Not Your Traditional Christmas

So I had planned to not write during the Christmas time to spend time with my family and just celebrate every moment possible. I should have known better than to plan.

I knew Hubby was gone so I would need to make a conscious effort to be cheerful and positive about it all. I knew this year would be different than any other Christmas we had celebrated. I knew it wouldn't be right since our family wasn't together. I knew The Bear was really too little to get it and it really would be more bows and ribbons for me than him. I knew our budget allowed a celebration, but nothing too extravagant.

I did not know my Christmas meals would all be eaten in the PICU. I did not know just how different this year would be.

The hardest part of the last 48 hours has been the awkward emails to Hubby. I had promised him an email Christmas Eve night to tell him about our day. We had gone into the ER at 9 pm and haven't made it home yet. I had my mom email him for me, but it bothered me I wasn't able to. A promise is a promise. I knew it would get flagged if certain words were said. It's been hard to write about my day without mentioning hospital, pneumonia and oxygen. It's been a rough few days.

There have been some bright spots.
*They know what's wrong.
*They know how to fix it.
*We are at an excellent hospital with wonderful care.
*We were visiting my parents so the puppy is one less thing to worry about.
*4 different doctors have told me in the last 48 hours how The Bear is a fighter and how tough he is. I will always remember the doctor right after he was born telling me my baby was feisty. He sure is. He is not one to give up.
*The hospital has wifi which is making this all possible to write.
*The American Red Cross was wonderful and able to deliver a message to Hubby to inform him of the hospitalization.

The Bear is making a slow but steady recovery. That is all I wanted for Christmas this year. Well . . . and Hubby home. I guess one is better than none though.



Makes the heart grow fonder?

Well, sometimes it does. The past week I have been traveling to IL to hang out with my parents over the holidays. Due to the crazy business that ensues at their house, I never have 2 seconds.

Once we get back home and on a schedule, I can start writing again. Until then, I'll be hanging out with my family and missing hubby extra much.


Feeling awkward

The holidays are quickly approaching. Because I am the only one aware of that.

Anyways, we have successfully gotten through my birthday, Hubby's birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving and The Bear's birthday during this deployment. The days have had their somber moments, but I think I've gotten through them fairly well.

I'm a little hesitant about Christmas though. It's so big and has so many traditions and memories attached. The Bear and I are trekking back to Illinois to celebrate with my parents.

While I am glad to have them to be with, it feels weird. That's not my home. A part of me wants to stay here. This is our home. I should be hanging out here in my jammies surrounded my wrapping paper.

It just seems like a no win situation. I know if I was here, I would be lonely. I know if I go back, I will be lonely.

It's just not the same without Hubby. My heart aches already.

I guess all I can do is home next year, he'll be here celebrating with us at home. Just how it ought to be.



Today was supposed to be the list of why deployments suck.

I'm in too good of a mood right now though, and I don't want to depress myself. That post will be postponed until tomorrow. We all know Saturday nights stink and that can help pass the time.

Today, I have a confession.
I have a shopping addiction. I don't go blow hundreds on dollars on fancy things, but put me in Target or the Old Navy clearance ranks and I'm gone. The Bear needs nothing. He just had his birthday less than a week ago, and Christmas is 13 days away. None the less, I bought him 9 shirts and jammers (all too big for when he FINALLY grows) for $21. I'm not sure if it's being in the crowds, feeling like I accomplish something, or having coming home not be so depressing that draws me to the stores more often while he's gone.

I don't know. In all fairness to myself, I feel like this vice is the best to have.


I miss hubby dearly. When I get super crabby, it helps to think of the good things about the situation. After all there are always pros & cons in every situation.

Here are some of the pros.
-WAY less laundry
-Our relationship is stronger (I guess that should be more important than the less laundry part, but you can see what gets me excited)
-I can go to bed whenever I want and not freakishly early. Hubby has to wake up at an inhumane hour so he's normally asleep by 9:30 pm. I much prefer the midnight time frame.
-I can sleep at a diagonal
-No dirty dishes in the sink when I wake up. He has this thing about leaving his cereal bowl in the sink every morning instead of putting it in the dish washer.
-I eat less
-I get to eat junk for meals and no one knows
-Jammies become perfectly acceptable attire for me and The Bear on those yucky weather days when we aren't going anywhere
-No one to justify that Target mini shopping spree to
-If I don't feel like cleaning up one day, there are no witnesses
-I can watch what I want on TV when I want to. No need to DVR Bravo and TLC anymore
-We can eat when we're hungry and not have to wait until hubby gets off of work
-I get to go get the mail every day
-4 pillows all for me
-The Puppy gets to sleep in bed with me
-Getting email becomes amazing
-No one to share my dessert with (although it has to be after 8 pm or The Bear feels he's entitled to some)
-I get to have girl talk with the other wives at night at not worry about interrupting family time
-LONG baths at night without guilt for not spending our few hours a day awake together
-No mean comments on my pink fuzzy slippers
-The ability to be flexible in my scheduling . . . well as flexible as you can be with a 12 month old

The cons list will come tomorrow.



