Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Story of Us: Girl Meets Boy

Today, my husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage.  We are many many miles apart, but our hearts are definitely linked.  In honor of our celebration, I will tell you "our" story.  Sit back, relax, grab your reading glasses if necessary... it's a bit of a long story...

I just finished 7th grade of Catholic School; Paul just graduated from the local public junior high.  Let's add two more characters: My sister, who just graduated from Catholic School and will begin freshman year at the local public high school, and my neighbor, who is also graduating from the local junior high with Paul amd will be going to the same high school as my sister.  They are my link to Paul.  My neighbor kindly invited her friends (Paul included) over to her house to introduce them to my sister.  I'm not sure if I met Paul that day, but I know I saw him.  He was amazing.  Blond hair with a little Beverly-Hills-90210-esque style with his bangs.  He was tan and oh-so mature.... you know... as a soon-to-be freshman. 

Paul claims we met on the bike path while he was out riding with one of his buddies, and I was out riding with my neighbor.  I claim we met at his buddy's baseball game.  I'm not sure, but we definitely met in the Summer of '93.  I instantly developed a HUGE crush on him.  He talked to me and included me while some of my sister's other friends did not.  We went to Six Flags Great America as a group... the sun was bright... I got a headache... he let me wear his baseball cap.  <Swoon> There was much talk of who liked who that summer.  Did you like him, or did you 'like like' him? Hands would touch accidentally, or maybe NOT accidentally? We played Kick-The-Can and Capture-The-Flag and volleyball in our neighbor's yard... all of which included strategicly picked teams.  We all went on bike rides; we went to the pool; we played more volleyball.  My heart was flipping during most of the summer. 

And then..... my family went on vacation during the end of the summer.   On the night before we left, Paul called into the local radio station and dedicated a song to me: UB40's "Can't Help Falling In Love."  One week later we returned and got together with the group.... but Paul wasn't around.  Apparently, he had started hanging out with a new girl and they were... dating.

After a year at separate schools, my crush faded a bit, but I often thought of that Paul Paul Meyer. I started my freshman year and happened to pass him a few times in the hall.  Again, he always said "hello" to me and didn't treat me like I was just Katie's Little Sister.  Homecoming was coming up and I was not planning on going with anyone special, probably just a group of girls from the Freshman volleyball team.  One night, my sister got a phone call from Paul and was talking to him in her room. Obviously, I was standing at her door listening to everything she said.  I heard her start talking about Homecoming.... oh my gosh, was he asking her to Homecoming?! That would be terrible. Traitorous. "Oh Paul, You HAVE to go!" "Well, I don't think Betsy has a date yet." NO WAY! "Yeah. You should go with her." HOLY HOMECOMING DATE! "Okay, I'll ask her. I'll call you back." 

A few days later, I was getting all dolled up in my Homecoming dress (a strapless dress that my mom sewed straps onto, of course; blue sequins on top, white bubble skirt on the bottom), fluffing my permed hair and making sure I didn't have any food caught in my braces.  My sister's group of friends were meeting at our house for pictures before we headed out to a pre-dance dinner.  Paul walked in with a bunch of guys looking as handsome as I'd ever seen him.  He was wearing a tie (with Mickey Mouse on it) and his barely-there goatee made him look so manly!  We took pictures as a group and as couples.    As we got into the car to head to dinner he looked at me and said, "You look beautiful."  I lost my breath for a moment, then recovered and said, "You do too... uh... I mean... not beautiful, but good. Handsome. You look great." Ugh.
I felt giddy and shaky and worried that my palms were too sweaty.
I made it through dinner without getting pasta on my dress and even solved the Wheel of Fortune puzzle (why was Wheel of Fortune on at a restaurant?!  I don't know) by guessing "Chicago Bears" with only the E on the screen.  Nice.  We headed back to the high school after dinner and I can still remember walking into the gymnasium that night.  I had never seen a gym decked out for a dance like that before.  It was the same place I had practiced volleyball for six weeks.  But that night it seemed truly magical to me... or maybe it was because Paul had grabbed my hand when we started to get jostled around in a big crowd of high school students dressed to the nines.  We danced, we talked, we laughed. Then we danced again to a BoyzIIMen song and he kissed me!  My first kiss ever.  Amazing and completely memorable.

After Homecoming night, we dated for four weeks.  When I say "dated" I mean we wrote notes back and forth a few times a day.  Met in the hallway after school and kissed a few times before we headed off to football and volleyball practices.  He couldn't drive yet, I couldn't drive yet.... I wasn't allowed to hang out with his older friends who could drive... clearly, it wasn't that great of a dating experience and we broke up pretty quickly.  But my heart still swooned.

FALL 1994 - SPRING 1997
Through my high school years, I continued to swoon over Paul Paul Meyer.  On occassion I thought maybe he liked me again.... then he definitely made it clear he did not 'like like' me.... for a few months, I made it clear that I did not even like him as a friend.  The years were filled with normal high school drama.  I wrote about him in my diary... I was smitten with him.  I was mad at him. I did not care about him.  I was friends with him.  By his senior and my junior year, we had finally developed a pretty good friendship.  I still swooned a tiny bit, but I knew it was better for me not to date him anymore.  However, I knew that I would know him for a long time.  In his Senior year yearbook, I wrote, "I'll see you in 30 years."  For whatever reason, I just knew that I would know Paul Meyer when he was a grown man and we would at least be friends.

SUMMER 1997 - SUMMER 1999
For the next two years, Paul and I kept in touch over email and an occassional phone call.  He had headed off to Annapois, MD, for the Naval Academy; I completed high school and headed down to University of Illinios, Chapaign-Urbana. When we were both home for the holidays or summer, we would go out to lunch and catch-up with each other. I had given up on my smitten-ness, and we had grown into good friends.  

FALL 1999 - FALL 2000
On a whim and during a moment of "I don't care if these seems completely illogical" I went to a Travel Agent's office (remember those?!) and bought a plane ticket to Baltimore for Labor Day Weekend.  I got back to my apartment, called Paul and said, "Guess what?!  I just bought a ticket to come out and see you."  My intention was that he would introduce me to some of the good-looking Naval Academy guys he knew.  Huh.  I flew out there, and he met me at the airport.... and all of sudden the smitten feelings came rushing back.  Oh my.  He had to take me to his sponsor's house and then get back on the Yard since Navy had a football game the next day.  We planned to meet-up after the 1st quarter.  I stood by the gate that we had previously agreed would be our meeting spot and I looked around at all the matchy-matchy guys in summer white uniforms with their black rain jackets and white covers.  Talk about Where's Waldo... except the 'Waldo' I was looking for wasn't wearing a stripey shirt and a stocking cap... he was wearing the same summer whites, black jacket, and white cover.  Eventually we found each other and Paul reached for my hand and we fell into step heading out for the tail-gater and his friends.  After the game, we walked around the Yard for a little while.  If you've never been to the Naval Academy, it is really quite fantastic (maybe not for the Mids who live there, but it is for a "girl friend" visiting for the first time).  The buildings are kind of stoic, the water is right there, and the sunset just happened to be beautiful.  We walked and talked and he gave me a tour of all the typical sites.  And then we sat on a bench and started talking about "us."  Remember, Homecoming 1994.... "I felt giddy and shaky and worried that my palms were too sweaty,"  that's exactly how I felt again. The weekend ended with Paul and I willing to see how a long-distance relationship might work for us.  We were pretty realistic that it might not be best for us... given our history... but it felt right and definitely worth a try. 

