Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Times

That title is sarcastic.
If you read the 'Prayers Please' post, you may be wondering what is the scoop with Hubs.  He did not get approved to fly home and has been stuck on the ship waiting for winds to die down.  AND there's another tropical storm brewing as I type.  yea.

I pulled a muscle in my neck yesterday morning, simply by handing Charlie something.  Honestly, I think the injury started by talking on the phone the day before.  My body forgot what it's like to hold a phone and freaked out when I was finally able to have a longer than 5 minute conversation with Hubs.

We had originally planned on this week being vacation, but I decided we better plug along on school.  I would rather push through this wretched week and really enjoy vacation when Hubs is home, than not do school and just be wallowing.  So, I bunkered down on the couch in the school room, with an ice pack and Princess P's planner to write up another week of school.  I had the kids pick a subject and bring me their books so I could teach without moving and it gave them a chance to decided what order of school they wanted.

The kids asked if we could have pj day and thought it was hilarious when I actually said 'yes'.  Hey, college students go to class in pj's, so why not 3rd graders?

The truth is I was very grouchy yesterday and had some choice words in my head, but I was also very thankful that we chose the path of homeschooling for times like this.  I'm thankful that we can do school in our pj's, on the couch and I can look at my beautiful girl's smile.  I was thinking yesterday about "what if they were public school right now"...I think they would be more stressed out, especially Princess P.  I would have told their teachers that they would be gone for a few days, but then they would actually show up at school, only to possible be gone at the end of the week.  Being gone all day and coming home to homework and bed would not have given us time to sit and talk about how they were feeling about daddy coming home.  It's often the assumption that kids are just excited, period.  But I've found Princess P's emotions to be much more complex.  She understands far more than I give her credit and the past couple of days she has needed some extra time to talk through all the worries floating around her head.  "What about the party we were planning and what if I miss soccer practice and what if he comes home late at night and it's dark and I can't see daddy when he walks off the ship?"  All valid worries and things that I'm thankful she could share with me while sitting on this couch.  If she were in school, I would just see the stress and discipline the behavior of that stress instead of knowing the heart of it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


I wasn't prepared for this part.  Waiting and messed up plans just make me feel like poo.  And I've realized over the last few months that not hearing Hubs voice for an extended period of time makes me feel extra pooey.

Everyone told me to have low expectations.  But here's the thing; expectations are sneaky.  You never realize you have expectations until they aren't met and you feel frustrated/angry/hurt/anxious.  I thought I was good on low expectations and have been praying over it for awhile.  SURPRISE!  I guess I expected the ship to actually come home when it was supposed to...or that there wouldn't be any hurricanes during hurricane season.

I suppose I also expected myself to be more flexible and be okay when plans were changed.  Instead, I just froze.  I didn't know what to do and when Hubs finally called yesterday and asked what I was doing, I said, "Just laying on the couch because I don't know what to do."  I never just lay on the couch.

I can tell the kids are on the same vibe.  Somehow we made it through school yesterday and Princess P did not do so well on her history test.  I asked her what we could do to help her get a better grade next time and she just shrugged and said, "At least it's not a zero."  True.  But that is completely not her personality and I knew in that moment, history was at the bottom of her priority list.  I can respect that.  I didn't care so much about the Phoenicians either.

The forecast is showing rain all.week.long.  Yea.  I'm so glad that I picked sandals to go with my new dress!  Maybe I'll class it up and wear rain boots.  Trying to look at the positives, Princess P said, "Well now I have time to take a shower before Daddy comes home."  She made me slightly scared for the teenage years when she said that.  Maybe the giant zit that appeared on my face will have time to disappear before he gets home.  Nothing more humbling than giant zits...even more humbling when your kids ask what's wrong with your face.  "Oh nothing, just a zit trying to eat my face.  No big deal.  I'm sure daddy won't even notice my face has doubled in size."  Note to self: don't stress and eat lots of sugar, or big zits will come kick you while you are down.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prayer please

I just received an email from Hubs with the subject "Stinky News".  Yep, stinky news.  There's a storm and the currents aren't allowing them to port in Florida and therefore, they won't be home when they were supposed to.  They might be home Monday or Tuesday.  However, if they actually make it into port tomorrow, they are letting off certain people and if he can get the approval from his command, he can get off and fly or drive home.  SO, he may be home tomorrow or some time next week, but not when he was supposed to.  YUCK.  I would love prayers specifically that Hubs would get the approval to get off the ship and that he would be able to get on a flight home tomorrow.  Also, prayers for the women who have had babies while their husbands are on the ship and really need their husbands home.  And prayers for the morale of the ship and for my own sanity.  I had a time and place to meet my hubs; now I have nothing and my plan is completely washed out.  What do I do now?  Still clean the house and hope he comes home tomorrow and not Tuesday when it will be completely trashed by then?  Do I wear my dress for the next week?  What about all the food I'm picking up tomorrow for our nice dinners...should I eat those meals by myself or mac n' cheese until he gets home?  I don't know.  All I know is I have to take life one moment at a time.  And right now, I'm going to sip a margarita and hunt for all the dark chocolate in the house. 

