Thursday, December 30, 2010

Catching up

I'm a little irritated with myself for not keeping better track of what we have been up to during the month of December, but oh well. As you can imagine, life has been pretty busy, what with the holidays and all, but I just haven't been in a blogging mood. We had a lot of fun things going on, and the boys have been on Christmas vacation from school, too. I guess right around Christmas, it all just got a little depressing for me. I think in general, I do a good job of maintaining a positive attitude, not letting myself get too down, etc., but for the past week or so it has just felt so lonely around here.

As far as the deployment goes, Steve is doing well and is very busy at work. He said he likes it that way because then he doesn't have any idle time on his hands to be homesick. R&R is coming up in the next few weeks and I can hardly wait to see him. All we really want to do is disappear with the boys and enjoy each other. We are busy making plans and I'm sure it will be here before we know it!

The boys continue to do well, although they definitely missed Steve on Christmas. We were very lucky in that we were able to Skype with him on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. It was really bizarre having my laptop sitting there while the boys played with their new toys, Steve watching.

I think what I miss the most is plain old companionship. I suppose that is why I am feeling a little down now - - we are out of our regular routine, and although I have both boys home with me, I'm not seeing a whole lot of other adults. I miss Steve coming home at night, and I miss sitting on the sofa and talking with him after the boys go to bed. I find this deployment so much more isolating than the the last one, even though it is a shorter deployment. I think there are so many factors contributing to that. Right now I am just focusing on small increments of time. Working toward R&R right now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I'm still in shock...I finally got a box sent off to Steve last Thursday, and he has received it took only six days to reach him! I can't believe it! I'm so happy because it gives me hope that he will get all of his Christmas presents in time. I have one more thing to mail to him, but won't be able to mail it until Saturday. Either way, he has the majority of his gifts. I really don't think there is any rhyme or reason to the mail though, because he sent Griffin a letter that arrived on Monday, and then he got another letter on Tuesday, which Steve had sent a week after the first one. So, who knows. Just glad he has it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Settling In, Here and There

These past couple of weeks have been difficult. I think all four of us have been having some growing pains...I can't speak for Steve, but I know it has been tough here back home. Both of the boys have been having been struggling, between feeling insecure, having nightmares, and acting naughty (mainly Griffin on that last point, ahem). I've attributed this to the fact that we don't have ready access to Steve anymore, we don't have Skype up and running just hasn't been much fun.
The good news is, with each little bump in the road, I know the boys and I come out of it a little bit stronger. I mostly can't get over what a different experience this all is, in comparison to the last deployment. Sometimes I feel like I've never been through it before! The other good news is that it feels so good that now, we can really look forward to Steve coming home. Baby steps though...right now I am aiming for R & R in approximately four months.

For Thanksgiving Day, the boys and I are really lucky to have my parents here with us. We are having a small dinner at their house next door - - I am afraid I will mostly be sniffing the food and not eating...still recovering from gallbladder surgery a couple of days ago! I'm just happy they are here with us!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boy Things

At the river, throwing rocks. Please note Griffin's classic "pouty face" - - for some reason or another, he wasn't getting his way at that particular moment in time

Steve is really good at being a dad. When he gets home from work at night, he pretty much is at Camden and Griffin's disposal. He gives them both lots of attention, wrestles with them, reads to them, and listens to them. I often forget about how much they must miss that "boy time" with their dad. While there isn't any way that I can duplicate that for them, I have been trying to make more of a concerted effort to do "boy things" with them. Seriously, they are so simple and so small, but seem to mean so much to them. For example, it was cold and rainy the other day, and I think we all had a bit of cabin fever. I asked the boys if they'd like to go to the river to throw some rocks (a favorite activity with Steve) and they were suddenly bouncing off the walls. Off we went, threw a few dozen rocks, and then headed back home. I can't even remember how many times the boys mentioned how much fun they had. Another big one for Griffin is wrestling...good old getting down on the floor and rolling around. I've been trying to do this with him every day, although I'll be out of commission for a bit (just had gallbladder surgery yesterday). I think sometimes I get so bogged down in my responsibilities and my "mom" duties, that I forget they need boy time, too. Definitely not the same as having Dad around, but hopefully it helps!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Glad That's Over With

This past weekend, that is. It was a doozy. It seems that all the planets aligned to create a perfect storm in my home, and it sure wasn't enjoyable. First of all, I had a very difficult time getting my head back in the game, after my 4-day getaway to New Orleans. Even though it was fabulous and I had the most relaxing time, I didn't come home relaxed. All that kid-free time somehow made me extra-sensitive to the bickering, whining, etc., and I just had NO patience for it at all! Add to that, the fact that Steve is now in the "travelling" phase to reach his deployment destination of Iraq. Please don't call me out on OPSEC because I have always been very vague/quiet regarding troop movement of any kind. However, it has amazed me that our local news affiliates have pretty much been reporting all aspects of the travel details. Really, I don't get it. I will stick by what I've been saying all along - - that he's en route, and he'll reach Iraq eventually. How's that?

I found myself feeling very emotional over the weekend. I guess because having Steve state-side these past couple of months was more comforting than I realized. Just knowing that he is now no longer in this country suddenly felt very depressing. Add to that, the fact that I just spent four days with him, and I'll tell you a lot of tears were shed whenever I could get a moment to myself. I gave myself that time and I woke up today and got on with it - - I don't have to like it, but I do need to keep myself positive and set a good example for these boys. They are doing great, by the way.

