March 31, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome!!!!  Thanks for stopping by from the party.  If you don't know which party I'm talking about, check it out:

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Come on in.  Take a seat, but at my house you'd have to brush the dog hair and crumbs off the cushions.  We can't all be domestic queens, and a clean house is certainly not what I'm known for.  

Want some coffee?  I cannot live without it these days.  German Chocolate Cake is my absolute favorite flavor.  

Well, since this is pretty much a one way conversation until you leave me a comment (which I love comments by the way), let me tell you a bit about myself and my blog.

I'm Shelly.  I'm an Army wife and temporarily single mom due to a military deployment.  However, that is ending soon--like THIS month!  But there is a lot more to me than just an Army wife.  I have two little boys, and three dogs.  Having a full house keeps me busy.  I'm a stay at home mom.  I feel like I have the best job in the world, even if my children sometimes drive me up the wall.  I've recently found a love (or maybe it's a dependence) on coffee.  I like shopping (especially online so I don't have to get out of my sweatpants), but I hate spending money.  So if I can find a great deal I'm happy.  I'm always trying to make myself a better person, wife, and mother, but I fail a lot.  I keep trying though, so that is what is important.  

I enjoy sharing my thoughts and stories through my blog.  I write about anything that strikes me at the time.  Sometimes it's about my kids, my dogs, my husband, the Army life, my domestic successes or failures, things I'm loving now, or just random tidbits.  

I'd love for you to follow along and be a new blog friend.  If you decide to follow, let me know and I'll follow you back.  (I don't believe in one-sided friendships :)   Thanks for stopping by.  I cannot wait to read more about you.  

March 30, 2011

Three Dog Life

So there are some "people" (that's what we call them around here) in my life that I don't talk about as often as I should.  And no, I'm not talking about my wild haired and dirty faced children.

So let me give you a quick introduction and a few stories about these other important ones in my life.  Do you remember a few days ago I posted THIS story about how a broken nail became a $645 vet bill in the end?  What I didn't tell you is that I took my beagle to the vet the next day because I knew he REALLY needed his teeth cleaned too, and I had company in town that could watch the kids while I dropped him off and picked him up.  So in 36 hours, I had managed to spend about $1100 at the vet.  They should love me there, but we'll have to wait and see what they think after they deal with Abbey again. ;D

That's Sammy.  He's your typical Pug.  For those that don't know pugs, they are lap dogs, cuddle bugs, and clowns.  They really have great temperaments.  Sam-sam-bo-bo (as Ryan calls him) is probably the favorite dog of the kids.  That is based mostly on the fact that Sammy is the only one that puts up with their crap and all the hugs.  We've had Sammy since November 2004.  He was our first baby.  My parents bought him as a gift for me for a birthday shortly after I moved to OK.  I was lonely out there, and Sammy was definitely one of the best gifts anyone could ever receive.  Sammy likes to cuddle so much that I often find myself being pushed out of my king size bed because his round little body is leaning into me with enough force.  He's a bed hog I guess, but I love that when I roll over and push him a little, he walks up to the top of the bed and pushes his way under my covers and literally spoons with me.  There is no getting lonely in bed when Sammy is around.
This is Bailey.  He's our Beagle (mix).  He's sweet and sly.  He is loving and a little bit grumpy at times. He's submissive to people, but he does not let other dogs push him around.  And most of all he LOVES kisses.  He enjoys lots of petting and also getting his beauty rest.  He HATES the grass in the summer here in TN.  We adopted Bailey from the Animal Welfare Division in OKC in April 2005.  They said he was 2 years old at the time.  Bailey was a very scared dog when we first got him.  It was clear that he had not been treated well in his life before us. and he was underfed.  From day one Bailey and Sammy were BEST FRIENDS.  They play together, cuddle, and even groom each other.  We got lucky that two boy dogs ended up getting along so well.  There is definitely a beauty in their friendship, and I really think they were meant to be brothers.  When we first met Bailey we saw a sweet dog and it just felt like he was the one for our family.  We thought it was cute that he would gently lick our faces to give us kisses.  Little did we know this is a compulsive habit for Bay-Bay (as he is called), and it gets old really fast.  At least he has clean teeth and fresh breath now since he got his teeth cleaned, so we can tolerate the kisses a little more.
This beautiful girl is Abbey.  There is so much to say about Abbey.  She is a very, very sweet dog that loves to be pet and praised.  She is obedient and wants to make her owner happy.  She has had a very tough medical life, and thus is terrified of going to the vet.  Pat went along with my crazy whim to get a third dog.  We adopted Abbey from the Animal Welfare Division in OKC too.  We got her in February 2007.  We had intended to adopt a boxer puppy from a litter that was in the shelter, but when we went and saw Abbey all alone in her crate, Pat said "I want that one."  Pat doesn't typically make such big decisions so quickly, so I really think this was fate.  She had been abandoned in an empty apartment.  She was only 9 weeks old when we brought her home.  We payed our $60 for a spayed and vaccinated dog and a few days later picked her up to bring her home.   I remember introducing the dogs in a field by our house as neutral territory.  Abbey was a barker and thought the cinnamon bun tail on Sammy looked funny.  We brought the dogs home and everything was great, until after 2 days we realized Abbey was sick.  We brought her to the vet and found out she had Parvo (a very serious illness for puppies).  The vet treated Abbey for 2 days and she was responding great so I was told I could take her home.  As soon as we got into the car at the vet to go back home, I knew something was not right with her.  I didn't know Abbey well at this point, but my gut told me she wasn't well.  I wasn't sure what the problem was, so I am sure I sounded crazy when I called the vet, and they didn't really know what to tell me.  When Pat arrived home from work, I explained that she wasn't healthy but that the vet thinks I'm crazy.  Thankfully Pat took quick action and called the vet and said even if we needed an after hours visit, we had to come in NOW.  They were open 15 more minutes and we rushed there.  I'm pretty sure they examined Abbey without us in the room.  I remember hearing her wailing yelps.  The doctor was very somber when he talked to us.  He had never witnessed what he saw with Abbey.  The Parvo had manifested itself as ulcers all over her mouth--big ulcers (wide open sores) on her tongue and all over her mouth.  I was bawling my eyes out at this news, and the vet told us she may not make it.  We had only had Abbey a couple days, but she was already considered family.  Abbey was quarantined for a week.  We were able to visit her a few times and hoped that would lift her spirits, but remember she didn't even really know us yet. During this time, she really looked like a pathetic dog.  She was not eating at all, and who could blame her with all the pain she was in.  Thankfully after about a week in the hospital she finally began to eat, and that was our sign that she would survive this.  A day or two later, after our $60 dog became a $1200 dog, we finally brought Abbey home for good.  Her mouth healed and she was healthy--for a while.