I came back out to Annapolis over Thanksgiving break and then Paul was home for Christmas break.  We had our ups and downs and normal challenegs for a long-distance relationship, but by the end of Christmas break, Paul had told me he loved me and I told him I loved him too.  From that point on, we spoke on the phone once a week and managed to see eachother every 6 weeks or so.  (I booked my flights out to see him during particularly busy flights and volunteered to get bumped, thus earning my next free ticket to Annapolis.) We spent a month together over the summer while Paul was on leave from the Academy and our relationship took a turn from serious to life-changing.  We knew we were heading toward an engagement... it was just a matter of time. Paul had a few opprotunities according to my calculations.... 1. Parent's Weekend at the Academy (I was coming out to visit too)in September, 2. His Sprint football game that I was coming out to see in October, 3. The Army/Navy game in December, and lastly, 4. Christmas. 

In late fall, after a lack of a proposal, Paul and I had asked our families to meet for breakfast on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We wanted our families to meet eachother before we committed to joining them together forever. Paul had mentioned that he wanted to ask my dad for permission to marry me so I helpfully told him my schedule over break, emphasizing the time when I would be out of the house and my dad would be home.  Paul insisted on hanging out with me at all those times so we split the Thanksgiving holiday between our houses, and I spent a late night at Paul's house on Thanksgiving.  Surprisingly, my parents didn't care I was out so late... they must have realized we were getting so serious. 

Saturday morning rolled around and I was a nervous wreck having my family and Paul's family meeting over breakfast.  I didn't know what to wear... when I picked out a sweater and dress pants, my sister asked, "is that what you're going to wear?  Don't you have anything cuter?"  Ahhhhhh.... I'm nervous enough... leave my outfit alone.  As my family got into our car to head to the restaurant, my mom casually brings the video camera with her.  My mom was crazy about video taping things and making our friends watch embarassing figure skating videos.  "Mom. You are NOT video taping this meal." My mom just shrugged and said, "Oh, Betsy, relax."  I looked at my sister for some back up and she just said, "You know mom.  Just let her bring the video camera."  Geesh... Katie was surely not helping me out.

We got to the restaurant and we all said polite hellos.  Paul looked like he was going to throw up.  All through the meal he barely ate his food and was soooo quiet.  There was only one thing going on here.... He wanted to break up... His family hated my family.... He is so going to dump me after we eat breakfast.  See look... he's backing up out of his chair... oh gosh.... he's going to say something...... "Well, it's been a long time coming," holy cow, he's going to dump me right here in front of my family! "but I'm glad that we are all here together." oh no, he's getting choked up... I'm going to hold his hand under the table and give him some support even though he's breaking up with me... wait...a...minute...... what is that in his hands???? that feels like a small suede box..... I'm not even listening to what he's saying.... he's pushing his chair back! and getting down. on. one. knee!!!!!!! "Betsy, will you marry me?!"

Apparently after our late night together on Thanksgiving, Paul work up early and met with my parents while I was still asleep in bed!!!!  What a little stinker.  I had no idea it was coming (since I thought he was breaking up with me) because I was waiting for him to ask my dad.  My mom got some of it on video and I am so mad I wore such a dumb looking sweater.  Turns out my sister ALWAYS has my back.

I obviously said "YES!" and we were married 13 months later on December 29th, 2001.

Today marks TEN years as a married couple. I am often amazed that I married Paul Paul Meyer.  I am thankful that we have shared so many memories together, not only as a couple, but as goofy high schoolers.  And I am thrilled that I need not worry about what Paul will think of me when I am wrinkly and gray.... he loved me when I had braces and a perm.

Happy Anniversary, Paul!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Workout Update

Hey look at me... I am in ohio, visiting my sister and I have time to write! So it is about time to post some of my workout results. Weight loss: lameness. I have only lost two pounds. I am finally focusing on my diet and what I am putting into my body. I am confident that we will soon see some changes on at scale, because..... Inches Lost: TWENTY INCHES LOST!!!!! I have lost four full inches from my waist, and inch on each bicep, two inches on my hips, and an inch on each thigh, plus a few more here and there. It is awesome to see my body respond in a good way to all the hard work I am putting in at the gym. If you have been pregnant, you know the feeling of "holy that MY body?!" well, I have started thinking that thought again, but in a good way. I am by no means "skinny" or even near my goals, but the changes are happening and it feels good. Self-esteem: almost more importantly than anything else, I am most pleased with the increase in my self-esteem. I have completed fitness activities that I did not think I could do. I have made huge improvements on those activities and because of those successes I have found that I am much more confident in what I am capable of. I still give my trainer a dirty look when she tells me to run on the treadmill at the speed of 7 and an incline of 6.5... But I get on that treadmill and do it. I can lift more weight, hold a plank a full minute longer than when I started, and burpies aren't quite as horrible as before. It feels so good to feel stronger, and so good to be able to post that I AM STRONGER. Again, I am not claiming Superwoman status, but I am claiming to be on my way to SuperMe status.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

WEEK TWO: Another spare moment

***I started this blog yesterday, but didn't have time to finish... it's now 24 hours later, and I'm hoping to get it completed***

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I am officially thrilled that this holiday went smoothly at our house but am equally thrilled that it's over.  Now I just need to get through an Anniversary, New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day and all the obvious "Day To Spend With Your Husband" celebrations will be over.  One down, three to go.  I'm hoping this one will be the most difficult for the following reasons:

Anniversary (this will be second-most-difficult): On our tenth anniversary, I will be hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law, and brand-new niece.  I bet it will be sweet and cuddley and that will make me happy!

New Year's Eve: I have pretty much always hated New Year's Eve.  I always wanted a movie-like New Year's Eve and it has NEVER happened.  Once, in college, we went out to a bar that had a huge cover charge and was trying to be "fancy".... we were downstairs and heard the countdown start upstairs so we tried to run upstairs for the big moment, but missed it.... by the time we got upstairs we realized they were counting down downstairs and we managed to miss that one too.  (What establishment hosts a fancy New Year's Eve party and doesn't coordinate the countdown?!  Who manages to miss both?!)  My best New Year's Eve was '05-'06... Paul and I at a friend's house, playing cards, toasting to "a baby in the New Year" (for them, not us) and we both ended up with new babies by the next New Year's!  So.... I don't think this year's will be too difficult, except for the moment of the kiss... but I've been missing kisses for 2 weeks, so that's nothing new.

Valentine's Day:  I'm also not a big fan of this "holiday" but still, to have Valentine's Day without the hubster will make it a little less exciting.  However.... I will either be celebrating with my Spouse Club for our half-way party OR visiting besties in VA that weekend.  Either will be exceptional.

So... now that the presents are opened and Santa is resting, I too can rest in the fact that I made it through Christmas without my favorite guy.