The boys received such a nice surprise in the mail today from a friend of mine. I have to say, I am so grateful for the people in my life who have taken the time to think of my little guys and who have gone out of their way to send them some cheer. I just hate having Steve deployed, but all I have to do is think about the boys, and really, how confusing and how difficult all of this is for them. I'm just so proud of them. They are the best boys ever. I'm also continually grateful to my parents. It has been so wonderful having them here these past 2 1/2 months. They are so good to the boys and to me and I am going to miss them so terribly when they have to head back to Maine.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Much-Needed Togetherness

After a lovely lunch at Bacco on Chartres Street, New Orleans

Earlier this week, I flew to New Orleans, Louisiana, to spend time with Steve before he left the country to begin his deployment. I'm so happy that I was able to take this trip, and that my parents were here in Idaho so that they could take care of the boys in my absence. It had been a long, long time since Steve and I had spent more than 24 hours, just the two of us (say, seven years or so!), and it was wonderful. Even though I am missing him terribly today, I think that being able to spend the past few days with him gave me the boost I have been needing. Steve and I have never been very good at making time for ourselves as a couple, and this trip certainly showed me how important it is. In every-day life, we don't have the luxury of being able to establish a regular date night, but I know I am going to make sure it happens, one way or the other, when he gets back from deployment. The boys don't know that I was with Steve - - they had really only recently started to adjust to him being gone, and neither of us felt it was a good idea to disrupt the progress they'd made. They were in great hands with my parents, which made my trip that much more enjoyable.

So, now we head into the meat of the deployment. No more cell phones (going to have a hard time adjusting to that), so no texting, and no calling each other multiple times per day. We'll have a bit of time here where we'll be out of contact with him, which is going to stink, but hopefully before long we'll have a new communication system in place. For some reason, there is a sense of relief that comes with this stage of the game. Now, I feel like I can finally start looking forward to him coming home. Probably it would be better to focus on looking forward to R&R. Baby steps!

**If you'd like to read about our time in New Orleans, then head over to my other blog, where I'll be writing about that for the next few days**

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Month Down

Okay, so we are a little more than one month into this deployment. Unfortunately, it still doesn't really feel like it has even started, because Steve is still state-side. I hate to wish for him to "hurry up and leave already", but I don't think I will feel like we are making progress (in getting this over with) until he gets to where he is going. Sounds weird, but somewhere in there, it makes sense to me. I know in a few weeks, when he is actually in Iraq, I'm going to be kicking myself, because we won't be able to call each other and text all the time like we do now.

The boys are doing really well. They really amaze me and I am constantly proud of them. They kind of go in cycles where one of them struggles and the other is doing better. Right now Griff seems to be having trouble, but I think a lot of that also has to do with all the transition he's going through, starting preschool. Today was the first day where he didn't sob uncontrollably when I dropped him off, so we are making progress!

I'm still plugging away, and I feel like I have settled into my new "normal". I miss Steve so much. I knew that I would, but I really had no idea I'd miss him this much. What can I say, I like the guy. A lot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanks, Neighbor!

A couple of days ago, I had quite the interesting interaction with my neighbor. By the way, this would be the same neighbor who offered his help, the last time that Steve was deployed. I'd just returned home from picking my oldest up from school, and we were all getting out of the truck. Neighbor is standing out in his front yard, and we have the following exchange:

Neighbor: HEY! So your husband is coming home.
Me: Huh??
Neighbor: Yeah, they are sending the [insert name of my husband's brigade] home because they don't want them over there.
Me: Ummm....I don't thinks so.
Neighbor: Yes they are! So-and-so told me (so-and-so, by the way, isn't anyone I've ever heard of, but apparently his name was supposed to mean something to me).
Me: That's news to me, but I haven't heard anything about it.

Neighbor then responds with a shrug that says, "Whatever, you Stupid Woman."

What was stressing me out during this brief interaction was that one of the boys would pick up on this and then be saying, "Daddy's coming home????" By some small miracle, neither of them seemed to have heard - - they were too busy scrambling out of the truck, thank goodness. Seriously, Crazy Neighbor...use your head! Mind you, this is also the same neighbor who, a couple of hours later, yelled at me for letting my kids push each other up and down the sidewalk in their Cozy Coupe. Apparently the noise it produced wasn't to his liking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I've been struggling with this particular blog a little - - I think it is because my original blog, while a chronicle of sorts, tends to be about specific things - - something I baked, something I did with the kids, etc.. I think in my mind, I've been holding off on writing a lot of things because I keep waiting for something "specific" to happen, deployment related, when what I really wanted this to be more of a stream-of consciousness so I could keep record of this deployment. How's that for a run-on sentence? I've also realized that I don't tend to write if I don't have a picture to go with it, but really, there isn't a whole lot to photograph in relation to what's going on here. So, I think I'll give this blog another shot. What I have to keep reminding myself is that this is really more of a journal for myself and my family. Don't know why I have to make everything so confusing.

We are three weeks in (with 50-something more to go!) but I have to say, things are going well. One of my fears is that I would be bored. I've always looked forward to Steve's companionship at the end of each day, and this time around I am home full-time, rather than working full-time, so I was concerned that I'd never see another human and that the only conversations I'd have would revolve around Legos, Bakugans, and who annoyed who first. Luckily, that is all proving to be wasted worry. I'm "Room Mom" for Camden's second-grade class, we have soccer going on (although ending this week), church, library stuff, and, last but not least, I've just signed on to be Den Mother to ten second grade Cub Scouts. Lord help me.

The boys are doing well, and while they make great strides each week (in dealing with Steve's absence), I have to say I have been surprised at just how difficult it is for them. We are still having nights where Camden has a good cry before going to sleep at night and really, it is heartbreaking. I know how much I miss Steve, but then I think about being seven years old and not exactly understanding why all of this is happening and it just about kills me. Yesterday, as I was rushing around getting Camden ready for school, I happened upon Griff sitting in the rocking chair, kind of staring off into space. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said, "When my Dad's in Mississippi, my heart has a big crack in it." Two minutes before, he'd been eating cereal and watching cartoons, and two minutes later he was off playing in his bedroom, but I have to constantly remind myself that they are both thinking about this a lot. At times I feel pretty much helpless as to how to help them feel better. This is the part that I really, really do not like.

As for me, I'm doing fine, although I seem to keep feeling very overwhelmed with all the "stuff" I need to do. I know that making a list each morning would really help, so I need to get back into that habit. I think I did it for one day, and was amazed at how much I'd felt I'd accomplished at the end of the day. Clearly, it is also hard to feel as though I'm getting any time to myself but I'm not sure that there is really a way around that one. I've had grand plans of staying up each night, after the boys go to bed, but I'm finding that instead, I'm in bed right after they are, so that I can do some reading. I kind of like that kind of "me" time better than the chore-accomplishing kind anyway!

