Friday, July 19, 2013

How Fear and Anxiety Stalled My Labor

So, I'm super pumped!  I just wrote a guest post for a great blog called Modern Alternative Pregnancy.  I'm excited to start sharing more about my experiences with natural birth on my blog too.  Lots more to come, Friends!  I've written a post before about my husband being deployed for the birth of our third child, M, but this article gives a more detailed account about exactly what I learned and how I got through it all!  Hope any pregnant moms out there are encouraged by reading this.

  Check it out here!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rest for the Weary

It’s been much too long since I’ve posted.  So much has occupied my time since November!  Holy cow, that was eight months ago.  Back then, I thought my husband would be deploying in January.  I had mentioned in a previous post about the squadron that we were assigned to for his Department Head tour was a squadron full of great people, even if it meant that the deployment schedule was not ideal.  K was deployed from July 29, 2011-February 26, 2012.   And even after that, he was in and out all spring and summer of 2012 with the air wing and ship.  Finally mid-July he flew off that steel bucket, and joined the family for a week in Tahoe.  It was day-1 in Tahoe when we found out which squadron we were heading to next.  I was a mess knowing that he’d be in and out again all of the fall and then deploying in January. But before all of that started up AGAIN, we learned that he didn’t have to report until late August, so for six weeks, we had him all to ourselves.  Time to rest, so I thought.  But a January deployment was still too soon for me to really relax.  I was anxious, angry and heart-broken… but I didn’t know it.  The Lord was beginning to do some work on us.

K went to Fallon in August, missed M’s first birthday (if you recall, he missed her birth too.), and came home discouraged.  He was home for a few weeks, then back out on the ship for what seemed like FOREVER, even though it was only five weeks in October.  He came home even more discouraged.  We believed that the Lord had brought us to this squadron for a reason… or many reasons.  We just couldn’t see them all yet.  I’ve experienced this mystery time and time again, but I think this go-round was different.  The first night K was home, we sat up talking late into the night about his frustrations, his epiphanies, his hopes for his career, personalities in the squadron, etc. I left that conversation feeling very burdened for him… The Lord through Paul extolls us to bear one another’s burdens, and, to be honest, I was really feeling the load.  We went to bed, but I didn’t fall asleep right away, tossing with all kinds of thoughts.  I finally drifted off, but it wasn’t long before I shot awake, and just started crying… trying not to wake K by sobbing in the sheet, but when that proved futile, I went into our bathroom and sat on the toilet seat with hot tears streaming down my cheeks. And I prayed.  I whispered out loud to the Lord, “Why?  Why is this so hard? I know you are here to comfort me, but I am angry.  So angry. I’m angry that he has to leave so soon.  I’m angry that he’s so tired and burned out. I know you will do what’s best for us, but I just can’t see it yet.”  At that moment, I truly felt the arm of the Lord wrap me in a warm embrace and whisper back, “I’m here.” The tears of anger became tears of relief, as I sat in my Father’s arms.  And then the verses just started coming...  Rest for the weary.  Peace for the anxious heart.  Love for the lost.  He is all of these things.  My Lord is greater than my circumstances.  As I sat there, this old song came to me that we used to sing in high school youth group… the lyrics go something like this: “Rest for the weary.  Peace for the confused.  Renewal for the heart that has been used. He’s got directions for the lost.  Faith for unbelief.  He’s got every little think you need.”  So I got up at 3:45AM, grabbed my journal and Bible and went to our guest bathroom so I could turn on a light.  I sat down on the floor and scrambled through the concordance to find the addresses of all the verses that were gong through my head.  Matthew 11:28 Rest for the weary.  Isaiah 55:8-9 His ways are higher than mine.  Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.  Psalm 62:1  My soul finds rest in God alone.  REST.  That is where my prayers landed.  My husband needed REST.  Solid rest and real renewal for his heart and soul and spirit.  Isaiah 30:15  In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength… Jer 6:16 Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  I claimed all of these verses as true and real and applicable to our current season.  I wrote in my journal: trust and rest in Him alone.  My heart aches for my kids and for K.  I’m not excited about deployment – obviously. But I didn’t realize how angry I was… and broken-hearted.

Then the Lord started to move again... and He showed me without a doubt, that He heard me and was indeed responding to my prayers for rest.  Just about five days after K returned and I had had this hard talk with the Lord at 4AM, K came home from work with news that the deployment originally scheduled for January, was now pushed to April!  At first, if you can believe it, I was so irritated!  For two reasons: 1), I just wanted this deployment to start and be over with ASAP.  2) K’s sister is getting married in the fall, and we had just gone through an ordeal getting the right date scheduled in order to hopefully ensure K’s attendance.  With the deployment pushed back, he would surly miss it. But then I remembered, or should I say, I was reminded, that I had prayed for rest.  And we were now getting three months of it!  My attitude instantly changed, after this humbling realization.  So, I thought, if He can move deployment, he can also certainly shorten it.  And that’s what I started praying for: a shorter deployment.  A week or so later… you guessed it… a shortened deployment was announced.   Unheard of.  Now I know, and you know, that dates in the military are written in Jell-O; however, after all of this, I am holding on to the possibility that it might actually happen the way it’s scheduled now.  K might actually still make it to his only sister’s wedding.  

