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So last week I bought myself some birthday presents.  I bought several sets of the Lego Friends.  Note to people shopping for my daughter, if that’s what you want to get her later in the year for birthday or Christmas, ask me what we have, although I will say duplicates will be welcome, we can always use more pink and purple Legos. Anyway, I was so excited.  Then it hit me.  Rush Limbaugh (get over the source and stay with me here) celebrated his wife’s birth week when they were married.  I’ve always thought that would be a fun tradition.  So I asked my husband if I could be allowed a birth week, instead of just a day.  He said yes, probably laughed at me at the same time, but my wish was granted.  After asking, I thought of course he’d be okay with it.  We’ve been doing unofficial Lori birth week for the past few years.  He’ll get me a present he’s so excited about that I’ll get it early.  Then there’s my actual birthday, when I get to open presents from everyone else and go out to a nice dinner.  Then there is the day we finally get around to eating my birthday cake, because we were all too stuffed from eating out to touch a cake.  I’m spoiled, I fully admit it.

Asking for a birth week is something I would have never done years ago.  Somehow I got it in my head that all the cool people didn’t want to celebrate their birthday.  They just downplayed it as another day.  So I downplayed it thinking I was too cool for birthday shenanigans.  Then, one year I caught myself dropping hints about my upcoming birthday.  I heard what I said and thought with horror this is what sad people do when they really want others to acknowledge their birthday but don’t want to ask for it.  Turns out. you know what, I want fun.  Please don’t confuse fun with singing waiters and waitresses.  But I do want the birthday tiara and all the fun.  Laughing, sharing stories, playing goofy games and eating lots and lots of birthday cake.  So I’ve stopped denying my birthday.  I fully plan to enjoy it.

So I planned to start the party train today.  Didn’t know how or what, maybe just putting together a Lego set.  But even though I got up early I didn’t have time today to do the whole birthday thing.  It’s not that I had a lot I had to do, it’s just that I spent the morning doing little things I wanted to do, like call some companies while they were still open since I could.  Then at about 2:30 when I was exhausted and didn’t want to get any more done, I still had the stuff that had to be done tomorrow left to do.  Clara’s room had to be made ready for her new furniture arriving tomorrow.  I had to finish the worship stuff for PWOC.  If not for the gotta do’s I would have decided it was break out popcorn, candy, and a movie at about 3.  But then it hit me, today isn’t the start of my birth week, today would be Lori’s birth week plus one day.  So all my hard work this morning was just knocking stuff out of the way so that I can really celebrate Lori’s birth week, without little things hanging over my head.

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I have been very busy this week.  When I was finally wanting to write, my wireless was down.  As much as I have to share, it had to wait until I had use of my laptop again.  Let’s see if I can recap this past week.

Sunday was Easter.  Julie (you know the friend I rave about because she adopts me and my children once a week) had me over.  It was very nice spending the holiday with others instead of by ourselves.  Julie had a host of other geographical Army bachelorettes and their children over for dinner.  I love her heart to make sure that we weren’t alone.  There are days that she is the kind of person I want to be.  But then I’m so uncomfortable around people, when I have a group of people over that don’t all know each other there are awkward moments.  So I’m going to leave the role of happy hostess to Julie.

On Monday it hit me, the fifteenth was quickly approaching.  But with Tuesday approaching faster I had to think about PWOC instead of the IRS.  Especially when I was giving the devotion.  It was all good.  I knew what I was going to say.  Until Monday morning, when I felt like God was telling me to throw my idea out.  But there was stuff to do.  Children to teach, groceries to buy, and songs to pick out.  But all day I was praying, if I wasn’t supposed to share what I had planned, what on earth was I supposed to share.  Frazzled, at eleven, at night, I went to my Bible.  I had planned on talking about Abraham, giving examples out of Genesis.  But when I went to my Bible I found myself in Hebrews instead. After reading the verse that says “He went, not knowing where he was going,” And somehow my devotion wrote itself.