Back in October, we went to Kings Bay for an unexpected port call. The plus of having your hubby on a boat that is constantly breaking is that sometimes you get to visit them. And, sometimes you get phone calls when the pull into far away lands - such as Scotland on Thanksgiving.

I digress.

Hubby found my blog. It wasn't hidden from him. It just wasn't being written with the intent of anyone reading it. My life isn't that interesting or funny to warrant an audience.

Although if anyone would think so, I would guess it's him.



Having Hubby deployed brings forth all sorts of emotions. I'm not the type to break down and cry in public. I like to be weak by myself. Some people like comfort; I prefer solitude for times like that.

I found a blog (thanks, Google Reader) that has captivated me for the last 3 hours. It was so sad and so very joyous at the same time.


It chronicles a mom as she learns the baby she is carrying will not survive. The painful choices made during the pregnancy, the precious hours spent with her newest daughter, the emotional funeral and her journey of healing her heart. It made me cry many times. Some might be because I have a baby myself. Some might be because we were so very close to losing him. Some might be because Hubby is gone and I'm feeling lonely.

Google Reader (and Gd) gave me this blog to read tonight. It was a sad journey - for her family and me today. I feel better though. It allowed me to release some of those emotions I tend to bottle up. I have mourned. And, now I am ready to start tomorrow with a lighter spirit.


Moving in the Right Direction

This might not seem like a big deal to someone who doesn't have kids.

BUT, I am utterly thrilled to announce

The Bear just ate his entire dinner off of a plate. And, once he was done he did not throw it.

The little things bring me such joy :-)

Holiday Traditions

It seems that at every meeting or get together I'm attending the last few weeks the ice breaker has to do with holiday traditions.

Since our family is relatively new, it's hard to come up with a tradition we have. How many years do you have to do something before it's a tradition? This will be our 3rd Christmas since we've been married. Random fact: each one has been in a different state. Our first one was a frenzy of trying to please both families as newlyweds and we ended up in the car most of Christmas. The second one we had an 18 day old baby which consumed us. This year Hubby will be gone.

When I was growing up, we didn't have traditions. We had the whole day planned. The presents would change, but everything else was predictable. I loved it. It was comforting to know exactly what would happen when. Perhaps my controlling tendencies emerged earlier than I thought . . .

Our schedule:
Christmas Eve 5 pm: Family church service
Post church: Put on jammies, watch Miracle on 34th Street - the old version from the 30s - and eat snacks for dinner
Post movie: Get all dressed up in the nice clothes again, take family pictures and I would open one gift
11 pm: Candlelit church service
Christmas morning: Open gifts, read Luke and have crepes for breakfast (which my dad made while we were cleaning up the wrapping paper). I would then get myself all packed up and either be driven (or drive myself once I was 16) to my biological father's family for Christmas with them.

I would love to keep a lot of it the same for The Bear . . . except the driving for 3-4 hours every Christmas day. I love the idea of staying in jammies and hanging out as a family. My aunt's family all has to stay in pjs all day and no one can leave. Others (boyfriends/friends/family) can come over, but not until after noon and they must be in jammies too. I would love to have that family feeling.

How practical is all of this with Hubby in the Navy? Who knows. He's missing at least this year's festivities. I feel that with so much change in The Bear's (and our) lives having little things like this that are predictable is that much more important. It's nice to be reassured that no matter what Susan will believe just in time for Santa.



One of my best friends (hubby is the other one) was able to come up for the bear's birthday party. It was amazingly nice and it made it not so lonely for his birthday weekend.

At the party, someone asked when she was going home. She said "I'm going back to Maryland tonight. I'm not going home until the week before Christmas."

She's going to grad school there and has been since 2006. She will be there until 2011. She calls Chicago home - where she grew up and her parents live.

To a Navy family, Maryland would be a home and a half. We will never live somewhere that long. But, that doesn't mean you can't make it home.

Chicago isn't my home anymore. It's my parents' home. My home is in Connecticut. My home will be where ever the Navy sends hubby, me and the bear.