Christmas was fabulous at home with our kids.  January saw a fun trip up the PCH to Monterey, where we witnessed M’s first steps!  And the kids just LOVED the aquarium.  K did another boat det in February… missed Valentine’s Day again.  Then K’s sister and fiancé J came to visit, and we celebrated their engagement and upcoming nuptials.  My parents joined us for the March birthday whirlwind, when C turned 5, E turned 3 and K turned 29 again all in a span of 48 hours!  Then we had about two weeks as a family.  M started talking a little more, and K had a chance to do a little presentation as a Community Helper at C & E’s preschool with his flight gear!  Next thing I know, I’m doing last minute laundry and K is packing up his sea bags.  Even though the time went quickly, K did experience REST and renewal, thanks to the only One who can provide true rest and peace.  K & I both agreed that this shifting of deployment was certainly God’s provision for our family, and that this deployment was a season to be consecrated to the Lord, knowing that He has work to do in us to prepare us for His service.  We committed to prayer for our future in the Navy and to our kids as they grow in the Lord.

So, here we are, two months into deployment.  And our Rest has been faithful to us.  As always. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Can you relate to my feelings of anger or heart-brokenness?  Has the Lord met you in that place?  Maybe you’ve never thought to seek your Heavenly Father, who cares for you and always gives you what’s best… if you are experiencing what I did, would you consider His help?  All you have to do is ask.  He will meet you, no matter your state of heart or mind.  He can handle it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Support of the Home Front: Follow-Up

So, you all came through with great ideas!!  I mean, really great.  There are a few that I definitely want to employ that I never would have thought of without your input.  And I’m sure there are even more ideas out there. Here are the ones that you supplied on Facebook.  I posted in a few places, so I’m combining all the information here.  Thanks again for brainstorming with me!

For churches and volunteer groups:

1.     Adopt-a-Military Family:  This program can be whatever you want it to be, but basically, a non-military family “adopts” a military family to help with whatever needs that family might have.  You’ll need a POC (point of contact), advertisement/communication and some ROE (rules of engagement, come on, you knew that one!), so that everyone involved knows what to expect. The non-military family is the go-to for babysitting, lawn mowing, whatever.  It can be just during deployments, which is fine, or for as long as you’re at your duty station… wouldn’t it be great to have a local family that you can connect with for your whole tour?  Fun.

2.     Groups of local volunteers who serve once a month on base or off base military neighborhoods (ex. Lincoln Military Housing):  This idea was new to me, and I think it’s great.  So, for example, if a group wants to help with yard care one day during the month, they could contact a point person on the base or in the neighborhood to get out the date and time to folks, and have them sign up with their address.  Preference, of course, for the deployed service members families.  Maybe the next month is washing cars… pick your theme.  It could even be just random task day.  Some times you just need that extra hand to scrub that crayon off the wall, because you’ve been looking at it for weeks, but forget about it every time you leave the room.  The ideas are endless, and can be combined with any listed below.

3.     Parent’s Night Out:  Find a volunteer with a large house or an available church Sunday school room, and take on some kids so that single parent can have a night out!  This is best for elementary aged kids with later bedtimes.

4.     List of Babysitters: Churches or even FFSC could help by providing a list of trusted sitters.  I know is free to military families, but for some reason, I haven’t opted to use that yet.  I prefer to get my sitters via word-of-mouth from a trusted friend… so for me a list of teens or young adults, heck even adults, or grandmas for that matter, from church would be awesome.

5.     List of Mother’s Helpers:  Same idea as above, but this is the unpaid volunteer version.  A list of people that would help out families while mom or dad is at home (cooking dinner, taking a shower, cleaning up the mess that is a house with three small kids, etc…)  This could possibly count toward the quota for community service hours that some high schools require.

So here are some ideas for what individuals can actually do to help as volunteer or adoptive family.

1.  Evening Help: Bed time routine (baths, pjs, brushing teeth, reading books, etc) and/or cleaning up dinner dishes/kitchen)

2.  Morning Help: Morning routine (dressed, fed and out the door for school and/or cleaning up breakfast dishes/kitchen)

3.   Meals Delivered: Breakfast or dinner would be a great help.  For me, dinner is the hardest. (Great website:

4.  Babysitting/Mother’s Helper: The key here is regularity, whether paid or volunteer, if I leave or stay, I want to be able to count on having a certain time every week that I know I will have help. (Thanks AH!)

5.  Yard Care: Mowing, weeding, mulching, planting… I would love to do all of these.  My mom has a green thumb, and I’ve always wanted to see if she passed it on to me.  I know gardening would be a stress reliever but… K says I kill plants.  I just have a little trouble remembering to water them with all the other little people wanting my attention.  I can’t love the yard too.  Good thing we don’t have a pet.

