>Answering the Difficult Questions

>

I have had so many ideas for posts over the past few days but I haven’t had time to sit down and actually write so of course, as always, the ideas got twisted in my head and disappeared.
I guess the underlying theme with everything that is going on is the fact that we are approximately 3/4 of the way through this deployment. We are on the downhill finally and it feels so good but at the same time we still have about a quarter of the deployment left to get through. Sometimes it feels like Homecoming is so close I can taste it, while other times I sit here saying “we still have X number of months LEFT“??????
We were in the truck today driving home and B asked me how long until Dad comes home. I told him not too much longer but that we don’t know exactly. He asked me to guess, so I responded with the best answer I could come up with that didn’t sound like too long but didn’t get his hopes up only to be let down. His reaction caught me off guard. He said “why does he have to be gone so long, I miss him, I just want him to come home now”.
For the most part our kids are used to him being gone; deployments, training, even his civilian job had him away on travel. The kids don’t know any other life and it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if they didn’t have to constantly explain it to their friends. The boys don’t normally ask me to give them specific dates, typically they are OK with an answer such as “he will be home before so-and-so’s birthday” or “we are hoping he will be home before this holiday”.
Tonight was different, B needed something more definite. He needed to know exactly how long he had to wait and I couldn’t give that to him. It is so up in the air (as it always is with the military) that I can’t even begin to speculate on a homecoming MONTH!
I decided to tell him how many days it’s been since he left. I thought that hearing that number might make him feel better. I then told him that when I get sad and miss him I try to think of all the things I want to do BEFORE he comes home; that way I can look at it as “I only have X number of days to complete this task”. He asked me to be more specific so I gave him my goals for the remainder of the deployment.
1. Learn how to make a Topsy Turvy Cake with fondant icing.
 – the practice cake will be used at Bro #2’s baby shower and the real one will be for DH’s bday. This is an example I pulled off the Internet. I will be sure to blog about the baking experience as it is sure to be quite a fiasco.
2. Complete/Pass my OB/Peds semester of nursing school.
 – after this semester I only have one left before I graduate with my RN. Then it’s off to the BSN program.
3. Exercise more and lose more weight.
4. Organize all of DH’s clothes and give him back his side of the closet.
 – I have taken over the entire closet and most of his clothes have ended up in boxes and shoved into the back of C’s closet.
I explained to him that I have a lot to do in a short amount of time and if I think of it like that it doesn’t seem so bad. He then asked me what his goals should be. We came up with quite a few ideas but narrowed it down to a more “do-able” size. His list was a little more fun than mine.
1. Learn to count to ten in Spanish.
2. Organize all of his toys in his closet so he has a separate bin for each activity i.e. Lego’s, art supplies, etc.
3. Get to level 30 on Farmville
 – yes, he does have a Facebook account but he only uses it to play Farmville and post pictures for his Dad. 
4. Grow an inch taller.
5. Get 15 A’s on spelling tests, vocab tests or math tests.
After discussing all this he seems to be feeling better. It’s just so hard to see the kids struggle to handle a deployment because I know how hard it is as an adult and time moves even slower for kids.
How do you all handle these questions from your kids?
How honest/vague are you about length of time?
Are there any goals you can think of that would be fun for all of us to try to achieve before homecoming?
I was thinking of making a Family Goal; something we can all work on together but I can’t come up with any ideas that will interest all of them. What the 14 y/o wants may not be what the 9 y/o thinks is fun and the 12 y/o is just plain hard to please.