In February 2008, after we moved to TN, Abbey started having digestion issues.  We brought her to the vet here, and we were less than impressed.  They tried antibiotics, they tested for parasites, and even told us maybe she needed doggy anti-depressants.  We knew they were missing something.  After numerous visits and no diagnosis, we realized we'd have to wait for some other symptom or sign, after all who are we to tell the medical professional they are wrong.  Pat deployed that April, and Abbey was still not well.  In July before I went to visit my family, I had Abbey at the vet on post.  (They only do vaccines and not medical issues there.)  I saw that she had lost a lot of weight.  Around this same time I noticed that her chest hair was falling out all over my bed much worse than regular shedding.  I resolved that I was going to get this solved for my poor girl.  During this time, her temperament had gone down hill a bit too.  Abbey already HATED vets at this point, so taking her to the vet again was going to be a challenge.  Thankfully when I took her in, I saw a new vet that really listened.  She said it sounded like Abbey may have Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), and she could do a blood test.  Unfortunately Abbey would have to fast before that test, so we'd have to go back another day.  I brought her back yet again, and in a day or so we had results that Abbey clearly has EPI.  EPI is where she lacks a pancreatic enzyme to digest food.  So for half a year, Abbey was STARVING even though I was feeding her.  She had lost almost 15 lbs and as I said her hair was falling out.  The treatment is easy, although expensive.  With every meal she has needs an enzyme powder added to it.  The powder runs about $110 for a months supply.

You would think that would be enough for one dog at such a young age, right?  Nope.  Shortly after the EPI was diagnosed, Abbey began wetting my bed.  It got pretty frequent too.  This problem was frustrating, but I knew if we brought her to the vet we'd probably be told she needed a pill for the rest of her life.  Finally I couldn't take changing the bed anymore, and we brought her in.  They diagnosed her with an incontinence issue.  It was difficult to get it under control, but thankfully we finally have done it.  She needs one pill a week for the rest of her life.

So you would think the medical issues would be enough difficulty with this dog wouldn't you?  Not quite.  There is one thing that I HATE about Abbey, and it isn't the medical bills.  Abbey has a dominance issue with our pug, Sammy.  Yes, the big dog and little dog are in disagreement about who is top dog.  This order conflict causes Abbey to start what I call vicious attacks on Sammy.  While they say that you should let dogs work out the pecking order themselves, I cannot stand by and let Sammy get hurt.  I do not think Abbey intends to hurt Sammy, but that is what happens.  So now, it's like a circus in my house because I keep Sammy and Abbey separate at all times (except bed time).  We use baby gates a lot in my house.  And I'll be honest, if Abbey didn't have her medical issues, I probably would have tried to find her a better home where she was the only dog or only with dogs her own size.  However, given the medical bills, I know no one would take her.

We love Abbey.  She is a part of our family.  I feel like Abbey is a lesson for me on responsibility and hardship.  It's not what I pictured having three dogs would be like, but no one promised it would be all wagging tails.  All the dogs bring such happiness to our lives, and if I can give them a good home and happy life then that is what matters.  So that is the long and short of my three dogs.  Maybe that explains why having 3 dogs can keep me on my toes a lot!  

March 28, 2011

Making Changes and Seeing the Beauty

Thank you all so much for the kind comments.  There is very little that works to lift my spirits these past few days, but knowing that you can relate and care means so much to me.

I'm getting kind of irritated at myself for this cranky mood.  I do not want to be a mean mother.  I do not want to be apathetic.  I do not want to be someone who lives half-heartedly.  I really want to kick myself in the butt and get back to feeling normal.

There is not much I can change around me right now.  I am a single parent for a while longer.  I have to do all the work alone.  I have commitments to help others, and I will see them to the end.  I am exhausted, but I will continue on.

However, there are some things that I CAN do which may help to make the time pass and hopefully ease my struggles.  This past year, being the sole care provider for 2 energetic little boys plus 3 dogs (not to mention all the other things I have taken on), I haven't kept a very clean house, and I am NOT ashamed of that.  But I know that I always feel better when things are clean and organized.  I've decided with this final month of deployment I want to do something each day to bring more order to the house around me.  While I don't think that will completely solve my crappy mood, I think cleaning will help me by letting me feel in control.
Today I took some extra time to mop the bathroom floors.  Granted, I broke my Swiffer mop on the second bathroom, but I pushed through on my hands and knees with the broken end of the mop.  And you know what?  It feels good to have clean floors.  Tomorrow will be the living room and laundry.  I'll update you on how this cleaning and organizing progresses during this last month of deployment.

