You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2012.

I love the military.  I really, truly do.  I was thrilled when my husband joined.  But why oh why does the military have to re-name everything?  It’s very confusing.  I guess that could be the idea, confuse the enemy.  When one hears AR-34 and M-16, are we talking about weapons, regulations or is someone just throwing together letters and numbers to sound cool?  For OPSEC, I won’t tell if you won’t.  And I’m kidding there, I would never post something about something that could violate OPSEC, I take it seriously.  Which begs the question, what is OPSEC?  It’s short for Operational Security. I do get the acronyms, even if they drive me crazy, CONUS, USARAK, COMCAM, QTFM (made up the last one, but I need more of it on my calender, I have decided it stands for Quiet Time For Mommy).  OPSEC is easier to write and say than Operational Security.  But OPSEC, while thrown around all time when everyone deploys, still doesn’t really give a clue to what it is.  It’s basically “keep your mouth shut about what you don’t want the enemy to know” or more eloquently, “loose lips sink ships.”  But the Army renames everything. A car isn’t a car, it’s a POV.  We can’t just have a grocery store, we must shop at the commissary.  With makes me think of Der Kommissar, and while don’t know what the song is actually about ’cause I’m not that cool, it makes me think of the German SS.  Why would we be shopping there?  I did actually look up the origins of “commissary”, it was the term used back in the day for supply, so I get it.  But still, really, we can’t keep up with modern English?  And then paperwork.  I’ve been told to bring in a DD-2-14 before (or something like that).  What it is?  I might be able to find it, if I knew what in tarnation it was.  Although today I’ve decided to be grateful when they give you the DD number, it will most probably be in one of the corners of the page.  I’ve been trying to find a document for my husband today, and throughout his time in the Army we have accumulated a lot of documents.  With a lot of gobbledygook on them.  Sorting through LES’s, DD-###’s, ORBs, ERBs, B-52’s and leave forms, left my head about to explode.  Okay, no B-52’s, I do know what those are, but I felt like throwing in some more letters and numbers, and I like those.  With all those crazy documents I did find, I did not find the one I need.

The Army does understand that they rename everything and it is confusing and hard to understand, so they offer a class.  But is the class named How To Speak Alphabet?  Or perhaps How To Decipher Alphanumeric Gobbledygook?  Nope, it AFTB, or ATFB, or ABCD (nope, that would make sense, learn to speak alphabet at the alaphabet named class).  It’s a bunch of letters that you have to decipher to know what you are going to.  And I honestly think it’s the first and it stands for Army Family Team Building, and what does that mean? It has the “team building” buzz words, so I’m thinking all those wonderful “team building” games people like to play.  You know have a sucker stand in the middle of a circle with eyes closed, arms crossed and then fall, hoping the people in the circle have the intent and ability to actually catch them. Can you tell I don’t like this game?  I’m not stong and putting a 200+ lb , 6’4″ or taller guy in the middle of the circle and ask me to catch means we are both tumbling to the ground.  Just saying.  Anyway, ATFB, does not say to me, understanding military stuff, they really do teach more than alphabet.  But the thing is, I did take the course, but I can’t remember half the stuff.  Navy rank still baffles the heck out of me, even with watching NCIS and Star Trek regularly.  Thanks to my Dad’s career in the military I do have a basic understanding of officer rank, but enlisted….that’s another story.  In my world there are Privates, Specialists, and Sargents.  I know Corporal should be in there somewhere (and yes, I know it’s the NCO version of E-4), but I’m sunk if I every meet one, I have no clue what makes their rank special.  I also have no clue what any of my husband’s fruit salad is actually for.  I do think one might be for good behavior, another for being deployed during wartime, and another for serving in wartime (seems redundant).  But as for which one is which….hahaha.  Maybe I just need to take that ABCD class all over again.

I had planned on baking a cake as well frying my brain with military paperwork today.  But the igniter in my oven isn’t making a spark.  Murphy really does move in during deployments.  I’m having appliance issues.  Other wives are having kid illness issues.  And the list goes on.  After nearly three months, or for some wives, it has been three whole months, I know of no one who can say they’ve had just a normal three months without incident.  I mean I know stuff happens even when the guys are home, but I’ve never had a washing machine problem or an oven igniter problem before, so for both to just go bad without warning…what’s up with that?  I’d put the other appliances on notice, but honestly, what could I threaten them with?  So I’ve resorted to begging everything to not break.  And the one thing I want to break, it works just fine.  I want a bigger tv for my living room, and then (the best part of all) I’d get to move the wonderful, amazing living room tv upstairs to my room.  I’d get to use my Blu-Ray player with a tv that actually has high def capabilities.  But I have a tv in my room that mostly works well.  You can’t change the volume so everyone in the room has to be silent for you to hear it.  This isn’t a real problem though as it’s my room, my personal sanctuary and if I’m watching tv up here instead of downstairs it’s bedtime and I’m the only one in the room, or I need QTFM and I’m using my room as a retreat and all who enter must be quiet.  I actually got excited the other day when I couldn’t figure out why the tv wasn’t showing what the VCR should have been sending it.  It wouldn’t receive signal, therefore it’s unusable, it had to go.  Unfortunately, instead of running to Sam’s Club and buying that tv I’ve been drooling over for some time now (after I determined if Sam’s Club delivers because that monster isn’t fitting in my car with me and three little people, and even if it did, there is no way I could get it out of my car and onto my entertainment center), I had to make sure the tv was really broke.  Someone, and I won’t give out her name because I could be wrong in thinking that she did it even though she is my number one suspect because all the he’s in the house would have come crying to me that the tv was broken, must have been playing with the remote or the buttons on the tv and messed up the settings.  I fixed it easily.  That someone was probably trying to help me out and give me an excuse for buying that big screen tv I covet, and I messed up that opportunity (and not for the first time either).  However, with all the other things in this house trying to fall apart, maybe it’s a good thing I have been able to fix the tv leaving money for all the other things I can’t fix.  Like the oven.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the creation of Red Robin. Amen.