Steve is doing well and his schedule has allowed for us to have lots of contact with him. I'm glad that the boys are pretty much able to call him whenever the mood strikes, and we continue to use Skype as well.

I hear a 4-year old stirring in the next room, which is my signal to get this day in motion.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Love Technology

Skyping with Daddy
We finally have Skype up and running, after a few pratfalls. I ordered a new battery for my laptop, along with a fancy-pants web cam, and then waited patiently for them to arrive. When they did, I plugged in my laptop to charge the new battery, only to find that my power cord was dead. Luckily for me, Dell was super nice and sent the cord to me by overnight mail at no charge. Thanks, Dell! We were able to try it out last Thursday, and it was really great to actually "see" Steve's face. The boys just loved it! Yesterday, Camden was missing Steve pretty badly, so he called him up and told him that he wished he could see him on the computer. A few minutes later, Steve called back and was at the Internet cafe and the boys spent some time chatting with him. So wonderful to be able to do this!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting a Grip

The boys are in bed and I'm getting ready to turn in myself. I had grand plans of staying up late tonight and getting some things accomplished, but I am plain tired and think I will try to read for a bit instead. I've spent the past couple of days feeling really down in the dumps - - just feeling so blah. I decided to just give myself a couple of days, but then I need to make that concerted effort to get on with all of this because a long year will be even longer if I choose to wallow. It is not a wallowing about, "I can't do this", but just that I seriously cannot believe that we are not going to see Steve for such a long time. It just stinks, plain and simple.

I'm also seeing pretty clearly that for the foreseeable future, this will be something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, as far as how everyone is doing emotionally. Camden has broken down a couple of times this week, completely out of the blue. Griffin is still pretty reserved, but very clingy to me and wanting to make sure I am not going anywhere. I'm so proud of how well they are doing, but oh my goodness do they miss their Daddy.

My laptop has been out of commission since this past June (when my battery bit the dust) but I finally ordered a new battery yesterday, along with a high-def web cam. Cannot wait to start using Skype with Steve. It doesn't sound as though he will have great Internet access while in Mississippi, but ironically, once he gets to Iraq, it will be much better.

I am so thankful for modern technology - - it has been really great to be able to exchange text messages with Steve, and even talk with him a couple of times each day. Tonight, while at Camden's soccer game, I was able to give Steve the play-by-play throughout the game, and send him a picture of Cam via text message. I will miss this aspect so much when he leaves the United States, but will make the most of it for now, while we have that luxury.

I am immediately seeing how different this deployment is going to be from the previous one. So very different with two little boys, than with one baby. Before, I was working full-time outside the home, now I am a full-time homemaker. My relationship with Steve is so much different now than it was five years ago. I know that I depend on his companionship so much more than I ever did back then. I think this will be my most challenging adjustment. I know that I just need to give myself some time to get use to all of this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And So It Begins...

We are now officially out of the "pre-deployment" stage, and in the "deployment" stage. I have to admit, there is a sense of relief that comes with that - - just getting past all of the fear and anticipation, wondering how the children will fare, all of our different stresses and how they manifest. I am glad to now focus my energy on counting down the days until Steve comes home, rather than counting the days with dread until he has to leave.

As for the boys, I'm not sure that Griffin still really understands the fact that Steve will be gone for such a long period of time. He hasn't said much outside of, "I miss my Dad!" about a dozen times per day. Right before Steve boarded his plane, the four of us were having a bit of an emotional moment, when Griffin said, "SNAP OUT OF IT!" to the rest of us ~ he's not big on getting all touchy-feely, apparently. Camden has had a rough few days, and I will admit that seeing him hurt like that was more difficult than I was prepared for. I'm sure we will have more bumps along the way, but I know we will be fine.

I keep thinking about how lucky I am, that I get to be here, in our home, with our children. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is for Steve, having to go without seeing his boys for such a long time. I am so proud of him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Operation Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending "Operation Appreciation", an event held to honor all of our Idaho Army National Guard soldiers and their families. The weather was great, and we all had a really good time. We were happy that my parents were able to attend, too. The main attraction by far was the multitude of "jump houses" that they had set up - - I think the boys did enough jumping for all of us, and had so much fun. There were also games, food, face painting, and as always, lots of great things for military families.

This event was the brain child of Lori Otter, the lovely wife of our governor, Butch Otter. That is Governor Otter above, in the blue shirt - - I was actually trying to get a picture of First Lady Otter (she's in the hot pink behind him) but couldn't quite catch her. I'll also add that I was dying to have my picture taken with Governor and Mrs. Otter, but couldn't get my date to go with me. I'm still kicking myself for not just doing it anyway.

After the family fun wound down, the boys headed for home with my parents, and Steve and I stayed to see Darryl Worley in concert. He had driven all night from Montana where he was on tour, to take part in the event.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Family Time

The boys and I were able to meet Steve on base a couple of days ago for a picnic lunch, and a couple of hours of playing on the playground and climbing on tanks and trucks. As of today, Steve is done with AT, but has a handful of commitments to attend to before the week is out. After that, we get him all to ourselves for a few days. We plan to keep Camden out of school for a couple of days next week so that he can have some extra time with Steve before heads to Camp Shelby.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amping Up

We are still in "amp -up" mode around these parts...have only seen Steve for a period of about 30 minutes in the past 2.5 weeks, but we are about to get to spend a few days with him, which will be great. I know that he is really looking forward to some rest and relaxation before the big craziness begins.

I have been really pleased with how well both boys have adjusted to Steve's absence while he's been at training. We've had some tears here and there, and a couple of pretty decent meltdowns, but all-in-all, they've done great. Steve was able to stop by the house a few days ago (to drop off some gear), and could only stay for a few minutes. The look on Camden's face when he saw Steve was so heartbreaking...haven't been able to get it out of my mind since. I do think Camden internalized a lot of what he is feeling, but that's kind of how he operates anyway. They have both been asking a lot of questions, on a pretty regular basis, so this is good. I'm prepared for the coming weeks to be difficult, but hopefully with all the things we have going on right now, there will be enough distraction to help the boys along.