The other thing that I have decided I must do is take more pictures.  I've owned a DSLR camera for a while now, but sadly, I don't take advantage of it like I should.  There are so many beautiful things and sights in our daily lives that I don't pay proper attention to.  Instead of just going about my days as I have been, I would  like to rejoice in these captured moments of pleasure.  I cannot say that I'll take a picture every day, but I want to take more pictures to capture those wonderful things around me.  This will challenge my creativity and hopefully help me improve my photography (which is only point and shoots skills).  I'm charging up my battery tonight, and maybe tomorrow I'll capture something worth sharing.

Hopefully, I won't give up on these two new focuses.  I'm hoping that because I'm sharing them with you that I'll stay committed.  I figure if I am accountable to you then I won't get lazy.

p.s.  only about 9% left on my donut of misery!!!  

March 27, 2011

In all honesty...

In all honesty, I question whether to write this post or not.  I do not want to sound like a Debbie-downer, and really I just think no one would want to read my negative feelings.  Being negative just brings others down.

But the other side of me thinks that I need to be honest on my blog.  I need to share these feelings otherwise I feel like I am deceiving my reader-friends and as a result I would feel like my blog is fictitious.

I'm definitely feeling down still.  I think I'm just feeling done with this deployment.  I'm overwhelmed.  I'm tired.  I am the only one that takes care of the kids, the dogs, and the house.  All the jobs are mine.  Plus I've tried to do as much as I can volunteering for the FRG.  I am desperate for a break, for some real me time outside my house.  I want to feel like a person again and not just a robot that does everything.  I want to have feelings again.  I want to matter.

I am trying to do so much that I feel like I am failing at most things.  I feel like the deployment has hurt my children.  I feel like I have failed to be a good mother so many times.  I feel like I let the FRG down.  And we all know that I failed at keeping a neat house, but that is the one that troubles me the least.

And the hard part in admitting that I'm feeling so alone and sad right now is that this is our 3rd deployment.  We already have over 30 months of deployment logged in 5.5 years, and we're not done with this one yet.  I've done this all before.  I'm seasoned.  This should be easy for me, but it is NOT.

I can explain this year like riding a roller coaster.  I made it up the big hill and coasted down.  There were some ups and downs.  I'm preparing for this last hill before we reach then end, and I feel like I cannot pull the car up that last incline.  The end of this deployment is getting close, but it isn't close enough.  It's too far away to get excited, but I know it's coming.  I guess I always found this part of the deployments hard--getting close, but still too far away.  The excitement is building, but there is no way to express it because it's too early to prepare.  We still have too many weeks to worry about our Soldiers.  Our unit family has been through a lot.  I feel like it would be too much to take anymore.  I want these last weeks to speed by.  Emotionally everyone is drained.  

So between my single-parent life, helping others, and worrying for the unit, I'm feeling like I can barely make it any further.  I will make it though.  I know the last few weeks will end up going by, and maybe at a quick pace.  I need to pull up my big girl panties and drive on.  Maybe as we get a little closer and we can start preparing and getting excited things will feel easier.  I feel like I'm stuck waiting and everything is on hold now that we are getting close, but I'm trying to focus on the light at the end of this tunnel that day by day is getting closer.  Soon this will be over, just not soon enough.          

March 25, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #35

I'm joining Wife of a Sailor for the Friday Fill-In.

  1. What is your must have gadget? submitted by Flying High With My Flyboy  During this deployment, it is definitely my blackberry.  That is the quickest source to my e-mails and important phone calls.  Not to mention I can keep up with my blog comments on that ;)   I'm not really a big tech person, and after the deployment I won't care about my blackberry as much.  
  2. How does your adulthood compare to what you imagined it would be like when you were a little kid? submitted by L to the Third  It is completely different than what I imagined.  I imagined that I'd be single through much of my twenties, living in a big city, working at a big company.  I thought my life would resemble chick lit.  Instead I was married at 22, I moved to Oklahoma when I got married, I am a stay at home mom with 2 kids, and I'm a military wife.  I never thought I'd where I am, but I am so happy with the path my life has taken.  
  3. What is your favorite chocolate recipe?  submitted by Our First Deployment  I was going to say that I don't have one, but then I remembered that I love the peanut butter cups my mother-in-law makes.  They are super easy.  You melt some chocolate, stir in some chunky peanut butter.  Line a mini-muffin tin with paper wrappers.  Put 2 marshmallows in the bottom of the mini-muffin cups.  Then pour the chocolate and peanut butter mixture on top of the marshmallows.  Put them in the fridge.  They are chewy, peanut butter-chocolate goodness!  
  4. How do you deal with military life when it gets to be to much or to hard? submitted by Combat Boots And Pointe Shoes  I have some hard days, but I find talking to my family and friends, sending a heartfelt e-mail to my husband, or praying seems to help.  
  5. What piece of advice would you give a new Military spouse facing their first deployment?  submitted by The Albrecht Squad  Take advantage of this time to do things for you.  Deployments are a great time for personal growth.  You cannot change the fact that he has to go, but you can use that time to learn things/do things that you may put off when he is home. Take a knitting class, find a workout class you enjoy, go back to school, or volunteer somewhere.  Find your independence and embrace it.  You will be surprised how much you change and grow in just one year, and you will be so proud of yourself for all the things  you did all by yourself!  

March 23, 2011

A Broken Nail

Monday morning I was dealing with AT&T about my crappy internet connection and running late for a meeting.  I fed the dogs and realized Sammy, my pug, was bleeding from his foot.  I realized it was coming from his nail and knew he must have cut the quick.  I grabbed the powder that I had to stop the bleeding and poured it on his foot.  It seemed to do the trick, and I was able to make it to my meeting on time.

Fast forward to last night, Sammy started walking on only 3 legs and not putting any pressure on the foot with the injured nail.  I was worried and looked up info online.  Basically everything that I saw told me that he'd probably have to have the nail removed by a vet.  He fractured it right up at the base of the nail.

