A Day For Us

Days go by so quickly, and I want to remember the little things.

I saw another blogger record just a random day for her family, and it prompted me to do it for us. Our days change so much with our schedules, and with an ever changing toddler, but I thought it would be nice to see just one day of our lives laid out.

And I also happened to do it on a Monday. The day that I rarely have my crap together. Sounds about right.

My alarm goes off at 5:10, but I hit the snooze until about 5:30 when I grudgingly get out of bed. This day, George was still asleep so I rushed into the shower to get done before he decided to join the day. Every day is different though. Some days he wakes me up before my alarm, other days I have to wake him up 15 minutes before we have to leave.

This Monday however, he stayed asleep until I got out of the shower and dressed. He EVEN read his books quietly for about 5 minutes before I went to get him up for his milk.

One of my favorite parts of the day is when I pick him up out of the crib is that he hugs you so tightly. Seriously the best. It warms my cold morning heart right up.

0222160559

First thing on the agenda for little man is getting some milk. He is barely awake so he usually gets upset when I put him down so I can get his cup ready.

He is obsessed with this chair. He carries it around with him, and he will sit so proudly in it. He looks way to big sitting in it. I do not approve.

0222160608b

Most mornings though he isn’t done snuggling, and this morning was no exception. So he crawled in my lap as I ate breakfast and did my morning devotion. However, I think the snuggling is all food motivated because he generally gets some cereal in the process. (He eats a full breakfast once he gets to the sitter’s.)

0224160610

Every morning George shuts us in this room to get ready. I have the door open, but he feels so proud of himself that he can shut the door on his own so he does it anytime he can. Even though all his toys are behind the door, he usually finds other things of mine to play with, like my scarves. He LOVES my scarves. He is often carrying them around like Linus in Peanuts, or he wears them as scarves are meant to be warn. He is infatuated with them.

He also loves this box and that he can sit on it like a chair. Surprisingly, he will sit on it quietly for about 5 minutes just content with the world on a box.

0222160624b

At about 7am, we are finally getting George dressed for the day. And I take the opportunity to get some good snuggles in.

0222160709a

And in the car we go. Folks this Monday, for some reason I decided to make this the day that we no longer use a pacy in the car. It might have been because my car stash had all made it into the house, and I didn’t feel like running back in to get them. But hey, Mondays already are the pits so why not endure a screaming toddler in your backseat.

(He did really well actually. He only cried for maybe 3 minutes on the way there and on the way home. This was our week I guess!)

0222160716

I also need to mention that I got all the way down the street before I realized I was not wearing real shoes. So we had to turn around so I could grab work appropriate shoes instead of my slippers. #Mondays

This Monday apparently was like the heavenly Monday because I made it to work on time as well, even with the lack of shoe debacle.

My day at work was a pretty light day. I only had one student meeting. We also had a huge event planned for Tuesday (that I was co-running), so I had a lot of prep work to do for that. Bulletin boards, last minute emails, random printouts, and event set-up were on the docket to make it successful. I also have been working through a personal financial planning course for the last 6ish months, and the final exam was this week. I blocked out a lot of time to study for that, and my test anxiety came back real strong. But I passed it! Now I will be able to talk with students about their personal finances more effectively since our office sees so much of these struggles and looking for options.

0222161409_HDR

I am loving that it is still daylight once we get home which is sometime between 5:45 and 6:30 depending on the day.

We are trying to teach George how to get from the car to wherever we are going. It is a process. Sometimes he loses footing or his focus.

His hugs. Can’t.Get.Enough.

0222161758b

George looks like he is having a very important meeting.

0222161755

We generally play a little bit before dinner, or while dinner is cooking. He loves his puzzles.

0222161814

I have started letting George record himself while holding the camera. He thinks it is great, and I find the videos hilarious to see his viewpoint.

George knows how to feed himself a banana, but some days he will only eat it if I hold it. If I try to give it to him, he throws a tantrum. Some days I am up for dealing with the tantrum. This Monday, I was not.

0222161830

We had spaghetti and meatballs with brussel sprouts for dinner. Truth:  the meatballs were from a bag in the frozen aisle.

0222161852a

George needed some reassurance before getting in the bathtub.

02221619110222161912

Sometimes toddlers are odd.

George just climbed up on this chair to assist his daddy with getting ready for work. Tom was on the midnight shift, so he gets ready after we do bath time.

0222161950a

It’s not easy to say goodbye, but at least we have these moments.

0222162010b

He may not be talking much, but he can follow instructions.

He does a really great job brushing his own teeth now. It makes me so proud!