As for myself, I feel like I have finally turned a corner (thank goodness). We had an extremely stressful summer, which just did not help matters in the least. So many little things going on that didn't need to be going on, which only contributed to the stress already at hand. Pile all of that together and it is just a big ol' recipe for disaster. We made it through, though, and I think the routine of school, fall sports, etc., is helping me get my head back in the game. My parents have also arrived from Maine, which gives Steve a huge sense of relief, which gives me a huge sense of relief. So, many good things are happening. I guess I would say that, come August, I was feeling almost "wimpy" about the impending deployment...getting weepy whenever I'd think about it too much, wondering how I would ever survive (when I know full-well that I'll be just fine). I don't like feeling like that, so I'm really happy to be feeling like myself again. I guess you could say I am in "protective" mode right now...very protective of my children - - making sure the influences around them are positive. Protective of Steve - - keeping things low-stress, and keeping the focus on our family of four. And, protective of myself...not letting others get to me, and not allowing myself to take on other's stress.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweet Nectar of the Gods

The planets have aligned, the heavens have opened, and a Starbucks has just opened, less than a mile from my home in our teeny, tiny little town. I may just survive this deployment after all!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Steve is still in the state of Idaho for a few more weeks, but in that time, the boys and I will only see him a mere handful of days. For all intents and purposes, we are now officially in Deployment Mode. It is kind of funny how many "slaps of reality" I've had over the past few days. The biggest one? I need to get in shape, in a MAJOR way. Seriously. I am so tired these past few days I can't even believe it! Our normal routine is that when Steve would come home at night, the boys would be all over him, and he basically played with them until they went to bed. During that time I'd have time to relax, tend to a few chores, etc. Now that he's not here, I'm going full-tilt from the time I get up (usually 6:00 a.m.) until their little heads hit the pillow. For my sanity, I really must make exercise part of my daily routine, I need to lose some weight (after all, I did have my "baby" almost four years ago now!), and put my well-being high on the priority list. This is something I have always struggled with, especially since becoming a mother. No time for me...need to tend to everyone else's needs first. So, we shall see what happens...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Blessing

We are very lucky to have found a wonderful church in the past year. It is literally right around the corner from our house. Neither Steve nor I were really church-going folks, although we'd both attended church growing up. However, we found ourselves at a point in life where something seemed to be missing - - something we wanted for our boys, but didn't know exactly where to start. One day I called the pastor of our local Presbyterian church and asked her a few questions, and liked her right away. So we went and checked out one of their services, and have been attending ever since. I love this church because it is warm, welcoming, and accepting. Our pastor is very open-minded and knowledgeable, and the sermons are interesting and relevant to every-day life.

This past Sunday, Steve was to receive a special blessing from our pastor, as it was the last Sunday he would be attending church before he left. Unfortunately, she and her husband were on their way home from Canada and experienced a cancelled flight and could not make it to church. Fortunately, the woman who plays the organ at church, Jackie, stepped in. Jackie is an amazing woman who knows exactly what it is like to be without her husband for long periods of time. He is a physician who does mission work in Pakistan and is gone for months at a time.

Jackie had some of the church elders come to the front and lay hands upon our shoulders as she blessed Steve. It was really lovely and it took a lot of concentration not to break into the "ugly cry" in front of everyone. The gentleman standing next to Steve served in the Army in World War II.

Our boys are the only small children in the entire congregation, so as you can imagine, they get quite a bit of special attention. They especially love Miss Cathy, who does Sunday school with them. Since Camden and Griffin are the only children, there isn't a traditional "Sunday School" for them to attend, but Miss Cathy takes them to the classroom and they read stories and put puzzles together and have a great time. As you can see, she also brings them Push-Pops.

So, today I am feeling extra-thankful that we have such a loving congregation of people who will be thinking of Steve and looking out for us while he is away.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Title Escapes Me

I try, I really try, to keep an open mind and remember that most people have good intentions (or at least I'd like to think they do). Then, there is a part of me that just doesn't care, and I often find myself getting angry at the lack of sensitivity some people exhibit. Deployment is challenging, but it is part of military life. You will find that most military families are strong, well-prepared, and just do what they need to do, without complaint. It doesn't matter where a soldier is deploying to -- separation is STILL HARD. Wives miss their husband's companionship, children miss their father...I could go on and on. In a nutshell, if you have not experienced a deployment on a personal level, you do not understand. I am very lucky in that I have some very good friends who, although not even remotely connected to the military, seem to get it. I am so thankful for their encouraging words and kindness. I am also very lucky to have family members who get it, too. I do not know what I would do without them. I'm not really sure why I am even posting any of this. I think sometimes I just get frustrated and need to vent.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Lovely Send-Off

Yesterday, the mayor of our little town hosted a huge send-off for all of the Army National Guard soldiers in our community who will be deploying to Iraq in the coming weeks.

The turnout was HUGE. It was so comforting to see so many family members, friends, and neighbors coming together to recognize all of our soldiers. I think it was really good for me, because I have been very focused on my little family of four, and the emotional challenges we've been facing, so this served as a reminder that we're not alone in this, and that possibly I can offer support to another spouse or family member who may need it.