You wanna talk comfort food with me, we are talking about Red Robin. But it’s not all about the Teriyaki Chicken Burger with no tomato. It’s so much more. It’s the memories of sitting in a red booth, sun coming in from the window, and Pikes Peak on the other side of the window. It’s the people I’ve eaten at Red Robin with. It’s my dad ordering the Bonzai burger with everything, and my sister ordering the Bonzai burger with the meatless patty no tomato and no mayo, and me the teriyaki burger with no lettuce and no tomato. Yeah, times have changed, I add the lettuce now, my dad branches out and orders different stuff, and my sister and I have found new restaurants to eat at when we get together. But I can’t even pass by the restaurant without the memories of us laughing with waiters and waitresses about the three of us basically ordering the same thing, just with our own twists. It’s getting an entire Mile High Mud Pie to myself for my sixteen birthday. It’s my sister ordering the Cookie Magic instead of the Rookie Magic right after she turned 21. It’s eating there during Chase’s first R&R and the waitress finding out and making sure our meal was paid for. It’s visiting my best girlfriend for her wedding and the management paying for that meal because of her upcoming nuptials. I have been to Red Robin countless times in my life. Many different locations, over several states, all over the country. While there have been a handful of bad memories, none of those are due to the wait staff or the restaurant. I can’t think of a time when service hasn’t been up to par. When I haven’t been greeted with a smile and had a waiter/waitress with an excellent personality. It’s not like the Steak & Shake Chase and I love, where when Bobby was on duty, dining there was a great experience, but man, when Bobby wasn’t working, everything suffered. Or even the O’Charley’s in Cleveland. Every experience there was beyond amazing. But….go to a O’Charley’s elsewhere, the experience was just lacking. Every Red Robin, every time has been awesome. I’m sure there have been times and experiences that have left people wanting, but in my several hundred times eating there, nope, not that I can remember. So on days like today, when I am in desperate need of comfort, Red Robin is the place I go. And I was not disappointed. The staff was full of smiles, several people came by my table to see if everything was okay, if we needed anything, and even a couple “are you doing okay?”s. I guess my severely agitated state was showing. After a waiter offered to get me a new Coke, I gulped down what was left of the old one in anticipation of my new, fresh one. And before he could bring me my refill, two other people were trying to fill my cup. And the guy bringing my Coke was no slouch, it’s not like I was sitting with an empty glass for practically any amount of time. Everyone was just on it, on a day I desperately needed to feel valued. So yay Red Robin.

Why did I need comfort? I did go to court today. And right now I will say I hate, loathe, and despise court. Not court’s fault, but I never wish to see the inside of that building again. I’ll just explain my experience step by step to give the proper picture. So hearing set for 10:00. I’m a military brat, if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late. So I was there right at about 9:45. I’ve never been and didn’t know if there might be pre-trial paperwork, sign in, etc. And it’s The Court, authority, I ain’t messing with being late for that. Even if I’m just a witness who doesn’t actually have to be there. So I learned, how traffic court works, at least here in Anchorage. It looks like court times and dates are set around the ticketing officers. All of Officer X’s ticketees are given a time to show up at court, based on half hour blocks. The officer with appointments at 9:30 was Officer On Red Light Duty For the Month of January, all of his appointments were 9:30 and they just were going right through them. So I’m there watching all these…trials, I guess. Being me I was getting overwhelmed by the officialness of it all. The legal jargon. The police officer being all professional and authority-like. The judge using technical legal words and being all official. I learned something about traffic court today though. 1) In Alaska, if you’re guilty, you can’t negotiate points. Period. Apparently, a lot of the defendants didn’t know that, but now I do. Not that I plan on ever getting a ticket, but now I know, unless I know the officer doesn’t have proof of my misdeed, I’m stuck with the points. And if I’m caught running a red, the officer has a camera in the car, showing what happened in full color. 2) I’d always heard that if you went to court, you’d probably get out of the ticket because the officer wouldn’t show up, and you’d get off. Never had a ticket, so never needed to try that. But now I know, not in the municipality of Anchorage. I get the feeling that’s why some of the people came, and you could tell they were thinking, oh crap, the officer’s here with me caught on video. One lady pretty much even said so to the judge as she decided to just plead “no contest” and get back to her life. 3) Just about all you can change is your fine. And if that’s what you are there for, I will let you in on a little secret, the judge in my court room seemed to be a little more forgiving to the people who pleaded “no contest” than those who tried to afirm their innocence. Just saying. So I’m just sitting there and for no good reason getting really antsy. It was just the nature of court. Then right at 10:00, my defendant walks in. Looks at me, smiles, and sits down next to me. Hmm, I knew who she was, but apparently I didn’t make that much of an impression on her. Either that or she’s bolder than I give her credit for. Finally, our case is called. I’ll admit the police officer was a really nice guy. He thanked me for coming, asked about my van, and commented on how well-behaved my kids were. And they were great, by the way. Absolutely great. By this time the kids had been sitting quietly for about 40 minutes. Not getting up, not talking, just sitting quietly. They are the best. Then the judge asks her how she pleads. “No contest.” I begin to rejoice, maybe she was one of those people who had been told, just ask for the court date, the officer won’t show up and you’ll get off. I’d been getting really agitated because of the whole experience, but I could feel muscles untense. Then the judge gives her the opportunity to negotiate her fine. I’m all hey, she didn’t try to say she didn’t do it, whatever. I’ll even give my two cents that it wasn’t 100% her fault, I’m kind of in her corner since she decided to plea “no contest.” But then she opened her mouth. And begins to rip me to shreds. I physically felt like I been in a crash again. My muscles that had began to relax, un-relaxed. I apparently hadn’t been in AK for long and didn’t know how to drive in snow and had a driver’s license from another state. Wow, she can’t remember what I look like, but she remembers my license, which she never saw. Anyway my plates are from another state, honey, not my license. My husband’s military, therefore our plates only show where he signed up, not where we are now or even where we were last. Okay, so last was Georgia, and no it doesn’t snow there, but I grew up in Colorado. I’ve driven in snow before. Add to that, while the state our plates are from isn’t know for snow, it does snow there. Seriously, if your defense is where I’m from, do a little research first. Don’t make me out to be some country bumpkin who has never seen a snowflake before in her life. Not that those of you who haven’t seen snow are country bumpkins, this is the impression of myself that I got from the defendant. Then, she remembers precise details that she admitted she wasn’t sure about to the officer after the accident as she admitted she hadn’t been paying attention. But she did neglect to tell the judge that she hadn’t been paying attention. Then she knows she was driving exactly the speed limit, and hit her brakes in a timely fashion. The damage to my 5-Star safety rated van begs to differ. The insurance companies software that predicted the damage to my van begs to differ, according to that software, there is no way my van was totaled. She pushed the back-end of my vehicle in at the least 6 inches. There was bumper, and then space where my trunk should have been. And now there is some man who was involved in the accident. Granted, he didn’t show up, the officer never heard of him and I sure as heck never saw another car in the accident. I’m guessing he must have been a friend of hers because she gave testimony to exactly what was going on in his head during the accident. I mean, while I didn’t recall this guy, I totally expected him to stand up and talk because her testimony made it seem like they’d talked the accident over in depth. But while, they seem to be tight, they weren’t tight enough for him to actually show up. I’m inflamed, infuriated. This lady is dragging me through the mud to try to lessen a small fine. Seriously, it’s the smallest fine of court that day. I would have been okay with, “hey, this lady was doing something unexpected and I hit her.” I’d have agreed. Life would have moved on. But I loathe it when people invent stories about me. This wasn’t my first time driving in the snow, and I didn’t cause a three-car pile up. There was no third vehicle. (Which was kind of admitted to, “well, he almost hit me, so he would have hit her too”. Umm, if he didn’t hit you, he wouldn’t have hit me if you weren’t there. But still I say, where is he?). For those of you waiting for the conclusion to the story. I got all middle school on her, “I learned to drive in the snow, thank you very much.” Then got control of myself and related the accident as I knew it, leaving out any comments about her and our mystery driver. I was mad and struggling to have any class. Judge told her we all make mistakes and that’s why we should drive with due diligence and leave plenty of space between cars, so that you don’t make some one else’s mistake even worse. Thankful for my kids after that, as taking care of them ensured that we went down different elevators and left the court house separately. I was still livid. We’re talking shaking at her audacity.