Below... if I can get it to work.... is a link to a bit of a video from Week Two that will be heading out to the boat in a few days.  Hopefully a weekly video will help Paul from feeling out of the loop. (It's 10 minutes long... which is long when we aren't your family... and you can hear me sing "Happy Birthday" which isn't very in-tune... but it's really for Paul and he's okay with a long video of bad singing.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week One: I found a spare minute

Week One is complete.  We have survived.  It's been extremely busy, but we have managed.
The kids waiting for Santa on the firetruck.

We spent Tuesday evening with friends on base and enjoyed seeing Santa touring the neghborhood in a firetruck.  I mean really... Santa AND a firetruck?!  That's pretty much the best thing ever for my kids! The evening was a huge success in distracting us from Paul's ovbvious absense.

Wednesday was a busy day of Christmas singing at the kids' pre-school classes.  They had a great time and were excited by a surprise visit from Santa (again) after the singing was sung. Wednesday afternoon added a little more excitement with their last gymnastics class before the holiday break.  Matthew mastered some flips on the rings and he was thrilled with that.

Grace's class
(She's in the white dress - on the left)
Thursday we had a special playdate with Grace's favorite friend from school.  Apparently the playdate was just too much fun and it wore out all their good behavior.  Thursday night was a challenge with over-tired kids riding high on emotions, probably from saying good-bye to Dad and seeing Santa two days in a row. The worst of the week came on Thursday evening.... Grace had been complaining that her tummy ached for a little while.  She finally came up to me and said, "It's not my tummy Mom... it's my heart.  I miss daddy!" OH, GOODNESS ME.  How could she come up with that?!  Broke my heart.  I offered her a hug and as soon as she was cuddle up in my arms she completely burst into tears.  "I miss him because I love him." Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Matthew came over and rubbed her back with me.  I cried a little too.  Fearing that we would all be puddles of tears and runny noses if I didn't do something quickly, I mentioned to them that when Daddy comes home we will meet him when he lands his plane (either one he is flying or one he is flying in with the rest of the squadron) and we get to run out to him and give him the biggest bestest hug we have ever given him.  Two sweet little faces looked up at me with big bright eyes.  Matthew was smiling the biggest smile and Grace (a little worrier) asked, "What if we aren't at the airport when he lands his plane?"  I couldn't help but laugh and promised her we would SO be there.

Friday was a decent day and ended with a fun Pity Party with the other Spouse Club wives.  My scheduled sitter was unable to come over as planned after her son had to go to the doctor and was diagnosed with croup (Booooo)... so about 4 hours before the party started, I was looking for a sitter.  Talk about Navy wives stepping up and offering babysitter numbers of even offering to babysit themselves.  THANK YOU!  I had a good time visiting with the other wives and even starting to plan our Halfway Party.  You know it's a "short" deployment when you start talking about the Halfway Party at the Pity Party.

Standing like flamingos.
I was incredibly not looking forward to the first weekend without Paul.  The weekdays are one thing; Paul's usually at work all day long; often has night flights.  It's not entirely odd for us to go a few days without him home except for sleeping.  But the weekends are another story entirely.  That is our family time.  That is my alone time.  That is my catch-up on chores, errands, running around time.  No such luck without Paul Meyer.  So I decided we were going to start the weekend off right... we headed over to Eggs N Things for breakfast (the kids devoured their breakfast which is an added bonus).  Then I took them up to the Santa Barbara Zoo.  I had heard so many good things about the zoo, particularly that it is a great one for small kids and it is!  We had a great time.  Membership purchased!  By the time we came home it was naptime for Sam, followed by a little playtime and dinner, etc.

Sam trying to climb the sledding hill.
Today was church and I was so entirely greatful.  The kids enjoy time spent in the nursery/preschool class, and I get to spend sometime getting my mind focused on what/who it needs to be focused on.  I am blessed with an awesome church that has shown great support to Paul and I in the past few weeks, as well as great friendship in general no matter a looming deployment or not.  We came home, Sam napped, the big kids and I worked hard on cleaning up and folding laundry so we could play outside after Sam woke up.  Their behavior was awesome, so we headed out in the trusty Odyssey to see some Christmas lights.  It was a great end of Week One.

My house is a mess right now.  There is stuff - laundry piles, throw pillows, shoes, dolls - everywhere.  But I just can't do it all and I'm going to let it go tonight.  I got to write and that feels good. I will clean it up tomorrow and late tomorrow night by dad will be here!  Hooray for Big Al's visit!  Weeks Two-Five are going to be soooo fun.

P.S.  Come back tomorrow for an update on my workout results!

WEEK ONE: a quick review

THIS IS WAAAAAAAAY BUSIER THAN I ANTICIPATED!!!!!!!  Thought about blogging every single night... never got to it.  More later. Maybe.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let the countdown begin!

(An old photo of USS Abe Lincoln)
See the funny propellor on the left side of the bridge? That's the E2-C
This morning at 7am we said our 'good byes' to Paul.  The morning was hands-down the most difficult morning I have ever had.  It is one thing for a husband and wife to say good bye and it is an entirely different thing for a dad and kids to say good bye.  The emotions for Paul and I were definitely running high; there was sadness and there was overwhelming love.  The kids handled it well since they didn't really understand what our good byes were for.  Matthew and Grace knew Mommy and Daddy were feeling sad, but Matthew just tried to be goofy (the people pleaser) and Grace was just quiet (the non-emotional one).  Sam just played football.  I'm sure in the next few weeks, particularly after Christmas, they will realize that Paul isn't home yet and perhaps that is when they will begin to understand what "deployment" means.

While we got ready for school, I vascilated between weepy and okay.  Grace's teacher gave me a hug and I turned to a pile of mush.  I got to the gym and forced myself to run a mile and started to feel a lot better.  Luckily today was a training day with Steph and she had planned a heavy workout.  For one hour I focused on making my body do what Steph told me I had to do.  There is such relief in spending time with my brain turned off and pushing my little muscles to do more than they want to do.  By the end of the hour, I felt pretty wiped out with not much more energy to give to weepiness.  But then, I talked to my mom, and then there were a few more tears.  Eventually, the kids were home from school, lunch had been eaten, Sam was down for a nap, and I could take a nice long shower.  I took a short nap  and woke up feeling like a million bucks.

Monday nights are Small Group nights, so fortunately I had a babysitter lined up and was able to take a few hours with some wonderful friends from church.  When you can't be with your hubby, it is pretty darn good to be with good friends.  We even blew off doing the Bible study and played board games!  When you can't be with your hubby, it is really darn good to be with good friends and board games! I tucked the kids into bed when I came home, emailed a "good night" to Paul (who did indeed make it safely onboard earlier today) and now have an hour or so to relax. Not a bad ending to a not-so-happy day.

I am feeling relatively confident in our family's ability to make it through this deployment with a minimal amount of tears and stress and frustration.  (Knock on wood.) Paul and I have done quite a bit of prep work in getting ourselves "set up for success" and our expectations managed.

Our Deployment Survival Kit:
X Arm pillow for Betsy (picture will be posted on Friday)
X Build-a-Bears with Daddy's voice message for each kiddo (thanks for the idea, Ash!)
X A t-shirt of Paul's for each kid to snuggle with at night
X Jar o'Kisses from Daddy for each kid each night
X Pictures of all of each of us with Paul (for us and for him)
X Digital photo frame loaded with photos for Paul
X Envelopes/paper and color-coded stickers so the kids will see the sticker and know it's a card from Daddy for them.
X Lots of videos of Daddy reading nighttime books to the kids
X New camera for Mommy to take video of kids for Daddy (Merry Christmas, me!)

