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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Naval Wifery: Part One

So, my hubs never ceases to amaze me.  He has taken over kitchen duty more times than I can count since he's been home.  (He was deployed for seven months, but I'll get to that later.)  I've always felt guilty about not being great at meal planning and meal execution, but I learned recently, like a week ago, that for K, preparing a meal after work is a time for decompression and creativity.  And he loves taking on this role... and he's damn good at it.  Sweet.  That means, I can feed the kids, nurse the baby and sit down for five to ten minutes and write a bit while he gets his culinary creativity on.  Phew.

 K is an amazing husband, and I want to create a page on this blog just for him to post his brain children (aka: ideas to set the modern world right), thoughts on fatherhood, Navy life and maybe a few recipes.  He's a fantastic writer... a quality I noticed and admired before we started dating.  I wish I had the first email that he ever wrote to me.  The subject: Allow myself to introduce... myself...!  I was a sophomore in college, and his sister (my bff) had given him my email address because she claimed we would be a perfect match simply because of our mutual love of Mike Meyers movies.  After that first email, it took us five years to get on the same page, and actually start dating.  He was already in Naval flight school when we started getting to know each other, so I knew what I was getting myself into... or so I imagined that I did.  Dating a man in uniform was pretty cool.  Still is... eight years later.  Navy life for us has been pretty exciting and fun; however, 2011 was probably the most challenging year of Naval Wifery to date.  (btw, I’m coining that term.)  So how's about a little bit more of the history lesson... care to continue with me on this stroll down my memory lane?

Just after we married in May of 2004, we moved to Japan for K's first sea duty.  I was a new wife, a new Navy wife, and new to Japan.  Looking back, I think I was in shock for at least six months, and K was gone for about three of those!  But once we settled in, I started teaching English and K adjusted to the deployment cycle, we had the time of our lives!  We fondly call it our three-year honeymoon: Japan, Australia, Fiji Islands (our actual honeymoon!), Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.  And, not to mention, we lived 45 min outside of Tokyo.  Unreal.  Deployments weren't too bad since the cycle was shorter, meaning the deployments were shorter, but he actually racked up more days on the ship during those three years than his counter parts in the State-side squadrons.  Plus, he wasn't in the Middle East: his strike group kept a keen eye on the Dear Leader and other hounds in the Pacific Rim.  I worked a lot of hours teaching to make traveling to ports affordable, so I saw him a few times during his absence from home as well.

In 2007, we headed to Norfolk, Virginia, for shore duty and to begin Operation Procreation.  C was born just nine months after we arrived in VA, and E was born two years and a day later.  Operation Procreation was a huge success!  During our three-year stay in Norfolk, we met some fabulous friends who will remain a part of our lives for a long time.  Just eight short weeks after E was born, we moved again to southern California, which is where we are now. 

We knew this tour was going to be more difficult than the first two because it is/was our first sea duty with kids.  We spent the summer of 2010 hiking and traveling the coast, but by Christmas, I was already starting to stress about K’s upcoming seven-month deployment.  In Naval aviation, there is a season for preparation and training for deployment called “work-ups.”  Work-ups require Daddy to be gone off and on for weeks at a time for about six months prior to deployment, which, as I found out, is: hell.  Especially with a three-year-old boy.  The air wing in Japan didn’t do work-ups, so this whole evolution was new to me. Operation Procreation was set to commence toward the end of work-ups before deployment so that if successful, K would be home for the birth of Dash 3 after cruise.  Work-ups started January 18, 2011.  I took a pregnancy test January 17.  Dash 3 was on the way six months ahead of our schedule.  K would miss practically the whole pregnancy during work-ups, and the birth and first five months of this child’s life during deployment.  Can any one say, basket case?  I was a mess.  I know many mothers have delivered babies without their husbands before me, and many will do so after me, but I never expected to be numbered among their ranks!  “I don’t want to do this without him!” was the phrase on repeat in my mind.  Every time I’d think about him missing the birth, I would burst into tears.

Again, looking back, I was in shock. Really? Our first deployment with kids, and we’re adding another one during it?  Really, Lord?  But after a month or so, I finally came to terms with God’s timing.  I’ve known for a long time that His timing is always perfect.  His ways are higher than mine.  I started counting my blessings.  I am able to have children.  K was there for the first two births.  I am not alone, with so many family members and friends willing to help.  I have a church that will support me.  We were able to move to a bigger house (with a grass yard!) to accommodate our new addition!  I started repeating truth like, “I’ve given birth before, I can do it again,” or “The Lord chose THIS child at THIS time, because THIS child was the one He wanted in our family,” or “I am going to grow and mature in my faith because of this unique and difficult situation,” or “The Lord is with me always.”  Last year, I was in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) where we studied the book of Isaiah.  One week, this verse grabbed me and became my mantra for this whole deployment and birth experience:  I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; 
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. 
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.  Isaiah 42:16

What a promise.  One I could definitely relate to and cling to.  I needed this.  And thus my year commenced as a pregnant mama with a preschooler, a toddler and husband beginning work-ups with an imminent deployment.