I guess I did learn a lesson though. Don’t make judgements about people. It can be easy to get facts wrong when you don’t know them. Also, tell the truth to yourself. Here, I put myself in her shoes. Don’t know if this is where she’s coming from, don’t know her, not going to judge her motives here. But I can actually see where she might be coming from. You screw up, and feel guilty, and to relieve the guilt you start reinventing the story. You begin to “remember” details that put you in a better light. You exaggerate some truths and minimize others. And then when you tell the story you don’t even realize that you’re lying because it’s the story you’ve told yourself over and over. I’ve done it before. Sometimes friends even help you do it. I can see it now, telling a friend about the accident and mentioning the other driver was from out-of-state, and come on, you know how we all feel about drivers that aren’t from our state, none of them know how to drive. So the friend’s like, “that state doesn’t even have snow, it was all her fault.” And the story becomes this terrible, out-of-state driver who couldn’t have been in Alaska for long, and really, it was all her fault. To the point where this story is believed so much that one will testify as to where a driver’s license is from and how long someone has been in the state. Like I said, don’t know that happened, not going to testify to it here. But saying where, I can see similar things happen in my life. And it’s dangerous. We begin to believe lies. We begin to spout them off as truth, forgetting that lies do damage. It reminds me “Satan is the Father of lies, sent to steal, kill, and destroy.” And lies do that. Lies today killed my compassion, stole my composure and destroyed my morning. The next time I am tempted to tweak the facts a bit so that I can feel better about myself, I need to remember that. A tweak can seem innocent enough, but it’s a lie, and lies steal, kill and destroy. And friends, don’t help me to tweak facts, be brutally honest with me. Bring light and truth.

Tomorrow I have to go to court.  I feel like I’m being called to the principal’s office.  Terrified and sick to my stomach.  I’m going to be a witness to my own accident, or the victim, though I really don’t want to use that (victim) word.  It implies victimization, and while I do mourn the loss of my van, my life has moved on.  I’ll get me a newer, more improved, roomier van.  And to be honest most of the times I was called to the principal’s office it was to be a witness, or something good. But sorry to all principals, you are a figure which I will always recall the terror, not the good stuff.  I have authority issues.  Not rebellion issues.  For some reason, I think of authority as persons sitting around waiting for me to mess up and then pounce on me and make me suffer.  Hence, why I was rarely in trouble, too scared to do anything other than walk the straight and narrow.  But it’s not just The Court that has me shaking in my boots.  I really don’t want to face the woman who hit me again.  Hint: she doesn’t like me much.  And I get it, I really do.  By being the car that she wasn’t paying attention to and was in the way as she was going probably a bit too fast, I messed up her day.  So yeah, as the person who hit my van, totaled it and hit so hard that taking my children to the ER was deemed necessary, she kinda messed up my day too.  But she was spewing venom the morning she hit me.  Yelling at me as I got out of my van to check on her and any passengers.  I mean my first thought was, “is everyone okay?”  Her first thought was to blame everything on me.  Even when the police officer came and was questioning me, she was standing there making sure the officer knew that she felt the accident was all my fault.  I was so thankful for that officer, as I knew he’d get her insurance information ’cause I sure didn’t want to ask for it.  I wanted as little contact with her as possible.  And now she’s contesting the ticket, making for another confrontation.  I’m thrilled beyond words (I say sarcastically with a significant eye roll).