Then it was Tuesday.  As I drove to PWOC I totally felt the butterflies.  But I got there, got set up and everything was flowing so smoothly I had time to just hang out with my kids until their teacher got there.  So during class I was cool and calm, not nervous and jittery as I expected to be.  Then it was time for the Lori show, I mean corporate time.  It just felt like the Lori show with my singing, praying and leading the devotion.  I just felt like it was a lot of me for one morning.  I got laughs in the right places during my devotion.  I feel like people are engaged and listening when they are laughing so I went with humor.  But when I ended I felt like it just kind of ended.  I felt like I bombed and it was just humor and the message didn’t hit home.  Then as I went to pick up my kids I realized once again how much I need feedback for what I do.  It’s been a struggle doing worship this year.  I think I’ve been doing well the past few months because I haven’t received criticism like I was getting the first semester.  But there are days I just want to stand at the door and poll people, “how did I do today?”  Well, teaching is my thing, so multiply that feeling by 500 for how my devotion went.  I was dying for feedback.  How’d I do, how’d I do, how’d I do?  God must have sensed my distress  because as I was standing eating my snack a couple of women started talking about the devotion.  I’ve heard it said that an eavesdropper never hears good of themself, but I heard the word “eloquent” used.  I wasn’t trying to listen, I was just ten feet away.  The best thing I heard was that one person needed to hear what I had to say.  That’s what was important.  So yay. the devotion went well.

Wednesday, dun, dun, dun, tax day.  The first day since realizing I had to do my taxes now and I could get to them before 1.  Why is that an important time?  I needed some info from the East Coast and everything closes at 5, or 1 my time.  I have to say the time zone is my least favorite part of Alaska.  Possibly the one thing that I can find no good in, in Alaska.  I’m not a morning person.  I’m very much a night and evening person.  I don’t get around to doing paperwork stuff until 1 at the earliest.  It’s amazing how many days I’ve started right at 1 and realized I have to try again another day.  And 4 is when I think about calling friends and family.  That’s 8 on the East Coast where my dad lives.  But doing taxes every year paid off, I was done in no time.  And expecting a refund.  And just in time.  Clara had been falling out of bed every night.  I think she’s just too big for a toddler bed.  It’s time for a big girl bed.

Thursday after Bible study at church the two little people looked at me with innocent eyes and asked if we were going to eat at the Mexican restaurant we eat at every Sunday after church.  We hadn’t gone on Sunday this week, so I guess they missed it.  It was the little people, Xavier is much easier to resist.  But Austin and Clara, well, they are just more relentless than he is.  Okay, Clara’s the leader on that one, I think I could have talked Austin out of it, but Clara and her persistent stubbornness drove Austin to be more relentless.  So I told them I’d think about when we got home.  You know what they did, they played the next card and told Xavier we were going out to lunch.  They wore me down.  Then at lunch, I decided that since I was being irresponsible, I’d go all the way.  We would go buy birthday presents for me.  We had been talking about what I was getting for weeks, might as well get them now. And then we would go furniture shopping.  Found a bed I loved.  The bed is a set of drawers that you put a mattress on.  More expensive than just a frame, but the drawers are so worth it.  Then there was an optional headboard.  With built-in bookcase just big enough for all of Clara’s books.  In her small room, that would be a huge space saver.  I looked at other beds, and other much cheaper options.  But I knew that was what I wanted.

I don’t remember much about Friday other than talking with Chase.  I love talking to him.  Can’t think of anything better to do with my day. He gave me permission to get what would be best for Clara’s room.  Friday night I saw a commercial for the store I planned to get Clara’s bed from, the sale ended this weekend.  I knew what I was doing Saturday.

Saturday was full day.  Bought a bed, headboard, mattress and armoire.  She needs dresser, our last movers killed her current dresser and every day it is getting worse and is about to fall apart.  And she fell in love with the armoire, and well, I’m a sucker, plus it’s really smart spacewise.  Then we were off to a birthday party.  Sweet little one year old.  I had a blast.  There were tons of kids so my kids had fun too.

Today was spending Chase’s money day.  With a bed for Clara coming Tuesday, there were some things I needed.  I looked at our twin sized sheets, and only one set doesn’t have holes.  In a couple of days I will have three twin beds needing sheets.  I also needed a mattress pad.  And I needed a new wireless router.  And Clara wanted a bike.  And having just done the budget, we could handle all those things right now.