So there’s part one of my little history lesson… I wish I had started this blog last year so that I could have documented this time in our lives day by day… you know, in all the spare time I had.  In any case, I want to document it and share it now. It’s never too late to share some encouragement.  So glad K spent some time in the kitchen, so that I could write a bit.  Thanks for reading... stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cutting the Cord

So, we decided to cut cable.  We haven't pulled the plug yet because we're both disinterested in dealing with the FIOS customer service call, but it IS happening soon.  $80 a month can be spent so much better elsewhere... monthly mani/pedi or our third child's 529?  Either way, we decided on our family after-dinner walk tonight, that not just our money, but our time can be better spent... instead of watching the Office without Michael Scott (it's just not the same, he says) our minds and spirits would be better served reading good books, spending better quality time together and maybe advancing my knowledge and understanding of the blogosphere.  I think I'm using that term correctly.  I did in fact, google "blog lingo" in order to hone the use of acronyms people half my age are slinging around.  I'm still researching, but I did find an interesting factoid: the term "weblog" was coined in 1997 and "blog" in 1999.  So I was in college then... hmmm... where I obtained my first email address, where not every one had a desktop computer let alone a laptop, where computer labs existed to torture students who didn't hit the save button, where I took notes in class with a pen and saved sound bytes and research papers on a floppy disk.  I talked with a college friend about this today and had to laugh: I sound like my parents!  "When I was your age, we had one phone line for the whole block...yadda yadda yadda..." but it's only been 15 years, not 50!

Man, it's crazy how fast technology and social media is moving, and I often feel left in the dust!  That's why I am so thankful to have a techie husband, whom I like to call "Nick Burns ( the company's computer guy!)"  If you don't know Nick Burns, check out SNL's the best of Jimmy Fallon.  Hilarious.  I would be lost without K and his IT background.  He keeps me up to speed on all the newest happenings in Cupertino, CA.  Yes, we're Apple fans.  Got our first PowerBook, iPod (2nd gen) and some accessories with all of our wedding money in 2004 before we headed off to Japan for three years.  We moved on to and iMac, then an bigger iMac, iPod Mini, iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro, Apple TV and finally an iPhone.  Just waiting on the right time to enlist the iPad's services.  Perhaps for our 8th anniversary, we'll invest ten months worth of cable into this new addition to our Apple family... I mean, come on, it's a perfect tool to help with our goals of reading more (Kindle app), better quality time together (Hello Vino and Bejewled) and I can take this lovely blog and all others that I'm following, any where I choose.  Done and done.

So, here I sit snuggled beneath my sweatshirt blanket with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine... determined to continue this new adventure in blogging.  Please be patient as I learn the lingo (feel free to send me an acronym dictionary link), navigate the toolbars (tips and hints are welcome), and figure out how to find my dashboard!  This SAHM is tired. 7am comes way too fast.  More about my life as a SAHM with three little ones soon.  G'night.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Quick Run

So, my kiddos woke up early today... 6:40am. By the time we got them dressed and fed, I had about 25 minutes of actual free time this morning before my 4yo needed chauffeuring to preschool. It was actually rather surreal. So, I asked my husband (K), jokingly, "Oh, my, what should I do with my free time?" His answer: "Why don't you write a post for your new blog? [insert something about about starting other things and not finishing them...] You have readers out there that are dying to read the next installment, and you're leaving them hanging!" (Yes, my many many followers are just salivating for my second post.) He also suggested some other options, but seriously, it was 8:20am. So, I opted to go for a quick run. Now, Running and I have never really been the best of friends. I love to play sports... well, I should say, I used to love playing sports. I played volleyball in high school and college, and I even coached a season of middle school ball at my alma mater. But, running... it's not something I love to do. Yet. I really do want to love to run. In my 30+ years of life, I still haven't managed to form a proper relationship with it. I think that's because my lack of love for running is really more about my self-discipline than any thing else. Self-discipline is a virtue, of which I am in desperate need, and thankfully, yet surprisingly, I've seen other opportunities for growth in this area recently, as well. I guess the Lord is finally getting serious with me on this topic. I know that I work best with a schedule, but with three babies in the house, I'm constantly at the mercy of their various needs, wants, boo-boos and levels of maturity... oh, and add potty-training my 2yo to that mix, and you've got quite a random and crazy day...
Well, we're starting to make a change here, people. K and I have become more serious about cooking healthier meals and setting an example for our kids. K was on a 21-day cleanse and lost 15 lbs after deployment. (He wanted to rid himself of the demons contained in nasty ship food.) So, the self-discipline enters in the form of a meal calendar. It's a dry-erase board with the days of the week listed vertically and space to write in lunch and dinner plans for each day. It's from Target. But it's up there on the fridge staring at me all day, telling me what to thaw the night before, what ingredients are on the shopping list, and where I found the recipe. We've been eating so much better, except for the huge burgers we grilled last night! This probably seems elementary for seasoned moms out there, but when you have a 4yo and 2yo that won't eat anything but chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and PB&J, a nursing baby and a deployed husband, cooking a healthy meal for just yourself is the biggest chore known to man. I did do it, but not often enough during the deployment. I was out of practice and needed some focus. And, sure enough, with the help of Target and Pintrest, we're on our way to a more veggie-filled culinary experience. So, there you have it: my second post. I am encouraging you to leave comments here or on FB about how you organize your days/weeks... what system do you use? when do you clean? when do you cook? when the heck do you exercise? and how do you get your crazies to eat their veggies? Let me glean small nuggets of wisdom... Lord knows, I'm far from arriving, but I want to love to run to get there.