I don’t have to go.  The summons isn’t an official summons saying “Thou shalt be at the courthouse” or whatever an official summons says.  It just says you were a witness/victim come because it’s possible that without your testimony the ticket will be dropped.  Nothing is gonna happen to me if I don’t show up.  And I, personally, don’t give a hoot whether or not she gets a ticket.  Will it mean that I magically get more money to replace my van?  If it did, I’d be there, I’d really like someone who could show me a van with leather seats, a sunroof, DVD player, navigation system, remote start, security system for the paltry sum Gieco gave us.  Yes, I’ll admit when the police officer told me he wrote her a ticket I was glad, I knew it would make the process of getting her insurance to pay for my van easier.  But that’s all.  I wanted as much restoration as I could get, not retribution.  And now all I want is to move on, forget the whole thing happened, and at some point get me a new, improved totally awesome van.  This whole going to court thing is just stressing me out.

Let’s be honest, I have a high guilt factor.  Even though I seriously doubt that if I attend the hearing the judge is going to look at me and say I should have received a ticket and proceed to give me one.  I hope that isn’t quite how the system works, never been to traffic court.  Was called for jury duty once (that I had to go to, all other times were just after I’d moved and changed states so I was not longer obligated to serve in my former place of residence, one of the perks of moving all the time with the military).  But even while I had to hang at the court house over half the day, that’s all I did, hang.  Never even made it to jury selection.  So I don’t know, perhaps it is possible that while on the witness stand (or whatever) the tables will be turned on me and all the sudden I will be the one on trial, I’ll say something wrong, stammer, get flustered, and this woman and her lawyer will be able to place all blame on me; the insurance companies will find out and I’ll have to give the check for my van back to Geico.  I mean it happens on court shows all the time, even Legally Blond, the witness becomes the criminal.  Back to reality, on Legally Blond, the witness did do it, and I got rear ended.  Rear ended, that’s one of those basic dummy situations where the person doing the rear ending is at fault. And with the damage done to my vehicle, if she hit the brakes before hitting me, she was going well over the speed limit to have done that much damage.  But wild, improbable scenarios aside, I was confused that morning and slowed to turn at the wrong intersection where the left turn I wanted to make was impossible.  I didn’t turn, had realized I was wrong and had begun to proceed to the next intersection when I was slammed into.  So while not quite stopped, I shouldn’t have been braking right there.  And I did surprise the driver.  Although, as she hadn’t been in my rear view mirror when I began braking, and I had enough time to slow, determine I wasn’t where I wanted to be and begin to proceed by the time she hit me.  One would think that would be enough time for someone behind me to recognize there was a crazy lady trying to make a left turn, and brake.  And a rear end accident doesn’t normally cause a total loss.  The damage to the back end of my vehicle was phenomenal, I think even her insurance guy was floored by damage done.  But I was still part to blame in the fiasco.  I give myself a big DUH, you have to be on the same side of the highway as the direction of traffic you want.  So I can think of examples in MD, GA and CO where you can find the exceptions, the DC Beltway is one huge example of one big mess where I can never be sure of merging lanes and such.  But I’m here in Alaska.  A land without interstates.  A simpler land, with simpler roads.  And I love it.  But one morning I forgot.  I can’t say I’d do it differently, though.  I’d never gotten on the highway going that way from that exit before and the sign with wonderful directions was covered with snow.  And I did check my rear view mirror.  It’s habit to check before breaking (unless I’m responding to something I will hit if I don’t break).  I check before hitting my breaks at a yellow light.  I’ll chance it turning red on me if I think the guy behind me might hit me if I break hard.  If I just noticed my turn, I check before breaking, there’s always somewhere to turn around and I really don’t want to get hit.  And yeah, I remember checking my mirrors before hitting the breaks that time.  I even remember thinking “where did that come from?”  as my van jumped with the force of being hit.  There had been no one there.  Yeah, I wasn’t perfect at the time.  But here’s the deal.  We all have “oh, crap” moments.  We all do things that aren’t perfectly legal.  That’s why there’s the two…wait, did recently just take my driver’s test (required by AK law for non-AK license holders to get their AK driver’s license), it’s been changed to three-second rule.  ‘Cause crap happens and you need to be ready.  That’s why you should always be paying attention.  Stuff happens and you need to be ready.  Anyway, getting all worked up here.  Here’s the deal.  I think it was enough her fault that I feel no guilt about making sure I got paid for my poor totaled van.  I feel no guilt about using the rental van while I had it.  I even feel that, no, the reimbursement I have received for my van is not enough to cover my loss, and if I could get more I would.  But beyond restoration for what I’ve lossed, I do feel guilt.  She should have been paying attention and been able to stop, and because she didn’t, she took something from me.  And it was more than just my van.  But points on a license, fines and all that….I just don’t know.  Especially knowing that she lost out in the accident too.

I’ve been whining about having to go for the past week.  Everyone’s unanimous telling me that I should go.  Other than that everyone differs.  There’s been the make her pay, if she gets away with it she may kill someone next.  Then the I’ve lost more than I’ve been repaid, how dare she think she can get out of the ticket, make sure she pays to the fullest extent of the law.  The reminder that I won’t be the one on trial, and that my only job is to answer questions truthfully.  The stop feeling guilty.  And on and on.  Even God’s had His say, removing my very good excuse not to go.  I’d have to miss PWOC, and I bring the worship (hahaha, even I knew I could get it covered if I really wanted).  Well, I find to it be no coincidence that the only week anyone has signed up to lead worship this semester is this week.  I look at coincidences the same way the writer of Esther did, where “it just so happened” really means “and God manoeuvred all the pieces so that it would ‘just so happen’.”

