. Every day! He is also eating much better, and healthier, over there. I hope he continues to get healthier. I want him to stick around for a very long time. I love him so much.

Oh hey! I have been applying to graduate schools! I found a couple programs that, I believe, meet my needs and what I'm looking for. It looks like the University of Phoenix online is going to be the best fit for me. I will be working on a Master of Arts in Education, Elementary Ed. We'll see if I add an endorsement or whatnot. Not sure yet! If all goes well, I will begin in late September. All the paperwork is in, so now it's a matter of waiting! It feels so amazing to move forward with my educational goals. We'll owe a buttload of money when all is said and done, but I guess that's the only way to do it in our situation. Dave Ramsey just cringed when I said that. But truly, we use no credit cards, we have no personal loans, and we have no other debt other than student loans and the mortgage for the house. We have a better financial picture than so many other Americans! I just look forward to a day when we are debt-free completely.

My hubby is taking a long time with dropping Aaron off at school! Aaron overslept (difficult night getting to sleep) his alarm and had to rush around, and missed the bus. Thankfully, since Neal is home right now, he was able to take him to school! But that was almost an hour ago. He must have run to the store or something. Or gotten breakfast out? Who knows!

I will close for now--time to refill my coffee mug and enjoy my comfy chair. I promise I'll do better with the updates.

Oh! And just so you know: I have lost over 5% of my starting body weight since I joined WW. Hurrah!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Some thoughts on romance.

We tend to pooh-pooh this concept when we're faced with disappointment and hurt, or are alone. We might even say we don't believe in it at all. Other times we are wrapped up in its power and can easily be swept away in the tumultuous waves of passion and intimacy. But really, what is romance?

Is it sending a text message that says "UR Hot?" Gene Simmons suggested recently that, in fact, this is not romance. Go, Gene Simmons.

He brings up a good point. There is a disconnect now that we haven't had before. It used to be *work* to connect with our loved ones, unless we lived in the same house. If you wanted to say "thank you" or "you're invited," you wrote. Like, a letter. With your hands. And paper. Maybe you had to keep an inkwell filled and a good, sharpened quill. There were no computers, no cell phones, no texting and no evites. There were no electronic greeting cards and no voicemails.
There was one thing, though: Investment. There was a personal, emotional, spiritual and certainly time-involved investment in communication. You meant what you said and you said what you meant, or it was going to be forever memorialized in written form. Tangible, documented, forever. That's big stuff.

I see Facebook as such a wonderful invention, but sadly I see it abused. I see status updates that divulge private marital issues, issues beyond what Facebook friends have business seeing. It is so hard to keep some things private or to ones' self, and some things should be shared. In person. On the phone. Privately with the select one or two people who are best for sharing heartaches and frustrations. Not the 200 people on a "friends' list," which is really a contact list with a variety of folks on it. I worry that we dishonor our partners when we espouse the various sins, disappointments, and heartbreaks we experience with them with a few clicks of the keyboard.

I'm not criticizing or trying to hurt. I have very close friends and people I love very much whom I have seen do this very thing, and I know that they have the best of intentions. I really do. I would just caution putting your love life and your partnership with your spouse or loved one on the line and drawing attention for everyone to see and know their faults. In marriage, at least, I feel this dishonors your spouse. Just a thought.

Till when? Till what? Till...it becomes hard? Till it becomes unbearably hard? Till you hurt me deeply, disappoint me, fail me, misunderstand me? Till I become bored? Till what my idea of romance, which might actually be infatuation, begins to fade? Till the newer, fresher, blonder, slimmer version comes along? Till death do us part, really? Really. Really? Holy crap. That is huge. That is HUGE. So much so, that when entered into in a Christian marriage, it is considered a covenant with God. So there are three in the marriage--you, spouse, God. Probably best to not have it in that order. I know I often have it in that order: ME, spouse, then God. Hmmmmm....I've found that when I reverse that order--God, spouse, me--things seem to work so much better. And guess what? Romance, over time, becomes restored.

Romance is a time commitment, a decision. It is the act of love. Love is a feeling and a decision, but romance is the verb part. It's what you do and how you act when you decide to love your partner. Yeah, inconvenient as it is sometimes, love is a choice, and sometimes not an easy one. It sometimes really sucks. It isn't some that "happens" to you--like the cheating spouse may say, "I didn't mean to do it, it just happened!" Well, unless rendered unconscious and made to do so somehow against his/her will, I will argue that this is completely untrue. You make a decision to behave, to love, to act on it, and you do so accordingly. People don't accidentally fall in love---they may notice each other and have desires, yes, but they do not love any other way but on PURPOSE. It is then work and a choice to continue to nurture that love.

Romance takes work. Active, sometimes incredibly humbling, work. It is a spirit of compromise and the belief that sometimes, or maybe all the time, it is better to honor and love your spouse/partner than it is to be RIGHT. It is the ultimate irony that we carefully choose our partner, we make a decision for better AND for worse, to love forever, till death do us part, etc etc, and then we go into the world and treat complete strangers we meet better than that partner once we are home. We get comfortable and we rest on our laurels. We get lazy. We assume. We let things slide. Pretty soon days, weeks, months, and God forbid years, go by and we have lost intimacy and passion in our relationship. Why? We didn't work at it. Is all lost? No. It can be found, anyway. But with just a card or a conversation or a gesture or two picked up from the Shell station on your way home from work? Nope. It needs more. That's a start, yes---but delve deeper. Deep wounds require deep healing, not just bandaids. They also require forgiveness.

I am happy to report that my partner and I decided just over a year ago that we needed to work on our communication and support of each other. We had some cogs out of place, and we needed to get it figured out. We were facing a deployment and that was no time to have marital strife...it would not get better while he was gone, we knew. So we sought help. It made a world of difference, even thought it really was as simple as having a third person (trained) to listen and offer suggestions and observations. After a few months of work and reframing and listening--LISTENING--to each other, working on assumptions and presumptions, we came out of the experience closer and more in sync and more in love than ever.

If your car is making a knocking noise and has strange fluids coming out where they shouldn't, you have maintenance done (or if you're trained you do it yourself, I realize). If you have chronic pain, you see a doctor. Heck, if your fingernails look like crap, you probably get a mani (and maybe even a pedi). If your relationship needs help, it would follow that perhaps you should check out a third party "help." There are books and boooks and booooookkkks. Whatever your taste runs, you can find it. I have a few that I think are invaluable. I'll suggest them now.

The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
a movie, which mentions The Love Dare, called Fireproof, is also great.

The texts and movie are Christian-based. I realize not everyone reading this may be Christian. I don't have books to suggest that are secular or within other religions, but I do love Google! :)

Let's refocus and get back to brass tacks with our love and romance. It's a dying artform to truly love and romance a person, and I challenge you to work on it with your partner. The rewards are amazing. :)

Thanks for reading my soapbox for the day. And please forgive me if I've stepped on any toes. This wasn't "aimed" at anyone at all--it was aimed at everyone, including myself! xox

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I just couldn't resist a Mary Kay Virtual Makeover!