A few short days

 Hubs is done with his mission and on his way home!  In a few short days I get to see his handsome face in person!

While he's relaxing on the ship (although he says it's super rocky because of storms), we're doing important things like getting haircuts.

Princess P wanted to chop her hair to surprise daddy and thanks to all the mirrors I starred at while trying on a bazzillion homecoming dresses, I realized I was in desperate need of a trim.  
P.S. For those of you in my everyday life; please tell me when my hair looks atrocious!

It feels surreal that the day we've longed for and counted down to is almost here.  And as deployment comes to an end (Praise the Lord!) it makes me look back at the last few months.  There was so much that I said we would do and never even got close to checking off the list.  Things like:
Play tennis
 Trail walks
 Trip to Williamsburg
Teach Bubby to ride a bike
I planned on lifting a lot of weights and getting completely ripped...ha!  I thought I would save so much money...again, big ha!  I said I was going to get a sitter once a week and let myself shop for new clothes...that happened once.  I "committed" to Hubs that I would try new recipes and post successes on our food blog to keep myself cooking real food...yea, I tried one new recipe.
It leaves me wondering "what did I do?".  
Well, I did teach myself to grill, but I believe I may have ruined the grate in the process.  Those can be replaced, right?  I took the kids to the pool and organized the garage (because that's what normal people do when their Hub is deployed) and bought homeschool curriculum on ebay all by myself.  I even learned how to change the battery in a broken smoke detector!  Most importantly, I survived, so that's got to be worth something.

I am feeling less anxious about reintegration, which is good, but also had a new realization about the kids adjusting.  They are completely excited daddy is coming home, but I can also see the hesitation in their faces.  Princess P knows that it means there's an end to movie nights with momma in her bed and Bubby knows he can't sneak into daddy's spot in the middle of the night.  They know it's the end to my undivided attention and picnic dinners in front of the TV.  Hubs is planning on taking each kid out for a special date next week and I'm praying that it helps them see the positives of daddy being home and makes them feel so special.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kids' Appreciation Day

Hub's homecoming is in 6 days and we have a crazy week coming up of "normal" life and preparing for our celebration party.  But I realized this weekend that the hierarchy of attention during deployment goes:
#1: deployed person
#2: spouse of deployed person
#3: kids of deployed person

Our kids have had to make sacrifices over the last few months too.  They've heard me say countless times, "I just can't do that by myself".  Through it all, they've adjusted and had great attitudes and been awesome helpers.  I wanted to celebrate them and all they've been through and let them know how proud of them I am.

After church, we headed to their favorite lunch spot.  They love ordering muffins as big as their head and a side of bacon.  Eating out after church is one of their favorites and that is one thing that has been a challenge for me by myself.

With full bellies, we headed to Target and I gave them each $10 to buy whatever treat they wanted.  Only problem...3 year olds have no concept of money and Charlie was dead set on this $40 little people toy and $15 stuffed dog.  Somehow we hid the toys and convinced him to get a new toy car.

We spent the afternoon playing, watching movies and eating skittles.  Princess P said it was her most favorite day ever and I hope she remembers this day more than all the days of sacrifice.

I also hope this day helps them not expect gifts from Daddy when he walks off the ship.  He normally brings them each a little something when he travels, but there's not much to bring a kid off of a ship.  The kids and I have talked about this some, but do kids ever stop wanting new toys?  Probably not.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A little convienence

You really should listen to your friends; they're wise and love you and are often in the same boat as you.  I don't know why it took me so long to listen to my friend Melissa when she told me about the grocery pick up service at Harris Teeter (she also told me about Stich Fix, so clearly she is one to listen to!), but as deployment went on, I realized that my plate was too full and I just physically cannot do everything that needs to be done.  Everyone kept encouraging me to find something that would be helpful and then ask for it, but I couldn't think of anything I was willing to hand over.  Does that make sense?  Sometimes it's more work to coordinate help than just doing the actual job that needs to be done.