So I’m going.  Still don’t wanna.  I’ll put my desire of lack of confrontation, want of closure and guilt complex aside and be asking God just what I’m supposed to be doing, looking for there.

Today has been a good day.  It’s odd, I find myself talking like someone who is dealing with death or a serious illness, there are good days, and not-so-good days, and bad days.  And while this is so not like those areas, it’s not permanent, it is adapting to a whole new life.  It’s a new way of dealing with life.  Personal interactions are different.  I can’t even call up our new FRG leader and ask if we could meet for a cup of coffee while I explain what I can and won’t do as a part of FRG.  It’s a conversation that will have to be had by phone (I hate phone calls, I really, really do), at a meeting (but there are things I wish to discuss that I don’t want to hash out in front of everyone), or by e-mail (the route I’m gonna take).  Why can’t I have this person over for dinner, or out for coffee?  It’s a guy, and our spouses are deployed.  Even though nothing would happen, and my three rowdy kids would be present (they are ever-present in my life), it’s still not gonna happen.  Not going there.  Period.  It’s also my kids being more excited than Matt’s child when Matt came home and I was hanging with his wife at their house.  I think it took a minute for him to get into the door as my children flooded the entry so very excited to have a dad-like figure/male person around.  It’s Xavier looking at his Sunday School teachers (we are so blessed to have all male teachers for his class, so very important for young men his age, especially when a majority of the men in our church deploy or work on the slope) in a whole new way.  My child idolizes those men right now.  It’s also eating differently.  One, the way I normally cook costs more, and when Chase is gone I’d rather use that money to go out to eat.  Two, the kids would rather just eat Alfredo, or the easy stuff anyway.  Three, it is easier stuff, so less time spent.  Four, I don’t mind the time or the cost when Chase is home. I love to watch him love the food that I make.  I could cook for him for the rest of my life.  It makes me happy.  But when I don’t get the satisfaction of cooking for someone who loves to eat what I cook, the pleasure greatly diminishes.  It’s no longer fun.  I actually have to do the budget.  Instead of just sit down with Chase and look over what he’s done, or even just do my own thing knowing he’s got this, I actually have to do it.  I have to check the mail.  I know it’s a little thing, no big deal.  Except that I have never been successful into making it a daily habit.  No matter how long he’s gone or how often he’s gone, it’s just one of those things.  However, no matter how bad I am at checking the mail on normal days, you betcha I’ll be out on President’s Day, Memorial Day and all the other federal holidays.  Okay, I did catch myself last Monday and didn’t check the mail, but not until I had keys in hand and was ready to walk out the garage to go get it.  I’m parenting by myself.  I’ve gone over this one a lot, but it’s a big one.  Here I am ever thankful that this is a temporary issue.  Chase will be back when the boys hit puberty.  Thank you Lord.  But there are still times when I am in want for a dad.  The times when I’m just tired and have had it up to here.  And then the times when it would come better from a guy who gets guy stuff.   Like when doing guy stuff is appropriate and not appropriate.  Like burping or talking about farting.  From Mom it’s “well, she’s a girl she just doesn’t like that stuff ever.”  And that’s not completely true.  But just because the whole restaurant laughed two weeks ago when Austin let out “the loudest” burp doesn’t mean we can try to replicate the process every time we go.  And may I say that the whole restaurant happened to be another family from church, the wait staff, and us.  But from a Dad, a guy, that conversation just might mean more.  And then there’s the when it’s okay to wrestle and who it’s okay to wrestle.  I get it, wrestling is good for little boys.  I don’t get why, but I don’t have to.  I just let my boys be boys.  But there is a time and a place.  And we don’t wrestle girls.  Okay, when little sister throws herself on top of a dog pile, that’s different.  And if a girl starts it, they can defend themselves to keep from getting hurt.  But, even if the little girl is wrestling too, it’s just not okay.  But hearing that from Mom isn’t the same as hearing it from Dad.  And Chase is a much better person at teaching respect.  Because he’s a guy and he gets guy stuff, and I’m not so I don’t.  And then there’s the whole lonely factor.  Even the best girlfriends aren’t the same.  Especially at night when the kids are in bed.  Or at church, because I like to say what I think, and I tend to think a lot at church, but Chase is the only one I’ll say it all too, because he’s the only one who gets me.  Some of my poor girlfriends have had to listen to some of the comments I just couldn’t keep to myself.  And today when the pastor was telling us that we should sit in different places and meet different people I couldn’t help but pout and say aloud “but I like my seat.”  But like I said, today is a good day.

I’ll admit, I’m at fault for the growing streak of not-so-good days.  I haven’t been praying like I ought.  I mean I’ve been praying at meal, and praying for Chase and all the other people on my list of who I need to pray for.  But it seems like as I’ve had less opportunities to talk to adults that I’ve also forgotten I can talk to God throughout the day.  I can tell Him what I’ve been thinking.  I can even just complain to him about all the dishes I have to do.  I can ask Him for help when the kids are driving me up a wall.  I call myself the crazy lady who talks to herself all the time, but I really know that I’m talking to God.  And I’ve stopped.  I’ve been in mere survival mode, mutely taking care of what needs to be done, then getting tired and overwhelmed.  And even though I may be quiet in the presence of other people, I’m never quiet by myself.  And so when deployment gets tough, because it is tough, I need to stop myself from going into survival mode.  I need to step back and remember who I am.  And do the things that make me me, even if I’m not feeling it at the time.  Because I’m not going to have bunches of good days when I’m not being the person God created me to be: the crazy lady who talks to God all day long.