It was fun. I especially like how the chosen hair lays so nicely over my ash-brownish blond puffy hair. Do you like my accessories? I added makeup, too--it was a full makeover, you know. Had to include all the bells and whistles! There was a "bridal" makeover option, but it confused and frightened me...maybe it was the photo I chose to upload. I'm not sure. But the four or five different "styles" of bridal makeovers all were extremely scary to me. I definitely did not look like any of the images that I faced! But really, if you want a giggle and maybe to get some fun ideas for makeup, go try the Mary Kay virtual makeover. And no, I'm not a consultant and I don't get a kickback or whatever for mentioning it! I have no affiliation with the company other than liking their makeup.
Anyway, that site got me thinking about my own personal "makeover." I guess it's more a perspective on life and living than a real makeover--I am already wonderfully, fearfully made by God. He didn't mess up. I have, yes, and thankfully I'm forgiven and am loved and in a state of growth, discovery and redemption. I just wish I could sleep at night.
Well, that's kind of inaccurate. Once I'm in bed, I sleep. I just can't settle enough to get there in the first place. I stay away, watch tv, do things around the house, check email, check Facebook, and the list goes on and on. I worry. Yeah, I definitely sit in my rocking chair and think and worry a bit. I realize I shouldn't and that I cannot add to my days by worrying. Yes, yes. I know. Turning it off, however, is a tricky proposition, and when I feel like there is essentially nothing left that I can do to help him, or to make him safer, or to bring him home sooner, at least I can sit and worry. I know that makes no sense, but there it is.

So, it is 1:30am here. I should head to bed. I have company this weekend, plus Father's Day, plus Secret City Festival, plus about 100 other odds and ends. Busy! Oh yes--and, last week, I lost a pound. I hope to have a good jump with this week's weigh-in on Saturday.
Maybe I'll just sit and worry some about that, too! (Hardy, har har)

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Year Ago

I tried to post this a week ago, to no avail...sorry!

Unbelievably, unfathomably, a year has passed and our baby is no longer a itty bitty
newborn! He's a crawling, cruising, exploring, laughing, energetic One Year Old! He went from NG tube feedings with breastmilk supplements, to bottle feedings, to exclusively breastfeeding, to some baby foods at 6 months, to table foods with fewer and fewer nursing sessions! We are going to be starting some whole milk soon (this week), and will continue to nurse as long as it seems to fit for us. We're down to two or three actual "nutritive" sessions, plus a couple times for comfort. Pretty typical of a year-old nursling.
Andrew loves table foods! Wow, what an eater! He loves pretty much everything he tries, and at least samples new things most of the time--impressive little dude!
I thought perhaps I could share some photos over the past year, to show how he's grown and changed! So, Andrew, here's to you--you're such a blessing in our lives. We love you, little one!
(Oh, and for those who are curious--I lost 2 lbs this past week and despite having a rough start last week, stuck with it and had a good week!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why is it so hard this week? I'm up, late as usual...just in absolute wonder about the power of addiction. It blows my mind! It is such an insidious, all-consuming, bear of a burden sometimes. I give it so fully to God, again, right now. I do every day. But hormones are tough things to wrestle with, and when food is the craving, it can be so hard. But I persevere, I am honest with my intake, I stick with the plan and I write it all down. So, there we have it--a hard week after 6. Not too shabby, I guess, but this is the time in the past when I've tucked tail and turned away from health.

Guess what? Not gonna happen. So it's hard this week. Or just today. Too bad. I still have to wake up tomorrow (actually, err, later today), I have to get dressed, I have to move forward, I have to be strong and I have to, HAVE to, lean on Him. Fully. I don't even completely know what that means! I really don't! I know I must give this to Him, daily, consciously and with purpose. But what then? How? Sometimes it feels like moving through mud. It's like I arrive at the door, lay it down there, and then stand there, waiting for the door to open, I guess? Instead of opening it for myself? I don't know if that's the right analogy. It's lacking. I think it's more, I've arrived, I've laid it down, but...now I am waiting for the light and laser show? Who am I kidding here? What am I waiting for?

I am that way with Bible study, too. His word is a tool for us to live by, it was written and compiled for Christians to work with, to learn from, to grow, to understand more, to share. And yet, how much time have I spent in the word this week? Month? YEAR? Pitiful. But I do tend to just...hold the Bible. Like, maybe I will learn and grow spiritually through osmosis? Or something? I don't "just" go to church. I pray. I talk. I try to walk the walk. I honestly worship--not just attend functions, but try to be a part, to grow, to contribute. But, friends, there is so much that I am not tapping into, that as a Christian I am called to do. I have so much more I could do spiritually, and I could grow and be challenged and question and share, and I only do a little of this. I want to be fed with that spiritual food!

But yeah, I have had the demons coming out more this week. I think hormonal, err, shifts? have been a large contributing factor. But, also, my husband being overseas now (he was still stateside) is a stress factor. I can't deny that. Maybe it's a combination of things.

Planning the little dude's first birthday party! Yay! This will be a fun day, with some family and friends, just relaxing and watching him have cake for the first time. I'm even using the grill--I've never used a gas grill before. Watch out, neighbors! Aaah! :)

Okay, my eyes are totally fogged up now--I need sleep, pronto. As usual, this has been incredibly cathartic. Thank goodness for this outlet. I have felt just-barely-with-it this week and past weekend, and I needed to get it out!

Oh, and on a side note--after eating somewhat indulgently, and with exercise, I was up a pound at last weigh-in. That's IT! That is after being gone almost a week, traveling and eating rich (but portion-controlled) foods in NYC! Wow! I was about to begin my, err, hormone stuff, too--so a pound was probably just due to that. I was pleased with this. And although I say I was pleased, I hate any "increase," no matter the reason or cause or rationality of it. SO, I would love to see a loss this week. Go, team!

Sending you love, as always. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Found Jesus on a Metro Bus in NYC

In the American Museum of Natural History
His first spaghetti and meatball, at Carmine's in uptown NYC!
Aaron is simply shocked!
Outside St. Paul's Chapel near Ground Zero.
This isn't even all of our luggage...Neal looks pooped, yes? Waiting in the train station in New Jersey Secaucus.
Yup, I did. Not saying that Jesus was lost, but we were a little lost--and we received help in the most unlikely of places. But let me back up.

We just returned (yesterday) from a 4-day whirlwind trip to New Jersey and New York City! And by whirlwind, I mean...well, yeah, whirlwind. From the time we left on Friday, May 14th at roughly 7am until we returned at approximately noon on Wednesday, May 19th, we were going, going, going, going. There were times of rest and relaxation, but we definitely had our fill of jet-setting about, getting lost, and recovering from "oopsies"--as well as having an absolute BLAST.

Okay, so, our bus driver, Jim, was a sweet man. Here he was, driving up to New Jersey (specifically the Ft Dix area) with a busload of about 17 women, 2 babies and 2 gentlemen (one older man and my older son, Aaron). I can say right now that I have pretty much no interest whatsoever in owning and/or operating a GPS for the purpose of travel. That being said, I can see the fun in this geocaching deal--I have friends who enjoy it for recreation. It's a game, it's exercise, it's like a huge Seek n Find type of deal--I get that! Fun! But relying solely on a GPS to help you find a location you're unfamiliar with, with no map or atlas for back-up? Yeah, not so much. So, we ended up going the wrong way and spent 2.5 hours in Washington, DC rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon. That's all I'll say about that, as Forrest Gump would say.

We met up with Neal near Ft. Dix (yay!!!) about 10:30pm on Friday night and had dinner--Chinese takeout from Bo Bo's. We stayed at a not-impressive Days Inn for that first night, but we were thankful to just be together and get started on our adventure.