I was hesitant about the Harris Teeter pick up because I don't usually shop there, but decided to check it out online...if my bill was way higher than normal, then I'd back out...I seem to have a problem committing to money.  I have nothing but positive things to say about this service.  First of all, I can grocery shop in my pj's while watching TV and the kids are in bed.  I will take that any day over pushing a heavy cart full of children who are making shooting noises at each other.  Second of all, it takes the guess work out of my shopping.  Am I almost out of flour?  Oh, let me look...nope, good.  I think I actually save more money by being able to think through my meals and the food I have and it cuts out impulsive buying at the store.  Extra bonus, it cuts out my kids asking for random snacks!  Third, I have my very own personal grocery shopper.  This sweet lady calls me after I place my order and will ask if there's anything I forgot or will ask if she can substitute an item if they're out of what I asked for.  This week I accidentally left my phone at home when we went out, so she couldn't reach me to ask these questions.  When I swung by the store, she gave me $15 of free food because she wasn't sure her substitutions were okay...which they were.  Forth, and the most beautiful part, I never have to leave the car.  I come home with beautifully packed groceries and I still have my brain (usually by the end of the ordeal my brain is fried) and energy.

If you're wondering about prices, I have found my bill to be comparable to what it usually is.  There are only a few things that I won't buy there because I know I can get them cheaper elsewhere, but I did find organic milk cheaper there and they often have pretty good sales (you can also still use coupons).  You do have to pay a pick-up charge, but I consider it the same as tipping the bagger at the Commissary.  Bagger can't be the right word.  Grocery concierge?  

Yes, it may seem like a weird treat, but this is the one thing that I have given to myself during deployment and will probably continue to do it for the sake of time during homeschooling.  

Yesterdays pick up left me with a little extra money, time and Dijon mustard with chardonnay...what?!  Definitely requested Dijon mustard, but why are we wasting chardonnay on mustard?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stitch Fix review

A couple of weeks ago, Hubs and I were talking about his homecoming.  He was sharing with me the few details that he knew about when/where the ship was coming into port.  The day sounds a lot like the military motto: hurry up and wait.  The ship is supposed to come into port at a certain time in the morning, but it may be late and it may be early.  And once it does come in, it takes hours for everyone to get off the ship, but we will want to be there to see it coming in and see all the sailors lined up in their uniforms.  And that's when it hit me...uniforms!  I can't show up to his homecoming in just shorts and a t-shirt!  But I don't need to be in a formal dress and oh yea, I have to corral 3 kids for several hours in said casual/nice outfit.  Yikes.  Added to that, I am a terrible shopper and even more terrible when I'm distracted by 3 kids running around the store and shouting, "Hey mom!  Look at this!  Can we buy this?!" every 2 seconds.

Deployment takes you to places you never thought you'd go.  A friend encouraged me to try Stitch Fix, an online stylist that sends you a box of clothes.  And while I've looked at it before, I quickly dismissed it because A.) I never spend money on clothes for myself and B.) I didn't trust that they could actually find something I would like because my style doesn't really fit a trend and I am SUPER picky.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and I put my hope in this site to find me something for Hubs homecoming.

Here's what they sent me:
(Pictures by my 8 year old who was a little too excited to get out of reading time early to help me and couldn't stop wiggling the camera)

Like the dress, but how the zipper is sewn into the side of the dress makes the left side of the skirt lay funny.  See? Super picky.

The material of this dress is super comfy, but I just felt "eh" in it.  Wasn't bad, but wasn't great.  I liked that both dresses you could dress up or dress down, only problem was I don't have the dress up/down accessories...yet.

This shirt had a cute criss-cross back and was probably my favorite out of the box, but I felt like it was a little too baggie.  I guess that's the style now...I always miss the style boat.  Would you believe that I've never even tried on skinny jeans?  I'm all for being stretched outside of my style box, but why did they choose whitewash skinny jeans?  They were super too long too (do you roll up skinny jeans?) which says a lot because I have a crazy hard time finding pants long enough.

Apparently the P had just enough time to take a selfie while I was changing clothes.

I hate to confess that I have put way too much time and energy into this outfit.  It's embarrassing really.  I didn't find a winner in this box they sent, which is sad, but I think they did a fairly decent job styling someone they've never seen or met.  My wardrobe was one thing I said I was going to work on while Hubs was gone and it remains on that long list of "Things I was going to do during deployment and real life hit and it never got done."  The search for a casual dress has only reminded me that it's okay to invest a little in myself and I am still hoping that I can get Stitch Fix to work for me.

P.S. I think I found a dress winner!  At Target of all places!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Things I wish someone would have told me:

There's a handful of items on this list for me, but I've added a few more this week.