Lazy Saturday.  It’s actually been a beautiful day and the Fur Rondy is going on downtown.  Would have gone, but I have a little girl who has had a cough the past couple of nights going to sleep.  She seems to be better today, haven’t coughed at all yet.  But with my kids seeming to have gotten their lungs from me, I know that weather is a huge factor in breathing well, so I kept her out of the cold, dry outdoor air.  Hopefully, we will be able to go next week.

Having been a lazy day, I don’t really have a lot going on.  I learned that two hours is not long enough to warm up the hot tub, and that a person really ought check the temperature before going in.  Plus, when it’s cold outside, you really need the water temperature to be body temperature or higher.  Yep, learned all that the hard way tonight.  Heater is still running and we will try again tomorrow.  With hot water next time.  I’ve also learned that with Clara stuff is all or nothing.  So, I’m making her wear underwear during the day, and so far pretty good.  But now that she’s rocking the undies, she doesn’t want to wear the diaper to bed.  The results were not as bad as I expected.  She did have an accident, but managed to make it to the bathroom first.  I had envisioned having to clean her bed, sheets, and blankets.  But we just changed her and moved on.  I have no clue what I’m doing, but I’m reasonably sure she won’t be going to college still wearing diapers.  Got Xavier hooked on Cake Boss as well.  His favorite cake from season one is the mummy cake, it happens to be my least favorite.  And that’s why he’s a boy and I’m a girl.

Still miss Chase.  So ready for the deployment to be over.  Although the hardest part isn’t even the being apart, or the whole war zone thing.  It’s knowing about the spiritual battle he’s going through.  There’s so little I can do for him, and all the while he’s dealing with all that, I’m over here living the life, enjoying all the fruits of his labor.  I guess I’ll just have to keep on praying and being the best wife and mother I can be.

I have a new favorite tv show to watch on Netflix.  I was actually looking for something that would put me to sleep.  But instead I got hooked.  So I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but I can’t imagine that all the rest won’t be as wonderful.  However, I find this show influencing me, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I am addicted to Cake Boss.  I love the cakes.  I’ve been a sucker for cake decorating for a while now.  I don’t do it myself.  Don’t have the tools, the time, or the need.  Even though our family can seem to be large culture-wise, we still only need five birthday cakes a year.  And being military, we don’t have extended family to add to the mix.  And then there’s the fact that, even up here, we still have Cold Stone.  Not that I don’t believe that if I put my mind to it, I could make a cake that would put Cold Stone to shame. But I’d need cake pans, and ice cream maker, and tools for doing proper frosting.  It’s just so much easier to let Cold Stone do the work.  But I love watching cake decorating shows, and thinking….no, knowing that if I wanted to, I could do that.  Then I love the whole Italian extended family.  I am enamored with the idea of big Italian, or Greek, or other boisterous loud families.  So not the culture I grew up with, or married into for that matter.  And being the quiet, shy, totally terrified of people person that I am, I do fit into my family, and my husband’s family, so much better than I would an Italian family.  But a girl can dream.  And the whole extended family concept is another I adore from afar.  Kids growing up surrounded by cousins and aunts and family all over the place.  Everyone working together and getting together for all the holidays.  It sounds so wonderful.  Granted, I’d probably go crazy having all those people pushing in on my life.  I’m sure I’d want to get away.  But that’s what movies and books and even tv shows are for.  To be a part of that culture for a while and experience the romance without actually having to live it.  So I love Cake Boss.  Cake decorating and big, loud Italian family, if there was just a romance in the story line I’d think it was created just for me.

But there is a side effect.  Watching the mixers on the show mix batter, watching them pipe icing and create amazing cakes makes me want to whip out my mixer, go to the store, buy some cake pans and a pastry bag, and go to town.  With dozens of deserts left over from last Friday, I don’t need to be creating any more deserts.  I could make an amazing cake right now.  But what would I do with it?  I’ve finally got the self-control to not eat my weight in confections, I don’t need to go back.  I’ve come to terms with the fact I probably won’t be going down in pant size while Chase is gone, so now my goal is to not go up in size.  Making chocolate cake, perfecting my strawberry chiffon icing and then eating all of that will not help me with my goal.  Plus, like I said I’ve already got desert coming out of my ears.  I have a tendency to over bake for things.  Somewhere inside of me I have an inner caterer, and I let her go to town.  Which means I tend to end up with a lot of really good, yet really bad for you food.  But I love the menu planning.  Trying to come up with a theme, then coming up with foods within that theme that will make a variety of people happy.  Creating some new recipes for a party and combining them with old favorites.  Then making food that is in theory as good to look at as it is to eat.  I love doing that.  Hence the tendency to go totally overboard and have cupcakes, cookies and raspberry swirl to feed an Army.  It may have been a bit of a blessing that my oven was behaving badly, I had plans for another type of cookie and fudge that I just didn’t get around to making.  There is part of me that thinks I could turn this love of food into a business.  The rest of me laughs at that.  I’m not nearly organized enough.  There are weeks when it’s hard enough to get dinner on the table every night.  Plus, raising kids is my first priority and I will not do something that takes away from my ability to do that.  So I put part-time caterer in the mental box titled things I want to be when I grow up.  And who knows maybe someday watching Cake Boss will pay off as I make my own sumptuous deserts to share with the world.

I’m just gonna say it.  Deployment is hard y’all.  I know, big duh.  I see other people write or say that and I think, what, you expected it to be a cakewalk?  But it really is hard.