I'm feeling extra thankful for our mayor today - - thankful that he went to the trouble of organizing this event. After all of these years, I think it is easy for the general population to forget that there are service members serving in Iraq anymore.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not Much

Not a lot to write about right now...I'm currently battling with that dreaded feeling that I wish time would quit rushing by, but on the other hand I'd just like to get this show on the road already. OPSEC says that I can't blog about the details, but let's just say we are gearing up for big changes around here. So, not a lot to write about while we soak up family time and continue to make preparations. I'm thinking this space will be relatively quiet for the time being. I will update when I can.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Pretty busy around these parts, soaking up every bit of family time we can squeeze in...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Family Dinner

Do you sit down to family dinner each night? We do, and it is a pretty important part of our family life together. Both Steve and I were raised sitting down to family dinner, and we knew when we had a family of our own, we would do the same thing.
I was thinking, just the other day, that making family dinner happen while Steve is deployed, will probably be one of my big challenges. I know in the past when he's been away, it is so much easier for me to just throw something together for the boys, and then just eat a bowl of cereal myself, guessed it...their leftovers. This time I'm going to try really hard to make sure the table is set each night, and that I'm still preparing a balanced meal for the three of us to share.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Freaky & Creepy

Steve and I attended a bunch of briefings over the weekend, more commonly known as a "Yellow Ribbon Event", in preparation for deployment. We were so excited to actually be going somewhere together, without children in tow, that we didn't really care that we were going to be spending that time crammed into a conference room with a ton of other people. Sad, I know. Anyway, the morning briefings were really helpful - - I found that it all really helped me get into a "deployment" frame of mind. Lots to do, not a lot of time to do it. One freaky thing I came away with was this:

Obviously, Steve has a will, but we were told that I should have one, too. Kinda weird to see it in print. After I finished signing and initialing the whole document, the lawyer handling it proclaimed, "There! Now you're ready to die!" Thanks Creepy Lawyer. You just creeped me out even more!

We also got a couple of these for the boys. I knew the minute I saw it, that Camden would love to have one, and I was right. He has carried it around all weekend. I was set to order something along the same lines for each of the boys, but was pleased that these were provided to us the the Yellow Ribbon Event. All Steve had to do was pose for a picture, and we went and picked them up later in the day. Steve made a comment that it looked like a spaceman of some sort, and the boys made the exact observation when we gave them to them.

Camden had a rough weekend, what with all the Army commotion, I think. Lots of tears and lots of questions. All we can do is keep him talking, keep him on a schedule, and do the best that we can to keep him feeling safe and secure. I don't know that Steve or I were prepared for how difficult it would be to navigate this uncharted territory.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Update & Another Friday Fill-In

The boys at Black Canyon Park. We're so happy to have a season pass this year!

The summer continues to speed right by us, only now, reality is definitely setting in. Camden has had some struggles (with the idea of Steve leaving) over the past couple of weeks, but seems to be in a good spot at the moment. I think this is causing Steve and I to be more protective of him than we usually are - - it is so difficult to see all of this weighing so heavily on a 7-year-old's mind. We've also both been eating Zantac like candy lately, if that tells you anything!

About a week ago, I was sat down to organize our summer schedule and calendar, and saw in plain print that after company and a couple of drill weekends, we only have 4 weekends together as a family before Steve leaves. Yikes.

Tomorrow Steve and I have Yellow Ribbon, which is where we spend the day at a conference, filling out all our deployment paperwork, attend seminars, update Steve's will, power of attorney, etc. Fun, fun! I've looked at the agenda and am looking forward to getting some new information that I hope will be helpful to us in the coming weeks.

In other news, we are going to an Army Ball on August 7th. I haven't been to one in a couple of years so I can't wait!

Here is this week's meme, "MilSpouse Friday Fill-In". I have to admit, the questions don't really interest me this week, but here they are anyway...

1. What food reminds you of your spouse? Sushi, because we always use to go out for sushi whenever I'd come to Idaho to visit Steve, before we were married. Gala apples, because he eats one every day. Coffee, because he can't function without it.

2. Who would you rather sit next to in a cross-country plane ride: an irritating non-stop talker, or a quiet stare-er? Definitely, a quiet stare-er. I love to talk to new people, but since I'm usually travelling with two little guys, I don't have the luxury of gabbing cross-country!

3. What are your best tips on how to save money? Steve would laugh at this one because he thinks I am bad with money. I like to think I'm quite thrifty. If I need something, I usually check the thrift store first. You would be surprised what you can find there. It is great for finding new appliances because people get new appliances all the time, never use them, and end up dumping them at the thrift store.

4. What is your favorite summer memory? Probably going to the beach with my mother and brother. I think about that a lot these days.