We rode the New Jersey Transit train out of the Hamilton Station in NJ and landed at Secaucus, then rode a taxi to our Residence Inn in Meadowlands, NJ. I'd say we arrived around 2pm, and we were pooped, so instead of going into the city we relaxed in our hotel room and enjoyed some true NYC-style pizza and swam in the pool. Oops. I forgot my suit. Yeah, I forgot my dang swimsuit--but the boys had theirs, so Neal and Aaron swam while I fed the baby and put my feet up. We figured I'd find a suit locally and swim then.
On Sunday we were going to attend services at St. Paul's in NYC, which was right at Ground Zero and served as a respite and resource for rescuers and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. Well, the best-laid plans...it was our first time figuring out our bus and experiencing the Port Authority and finding the subway and riding to a destination...we were really green! But we made it to Ground Zero and we saw the very beautiful St. Paul's Chapel. It smelled of incense and had a really respectful, subdued memorial around the inside walls. Very moving.
We walked south from there, past Wall Street and the bull (who is very popular, by the way), and on to Battery Park and on a Harbor Cruise to both the Statue of Liberty (so neat) and Ellis Island (I only wish we had more time there!!). We then took the subway up to midtown, went to a crazy K-Mart on 34th, got my swimsuit (yup), and went to a nighttime viewing from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building! We then realized at about, oooh, 10:45 pm that we hadn't eaten dinner! So we found a diner at 34th and Broadway--at least, I'm pretty sure it was at Broadway?--and ate some very yummy diner food at the Tic Toc Diner, attached to the New Yorker Hotel.
It was after this that we were the recipients of some real grace. Grace with a capital G, I believe.

We walked across the street, sleeping baby in the stroller, arms full of bags, tired and looking to catch the first bus possible to the Port Authority. After waiting about 20 min, one came along that we wanted. We boarded with dollars in hand....only to realize after sitting down that we could only pay with change. We had no loose change! Bah! I sent Neal up with the dollars and the bus driver kindly and quietly said not to worry about it. We confirmed that the bus would go to the port authority, and he said yes--so we waited a few moments, not making eye contact with the 3 other bus riders--a Rastafarian-looking gentleman with a porkpie cap and long dreads, smelling of stale alcohol from across the aisle. A woman with platinum blonde hair and a feathered hat, with rather risque' clothing and impressive amounts of makeup in the second row of seating, and then a caramel-skinned fellow, seeming to scowl off into the distance near the back of the bus. At that hour, I didn't know what we might find, but I knew it might not be great. I was anxious to find that stop asap, you know?
It was at this time that the dreadlocks man said "You'll want this next stop, friends" and kindly pulled the string above our heads for us--we didn't realize we were approaching our stop. We concealed some surprise at his gesture and thanked him very much as the bus stopped. As we got up, he said "Now you folks go right over there (gestured) and that's the Port Authority. Have a good visit." We thanked him again and unloaded our family and stuff from the bus, and as we stepped down we looked over the direction he had gestured. I happened to look up at the bus as it pulled away, and the younger man sitting at the back of the bus was pointing toward the Port Authority, showing us the way we wanted to go. And it wasn't just that he was pointing--he looked genuinely concerned that we go the right way. There was a kindness and a concern on his face that I won't forget. So, on a Metro bus in the middle of the night, with some folks I'd never guess would show us grace, we experienced it and I am thankful.

The next day was an adventure once again into the city, this time to the American Museum of Natural History. Nope, we didn't see Ben Stiller and the T-Rex didn't come to life! But it was a fantastic day at the museum. Then we ventured even further uptown and enjoyed an evening of food and culture at Carmine's--YUM and fun! If you ever get a chance to go to this rollicking, loud, delicious, huge-portioned place, do! It's worth it for the wait and the loudness. The portions are ridiculously huge, so sharing is the only way! We had caesar salad and prime rib, with asparagus spears and broccoli rabe and garlicky potatoes. Then we rode the subway on back, our last time on the subway, and then rode our bus back to the hotel.

The next day we all swam as a family, relaxed a little, cleaned up and packed up and ventured back to the Ft. Dix area. We spent a few hours at Ft. Dix with Neal, and then the bus arrived and we boarded. We said our goodbyes and it was...hard. Sad. I reopened a wound that had started to heal pretty well. I knew it was coming, and the visit was worth it--sooo worth it. But it was still very, very hard. Aaron wept as Neal held him right outside our bus. We kissed and held each other and I cried and then we were gone.

I am soo glad we went. It was not without hiccoughs...but those road "bumps" are the stuff of funny stories in the future. I knew it was going to be hard, of course, to say goodbye again. This time felt different, as I don't have a fun vacation planned in 6 weeks for us to see him. He's not going to be stateside much longer. It's just different this time.

Also--I stayed in control of my food during the trip! It was not without indulgences, but I was very pleased to stay on program and to exercise a LOT! I am still recovering from all the walking...ouch, muscles! Fantastic exercise and so much fun...ouchie, yes, some. But so great to walk and look up and people watch and just experience such a fantastic city.

Ciao for now!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fun new glasses! I decided after about...oooh...seven or eight years of black-rimmed glasses, I would go a different route. You like? Kinda hard to see in the picture, but these have no bottom, and are golden and pink and have little diamond thingies on the sides. Fun!

We will soon be visiting Neal at his state-side location up north--we are very excited! We have so much planned, but not so much that we aren't going to just enjoy each other's company and relax and take some time to just be together. It'll be a perfect mix of relaxing and touristy stuff. After we're back I'll fill you in!

I've been losing weight at a pretty steady pace thus far--of course, I'm always scared I'm going to get to a meeting and have a "no loss for the week" week or a gain. I try not to dwell on this idea or to think too far ahead, as I've said before. It's just today I need to work on, and move toward the future in that manner. And I know from past experiences that there can and probably will be times where the weight loss is minimal or non-existant--that happens. Our bodies are complex and this is just a normal thing that occurs during the journey. However, I have to be sure not to allow that to psych me out or have a negative impact on my viewpoint/goals/confidence. And actually, truth be told, it's not confidence that I have. That's not the right word for it, really. It's more assurance. It's an assurance that God is helping me and with me and really the one in control, He's really the one with the plan and the power than enables me to push forward. I can't do it without Him. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of this.

I really, really miss my husband. It's been a harder week than the past few. I've not had "food moments" as a result, which I am SO thankful for. Hallelujah for that! But I have definitely been having some emotionally-charged moments. They don't last for hours, but I find myself retreating into a sadness now and then, crying silently when I'm alone here at home. Then I get to being overly sensitive to others, and I seem to get this sort of desire to be with people and at the same time want to isolate myself. Does that even make sense? So, yesterday, I decided I was going to do my hair, shave my legs, do my makeup, and have some intention in my walk. I had lunch with a dear friend and dinner with other dear friends. I talked and laughed and had some wine and just enjoyed being with people. I really, really felt like wallowing at home. I knew this wasn't what I needed and I pushed to do something else, and I did. Of course, this meant that the kitchen didn't get cleaned and the floor wasn't swept in the living room. I also didn't get the boxes out to the storage unit. These things still aren't done, but today is the day.

The baby woke up at 4:30! Blargh! He didn't wake up happy, either. I waited for a good 15 minutes just to see if he was going to drift back off. Nope. He was sleepy-crying and when I went in, he was this little pitiful guy with his butt in the air, crying into his mattress! :( Poor baby! So, I scooped him up and we nursed until just before 6am. Needless to say, he went back so sleep (thank God!) and...so did I. Thank goodness Aaron is able to feed himself in the morning and get off to school. He does his routine very well--gets up, makes bed, bathroom stuff, gets a bite to eat, watches Wake Up with Al (yes, the Weather Channel) or Monk, then heads off to the bus stop at 6:45. He is so mature now! I'm thankful his head is screwed on tightly, though, because I believe otherwise he would definitely leave it somewhere. Holy cow, is he absent-minded. I see his Reading textbook sitting on the floor right now. Oops.