It’s hard being the only parent.  And here’s where my total respect for single parents kicks in because they do this everyday, every year and also have to bring home the bacon.  I can’t even imagine.  I like knowing on days that I’m at my wit’s end, Chase will come home and give me a break.  Or take a turn being the bad guy for a little while.  Or just make me relax and get everything off my mind.  Clara and potty training gonna drive me insane.  I miss the ease of Xavier.  One day I just realized that he had just trained himself.  No fights, no work, he just did it all by himself.  I wouldn’t be so worried about potty training Clara if she wasn’t so persnickity about having a fresh diaper.  I cannot afford her wish to change her diaper every hour.  It doesn’t even have to be wet, but she wants a new one.  I’ve come to the conclusion that if she wants to change constantly she needs to be in underwear.  She doesn’t want underwear, she wants her diaper.  She wants the freshness without having to work for it (i.e. use the toilet).  I’m done with that.  I hid her diapers, she’ll get one at bed time and I’m asking her every 15 minutes if she needs to pee. So far no accidents.  But many, many, many a temper tantrum.  She is my most stubborn child, and when she has her mind set there is only one person I know more stubborn than her.  That would be me.  Chase might not be able to contribute to that situation much, but he’d be able to take my mind off it.  He’d also tell me if he thinks I’m doing the right or wrong thing.  He would, however, be a huge help with Xavier.  It’s almost funny, I was just bragging about how good Xavier was being last night.  And then there was today.  It reminds me of the rule that Chase and I made years ago.  Never, ever, ever comment on how we haven’t fought in a while.  WWIII will surely break out within twelve hours of such a comment.  So I notice that Xavier has gotten a lot better about doing school work, his attitude, work ethic and quality of work have all gone up drastically.  I say it out loud, and it all comes crashing down.  We’ve had respect issues, honesty issues and now I’m writing at the kitchen table because if I leave the vicinity, work slows to a snail’s pace if it gets done at all.  In one day that child has managed to lose friend, video game, and movie privileges.  And he may just lose his multi-colored pen if changing the colors distracts him from finishing his homework again.  It would be nice to have a masculine motivator right now.  And then I could be in another room helping the little people learn how to pick up after themselves instead of in here making sure that spelling words do get practiced.

And after the parenting is done it’s hard switching gears and taking care of everything else that has to be done.  It’s hard cleaning house when I just want to fall in bed.  When Chase is home, we’d hang out and relax together and then I’d be able to find the energy to do whatever needed to be done.  Or just the thought of him coming home would give the extra umph needed to do whatever I could before he came home so that we could just enjoy our time together without work hanging over our heads.  Plus, he’d also help out.  Either that or a magical dish fair takes care of the dishes when he was home and is now on strike.  I think that same fairy also takes care of the garbage.

Plus, Chase is just fun.  He makes me smile and laugh.  And it’s always great to talk to him on the phone, but it’s not the same.  Especially when, well, let’s just say things over there aren’t quite ideal.  And his calls, while wonderful and I would never give them up, serve to remind me that stuff is going on over there.

Yep, deployment is tough.

I never realized how much I would just miss Chase.  I knew I’d miss having an extra parent, a handyman, and all the things he does.  And I knew that I would miss him.  I just didn’t know how much.  I didn’t know that when everything else was going just fine, I’d simply ache for him.  And there were times I was prepared to miss him.  At church, it’s such a special thing to go to church with my husband, to worship together, to learn together and frankly to discuss the sermon while it’s happening.  I knew I’d miss him after the kids go to bed and I was all alone.  I didn’t expect to miss him at dinner, and after dinner as we all play games and relax.  I didn’t expect to miss him just because the snow was falling.  Or the sun was shining.  I didn’t expect there to be times when I wanted to simply hold his hand, or put my head on his shoulder.  I knew I’d miss him when I was lonely, or sad, or when things weren’t going quite right.  But when everything is good, possibly even great, I wasn’t prepared to feel his absence quite so much.

I mean it’s not like this is my first time on my own.  I used to keep track of how many years we’ve been married and how many years we’d been together of that.  The first time started off like this.  Everything made me miss Chase.  But I established a “new normal” and life moved on.  I was able to get excited over new adventures.  And I learned from that, make sure I have plenty to do while Chase is gone.  The next time…..well, that was deployment number 1, and that was its own story.  And it was honestly not so much about missing Chase and I forgot the lesson learned during Basic Training.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Anyway, after that, there have been several absences.  For abundant reasons.  I’d miss him, but life would go on.  I’ll admit I got used to him being gone.  It was time I’d get to do what I wanted.  And then when even the overnight TDY’s stopped, I didn’t know what to do with Chase all the time.  God used the that period of time to bring Chase and I closer together though.  And our marriage has just gotten better ever since.  And now we are back to the beginning.  But the thing is, I am out doing stuff.  I am living my own life.  And I am making sure I have plenty to do, and having plenty of fun.  Life is going on, but with a huge hole.

I’m actually glad that Chase and I have grown closer over the years.  I’m glad that I’m not glad he’s gone.  And if missing him like crazy is one of the by-products of being as much in love as I am, well, I’ll just deal with it.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess now I just have to figure out what to do with missing Chase.  Try to use it to be the best wife I can be while he’s gone.  And remember to show him how much I missed him when he comes home.

Today I was asked the question “what do you need?”  At the time, I didn’t know.  I couldn’t think of anything, but knew that with the emotional rollercoaster deployment happens to be, I probably need something.  So I’ve been think about the question all day.  These are some answers that I can think of pertaining to this deployment and also to times past that Chase has been gone.

1) I need a hug.  I’m an emotional wreck, so I’ll probably cry all over you.  But I need the support a hug offers.  The knowing that someone cares.  A hug also says it’s okay, and I need to know it’s okay.  Whatever it happens to be at the time.  My abilities as a parent, the whole deployment thing, whatever.  It’s a small gesture that can mean the world.