The school year’s end is quickly approaching.  And with that the end of the PWOC year.  Which means it’s time to determine who the board members will be for next year.  As I did last year I prayed about it.  This year however, no poking, no tugging, no wondering if maybe I should be applying.  But it did take months for me to see that I was supposed to be involved in PWOC leadership this year, maybe I’m just behind on the listening curve, so I’ve continued praying about my involvement next year.  The answer, I won’t have the time.  I was elated to get this answer, a definite pass from responsibility.  I can say no with no hesitation or guilt.  Not that I don’t want to be involved next year.  I really enjoy PWOC.  It’s the whole leadership responsibility thing that scares me.  But the answer “I won’t have the time.”  Never even thought about it.  Even though I have no plans for the upcoming year, and with FRG off my plate, I will actually have less responsibility than I did this year.  Maybe I should have been wondering what I’d be doing that I wouldn’t have the time for PWOC.

With Chase gone, I’ve started feeling this hole that needs filling.  I don’t do much other than my children.  I love them, don’t want to trade them in for anything.  But I also don’t want them to be my whole identity.  I need something that is me.  So I’ve been praying and wondering, what can I do?  I need to be more careful what I ask for.

I stated a Bible study at my church recently.  This week was the first week we’ve been doing homework.  As I’ve read the homework and contemplated what the author has been saying, I’ve thought to myself, how is she putting all this together?  And the occasional, where is she getting this from?  She’s seeing things that I’ve never seen while reading the Bible and some that I’m not sure I still see.  However, I know that there is church tradition and other non-biblical sources from the time that might concur with her conclusions.  (Disclaimer, she’s not saying anything doctrinally unsound, if fact there are many things I’ve learned from her in this time.  It’s just some details that make me go hmmmm.  Like in first Corinthians where Paul says Jesus appeared to Peter, I always thought that in context of the general meetings we know of in Acts, and you know that He hung out with all of His disciples after the resurrection.  The author sees it as a private personal encounter that Peter needed to have to reconcile after Peter denied Christ, which I always saw the “Feed My sheep” talk to be.  Anyway, not a huge deal, no problems theologically.  But where does she get her supporting information?)   And while once upon a time, I did study those sources and look into all of that, it was all for school.  I’ve never tried to dive into all that on my own.  It would take too much time.  (hmmm, time, hmmm)

Last semester at PWOC, I taught a class on the inductive Bible study method.  I’ll admit, the class started to unravel.  I pray that all the women got something out of it, if nothing else the desire to study the Bible on their own.  I did get that desire and have started using the inductive method to do some Bible study.

So today, as I’m finishing this weeks homework, I start thinking, I could do the study to answer all the questions I have.  I have the tools from the inductive study method.  I have access to multiple libraries and the internet.  I could actually do this.  Maybe not the same book this Bible study is on.  But I could do this.  And then it all ties itself into a pretty little bow.  I’m supposed to do some serious Bible study.  For what I don’t yet know.  Am I to teach a class?  Write a book?  I know it’s not all for me.  God doesn’t work that way.  I have an idea what I might be supposed to be studying, but am not yet sure.  I’m happy to entertain any ideas that you might have.

 

I’ll admit that Friday and Saturday were off days.  Friday, I just wasn’t getting things done.  And yesterday….yesterday stuff didn’t get done, everyone was cranky.  Yeah, yesterday was not a pretty day in this house.  I’m just feeling the blah’s lately.  I think it’s very possibly the result of not seeing anyone other than my children.  Yes, I’ve got activities three days a week.  Church, PWOC and Bible study.  But it’s not enough.  I need to just hang with people.  That one’s on me.  I need to make plans.  Warning: upcoming whining.  But I’m so bad at it.  I don’t wanna.  I feel like I’m imposing.  It makes me uncomfortable.  Wahhhhhh!!!!  I’d say it would be easier if people were inviting us to stuff, but then I remind myself that we forgot an invitation to a birthday party this week.  So yep, I’m the culprit.  I need to put on my big girl panties and go make plans with friends.  (I’m now whining in my head, but I’ll keep it to myself this time.)