So this morning I brought him into the vet.  All my dogs are due for the yearly vaccines, but that is a job I'm leaving for Pat since he's coming home soon.  However, I figured since I was going in anyway I would have Sammy's shots taken care of.  They are smooth talking at this vet to get you to spend more money.  I agreed since Sammy is 6 years old, I'd pay for extra blood work.  They took Sam to the back room to cut his nails and do some test.  They brought him back to me, and the tech said they didn't see much of a fracture on his nail so he must be okay.  I asked if he was in pain since he was not using that leg, and the tech said to ask the doctor.  When the doctor came in we looked at his nail again and sure enough it was fractured at the base.  She also said that he needs dental work done, and we should do both together.  At first I was thinking this was one way to get a boat load of money out of me.  She said she'd go get an estimate.  She comes back and tells me to do it all it would be $545 (unless they find more dental work to add on to that!).  I grimaced at the total, but I knew it would be high.  She explained since Sammy is a pug he needs "high risk anesthesia" which is a lot more expensive than other dogs.  He would need that anesthesia to just do the nail though too.  I asked what it was without the dental and it was only about $78 for the dental itself.  If I'm going to be spending upwards of $500, then I might as well spend another $78.  Since he'll need antibiotics already for the nail, we won't need any additional medications after the dental.  So in a very expensive way it is saving me money to do both procedures at once, but it is quite a high price to pay for what started off as a broken nail.

So now my little puggy is at the vet being taken care of.  I'll get him home tonight and you better believe he'll be treated like a king, at least for a little bit.  

March 22, 2011

More Productive and Product Recommendation

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions for making my me time more productive.  It makes me feel better to know I'm not alone in my struggle to have meaningful me time and get things done at night.  Last night it helped that I didn't have much I wanted to watch on TV.

So what did I do?  

Something that needed to be done badly.  Something that makes me feel better about myself.  I plucked my eyebrows.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  

Well, it makes me feel a lot better.  I think groomed eyebrows are important.  I cannot manage to get in to get them waxed--that requires childcare.  But I found a product that I couldn't live without.  

(from Sephora)

It is Anastasia The Kit for Perfect Brows and Eyes.  I bought mine a while ago, and it didn't include everything you see here.  Sure, it is expensive at $75, but I figure that I normally paid $15 plus tip for an eyebrow wax.  This kit will surely save me money in the long run because now I do not need to get waxed.  I can tell you that the kit will definitely last a long time.    

Here are the reasons I LOVE this kit:
1.  There are stencils you can use to achieve the RIGHT shape for your brows.  Not all the stencils will work for everyone.  In fact only one works for me, but that one is priceless to me.  
2.  The tweezers are the BEST I've ever tried.  Trust me on that.  (I like them even better than Tweezerman ones.)  
3.  The brow powder duo is great to use with the stencil, and I realized that brows look way better when filled in a little everyday.  I only fill mine in when I'm really going all out, but until I started using this, I never realized what a difference that would make.  It isn't like I have thin brows either, but when I use a little of the powder my brows look so defined.  

So there you have it.  I got something accomplished last night, and I feel a little better now.  

March 21, 2011

Walking Zombie

Lately I'm finding myself to be like a walking zombie.  I know the reason is that I'm staying up much too late.  Last night I didn't go to bed until after midnight.  And with our usual wakeup time being somewhere around 6:20 a.m. (6:50 if I'm lucky!), I'm spending my days exhausted.

So what am I doing when I stay up so late?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Well, actually it's more like surfing the internet, reading blogs, and watching TV.  Nothing of any real importance.

The reason I stay up so late is that after the kids go to bed is the ONLY me time I get.  I need to relax and unwind with a little something for myself.  But really all that doing nothing and staying up so late is pretty unfulfilling and leaves me like a zombie the next morning.  I think it is a sick cycle that I need to break.  I am hoping that tonight I attempt to go to bed early.  I'm sure I could use some extra beauty rest.

I'll let you know if going to bed earlier helps me feel better in the coming days.

How do you unwind once the kids are in bed?  

March 18, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #34

  1. What are some  of your ideas for staying connected with family…you know, those people we moved thousands of miles away from? submitted by Live it. Love it (or not). Write About It.      Well, I don't really have any unique ideas.  We have skype dates sometimes.  My blog also is a great way to share photos and stories.  
  2. What’s the most romantic gift you have GIVEN? submitted byPainting My Canvas   That is a hard one.  I am not sure I've given any "romantic" gifts.  I'm not even sure my husband would appreciate a "romantic" gift.  I cannot wait to read everyone else's answers though.    
  3. Would you encourage your child, if they came to you and wanted to join the military?  submitted by Perfectly Imperfect  I think a better way for me to state it would be that I would support my child and his desire to serve in the military.  Does the danger scare me?  Of course.  It does for my husband and would for my child.  But I will put my fears aside to support my child in whatever makes him happy.  
  4. What is your least favorite bill to pay and why? submitted by A Little of This, A Little of That Definitely the electric bill.  We have electric heat and air conditioning, so in the winter and summer the bill can get really high.   
  5. What is the proudest moment you’ve had as a military spouse?  submitted by Our Okinawa Life  I'm a proud military spouse everyday.  I imagine two really proud moments that will be coming in the future will be 1.  When my husband and his unit returns from this very trying deployment and 2.  When my husband changes out of command I think that will be a very proud moment.  When command is over we can both say, "we survived!"  

If you are new and stopping by, I'd love for you to link up a homecoming post.  Click on the button below to see the link-up.  Happy Friday, Everyone!  Enjoy your weekend.  