Aaron's hair is falling out at an alarming rate right now. Sigh. I hate that for him. He has such beautiful, thick, dark brown hair. In fact, because of this thick hair, he is really blessed! It covers up the bald spots. Sadly, the bald spots are spreading, growing, and changing shape. For years the alopecia areata was just as it is defined--small, round, smooth bald spots. He had two that stayed with him pretty much all year-round--both on the right side of his head, hidden pretty easily by his thick hair. This isn't the case anymore. The disease does progress that way, too, for some. For others it grows back, for others it just stays the same. Etc, etc. Such is the nature of alopecia--nobody can predict the path/progression it will take. So there was always that chance that his would get worse. I try not to make a big deal about it with him--it really isn't, honestly, when you think about it. I mean, there are no health issues (except skin cancer from exposure if you don't cover up) associated with alopecia--if I had to choose an autoimmune disease that my child had to have, I think this would be the one. It's just hair.

All that being said, it makes me feel sad. He has such gorgeous, thick hair. I just didn't want him to lose it. Oh well. Again, could be so much worse and I shouldn't complain. He certainly said he doesn't care that much about it. It's just that middle school already sucks without something additional like huge bald spots. But I repeat this and encourage Aaron to as well: "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger!" So true! So I feel silly and selfish and small to have heartbreak over his hair falling out, but I just feel that way. I don't know. You just want to protect your kids from stuff, you know?

Waiting for the dang ibuprofen to kick in! Sciatica is bad today! Blah!
Tomorrow is weigh-in--whoohoo! I've so far lost 13.4 lbs. It's a good start. :)
Ciao for now! xox

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Year!

I'm just overwhelmed with the love and birthday wishes from my Facebook buddies! Truly, that is one thing I really do enjoy about FB. The connection with people who, otherwise, I probably would never had seen or heard from again in this lifetime is just fabulous! This great network of friends, family, acquaintances and the like, all blobbed together and corresponding in various ways--just fantastic! I love it. So I have birthday wishes from family, former coworkers-turned-friends, classmates from 20+ years ago, and so forth. So fun! At a time when I honestly don't feel like doing much for my birthday, it was a pick-me-up. So I'm grateful for that, and it made my day.

Neal doesn't plan a lot ahead for things like this--really, he could have figured out a way to send a card prior to my birthday. He was able, at least a few times, to get to the PX and get a card. He certainly got other stuff at the PX in the last few weeks. But, alas, my birthday came upon him like a thief in the night, and he feels pretty horrible that he didn't get to send a card. I'm not hung up on it--but it's also kinda typical of him! I am not really hurt. Maybe a little tiny bit hurt, but not too much. It happens, and there is plenty on his mind right now to worry about and figure out. My bday should not be at the top of the list!

Weight Watchers is going very well--I have lots and lots of good moments, but some difficult moments mixed in. Very raw, scary, overwhelming moments sometimes. I debate with myself, sometimes trying to compromise, and I have to pray--HARD--to get out of that hole I'm starting to fall into. Ugh! To be totally free of this temptation! What a gift that would be.

However--and most importantly--I journal all of my intake, and am honest about it. Period. I know what the alternative feels like, and I do not want to go back. I am done lying to myself, pretending all is well, meanwhile killing myself. No thanks. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels, or so I've heard. I want to find out. Like Jimmy Stewart, out on that bridge in "It's a Wonderful Life"--I want to live again. I want to live again. I can't go on with this shell of unhealthiness surrounding me. I have to continue, and my life depends on it.

Hey, it's Red Blobster tonight with Mom and Craig and the boys! Fun! I am planning ahead--lots of good options there, but also LOTS of pitfalls (read: garlic biscuits). So I'm looking to the fresh fish and seafood to be satisfying and tasty, and some fresh veggies (steamed and salad, methinks). Baked potato is also a good idea, dry, and then I can add what I want to it. Planning is so important with this journey! That, and not starving. When I get to feeling "franticly hungry," I'm in trouble. Just like our wonderful leader at WW has talked about with herself and her own weight loss/health journey--she just doesn't allow herself to get crazy hungry. It's not a good place to be, and temptations abound when you're there!

I've had to fight the temptation to transfer my overdoing. Like to spending. I have little resources for overspending, thank God, and we set it up this way when Neal was preparing to leave. This setup forces me to be even more "in the raw" with trying to fill voids inappropriately and to really face the behavior head-on.

I appreciate TLC and A&E programming--big-time! They have enough of these shows with horribly overweight/obese people dying and trying to live again, that it really really grounds me in reality. Wow.

I have, as of last Saturday, lost 11 lbs in 3 weeks. I will weigh in on Friday this week due to being gone all day on Saturday. It's going to be a blast! Plus I am doing lots of walking, so great exercise! Aaron has a competition with orchestra, then is going to Dollywood with his orchestra for a day of fun/rides/frivolity! I am joining in the bru-haha, and it should be so great! We love Dollywood. Perfect family fun place, truly. Plus I'm meeting up with some friends, so we can be buddies for the day! Great!

I'm also looking forward to Friday night--GNO (Girls' Night Out), plus getting a requirement done for my class! We'll be having dinner and then going to see some live music stuffs at a local jazz place. So fun! I've been taking a History of Jazz class and I've loved it. The class will be finished after this last paper, and it will be my last class at Indiana University! I took a couple courses to enjoy and stay busy, and have loved them. I probably will take things more locally from here on out. Oh, and did I mention--I'm finally getting my diploma from IU! I officially graduate on May 8th! It only took 16 years to get to this point. :D

Okay, Andrew is fussing at me, wanting to nurse--so I will sign off for now! Thanks for all of your love and support. God bless you! Here's to 34!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just for Today

Just for today, I will decide to choose health. Just for today, I will work on loving myself a little bit more. Just for today, I will have patience with myself and learn to let go.
For today I will plan out my meals, I will eat with intention, I will embrace my choices, and I will forgive myself for my imperfections. For today, I will move some, laugh some, love others abundantly, and hope more and more. I will work on my faith and my vision and will not focus too much on tomorrow or the next day--today is enough.
I will look at my choices and think about them, really think about them and move with them as I act with purpose and confidence. I will pray, and then I will listen. That still, small voice is there--but I have to have an open heart to listen and discern in order to hear it. I will know that I do not have to do this by myself, that I am not alone, that even though I feel loneliness I am not alone, not alone. I am loved and I am a worthwhile woman and I have gifts, talents, and things to offer others. Loneliness and being alone are two different experiences, and being lonely is going to happen. But I am never alone.
I will embrace and search out my resources and will try to find ways to connect, energize, stay positive, and accomplish things, even small things, during my day. Just for today I will finish a project or two. I will love myself more. I will love my boys. I will be gentler, kinder, and will give my older son a break. He's only 11. He is not the reason I have aggrivations, heartaches, or stumbling blocks. Just for today, I will connect with him and love him up and give him the space he needs to grow into the man he's becoming.
Just for today I will keep loving that little baby, and I'll also give him space to laugh, to explore, to fall sometimes. It's okay to fail, and I will provide enough of a chance to tumble but enough protection to cushion the fall. I know someday I won't be able to cushion his falls--for now, for today, I can provide that. I can nurture and love and let go of the things I do not need to hold on to.
Just for today, I will live in today. Nothing more and nothing less. There, but by the grace of God, I will go.

