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, 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