Deployment Expectations:
We will email every day assuming the email is up and running on the ship.
We will Skype when Paul is in port.
We will get a handwritten note from Paul (hopefully once a month - Paul, are you reading this?!) hee hee.
We will send mail to Paul every week... hopefully the aircraft carrier made a weight allowance for lots of finger-paintings and such from the Meyer kids.

....only 142 days left!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A little juxtaposition.....

(Tonight's is a deployment post, tomorrow's will be also - I'm sure, then we'll get back to normal life.)


  [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]  Show IPA
an act or instance of placing close together or side by side,especially for comparison or contrast.
the state of being close together or side by side.

My husband leaves, signaling the beginning of the end of his deployment.
My husband leaves, signaling the beginning of the end of my friend's husband's deployment.

Butterflies in my stomach thinking about him leaving. 
Butterfies in my stomach thinking about him coming home.

Not wanting to fall asleep on the night before deployment.
Not being able to fall asleep on the night before homecoming.

The clock ticking by too quickly during our last hours together.
The clock ticking by much too slowly during the last hours apart.

Wondering how I'm going to make it through the months without him.
Wondering how I DID make it through the months without him. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

***The randomness of the writing will be off-set by random pictures taken in the past few weeks while we've been savoring some Daddy Time***
Generally when I sit down to write, I think I have something to say or a point to make.  Tonight I am sitting down to get my emotions out so I can hopefully lessen the queasy feeling in my stomach.

Sam's expression sums up how I feel.
(He was fearing Santa in this photo)
Paul leaves for deployment on Monday morning.  It is Saturday night. We have all day tomorrow, tomorrow night, and then "good byes" the next morning.  He is currently upstairs with the three kids doing bath/books/bed time; I've passed this job on to him for the last week or so saying A.) he needs to get as many chances to tuck them into bed as he can, and B.) I desperately want a break before I am on full-time.  So while he is juggling two in the bathtub and one in the shower, I'm going to take a moment and try to get my head on straight.  

First and foremost, I need to write a disclaimer.... We are facing a 4 1/2 monther.  In Navy standards that is short, short, short.  I have several friends who have completed or are currently completing year-long IA deployments, a friend whose husband was on the ground in Afghanistan and participated in gun fights that were acknowledged on CNN. I have friends who had babies while their husbands were gone (one will be doing so during this cruise), a friend who solo-parented twins and kept down a full-time job, etc., etc., etc.  This deployment is not a WORST.  I do not think I'll be dealing with the WORST.  But, it is 4 1/2 months without my husband, and so..... I will write about it.

Matthew is Paul's biggest fan.
Today was kind of a weird day.  I didn't really know what I wanted to do..... should I hang out with my husband like I'm glued to his hip since I won't get to do that for awhile?  Should I hang out by myself all alone with no kids talking to me non-stop, since I won't get to do that for awhile?  Should I insist we get stuff done around the house since I have someone who can help me and I won't have that for awhile?  Should we go on a date?  Should we hang out as a family? Can I just sit here and stare into space?  Well, I guess thinking back on the day we did just about all of that... although, the "date" was the two of us on the couch watching Navy BEAT ARMY(!) while Sam napped, and Grace and Matthew miraculously played together really nicely for an hour or so.  (They were playing with Christmas ornaments off the tree which is not allowed, but who can blame us for letting that go when a 5 & almost-4-year-old are playing nicely together?! In the other room?!)

Getting in the Christmas spirit and
decorating the tree.
I kept asking Paul what he wanted to do, anything special? wanna eat something in particular? go somwhere? He just said, "Uh, nah." Hmmmmmm.  That is my non-dramatic husband for ya!  I would certainly make everything a big huge hairy deal if I were heading off to a metally, gray, cold aircraft carrier for four months.  But that's just me.  The good thing is that when he comes home and I try to make everything into a big, huge, hairy, perfect deal for his homecoming he won't be disappointed if anything isn't quite right.  He's my calm Mr. Steady. And oh, am I going to miss him!

The thing is, during the build-up to deployment I was worried about how I would wrangle three youngish kids on my own.  I know it won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know I can do it.  The thing that gives me that pit in my stomach is knowing that I won't get to share the moments with Paul.  I love love love him. (Which is really good, because we are married married married.)  We have had a bumpy patch or two in the past few years, nothing big, just normal-two-people-married-living-in-the-same-space-trying-to-raise-three-kids-yet-maintain-some-sort-of-individuality-yet-being-married thing. But we have sorted that out and I feel like the last few months have been so fabulous.  We've been on the same page, on the same team.  I just don't want him to go.  C'mon, really?! Do you HAVE to get on that boat????  I guess it's better than him getting court marshalled for going AWOL.  Which would probably lead to him getting kicked out of the Navy, which would definitely mean we would get kicked out of military housing, which would probably mean we would move somewhere else, and if you ask me pretty much NOWHERE is as pretty as here.  I would have to go get a job, the kids would have to go to daycare.... yeah, he should just go on deployment.

Feeling sleepy after dad came home
from work on Friday.

And speaking of "you should go on deployment" I can't really say this is a surprise..... You joined the Navy, go on a boat! Surprise!  We (yes, I mean "we," as in Paul and I) did make the choice for him to apply to become a department head which we knew would mean a deployment or two.  So, there really is nothing to complain about.... other that my husband not being home, not giving me hugs and kisses, not watching the kids learn new things, not spend time with our friends, not open Christmas gifts, not celebrate our anniversary with me, not take me on a date of Valentine's day, not drink green beer on St. Patrick's day, not help with the mess of dying Easter eggs with three kids.  Really.  It's fine.  NO IT'S NOT!

Whew. It's like a tennis match in my head.

Okay, but seriously, if this lifestyle is really so tough then why do I do it?  I've seen this answered many times, especially recently, on different articles and blogs.  But it all comes down to the fact that I wouldn't do this for anyone except Paul.  I love him more than dearly.... he is my very very best friend, and has been for a long long time.  The love I have for him when he is home, is a million times stronger than the loneliness when he is away.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Lucky Babies and Two Amazing Moms

Back to blogging.  It's been a few weeks since my last post.  I didn't really know what was worth writing about after my last post, and then life got busy and I just didn't find the time to write.  I'm back now.

I've been thinking a lot about MOMMIES lately.  Two short days ago, my sister had her first child, a darling darling little girl.  Two short weeks ago, my closest friend had her third child and asked my husband and I to be Godparents to their sweet baby boy.  What a joy to welcome these two precious babies into the world!  Unfortunately, I'm only able to "welcome" the two new bundles with flowers via FTD, phone calls, and texts.  My heart is sad that I cannot be there in person, but I know that my friend and sister know I would be there if I could.  We are family.