525,600 Minutes

Today the bear turned one. We brought in his second year of life with a festive little party. We were lucky enough to have my best friend fly in for the shindig and quite a few of our new friends were in attendance. Even with Hubby gone, I think he had a pretty good day. He was surrounded by people that love him, was spoiled with presents, went to bed with a tummy full of cake in a warm house. I think we covered all the bases.

The last 525,600 minutes have been a learning adventure for both of us. He was born at 2:49 PM and was brought back to us almost exactly a year ago. It was a rough trip to venture out to the world for the bear, and I am so glad he's gotten so strong. He is one healthy, happy boy. For that I will always be thankful.

I have many big dreams for the little boy. None of them involve tangibles. None of them are easy to verbalize. I hope over the next 17 years I am able to teach them some and let him learn others by himself.

May you always be able to make a mess and have fun with life.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!


Supermodels abound

Every mom thinks their child is adorable/cute/beautiful/handsome/insert whatever attractive based word you want here. Hence the millions of baby clothes that say "Cutie" and "Handsome" that exist.

Every person is not cute. The logical next step is that every child is not cute.

I am part of that every that thinks my baby is pretty adorable. I am terrified of sending pictures of to people who don't want them or make comments about it. I will admit it; I judge your child when you send me their picture. I don't care if you think the bear is cute. I do. But, I'm not going to pawn photos off on anyone.

This may sound super rude. It's not meant to be. Not everyone is pretty. Not everyone is smart. Not everyone has amazing artistic ability. Not everyone can pitch at 90 mph. We all have something though. I will always encourage the bear to try things and to do what he loves. I am always on a hunt to find those shirts that say "Genius" and "Plays well with others". While I tell him he's cute, I also make sure to stress the smart and nice parts, too. It's a tough lesson to learn though that we can't all be astronauts and ballerinas when we grow up though.

Are all the other moms convinced their children are part of that cute percentage? Do they not see it or not want to admit it? Why can't we be proud of what our children can do in addition to how they look?


Lesson Learned

When something says
"Some Assembly Required"

it really should say
"All Assembly Required"

Perhaps followed up by a "Plan to devote your entire evening to putting this together. Despite the fact that it is a child's chair, it will perplex you for hours."


Miss Masters - You were right

Miss Masters was my second grade teacher. She was amazing. Granted, I cried when I found out I was in her classroom. The evils of gossip had gotten to be before I was 7. She was the strictest teacher you could imagine, but I came out with excellent penmanship, my perfectionism and some important life lessons.

One was about attitude. Yes, I learned some of this from my parents, my friends and through some trial and error on my part. She had a poster in our classroom that said "Change your thoughts and you change your world."

How very true this is. Especially in the military world. Double especially when your hubby is deployed.

There are some wives who sit at home and complain. Or they go places and complain about it. There are some wives who scamper home at every opportunity.

That doesn't work for me. I will admit it. Some days just suck. I miss hubby. I would be quite happy to throw a pity party for myself. There is no point. The Navy doesn't care if I'm upset. I might as well make the best of the situation. Even in the best of circumstances, things will be stinky sometimes. That's how life is. I'm going to take as much as I can from every opportunity I'm given.

I'm a lucky girl. I wish other people would realize they're pretty lucky, too.


Mom Saves the Day

The bear is small. He was 3 weeks early, and he has always been tiny. Although he is almost a year old, he is still swimming in 6 month sized clothes.

The recent dilemmas with this (besides constantly being told by strangers that my child is small):
-Finding a first birthday shirt that will fit him. They are normally 18 months with the occasional 12 months or 24 months. There is no way that will be anywhere close to fitting him. His birthday is December 7th. He's not going to grow that much in less than 2 weeks.
-Christmas clothes. All of the Christmas clothes in his size say "My first Christmas". It's not his first. It's his second.

The solution: My mother and Cafe Press. Thank you.


Time flies . . .

Time flies . . . or at least it passes.

Things have been crazy hectic around here and I've been a crank pot. No one wants to listen to me whine so I'll keep those thoughts to myself.

The bear has gotten 3 teeth in the last week which makes him grumpy and me grumpier. How does that work?

I ordered Hubby's homecoming sign today. Yes, it is still months away. We're over halfway done though. After doing some research, I've found the cheapest shipping and such if you order 8 weeks out. I'm so excited to even be thinking of homecoming. We're really getting there.