0222162017a_HDR

Whenever Tom is home right before bedtime, George gets to jump on our bed. HE LOVES THIS! Jumping is a new development in the past couple weeks.

Before we go to bed, we have to say “night night” and dole out hugs to everyone.

0222162017b

We usually read two or three books each night. I let George pick out at least one of the books each night, and he ALWAYS picks the “That’s Not My” series.

0222162022

Once Gdubs is in bed around 8, I get my me time since Tom went to work. Monday nights I don’t worry about any dirty dishes or the toys every where. Whether it is Dancing with the Stars or the Bachelor franchise, Monday nights are my nights. I am a bump on the couch and enjoy my ice cream watching the drama go down.

0222162152

I start getting ready for bed around 9:30/10pm. I am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Pretty good for a Monday if I may say so. Every day is a new day trying to make this thing work. But we all made it to where we needed to be…on time…and eventually wearing shoes. So that is something!

George Does Christmas…Because We Made Him

We survived George’s first Christmas. We are all holidayed out.

2014-12-21 10.20.32

We actually didn’t do anything crazy for him, besides putting him in a different “holiday” outfit each time we had a family gathering. Anyone surprised that my kid will have matching outfits to coordinate with the day’s events?

2014-12-25 08.01.28-1

2014-12-24 20.35.18

Being only four months old combined with lots of traveling gave us the excuse of not going all crazy about baby’s first Christmas. Which is fine, there were other things to stress about. Other people bought us baby’s first Christmas ornaments– is this a mommy fail or a mommy win?

10404262_10100669549993811_3574811987964660820_n

Next Christmas though, thoughts are already brewing on how to share the Christmas spirit and start traditions with Georgie Man. It will also be the first Christmas that Tom and I will be able to start our traditions as a family and not have to travel way far (now it is a 3 hour drive max to family) or have some momentous event happening (like leaving the Army). So hopefully big things will happen to our Christmas cheer next year.

George seemed uninterested this year anyway…

10406831_10100658418815781_1266515131469920791_n

He took sitting on a stranger’s lap like a boss. Not even phased…

We took pictures and opened his gifts.

10891564_10100666586213251_825025076871436801_n

Still not phased.

He just wanted to sleep, eat and poop. So by his accounts he really did this Christmas up! Check, check and check. (And can I get in on this kind of holiday?)

1016620_10100666586747181_2714138422843808817_n

Extra bonus that he got a giant elephant rocker in the process, which he will be excited about in about 4 months.

10897974_10100669549774251_2170306836669111211_n

While this isn’t a Christmas he will remember, it for sure will be one that we as his parents will not forget.

And we have pictures to prove just how darn cute he was.

10896971_10100666584900881_1430134680993692871_nGeorge and Cousin Addy

10857923_10100658419459491_8146163765981821885_nGeorge and Cousin Ava

I have a kit to do his hand print as an ornament. I should get on that.

10881519_10100669550198401_179886466054196313_n

 A family who wears headbands together sticks together. Holiday Spirit!!!

Missed

Missed.

The biggest downside of living in various parts of the country and away from your family are the moments missed.

I have missed weddings, births of my nieces, holidays, and just ordinary days.

Today marks another thing missed.

This past weekend my family said goodbye to Mabel, my step-grandma.

She had a stroke recently so we knew it was only a matter of time.

She was this little old thing that just loved to tell a story. (Sometimes three or four times in one sitting.)

1928837_506956628261_7788_n

If you couldn’t guess, Mabel is the one in the bright red shirt, surprisingly with her eyes open. (Which is a rarity in most family pictures…)

Since my dad remarried when I was fairly young, we were fortunate to be have 3 sets of grandparents for most of our life. Granted, we call them Mabel and Bob, but the love of grandparents none-the-less.

I find myself without much to say or being able to verbalize it. There are so many emotions that cannot be fully expressed.

Emotions of the loss, emotions of not being there for my step-mom, emotions that Mabel will never meet George, emotions of separation.

At times like these, you just want to be be there and with your family. Unfortunately though, I cannot make the 8 hour drive (more like 10 hours in my current pregnant state) to be at the funeral today.

So you do what you can.

Mabel, here’s to you and your full life.

I guess this means someone will have to fill your shoes as the ringer at holiday card games and keep us on our toes.

 

 

Chain of Events

January was a yo-yo month for us. Full of ups and downs, and twist and turns.

So it is no surprise to me when I look back why I ended up a bawling mess in my supervisor’s office this week during our 1 on 1.

