Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 50--Where were you?

If you ask me what I did last Tuesday, I would have to look at my calendar (and maybe my bank account.) I can't remember.  However, if you ask me what I was doing ten years ago, on Tuesday September 11, 2001.  I can remember BETTER than it was yesterday.

Everyone has a story.  So, here is mine.

Mike and I were living in a little apartment in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Mike was attending Officer Basic Course at Ft. Sill.  He had left early that morning because they were doing a field exercise.  I was 38 weeks pregnant with Adam.  I was still in bed a little before 8am when I got a call from one of the girls whose husband was in Mike's class.

She said, "Robin, a plane just flew into the World Trade Center."

I was still waking up and I didn't understand.  "What?" as I sat up in bed trying to process what that meant.

"Go turn on the news."  I climbed out of bed and turned the TV on.  We both sat in silence watching the news.  After a few minutes we watched breathlessly as they showed the second plane fly into the second tower.  Panic and worry washed over me.  I told my friend, "I have to go.  Call me if you hear from your husband.  I have to call my mom."

Then the Pentagon was attacked.

I wasn't able to talk to Mike until later that afternoon.  He rushed into our apartment and hugged me so tight.  We both wept.  We sat on the couch all evening watching the news, hoping for any new information and praying for the victims and survivors and families.  I was overwhelmed watching the NYFD and NYPD and the soldiers at the Pentagon.  True heroes.

Mike and I knew that OUR lives would never be the same.

Tonight, I thank the many men and women; soldiers, law enforcement, firefighters and the many un-named civilians who keep me and my family safe on a daily basis.

Francis Scott Key said it best in the 4th verse of The Star Spangled Banner.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Deployment survival tip #8--Feel free to cry during The Star Spangled Banner.  You are lucky enough to know one of those freemen who stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation.

July 13, 2004

November 8, 2008

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 32--Yahoo or Boo-hoo

First Days of School

Adam and Amanda's first day of school was yesterday.  Even though we have been practicing getting up, getting ready,  for the last 2 weeks, we were still running behind.  We weren't late, but you know, we weren't ahead of the schedule either.

At Amanda's school, the kindergartners are dropped off and picked up in the Cafeteria.  This was a great opportunity to get one last picture with Amanda.  She was such a big girl.  When her teacher gathered the class, Amanda walked down the hall like she owned the place.  Amanda also decided that she wanted to be enrolled in the Dual Language program.  That means for the first half of the day she is with a teacher who ONLY speaks SPANISH.  Then the second half of the day, she is with an ENGLISH only teacher.  So far, she says she likes it.

This would be the place where I post a really cute picture of Adam and me.  I could sense his embarrassment and anxiety once we got to school, so we just gave each other a nod and he headed for the 5th grade hallway.  As he walked away, he yelled, "THREE" over his shoulder and held up 3 fingers.  Amanda, Marie and I all yelled back, "FOUR!"  I can't believe he is in the 5th Grade.

Today was Marie's first day of school.  Can you see that smile?  She didn't even look back after I dropped her off in her class room.  When I asked her what she did today, she closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. I asked, "Did you take a nap at school?"  She energetically nodded her head and said, "Yeah, nap."  I asked her, "Did you color?" She nodded.  "Did you play with dolls?"  Nod again.  "Did you play with friends?"  Nod again.  Just to mix it up, I asked her she fed any lions.  She started to nod and then paused.  She looked confused as she shook her head.  Glad to know she is listening.

Yahoo or Boo-hoo Brunch

Over the last month I have attended two great parties.  First, a "Boo-hoo Brunch" hosted by my friend Sharon Bright a few days after our husbands left.   It was so nice to hang out with cool ladies.  The other plus, my sisters were in-town so I got to introduce my cool Army friend to my awesome sisters and my cool Army friends to my awesome sisters.  Then a few weeks later, I attended a "Back To School" themed coffee at Betsy Harris'.  So much fun!

As I was driving home that night after the coffee, I started thinking about my kids starting school.  I remembered that last year a bunch of ladies from church met at IHOP for breakfast.  Sounds fun, right.  In theory, it is great.  But in reality, it was really crowded, the food took FOREVER, the pre-schoolers and toddlers were bored and misbehaving.  So, I started thinking about hosting a party at my house.  I checked around to make sure no one was planning an IHOP trip.  No one was, so I started planning.