>Appreciating what I have

>

I had another clinical in the school system today. It was an average day; a couple G-tube feedings, a bunch of tummy aches, a very VERY young girl menstruating already (I can’t imagine getting it at that age, I was practically still sleeping in a crib at her age), and a few asthmatics.
The thing is, (and I know I’ve talked about this before but it’s such an emotional experience I have to get it off my chest) everytime I go into this school I see these kids with these stories that just make me wish I could make it all better for them. I see kids with developmental delays which is sad in and of itself, but when I read in their files that the mother used excessive amounts of illegal substances during pregnancy; it just makes my heart break. Children who were born addicted to a substance and will spend the rest of their lives fighting health ailments stemming from that exposure…. all I can think is “how can a mother do that”?
And it’s not just the medical issues; the poverty that some of these children live in is something I am so incredibly grateful that my kids and I have never experienced. It can’t be assumed that these kids have eaten breakfast that morning; and it’s not because they chose not too (like one of my kids tends to do if I don’t FORCE him to eat) but because there is not enough food in their home.
Then there are the social issues. The swearing, the disrespect, the complete disregard for rules. Not all of the kids are like this, but the kids who do display this behavior astound me. Have you ever heard a 5 y/o say the “F” word???? I hadn’t until I began this clinical. It is shocking the way some of these kids talk to their teachers.
Each Thursday I come home and it doesn’t matter how messy the house is or how much homework we all have to complete in just a couple of hours; the only thing I can think of is how perfect my three kids are. I am so lucky to have three perfectly healthy boys. I am lucky to have a husband who will do anything to protect us and provide for us; we may not be rolling in money but we have food on the table and health insurance, we live in a town that has an exceptional school district, etc. My boys are sweet, well mannered and as if they weren’t already perfect enough… handsome!
I really am lucky, and now I need to go prove my love for them by washing their dirty laundry.

>Meet A MilSpouse Monday

>

Today is Monday, what comes to mind when you think of Monday?
Do you think “oh boy, I have to go back to work/school”.
Or maybe you get excited that the kids go back to school after two days of driving you insane with Nerf darts in the head and chocolate milk mix on the floor.
Maybe it’s your day to wash the sheets, or clean out the fridge.
Well, forget all that, because from now on Mondays are going to have a NEW meaning. You are going to smile when that alarm clock goes off, you’re going to SPRING out of bed and BOUND down the hallway so you can power up that computer.
You might be asking yourself “why would I be bounding before my morning cup of Joe”?
Well, let me tell you why.           
THIS is why!
 
Marah is hosting Meet A MilSpouse Monday! It is a fantastic way to meet new MilWives, she interviews us, we give honest answers and you read our answers. Marah is a Marine wife, and has the most adorable little baby boy, Kolt. Her blog will keep you entertained all afternoon, her blogging style is honest with a twist of humor. You’ll enjoy reading, promise.
The first thing you should do is head on over to Marah’s blog and follow her if you aren’t already. All the cool kids are doing it, trust me. Then read my answers and leave me some love if you feel inclined to do so; I love gettin’ me some love.
I can’t wait to see you all there, and thanks so much for featuring me Marah, you ROCK!

>C’mon Little Roof, You Can Do It!

>

The past few days our local newspaper has had numerous articles regarding the roof collapses in and around New England. It started with older structures, then flat roofs like those on commercial buildings started giving way, and now shallow pitched residences are going too.
Honestly, it’s quite scary. Our schools have been closed all week because they are trying to clear the roofs, other school districts are dismissing early today because of cracking or bowing ceilings. The National Guard was in a neighboring town yesterday, and they are in the next town over today. I have MAJOR ice dams going all the way around my roof, so using a roof rake to get the snow off could potentially put more stress on other parts causing an even bigger issue. This is one of the worst winters in this area, it is certainly worse than I can ever remember. Sure I spent quite a bit of time away from New England, but the last time I heard of a major roof collapse due to snow was the Civic Center (the year I was born).
I think I’m going to visit my mom today, we’ll have a sleepover up there. My stepdad built the house and he doesn’t cut corners so I know his roof is safe, lol.
And last, but not least, head on over to No Model Lady’s blog and link up at the MilSpouse Weekly Roundup. It’s a great way to catch up on all your favorite blogs each week and maybe even meet some new bloggers.

>Another Baby Shower?