MilSpouse Homecoming Link-up

March 17, 2011

Confessions of a Recent Shopaholic

I really need someone to pull me away from the online shopping.  I seem to always hit a phase right before the end of the deployment where I shop a lot.  I'm trying to get everything I know we'll need before we go back to the regular income.  I'm budgeting for everything, but I hate spending money.  I'm definitely more of a saver than a spender.

In just the past few days, I've purchased a down-alternative comforter from Macy's.  It was a pretty good deal, and I had been eyeing these for a while.  The reviews were great too.

So If I'm going to have a down comforter, I must get some duvet covers.

And while I was at it I realized we do need new sheets.

Then last night I saw a tankini I've been lusting over is still in the clearance section of a store website.  About a month ago I got one from Victoria's Secret for a whopping $15.15, and while it looks just fine, I am hoping this new one will make me feel fabulous when I put it on.  A girl can dream, right?

I don't know if I mentioned that my homecoming outfit is finally done.  I have a really cute dress, comfortable shoes (that were already in my closet), and a little accessory that pulls it all together perfectly.  Of course there will be pictures later.

And a few weeks ago I did some actual in store shopping at Old Navy.  I'm going to admit, I'm not usually that fond of ON for many reasons.  However, this spring/summer season I was seeing a lot that I like (mostly dresses and skirts).  Plus, since all we do in the spring/summer is play outdoors and get dirty, I do not like to invest much into my everyday, playing with the boys summer clothes.

But there is still one thing I really need to find--a pair of shorts.  I hate shorts, but I think I need a pair in case the dresses just don't cut it running after the boys everyday.  Or what if we go for long walks.  The trouble is I almost never get a chance to try stuff on.  If it doesn't come in S,M,L, I don't know what to buy.  So I'm waiting until I find the right pair or I get to a store and can spend some time seeing what works.    

Well, now that I think of it, it wouldn't hurt to get a pair of sandals or two...but those are so little they barely count as shopping, right?

I think I have a problem.... ;D

March 15, 2011

Vacation Plans

I am beyond excited about our vacation plans for block leave.  I know that before I can focus on that too much, I need my husband to come home safely from Afghanistan, but having something to look forward to as a family is helping me pass the time.

Even before having kids, we never travelled much.  In fact I'm ashamed to say, we barely travelled at all.  (When we lived in Lawton, OK, we never even made it down to Dallas, TX.)  The biggest thing holding us back was that we have 3 dogs, and I do hate the idea of kenneling them.  Also, before we had kids, we tried to plan trips back home to see family with most of our available leave.  I regret not having more fun adventures.  I've also realized the dogs can survive a while in the kennel.  So for the upcoming block leave we are making it a big trip (big for us that is).

We will be spending a week in Disney World with my family.  This will be Ryan's second trip to Disney and Sean's first.  Ryan is at an age where he will finally appreciate it a bit more.  We are all staying together in a Villa at a relaxing Disney resort.  Even with the change to our vacation plans, I think it has worked out perfectly.

Rather than fly with the kids, car seats, and everything else we are going to drive (hopefully in a new car that we will be buying after the end of this deployment--more on that later).  It's over a 13 hour drive to Disney from where we are.  13 hours in the car with the boys does not excite me.  We've decided to take our time and make vacation stops on the drive.  Here are some of the places we plan to stop on the trip down and back.  Let me know if you've been to any of them.

Birmingham, AL--We're booked at what seems to be a great family friendly hotel and have a 2 room suite. While in Birmingham we'll go to the zoo.

Albany, GA--This stop was my idea.  It isn't a big city.  It is on the route, and after researching it online, I think it will be a perfect stop.  There is the Riverfront Park along the Flint River.  It has a nice playground, a greenway system, and a Ray Charles monument.  I think it will be a perfect stop that is relaxing and allows outdoor time to get some energy out of the kids.  I just have to hope for no rain the day we are there.

Daytona Beach, FL--I grew up in a beach town in New England.  Living where the Army sends us, I really miss the beach.  I'm not really a beach bum that lays out and sunbathes, but I love walking on the beach and watching the ocean.  I think it will be a great adventure with the boys, but again, I have to hope for no rain.

Atlanta, GA--I know I've made posts about our block leave that we took to ATL a year ago.  We have a great fondness for ATL.  On this trip we plan to hang out in Centennial Olympic Park, go to the Georgia Aquarium, and of course we must stop at the World of Coke for Pat.

I am so excited for every part of this trip.  I love the stops we have planned and I look froward to spending a week with my family in Disney.  As I said, we've never done much traveling, so this is a huge plan for us.  Have you ever visited any of the places we plan on stopping?  Do you have upcoming vacation plans?

March 14, 2011

Little Victories

From my last post I'm sure you could tell that I've been in a little bit of a funk.  Every evening I feel awful for my children because when I'm in a funk, I'm not the mommy they deserve.  I've been trying really hard to get out of this mood I'm in.  I thought for sure that Monday, the beginning of a new week, would be the opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

I got myself showered and dressed this morning with the intention of mailing our taxes out.  However, I could tell that Sean was not going to give me the quiet time I needed to do a last look a them, and I certainly do not want the IRS coming after me.  I decided to just mail them tomorrow when I bring Ryan to school.

I figured the boys needed a little excitement so I would take them out to the mall.  Ryan loves going to the mall and begs me to take him there all the time.  We've probably only been there 4 times during these past 9.5 months because I do not like shopping or going to the mall, and I really do not like it with two kids in tow.

After getting the boys both dressed, I went to grab my bag.  I could not find my keys, and I vaguely remembered that when I had my hands full yesterday, I saw Sean walking off with my keys that he had taken out of my bag.  And so began my search.