6.  Car Cleaning: Washing and/or vacuuming… You know how necessary this is with little ones.  Gross.

7.  House Cleaning: Maybe just the kitchen or a bathroom or the floors, or that gross refrigerator smell that you can't seem to find!  Even take up a collection for a house cleaning service.  What a treat!

8.  Carpool: To or from an activity or school… Putting everyone in car seats is a pain… how nice it would be to just send my little guy out the door with a friend’s mom or just have him show up at the door for lunch at noon.  I might be drooling over this one.

9.  Run Small Errands (post office, returns, etc..):  Again, it’s so not worth it to have to get multiple kids in and out of car seats just to return that one item that you knew you didn’t need, but bought it anyway. (I’ve never experienced buyer’s remorse. No, never.)  Or, maybe you just need milk and eggs… and wine and chocolate...

10.  Evening Adult Conversation: Ahhh… kids are in bed, you’re ready to watch your show on Netflix, you’ve got your wine and chocolate… and no one to talk to.  Bummer.  Once a week would be enough for me!

11.   Fold Laundry: Just one basket!  Please?

12.  Take Out the Trash: Awe. Some.  You could even collect it all from inside and take the cans to the street!  Diaper trash and all.  Just one extra task that I dislike doing, that K always takes care of when he’s home.  When I take it out while he’s gone, I always think of him I miss him even more.

13.  Crafts: Organize and buy supplies for kids to do at home, and maybe actually come over and do the craft with them!

14.  Baby-sitting Co-op: This can be as lax or strict as you desire, but basically, moms take turns watching the kids while the other moms go do whatever for a few hours.  We had about six moms in our group in Norfolk, VA.  We rotated houses, and the host mom stayed along with one other mom to watch about seven or eight kids.  We started at one year old, so that no one was trying to feed infants while trying to pay attention to the toddlers.  There is a site called that has a free online organization service.  It's even searchable for groups by zip code.

15.  Dinner Swap: Parents take turns hosting dinner/playdate… this can be fun and crazy sometimes!

16.  Tutoring/Homework Help:  Helping kids with homework while the parent is tending to other littler children or making dinner would be amazing.  (Or you could help with little ones, while the parent helps with schoolwork.)

17.   Man Time:  Asking a trusted male friend to help “fill in” for Dad (or vice versa).  Just a simple conversation where the kids feel heard, ten minutes spent throwing a ball with them or teaching them to ride their bikes, any kind of quality interaction with a caring man is invaluable.  Maybe you could set up play dates with a trusted male family friend who is tasked with focusing his time/energy specifically towards the military children.  (This is pretty much verbatim from a close friend of mine.  She did this, and it was just what her kids needed.  Thanks WC!)

I think the last one is my favorite.  I had my dad and father-in-law here a lot during the last deployment, and that was great for my kids.  They threw the ball around, built train tracks, went swimming, wrestled, read books, built puzzles… just what the kids needed.  This time around, they won’t be here as often, and it’s a longer deployment, so looks like I’m going to have to find a friend!

I hope this helps you find some relief during deployment.  Maybe you can find a church, a neighbor, or a family that wants to support military families, but just doesn’t know how to connect or what is needed.  Take these ideas and run with them.  Remember that you are allowed to ask for help… even if it’s just one-on-one with a friend.  Tell them your needs, and let them serve you.  Take care of yourself too.  We military spouses tend to give of ourselves to everyone else, and forget about our own needs.  It’s important that you don’t lose your mind.  Really, your kids will thank you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Support on the Home Front

So I was chatting with a few friends at our Bible study about our church and its desire to support military families.  We love that the congregation and the staff are willing to help with whatever needs arise.  But what does that support look like?  What should it look like? What do military families left to hold down the home front want it to look like?   I am all for supporting the troops… in any way, shape or form. Sending toiletries in care packages is a definite need for many of our men and women out there.  But for those who have families back home, would it not be an even a greater support knowing that servant-hearted people in the area are taking care of your family?  I know K has told me more than once that he can rest easy and sleep at night on the ship, knowing that I have people to help me to remain sane.

Our church has an adopt-a-military family program.  Love this idea.  My adoptive family helped me tremendously when K was deployed earlier this year.  I gave birth to our third, M, while K was on an aircraft carrier, and so I had lots of family here to help.  However, I was alone for the last six weeks of the deployment, so I called my church for help.  Enter: K & T, a mother and daughter team, who helped with bedtime almost every night of the week.  I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have another adult to wrangle my pre-schooler and toddler into pajamas, while I nursed the baby and put her to bed.  They would alternate nights and stay for about 90 minutes, helping with the bedtime routine, and while I was finishing putting the older two down, K was washing my pots and pans and loading the dishwasher.  This was exactly what I needed.  Once all three were down, I could actually sit down too.  What an awesome blessing.