1. Deployment is mind consuming.  Whether it's worrying about your Hubs on a ship in the middle of the ocean during hurricane season or wondering if he'll be able to email that day or missing him during dinner, something is always on your mind.  And it's mentally draining.

2.  When you take your homeschooled kids out in public during public school hours, people look at you like you have 3 heads and seem like they're waiting for you to say, "Oh shoot!  Was there school today?  Man, I forgot to take you guys again!"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

He's back

You didn't believe me when I said my greatest challenge was teaching with a tornado, did you?  If you'll notice, he's sitting behind Princess P, talking to her and poking her and trying to get her to come play.  Shortly after I took this picture he dumped the salt box (used to teach writing letters) all over the floor.  All was well until we had to get counting bears out for math...something about those bears unleashes the tornado.

I am so thankful that we have an extra room for just our school stuff, but I will never again have a schoolroom in my bedroom.  never again.  Somehow snack time always ends up in my room and I'm left with extra crumbs and counting bears and math papers everywhere!

The boys are going through a book called 'Five in a Row' and this weeks' story is 'The Little Bunny'.  It's about a little girl with a pet bunny and how she takes care of it, so the kids decided they needed a snack picnic with all of their pets...naturally in my bedroom.

We've only been in school 3 days and each day has been a little different, with a commissary run and trip to the library and a dentist appointment and a couple of trips the Y, on top of school.  I realized today that a set routine isn't going to stick for long and this season of life may be in 2 week increments.  Right now, everything is on my plate, which means we have to do everything all together.  Hubs is taking a few weeks off of work when he comes home and who knows what life looks like after that!  Princess P is a big time planner and loves to know what is going the craziness of our schedule is not jiving well with her.  So today I wrote out a little planner for her, that I can fill out a week at a time.  I wrote out what school work she needs to get done that day (I'll fill in specific chapters and pages each morning), as well as specific chores and events for that day.

I also decided today to embrace the crazy.  While all my friends are singing the song of "Yea, my kids are back in school and I have a break!", I'm singing the "Yea, my crazy life just got a whole lot crazier!"  But as I watch all the parents walk their kids to the bus stop on the corner of our street (it's like a parade in the morning, you really can't miss it), I am not an ounce jealous.  I could be out there in that parade, putting my older 2 on the bus and then driving the little to preschool.  I could have 3 hours of quiet and maybe actually get a real workout in.  But I am so thankful that's not my life.  I have so much peace that this is what we are supposed to be doing, even when it's crazy and my bed is full of counting bears.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day of School

Today was a miracle.

I kept saying that I needed an entire day...or maybe a get ready for this school year.  That day never came and I pieced together curriculum and supplies over a course of several months when I had a few moments.  So I knew I had all the pieces of the school year, but hadn't actually looked at those pretty teacher books or organized workbooks until yesterday

Bubby playing Minecraft while I organized the school room
 And while I have the obstacles of a deployed spouse and late organization, by greatest concern for this year is teaching with my little tornado around.  I've tried and failed at every advice I've received from seasoned homeschool moms.  School with my Charlie is a puzzle piece I haven't figured out and even my friend, who is a trained teacher, said that this would be my hardest year of homeschool.  
3rd grade, Kindergarten and we go!

 I felt like someone was praying over us this morning.  There was a calm in the house and the kids were eager to start school.  They fell into our school routine with ease and I was surprised how not-behind I actually was.  Best thing I accidentally did was buy curriculum that tells the teacher exactly what to do and say!

We even rearranged the room a little.  Whatever makes the Princess smile; she was excited for her own space.  I still need to figure out what to do for Charlie's space.  Our little table broke and I'm just not sure what kind of work space he needs.  He doesn't sit still anyway, so for now he get's a box of supplies on the floor.

By a miracle, there weren't any tantrums or counting bears thrown at siblings.  The biggest distraction of the day was shooting noises with a lego "gun".  Count them, make them into a gun...same difference.  I let Charlie watch letter videos on my computer and he seemed to be content with that, if you didn't mind listening to him sing along with the songs.  I tried to keep the perspective that there would be plenty of random distractions in public school and maybe Charlie is just helping them adjust to real life.

Art today was painting our schoolroom window.

If you thought about being impressed, you can now start laughing.  Window painting happened because I bought these as my secret weapon for our 4 day drive.  I hid them in my purse in case of a major meltdown.  Thankfully the kids never came close to a meltdown, which is lucky because I was completely dreading having to explain to Hubs why there was pink all over the windowsills of his precious car, and the kids were excited to see what was in that secret bag I've had for so long.