My sister and I have had a close relationship for as long as I can remember.  Sure, we had our fights and arguments; she drove me  up the wall a few times (of course, I'm sure I never drove her up the wall).  But we have never really had a rocky patch of any significance.  K and I are only 19 months apart; she being the older, yet shorter, sister.  For my entire life, I have had a best friend.  What a comfort to have her next to me on the school bus in grade school, across the ice during kicklines in ice shows, behind home plate while standing on the pitcher's mound, somewhere in the building during the drama of high school.  She's always had my back, including yelling at an ex-boyfriend of mine... who later became my husband! She was my maid of honor and the first extended-family member to meet my first baby.  She is everything a big sister is supposed be.  They say you can choose your friends but not your family.... I'm sure I would have chosen her anyway.

My friend, M, and I are not family by blood or marriage.  We are family by Navy.  Our history doesn't go way way back, but starts in 2005.  At the time we met, P was finishing up his first deployment and M's husband had joined our squadron.  We chatted it up the first time we met and I remember thinking, "she seems cool." (It was "buddy at first sight.") Over the next few months, we hung out with each other often and bonded over Spouse Club meetings/silliness/drama/wine. Our friendship grew even closer when we ended up pregnant just one month apart from eachother and our husbands left on deployment when I was about 8 weeks along and M was... well, she found out the morning the guys left.  Anyone lucky enough to have a best friend by their side and go through a pregnancy and a deployment at the same time and live about 5 blocks away from each other... wait, has anyone else experienced this?!... knows that God could not have blessed us more.  We both lost our highly-functioning brains at the same time and enjoyed those incredibley dumb moments together.  We missed our husbands together and planned theme parties to distract us.  We may not really be "family," but in the military-spouse world the difference between family and friend tends to blur.  She too is everything a sister should be.

So, my niece and godson were born just two weeks apart.  They both get to be surrounded by the love of an amazing woman.  They will grow up with a Momma who is strong, intelligent, opinionated, funny, loving, kind, caring, amazing.  I know those babies are going to grow up to be strong, intelligent, opinionated, funny, loving, kind, caring, amazing people.  I look forward to watching these tiny (and not-so-tiny-but-very-very-handsome) babies grow up and learn from my sister and "sister."  I wonder what the relationship between the children and moms will look like; I am confident they will be awe-inspiring.  I'm sure there will be trying times, but knowing the K & M like I do, I know they will sail through those storms with wisdom and genuine selflessness.  Motherhood is a challenge like no other, but there is no doubt my two best friends are going to succeed.  I am blessed to know these two incredible women.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Black Friday Shopping Works for Me

It is nearly impossible for me to get myself out of bed before 6am, except on Black Friday.  I pop right out of bed while its dark - not even close to the sun coming up - get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and am pulling out of the driveway within twenty minutes.  I have done the Black Friday shopping thing for the last three years and anticipate doing it for several more.

I'm not a crazy shopper and have never gotten to the stores early enough to stand in line waiting for the doors to open.  I'm not dedicated to one type of product enough to snatch it out of another person's cart.  I'm definitely not competitive enough to ever use pepper spray on my fellow shoppers.  Those are all just wrong.... literally not-right.  I do not understand why anyone would do those things.  Seems like a terrible way to start the Christmas season, if you ask me!  I will always spend my Thanksgiving day in the comfort of my home, eating delicious food with the people I love, NOT in a tent outside of Target.  I will always remember two rules in our household while I'm shopping: "No snatching." and "You get what you get, and you don't have a fit." And really, I have nothing to say about not using pepper spray since that just seems like common sense. 

So off I go into the "craze" of Black Friday, equiped with my coffee and a list.  This year was a piece of cake as it seems most people went out late on Thanksgiving and by 6am on Black Friday it was pretty calm.  It was actually more calm than any other day.  I went to Toys R Us first, since I had to pick up a toy that I had bought online (wait til you see what it is... on Christmas morning, I'll post a picture) and the parking lot was hardly full at all.  I got a few little goodies for the kids.  I put back several things I had initially picked up after thinking to myself "do I want to be picking this up day after day?" 

After Toys R Us, I headed to HomeGoods since I had a gift card to use there.  Obviously this is not a big "toy" spot, so it too was pretty empty.  I, however, got a good deal on some toys for the extended family kids and a bonus is that they are more unique than the toys at the big box stores.  I also picked up a few holiday decor items, much to my husband's chagrin.  Do we need more holiday towels?! Yes we do!  Plus, it was all paid for by a gift card, so it was kind of "free." Next, I stopped at Best Buy, but that wasn't really for Christmas shopping, I just needed a memory card for my camera. Then it was off to the outlet stores and the beginning of the craziness.  Talk about a busy parking lot and people all over the place. I was able to get some really great deals on a few outfits for the kids and high tailed it out of there.  

Anyway, so what's the point of shopping at the break of dawn on Black Friday?  For me, the best part is that I'm all done Christmas shopping.  I got a few good deals, and that's a bonus, but most importantly I get to spend the next three weekends spending time with my family, decorating the house, visiting Santa, making cookies, talking about the real reason for Christmas with the kids.  To me, that makes the whole Black Friday shopping ideal. The commercialized part was finished almost before it began; I got what I needed to get and I didn't have a fit.  And now I get to spend the rest of the Christmas season with those that I love the most and focusing on the many blessings we have in our lives. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My thoughts on the "Penn State Scandal"

So I'm sitting here not sure about how to write this one.

The child sex abuse scandal at Penn State is absolutely atrocious.  I know there are many many people that are justifiably irrate about what happened, how long it happened, how many people knew it had happened and did nothing, etc.  There is nothing 'okay' about the situation and just writing about it makes my palms sweaty, my throat tighten, and my stomach ache. And I have to write about it.

The thing is, I was sexually abused when I was a small child.  The abuse happened over approximately 4 years, starting at an age when I shouldn't even be able to recall memories, but I do.  My experience was pretty standard;  there was a family 'friend' who was trusted, not only by my parents but by the entire community and in the end, he should not have been trusted at all.

All I can think about right now when I see stuff about victims is that we MUST learn something from this.  We can't just sit around and talk about how mad we are that this could happen or write on Facebook about who should/shouldn't get fired.  We have to somehow use this situation to put us in a better position to not allow this to happen again. Ever. I am no expert, but I have survived abuse... so here are my thoughts:

Behavior  between an adult and a child that appears inapporpriate, most likely IS inappropriate.  I would bet in most cases, the child knows it is inappropriate too.  And the child probably wants it to stop, but doesn't know how to make it stop.  You do.  So do it. Put yourself out there, speak up, and stay with the child until the situation is resolved.

I know it might be intimidating to approach the situation, particularly if you are alone and witnessing the behavior.  However, the situation is no more intimidating for you than it is for the child.

If you are concerned that the behavior is not what it appears to be and you are worried about insulting the adult, ask yourself the following:
     * Is there EVER a reason for an adult and child to be alone in a questionable situation?
     * Would you want your child in this situation?
     * Which is worse, insulting the feelings of an adult or scarring a child for life?

Now, I'm not saying everyone should be going around pointing fingers at others and making allegations of molestation.  Obviously, use your head and your good judgement.  Approach the situation carefully and tactfully. But NEVER EVER put the adult's career, wealth, or community standing above the rights of that child.