5. Do you believe in ghosts? I wouldn't say I believe in ghosts, per se, but I've always believed that people who have passed away can hear you when you talk to them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Positive Spin I've seen lists like this on a couple of other Milblogs recently, which made me wonder what would be on my own "top ten list" of positive things about going through a deployment. Here we go:
  1. No alarm clocks. We are early risers in this house by nature, but my husband can't seem to do without his alarm clock. It goes off at 4:00 a.m. during the work week, but then he also sets it on the weekends (usually to go off by 6:00 a.m.). If I sleep until 7:00 a.m. on any given day, then I have "slept in", so don't get the impression that I'm lounging away in bed until 10:00 a.m., making my wee children fend for themselves. However, my sleep is interrupted enough by said wee children, elderly dogs, noisy neighborhood animals, etc., and that darn alarm clock just seems to add insult to injury.
  2. Reading in bed. I often long to read in bed every night - - it helps relax me, I have a multitude of books I'd like to devour, etc., but it just isn't the least bit enjoyable when my husband asks every few minutes, "How much longer are you going to read" (i.e., 'when are you going to turn off the light so I can sleep??'). And no, I need my bedside light on...can't do those little book lights!
  3. Staying up as late as I want. No, my husband doesn't make me go to bed at a prescribed time, but I think married couples definitely fall into routines and that's just how things go. For me, night time (when everyone is finally in bed) is the only "quiet" time I get in my life, where I can get a few things done without interruption, where I can watch some mindless t.v., paint my nails...basically, not be on anyone else's schedule. Oh, how I love that time, and right now, it rarely occurs.
  4. Not putting on a big production at dinner. We are big on family dinner here - - wouldn't have it any other way as Steve and I were both raised that way, and it is important to us. However, there are those days where nothing seems to be going right, and I'd much rather throw on a pot of mac and cheese and call it good.
  5. RedBox binges. Steve and I have a difficult time agreeing on movies to watch. There are so many that I'd love to see, but we usually go for something we can both tolerate, rather than what either of us really want to watch. The last time that Steve was deployed, the movie store was my Best Friend, and I am giddy with excitement about rekindling our relationship. Heck, maybe I'll really go crazy and join Netflix!
  6. Rediscovering my passions. Again, another fact of married life, at least for me. I tend to put aside the little things I like to do (hobbies, etc.) in lieu of family responsibilities. Granted, if I were a bit more organized, then I could probably squeeze more of those things into my every day life, but at this point in time, the only time they really see the light of day is when my husband is out of town. Will have to work on this one. Just reread and it sounds a little pathetic/depressing!
  7. Me Time. I do a pretty good job of getting my little guys on a predictable schedule when Steve isn't around, which leads to more free time for myself. This is probably similar to number 3. While I hope I don't spend the next year staying up late every single night, I am looking forward to that daily opportunity to recharge my batteries, where the house is quiet, nobody is asking anything of me, and I can just "be".
  8. Building confidence. While I'd like to think that I am a relatively confident person, nothing shores up that confidence like being in charge of everything. Children, home, cars, family matters, etc. I did not wallow in self-pity during the last deployment, and I certainly don't plan to this time around, either. I love the reminder that I can handle all of these things, without relying on other people to bail me out.
  9. The Kindness of Others. In contrast to number 8, yes, but it is so heartwarming to see first-hand. I am not the type of person to ask for help or to act helpless (ick) - - it just isn't me. However, I am always blown away by the care and compassion shown by other people. My radar has been on for the past couple of months, and I am busy making mental notes of those who I can count on while Steve is away, those who will be good role models for my boys in their father's absence, etc. It is funny how these angels in disguise often show up where you least expect them.
  10. Beginning the countdown. I am really looking forward to the "pre-deployment" phase to be over with. Probably sounds kind of weird, since that essentially means I can't wait for Steve to leave. That really isn't the case - - pre-deployment is very stressful, and I think Steve will agree, this pre-deployment phase has been a doozy for us. So, as much as I hate for him to leave, I can't wait to begin the countdown for homecoming.

Friday, July 9, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Today I'm participating in MilSpouse Friday Fill-In, a weekly meme, hosted by Wife of a Sailor.

And the questions are...

1.What is your favorite household chore?

Washing dishes, which is kind of funny, because it is also my least favorite chore. I do not have a dishwasher (I AM the dishwasher!), so I probably wash dishes 3-4 times per day. Even though I dread it, don't like it, and many times procrastinate at tackling it, I have a massive sense of accomplishment whenever I finish a load and wipe the counters down. Strange, but true.

2.What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have a lot of great childhood memories...some of the best are playing outside in our neighborhood at night, swimming in our swimming pool, going to Bath with my mom and my brother, going to the beach, eating dinner together every is funny how the things that didn't really matter to me back then are important to me, now that I am a parent.

3.What is your most embarrassing moment?

Again...lots of embarrassing moments. Not going to single one out, but I promise I've had tons of awkward and embarrassing moments in life that I'd rather forget about!

4.What uniform of your spouse’s is your favorite?

Hard to pick one. I loved the old class A's (green) but now they just wear a black tie with their dress blues. Steve wears ACU's every day in the past would wear class A's once in a while. I am especially partial to the dress blues because Steve wore them when we got married, has worn them to Army functions, and he looks great in them. There is nothing like a man in uniform, and I love that I get to see my man in uniform every day.

5.What canceled TV show do you miss the most?

I would say Seinfeld, but it is on every day in syndication, so it is kind of hard to miss. I could watch every single episode over and over and never get tired of it. I don't watch much t.v. anymore, but when I do, I usually watch Food Network or reruns of Dateline so I'm not too exciting or hip when it comes to t.v. shows.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On My Mind

Summer continues to speed by. I drove by my son's school the other day and the school sign read, "First Day of School: August 26th". That's next month. Steve leaves before then. He'll get a 4-day pass at some point in September, before he leaves the state, but as far as our little family is concerned, he'll be gone in just a few short weeks. For over a year. Reality is beginning to set in.

We've just returned from a 2-week vacation in Maine. While we had many fun times while we were there, I'm afraid the stress of our current situation got the best of Steve and I. Lots of arguing, stress, and taking things out on each other. Pretty sad, and not at all what either one of us had in mind for a vacation. The best we can do (and have done) is put it all behind us, and move on.

One thing I have been noticing as of late is that I just cannot handle other people's "stuff". I don't mean other people's issues per se - - I mean, other people's issues with me. Or my family. No room in my brain. I wish I had a t-shirt that said, "My Husband is Heading to Iraq Soon. I have a lot on My Mind. Please Keep Your Drama to Yourself." I know that sounds awful, and awfully selfish, but that is just how I am feeling right now. I mean, it isn't as if I am sitting around every day feeling stressed out and losing my mind. I'm going about my business as usual, but things are weighing heavily upon me. No room for extra "stuff" right now.

In other selfishness, I just don't feel like sharing right now. I sat down to organize our calendar for the next two months, and I seriously have no desire to hang out with the masses. Just want to stay home. I want our precious spare time to be spent doing the things that the four of us like to do. Again, not exactly realistic, but it is what is on my mind.

We are also preparing to complete any "loose end" projects that need to be finished before Steve leaves. Only the mission critical ones will make the cut at this point. I think we are in good shape. Just wish time would slow down a bit.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I can seriously feel the summer slipping through my fingers already...I can't believe how quickly the days and weeks are speeding by. Steve is just finishing up two weeks of training, and we are getting ready for a two-week vacation to Maine this month. It will be so nice to have the four of us together for two whole weeks, with spotty cell-phone coverage (i.e., the Army cell phone won't be ringing as much!). After Maine, we have the entire month of July with minimal interruption, then we'll be heading into August where things will really get crazy. The deployment will be here before we know it, so we are going to concentrate on enjoying the here and now.