We’ve been talking about faith in action, also known as obedience, in our Bible study.  If our church and its members want to support military families, then it’s this kind of action—stepping out of your comfortable routine to help another in need—that is greatly needed.  I had friends offer to have us over for dinner while K was gone, and while it was a welcomed treat to let someone else cook, it was really more stressful for me to have to gather my three kids, ages 3 years old and under, and get them to someone’s house… and try to get them to sit and eat… and play referee… and nurse a baby… you get my drift.  So, my point is to get us thinking about what would really be a help to military families when the spouse is deployed. 

But before I continue, let me also interject that it is HARD for most military wives to ask for help.  We have been sort of unconsciously indoctrinated into the mindset that we have to have it all together.  That this is the life WE chose, so we have to suck it up, and deal with it.  That we can’t ask for help, because we’re supposed to be strong and independent for our husbands and families.  These are lies.  LIES, I tell you.  Come, on, ladies out there, you know that these thoughts have crossed your mind a time or two.  Don’t believe it.  We are allowed to ask for help.  There are neighbors, family, friends, and church members out there just waiting to love on you.  One of my friends reminded us during this conversation at Bible study that we steal some one else’s opportunity to serve with their gifts when we don’t ask for help.  There are season in your life to serve and seasons when you need to be served.  That’s just how life is, and it’s how the Christian church was designed by God to operate.  And I want to confess, that when I found out that I was pregnant with M, I felt so guilty about asking for help.  I felt like I was at fault for getting pregnant at that time… because I knew when K was deploying!  (Clearly, the fault was not mine alone…) but I just heard the Accuser (that’s Satan) saying, “How could you let this happen now?”  Well clearly, this was and is just about the greatest blessing a mom could have asked for.  M is irreplaceable, of course, and she was just what God had in mind for our family… on so many many levels.  So just don’t believe the lies, OK?  OK.

So, back to some practical ideas on what churches or individuals or families can do to support military families while a service member is deployed.  Here are some of my ideas.  I want you to think of some yourself, especially military spouses… comment here or on Facebook.  But I want you to think outside the box… if you could customize your support, what EXACTLY would you need?  Be specific.  Don’t feel bad about putting someone out… there actually are people out there who can and want to help you.  And remember, if no one knows your needs, how can those needs be met?  Even if you are not a military spouse, please contribute your ideas too!  In what capacity is the Lord calling you to serve?  We all need to be obedient to ask or to help...

Here are some of mine to get you started:

1.  Bed time help from 6:00-7:30pm
2.  1-2x/week dinner delivered
3.  Afternoon babysitting, so mom can have some “me” time.
4.  Yard care: mowing/weeding/mulching
5.  Car washed/vacuumed
6.  House cleaning (maybe just the kitchen or a bathroom or the floors!)
7.  Carpool to or from an activity or school

Every family has different circumstances, daily schedules, routines, kids ages, etc.  so, let’s hear your ideas… Give me some feedback to take to the masses.  I couldn’t have possibly exhausted them all.  And just so you know, my plan is to get back with the ladies with whom I started this conversation to see how we can meet the needs of military families that go to our church and as a ministry to those that don’t.  Thanks friends!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kid Tech

So, my middle child, E, turned two last March.  She talks incessantly.  And I LOVE it.  I mean… really LOVE it.  This is my favorite age so far, between 18 mo and 3yrs.  I absolutely enjoy watching their language and concept development.  I love watching the wheels turn in their head, waiting with anticipation of what amazing thought might pop out of their little mouths.  My two oldest kids both talked earlier than pediatricians’ averages.  C had more than fifty words at 18 mo, but E, oh E… she was there at 15 mo.  I can only guess at the reasons they are so talkative so early… I’m sure the research is out there, which is probably why experts say things like: read to your child from birth.  And we do that… we read LOTS of books, at least three every night before bed and even one before nap time.  We also never used any baby talk, and just explain things as they are with regular meaningful words.  Whether they understand every word is not important, they are hearing and absorbing.  My little sponges.  I also don’t lie to avoid a lengthy explanation.  That just seems so unfair… kids get it.  They can understand lots of things if I take the time to explain it with the correct words and then us some analogy from their world so they can understand it in their terms.  It’s actually really fun for me to try to figure out a way to answer some of their questions like… “Is God ever disobedient?” or “Why was M in your belly and how’d she get out?”   Those were doosies.  We used sign language starting at 12mo, which helped tremendously to avoid lots of tantrums over frustrating misunderstanding.  C knew about twenty signs by the time he was ready to full out talk, but E only learned about eight before she was using words.  “Forget this signing thing, I’m just going to say ‘thank you!’” is what I assume went though her head.  So I don’t say all of this to brag about my kids… I am leading to a point here.  What I’ve been thinking about is our kids’ development in the land of ever changing technology…

May 15, 2012: Where is my iPhone?  I know I left it on the living room couch.  I was using it as a remote for our Apple TV.  Hmmm… Where is E?  and why is it so quiet around here?  I find her in the playroom with her back to me, as she’s leaning on her elbows on the couch.  I hear her voice, only it’s not coming from her mouth… it’s coming from a video she’s playing back on my iPhone.  She notices me, and giggles, runs to the corner of the room and hides her new-found toy behind her back.  It was all I could do not to laugh and try to reprimand her for taking my phone.  This girl is smart.  She’s smart because she’s observant and acts on what she’s observed.  I’m pretty sure all kids do this.  She watches me swipe the screen, take photos, look at photos, find music, whatever, and then she tries it… usually without my permission.  But sometimes I give her the green light… and watch her work.  I am utterly amazed by how much she can do on that phone.  She and C are obsessed with the William Tell Overture, and just a few days ago she figured out how to find it, play it and turn up the volume.  Her sentiments about it all were: It’s LOUD!