So how did I try to fix the blahs?  Did I try to fix the actual problem?  Hahaha.  Of course not.  I dug further into the blahs by doing nothing.  Starting a movie marathon in my room.  Big, fat, bad idea.  No wonder my blahs got caught by the kids.  I isolated myself from them.  And was a completely crappy example for them.  At some point yesterday though I decided that I’d had enough.  I needed to get off my behind and do something productive.

It’s amazing how making the decision to just do something can change everything.  I went to bed actually tired after doing some of the chores that I had neglected on Friday.  And I woke up to a cleaner more organized house.  So we actually got to church on time.  After church we all went for a walk.  And we talked to a neighbor.    Later this afternoon, I just kept working.  I’m now ready for PWOC, except for practicing.  But that’s the fun part.  I’m all about singing praise songs at the top of my lungs in the privacy of my own home.  But I do need to do what I can to get my voice to sing the right notes at the right times.  I think the problem with my singing ability is not that I have a bad voice, it’s just that I don’t know how to make it do what I want.  I have no vocal control.  That’s my incredibly in-expert opinion.  Then I made the menu for next week.  Which means when I go to the grocery store tomorrow I’ll actually know what I need, instead of guessing what we may want.  So I’m all set for tomorrow.

So tonight, I’m feeling energized and ready for the week.  The kids all went to bed with good moods, mostly.  Austin went to bed in a good mood, until he learned that Xavier would be allowed to stay up for the Apprentice again this week.  Oh well, I can’t win them all.  I know that I still need something more, something outside this house.  I also know that’s on me to make happen this week.  But until I make it happen, hopefully I remember that getting stuff done is better for the mood than holding a pity party.

My Netbook is undergoing a virus scan.  Which is a good thing, but it is taking forever.  So instead of writing from the comfort of my bed, I’m stuck at my desk.  Bleh.  Now that I’ve whined about something that really isn’t worth whining over, I can move on.

Today, I actually got a lot done.  I wasn’t sure what would get done today when I woke up and realized that earlier in the morning I had turned my alarm off instead of hitting snooze and instead of sleeping in for ten more minutes, I slept for two more hours.  The lovely thing about my life is, that’s okay (most days, if it were to happen tomorrow that I didn’t wake up until 9, we’d be in big trouble.  BIG trouble).  Xavier can get breakfast for himself and any little people who wake up earlier than I do, and in general I have nowhere to be.  But I had high hopes for today.  After our relaxing week last week, and our house getting super clean on Friday, I was ready to hit the ground running.  At least I thought I was.  I was a little bit worried that not getting up early would get me off on the wrong foot and it would be hard to do all we needed to do.  However, instead of writing off the day, I just got started.

Took the kids to the library.  Found out that we didn’t need to be there for the drawing, and that we needed to have our paperwork filled out by Friday to enter the drawing though.  There was a book reading challenge over spring break and the prize was a beta, but all participants got coupons for a free fish (feeder fish) from PetSmart.  The librarians took pity on my children though and let us submit our entry.  Yay for nice librarians!

Then went to McDonalds.  While there I found out some interesting news.  Peyton Manning will be playing for the Broncos.  Xavier didn’t want to talk about it, he’s very upset that Manning didn’t choose his favorite team, the Titans.  And I think he could have received no worse news than Manning was playing for the Broncos.  The Broncos are my favorite team, and he is asserting his independence by rooting against the Broncos at every opportunity he gets.  Which translates to every game except when they play the Raiders, because I have told him if he roots for the Raiders he may not be able to sleep in my house.  So I had to call my dad.  I had to talk to someone about this life-altering news.

Then shopping.  We went to the PX, where I picked up some new school books for the kids.  I have found it doesn’t work to do regular work at PWOC, but they still need something to do.  Hopefully, what I picked up today will be just the thing.  Especially as I went overboard and picked up about seven books.  But the kids were excited about them too, and it’s hard to not get excited when the kids are excited about possible school work.  I mean, they were excited about learning, let’s go all out here.

Got home, put the groceries and the new school books away, and looked at the clock.  How would we ever get any decent amount of school work done before dinner?  But instead of giving up, we hit the books.  Yes, dinner was a little late.  But all the school work got done.  The kids learned some things, and it was a good day.