I also wanted to share with you a promotion I found online.
They have FREE banners (2x3 or 4x6) for military families. They are giving away 20,000, but I have no idea how long that will actually last in time. You do have to pay for shipping. By ordering so far in advance, mine was $12.50. You can personalize it with names and photos. It's actually really cool.

It's amazing how such a small thing can totally lift your spirits. Soon hubby will be home.




Big day

Today is a huge day for our family. It makes the halfway point of Hubby's deployment. This is of course assuming his deployment isn't extended which has been known to happen and wouldn't be that much of a surprise, but we're being optimistic on this side of the water line. It amazes me that it's been 3 whole months already. The next few months will be hard with the holidays, but I know the time will continue to fly by.

Deployments can rip families apart, but they can also bind you together stronger than you knew possible. If you're a weak team, you're probably going to be pulled apart. If you're true teammates - true life mates, you'll have your love strengthened.

There's also this presidential election thing going on. I find it interesting the timing. As I sit here and realize how lucky I am to have an amazing husband and a good marriage, I can not bring myself to vote for McCain. He has that whole military background thing and is supportive of taking care of the service members.

However, I can not vote for someone who cheated on his wife. Especially a military wife. She sat faithfully and waited while he was at war and a POW. There are plenty of military wives out there who can't do that for 3 months. She did it for years. In my heart, I can not justify someone coming back and disrespecting that devotion, loyalty and fidelity. I just can't do that.


Wasting time

So I'm sitting here trying to stay up as late as possible watching awful TV and waiting for an email from hubby.

I'm running out of procrastination to entertain myself. On the plus side, the house is now clean.

How many other wives are sitting out there by the computers wishing some love to pop into their inbox? Saturday nights are still the worst.


Missing Daddy

Ever since we got home from the last trip to visit hubby, the bear has been having a heck of a time readjusting himself. Anytime I leave his sight (or you know put him down) he screams. Right now, he's supposed to be napping. He's screaming instead. It's gotten so bad that once I even lift him above his crib he screams.

My son is feisty. We've always known that. The doctor told us that right after he was born - followed by the comment "I wouldn't want to baby-sit him when he's 2". He was the child that cried for 4 hours straight when he was a month old and we were trying to transition him from our bed to the crib. (He didn't quit then, I had to cave to feed him) We waited and he had been sleeping and napping in there since he was 4 months old just fine.

It just breaks my heart listening to him cry. I know he's safe, fed and clean. Most importantly, he's very tired and needs a nap. We made him this way though. We took away his daddy. He's too little to understand 6 months and coming back, but he sure gets the daddy left part.

He's so small, but he understands so much.


Feeling like a pagan

I am feeling a bit like a heathen.

We celebrate Halloween.

I decorate the house, dress up my son and revel in the festivities.

I never knew it was such an evil thing. As a child, my family always celebrated Halloween. Picking out a costume was almost as important as school supply shopping. I trick or treated, ate too much candy and had a wonderful time.

As a Christian mommy, I'm learning all these things are bad. I didn't know Halloween was so controversial. I was raised in a Christian home where we went to church every week, said or prayers and didn't watch TV shows with questionable morals (I still feel guilty watching Roseanne or The Simpsons). How did we miss the Halloween is evil message?

I was talking to some other mommies and was completely shocked at how they don't want their children to partake in such a demonic activity. Demonic? I thought it was a chance to be silly. When else is every little boy going to live out his dream of being a baseball player and little girl be a princess? I guess I always experienced fun and happy Halloween not the creepy kind.

I know choosing my friends now is just as important as when I was 14. It's hard for me to find other mommies trying to strike that same balance. There are the very conservative mommies who are typically a little too conservative for me. And, there are those that really have no interest in church-like things.

Is there a mommy like me somewhere in that mess? I want to celebrate Halloween and still go to church on Sunday. Is that possible?


2 Down, Forever to go!

Happy anniversary, Hubby!

In two years, we've:
Honeymooned in Jamaica
Hosted Thanksgiving at our first apartment for both families the day after we got back from the honeymoon (not my brightest idea, but I'm glad we did it)
Hubby graduated
Hubby was commissioned as an Officer
Drove the entire length of Illinois (that's 6 hours folks) on Christmas to be with both families
Moved to South Carolina
Got our puppy
Had the most romantic Valentine's Day ever
Survived power school and shift work at prototype
Took a cruise to the Bahamas
Had a baby (sort of big one)
Moved to Connecticut via Illinois with a baptism and Easter along the way
Lived in a hotel for 3 weeks
Got almost halfway through deployment #1

I'm sure his list would be more like: 2 Cubbie games, 1 Yankee game, 1 Mets game
which is why this picture is so us. He's pretty lovable.