I jokingly mentioned to my sister Jacqui, that she should host a "Yahoo or Boo-hoo Brunch" with me.  See, we both live in Texas.  In most states, that means you are a few hours apart, but not in Texas.  We live 10 hours apart.  But the idea of hosting a brunch at the same time caught on and soon we were sending drafts of invitations and talking about decorations.  But, then, the way it usually does with sisters, it turned into a competition.  Check out Jacqui's party on her blog, here.

We both used the idea of Pencil vase.  I used a soup can as the base.  I put a rubber band around the can and stuck pencils around it until the can was covered.  Then I tied some raffia.  Note to self: trim the raffia.  

Next, I needed something to give the table height.  Ah Ha!  I finally found a use for those college books I have been hauling around for years.  Thank you Riverside Shakespeare and DiYanni Anthology of Literature.   They made great lifts for the casserole dishes.   I dusted off some of my other favorite hardbound books and used them, too, in the centerpiece.

I also pulled out my cake plates and glass serving dishes.  As a side note, a veteran Army wife once told me, "If you are going to get serving pieces, I always choose glass.  It is usually inexpensive, goes with everything and works for every season."  Besides, everything looks better on a cake plate.

Originally, I wanted to do most of the cooking for the brunch.  But as ladies started RSVPing, and started asking what they could bring, I suddenly realized I didn't have much cooking left to do.  Thanks to all of the friends who made, bought and brought all of the delicious food.  

I did make a Hash brown Casserole, because I was craving it a few days ago and if I made it for just my little family I would have eaten the WHOLE pan.  Best to share it with friends.  Let me know if you want the recipe.

Here is a picture of the table spread as people started to arrive.  Thanks, Shaela for being in the picture.   I am thankful for many things, but one thing that is near the top--good friends.  I love having my home filled with friends.  It makes me happy to hear their voices and laughter.  I also love being able to introduce the different groups in my life to each other--school, church, Army, neighbor.  Because I think that each woman is amazing and I am thankful for her friendship.

Deployment tip # 7 - It doesn't matter if you are Yahoo-ing or Boo Hoo-ing.  Friends make it that much better.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 23-Sundays and Trash days

My friend Michelle said once that the day that she missed her husband the most was on Trash day.  I guess, technically it was the night before trash day when she was wrestling heavy, stinky cans to the curb.  She would tell herself, "One more trash day down."

I don't mind trash day so much.  I have a 10 year old and that has become one of his assignments.  Besides, El Paso has curbside recycling.  Neither 90 gallon can is ever too heavy.  Stinky, yes.   I can't help that because the trash just cooks in the El Paso heat.  YUCK, but like I said, I have a 10 year old and that is his job.

My least favorite day is Sunday.  The dread and depression set in Saturday night after the kids are all bathed and in bed.

Ahhh, here we go again.

During the course of the weekday, as a busy mom, I don't really have a chance to miss Mike.  School, scouts, lessons, cooking, cleaning and running errands--I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone dwell on the fact that I am alone.  I can almost fool myself into thinking that Mike is "just at work."

Going to church seems to underline the fact that I am alone.  Now, I know that when I am at church, I am far from alone.  I am surrounded by loving, supportive people who would do ANYTHING to help.  Watching other geographically "whole" families, however, is just too much.

Because I have a toddler, I spend a lot of time out in the hall during church.  A few Sundays ago, I had to take Marie out.  While I was gone, Adam and Amanda started annoying each other and getting loud.  Bless the sweet grandma, Myrna, who quietly moved up a pew and sat in between Adam and Amanda.

Today, started out pretty rough.  I ended up yelling at the kids and by the time we were loaded in the car ALL of the children had lost ALL T.V. privileges for the next decade.  I was so frustrated and angry by the time we got to church, I didn't even want to go in.  I didn't want to see all the families with Daddies sitting together. I didn't want to wrestle Marie through the service.  I didn't want to.

But I did, because I believe that when it comes to Spiritual things, when you don't want to do it, that is when you need it the most.