Here is how our last month has looked:

Over the holiday break, Tom met with a Missouri National Guard recruiter. We were both wanting to be closer to home, and wanted our job situations to be more secure. Both of us are going to be 30 next year, so we wanted to see if there was a chance to start our permanent-in-one-place life sooner than we had planned first getting into the Army gig. The National Guard would allow Tom to still be in the Army, but do it part time so he could pursue is cop dreams again, and we could be stationary. While the Army at one point looked like it may have been a lifestyle for us in the long term, many things have occurred for us personally that we know that this would be Tom’s only enlistment. After speaking with NG, the benefits were just too good not to pursue getting out of active duty early. (Like end of this spring early.) I won’t go into all the benefits that were on the table, but let’s just say Tom and I were ready to pack our bags and say goodbye to Clarksville. Tom just had to get a few people to sign off on the contract change here in FTC to make it official. This was happening, and we both were on board of making a career out of the National Guard.

That first week back at work was possibly the roughest for both of us. Everything just kind of spiraled out of control before our eyes.

Tom was asked to interview for a company level communications position. He did not want it, however he was one of the few who were qualified and had the correct security clearance. He flat out told his commanders that he did not want this position and was happy being a team leader in the line infantry.

I am sure you can guess what happened.

They made him the Company RTO that same day, not even minutes after he said he didn’t want it.

The very same week, I was told I was going to be cut back to barely anything at work.

We were both distraught and felt like we had no purpose here.

It is the week we would like to pretend never happened.

From that though, Tom had no qualms about turning in his National Guard packet. It was the best plan to get us both back home and started on different avenues. And everyone he talked to said that of course he would get that passed through. No big deal.

Any guesses?

It took a little time to get all of this back since there are several people in the chain of command the paperwork has to go through. Ending your active duty contract is a fairly big deal even if you are switching to NG.

But eventually we heard the answer. One person who had to sign said no way Jose.

Crushed.

It took us awhile to accept that our next year would be here in TN (and for Tom-Afghanistan again) instead of the house and jobs we had just spent the past few weeks envisioning.

Finally we did start coming to terms with it and started seeing some positives.

This job has given Tom some pretty awesome access since he now works at the company level instead of platoon and team level. Basically, he is the right hand man to the group’s boss. He is being slotted for some training opportunities that he otherwise A) didn’t have access to due to poor leadership or B) didn’t have a reason to go. His leadership before was pretty toxic from what I could tell, so we are both pretty happy that he is in a much better position with people who seem to care about what he has to offer and actually value his knowledge and gusto. He has a pretty sweet schedule now and dictates most of that on his own outside of company field training times. It also means that he will be much safer on deployment. He doesn’t like that too much, but I can love on that fact!

We both grappled on to the idea of another deployment.We had thought we were going to be able to steer clear of this next one due to contract timing. You have to have so much time stateside to do separation things before your contract ends, and we didn’t think that they would send him overseas for only a couple months. We both were in dream land thinking we wouldn’t have to go through that all again.

I didn’t get emotional about it, and I even told several people without any tears or wavering in my voice. With the ups and downs of the month, we just kind of took it for what it was and started making other plans. I am currently still in a job search here right now, but I am also looking back home now to potentially move while he is deployed. If I were to find a job in Missouri it would mean that we are back on the long distance train for at least a year until he can join me. However, it does mean that I can start getting things settled long before his time in the Army ends, and my career doesn’t have to continue to be on hold. Since he is going to be gone for most of that time anyway due to this deployment, we really don’t see this as a bad thing. While I like the area and we have made some friends, it would be very tough for me to continue to be part time here while Tom is over seas. The ultimate goal is for me to have a full-time job. Wherever that happens will dictate a lot of factors such as our moving time, Tom’s career plans, and baby plans.

In the meantime while all of this is happening, I have had the period from nightmares this month. TMI maybe, but it is the truth and had a huge affect on my emotional state. Unfortunately, this is a side effect of not being on birth control and trying to have a baby. I have resorted to feeling like a teenage girl again with weeks of agony. Yes you read that correctly, weeks. (Don’t worry, I have a doctor’s appointment this week to hopefully sort that out.) Although this time, we thought we were pregnant for a hot second due to the first symptoms I as having only to receive a call from the doctor that we are indeed not. I was heartbroken again to get these results because so much inside of me was pointing in the other direction. That would have made this angry tornado in my stomach worth it. For the last couple weeks I have eaten mostly Cheezits and McDonald’s McChickens because I am so nauseous from being a woman. Not exactly a breakfast of champions let me tell you, but it is the only thing that will stay in my uneasy stomach.