>

Yet another snow day for our town. This is the 7th cancellation this year and that does not include delays and early dismissals. My classes are cancelled tonight as well. I don’t think Nursing school is supposed to be self taught, but that is what we’ve had to do so far, lol.
This afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my laptop doing some ATI assignments (online assessments and quizzes that count toward our final grade this semester) when the phone rings. It’s Bro #2. He asks me to accept his game request on Facebook. I argued, saying that I am worried about viruses but he insists he needs “neighbors”, so I give in. As I’m accepting his game invite the REAL reason for calling emerges.
A few weeks ago, they had a baby shower. Her mother hosted it in Jersey. Apparently she did not have a good time because she didn’t have many friends there and the gifts were not what she expected. She had gone to Babies R Us and signed up for a registry. She was not pleased when people showed up with $40 gifts rather than the more expensive items. My brother said it was because they “are millionaires and can afford more expensive stuff”. While they were down there he had called me and told me that she wasn’t having fun. I told him that I wish the shower had been up here so I could have gone. I would have tried to make it fun for her.
Long story short, I kind of got cornered into “looking into hosting a shower for her” here. Honestly, I had forgotten about it and now that she’s 32 weeks I figured it’s too late anyway.
Nope, the Bro asked me if I was “still planning on doing something” for her. I stumbled and stuttered and basically didn’t know how to answer. I don’t have the time or the money to do something like that. Not to mention I am slightly jealous that she would would be getting two showers when I didn’t get any. Honestly I think they just want the gifts.
So, I’m thinking about it and even though I don’t want to do it I probably should. They are the type of people that hold a grudge. They remember EVERYTHING. If I don’t do this, I will look like I don’t care.
Not to mention, they want the shower at their condo. What am I supposed to do with the kids? Parking is going to be an issue at their place. People aren’t going to be able to move around and I don’t think Bro #1 will go all the way out there for this.
The other thing is that if I were to do this I would want help. I would want to call my mom because she’s good at throwing parties, plus she’d help me cook and come up with decorations. The girlfriend and my Mom are not the best of friends, I don’t know if my mom would even be willing to help me. I brought it up to my brother and he said that “of course she is invited” but I don’t know how my mom feels about it. I guess I’ll have to see.
I will think more about it later, right now I need to get back to my assignments.

>Cyber Bullying

>

I am taking a class in school that is required for graduation. The class is computer literacy and it teaches us how to use a computer with an emphasis on Microsoft Office.The irony is that this course is an online class!
If nothing else it is an easy A to bring up my GPA, I spend about an hour and a half per week on it which isn’t bad at all. The discussion board is my favorite part, the teacher gives us interesting topics to discuss. We are a couple weeks in and I thought it would be fun to share some of the topics and my initial response. I would love to hear all of your responses/reactions even if they differ from my opinions. I promise, I won’t jump down your throat if you don’t agree with me, haha.
The first topic was “Cyber Bullying”.
The recent story of Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University is very tragic and has legal and punitive consequences for the offenders. There are similar stories of cyber-bullying all over the internet. What they did is considered a 3rd degree crime and they could receive up to three years in prison. For example, Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, MA was bullied on Facebook before and after her suicide.

My questions to all of you:
Do you think the law has caught up with technology?

Do you think the punishment fits the crime?

Do you think the punishment is enough?

How do we protect our kids in this technical age?
My response was:
 
The element of anonymity that the Internet gives these kids enables them to take bullying to to a whole different level. They are hiding behind a screen. They may not even know the person they are bullying; so they will probably never see the hurt they caused. Therefore they may not feel remorse, and that will allow them to justify doing it again to the same kid or another.

I am going to give you a bit of history here to help me prove my point. I really feel cyber bullying is one of the most dangerous forms of bullying.
 I have three kids, they have grown up on different military bases. They went to school with other military brats. When Dad’s orders came up we packed up and moved; the schools were used to the constant transition taking place in the classrooms. That is one thing I can say for military kids; they are some of the most accepting kids I have met. At every new school my kids were welcomed with questions about the different duty stations and countries they’ve been too. It was always a contest to see which student had attended the most schools in his life. This was normal for us.
 Then we moved to CT.
 Each one of my three sons has come home multiple times either in tears or quiet or angry. I have come to recognize the look. My kids have been bullied. Each of them in a different way. My oldest; for wanting to join the army. The middle son for not printing his letters the same way as the others (VA taught them a different method of printing) and the youngest for having a picture of his Dad on his cell phone. In addition, they are the new kids. We have been here three years and yet they are STILL called the new kids because all the rest of the kids grew up here.