Friday, April 16, 2010


(The first picture is the NEW 'DO, and the second picture is the OLD)


That's sorta my theme for life this year! After all, there are so many changes. It can feel a bit overwhelming if I look too far into the future--particularly when I start to chew on that one word--YEAR--and get carried away, worrying and wondering and feeling lost. This is counterproductive for my mission(s), so I avoid it. It's also not Biblical--I know that worrying does not add to my days, and I certainly can't change my circumstances (and definitely can't improve them) by worrying and fretting. I have to accept and love where I am, focus on this day alone, and move forward in that manner. Nothing else.

I got my hair chopped (again)! The last time I did it I had it done at a very low-cost chain, and it was cute but not a super-great shape for my face. As it started to grow, it was looking WAY ick. I went back to Bun Julie shortly thereafter, and stayed there until yesterday. I'll post some before/after-type pics so you can see. But to tell you, I had my very good girlfriend watch Andrew, and Aaron got to come home and be ALONE for the first time (!!!) for a little bit, while I had a very, very long appointment--1:15-4:14pm! Holy moly, folks! My butt was falling asleep, plus my wonderful hairdresser is on the shorter side (and those who know me know I am not) and I had to scrunch down in my chair part of the time, heehee. Thankfully I don't have the back issues I used to. Oh my, that wouldn't have worked!

So I knew I wanted color, and something that was natural-looking and young, and a new snazzy cut. Pam (my wondermous hairdresser) mixed a neato color for me, did an overall semi-permanent dye, then came back and did some highlights. Fancy! Then she gave me a really great haircut, and I can wear it straight (with work) or curly (just crunch with my fingers after it's wet). Yay!

I propel myself forward. I will spend time on myself, even a little, to feel good. I will follow my program of health. I will start moving more. I will, with God's help, succeed in improving the insanity I have had in my life. These changes are necessary, they are life-changing, they are "have to's" and I no longer have the luxury of choosing to bow out. I'm in it deep and I have to go forward. So hair it was! A fun pick-me-up! And no more grey, thankyouverymuch. I was looking downright ashy--grey was sprouting and making me dull! Boo!

Andrew and I are doing some gardening today--how fun! I need to get some new gloves, though, before I proceed. Then I think I'll set up Andrew in his playpen outside, and he can watch Mommy get dirty and plant bulbs of all sorts. And weed. And water. Fun! And hey, that counts as exercise!

My friend D. joined me at WW last week--it's great to have a buddy do the program with you. Believe me, having a partner of sorts is sooo helpful and makes life easier. I am hoping her hubby is on board with the whole Weight Watchers thing--I know it can be quite a change. I know my hubby will be excited to go with whatever once he's back, but for now he's eating the "thank you Uncle Sam" meals with some variety of quality! I think he's looking forward to some home-cooked foods in the future.

That's one area I'm a little nervous about: Eating in NYC. I want to be able to enjoy the food, but I also am going to be counting WW points and working that system, and it will be easy to overdo. I just have to really plan and feel confident, and also count those activity points for all the walking we'll be doing! Plus there's a pool (and whirlpool!), so exercise is definitely possible. Likely. Guaranteed, really, based on the walking factor. So that's good.

I hear Andrew stirring. Well, actually, he's yelling to me from his crib. So, must go for now--coffee is cooling and I'm ready to nurse and see how the little man is doing this morning! Hope you are having a blessed week! Ciao for now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week one: completed! I feel successful and dazed. I had a sense that things went well this past week--I really did. I had a good handle on my points (how WW people keep track of food amounts) and was honest. Really, that's been the biggest challenge in the past with me--honesty. I figured out that if I could lie to other people, I could lie to myself. So I lied to myself about how much I was eating and voila! I got...huge. Pretty big.

I have friends who have never seen me "fit" or smallish, so they just simply don't know any different. The layers I have built up over the years are some sort of shelter for me, but why I do not know. I really don't. It feels that somehow it's about rejection--that somehow I am sheltered from "real" rejection or hurt with my layers of fat. I won't be rejected or hurt based on factors that are of the heart, mind, or soul if I am first judged by people based on my body fat. So I can just shove all the people who have disappointed or hurt me into this big category of "People Who Didn't Like Me Based on the Fact I am Fat." I realize this may sound crazy, but I honestly believe and feel deeply that this is part of the struggle I've had. ( Yes, I've been in counseling and am continuing to be, if you wondered. I realize this stuff is bigger than I am and a third party can be immensely helpful.)

Somewhere, down deep, I have had this sense that important people in my life have been rejected, or no longer loved, based on the fact that they gained weight. I didn't have this in the front of my mind as a child, but as I learned snippets of things over time, I believe I formed this irrational idea that this is what happened to someone I loved, and could/would happen to me as well. So it's like, if it was going to happen, I might as well be the one pushing it on and being in "control" of it. Yep, I brought the crazy to town with that one, but am reassured that this is, in fact, not uncommon. Whew. So, whereas people with anorexia have a need for power over food/eating and manipulate it by not eating, I have done the opposite since I can remember...for years and years. When I have been out of control, this is what I have done. That, and I had the sense of stuffing down feelings, stuffing down things I didn't want to think about. It was a welcome distraction and it felt good in the moment. Oh, but then the guilt.

That guilt is overwhelming. Just almost a blinding pain, when it really sinks in. So disappointing and it just fueled that self-pity, self-shame and the anguish of feeling caught in a web that I created and was now out of my control. I had become truly out of control.

I feel freedom now like I haven't in years. Last week was nearly like a detox week for me--I really had to focus on not just one day at a time, but sometimes one hour at a time. With God's help, I made it through my first week and felt pretty great--I knew I hadn't lied to myself, to God, to anyone about my food choices, and I enjoyed eating and moving a little bit more. I began to feel some freedom I hadn't felt in a long, long time.

You might be interested to know that I actually lost 9 pounds last week. Nine! That just shows how out-of-whack I was before I started Weight Watchers and made this commitment. Holy moly, people! NINE. I wasn't expecting, nor will I expect in the coming weeks, that kind of loss in that amount of time. I attribute this weight loss to simply the drastic changes in healthy living that I made, suddenly, and my body's (over?) reaction to those changes. But I will not look a gift horse in the mouth, friends. I'm pleased with this jump-start.

My husband and I spoke for a bit yesterday and he was so encouraging and happy for me. He started to talk about what could happen in my journey in a year's time, but I stopped him. I cannot focus on an entire year. I can't really think about next week, even, or really even tomorrow. This applies to the big stuff in our lives right now--my health journey, and his deployment. I cannot think about this "big picture," but just here and now. Just today. I cannot handle any more than that. He totally understood. He loves me so. I'm so blessed.

Well, anyway, here we are in Day 2 of Week 2...just coffee thus far, but plans for a quick breakfast before heading to church. So, ciao for now! (Chow for now, maybe?)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nearing the end of Week One

Hey! I am really, really grateful. I have had "bad" start-up weeks before, when I frankly wasn't ready. I wasn't in "that place" and just joined, started, and POOF! was off the wagon again.

The wagon terminology isn't a mistake there--there is absolutely no question that this is a food addiction that I struggle with. Everything about it mimics the struggles of alcoholics, except instead of alcohol, it's food. Difficult thing, that. Alcoholics do not have to have a portion of alcohol every day of their lives, even in recovery. I have to eat. So, yes, a struggle.