The boys are doing well. Surprisingly, it is Griffin who is asking the most questions about the deployment. He will randomly make statements out of the blue, such as, "Mummy, when Daddy goes away to Iraq, we won't see him for a long, long time." He has been making that statement, and similar statements about three times per day for the past few days. Hard for me to hear, but on the same token it tells me he is grasping some of this.

Not many pictures to share for the next little bit, as my laptop battery has died, and all of my pictures are stored there. For now, I'm using a clunky old desktop that doesn't have any photo sharing software. Drats!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Talk

So. Today I finally talked to the boys about the fact that Steve will be deploying at the end of the summer. It has been harder and harder to shield them from other people's questions about the deployment, and the opportunity presented itself, so I just went with it. Our concern hasn't been that we don't want people to talk about it around them; it is more that it seems the general public seems to approach the topic with such gloom and doom - - little guys pick up on this, and that isn't what we want to convey to them. The conversation was very brief and very simple, but it was a start. I'm pretty sure that Griffin didn't really grasp what I was saying, but that was kind of what I was expecting. Camden was very matter-of-fact about it, but did have quite a few questions, such as, "how long is a year?" and "will Daddy get to come home for dinner at night?" (can you hear the sound of my heart breaking for these little guys?) Our conversation then kind of transitioned into discussing what we can do while Daddy is gone, like send him packages, write him letters, etc. I have been dreading this day since we found out Steve would be deploying again, but now that the first step has been made, I feel a huge sense of relief.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

"Poor is the Nation that has no heroes, but beggared is the Nation that has and forgets them.”

~author unknown

Friday, May 28, 2010

National Moment of Remembrance

The National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity.
The White House Commission on Remembrance was established by Congress in 2000, and encourages Americans to honor the sacrifices of our fallen and their families.
Please remember to observe one minute of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day. Such an easy thing to do, and a wonderful way to teach our children what Memorial Day is really about.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: These Boots

Not too long ago, the heavens parted, the planets aligned, and I found my self alone in my truck. It doesn't happen often, so I decided it was a good time to take a listen to a CD that I recently picked up at my Family Readiness Center. These Boots: A Spouse's Guide to Stepping Up and Standing Tall During Deployment I found to be a great resource for getting me into the proper frame of mind as we prepare for Steve's upcoming deployment. His last deployment was nearly 4 1/2 years ago, and our circumstances were much different then, so I was feeling the need for a bit of a pep-talk, and I got just that. Topics covered include: pre-deployment, helping children deal with deployment, communicating with your deployed spouse, communicating with relatives during deployment, homecoming, and readjustment. Some of it was a little corny and didn't pertain to our situation, but a lot of it did and was helpful. I think my favorite part of the whole CD was a point the narrator made: "As goes the mother, so go the children." It reaffirmed the fact that the most important thing I can do right now and throughout the deployment is to set a strong, stable example for my boys.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Proceed With Caution

I'm afraid this post is going to end up as a whole lot of whining, so consider yourself forewarned.

The last time Steve was deployed, he did all of his pre-deployment training in another state. So, in the end, he was gone a total of 18 months. This time, the training and preparation are taking place here, so he gets to be home, which is great. On the other hand, I'm finding that what we are getting is an over-tired, stressed out, slightly grouchy husband and father when he comes home at night. His schedule is unpredictable, and his days are long. I know all of these factors only add to his stress - - he also has all the things at home that he wants and needs to get done before he leaves. I try to keep all of this in mind and choose my battles. I keep telling myself that I need to have more patience, that I need to tailor my reactions to random occurrences accordingly. I tell myself this, but so far I'm not doing the best job. Here's where some whining comes in.

One of the most difficult things about being a stay-at-home mother, in my opinion, is that I find it terribly difficult to take care of myself in any way, shape, or form. While I know this is a challenge for all mothers, I found it a bit easier as a working mother (I worked full-time until Griffin was born) because I had the benefit of being around other adults during the day, I had the ability to use my brain in a different way, and I had my glorious lunch breaks, which I used for brisk walks, five days per week. There is nothing I'd rather be doing than staying home with my boys, but oh, how I miss those aspects of working outside the home.

How does all of this fit together, you ask? For me, I realize from time to time that I put an awful lot of pressure (unconsciously) on my husband, to be all those things to me - - the things that I use to get from going to work every day. The added pressure of what's to come in the next few months seems to make it even worse. So, we're starting to have snappy little arguments about dumb things, because we are stressed and tired. We waste time trying to one-up each other on who has it worse. These are moments in time that I will surely regret, come September. I sure would like to know how I'm supposed to decompress, though. I can't seem to figure it out in "regular" life, and it is proving even more difficult now. I want to be able to process my thoughts and feelings, but I feel like I can't (and shouldn't) add to my husband's load, and I need to keep on an even keel for my boys. I keep stuffing things down and hoping I will have an opportunity to deal with it once Steve deploys, yet I don't want to wish the time away.

I suppose this is the most difficult time of this whole thing - - the hurry-up-and-wait part. I don't like it. I'm afraid I'm going to be a nut-case before we ever even get to September. I want to enjoy time with Steve, but I feel like I am getting the last little crumbs of him - - the stuff that is left over after work has its way with him, after stress fills his brain, after he comes home and plays with the then he's too tired to listen to my ramblings of the day and I go to bed feeling irritated and alone.

So, today I am whiney. I'm kind of bitter. And I am really irritated. I'm going to go with it for the day and get it out of my system, and then I'm going to get a grip and get on with it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

I thought I would post some links to military-related posts that I've written for my other blog, in case anyone would like to have a look.

Memorial Day
Freedom Salute
Freedom Salute, Pt. 2
A Wonderful Weekend
Army Perks
Change of Command

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Not To Say

I have seen these types of lists all over the Internet...this is basically a collection of the ones I could relate to the most. I try to keep in mind that people have good intentions and are simply trying to empathize, but really, it is surprising at the comments you hear over and over, through the course of a deployment.