I searched high and low and in absurd places for over 2 hours.  At this point, I was just aggravated, and the funk I'm in has already left me feeling overwhelmed.  In complete frustration I began to shed tears.  Sure I could spend the money to buy new keys, but that is the last thing I want to spend my time doing.  I feel like I have enough on my plate already.

Finally in my last attempt at searching, I decided to dig through my kitchen trash can.  I started filling another bag up with the trash I was pulling out.  I was thinking this was a pointless task, but lo and behold at the very bottom of the trash bag I found my keys.

Today was trash day.  I had emptied the kitchen trash yesterday afternoon.  Thankfully I didn't empty it again this morning, or my keys would be inside a Waste Management garbage truck never to be found again.  It's the little victories, I guess.

But this did nothing for helping me get out of the funk.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better start.

March 12, 2011

Bad Week

It's been a bad week over there, which of course leads to a lot of worrying over here.  I worry for my husband, I worry for our unit, I worry for everyone.  My husband has witnessed things I would never wish on anyone.  I was dreading this part of the deployment--where he is in command and would see events that would stick with him for the rest of his life.  I do not know how to comfort him, but I am trying.  He bears a weight on his shoulders that I will never understand myself.  I only hope that I am able to help him with that burden and ease the struggles and pain he faces.  My prayers continue daily for all of our troops, our wounded, and our fallen.

While all of the above is central to my family, there are so many families in Japan that are suffering and struggling right now.  I pray that God will show them his grace and that they will find comfort in Him.  I would love to know if you hear about ways we can help, so please share if you know anything.

I am hoping that the next week is a better one for everyone.  Sorry for such a somber post.  After the past few days there just isn't much good to write about at the moment, but I know that things will look brighter soon.  I promise my next post will be a much happier, or at least filled with funny stories of my crazy and cranky boys if nothing else.

March 9, 2011

MilSpouse Homecoming Link-up

MilSpouse Homecoming Link-up

Everyone loves a homecoming, right?  Homecomings are such a special moment that we military wives get to experience.  I'm getting pretty excited about my next homecoming (next month--woo hoo!), and it is definitely on my mind a lot.  There is the big decision of what to wear, the special signs we make, and just all the excitement that surrounds that day.  I love seeing other people's photos and reading about their experiences at homecomings.  It's also a nice way to take a trip down memory lane.  I'm sure that if you had a blog when your loved one came home, you probably made a post about it.  Link that post up here, or make a new post about it.  If you've had more than one homecoming, link all the posts if you want.  I'm taking a gamble attempting a link up, so please don't let me be the only one to link to it.  Let us see your homecoming!!!

I'm going to try to keep this post up the top of my blog for a little while and I'll put a button in my sidebar so you can find it later.  Feel free to grab the button yourself.  It would be great if you posted a link to this link up on your blog too!

Coming Home

I know I'm a little late on this one.  It seems the consensus is that Coming Home on Lifetime is a great show that can bring on the tears of happiness from almost anyone.  I have to say I enjoyed watching it too, but I do have a problem with it.

While I love seeing all of the wonderful homecomings, I think it is slightly misleading about one thing:  Not all homecomings are picture perfect.

I wouldn't even be thinking this way if it hadn't been for my R & R experience with my oldest son this past December.  I know I blogged about it shortly after it happened, but let me tell you a little more.

My oldest son, Ryan, had just turned 3.  His Daddy had been gone for over 6 months at this point.  Ryan doesn't talk about it much, and he doesn't seem to really understand anything I can tell him about it.  He's just a little too young, and Daddy's absence is a lot to deal with at his age where he is not capable of expressing his feelings.  So here is the scene for those who don't remember or haven't heard it:

Daddy is waiting in a completely empty airport (it was eerie how empty it was).  Daddy had stopped at a gift shop and bought a stuffed animal for each boy.  The boys and I enter the airport from a far door and are walking down a straight pathway.  We can see Daddy at a far distance down the way.  I ask Ryan who he sees.  I've never seen a reaction out of him like the one that happened next.  His face crumpled and emotion was just spilling out of him.  He was tugging on me pleading that we turn back and go home.  Daddy is waiting with open arms and no one is running toward him.  There were two witnesses working a kiosk right in front of our Soldier waiting to see the welcome home.  I continue walking toward my husband with my oldest child practically dragging his feet while holding my sweater and tugging me in the opposite direction.  Ryan is sobbing and hiding behind me.  We finally get to Daddy and the crying escalates.  No hugs, no kisses, nothing but tears and emotions.  Daddy offers Ryan a stuffed animal that he bought special just for him, and Ryan cannot even look at him.  We decide that it is a lost cause at the moment.  Daddy then focuses his attention to our 14 month old, Sean.  When Daddy goes to hold Sean he too starts screaming.  This was no surprise.  Sean is very shy at this stage, but after Ryan's reaction I had been hoping someone would warmly welcome Daddy home.  The two workers at the kiosk have averted their eyes by this point.  They too realized that this was not the scene they had expected.  With tears in my eyes, mostly for the disappointment I'm sure Pat is feeling, it is now my turn to welcome my husband home for his R & R.  I attempt to hug and kiss him with a crying child in my arms and one wrapped around my legs.  It was clear that the moment was over, and we knew we needed to move on from the welcome home part and try to reintegrate.  

I hadn't expected picture perfect, but I had hoped for a warm reception.  I expected shyness from Ryan, and knew it was coming from Sean.  I had not expected a complete emotional breakdown from my 3 year old.  In that moment the difficulties of deployments came into a new light for me.

As my sister says, that scene probably would have ended up on the cutting room floor on the show Coming Home.  I know I'm not the only one to have a reunion story like this.  While it is great to watch the moment of complete joy at the return of a loved Soldier, sometimes it's not all pretty and picture perfect.  I know that no one wants to watch the struggles, but there are a multitude of challenges that face a family that is beginning the process of reintegration.  So while I am happy to see a light shined onto the military families in this country, I think I'd like people to realize it is more than what is shown on TV.