In the beginning, my youngest was ostracized. In 2nd grade he wasn’t included, picked last, told that he wasn’t allowed to sit with anyone on the bus. This was a form of bullying too. They made him feel like he wasn’t good enough to be their friends. It has gotten better, slowly.

The middle son began getting bullied his 2nd year here, in the 5th grade. It was verbal; he was called names that he didn’t even understand. In fact, honestly, I don’t know if he repeated them wrong or if they really were that strange, but I don’t even know what some of them meant.

My oldest has been hit, tripped, stabbed with a pencil; his issues were more physical. I have gone to the school with each of them, the younger schools didn’t do much besides talk to the classes. But the middle school did something that I thought was pretty amazing.

He had been coming home from school for about a week and every time the bus pulled up I heard yelling. After a couple days, I asked him why do the kids yell so much on the bus. He replied “they always cheer when I get off the bus, they are happy that I’m leaving”. I was shocked, I didn’t believe him at first. So the next day I listened and sure enough, the bus was quiet as it pulled up but as soon as he stepped off the bus the cheering began. His head was down and he just walked up the driveway. I was in tears as I called the school and told them what happened.
I received a phone call the very next morning from the principal.

That afternoon C came home with a stack of hand made cards. Each student in the 6th grade had hand written an apology to him. The kids who were a part of the bullying apologized and the kids who did not take part apologized for not reporting it. He has had some minor issues with a kid here and there, but nothing major since then.
My point in telling these stories is that in all three instances the bullying has stopped or at the very least slowed down quite a bit. The kids were held accountable for their actions. In the case of the middle school, even the kids who didn’t take part in it were showed how they were just as wrong because they ALLOWED it to go on. They saw the pain they were causing and have since stopped. Chase now has friends and doesn’t mind going to school every day. That is a big change.

I am lucky that my kids have not entered the social networking stage yet because I can only imagine how ruthless and mean the kids will be if there are no repercussions for their actions (or if they don’t THINK there will be repercussions). Maybe the kids stopped being mean to my kids to avoid getting in trouble rather than because they realized they were wrong. I don’t care, whatever their reason, they stopped. What is stopping them online? Nothing. That scares me.

>MilSpouse Essay

>The other day I opened my email box and found this:

I would like you to consider submitting an essay for my latest project. More information can be found here: http://militaryspousebooks.blogspot.com, and on the FB page “Military Spouse Books”. I’ve read a bit about your military experiences, the deployment, and especially your R&R tips. I’m working hard to gather essays from Army spouses, combine them in a book format, so that we can share our experiences with spouses who may follow in our footsteps.

First thought: “whoa, really? She thinks I have something worthwhile to say”?
Second thought: “it’s too good to be true”, nobody would spend money to publish an essay written by me. I mean, it’s not like I talk about controversial topics or blog for world peace; no, I talk about my boring mundane life. So, why me?
 
So, I sent her an email with some questions I had. I wanted to get a better understanding of this project. I wanted to know if it was real! I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Here are the questions I asked:

First off, I need to tell you that I am not an Army wife, I’m actually a Navy wife although my husband is working with the Army now during deployment.  

Assuming you still want my input I have listed a few of my questions to help me make a decision.


Have you written other books? If so, what are the titles, I would like to take a look (if I haven’t already read them).
No, I have not written other books, only articles and columns. I think there’s some info in my bio (posted on the website), but I’ve been doing print work for many years, editing newsletters, etc. I’m working on this project now under mentorship of a few folks. It will be reviewed by them before it is ever printed. Last week I changed my focus based on some amazing insight from a few ladies. They started this project a few years ago, heard about my project through their spouse club, pretty much have handed me their stuff and said, “Run with it!” My original plan was okay, but I’m honored to have their efforts behind this, as well.

Will you be using our real names or can we remain anonymous?
You can use your real name or choose to remain anonymous. That’s up to you.