I can say from experience, that young kids know that any sort of abuse is "wrong." It is not supposed to happen.  For a young child, the only way to make sense of the situation is to internalize it and assume it is happening because of something they did.  Obviously, that line of thinking is so completely wrong, but it is just what happens in the mind of the child.  I grew up with unclear memories of my abuse.   However, as long as I can remember I felt there was something "dirty" or "wrong" about me.  I hated myself (I remember writing, "I HATE ME" on a ruler in 3rd grade) but knew I wasn't supposed to feel that way, so I then hated myself more for feeling that way... and so goes the cycle of just another thing wrong with me.    IF you do nothing to stop a sex offender from hurting a child you are essentially telling that child, "Yep.  You are not worth it to me to step out of my comfort zone and say something."  YOU will be doing the damage too.

I read the Grand Jury Report from the Sandusky case last night.  Soooooo many people "can't remember," "don't recall," are "unsure" about what was said exactly and when.  That is crap. Completely stinky crap. If you find yourself in the terrible position of witnessing a child being abused, I'm sorry, but you need to take responsibility.  Make a report in writing, keep a copy for your records, and follow-up with the authorities on what is happening.  If they aren't giving you information, follow-up with someone else.  Write down who you spoke with and when.

My parents spoke to us about abuse.  I do NOT blame my parents one tiny bit for what happened to me.  They were diligent, loving, very involved in our lives.  No one could blame them.  So I do not write this as "I wish my parents had done this differently" but as "This is something I have learned from my experience."
    * Do not say "Sexual abuse is 'bad' or 'wrong'." When I was abused, I knew it was bad.  When my parents told me it was bad, I thought that I had done the "bad" thing.   I prefer to say something along the lines of "If someone touches you in your private areas, you need to tell mommy because it's mommy's job to keep you safe."
    * To some extent, allow tattling. I know it gets really obnoxious when you spend all day listening to, "Johnnie is eating Suzy's cookie," "Bobby just threw his toy," "Mo-om, Tommy won't share with me." But you also need your child to know that (s)he can ALWAYS come tell you when someone is doing something they are not supposed to.  They need to know they have a safe place to tattle when tattling needs to be done.  In our house, we try to establish a "thank you for telling me, is anyone getting hurt? if not, please try to work this out on your own" response.
    * Remind your children as much as you can that there is NOTHING they could ever do to make you stop loving them.  There is NOTHING that could ever happen that would make you leave them on purpose.  No matter what happens, you are ALWAYS their mommy/daddy and NOTHING could ever change that.  I was told I would be sent away if I told my parents.  I believed it.  My parents were incredibley loving and reassuring, so I'm not sure what else they could have done. I just keep telling my kids that they are always safe in our family, that we will always love them even if someone says we don't, in the hopes that it will be so engrained in their little hearts that no one could ever make them doubt.
    * I know it is a very scary thing to talk to your kids about, but I believe if you do it calmly and repeatedly, your kids will not have to grow up being afraid but AWARE of the dangers in the world.

Schools and other child/teen organizations need to realize that child sexual abuse is happening and those children desperately need a place to go to report the abuse. The children need to know they will be taken seriously and their reports will be pursued.  If it could become common knowledge that a child in an abusive situation had a variety of outlets to report the crime, maybe just maybe that would hinder the offender.

This has been a difficult topic for me to write about.  I wasn't sure how much I wanted to share, or if I should share at all.  I have decided to limit the details of my particular experience; it is a part of my life that I am not ashamed of or want to deny, however I am not ready to put those details out into the great unknown of the internet.  

I do ask that if you have conversations about the Penn State scandal with your friends or co-workers
... please remember that the BIG DEAL of all this is not a college football team's coaching staff. The BIG DEAL is that there are many many victims and there will continue to be victims if we don't get honest about what is going on and have the courage to take steps to make it stop.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Making Some Progress

So I had two back-to-back personal training sessions.  Today I can barely type.  Everything hurts.

During my session yesterday I came to the realization that I was having a bit of trouble making it through the workouts without getting down on myself.  I thought, "Man, I'm just so tired of sucking at all this." I talked to my trainer about it and told her how frustrating it was to feel so weak day after day.  I acknowledge that I'm only 9 sessions in... but that's 9 hours of feeling like a wimp.  Steph confidently told me I had been improving and she could see it.  She also pointed out that I'm not paying her to make easy work outs for me. True, true.  When we finished up the workout, she told me she would go back and look up what I did during my first workout with her and we would do it again. She guaranteed me it would be easy.

So when I met with her today (after running a mile on the treadmill - which I hadn't been able to do without A LOT of complaining and contemplating quitting just a few weeks ago) Steph told me we were going to do bits and pieces of my first two work outs... with a little tweaking to make sure I would still get a good workout today.

First up were planks with jumping jacks (plank position on hands and toes, then jump legs apart and together).   First session I had to do 10... and I barely made it through.  Today, I did 30. I was panting a bit, but I did them without stopping.  Yes! The second set of these today I had to add "up downs" where I go from being on two hands, down to my elbows, and back up again, in between each jack.

Second, sitting on the mat I leaned back about halfway (probably less than that at the end), knees bent, feet off the ground.  She tossed a medicine ball at me, I caught it, tapped it on the ground to the right then the left, and then tossed it back to her.  Three weeks ago I couldn't hold my feet up and we did 10 with a lighter ball; today I managed to keep my feet up and we used a heavier ball.  I admit I had to take a break or two though.

The session went on and on, the exercises became more and more difficult and less and less like my first session, but I got the point,  I've made some strides; gained some strength and endurance. Most importantly, I have had a mental shift from "there's NO WAY I can finish this and I don't want to try," to "I'll give it a go, not sure I'll make it through all the reps without stopping, but I can push through it."

It's nice to know these sessions are working. I'm getting stronger and learning an important lesson about what I am capable of doing.  Meanwhile, I can hardly move!

***I just took a photo of my sneakers since they are my training partners and are "with me every step of the way," but my camera battery died while trying to upload it.***

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Case of PDD - Pre-Deployment Dread

And so begins the countdown clock.  Deployment will begin in a month, give or take (please, please give) a day or two.  Every military family knows the dates will wibble and wobble based on ship movements and who gets to fly-on or walk-on; but a month is pretty much what we are looking at.  It seems like a long time and a short time... all at the same time.  With each day, though, the knot in the pit of my stomach grows and is more difficult to ignore.  It's a severe case of Pre-Deployment Dread.

If you are unfamiliar with PDD, let me break it down for you*:

Causes: PDD is generally caused by an upcoming military deployment.  In most cases, the severity of the dread is directly related to the length of the aforementioned deployment.

Types: PDD can be present in two differing, yet quite similar forms:
              A. Actual Pre-Deployment Dread: This form is evident when a deployment date is real and set     on the calendar. (A)PDD shows more consistent and long-lasting symptoms.  Oftentimes, symptoms are intense and experienced on a daily basis.
             B. Rumored/Hypothetical Pre-Deployment Dread: This form of PDD is experienced when military spouses have discussions with other military spouses or their spouse about the possibility of a deployment.  At times this dread can show itself when a military spouse is sitting alone and just thinking of possibilities in their spouse's career. (R/H)PDD has symptoms that generally last only as long as the discussion/day-dreaming session. (R/H)PDD can prove to be as intense as (A)PDD.