I have bolstered up my defenses to aid me all around this goal I have! Weight Watchers' meetings once a week, online resources and support, my blog (more cathartic than you might know), programs on t.v. that bring my particular issues front and center for me to really think about, be real about, NOT ignore and not pretend as if they do not exist. No more playing hide and seek with what has really been going on in my life for so many years. And no more worrying my family, my friends and particularly my children regarding my health and wellness. Mental, emotional and physical--it all ties together.

So, I sit here eating out of necessity--I didn't get all of my veggies/fruits in today, and although I want to break the habit of night eating, I really really really want to be on program as much as possible. Having one and a half veggies today wasn't right, and not healthy. So, it's carrots right now, raw. And a fresh red delicious apple and a seedless orange! Really a nice little fresh snack, nothing heavy and nothing overwhelming. In the past, though, night eating has been a trigger for overeating, so this is something I want to generally avoid.

Oops, almost forgot--I am now starting to read Twelve Steps for Overeaters as well. I have had it on my shelf for, ooooh, three years? Just haven't even cracked that thing open. Very symbolic of my eating issues: I thought about change, I looked it over, I practiced a bit, I put it on the shelf and sort of pretended it wasn't there, mostly. I decided that eating and stuffing down feelings and wallowing and existing in my particular way was more important and felt better than being healthy. The change and the honesty that is necessary for weight loss and health have overwhelmed and scared me tremendously the past few years. Maybe someday soon I can explain this more eloquently. I am not sure. I just thank God for giving me the boosts daily that I need.

I have been speaking with my hubby on a fairly regular basis while he's where he currently is. Other than being pretty emotional from time to time, I'm doing much better this week. Thank God! He sounds great, is getting stuff done, dental work (again) on Friday. Busy! But nearing the end of week 2 and staying positive. I miss him a whole lot. A whole freakin' lot. Sometimes it is a physical pain. Other times it isn't nearly as pronounced--more a dull awareness, but generally okay-feeling. But when the emotional stuff comes up, or wells up in my throat, sometimes I can't even think of holding anything in and I just need to cry. It happens.

I'm going to post a picture I do not love of ME, but I really do love of our family. It also serves as a good example of a "before" picture, but before I would ever officially put a "before" pic up.

That's all for now--I promised Neal I would take care of some stuffs online, and I need to before I doze off! Ciao for now!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weight Watchers, Week One

By the grace of God, I have begun.

Pretty glad to have joined WW on Saturday. Not that I'm excited--I maybe should be, but "excited" isn't the right word for how I feel. I have come to rely on food to make me feel better, and have had quite a past with my weight gain/loss/gain again, so I suppose I feel apprehension and trepidation alongside forward-thinking ambition. I want to save my life. If for no other reason, at least for the sake of my children. For that matter, for my family. For my God. I don't like that I am the fattest person in my group of friends, in my family, in many of my groups. It hurts. I'm ashamed. But all of this sometimes has not been enough for my motivation. Sometimes there is just a dense fog in my brain and heart, just keeping me isolated from the things that should motivate me and inspire me. It's times like that that I feel like such a failure. I don't want this anymore. I want to be free of it.

Anyway, so. I started Saturday! I went to the meeting, I felt great, I was happy to go. I was welcomed warmly by some who knew me from before...over 100 lbs ago, too. So here we go. Fresh start, fresh attitude, a renewal. A reawakening. Very appropriate for Eastertide, I would say! A Season of renewed hope and birth. This is the birth of my new life. I want to live.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Good gracious, this last weekend was difficult. Argh. I believe we are doing pretty well, honestly--it is a challenge at times, but we are thus far emotionally stable and just sort of getting through our days, adjusting to the changes and the absence. I think the size of our house (small) really plays a part in emphasizing the fact that he is not occupying space in it. Just speaking of percentages, Neal was taking up a large percentage of space, you know? I mean, he isn't a tub-o, but with the limited space we have here, his absence is really noticed when he is gone. Does this even make sense?
I've taken some videos of Neal with the kids, but we never got around to recording Neal reading children's books on camera. Maybe we can figure out a way for him to do that and send it home. I think it would be a great thing to be able to play to both of the kids, but especially to help little Andrew in keeping Neal's face familiar. He'll quickly bounce back once Neal is home again, I know, but it hurts my heart to think that when Neal gets back Andrew won't know who he is. I want to try to aid in making that less of a reality, so the pictures, videos, and webcam access will hopefully help.
We also have these cool little doll thingies that are in the army fatigue print, with a place to put a picture of our soldier's face. It's a nice idea for military kids.
I am totally open to hearing ideas about increasing/improving communications, especially for kids (like my kids' ages, 11 and less than 1 right now) while he's deployed. Any thoughts are welcome!
I want to take this moment to thank the "Power of Pinesol, Baby."

Oh. My. Garage.

Suddenly, yesterday, my most favorite places in my living room started smelling like a men's urinal. Like this old, dehydrated, built-up urine smell. It did not smell this way the day before. It did not smell like this in the past. Just suddenly yesterday, BOOM, my favorite haunts for relaxation, nursing, blogging, etc were like PeePee Land. Oh my heavens, it's disgusting!

I did the sniff test until nearly hyperventilating, smelling furniture and the floor. The only thing I have found thus far is the baby jumpy thing, where Andrew had a peepee accident yesterday morning. I can't imagine that was the culprit for this entire section of my house, but I quickly removed the washable fabric to clean, and now have doused the surfaces with sudsy lemon-scented Pine Sol. I washed off the computer desk, the pleather computer chair, and used a damp Pine Sol cloth to wipe down my favorite chair. I smelled all of my clothing in the last day or so to see if somehow it was ME. Nothing smells like urine!

It's such an insidious smell, too. It penetrates your SOUL.

On a related note; my journey to weight loss and health has taken a sudden turn for the better, as I am too grossed-out to want to eat. It smells like a dang dirty bathroom and the tingly-ammonia smell that makes my eyes water a little is a definite deterrent for bad eating habits. Scratch that: It's a definite deterrent for any eating habits. I popped a bag of popcorn last night, thinking I wanted a snack. I ate a few bites and had to just throw it away. I was too grossed-out!

This is giving me bad ideas about how to curb my appetite.

I'm going to take a moment here to switch gears and just say how blessed I am, we are, to have such a great FRG. The (mostly) ladies who make up the group and give supportive comments on Facebook in addition to attending activities, etc, are just precious. We have shoulders to lean upon and people we can just talk with and know that we're in the same boat. It's such a wonderful resource to have. Also, the groups who have stepped forward to offer help and support are really great--specifically the Oak Ridge VFW, for one. We've been adopted by them and I know they will help if anything is needed in the coming year or so. Very reassuring to both families at home as well as soldiers!

I have projects I need to finish, probably with help, as he was unable to finish them before he left. I have to replace the front door. I also need to take apart the changing table/shelving unit and fix it, then put it back together. For these two projects I plan to ask for help. I think I have a person for the changing table who is far more talented in such matters than I, but I still need to figure out the door stuff.

I also think I'm going to get a security system reactivated for the house. Any thoughts on this? We're already set-up with one, it's just not activated. My parents (dad and stepmom) have had one for years, but otherwise I have little experience with them. Input appreciated!