But I was so proud.  Proud because our world is changing, and she the one who is going to be in the midst of it all.  Our kids will need to learn how to interface with technology.  Not that they need to spend all their time doing so… I still want them to be kids who run, climb, jump and play outside, read books made of paper, color, paint, and build puzzles.  However, they are going to need these tech skills  as much as they need language skills... and they have already acquired some of these skills much earlier than I would have anticipated.  For goodness sake, my baby hears grandma's voice on my iPhone and expects to SEE her too!  I guess it might be truly time for an iPad.  Daddy?!  Are you ready for this?  Christmas might come a bit early this year.

Naval Wifery Part 3: Drum Roll, Please...

Ahhh, yes.  It is official.  The slate came out about a month ago (sorry for the delay in posting!)...  AND... drum roll please... we are staying put in sunny SoCal!  A huge answer to our prayers.  Thank you, Jesus.  This is exactly what we wanted!  Except... oh wait... the deployment schedule.  The tour we are currently undertaking is a sea tour... so is the next one.  Back to back sea tours is usually what happens in this stage of an aviator's career.  We knew that, but hoped that he'd join a squadron that was just getting back from deployment.  If that were the case, we would have a nice break, sitting the bench for awhile with K at home.  Well, turns out that's not the case.  We're looking at another 7-9 month deployment early next year.  yep.  That's right.  K just returned, as you can see from my photos, at the end of February this year.

We were in South Lake Tahoe in July.  We split the drive into two days, Saturday and Sunday, because I've learned that with three kids four and under, we need to add an hour for stops for every three hours of driving.  E, our 2yo, was also wearing big-girl-pants for the trip, since she had just reached that stage where diapers had become unacceptable to her.  Don't get me wrong, that's fantastic.  Just have to make sure we stop as soon as she says she has to go, and it takes time to help her on the potty.  Anyway, we finally got there and met up with my mom's side of the family for our reunion.  It was a long two days and we were ready to get our vacation on!

Monday morning.  First day of vaca.  K was taking a rather long time coming down for breakfast.  He finally appeared, and said to me, "Well the slate is out!  A friend texted me.  I called the placement officer and left a message.  He should call back soon."  My heart jumped and my stomach flew to my throat.  I needed to go to the store, so K and I left the kids with the grandparents, and hopped in the car.  While I was in the store, K got the call.  When came back, his face was sullen.  I think he tried to hide it, but I could tell he had the news... and his face told me it wasn't great.  He told me the squadron and the report date: fall of THIS year.  I knew instantly what that meant, and my heart sank.  Bottom lip quivered.  Tears welled and overflowed.  Then the quiet sobs.  I couldn't help it.   Deployment was going to happen MUCH sooner than later.  K was silent for awhile, then finally said, "You're not making this very easy."  "I'm allowed to have my moment," was my immediate response.  All I could think about was the list of things he was going to miss.  C and E's birthdays were the first to cross my mind.  And little M... he'll miss the SAME age with M that he missed last time with E: 15-24 mo.  Once I calmed myself, I hugged him.  I just wasn't prepared to step back into deployment mode so soon.  I guess I should have been because any of the ten squadrons were a possibility.  I mean, we were pretty sure we were not moving, but didn't think enough about this part of the equation.  It shocked me.

This will be our second deployment since having kids.  I am by no means seasoned.  After eight years of this Navy life, I often still feel like a novice Navy wife when it comes to deployment.  And now I'm not just a wife, but a mother too.  A mother of three.  Three under five.  It's been said by many experts that the first five years of a child's life are so crucial for development... and I agree.  What pressure.  I am solely in charge of their foundational development as people.  Thank the good Lord that He is with me.  Jesus promised to never leave me or forsake me.  He is my Rock and my Refuge in whom I take shelter.  He will make sure by His grace that I don't screw them up too badly.

So after the tears and the hugs, we started to brainstorm all the good things that will come from joining this squadron at this time.  1) the people.  Three of my friends, with whom I did a Bible study during the last deployment, are in this squadron.  2) sooner than later could be a good thing.  THe kids are already in the "deployment mode."  They understand that Daddy works on a big ship and takes long trips some times.  If we had a long period between deployments, I think they would got so used to having K home, that we'd have to go through all the emotional preparation from square one.  Not that it will be easy, but hopefully, a little easier. 3) after this deployment, K should really have a solid break and be home for a few years.  4) this blog is up.  I can actually write about this deployment as it's happening, instead of having a newborn to nurture without Daddy like last time!