Are all the contributors from the blogging world? If so, will you publish the name/link to our blog? Can we opt out of that if we choose?
No, not all of the essay contributors are bloggers. While bloggers like to write, and can be very good at writing, they can also be younger in age and experience. I’m looking for a wider range of experiences as military spouses. I’m getting a good number of contributions from my friends, their friends, etc. But the response from bloggers has been amazing. Then it hit me, DUH, bloggers already write and share their experiences! I’m interviewing a bunch of my friends BECAUSE they don’t want to write, aren’t in the practice of writing. I’ll have to transcribe and edit their responses, with their approval, before publishing. But it will be worth the work. 😉
I wouldn’t have a problem listing a contributor as anonymous. Contributors can also opt in or out of listing their blogs (with or w/o description, in addition to their biography). I know a few bloggers who wish to remain anonymous, and will only list their bio w/o their blog info. That way they feel more free to keep blogging. Photos, headshots, are also optional. To be honest, I don’t even like having my picture taken, so I can absolutely understand why some may not want their photos attached to their biographies.
If published, do the contributors receive a free copy? 😉
Essay contributors absolutely receive a free copy of each book that contains an essay of theirs. Depending on the number of essays collected, there will be one book, or three, based on the stated categories. I also plan on donating free copies to Army libraries, and to all military libraries if we actually sell enough books. I would also like to offer a good number to bloggers to giveaway via their blogs, if that’s something they would like to do.
Upon receiving your responses I will plan to blog about this opportunity; may I share your responses to the above questions?
Thank you for your interest in this project. You are welcome to share whatever I’ve posted online, and in this email.

She also gave me some additional info aside from the answers to my questions.
20 years ago I was a scared, new-to-the-Army wife, felt very alone and nervous about everything. I didn’t grow up in the military and didn’t know anyone in the military. When I tell people now that I was shy and afraid to talk to others, they don’t believe me at all. My strength has come from my faith, family and friends, and in that order. The Army life has been a tremendous rollercoaster, and it’s also been a huge blessing. My goal is to gather stories from others so we can ALL share what we’ve learned, and reach out to others who may follow in our footsteps.
Write from your heart, what matters to you. Look at the three categories, the writing suggestions, and see where you might fit in w/your essays. I find it helps to take a notebook with me to write down things as I think about them, so I don’t forget. And then you can help fine-tune the writing, make an outline maybe. I suggest you write about what is familiar to you first. THEN maybe pick a topic that is less familiar to you and share your feelings and thoughts. Survival during deployment is relevant now, but it could also tie into survival overall, being flexible, independent, and how that has helped you in other areas, too. What resources (military and civilian) have helped you get through the deployments? What is life like between deployments, when the unit is at home? What differences have you noticed between Army and Navy living, family support, functions, etc?
I have a general outline of the direction I would like the books to take, but it will depend really on what people have to share.

So, what do you all think? Sounds like a neat idea. I think I am going to start putting together ideas. The link to her site is near the top of this page, so if you are interested go ahead and contact her. She’s very nice, trust me. She is also very quick to respond to emails which is nice (I hate waiting around for answers, lol).
 

>The Right Kind of Distraction

>As I’ve mentioned before; I’ve had a hard time readjusting to life after R&R but things are going better. In fact, I am pretty sure I’m back to “ok” status now. They say the trick is to stay distracted. That is good advice; advice that I have given out on many occasions. “Keep busy”, “distract yourself with fun activities”. While this is still good advice, there is an element missing from those phrases. I think I have found that the BEST distraction is the one you are unaware of. The situation/event that takes up quite a bit of your thoughts leaving little time to sit there and think about missing him.

As you probably already know, I am in New England. We have been hit with a conveyor belt of snow storms over the past few weeks. It started with a storm in December that they called a Blizzard. It’s funny to think about that now, because that was the smallest of all the storms. I think we got about 10 inches, if that.

We then had a storm come shortly after R&R that dumped just under 3 FEET of snow. Since then it has been one after another. The schools in the area have cancelled or delayed more often then I can count. In fact, this is week 4 of my semester and I have only been to class once; and this week looks like it will be cancelled again. We have about 4 feet of snow on the ground, with snowbanks taller than my truck.

I love weather, I love snow, but at this point…. it’s getting dangerous.

I have learned how to read the NOAA maps and all that; GFS, NAM, SREF…. I know what qpf, zr and the 850’s mean… I know just enough to scare me.

About a week ago the news started talking about the importance of getting the snow off the roof. The next day I went out to check my roof, and I saw over a foot of ice beneath a couple feet of snow. As the week went on I heard more and more stories about collapsing roofs. Two in my town this week alone!