Symptoms: A person experiencing PDD may experience all or some of the following:
      * An undeniable knot in the pit of your stomach making you feel like you may 'toss your cookies' at any moment.
      * Always being on the brink of tears and never quite knowing when they are going to get tired of waiting just beneath the surface and erupt.
      * An intense need to hang on to your spouse when giving hugs.... just about when a "normal" hug would end, you just need to hang on a little bit longer.
      * The inability to complete a chore during the day without thinking of the next stretch of months when you will be doing the chore alone.
      *  Continually looking at the calendar and doing mental math as to how many more weeks or days you have until D-Day.
      * Grumpily picking up supplies to make calendar squares.
      * Day-dreaming of holidays and family celebrations that you will celebrate with your 'better half' half a world away... and either feeling super-sad, super-irritated,  or super-bold in your determination to make it a fun celebration anyway... or feeling all three emotions at the same time.
      * Alternating between a deep sense of pride in the military branch that your family is serving in and a deep sense of hatred; always knowing full well you will circle back around to the pride.
      * Making many mental lists of how you are going to improve yourself, organize your house, keep your kids busy, stay in touch with your spouse, and somehow enjoy the deployment.
      * Making many metal lists of how you are going to stretch out in the bed at night, watch whatever you want to on television, eat popcorn for dinner if you so feel like it, and not pick up dirty underwears off the floor.
      * Snapping at your spouse for no particular reason, while knowing deep down it's just because you don't want him to leave.

Diagnosis: If you answer "yes" to these three questions, you can go ahead an diagnose yourself with PDD:
1. Is/Will your spouse be deployed in the future?
2. Do you feel grumpy, sad, and dread-ful about it?
3. Are you experiencing any of the listed symptoms?

Treatment: Treatment for PDD varies depending on each person's personality.  Some treatments include:
       * Allow yourself a Day of Dread. Just wallow in it for a bit but tell yourself you're going to have to get over it.
       * When suffering the symptom of needing longer hugs from your spouse, go ahead and hug longer. Hug more often.
       * Make those mental lists into real lists that you can add to instead of re-hashing them in your mind.
       * Talk to another military spouse about how your feeling, but make sure it doesn't turn into a complete complain fest for you both... otherwise symptoms will most likely increase.
       * Talk to your spouse about your dread.  (I highly recommend beginning this conversation with something along the lines of, "I'm not mad at YOU and I'm not blaming you, I know you would stay home if you could.  I just want to tell you how I feel.")
       * Pray about it.  No one on Earth understands you better than the Big Guy Upstairs.
       * Go shopping, but instead of picking up random things, try to come up with something that will be useful during the deployment.  (a workout DVD, a long-term craft, cards to mail to the hubster, a bottle of wine for each month of deployment, whatever works for you... )
       * Accept that it just sort of SUCKS right now, but before long you'll be experiencing Deployment Daze and then Homecoming Highs.

*PLEASE NOTE: this is completely made up and is just what is floating through my head when I'm not making mental lists of Things I will Hate During Deployment and Things I will Enjoy During Deployment.  If you are experiencing real-life symptoms of depression, please please please respect that and go talk to your doctor about it. 

And in honor of my PDD, here's a picture of my most-favorite Deployer (from two years & one kid ago... but it's my ultimate favorite photo):


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Results Are In

POUNDAGE: the same... not one little difference on the scale
BODY FAT %: down 1% - I feel great about this
INCHES: a little bit here and there, but the biggest change was a 1/2 inch off my waist (around the ribs) and 1 inch off my other waist (around my belly button)

Feeling good for two weeks.  Now I need to focus on my eating.  Much more motivated when I see results.   More weight loss news to come in two more weeks at next weigh-in (scale only... we do measurements monthly).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Remember that Weight Loss Goal?

So I got pretty distracted from my weight loss goal during September.  There was always something else to think about, focus on, and keep me out of the gym.  I honestly don't even know if I made it into the gym one time during the month.  Bah.

However, once we arrived in California, I was pumped to get back on track and continue where I left off. I had read a few friends' Facebook posts about great Zumba classes so I decided that was the gym I would join.  I'm proud to announce I am a new member of 24-Hour Fitness. I also decided that I had proved to myself (and the blogging world) that I can NOT do this on my own and decided to throw caution to the budget wind and hire a personal trainer.  When I was signing up I was pretty much putty in their hands and followed their suggestions.  I have a trainer hired for 3 days per week for 8 weeks.  It's go time.

Holy cow, I have NEVER worked out so hard in my entire life.  I used to think that I knew how to work out. I did not.  Steph has me doing box jumps, jump ropes, frog jumps, and wall jumps.  She has me doing regular planks, high-low planks, and (for the love of pete) walking planks.  She has me hating burpies, burpies, burpies, and more burpies. I've bear walked around the gym, sprinted then push-up-ed, boxed and kick-boxed, lunged throughout the cardio machines, ran on a treadmill, walked backwards on the treadmill, and even PULLED the stinkin' treadmill with my hands.

I used to be able to run a quick errand at Target after working out... not anymore, my friends.  I had to go buy new shirts to workout in because cotton tanks just don't cut it anymore.  I am a sweaty gross mess.  Pushing myself so hard and finding out what I am actually capable of is pretty awesome but I disgust myself with my own stench.

Tomorrow is my first measurement day since signing up two weeks ago.  I added one extra training session this past Saturday, so I have completed a total of 8 sessions with Steph.  I'm feeling stronger in just two weeks but am doubtful about the actual weight loss.  It usually takes a month or so to see the results show up on the scale so I have pretty low expectations.  I'm getting a lot of motivation from seeing a bit less pudge and a little more muscle, and have my sights set on FINALLY getting back to wedding weight!

'Til tomorrow....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

TBMAC - "Home Is...

So way back when we came out to California for house-hunting, we signed a lease on an almost-perfect home in the off-base military housing.  It wasn't quite our 1st choice, but after taking a look at the location and lay-out we were happy with it and signed a lease.  It was where the Navy sent us.  Then, on the night before our packers were to arrive we recieved a phone call from the Housing Office telling us that they were going to break our lease because the home was no longer available (long story short).  After about 24 hours of pitching a bit of a fit/panic attack/freak out, I came to grips with the fact that our 2nd choice for a home was not going to be a choice any longer. On to our 3rd choice, it's where the Navy sent us. 

So the Navy Housing assigned us to this home, the Personal Property worked to get our household goods delivered (a bit late, but delivered none-the-less), and it is our job to grow our family here.  

Although this home was not our first choice, I am really quite pleased with it.  It is smaller than our previous home in Maryland so we have a bit of a "Lots of Furniture in Every Room" motif going on.  You want a place to sit?!  You can sit here or here or here or here or here or here! Anywhere! However, that will be good for entertaining, right? Hosting spouse club meetings, playgroups, parties, visitors from the East Coast (hint hint, you know who you are) will all be easy in this home.  That is where my heart is. I love having people in my home; I am an extrovert and can't deny it. 

Our home has four bedrooms, and we are blessed to be able to give each of our kiddos their own room.  Grace gets a frilly girl room with a fuzzy pink toile bedspread, Matthew got a new bunk bed and gets to choose if he wants to sleep on top or bottom every single night, and Sam will get to sleep in a big boy twin bed as soon as he's ready (we tried last night... we found him under his crib... he's not ready). I have really enjoyed making each room a special place for each kid, and they loved helping put things in their new places.  That is where my heart is.  I love embracing each child's unique personality and flare.