Yeah, so... we're ecstatic that we are staying in CA.  Truly a great thing, especially now that deployment is looming.  Trying to move AND start a deployment cycle would be insanity.  At least for me.  Other do it, I'm sure.  Don't know how.  More power to you, ladies.  My time may come for that, but not this round.  Apparently, my Lord knows me and knows I'm not ready for that yet!  And if you're wondering what "specific" plans the bureau had for K... No. Idea.  Go figure.  If you're wondering how our Tahoe vacation ended up after day one... M was teething and up almost every night for about two hours at a time.  We didn't sleep, and needed a vacation from our vacation.  Drove 10 hours in one day just to sleep in our own bed.  Good times!!

PS. I promise to write more often.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Naval Wifery Part 2: Life in Limbo

So, at the beginning of June, my stellar husband, K, was selected as a department head in his aviation community!  This was fantastic news.  This means that he will join a squadron for another 2 ½ -year sea tour sometime in the next year or so.  He’ll be one of five or six department heads there leading a number of junior officers and enlisted sailors in various assignments.  This is a very big milestone for him because it opens some new doors as we continue on through the next ten years of our navy life.  But before we get there, we need to get to a squadron.  The question is: which one??  There are ten squadrons; five in Norfolk, Virginia, one in Atsugi, Japan, and four right here in California, where we live now.  We requested to stay put here in sunny SoCal.  I mean… can you blame us?  Oh, the joy!  Wouldn’t it be absolutely amazing to actually stay in one location for more that two or three years?  I’m sure it’s the dream of every Navy family, right?  We’ve moved three times in the last eight years, which actually isn’t too bad, but if we can cut out one move, all the better for everyone.

But there is never guarantee that we’ll get our first choice.  The needs of the Navy always come first.  This is the first time in K’s Navy career that we have not chosen our next location ourselves. It is completely out of our hands.  We chose Japan for his first tour, we chose Norfolk for his second, and we chose 72F and sunny California for his third tour.  Now for tour number four… let the life in limbo begin!  Here we are just waiting…  and waiting… and waiting for our destiny (more like destination) to be revealed!  ‘Tis a strange place for us. 

Once the operational department heads are selected, the powers that be have to place every one of them in a squadron.   The document that will be published with this information is called the slate.  It’s like a giant puzzle, taking into consideration so many different variables... requests for certain people by a skipper, one squadron needs a pilot while another needs an NFO (Naval Flight Officer, aka: not a pilot, but the highly skilled operators in the rear of the plane), timing for others exiting the squadron, and the list goes on.  It is a hard job, I’m sure, and we’ve been told it takes about a month from the screen board results (the announcement that he was selected) for them to finish the slate.  Well… this week marks the month-a-versary… and it was rumored that it’s going to be another month until the slate is ready to be disclosed.  Yep.  That’s right.  This puzzle must be over 1000 pieces… in the itty-bitty size.

All we want to know is… are we moving or not?  It’s July people.  If we are moving in August, I have a crap-ton of things to do to get ready… because we’re either going cross-country or overseas.  I’m not as concerned about going to the east coast.  That’s easy.  But dude.  What if we do get Japan?  That means selling a car.  Down-sizing furniture. What if we do decide to have a fourth kid? Lugging all that baby gear and NINE 20-gallon storage bins of girl clothes and FIVE bins of boy clothes across the Pacific!  (When we’re done, we are having an unbelievable sale!  My sisters better be ready to bid on their favorite baby items!)  What about getting C into pre-school in the fall in Virginia?  I’m sure there are only waiting list spots available.  These are the things military wives think about… or at least I do. 

K is decidedly certain we’re staying here.  I don’t know how he knows this, but he just thinks it’s so.  He claims that it makes sense for the Navy to save a buck by NOT moving us.  It’s expensive to move a family of five!  And Lord knows, this country can afford to save a few bucks.  I mean, someone has to go to Japan, that’s a given, but if we’re already here and want to stay… well, please? Can we? Can we?  There was also a comment made by someone at the bureau that they have a specific plan for K… well, of course, that gets my thinker/planner husband’s brain going into all the possible scenarios that could be “specific!”  Makes the wait even more unbearable… whetting the appetite with vague notions of specificity is not fair.  Who knows...  Might not be all that special or specific after the big reveal, but it still gets us even more anxious to know!  No matter the plan, K could handle anything they throw at him.  He does everything with excellence, to the best of his ability, without shortcuts.  His moto (well, he has a few), is to “work smart, not hard”; although, he works hard too.  He’s always one to come into a situation and try to leave it better than he found it.  Make it more productive and efficient without reinventing the wheel.  He searches out people to help solve problems, give suggestions, and delegate, if he can.  Oh, sorry… I was going off on a tangent of praise of my hubby.  I’m not proud of him or anything.