Okay, ciao for now. More another time, as I have lots to do today! It is Day 3 of this journey, and I'm anxious to make my soldier proud on the home front as he makes me proud where he is.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New York CityPass!

Oh, my GOODNESS! So, so excited! We made the "big" purchase for our sight-seeing in NYC the other day--we purchased, online, our CityPass Booklet E-tickets through CityPass.com! Really great and conventient way to book stuff like sight-seeing, etc. What we really loved is the fact that it includes such a variety of places on the tickets, and when you turn in the e-ticket voucher you actually receive a booklet of *real* tickets--so no waiting in lines for tickets at the sights! We also loved how easy it was to book this. Very easy online process. And--best of all--all the prices are discounted!! We, of course, are looking to save moolah, so this was a GREAT feature. We're saving as much as 50% off ticket prices for some places, just by booking with CityPass!

Here's what we have on our tickets (we may skip one or two things, but we're going to try to see it all):

--Empire State Building Observatory
--Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
--Statue Cruises OR Liberty State Park in NJ
--American Museum of Natural History
--Guggenheim Museum OR Top of the Rock
--The MoMA
--The Met

We are really looking forward to this trip. It'll be a very nice little family vac-ay before Neal is "gone-gone" for a long while. We just have to figure out where we're staying, and how the travels are going to play out. Not certain yet on that one!

We recently had our Yellow Ribbon Event with Neal's unit. This was a briefing for family and soldiers in preparation for deployment. It was strongly suggested at that time that we not mention much of anything, and certainly no details, about the deployment process. OPSEC is for safety of both families and soldiers, so on the blog I will not put specific dates, times, or locations. Hopefully the fact that I say he is deploying is okay--I guess I'll find out if this is problematic.

We are amazed that it is already Daylight Savings' Time! Where has time gone? Truly, truly...time flies so very, very quickly. Children grow and change so rapidly, and it is with this that I feel a sense of age. I don't particularly feel older when I think of my upcoming birthday. It is when I think about my almost-one-year-old and my 11+ year old that I think about the passage of time and as soon as I turn around, they are older and wiser and just so beautifully developing and growing and learning and *being.* It is such a bittersweet thing, watching your children grow. You want so desperately and simultaneously to cling to whatever stage they're in while still wanting, yearning for them to grow and develop into just amazing people. You have to learn the fine art, the life-long struggle, to "let go and let God." Otherwise, I believe, insanity will surely take over.

Off to play "Band Hero" with my older son--I'm going to rock some awesome vocals. Fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Neal's Going Away Part-ay!

Here we have Aaron and Andrew at Neal's going away party. Fun!
Neal and Andrew, in a cuddly moment at the party!
Christy (and Chuck) put a great patriotic cake together!
The very shocking Lady Liberty. Whew, that is a spooky picture...but it was fun dressing up!
A picture of the spread! We decorated in red, white and blue and had a similar theme with the foodstuffs! People brought loaded nacho bar, red, white and blue chips with dips, and I did a blueberry/red grape/pineapple hearts spread with cream cheese dip, and a veggie platter with red bell peppers, cauliflower, and blue corn chips for dipping! We had delicious mini burgers with a variety of cheeses on 'em, we had little pigs in blankets, more veggies and fruits with dips, and some kid-decorated sugar cookies with--you guessed it--red, white and blue frosting!

We had a wonderful night of celebrating Neal and our friendships. Lots of folks were there--no family, sadly, could attend. We had approximately 35-40 people (including children) there, though! Really fantastic!

I was the only fully insane person when it came to dressing up, but Christy was a sort of hybrid Dolly Madison/Martha Washington/Betsy Ross! Most people wore red, white and blue. I managed to find a funky "Uncle Sam"-ish hat for Brandon to wear, which was perfect. :)

It was a lovely way to have a positive, upbeat, laid-back send-off party for Neal before stuff gets heavier. I know it's difficult for people to know what to say or do with this--I can read it in their faces when they ask about details. It is similar to that "sick family" or "recently deceased loved one" conversation you might try to have with someone you love. If that person isn't your particular family or friend, it seems exceedingly awkward and scary to broach the subject. There is the perpetual "what do I say?" question that haunts you, and then, if you're me, you finally decide to just call. Just listen. Maybe nod, or vocalize some understanding sounds, but otherwise offering support and love and just honestly being a person to be there is what I guess is important. There isn't a magic thing to say that is "right." Maybe there is, actually: "I'm here for you. This must be difficult. I want to help in any way you might need it. Let's hang out, or chat, or maybe I can babysit while you grocery shop." You get what I mean...that stuff means a lot more than "wow, sorry to hear so-and-so is gone," or whatnot. This is true for funerals, or goings-away, or illnesses, or deployments, or whatnot. No magic, special words make things right--but they can make a difference in the actions they offer. If you have verbs, and not just words to offer, then you're on the right track to saying the "right" thing.

That being said, that's what so many of my friends and family have! They are loving us with verbs. Some people don't say much, which I don't mind. I really have no desire to constantly discuss Neal's pending deployment. However, I know who to go to when I want or need to chat, or need more than that. I also know who to avoid...the "war sucks" people, for instance. Wow, war sucks...really? And it sucks that he's leaving for a year? Well thank you for that. Not helpful, and frankly not commiserating, but thanks anyway. One of those good intentions, bad outcome situations. But truly, I am not angry with these friends and others--they don't know any better, and I do think they mean well. They just aren't verb people at this time.

Hey, more on this later! I don't want to seem bitter or moody (which sometimes I am). I appreciate the outpouring of love, support, fun, offers of babysitting and food. To answer your questions about whether or not I would like any of those things: Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New York or Bust!

So we're going to New York City!

Pretty excited. Almost giddy about it, and totally would be if it just wasn't surrounded by the fact that the days in NYC will be our last days for a long time with Neal. Kinda hard, that one. Lots hard.

But let's focus on the fun stuff! This Spring, we'll be visiting NYC for approximately 4-5 days. Whee! I've never been, Neal's never been--and Aaron and Andrew haven't either, lol, so yay! We are exploring together.

Very, very hard, planning and investigating, and not having lots of time to work with! To really get a good visit to New York City, I'm pretty sure you need at least 2 years. Sadly, we will not be spending that much time on vacation, so lots of "weighing of options" is taking place now. We aren't that far off from when we leave, and by April we need to be booking hotels and such.

First we'll travel to New Jersey, where we'll meet up with Neal. It'll be great after not seeing him for a while! Then we'll go on our little family trip to The Big Apple! So far I'm making a list of "Top Places We Should Consider Visiting." Then, from there, we'll decide as a family which things we will pick. Can't help but wish for more time, but we'll make the most of it, without going crazy rushing here and there. Here's the list thus far:

The Met (probably a whole day, or most of a day, spent there)
Central Park (not far from the Met!)
Lombardi's Pizza
Katz's Deli
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty

That's my list so far--I'm trying to get down no more than 15 to have to narrow down, so I'm not too overwhelmed. By "I" I mean "we"--we're planning this as a family! I've just been the one charged with the research-type work. It's fun!

Any ideas or suggestions on NYC stuff, from hotels to sights, is really welcome! Also, we're probably taking a cab from New Jersey--is this what you would recommend?