And now, it’s not yet midnight.  I have baked cookies, make a cake (that will be frosted in the morning as it needs to cool), and made chocolate covered strawberries.  Slides are ready for worship, copies of the lyrics are printed off, and I have practiced the songs until I can’t get them out of my head.  I have also worked on getting my Netbook more usable (added I-Tunes and upgraded anti-virus software).  I have been more productive than I could have imagined.  I guess it teaches me a lesson, never let discouragement that things aren’t going perfectly get in the way of getting things done.  Don’t ever give up.

I almost forgot the best part of today.  I got to talk with Chase.  Yep, totally great day.

Today, I got to experience military lock-down.  Before anyone gets excited and wonders what happened, it was a test, it was only a test of the military preparedness system.  I’m actually surprised that I’ve never been through this before.  I lived on base for four of the eight years my husband has been in, and I don’t remember any announcements that we were under lock-down at either base we lived on.  The last base we were at did have lock-downs, but I also avoided doing anything military related while there and wasn’t on base much.  This morning, I even got a warning that something would happen, but as I was uninitiated, I didn’t quite understand the warning.   “There will be exercises on base” didn’t quite lead me to believe that I would be involved.  Maybe it would take a little longer to get on base, maybe a road would be closed.  I was unprepared.  But now I know.  It wasn’t all bad, and was over quickly.  As far as initiations go, I had it easy.

I’m using this deployment to make over myself as well as the house.  Jewelry party for some new accessories.  Jewelry is important in my world, where I really only wear six shirts, four brown and two black.  I know boring, but they look good and they work.  To avoid complete boringness I jazz everything up with accessories.  A vest, scarves, a couple shrugs, and of course jewelry.  While it’s hard to find a shirt with the right color and right fit, it’s easy to find jewelry (especially when you hold a party for yourself with the express purpose of outfitting yourself with more jewelry).  So while I’m wearing the same old clothes, I have put a new spin on my wardrobe.  Then I am girlifying my things.  At a friends party I bought myself a bag for my netbook.  The bag is brown, but with a floral print, and a couple personal accents that totally make it mine.  My initials in pink script and a pink, lacy flower.  I picked it up today, it is perfect.  I love it, it is so girly.  It’s funny that it took me having a girl of my own for me to totally embrace my girly side.  Yeah, I’ve always been into girly things, make-up, clothes, jewelry, pink.  But I’d particularly avoided getting things that were pink, or too girly.  Someone, a long time ago told me that the only reason I like pink was that I thought I was supposed to because I was a girl.  That person had me convinced that I didn’t really like pink, or other girly stuff like glitter and faux fur, that I just thought I did because it was the girl thing to do.  It took shopping for my daughter and saying, you know what, I like pink, and frills, and ribbons and bows, stuff with cool textures and zebra print, and that’s okay.  And now I’m putting my frilly stamp on what is mine.  From a pink flower on my net-book case to a pink I-Phone cover.  And it makes me happy.  I also picked up some make-up I ordered today to round out another aspect of my make-over; properly hydrated skin.  Dry skin, and especially dry lips just aren’t sexy.  All that is left in my make-over plans is my hair.  I plan to get it cut and colored before he comes home for R&R, so that when he sees me, I am the best version of what he remembers.

I am so tired right now from my late night escapade last night.  So I have run upstairs and am hiding in my bedroom for the next hour not thinking about all my responsibilities for the rest of the day.  After an hour I ought be rested enough to go be the mom I need to be.  And the good thing is that the world can wait an hour.

I was able to get up and to PWOC on time today.  I got the boys’ school work ready, curled my hair and everything.  My time spent searching for just the right song last night paid off.  Unbeknownst to me, Karen was using a passage from Revelation for prayer this morning.  The passage Revelation Song comes from as a matter of fact.  So while I can’t define how I know which song is the right one, it’s apparently the right process for listening to what God wants me to do.