2 years down, forever to go! I love you!

PS. I know it's not technically the 28th yet here, but I'm guessing it is where ever you're out swimming.

Missing hubby

Typically, I like to think that my hubby and I are on fairly even ground. Neither one of us would like to trade places with the other. Neither one of us has the "easy job". He's stuck in a metal tube with 180 other guys, but I have the stinky diapers, screaming and snow to shovel.

It seems pretty fair to me.

Last night, I was knocked down to mere mortal from my mom status though. I'm not sure if it was a bout with an early flu or something I ate, but I was not in good shape. The bear was also not in good shape. He was not sick, but he wanted to be held and entertained.

The bathroom only provides so much entertainment to a 10 month old. I finally had a long enough break to quickly get him ready for bed and in his crib. He was mad. But, at the point his screaming was not a top priority. He was fed, clean and safe. Happiness had to be put aside for the evening.

It was one of the few times where I was floundering. I needed hubby. Or my mom. Or a mute button. I am so very grateful hubby will only be gone 6 months. I can't imagine being in that situation with a toddler. Or multiple kids. Single moms - you're amazing. You have my respect.


You understand?

Tonight I had a lovely dinner with 3 other wives from hubby's boat. It was the best Saturday night I've had since they've left. It was an amazing to be with a group of girls who understood. We're all experiencing the same emotions. The same journey.

We had a discussion on how others have no clue what it's like. I would never wish it on anyone. It's hard. It stinks. But, it makes you stronger. It can strengthen your marriage. It empowers you.

Other military wives, I am officially giving you permission (because I obviously have the power) to do what you need to survive without hubby. You can go shopping and spend that $20 on a shirt for you. You can go out to eat with some girl friends. You can go over your cell phone minutes talking to your mom. You can take off work to go visit your hubby if you have the chance. You can sit at home at have a pity party occasionally. You can create a blog to release all those crazy emotions. I am not allowing you to be stupid. No cheating. No drugs. Nothing that hurts others. Do not recklessly blow all your money. Just remember you need some TLC during this.

And for the general public, please do not tell us "you understand". No you don't. Your attempt at empathy by sharing how your husband went out of town for business for a whole week will only make us want to throw something at you. You had the phone. You had email. You had no fear for his life. I'm sure you mean well, but it's often taken like a slap in the face. It would be like having a loved one diagnosed with cancer and a stranger telling you of a cold her child had. Sort of the same, but not really.

Find the people that do understand. Really understand. I can promise you there is another lonely wife out there who would love to be your dinner date.


To create an awkward pause . . .

Ask a military spouse where she's from.

Well, right now we live in Connecticut.
We moved here from South Carolina. But, we were only there 13 months, and I hated every moment of it. Are we from there?
We were in central Illinois before that. That's where we went to college and met each other. Our relationship is from there.
I grew up in the Chicago area.
But, I was born in Springfield.

Such a complicated answer to an innocent question.

The answer gets even harder when we're on vacation. Do these people mean where we started vacation from? Where our accents are from? Where we are registered voters? Do I need to go into hubby's military status? Am I going to get a lecture about Iraq if I say so?

Hubby and I are in our third state since our wedding. We've been married 23 months. I find that pretty impressive. Especially if you add in the move just prior to our wedding when we merged into our first apartment together. That was the only move we did by ourselves. (We quickly learned if we would like to get married and stay married, a vow to have movers was vital.)

I am so grateful to get to experience different parts of our country. I'm a born traveler. But, it does make for some awkward pauses in conversations.


Making family

For all the craziness the Navy brings to our family, it brings some amazing friendships. Every place we have lived I have been blessed enough to find at least one really good friend.

The interesting thing is if I had met them in any other circumstance, we probably would not have been friends. There is something about going through the same emotional roller coasters that brings us wives together.

These ladies don't just become friends though. They become family. We see each other regularly, gossip on the phone, deal with leaking pipes and temper tantrums as a team and lean on each other. We celebrate the holidays together - real ones like Halloween and made up ones like Half-Way Night. We don't all have the same goals or personalities, but that's how families work. Some you become very close to and some you simply tolerate. We didn't pick each other. We were put together by some higher power. Real families are planned by God. Navy families are planned by the government.

Some ladies wait to meet each other or are hesitant to get involved. To me that's foolish. We only have 3 years here. I don't have 8 months to waste sitting around having a pity party by myself. Now I have guests at my pity parties.