Our school day ended and a plumber came to make the hole in our ceiling bigger.  Awesome sauce.  After he left, the kids had some quiet time and I found myself deep in thought.  I wanted to be excited that our first day was a success, but could only think about how it was one more thing Hubs missed.  It was one more thing on that plate of things I can't fully share with him.  He didn't come home for dinner and see the kids work and listen to their stories.  He wasn't here to get ice cream with us to celebrate and talk about our favorite parts of the day.  

I'm finding myself anxious about him coming home and I hate that feeling.  I think about him coming home all.the.time.  But our normal is gone and his coming home is a new beginning.  That should be exciting, right?  I think the root of it is, knowing that his coming home is not the end of a hard time is overwhelming.  It's knowing that his return is the beginning of a new hard; a time of stepping on each other's toes as we figure out a new dance of life and trying to sympathize with the hard things we've both been through individually.  Hubs emailed me earlier this week that he is praying over his return and praying that we would be gracious and forgiving to one another...and my pride shot up.  Gracious and forgiving?  What in the world would you have to forgive me for?  You best not complain a lick about how I've taken care of things!  And since I'm being way too honest, in selfishness, I'm getting irritated that it's all about him!  I feel like not a moment passes without someone asking when he is coming back.  What about me?!  I'm here, right now.  Why is the emphasis on the person who left and not the person who stayed behind?  
However, if you know my husband, you know he is the most gentle and loving person on the planet.  His words of praying for us were meant for encouragement and his words are truth; we will need to be gracious and forgiving.  We are both sinners and no matter how fabulous my husband is, he is still going to say or do something that offends me...and I will have to suck it up and be gracious. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Where I've been...again.

Last summer I took a long break from blogging and social media to refocus and spend an abundant amount of quality time with my family.  A break came again this summer, but this time out of necessity.  Maybe necessity isn't the right word.  It came because I just plain didn't have time to do anything but survive.  Hubs deployed at the beginning of June and I wished I had blogged through it.  I know there are so many other wives out there who have gone through the crazy stages of deployment and would have had great advice, but finding the time to sit down and type just wasn't an option.  And if I did have a few moments to write, it was to Hubs.  3 months and 1 week into deployment and I just now feel like my brain is back.  Life is still crazy, but I've finally learned to let some things go and carve out a few more moments for myself.

So what would I have blogged about before if I could have?

Maybe about the "Freak out" phase of deployment.  Where your brain is consumed with "How am I going to do this? Who's stupid idea was this whole thing? Did Hubs call/text/email? Why hasn't he emailed?  Dinner...we should eat dinner...what to cook for dinner?"

Maybe about how many cool ways God has provided help and encouragement in the most surprising ways.  From neighbors coming over late at night to cross country friends calling to random boxes of snacks being delivered; God's unexpected hand has been in it all.

Maybe about how I've changed over the last few months.  How I've been stretched and challenged and big lessons learned.  The biggest one that comes to mind, is accepting my weaknesses and my strengths and being okay with not being okay.  My best friend, my partner and the sole person who knows and loves our kids as much as I do, is gone and that, in itself, is hard.  Babysitters and house cleaners do not alleviate the emotional weight of being a single parent.  But in that, also letting myself relearn who I am and not defining myself by anyone's opinion.

Road trip to Michigan

Lord willing, Hubs will be home in 20 days.  We've hit the last phase of deployment and I'm calling it the "I'll deal with it later" phase.  I've hit my max, yet life keeps piling stuff on.  There's only so much room on one plate, so some things have to be moved to the "deal with later" plate.  For example, I came home from our trip to a giant hole in my ceiling.  Eh, I'll deal with it later.  Who needs pretty ceilings anyway? 


I ordered new DS chargers thinking I had left them in Michigan, only to discover them in the shoe suitcase (because that's where normal people pack chargers) 10 minutes after ordering them and Amazon won't let me return them.  Eh, I'll deal with it later.  Who needs money?  Hubs emailed me dates he's taking off work when he returns and I didn't even email him back.  Why?  Because I put it on the "deal with it later" plate and forgot.  Days off work next month means nothing to me in the midst of school starting and soccer practice and dentist appointments and birthday parties.

So here's what's coming in my crazy life: homeschool starts tomorrow, Hubs comes home, we go camping, we run a 5K and a half marathon, the holidays, a cross country move, Hubs joins the marines and somewhere in all there we're supposed to find a new normal and raise kids.  If there's any time I want to blog through, it's this year.  I'm excited to look back and see what we've been through and maybe even gain some insight from those who've gone before me.

Hope you'll join me, it's going to be a fun ride.