Can't wait to update you on more plans! This will be a great little vacation, I'm sure. And we're travelling with kids, which should make it interesting, fun, and maybe a bit challenging. We'll see!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time Flies

How is it possibly almost March? March is the month he leaves. How can it be? There is still so much to do. I've kinda put a list down, with some help, but I'm sure there are things I'm leaving out. Here are a few things we want to accomplish still:

** Get the baby's changing table fixed. For some reason, it is "loose" and needs some adjustments...plus I want it flush with the wall so I don't keep losing things over the back ledge. Andrew drops stuff all the time. This being said, right now I have chosen to change him on my lap so I have more control over his movements--he's so strong, and the little Houdini manages all sorts of acrobatics when I change him on the dang table.

** I want to learn how to use the basic tools Neal has, and where he keeps them! The latter is more important, actually, as I have no idea where things are. If I need to hang a picture or tighten a bolt, I don't want to feel at a loss. I used to have a handle on this as a single parent, but he has taken over this portion (thank goodness) in the family, so I've not paid much attention on where things are and the best method to drill holes in the wall, or so on. I don't want to have to call my friends just to drill a hole.

** I need to familiarize myself with the lawn equipment. I don't plan to actually mow, but maybe I will. I definitely need to know how to use the lawnmower and weed-wack. Whack? Weed-whack. It's been many years since I've done either and I never have used our equipment. Probably I will pay someone to mow, maybe our friend Caleb is he's available, and perhaps Aaron can do a portion. I still want to know.

** I would like the outside flood lights to work, if possible. I think outdoor lighting is a good safety measure, and we have like 5 lights that aren't operating currently--they need replaced, or (I hope not!) more. If new bulbs are the only issue, this will be GREAT. If it's more, SIGH, we'll see.

**The ginormous motorcycle, a Harley, needs a better home while Neal is gone. I won't ride it, it needs a few fix-ups before it is usable, and it takes up lots of carport room. I can't fully park in the carport as a result...and this is okay, but not ideal. Neal is saying the bike will go to our friend Brandon while Neal is gone, so Brandon can ride and enjoy. But it needs to be operational first.

** We want to get my little Nissan ready to sell. I don't need 2 cars while Neal is gone, and the slightly larger and slightly newer Pontiac is the wiser choice for me to use in his absence. I actually like my car more, for whatever reason, but it's not practical. Plus we could use the money. So let me know if you know anyone who would want a nice little well-kept 2002 Nissan Sentra! It's in good condition and runs well, no problems, regular maintenance, etc.

**We have some bank stuff and financial stuff to get straightened out before he goes. Just complicated stuff that I won't bore you with--getting accounts opened, funds here and there, etc. Arranging for when his pay comes in, etc.

**Neal built a wonderful loft for Aaron at Christmastime, and there are a few things that he is wanting to add/enhance before he leaves. He wants to add a bar on the side, as there is no barrier between Aaron and the air...and floor, 5 feet down. He also wants to put in a desk underneath, and maybe do a dresser underneath as well. Lots of neat stuff.

**We have a few fix-ups around the house that aren't too hard, really, but just need to get done. We have a broken thingy in our bathroom. Actually in both bathrooms. Also, the front door is broken. Stuff like that.

**Also, stuff that is hard to put here. I want to cuddle more, laugh more, hold hands more, have dates, watch movies, spend quality time, go for walks. I want more time.

We plan to go to New Jersey in May to see Neal off--he'll have a few days' leave before he leaves country. Figuring out finances and the bus trip (with our FRG, which I am so thankful for...such a wonderful group) up. We are looking at fundraising in order to afford the chartered bus to all go together. While we're there, I imagine we will rent a car. We have have to stay near the base, or perhaps we will have enough leeway in order to go somewhere fun, like New York City or Philadelphia! We'll just have to see.

If you know of any fundraising ideas for our bus trip, please do let me know! Also, if anyone is interested in a great used car that I mentioned above, let me know too! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rough Beginnings

Thought I'd include a picture from this past December--our family enjoyed having a special dedication for our baby just before Christmas. My hubby feels strongly that infants shouldn't be baptized, so we are letting him choose baptism when he is older. So, we had a dedication and then a reception at our house afterward. It was really lovely!

Well, thus far this morning I'm sipping my coffee that I'm really impressed my hubby remembered to make, and blogging here with almost nothing to say of any inspiration, and sending my older son off to school, and listening to Andrew awakening in his room.
I'll tell you, it was hard to have Andrew move to his own room. For those of you who don't already know, Andrew was forced to come a month early, which for some babies wouldn't be that big of an issue. Some of them come on their own a month early, after all, and without incident. Andrew, however, was not ready to be born. He had what is called neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, which caused him to be in the NICU for 2 weeks. I had the experience of not holding my baby right after he was born, for about 15 minutes or more, and then only holding him for a little bit before they whisked him away to be helped. He had this scary little noise he was making, and wouldn't latch on, wouldn't open his eyes, was fairly lethargic, but was so precious and beautiful. His apgar was 7 at 1 minute and 8 at 5 minutes.

UT Medical Center was so good to us. The NICU there is top-of-the-line, and in a situation for parents that is very stressful, they were comforting and calm and encouraging and kind. Thankfully, Andrew only had to be there 2 weeks--some are there for far longer, with far more serious conditions. We were blessed to bring home a very healthy, only slightly smallish, little guy after 2 weeks in the the hospital. He was up to 7 lbs and a few oz at the time we brought him home, so he was growing nicely, too!

Breastfeeding had a rough start, probably because of the hospital stay and stress in the beginning. My milk did not want to come in, and only trickled in for the first two weeks with pumping every 2-3 hours, and every 4 at night. Andrew had an ng tube and was fed mostly preemie formula through that due to my low milk supply, but he got everything I pumped. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Knoxville during our time, and I am so thankful for the comfortable atmosphere of the house and our room--especially as I sat on the loveseat in our room at 2 and 4 am, pumping, bleary-eyed and out of it. Pumping 3-4 times at night, away from the hospital, I maybe got 2 ounces. Hard to feel encouraged with that!

Daily I tried to breastfeed the little dude, and we had little tiny victories...but I was getting injured over and over again from improper latching. All those tubes and junk in his face and head, I think, made it more challenging. I was NOT giving up, however. I wanted to provide something for him. It became such a mission for me, I tried everything. We tried the supplementation drip system while I nursed, and that was not a lot of fun...but try, try again! The lactation consultants at UT are amazing, and I am really thankful for all of their help. So despite set-backs, we persevered, and after about 2 months of pretty horrible nursing pain at the beginning, we now have a fantastic nursing relationship, still going strong at 8.5 months!

Andrew slept in our room, right next to me in a bassinet, until he started rolling over. Like his older brother, he did much better sleeping in his little carseat, and therefore most of the time, I set the carseat safely in his bassinet to sleep, lol. It made for a little more peace! After a month or so, I moved him back to just sleeping without the seat and just in the bassinet. He did great!

Once he started rolling and waking himself up from being confined to a smaller space, I knew he needed more space...but his bed just wouldn't fit in our room. Because at that point, Andrew no longer was waking up in the night to eat, I felt it was okay to move him to his own room where he had a crib. If he were a night feeder, I would have reconsidered. Now he's a pretty great sleeper, has put himself on his own schedule, and is so happy and healthy! The only scare we've had since coming home was a bout with RSV....VERY nasty stuff. We were nearly at Children's Hospital with that one. But he came through with bronchiodilators, Tylenol, and humidifier. Thank God! Now he's a happy guy, eating all sorts of table foods, breastfeeding 4-5x a day, and now sipping water from a sippy cup! And this morning, I swear to you, he said "kitty" at our cat, Sarah. I mean it--it really, really, REALLY, sounded like he did. Who knows?