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?" Ummmm...yeah. However, I try not to dwell on that aspect of it. Thanks for reminding me, though.
2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it." Don't really have a choice!
3. For soldiers in Afghanistan: "At least he's not in Iraq!" For soldiers in Iraq: "At least he's not in Afghanistan!" Steve will be in Iraq again, and I've already heard this one. Don't assume that just because Iraq isn't mentioned that much in the news anymore that it's a big picnic over there. There are still approximately 130,000 soldiers there.
4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?" No. Soldiers are granted a 2-week "R&R" (rest and relaxation) during their deployment. They don't have a lot (if any) say as to when that R&R will be.
5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?" This one kind of blows my mind in the same way my mind is blown when someone asks me what I do all day as a stay-at-home-mom.
6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?" There are many soldiers (like Steve) who will be in the military until age of retirement, and aren't looking to get out.
7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it." For me, this deployment is going to be much different than the last one. The last one was 18 months instead of 12. However, this time I have two little boys, ages 4 & 7, who will be profoundly affected by their father's absence. The last time, I had a one-year old, who at this point in time doesn't remember that Steve was ever gone.
8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through." Although well-intended, business trips and deployments are not even remotely the same thing.
9. "I'm totally against the war. Bring the troops home now!" How about supporting the troops that are there?
10. “Do you miss him?” This is one that I heard all the time last time! Seriously!

I just have to add a few of my own to the above list. During Steve's last deployment, when I was still working full-time, there was an office mate of mine that would arrive at work in the morning and immediately make a bee-line for my desk and say something along the lines of, "OH MY GOSH!! DID YOU SEE THE NEWS THIS MORNING??? TWO SOLDIERS WERE KILLED IN IRAQ!! HAVE YOU HEARD FROM YOUR HUSBAND??? WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU TALKED????" Seriously. I am not kidding. She did this for the entire deployment. I would repeatedly tell her that I was always worried, but that I tried not to dwell on it (hint, hint). Unfortunately, she never took the hint!

Another gem from the last deployment stemmed fact that not only did I have a baby to care for, but also a yard full of yard work that needed to get done. I use to sit Camden in a chair on the front steps to mow, but sometimes he just wouldn't stay put. So, there I am, mowing the lawn with one hand, while holding Camden on my hip with the other. Across the street sat my able-bodied neighbor, drinking a beer and watching me. At one point he yells over, "HEY! If you ever need anything, just ask!" Nope...don't need any help here! Just mowin' my lawn and holdin' my baby! Gives my arms a better work out this way! Thanks though! Again, probably well-intentioned, but you most likely will not find a military spouse asking people to help her (at least not me). If you want to be helpful, offer specific - - those types of offers are more likely to be accepted.

And finally, just the other day I had someone say to me, "Aren't you mad at your husband? I would be SO mad at my husband if he got deployed!" I heard this comment the last time, too. Um, no....I'm not mad at my husband, but I sure do feel sorry for yours!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Little Background

I thought I'd provide a bit of background about our military story. Steve is in the Idaho Army National Guard. He also works full-time for the Guard, so I suppose it is sort of like being active duty, without having to relocate. He works very, very hard, and I couldn't be more proud of him. This upcoming deployment will be his third in the eleven years he's been in the Guard, although one of those deployments was in-state, where he was part of a back fill. That being said, he was far enough away that he couldn't live at home, but I still was able to see him at least once per week. I suppose that "deployment" was good practice for his next one, which was an 18-month deployment to Iraq. He left when Camden (our 6-year old) had just turned one, and returned when he was 2 1/2. Now, we are gearing up for deployment number three, which will be 12 months total, and begins sometime in September. For me, reality finally set in last week, and I am feverishly making lists, making plans, and thinking about all that we need to accomplish before he leaves. Of those 20-something weeks, Steve will only be here for about 10 of them, with training and what-not. Ten weeks goes by so quickly! Our main concern is how to properly prepare our children for this big change. They are very close to their dad so his absence will have a huge impact on them. We are hoping to make it to the end of the school year before broaching the subject with them (another month), but I'm thinking that may prove difficult, as word of the deployment has now been in the news, and people tend to ask us about it quite a bit.

My second concern is for Steve - - I know how hard it is going to be for him to be away from his boys. The way I look at all of this is, yes, it will be hard for me at times too, but at least I get to be with the boys. I can't imagine being in Steve's shoes (for all kinds of reasons), so I will most certainly be directing a lot of my energy to keeping him feeling as close to home as humanly possible.

Although the Army is certainly part of our every-day lives, gearing up for a deployment has me feeling a little apprehensive about "deployment" Army life. During Steve's last deployment, I didn't really become involved with FRG activities, because unfortunately there were a lot of women who seemed to possess a "victim" mentality about the whole thing, and for me, it didn't prove to be the least bit helpful for me in coping with Steve's absence. I'm going to approach this deployment with an open mind, but if I encounter the same thing this time around, I will look for support, when I need it, in other areas.

My biggest wish is that our boys will have a transition that is as smooth as it can possibly be, and that the 12 months will go by quickly for all of us.

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Introduction

**Edited to add: Just stumbled upon the Milspouse Bloghop over at Riding the Roller Coaster, and wanted to join right in. I have already found so many great milspouse blogs there...what a great idea! If you would like to read a bit more about our military story, then please go here.

Hello! Welcome to my new blog, Way Out West: The Deployment Chronicles. Steve has been mobilized to head back to Iraq in the fall, so I wanted a space to chronicle all things deployment/Army/military, separate from my regular blog.

If you are a regular reader of my other blog, then you know I like to write about my boys, crafts, decorating, vintage, cooking/baking, and the like. You won't often hear me complain about much of anything - - not because I don't have struggles and/or complaints like everyone else, but because I really don't enjoy reading other people's complaints, so I choose not to write about them myself. That being said, I'm going to allow this particular space be a place where I document the ups and downs of pre-deployment, deployment, separation, and all the things that inevitably go along with it. I had kind of wished I'd been better about documenting our last deployment, because at this point in time I can't really remember a lot of the details.

So, if you want to read about what we've been baking, cooking, crafting, and doing, then keep on reading my other blog. If you have always wondered what a deployment is like, or have a love one who has been, is, or will be deployed, then please join me here on our journey.