So… when we know… I’ll let you all know.  These are the joys of Navy living.  Ultimately it will all work out.  It always does.  We'll just roll with it.  Here’s a “motto” that K and I share… it’s our family verse:  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bluezin Bearzin

So this evening, I overheard my sweet 4yo son putting his Blue Bear to bed.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Tears of pure joy welled up in my eyes.  I was walking down the hall from his sister’s room to his room to put him to bed.  But I stopped short of his view in the hallway when his sweet little voice alerted me to his pretend play.  This is what I heard: “Jesus had five friends to help him. Six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven-twelve helpers. Wow, twelve.  That’s a lot of helpers, Blue Bear.  Jesus taught his twelve helpers about God’s love.  That’s it!  All done.  It’s time for bed now.  Get in bed.  Let’s turn off your light. (C turns off his lamp, and nears the door.)  Good night, Blue Bear.  I love you. Mch mch mmch mch. (blowing kisses to Blue Bear from the door).  Got it.  Got it. Got that one.  Got them all.  (He half closes the door as if he’s about to leave, then stops short and opens it back up a bit and says…) What? (pause) OK, I love you too. Good night.”  He closes the door and finds me standing there grinning from ear to ear with tears threatening to roll out onto my cheeks. 

I couldn’t help it.  He went through our routine perfectly.  Even to include the pause at the end when I’m closing his door, and he’s still trying to prolong our conversation.  His intonation was a perfect imitation of mine.  Unreal.  Actually it’s quite scary, because tone of voice communicates so much, even more than the actual words being spoken.  The "what?" sounded a little bit annoyed with Blue Bear.  I was rather humbled and convicted about how I often have a harsh with tone when speaking to my little ones.  Need some help there.  Don’t we all?  I need to relax and bring it down a notch.  Not everything is a crisis.  Sheesh, mama.  But I digress…

Ahh, but C… He was surprised to see me standing there, but smiled and told me that Blue Bear is going to bed.  He invited me back into his room, telling me I need to be quiet because he’s already asleep.  However, the tickle-monster woke Blue Bear up, and we read another book and a Bible story, and went through our routine together.  I paused at the door just because, and said I love you again.  After I closed the door, I heard him start to roll and hum himself to sleep... something he’s been doing since he was able to roll his little infant head around… and he was out in 3 minutes. 

This is what it’s ALL about, people.  These are the moments to write about so that we can remember just exactly how perfect and innocent they are when they’re little.  I can hear my dad in my head saying this about my sister and me: I want to bottle up this moment and keep it forever.  I don’t want them to grow up.  C’s last day of school is tomorrow… next year he’ll be in pre-K… then Kindergarten… then first grade… Oh, I can’t bear to think about it now.  It just all goes much too fast.  I’ve been told numerous times that it would.  I know we all have our moments, our days, even our weeks and perhaps months of frustration with our babies, but it is in these precious moments that all of that melts away.  Would you mind taking a moment to share some of the funny, precious, astounding or precocious things your little ones (maybe they’re bigger ones now!) have done to bring those tears of pure joy to your eyes?  Maybe it might help to think of something heart-warming, if you’ve had one of those days.  Thanks for indulging me, friends.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mommy Zen

(Written April 28 - forgot to post!)

So Kris has been out of town for the last two days.  I think this is the first time since his return from deployment in February that I’ve been home alone with the kids.  I can’t believe how in just six short weeks I can lose all of my single-parenting skills.  I mean all of them.  I did not prepare myself or my day well to do this alone again.  I should check the lunar calendar, maybe it’s a full moon.  That’s the only other reasonable explanation I can think of for the blatant disregard of my authority that my children have been displaying these last 48 hours.

M wouldn’t nurse or eat solids at lunch.  She’s been refusing solids for the past three days… nursing fine, but swatting at the spoon and shaking her head.  She’s seven months old and has an opinion already.  I don’t know if C’s deaf or is just that selective with his hearing… everything I ask of him is either ignored or rebutted in some fashion.  Don’t argue with me!  You are four!  You just turned four!  Look at me, son!  Ahhh!  (I didn’t say any of that to him, except the “look at me” part.) Then there is my two-year-old, E, who is precious and sweet one moment, but turns on a dime into either a mischievous imp or a nails-on-a-chalkboard whiner.  Throughout the day, I find that my jaw is clenched so hard, that I need to crowbar to release it. 
And then…

It’s bath time.  C and E went up the stairs ahead of me.  I turned the corner behind them to take M to her room for a new diaper and jammies.  While I changed her I reminded myself that this parenting thing is supposed to be fun, that I want to enjoy my babies, and that I need to unlock my jaw… again.  So, before I fed M and put her down, I went to see what the two crazies were up to.  I also wanted to let them know I would be in M’s room and to play quietly until bath time.  What I came upon was exactly what I needed to see to calm me, release my furrowed brow and bring back my smile… two naked kids in an empty bath tub, playing nicely with their bath toys, waiting for water.  And it even gets better.  I asked if they needed to go potty, and C said, “We already did!”  We already did?  Wha?? Sure enough, pee in both the big and little potties.  My potty-training E had zero accidents today, and went by herself before their bath. 