While I may be hundreds of miles from my biological family (945.64 according to mapquest.com), I have built a new family here. I will sad to see them move on - literally move on. But, I know there will always be new wives out there. I'm always ready to make a bigger family.



I've been a funk the last few days. While it was completely wonderful to see hubby during his port visit, it seems to have restarted us on the emotional track. Instead of trucking along like it's almost October, I've regressed to the beginning of August.

The emotional roller coaster is worth it. But, boy am I wishing for February.


Not my life - but interesting

As background information - I am overly sensitive to all child support issues. It seems that no matter which end I'm on (my mom getting money for me or hubby having to pay) I get screwed over.

A couple finds out they are expecting.
Guy freaks out. Pushes his very hardest for an abortion or to give child up for adoption. Says he is not ready for a child and he is not able to support a family.
Girl decides to have baby anyways. It's her body after all. She will raise child without father.
Baby is born.
Girl now goes after Guy for child support. He is the father. She needs monetary help raising a child.

Should he be required to pay? He told her he couldn't support a child. He did all he could to avoid the situation (abortion or adoption - which ever fits you better morally). He could not force her to do anything because it was her body and health. Can she force him to pay? Should she force him to pay?



So my mom over-thinks things just as much as I do. Perhaps that's where I got it from . . .

Ever since she found out that the bear was on his way, she has been consumed with trying to figure out what she wants him to remember her by - what she wants to teach him. There are so many things that a parent, grandparent, friend, or random stranger can teach someone.

What one thing did your parent teach you?
My mom taught me the importance of a promise.
My stepdad taught me how to joke (dish it out and take it).
My father taught me how weak anyone can become if you let yourself.

My mom wants to teach the bear that he is loved.

It's an interesting thought. What would you want your legacy to be to your children? Is this even something you can pick?


Quite a sight & Quite the truth

At our last FRG (the family support group for hubby's boat), we were discussing possible fundraisers. The money we raise goes to events on the ship (half way celebrations, holidays they're gone for - which includes Thanksgiving & Christmas this time, welcome home parties . . .) as well as things we do here on land for morale boosts like the kids' Halloween party.

Anyways, we need money in order for this all to happen. Our commissary (grocery store on base) will give us a lane on a Saturday so we can bag. In the land of commissaries, baggers work for tips. They bag your groceries, take them to your car and load it all up for you. It would be profitable with no upfront costs for us.

The problem is most of us have kids and the lovely Navy has moved us away from family to babysit. The idea just wasn't practical.

It got me thinking though. What a sight would a bunch of wives be busting their butts bagging groceries with kiddos Baby Bjorned to us. Working hard to ease the emotional hardships our husbands endure while literally juggling children. It really would be the best representation of who we are. If only we could strap on a tool belt we learn to use when the plumbing acts up for the millioneth time while hubby is deployed. And, a video camera in one hand in our attempts to capture moments to send to Daddy. We would be quite the spectacle to all those shoppers. I am sure there would be countless other wives there who would understand. They've been there. And, as military spouses - we would get the job done with smiles on our faces.


Port Visit

I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with hubby at his latest port visit - in Panama! It was all done in true military fashion; thought of last minute, frantic work on the home end to get it all organized, 2 very questionable moments of "will he even be there" and worth every dollar and frantic second.

While I did receive a few "what were you thinkings" from friends and family I told upon my return to the states, the whole experience was amazing. I would never have gone to Panama for any other reason and was able to experience an incredibly hospitable culture. The bear (yes, I brought him with) had some tummy problems towards the end, but even hanging out with in a hotel room was perfect. It had been a month and a half since I had talked to him. I have full respect for the military members who go overseas and those on surface ships, but I feel like it's a completely different ballgame for the Submariners. We have the unreliable email limited to 300 words a day for all of our contact. No mail. No phone calls. No email attachments for pictures.

I am very lucky to have the financial savings and sheer guts to have gone. While a phone call would have been a treat, sometimes a hug is really in order. Parting hurt my heart all over again though. At least this time, I know it will not be as long without hearing his voice.

It was an interesting role reversal when the bear and I headed for the airport. I have always been the one "left" and hubby is the leaver. This time, I walked away and he returned to our home (granted it was a hotel room this time). He said he had a new respect for what the wives go through. He had to return to the room we had just been together to see an empty crib, glass half full of water on the nightstand and memories of a weekend. I was blessed enough to get a phone call from him last night since they were still in port as I drove back home from the airport. I think we both were enlightened on what the other experiences.