I will start off with admitting it’s no longer January 30.  I am up way too late yet again.  However, while entirely all my fault, my Kindle is not why I’m up this late tonight.  Nope, procrastination is the culprit.  Although, is it procrastination if you didn’t intend to procrastinate, you just forgot?  I knew I needed to get worship ready for PWOC, but somehow, I guess I forgot when Tuesday occurs.  I knew today was Monday, but I guess it’s been so long since I’ve been able to attend PWOC, that I forgot that Tuesday morning happens right after Monday night.  Thankfully, tonight ,as I drove home from taking the kids to Pizza Man, I remembered that, oh yeah, I have to choose songs and get slides ready.  I already had one song picked out, choose it Saturday, but couldn’t find another song to sing with it.  And being the person I am, I couldn’t just choose any song, I had to choose the right song.  How do I know when I’ve found the right song?  Honestly, I can’t tell you.  I just know.  There have been Tuesday’s I have tried to force a song, and those Tuesday’s have bombed, so I went through my process of finding the right song.  Listening to every song I could until I heard the right one.  I have several thousand songs on my computer.  Granted no more than half are Christian, and even most of those aren’t worship.  Listening to all the worship songs still takes forever.  And then there is searching I-Tunes and CCLI in case the right song is one I don’t yet own.  I have procrastinated making the slides and cutting the songs until last minute before, but I’ve always known what we would be singing.  (Speaking of cutting songs, both songs I choose for tomorrow are way too long, and my cuts are slightly abrupt, but what’s a girl to do?  I did the best job I could, and I’ll just have to manually fade out.)  More than an hour into listening to stuff, I finally found the song.  Revelation Song, in case you wondered.  By that time I was nearly loopy, but I knew it was the song.  I also knew just what I wanted to use as a background for the slides, unfortunately, it wasn’t a background I already had.  So I had to find a website that had what I wanted, and had it for free, and that’s when my computer started being a pain.  But now it’s all done and ready to go.  Now I just have to get Xavier and Austin’s school stuff ready so they will be ready for the homeschool room.  But I can do that in the morning, or later in the morning.

I still can’t believe I completely forgot about worship.  But God helped me get it all worked out, so He’ll help me get enough rest tonight, and help me with my driveway in the morning as I saw snow falling the entire time I was listening to myriad worship songs.  Yep, giving all that to God right now as I turn off my computer and do my part, which right now is laying down for sleep.

I know that my life is easy, and any complaint I may have is trivial.  That doesn’t make it any easier.  The bug may have given us a day, but it is not yet gone.  My children and I will be quarantined until at least Wednesday at this point.  Which means I will be missing PWOC.  I am quite upset about that.  I actually like going and was totally looking forward to the Bible study starting this week.  Now, I will be making phone calls tomorrow to let people know I won’t be there and trying to make sure praise and worship will go on without me.  I will also be calling an appliance repair man because I need my washing machine.  I honestly don’t know what else to do.  My neighbor was supposed to come over and take a look at it today, but I haven’t seen him yet.  I’d try to reschedule with him, but I need my washing machine.  I have clothes that are in desperate need of cleaning.  I’d hand wash, but with this bug going around, I don’t want to contaminate any of our sinks by washing the dirty clothes.  The washing machine will contain the germs, the bleach will kill them and then they will be gone.  But in a sink there is splashing, and you just never know.  I’d go to a laundry mat, or someone’s house, but we are all under house arrest until this bug leaves.  I will have to make an exception for shopping and bill paying. I guess I may have to make anohter exception depending on how much a repair man costs and when he can get out here.

While I know that really, all this stuff isn’t all this bad, many people deal with worse, I’m so tired of dealing with all this.  I’m tired of stuff not working.  Be it the speedometer, the windows in the car, or the washing machine, I’m over it all.  I know it’s not all that bad, I can afford to have it fixed.  I guess the big issue here is that Chase is a do-it-yourself fixer.  And if he were here he’d take care of it.  So I feel like a failure when I have to spend the money that he works hard for to fix things that he could take care of with ease.  I am beyond sick of all of us being sick.  It’s messy, it’s no fun, and, by golly, the kids are about to drive me crazy.  We all want to be around people our own age, and until this is gone from all of us, that’s not possible for any of us  It’s getting warmer, which means it snowed today.  I don’t know if I’m yet well enough to push the snowblower, but I’ll have to be tomorrow.  I know some people are glad to see the warm up, especially all those with heat issues on post.  But I can handle bundling up to go outside (especially, when we shouldn’t be leaving the house in the first place).  I really don’t feel up for snow though.  I know, it could be worse.  But all this stuff is making the whole deployment thing just that much harder.