Every mom needs moments of zen like this.  After a rough day, that was mostly due to my missing single-parenting skills, this scene was a gift.  Hmmm… what other gifts did I receive today?  I know there have to be more that I’ve overlooked due to the condition of my jaw…  E gave M kisses all day long (and only tried to pick her up once.) C literally rolled right over M’s head and made her cry, but later he laid on the floor with her and she laughed and giggled with delight at his attention.  The older two devoured their dinner and both ate a big spoonful of peas.  That was huge.  Still working on the “eat your veggies” mantra.  And finally, after the bath tub delight, I brought little M back to her room to nurse and she went right to sleep.  

So, I guess, it really wasn’t a bad a day afterall. 

Touché, little ones.  Touché.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Little Man-Time

So, my son. is. awesome.  Let me start by giving some background.  This week the squadron that K works with had a Change of Command.  This event happens every fifteen months: the Executive Officer (XO) takes over the role of Commanding Officer (CO) of the squadron.  It’s a really BIG deal to everyone involved.  The two officers changing command were both mentors of K’s and his fellow junior officers in the squadron he was a part of in Japan.  That being said, a few of those then junior officers, who are now more senior or no longer Navy, arrived in California this week to attend and celebrate this change of command.  A couple of these fellas hung out at our house between events.  They were on our front porch sitting in rocking chairs drinking beers, catching up and enjoying some man-time. 

Okay, so now here’s a little bit about my awesome son.  While these guys are shooting the “sheet”, as K likes to say, C was in quiet time.  Quiet time is ninety minutes of alone time in his room, in lieu of a nap.  Mommy still needs her own quiet time, so he goes to his room to read or play while his sisters actually sleep.  The only reason he is allowed to come out of his room is if he has to go #2… which he often does.  He must hold it or just time it perfectly, because during most quiet times, C comes out to go.  On this particular day while man-time was in progress, C did what he normally does and called down the stairs to let me know he had some business to take care of.  He had already gone once that day, but I conceded, and told him to come down.  Before he went into the bathroom, he asked if he could go outside and say hi to Daddy.  Hmmm… I smiled to myself and again, conceded.  I just had this feeling that he was dying to join the dudes outside and was faking his need to use the bathroom.  Mommy knows her little boy.  I was so right.

All of this discussion with C happened at a distance; I was in the kitchen, C on the stairs.  I listened carefully as he went outside. Daddy and his two friends greeted him warmly, and one friend invited him to sit next to him.  C decided he needed a chair too, and went to the playroom to retrieve his fuzzy Elmo chair.  All the other guys were sitting in chairs, why not C?  After I finished cleaning up the kitchen, I just had to go see what he was up to.  Elmo was seated next to a rocking chair, but C had decided to play God with some rolly-pollies (pill bugs) and was squashing them on the front walk.  I went to him to confront his lie about needing to “go”, but let him know that I understood that he wanted to be a part of man-time, which indeed, was a special time, since Daddy had been gone for so long.  I encouraged him to go back up to the porch... he did.

The next thing he decided he needed was a drink.  The men have beer.  He needs apple juice.  I willingly obliged. I handed him his cup and leaned on the front door frame to admire my sweet son.  C sat down on Elmo and sipped his beverage like Daddy and the “other Daddies” as C’s sister called them earlier in the day.  He crossed his legs.  I glanced around… yep, every one of them have theirs crossed too… just rockin’ and drinkin’.  He smiled at me when he realized that I noticed his imitation. After returning his smile with one of my own, I retreated indoors so he could man it up.  After a few minutes, C set his drink down and went back to the playroom in search of something.  I heard him call to me, “Mom, where’s the phone that goes with the kitchen?” We did a quick sweep of some toy bins and found it.  C returned to his chair, and set the phone down next to his drink on the ground.  Unbelievable.  I laughed out loud.  iPhones and Blackberries lay on the ground next to each of the other chairs.  C was really taking this very seriously!  I was astonished and elated at his emulation of his Daddy and Daddy’s friends.  C did an absolutely excellent job examining the details of manhood and made sure he had all that was required.  Awsome.  

I am not looking forward to the next deployment, whenever that is. C needs his Daddy.  So do the girls.  But watching C, my little man, so blatantly and excitedly want to be like the men on the porch, reminded me of just how important Daddies are in the lives of their kids.  Daddies set the tone for the life of their children.  Moms are the servants… feed, clothe, bathe, etc.  But Dads speak to the spirit of their children in a way that only Dads can.  Daddies can give their kids wings to fly high with confidence and self-worth.  Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.  That is why I pray that the Lord will make Himself known to my children early in their lives… that they will be able to understand why Daddy is gone for so long and that they will look to Him as their Father, whether their earthly father is home or on a ship serving his country.  That is why I pray that during the days and months when K is home, that their time with Daddy is everything they need it to be to account for the time when he’s not.  It’s hard.  I worry a lot about my children… whether we are doing all that we should for them in this season.  I know, I know… worry is a giant waste of time and energy, so instead of worrying, I will just keep praying for God’s grace to cover them.  So glad I can rest in that truth.  C, E & M are such special and amazing little people… who really LOVE their Daddy.