So after all that business, I still didn’t cry. I just figured that is the way that it goes in the Army and our life. You never can settle on one plan. Always have a back up and contingencies, and be ready for all that to change to0. It just is what it is.

Number one thing I have learned as a military spouse is accepting things I cannot change and move on with it. (I may not be proficient in this area yet, but I am a work in progress.)

Then you come to this week.

Tom was away at field training during this awful winter weather. It has been doing everything:  raining, sleeting, snowing, etc. And he had to sleep in a tent all week in these freezing wet temps. Although he tells me that he was glad that they had the tent and a heater and weren’t out on the ground, so of course no complaints from him. Just another day at the office. I however at the time did not know all this and was just watching the weather get worse and worse knowing he was out there, but I guess it is good training for the different terrain they may face. This left my emotional outlet out of reach and also my McChicken go-getter out of commission.

I also wanted to make sure I was completely open with my supervisor on the fact that I would be job searching not only here in TN, but also back in MO. At the same time, I also disclosed to her about the deployment.

And I just lost it.

I think it was the fact that I had not had a real meal in a week, but all the emotions from the month overtook me and I was a mess in her office. And then of course I was mad at myself for crying, so that just made the tears fall harder.

Blubbering wreck.

We have done a deployment before. Long distance relationship has been most of our relationship. We both have been on the bad end of career woes. We have dealt with the never ending changes of the Army.

But at the end of the day, we aren’t machines, and sometimes we are going to react and let it out.

While you do get used to things and learn how to adapt with the military lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that it gets any easier to deal with the separation.

I was just at my breaking point this week, but again I am blaming it mostly on the fact that I am starving and crave healthy meals.

So yes I am still job searching. For what? Lots of things, but only the right things.

Yes, we may be moving soon.  Where? It’s up for grabs, and it may only be me.

Yes, Tom has to go on another deployment. How long and when? It changes on  a weekly basis as does when they are leaving. 4 months-9 months. Give or take a few.

Yes, we have all of this taken care of. We are actually ok with how things sit right now. We are made to handle whatever may be thrown in our direction.  We both just had our moments of humanness this month.

No one said that the Army doesn’t make life interesting.

Family Photo

We are just going to have to have as much family time as possible!

Armucation: Homecoming Ceremonies

I was one of those people who thought that as soon as the soldier got off whatever vehicle transport they came in on, they would be free to go home.

This is a huge misconception. There is a lot more that goes into a homecoming than the banners and hugs.

These are just my observations of the Army and how Ft. Campbell does homecoming. Every branch and post may do their own variation of things.

Bangor, Maine is the first stop in the US for many of our troops. There are a band of greeters who meet the soldiers as they touch US soil for the first time in months. These greeters come to the airport at all hours of the night to welcome home our troops. Tom said this was one of the greatest parts of coming home. It is very touching to watch videos from here.

Bangor Homecoming Greeters

They can come at all hours of the day. I joked that going to a homecoming ceremony during the day is a myth. I have only been to them in the dead of night. The schedules are also unpredictable. When Tom came home, I feel like they changed the time they were supposed to arrive about every hour that week that they were scheduled home. So there is a lot of waiting.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Once the troops get home they have to line up for a short ceremony.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

From here, they are released for about 20 minutes to meet with their family.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

These are the moments that are inspiring and the ones to live for.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

After this very little time with family and friends, the soldiers line back up to go back to their company areas. The families go to a waiting room or classroom in the company area to wait for an hour or more. During this time you are not allowed to see your soldier. The soldiers are turning in all of their sensitive items, getting housing assignments, and other various administrative tasks. For me this was the longest couple of hours because I knew Tom was right outside but I couldn’t see him.

After they are finally released after what seems like days, then kind of everything is up for grabs.

The soldiers are not allowed to drive for 24 hours that first day, and many of them don’t have cars anyway because they sold them before the deployment. So they have to make plans for that.

The units will have a reintegration class they have to attend every day for the next week. It is a way for them to have some stability and routine when their whole world just changed.

Then there are the personal things that you have to get use to again which can take time depending on the soldier and family they are coming home to.

So there is much more than what you see on TV for homecomings, and it ends up being a long process of reintegrating back into the country. It is a very interesting and wonderful experience, but it was frustrating at first that I couldn’t just keep my soldier to myself.

I would encourage people to go to a homecoming ceremony once in their lifetime. It is very awesome to witness!

Have you been to a homecoming ceremony for any branch? What things did you notice from the experience that I did not mention here?

As a side note, Tom and I are being featured on “Date Night Is”  for our date nights. Pretty sweet!