I am so very lucky to have a wonderful hubby who makes me so proud and gives us these opportunities. The bear is going to be one traveled kiddo. At 9 months, he's been to 14 states and has a stamped passport. Not too shabby.


The dreaded Saturday night . . .

Something I never encountered before hubby deployed was just how awful Saturday nights are. I can breeze right through the week no problem and then I hit the brakes. I guess it's the one time where you could have counted on hubby to be home. To be together. During the week, you can pretend that he's just at work for the day. Not so with Saturday nights. Saturdays were family time. Even if we were lazy bums and hung out on the couch all day, we were together. Now I dread Saturdays. They're like a big blazing sign reminding you that he's gone.

I was talking to another wife today. She said, "I get along fine. Yeah, there are those times when I see a happy couple holding hands and I want to chuck something at them. But, most of the time I'm fine." Boy, have I been there.

Sometimes when I get really mopey, I stop and wonder how many other wives are sitting at home on Saturday nights praying for Sunday morning to come. Who else is sitting there staring at the sky wondering where her hubby is. Hoping he's safe. Wishing for him to be home. It's a depressing thought, but it also is comforting. We're not alone on the journey.

People told me it would get easier. They lied. Yes, I get accustomed to my new routines and habits. But it is not easier. I'm guessing it's similar to going deaf or losing a limb. After a few weeks, you get faster and more proficient. You become use to it. But it is not easier. You're still not whole. It's still not right. There are still those moments - the happy couples in public, the Saturday nights - that can knock you down. I may getting faster at scrambling back to my feet afterwards. But it's not any easier. I've just had more practice.


Broccoli Haters Unite!

Let me start my admitting this. I HATE broccoli. I think it is disgusting and like a small tree. I will go to all lengths to avoid eating it. When I was pregnant, hubby was doing his best to get me to eat healthy foods. (I was actually pretty good about it) For some reason he decided I needed to eat broccoli one night. He put three sprigs on my plate and said I had to eat them. I cried. Seriously. Part was the raging hormones from being pregnant and part is just I hate it that much. On the bright side, he felt badly and didn't make me eat it :-)

Despite my aversions to the baby trees, I still introduced them to the bear last night. He hates it, too. He's had foods he fussed at before (like carrots which also gross me out). I fed him a bite of broccoli, and he picked up his pacifier and quickly put it in his mouth. I took it out and tried to play nice. I gave him a bite of peaches and all was well.

A few bites later, I tried the broccoli route again. Pacifier went right back in his mouth. I wrestled the pacifier out. Instead of giving him the yummy peaches, I tried to slip in another broccoli bite. I was hoping the element of surprise would be on my side.

I was wrong. It came right back out of his mouth. Pacifier inserted. And, he refused any more spoon food from me. He had his own little hunger strike against broccoli.

I know I should be encouraging healthy foods and stick at it. But, honestly I don't blame him. I figured we can just hate broccoli together.



de·pen·dent (dĭ-pěn'dənt) adj.
1. Contingent on another.
2. Subordinate.
3. Relying on or requiring the aid of another for support
4. Hanging down.

According to the Navy (and I'm guessing the other branches of the military), I am a dependent. My personal information does not matter. When I make a doctor appointment, it is my husband's social security number the ask for. When I need to breathe, it is my hubby that matters. I am an off-shoot . . . like an unneeded appendage . . . of my husband.

There are many things in the land of the military that puzzle me. Some I can understand if I squint really hard and tilt my head and spin in circle very quickly. There are others which I think were created in the 60s by some old men who were "experimenting" with substances.

However, dependent is about the less appropriate word I can think of. Military spouses have to be pretty tough. While you're married, you are essentially a single parent for long stretches of time. And when your hubby or wife is home, they're working long hours, often overnight, and can be called to work at any time. You have to keep a household running like a single parent but still include the absent spouse in your daily life. You are required to constantly remind yourself that he is gone. You learn acronyms that are often longer and more complicated than simply saying the full names of things. You have to follow all these silly rules and never question why. You have to explain to your child that every man he sees in uniform at the commissary is not daddy. You have to continue on with your family's schedules while altering enough so one person can manage. You move. A lot. And, typically don't get a choice as to where. You are uprooted and forced to make new friends and family. You have to be strong for your children but also soft enough they know it's okay to be sad and cry sometimes. You have to unclog toilets (typically on the first day hubby deploys), cut the grass, shovel the snow and wait patiently. You are a pillar of strength for your spouse who is gone. You are rough, sturdy and dependable.

Military spouses shouldn't be grouped in with small children and called dependents. We deserve better than that. We are worthy of a better title.