We are forecasted to get another storm starting tomorrow into Thursday. I have been watching this evolve and I have gotten more and more scared. To the point that I tried to stop looking at the models. I was like an addict though, waking up at 0300 to get the latest runs.

Anyway, the local mets have finally started talking about the potential for a lot of ice which is a problem because everyone has hit the stores with the intention of buying EVERYTHING. You cannot find a shovel, ice pick, snow blower, sheer pins for snow blowers (mine is broken and I need a sheer pin to fix it), even gloves and hats are a rarity. I was lucky, I did find salt, but that was the last of it. Most people are sold out.

So, here I sit,, with a roof full of ice and snow, a broken snow blower sits in the garage and a single shovel sits next to it because all the other shovels are buried under four feet of snow.

I am worried about my roof, I’m worried about the ice taking out power, I’m worried about shoveling the driveway, I’m worried about falling on the ice…. I’m concerned that this is going to be a really bad storm.

I’ve been concerned for a few days now, but you know what I realized this morning as I drove home from the 4th store that had no shovels??? I haven’t been sad. I’ve been stressed, but not sad. The weather has been my distraction, and I didn’t even realize it.

Wish New England luck getting through this storm unscathed. We’re in for a monster storm.

>Cookie Care Package

>First, I’d like to encourage everyone to head over to the Marine Parent’s page and link up. She’s hosting the Military Monday blog hop. It’s a great way to meet other MilSpouses and loved ones. Hope to see you there!

So, today was nice. The boys and I decided to make cookies to send to DH. Of course, after the first couple minutes I was left alone in the kitchen to finish up, but it’s ok; it’s the thought that counts and they DID want to do it. They are boys, there is only so much baking I can expect them to be excited about. They did decorate the boxes though which is good because I am not a very good artist.
We started out with the Pecan Bars, they came out great. It was my first time making these and I think it was a successful venture.
Then we made the Snickerdoodles. They came out great; as always. I don’t remember where I got the recipe, but it is good.
We then made Oatmeal Raisin Cookies which are DH’s favorite. I don’t like raisins but he says it’s a good recipe so I’ll take his word for it.
He wants photo paper but he said he doesn’t want me making a special trip to the store just for him. I told him I already had some at the house (not true) so I planned on going to the store today to get it. Well, I forgot some stuff at the grocery store so I decided to just get the photo paper tomorrow when I go out. That means I won’t ship this out until Tuesday. It also means I have more time to bake some different recipes.
I have to read a couple chapters for Peds but I think I should work on my care plan tonight rather than reading. It’s due Thursday but I always put it off and then stress out the day before. I want to try to avoid doing that if at all possible.
More snow coming this week. The kids have had more snow day in the past two weeks than we did the past two years combined. In fact, I don’t think we had a single snow day last year. Crazy!
Things are looking better. I have had a rough time since R&R. I have missed him so much that I have been less than functional. Today I feel better. I am not completely out of my funk, but I have made a significant improvement. I haven’t cried today or even felt like I was trying to hold back tears. That’s a good thing. Let’s hope I’m finally adjusting; I can’t keep going through my days like this. I have to get back to normal.

>Sanity Intact… For Now

>You know the term “emotional roller coaster”? Or the phrase “deployment is an emotional roller coaster”?

I’ve heard these terms and I had an idea of what they meant. It’s not like I’m new to this life, but for whatever reason this is probably the hardest deployment we’ve gone through.

Recently I have felt like my face should be next to the definition of these terms in the MilWife Handbook. I have been on the verge of tears, I have been determined to accomplish things during this deployment, I have been excited to start planning for Homecoming, I have wanted to punch the calander for having so many pages left until Homecoming…. and that was just today!
I have so much I want to talk about but I don’t have time now. I am making dinner and then I have to read my Nursing textbooks. Maybe if I can get enough done I will be back, but until then, I’m just letting you all know, I’m here, sane, and somehow making it through. You all have no idea how much you help me. You are my friends, and it’s so good knowing that you are out there. I’d give you all hugs if my arms were long enough. But for now, virtual hug!