My husband has been on leave for two weeks and we got to set-up our home TOGETHER.  We have one more month and a few days before he heads out on deployment and I am grateful for the time we get to spend with him.  He is where my heart is. 

I'm so happy that the Navy has sent us here, that it is an "accompanied" tour and our family gets to be together, and Paul is home for a few more weeks!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

TBMAC - From California (MD) to California

A LOOK BACK ON HOW WE GOT WHERE WE ARE.... (This dates back to October 7-11)

The day after our household goods took off, Paul got into our mini-van and started his Trek (yes, with a capital "T") across the country.  Here is his timeline:
     * Saturday: California, MD - Little Rock, AR
     * Sunday: Little Rock, AR - Albuquerque, NM
     * Monday: Albuquerque, NM - Camarillo, CA

What?!  That's c.r.a.z.y.  But he did it and he made it there safely.  And I think, maybe just maybe, he enjoyed the peace and quiet. 

 Peace and quiet?! Who needs that? Not me. I got to fly with the three kids... for five hours. 

Ready to head to the airport
First and foremost, hats off to my mom who watched the kids pretty much all day for two days on her own while I cleaned out our house for the new renters.  On Monday, we headed up to Alexandria, VA, to stay closer to Reagan International Airport where we would be flying out of on Tuesday morning.  Monday was a good day and we had a nice time walking down King Street and letting the kids get some energy out. A good night's sleep at the Residence Inn in Alexandria was had by all.

With some strategic packing and organizing, and almost losing the rental van in the parking garage, we made it to Reagan at 7am.

7-7:05am: I take the three kids, two suitcases, a HUGE duffle bag with two booster seats, Sam's carseat, a diaper bag, a tote bag, Grace and Matthew's two backpacks into the terminal.  Mom takes her luggage with her and returns the van. 

7:05-7:20am: While Mom is on her way back from the rental place, I take the kids to check our bags with the help of a very grumpy Alaskan Airlines guy.  Thank you, AA, for letting military dependents traveling on orders check 5 pieces of luggage for free!

7:20-7:30am: Meet back up with Mom, corral the kids, walk all the way down to the elevators, go down one level, walk all the way back to the security checkpoint for our gates.

7:30-7:50am: Secuirty.  Yep. I knew that security would be the most difficult part of this whole day.  Trying to get our bags organized on the conveyor, telling the kids to take off their shoes (wore slip-on shoes on purpose), being told the kids do NOT need to take off their shoes, me trying to take the DVD player, the iPad, and the lap-top out of my tote bag, Grace FREAKING out (screaming "Mommy! Mommy! I'm scared!"), me trying to console her, my Mom trying to get her to go through the x-ray machine, Matthew looking back and forth not knowing what to do, Sam trying to catapult out of my arms while I lift the stroller onto the conveyor...... 

7:50-7:55am: Post-security Calm Down.  With all of our bags reloaded and our caravan walking down toward our gate, I am pretty proud of myself that we made it through.... and that I had thought ahead and wore a shirt that couldn't get "pitted out" because I was sweat-y!

7:55-8am: Mom and I herd the kids down to the gate; Sam in the stroller, Grace and Matthew holding on to the stroller and walking incredibley slowly while leaning forward because their backpacks were "sooooo heavy," and Mom pulling her roll-y suitcase and carrying Sam's carseat.  I can hear every person in the gate saying a prayer that we weren't going to be on their flight. 

8-830am: After arriving at the gate, we pick up a little breakfast for the kids and let them wander around for a bit.  I am hoping they burn off some extra excitement energy and are tired on the plane.  We get the tag for the stroller, talk to the nice lady at the check-in gate about getting all of us on the plane, and take one last bathroom stop.
Here we are... our last group photo in Maryland.
I think everyone around us was just trying to ignore the bit of circus that we were.
8:30am: We say our good-bye's and thank you's to Grandma Chris, and the kids and I get on the plane.  We have three seats right next to each other and then one across the aisle.  Sam is put next to the window since he is in his carseat, then it's supposed to be Matthew, Me, and Grace across the aisle.  Grace ended up having another bit of a meltdown and Matthew switched seats with her... what a sweet brother.  While Grace sat there shaking her head and whimpering, "I don't like this, I don't like this, let me go with daddy" Matthew just kept saying, "It's OK, Grace. You can have my seat."  Awww. Thanks buddy.

M is good to go!
G & S ready for take-off!
9:10am: In the air. Grace leans over with her hands on her ears and eyes closed, Sam kicks the seat in front of him, and Matthew looks as excited and terrified as I had ever seen him.  

9:15am: After holding Sam's feet and telling him not to kick the seat in front of him - and him just kicking it harder and smiling (I love that stage... grrrr) I decide to just apologize to the lady in front of him and offer to buy her a beverage of her choice if she wants.  Soon, the novelty wears off and Sam keeps his feet still.

915-10:15am: All's well; Grace and Matthew color, eat cookies from the flight attendant, Sam screams for a bit (more sweaty moments) and then falls asleep around 10am.  I pull out my magazine...nice.

10:20am: Sam's awake.  WHAT?! No. Way. Matthew has to go potty. So up we go to use the ever so user-friendly airplane bathroom. 

10:25am: Back in our seats and Sam screams when I put him in his seat.... if you know him, you know his scream... it makes my ear drums rattle. I do not kid about this.  I can't fight this on an airplane.  In goes the pacifier and there goes my magazine.

10:25-2pm EST/7:25 - 11am PST:  I am a jungle gym for Sam. He starts on the floor in front of his seat, climbs into his seat, into my lap, laughs at the lady behind us, then crawls out of my lap and starts again.  Grace and Matthew decide to take the two aisle seats and entertain themselves quite nicely with videos and the iPad.  Only problem arises when they are wearing their headphones and talk to me REALLY loudly.  Sam poops which means, of course, I get to change a diaper in the every so user-friendly airplane bathroom.  Matthew also needs to poop, so that's another trip to my favorite part of the airplane. Grace and Matthew eat 6 cookies each from the flight attendant.

2-2:20pm EST/11 - 11:20am PST: Pilot announces that we are beginning our decent. HOORAY! Grace and Matthew fall asleep. Seriously.

12:00pm PST  WE ARE IN CALIFORNIA. We made it!  I'm not confident that the people in front of us had a very good flight with all the jostling around, but honestly... I'm pulling the "Navy Family Moving Across the Country with Three Young Kids" card. There's only so much we can do.  

My motto for the trip was "Five difficult hours on a plane, is sooo much better than SIX LONG DAYS in the car driving from Maryland to California."

After the flight was over the kids had this to say:

Grace: "Mom, that wasn't so bad. I was afraid of my ears popping off, but it wasn't even a pinch. It was just like a little bird in my ear poked me. It didn't even hurt!"  (So, maybe I shouldn't have told her about ears popping during take-off and landing... I think it freaked her out.)

Matthew: "That was awesome. When can we fly again?!" (Not until Sam is a lot older, buddy.)