Nine months . . .

The bear is nine months old today. My goal was to be down to my pre-pregnancy weight by today. I figured it took me nine months to gain the weight, I should be allowed nine months to lose it. Granted, I wasn't really pregnant nine months . . . that's just one of those rounded numbers that sounds better. I was technically pregnant for 8 months and a day and that includes the 2 weeks before we had evidence.

I'm an awful dieter. I can't do it. I like food. More specifically, I like food that is not good for me. I am scared of the day the bear asks why he has to eat all his veggies when I don't. I'll enjoy my poor eating habits until then. The YMCA here gives free memberships to the spouses of deployed military members. I've been going regularly and working my butt off, but the number has not budged in a few weeks.

The moral of the story: while naked, first thing in the morning and you round to the nearest 5, I have done it. Not exactly what I had in mind when I made this plan. But, it's acceptable. Maybe tomorrow I'll weigh myself right after I nurse the bear . . . perhaps those ounces will knock it down to a nicer number. I find it amusing how I will manipulate all of these circumstances to get the right number. That really shouldn't count, but the emotional boost is nice.

Just another plan that didn't go as expected. I'm okay with it though. The bear will appreciate my hugs and love more than a skinny momma.


Doctor, Doctor

The bear had his 9 month well baby check up today. (Please excuse me while I go have my "ohmygosh my baby is growing up so fast" moment. Thank you.) He's a healthy boy developing perfectly.

One of the many pleasures of having a Navy husband is the interesting health care system. Interesting really is the right word. Sometimes it's amazingly awesome and has full coverage and the doctors spend gobs of time with you since they aren't paid per patient they see. And, sometimes it's just awful. We had the best doctor when we right after we moved here. He spent 30 minutes examining him. Have you ever spent 30 minutes with an actual doctor? Who spoke to you? Like you weren't an idiot? It was an out of body experience.

Alas, Mr Amazing Doctor is no more. He was transferred elsewhere. Where to, I have no idea. Which is probably a good thing, or I would try to convince hubby to get us transferred there, too. The one we saw today wasn't bad. Had we been assigned him at a different time, I would have been perfectly pleased.

People in the real world (ie not military families) actually get to pick their doctors which is an amazingly wonderful delight I can not wait to have. I remember the baby books saying you need to interview pediatricians and find one that is supportive of your choices (breastfeeding, formula, co-sleeping, calling a million times at midnight . . .) and I was jealous. We don't get to pick. We get assigned. Between our moves and the doctors' transfers, I wonder how many the bear will go through. At 9 months, he has already had 4 different doctors assigned as his "primary care physician." We go through his history every time. It's nice they ask, but don't they read the chart? On the bright side, if they're awful we aren't stuck with them for long.

The national health insurance idea is nice. But let me tell you folks - industrialized health care is not what you're thinking it is. Yes, it is better than nothing. But how much better can be questionable.

Some people dream of world peace. I dream of picking our own doctors and having them actually know who we are.


It takes a village to raise a child

But, how many does it take to discipline one?

I'll admit it. Before the bear was born, I was judgmental about poor parenting. As the momma to an infant, I now have a little more patience with that screaming baby I encounter in the public arena. (Luckily, I have only had a few public displays of anger and have been able to make a quick exit.)

When is it okay to step in and tell someone else's kid to knock it off? I was around a 3 year old today who acted like a little heathen. Screaming, running around, jumping on me, stealing Cheerio's from my boy . . . I have yet to experience the world of toddlers. I finally put my foot down when he jumped on my son, and the bear started screaming. Heathen boy's mom was there and silent.

When can you intervene? I know moms sometimes are overwhelmed. And, sometimes they just become immune to bad behavior. Where's the boundary?


Plans Schmans

Names are important. Perhaps, I place a bit more emphasis on names than most people do. But, I doubt there is anyone who can claim a name means nothing. It's your introduction to the world.
Hello, world. I'm Stephanie.

I had quite the issues when trying to name this blog. I wanted something brief, cute and me. That trio of words rarely comes in the same sentence.

Sum up your life in 3 words. Was it what your life has been? What it will be? What you want people to perceive it as?
Planned Improvisation fits me. As a Navy wife, I can plan my heart out only to have to toss those ideas to the wind at the whim of the government. As a new mom, I can have schedules and "this is how I'll do it whens." Alas, the little bear has ideas of his own. It still amazes me how someone so small can control so many adults.

This is my life. My plans and my second draft of plans and third draft of plans . . . Welcome to the journey.