Alright, got my whining in.  I know I will get through this.  I know it just sucks.  But it really does suck.

I know, today is the 18th, but I didn’t write yesterday.  I was too busy having fun with my best friend.  Time to spend with him is growing short, so I’m sure you don’t mind when I take time for him. There are ten months when he will be gone and I will have all the hours after the kids go to bed for blogging.  So, I will now write what I was going to write yesterday.

Last night was our monthly FRG meeting and it got me to thinking about the upcoming deployment.  I’ve only done  one deployment before and lets just say I failed big time.  The complete and utter failure of that deployment has me nervous about this one.  However, even though my husband hasn’t bee .. I’d say out of country, but he has been up to Canada.  So while he hasn’t been in the sandbox, he’s still been in the Army and has been gone almost as much as he’s been home.  Now, I’m not comparing a week up in Canada or months off at yet another Army school to deployment, they are two completely different things.  But he has been gone a lot so I have had some time to practice for this deployment.  I now have up my sleeve a few tricks that I am hoping will help.  And some thoughts about military deployments in general.

1) Don’t try to go it alone.  This was the main cause for my horrific failure last time.  My life was just me and Xavier, who was about two at the time.  We went to church on Sundays, Uncle Larry’s on Mondays, and that was about it.  I hadn’t set up other activities and I don’t like imposing myself on people so I never invited people over.  Just one of the quirks of how my mind works, I don’t see other people as an imposition, but I do feel as if my just being in the same vicinity of other people is an imposition on them.  Now I have added to my weekly schedule PWOC and a Bible study.  I also am working on getting over myself and making plans with other people.  I will invite people over to the house bi-weekly, if not weekly, so I will have to keep up with housework.  I will get out of the house regularly to do things that aren’t shopping, so that I don’t rely on shopping to get me out of the house.  Now, I’m gonna admit, this works over the short-term, but it’s overwhelming for me.  So I’m gonna need the help of all my wonderful friends up here to help me keep up with it over a whole deployment.  I do worry that around month six I will feel as if I’m just a big bother to others.  I will be tired of trying to find ways to have fun and connect with people.  And I worry that, even though I know better, I’m going to retreat into myself and not go out and do all the stuff I to do need to do to keep sane.  But knowing that I will need people is the reason I started building a family up here as soon as we arrived.  That’s why I didn’t church shop, but found a church that my family could become a part of and immediately began the work to make it home.  Now, as far as advice goes, don’t settle for any church, do make sure it is one that is doctrinally sound and that your family will fit into.  We went to three churches up here.  One was too far away and too big, I saw myself easily getting lost in the crowd which would not be helpful when at month six I may be trying to hide from the world.  Another was a great church, but some of the doctrines made us go hmmm.  Nothing bad, but just stuff that when taken the wrong way could lead to bad.  Then there is ACF.  It’s not the perfect church.  But not all churches can be G-Creek.  It is a good church with good doctrine and amazing people who treat us like family.  Even if you aren’t a church going person, I’d find a church family.  If you’re a Christian, it’s biblical to go to church, you should go.  If you aren’t a Christian, find a good church and go.  A good church won’t judge you for not being a Christian.  Yeah, they are going to try to get you “saved,” but because they love you and want eternal salvation for you.  It’s what we Christians do, we want to share Jesus with the rest of the world.  But a good church will also rally the troops and be there for you when you need them.  It’s our way of showing the love of God.  Now, don’t go to church trying to use the church to get stuff. Do it to build relationships with people who will be there for you when you really need them.  I also got involved in FRG.  Here’s the thing about FRG, it’s only as effective as the people who go.  I’ll admit that with all the other things in my life, I don’t always want to be a part of FRG and I don’t need it now as much as I did that first time.  But it’s the first time for a lot of the spouses up here, and their first deployment is here in Alaska.  Take separation from spouse, worry about spouse and subtract sunlight.  Life is tough up here, Alaska in number in the US for alcohol problems, drug problems, suicide and divorce  For first-timers being here isn’t going to make things easier.  At this point FRG isn’t about me, it’s about helping others who are looking for a lifeline.  I wish more people would participate.  I know it’s not perfect, but the more people who attend the better it can be.  New spouses should come to get advice, help and, if nothing else, time with other people in the same boat.  Spouses for whom deployment has become routine need to go to be the voice of experience.  Tell others what works and what doesn’t.  And even if deployment is the norm, we all need the support of others, it doesn’t hurt to have one more support group.  I also joined PWOC for the first time.  I am so glad I did.  Those will bef the ladies I’m leaning upon. Those are the ladies I will impose upon when I really need to talk to another adult.  And those are the women who I know love me enough to make sure that I don’t crawl into my shell.  There are those of you out there who will do those things and aren’t in PWOC, it’s just that the majority of the women who make up my safety net are in PWOC.