2) I need your help not to become work for me.  If I have to balance schedules, or if you make me feel like the one who has to coordinate the effort, it will become overwhelming and be more of a curse than a blessing.  If you want to bring me dinner, bring me dinner.  If you want to have me over, just invite me.  Nike had the right idea, Just Do It.

3) I don’t always know what I need.  But if you’re making dinner and just happen to bring some extra by that would be awesome.  Even better if you invite me over and let me hang with people with more than one digit to their age.  If you just love to vacuum, all I have to say is bring your own over, mine is currently acting up.  You enjoy hanging with people with only one digit to their age, take mine for a while so I can get a hair cut or go shopping for things I can’t buy with the kids around.  The answer to this one is the same as the last, Just Do It.

4) Be honest with me.  If I have offended you, tell me so we can fix it.  The last thing I need is to be sorting out hurt feelings ages after the fact.  And I also don’t need a lot of drama.  Let’s just put it all out there and take care of it.  And I really, truly appreciate all of you who have been honest with me and started a dialogue that has left us both feeling better at the end of the day.

5) Here’s another just do it.  If you say you’ll do something, do it.  Don’t leave me hanging out to dry.  That’s fun enough to deal with when everything’s hunky-dory.  But when I’m already frazzled and at my wits end…..please, don’t make me go there.

6) I need somewhere to go that isn’t my house.  I need to see people who aren’t my kids.  And I need to not be taking care of this by visiting all my local waiters and cashiers.  Basically, invite me over.

7) I need underwear.  I know, TMI.  But I tossed my hole-y underwear and the stuff with broken elastic without seeing what that left me with.  The answer, not enough.  This specific problem is solved by a fairly general solution.  I need time without my kids.  I need someone to watch them while I go shopping.  Or get a haircut.  Or whatever it might be that I need to do and I just can’t take them along.

8) I need encouragement.  It may not seem like much to you.  I know that when I tell someone they are doing a great job, I feel like I need to do more to help.  But it feels good to know that someone out there thinks I’m doing a good job.  And I do need to hear the words.  If I don’t hear it, I will begin to doubt it.  And here I’ll be honest.  This and the hug may be hard for me to accept.  I may be overwhelmed (in a good way) and not know what to do.  But I need it.

9) I need to laugh.

10) I need to know I’m not alone.  Whatever it you can do from a “how are you?”, or a “do you need anything?” and beyond.  It’s all important.  Please don’t ignore me.

11) Prayer for me and my husband.  ‘Specially him, as he’s the one in the war zone.  Physical war and spiritual war.

12) I need to know you support my husband.  Send him stuff, write him a letter.  Don’t diss the military.  And above all don’t insult him personally.

That about sums it up, for now.  There are the specific needs that come up now and again.  The emergency need for diapers.  The need for a washing machine.  But those are my general needs and I’m sure I’m not the only Army spouse needing these twelve things.

Today is errand day.  In theory, Monday is always errand day.  In theory.  Reality is that there are days when attitudes, sickness, or snow will keep us home.  However, today we had no choice, so I was very glad to see perfect errand weather (perfect being streets I’m not afraid to drive on, this is one area I’m not too picky).  President’s Day or not, the electric bill was due, we were in great need of groceries, and I still hadn’t bought a thumb drive for tomorrow.  With all that I also planned on some fun so that we could get everything done and still have happy kids at the end of the day.

So we paid the bill and then I took the kids out to lunch.  Might as well be full before grocery shopping.  I’m totally impressionable when it comes to food.  It doesn’t take much.  Kramer talked about buying stock in Texas Roadhouse once, and now I can’t even think about Mad Money without a craving a steak and yeast rolls.  So it’s hard on a good day not to get caught up at the grocery store, to help matters I make sure I never go hungry and that I like the food I just ate.  A content tummy is less likely to see strawberries and think about making chocolate covered strawberries.  Well, I try to use eating time to talk with the kids about stuff, and eating out is the best time ever.  Somehow not being at home keeps the kids more focused on the conversation.  During football season we talked a lot about football.  Sunday we talked about what the kids learned at church.  Today was President’s Day so we discussed the two presidents in particular that are being honored today.  Granted our discussion took a lot of turns, from the Revolutionary War to WWII, from the Mayflower to the Dalton Gang.  Yep, we were all over the board.  We’ve been doing this for a while now, but I’ll never get used to the looks I get from the people around me.  I realize we are making noise, but we aren’t being overly loud. And it’s not like we’re the only people who make noise in a restaurant.  But when the guy at the table next to ours can’t keep his eyes off our table, I wonder what I doing wrong.  When the servers or cashiers are watching us, I wonder if we are being obnoxious.  But I just keep talking to my kids.  Because at the end of the day, it’s all about them.  And I’ll deal with all the weird looks the world has to give me to teach and love on my kids.

Then we went to what may just be my new favorite place.  I’ve been wanting to go to the local butcher shop since we moved here.  There’s something about the store that called to me.  But until today I never made the effort to get there.  After today I will be making up for lost time.  One, the people who work there are awesome.  Two, the meat is amazing.  I can’t wait to make stew with my stew meat.  And I bought Xavier some turkey for turkey sandwiches.  Yep, meat from Mike’s Meats from now on.  And in the summer they have a weekly farmer’s market I will have to actually go to instead of think about going to.

Then we were off to the commissary.  And going out to lunch worked.  The kids were well-behaved and none of us got caught up in cravings.  We actually managed to get mostly good food.  Of course there were areas that I did let us get whatever we wanted.  The produce area, the dried fruit aisle, and the juice aisle.  But we didn’t even look at the candy, sodas or deserts.  (Although, it’s easy to overlook deserts when I still have leftovers from my Valentine’s Day party).