It ended up being one of the best Sundays I have had in a long time.  Through the events of the day, the classes that were taught and the comments that were made, I was humbled.  I felt God's love and His awareness of me and my challenges.  Tonight, as I write this, I am especially glad that I went to church today.

Deployment survival tip #6--Go to church.  Even if you don't feel like it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 17-To my friend Julie

HA!  I have a story for you!  Mike's second deployment, but first to Iraq, resources were scarce.  There weren't phones or Internet set up for the soldiers.  It is hard to imagine, isn't it?  The Battalion Commander got a satellite phone and he let all of the soldiers use it.  So that everyone could use it, the divided up the time--each soldier got 3 minutes.  Yeah, you read that right, 3 minutes once a week.

Mike's day to call was Sunday.  He shuffled and traded time with friends and other soldiers, so he could call after I got home from church.  Coming home from church, I totally vented to my mom.  I had had the worst day EVER.  I vented so much that I think my mom thought I had Tourette's Syndrome.  I had a world class "hissy fit."  Well, apparently, that outburst didn't help me get it out of my system.

When I finally got Mike's call, he was so sweet.  He asked me how I was doing.  HA, well, you guessed it, I told him how I was doing.  Now I had two people thinking I had Tourette's.  I ranted, I raved, I yelled, I cried.  I was basically NUTS.  I paused for a second to catch my breath and my sweet, adorable husband said, "Babe, my time is up.  I love you so much.  I will talk to you next week."  The phone went dead and I spent the next few hours bawling my eyes out.  I didn't even tell him that I loved him.  I didn't even ask him how he was doing.  What if something horrible happened to him and the last things I said to him were ugly, awful comments.

I promised myself a few things that day.  

First, I vowed I was NEVER going to do that again.   What if that had been the last thing I said to him?  How would I have felt if he had done that to me?

Second, I decided that I would really try to vent to other people and use my phone time to connect with him.

Third, for my own sanity, I had to accept that not all phone calls were going to be perfect.  That is life.

I have also realized a few other things about phone calls.  But I will save those for other posts.

Julie, in the meantime, cut yourself some slack.  You are doing awesome.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 16--Remember

I am proud to be an Army Wife.  I am proud that my kids put their hand over their heart when the National Anthemn is played.  Adam and Amanda both know all of the words for the first verse and they sing it loud.  I love America.   Amid all of this American Pride, sometimes I forget that Mike's job can be dangerous.  Okay, I don't forget.  I conviently choose not to acknowledge.  I try to focus on the positive stuff.  Yeah, maybe I am in denial.  But that is were I have to live, so I can continue with a normal life and be stable for my kids.

I don't usually watch the news while Mike is deployed.  That is a topic for another post.  But today I have been reading the news, my heart has been heavy thinking about the friends and family members of the 30 Soldiers who were killed on Saturday in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 9 & 10-Where did they go?

Deployment Survival Tip #5- Plan something

Nothing helps the time pass like being able to look forward to something.  For me, this has been getting ready for my 3 sisters and their kids to come visit.  I had high hopes of having gift baskets made for each cousin and sister, but I got swamped sorting girl clothes.  There was a method to my madness, I swap clothes with 2 of my sisters.  When Amanda outgrows an item, I set it aside to pass along.  Then when their girls outgrow the said item, they pass it back to me for Marie.  I wanted to be ready to pass along more clothes and get an idea about what I need to get for school clothes.

Everyone will be here by 10 am Tuesday.  Are you sitting down.  That means by 10 am Tuesday, we will have 12, yes 12 kids and 4 adults.  I hope the kids don't decide to have a mutany.

Then our next adventure includes haircuts.  I MUST take before and AFTER pictures and a trip to White Sands.

In case I forget to mention it, thanks for making the trip.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 8-Sleep

I have re-written this post about 5 times.  I need to go to bed, but I know I still have a MILLION things to do.

Deployment Tip #4--Go to sleep

I am off to take my own advice, just as soon as I: start the dishwasher, tuck the kids in, brush my teeth, tidy the living room, fold some laundry and lock all the doors.

Of course I just heard thunder, so maybe I will say up for a few more minutes.