2) Have a written budget and stick to it.  You get a lot of extra money when your spouse is deployed.  It will be nice to have some of it when my husband gets home.  I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself.  Our dollar amount for “fun” will not be going down just because there is one less person having “fun”.  I will be needing more “fun” than norma,l so it evens out.  Groceries will go down, but the amount that I “blow” will go up.  That’s okay.  But I need to write it down and then work the envelope system (thank you Dave Ramsey for the envelope system).  That way I can “blow” money on things that make me happy; Starbucks, frames for all our unframed artwork, art projects for the kids.  But there is no guilt and no explaining to my husband just where all the extra deployment dollars went because some will be left.

3) Schedule fun.  This is important for me.  I will sit at my house and do nothing and let time pass me by if I don’t make myself get out.  I will be visiting the Anchorage museum regularly, we have a membership.  I figure it will be a great place for me and the kids to go when the world is dark, frozen and lonely.  I will also be making regular pilgrimages to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  We may freeze our booties off watching the bears and the buffalo, but we will have fun.  And the drive is amazing.  And there are so many other fun things to do here, in the winter and in the summer.  I just need to make it happen.

4) Now, this one is just from watching other people.  Don’t go home and live life like you aren’t in the Army.  It might make for a great time during deployment, but there is re-deployment to think about.  I know it’s hard doing life without your soul mate.  And I know Alaska is tough (although this advice goes for any duty station).  But you will be needing all the tools you have put in place during the deployment to get through re-deployment.  You’ll need the babysitters you have found so that you and your hubby can have some time alone.  You’ll need the friends you have made to continue to hold you up as you deal with all the stuff your husband’s going through.  Even the easy deployments can leave scars on the men who go through them and they will be working through that.  It will not be making things easier if both of you are newly adjusting to being back.  Military life can be hard, teasing yourself by spending a year living a “normal” life just makes it harder.  Sticking to it, surrounding yourself with others who understand it, and making it work for you are your best tools to not only survive it but to make a wonderful life.

5) I shouldn’t have to say this, but this isn’t my first time around the block and I know what goes on.  While you can’t do it alone, those you surround yourself with had better be the same gender as you.  Even if it seems innocent: it’s just dinner with a co-worker, hanging with a fellow military spouse, movies with another parent.  It’s a long time without your spouse and you’re lonely.  Just don’t put yourself in a situation where things could even come close to happening.  My rule of thumb, the wife has to be there, or it is a whole group of people doing something.  Even if there are kids present, there still need to be other adults.  You don’t want to get comfortable with someone who isn’t your spouse, because when you’re comfortable lines between what’s okay and what isn’t get fuzzy.

6) Use this time as time to go to God.  Ultimately, He’s the one who will get you through this.

My last note is not about me, but about my kids.  It will be hard on them, and I love that people have donated all this stuff to help them get through this deployment.  But right now isn’t when they need it, they will need after Daddy’s gone.  Just a thought when you are planning giveaways.  The stuffed animals are awesome, but they would mean even more a month or two from now.  If the kids didn’t already have the stuff I’d hide it and save it for later.

I don’t know if that’s all I have to say, but I need to live my life now.  Plus, I’m about to cry.  I try not to let myself think this much about deployment because I get all emotional.