On a different and more upbeat note about the show, I ended up watching it with Ryan this week.  I had started watching it while he was playing, but once he saw it was about a knight his attention was immediately on the show.  Ryan is currently obsessed with knights.  I decided if he was going to watch, I would use it as a tool to help prepare him.  At each homecoming we saw on the show, I made sure to point out how the kids hugged and kissed their Daddy and that it was a happy moment.  When the homecoming scene in the hangar at Ft. Campbell was on, I explained how that was the same way Daddy was going to come home next month.  Unfortunately, I think the show confused Ryan a little bit, because his response was, "No, I want Daddy to be a knight!".  I think I have a lot more explaining to do. ;-D

March 8, 2011


Today I'm feeling stressed, and I'm not sure why.  I am feeling like I have so much going on and that maybe I am forgetting something.  I just feel a bit off today.  The funny thing is that I don't have much going on beyond normal.

One thing that may have caused this feeling is the fact that I learned Pat won't quite be home when we thought he would and that block leave is being pushed.  I know we are receiving a gift from the Army because he'll be deployed less than a year.  Unfortunately this change would affect our already booked vacation on block leave.  It was a stressful day.  Everything had been planned perfectly for the trip, and with the change everything was looking kind of second rate because the timing wasn't going to work out as well for us.  I was having a hissy fit and sulking for a few minutes in there.  Thankfully Pat was awesome and came up with a new plan that solved all the issues about the timing.  And we were able to change our reservation with no problem.  So everything has fallen into place again and this plan actually works out even better than the original one.

But...when things really start working out like this, I always feel the need to be looking over my shoulder waiting on the Army to change things around again.

I guess all that is reason enough to feel stressed.  Maybe I should do some yoga today to relax, and it might help me look better in my homecoming dress ;)

I'll tell you more about our vacation plans later.  

March 5, 2011

Book Reviews

In keeping with my deployment goal of spending time doing something I enjoy, I've read a few books lately and wanted to give you my thoughts on them.

One Day by David Nicholls
I first heard about this book when I saw celebrity photos of Anne Hathaway filming the movie adaptation of this book.  I cannot resist reading a book that I know is being turned into a movie.  One Day is written where the author follows the two main characters, Emma and Dexter, for one day each year over a 20 year period.  In that one day you learn what has happened over the past year and where life has led the two friends.  I was really enjoying this book until I reached the end.  It was one of those books where you assume the author must have just been sick of writing it and slapped an ending on it just to be done.  I'm not so sure I would even waste my time going to see the movie because of the ending.  So I'm warning you now that the ending is a huge letdown, but the beginning and middle were pretty good.

Confessions of a Military Wife by Mollie Gross
My mother sent me this book as a gift after she saw the great ratings it had on  Mollie Gross' husband was an Officer in the Marine Corps.  She went through two deployments during his 4 years in the Corps.  She writes about her experiences as a military wife, and she writes it with humor.  This book was a refreshing change from the "woe is me" or "let's all hold hands" types of books that you typically find about military wife life.  Reading this book brought back so many memories from my first few years as a military wife.  I had forgotten about many experiences I had, and through reading this book I was able to look back and laugh at some of the things we had gone through.  I recommend this book as a fun read and as a look at military wife life through another's point of view.  I guarantee there will be something you can relate to in this book.

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
I had been wanting to read this book for a while, and then saw that it was temporarily a free kindle book.  I got it right away.  (Sorry, it's no longer free, but it is worth the price!)  I loved this historical fiction book.  Maybe I'm a sucker for the flirting and romance in these period pieces.  Lilly the main character is an Apothecary's daughter (hence the title) who just wants to get out of her hometown and explore the world.  She finds an opportunity to live in London with her Aunt and Uncle.  She is enjoying the social life and attempting to find a husband when she receives word that her father is ill.  She must return to her hometown and fears giving up the new life she just had a taste of.  Quite a bit of this book is focused around Lilly's dating life, but it was a fun read where you are hoping she'll choose the right gentleman.  If you are into books like this, then I highly recommend it.

Have you read any good books lately?  

March 4, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #32

I'm linking up to Wife of a Sailor for the MilSpouse Friday Fill-In.  You should link up too!

1.  Do you or your spouse ever wish your spouse was in a different branch of the military? submitted by The Turner Family
I can honestly say that neither of us wishes my hubby were in a different branch.  I am sure there are some benefits to the other branches that it would be nice if they had in the Army, but as with anything there are probably also negatives with each one.  We're pretty happy where we are.

2.  What duty station(s) are on your "No Way, Hell No, Not Going, Have Fun Unaccompanied" list and why?  submitted by Every Branch
No offense to anyone there, but we have no desire to go to Ft. Polk, LA.  I truly believe that a big factor in one's happiness with a location is what they make of it though.

3.  If you could be one age forever, what age would you choose and why?  submitted by Three Krakens
I would choose to be 29.  I think it's the perfect age because by then you should have made it through the stupid phase of your 20s and gained wisdom and maturity, but you have not yet reached 30.  I'm currently at my perfect age, so I better make this year count!

4.  If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be?  submitted by the C.W.
Honey Nut Cheerios!  Sweet, nutty, and well-rounded.

5.  What is your morning beverage of choice and why?  submitted by NH Girl Displaced
Coffee.  I try to limit it to one cup because I don't want to over do it on the caffeine.  I was never a coffee drinker and didn't like the taste of it until this third deployment.  I think two kids and being a single parent pushed me over the edge.  Now I am addicted to it.  I don't know how I made it through so many years (and college) without drinking it.

March 3, 2011

Things I'm Loving

Here's a rather random list of things that I'm loving right now.  I always like hearing people's recommendations on things, so I thought I'd share some of my own.  

First and foremost, let me just say I'm loving Steve Jobs and the new MacBook Pro.  It came yesterday.  I was worried about transferring all my documents, etc. to the new laptop.  I should have known that Apple has thought of everything already.  I started the new computer up and it asked me if I had a backup from another computer I wanted to load.  I hooked up my external hard drive and now my new computer is just like my old one, even down to the wallpaper.  I have all my documents, all 4000+ photos, all my software programs, EVERYTHING all loaded onto my new computer with just one click of the button.  This is just another reason why I will never go back to a regular PC; Apple makes my life too easy.
And let me just add, that everything about the MacBook Pro is awesome.  The screen images are so clear and sharp, the keyboard is back lit, and the multi-touch track pad is amazing.  Really this is just one sexy laptop!

I've been using the regular Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser for a while and really like it.  It is inexpensive, and it doesn't over dry my face.  Plus there is the fact that it is shimmery gold, and it makes me happy to wash my face with liquid gold.  Because I like the regular cleanser, I couldn't resist trying the Skin Brightening Daily Scrub.  Sometimes my face needs a good scrub.  My face feels so clean and soft after a wash with the scrub; I love it.  I'll still use the cleanser, but sometimes you need to scrub those dead cells off.  

bareMinerals Foundation is my new best friend in the makeup department.  If I want to look like I didn't just roll out of the bed with very little sleep, I need to put some make up on in the morning.  I had been using liquid foundation, but I am always afraid of it being too dark, looking uneven, or just looking like I have too much makeup on.  I love that with bareMinerals you look really natural.  I always describe putting it on like watching Bob Ross paint.  At first you are skeptical and thinking it isn't going to look good, but then as you approach the final steps you are amazed at how beautiful it came out.  Give it a try, but don't judge until you see the finished product.  
Speaking of makeup, if anyone wants to recommend a blush, I'm looking for a new one. 

The last thing I'll put on the list this week is Golden French Toast Coffee from Green Mountain Coffee.  French toast is probably my favorite breakfast meal, but my hips thank me for not indulging in it that often.  However, now I can have it as often as I would like--in the form of coffee that is.  I wasn't sure it was possible to capture the essence of french toast in a coffee flavor, but they did a great job.  It smells just like the actual food, and the flavor lends a sweetness to the coffee that I rather enjoy.

March 2, 2011

What I want to be when I grow up...

There was a question from the MilSpouse Friday Fill In that I wanted to answer, but because of my broken computer, I didn't get the chance to do it at the time.  The question was:

 If you could have any career in the world with nothing holding you back, what would you do? 

For me, this question has a few stages.  Please do not take any offense at my personal opinions...they are just that--my personal sentiments to answer this question.  

If you asked me this question back in the end of high school/beginning of college, I probably would have said I wanted to work in marketing/advertising.  (Hence my major.)  I guess I didn't have much ambition for changing the world; I just wanted to find a place in it at that time.  

If you asked me this question after I was married, I knew the most important place I could be was in the home raising my family.  I know it probably sounds 1950s-ish to most people, but I cannot imagine spending my days away from my boys.  For me it is so very important to savor these years before the children are of school age.  I've noticed in recent years people begin sending their children to school earlier and earlier, and there is definitely a side of me that wonders why.  But don't get me wrong, I've fallen into that trap too.  I like to think if we led a normal civilian life that I wouldn't be pushing my young son into school so early, but I am not sure.  I know that the socialization is good for him, but I think there are some parents that like to use the "it's good for them" as an excuse to really do what is good for themselves.  There are only so many years we get to spend with our children before they go to school and grow up.  If I want to have a career, I'm sure I can manage that after the children are in school/grown up.  I cannot have these special moments with the boys later.  Maybe I'm an overzealous parent, but I cannot think of anywhere or anything I'd rather be doing than helping my children learn and grow every minute that I can.  

There is a third part of my answer for this question though.  If there were NOTHING holding me back, my dream would be to work for an emergency response organization like the Red Cross.  Whenever a disaster strikes, I wish I could be doing something to really help.  I think that most people feel the same way when they see people suffering.  Maybe everyone wants to be a part of the team to help.  I know there are ways to help without actually being there, but my passion would be to be there in the thick of things helping people.  If I could be anything, I would want to be part of an emergency response team helping people during the moments of their greatest need.  I hope that one day I'll be able to make a difference like that in people's lives.  

Since I probably couldn't read your answers last friday, what would you want to do if nothing held you back?

March 1, 2011


As of today, I can finally say NEXT MONTH my husband will come home and my family will be whole again!

It's still way too far in the future to get excited about it now, but just being able to say NEXT MONTH is amazing.

Last night before bed the boys and I watched some videos I taped of Pat reading bedtime stories for the kids.  We've watched these videos before, but both boys really reacted this time.  Ryan was talking to Pat as if he could hear him.  Sean was trying to blow on Pat's face and help him turn the pages of the book.  Ryan soon realized that it was like watching TV and that his Daddy wasn't really there.  Sean was amazed by seeing his Daddy and never stopped trying to get close to him.  It was definitely heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

Pat mentioned there could be the possibility of us using a webcam soon.  I think that would be so great for the boys.  We have not done a webcam chat this entire deployment.  I think that they need to see their Daddy more.  The thing I resent the most about deployments is how hard it is on the children.  It affects them no matter what age they are.  While I could complain about this for a lot longer, I truly understand the reason for these deployments and am proud to stand as an Army family despite the hardships.

My countdown is on, my homecoming sign has been made (yes a bit early!), and I'm on the look out for a homecoming outfit (any ideas?).  :-D
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