I am exhausted, and it’s still early.

Last night started off with me going to bed anxious and not able to sleep.  Then came the knock on the door.  “Mom, I threw up in the bathroom.”  Hey, in the bathroom, no big deal right?  Well, the toilet lid was in the down position and my poor child either did not notice or didn’t have enough time to open it.  I will spare you further details of my middle of the night fun.

This morning I awoke full of anxiety.  Somehow my brain got stuck in worst case scenario mode.  Every time I gave a situation to God, telling Him that I have no control over any of the issues, and I want Him to take care of it, I was imagining another series of trauma filled events.  I seem to have a creative brain that can spin a soap opera-worthy drama out of even the smallest things.  And all seem plausible to me.  The rest of the world may view them as crazy, but once I start to thing up these things they seem more likely than any normal positive outcome.

This was the state of mind I was in as I entered the dentist office.  However, from the receptionist, to the dental hygienist, to the dentist, everyone seemed pre-disposed to put my mind at ease.  Nope, my kids do not all have perfect sparkling teeth.  But there was no condemnation.  Advice and suggestions, yes.  Follow up appointments for two of my children, yes.  But everything was made easy and fully explained.  The boys both had good experiences and left the office happy.  And then there was Clara. You take your child in to their first dentist appointment, and well, you expect crying, some stubbornness.  I was surprised that Clara was excited about going to the dentist, but she is my child who says “yes, I want to go to the ER” when I use the threat “Do you want to go to the emergency room?”  to try to stop dramatics over small hurts.  She seems to block out memories of shots with doctors and only remember that they are people who pay a lot of attention to her and want to know all that she has to say.  A dentist is just another kind of doctor.  So I got it, but how would she really feel about someone poking around in her mouth.  This dentist was prepared for a little diva.  Flower sunglasses to protect little eyes from the bright light.  A stuffed duck to hold onto.  She was right at home.  While I was off looking at x-rays of the boys mouths, she was in her chair having the time of her life apparently.  Charming the hygienist.  No fear and total compliance.  And she has those perfect sparkling teeth.  Not only clean, but apparently perfectly spaced.  She didn’t just manage no problems, the dentist and hygienist were marveling over her little teeth and attitude.  I can’t say that I’m surprised that she’s the one with the healthiest teeth, and I can’t take credit for it.  While the boys whine about brushing, Clara fusses and insists that her teeth get brushed regularly.  All in all there was nothing to fear.

After the dentist we got home, and promptly went back out.  After my middle of the night joys, I didn’t want to see what we had for dinner again.  Just sayin’.  I took the kids out to lunch.  On the way home I drove by my polling place.  It looked quiet.  So we went in and voted.  I brought in my cheat sheet and was copying my answers onto the ballot, all while trying to wrangle my children.  And suddenly I noticed that I mis-marked my ballot.  The shame, the horror.  I meekly backed out of the booth, offending ballot in hand and had to admit that I had messed up my vote.  No shame, no condemnation.  Just friendly smiles and a fresh new ballot in return for my ripped up, messed up one.  I filled out my new ballot, double and triple checking before marking a circle, and then checking once more before putting my ballot in the machine.

We got home and Xavier asked to be allowed to shovel the driveway.  Yep, I’ll let you take care of that child.

So my day is nearly over, and nothing terrible has happened.  All my worry from the morning was for naught.  Could someone please send the memo to my brain that all that worry and worst-case scenario projecting only raised my blood pressure in unhealthy ways. I try reminding it, but it doesn’t listen to me.

Aahhh.  Sitting by the fire and relaxing.  It’s another day when I feel as if I really haven’t accomplished much today.

I guess that’s another thing I should look at while doing Celebrate Recovery.  Why it’s so important to “accomplish” stuff every day, and why only certain activities fall in the list of accomplishments.  I really haven’t been lazy today.

The day started off at physical therapy.  I actually really like going.  I still dread doctors, but my physical therapist isn’t someone to be dreaded.  First, they play worship music in the office.  The music with the prints from Shane Lamb studios leads to a relaxing atmosphere.  (Shane Lamb is a painter who paints Alaskan landscapes, and I adore his work, by the way.)  Then my therapist is helping me to work toward getting me into shape with no condemnation.  Like, I know my posture is out of wack, but honestly, I’ve never know what to do about it.  While all my life people have told me “shoulders back,” no one has pointed out what muscles to use and how to properly make them stronger so that putting my “shoulders back” didn’t hurt and wear me out.  My therapist never said a word about poor posture, she just looked me over and said, “Now let’s do this exercise,” and then, “Use this muscle instead of that one.”  I get it now.  And my back adores her.  She’s teaching me a lot.  Since starting therapy a couple of weeks ago, I’ve managed to hurt my back a few more times, but it has never lasted overnight.  Plus, I’m feeling stronger.  I felt a bit indulgent going to physical therapy for back pain I could deal with, but I’m so thankful I’ve been going.

While I was gone, Chase had the day off work.  However, being Chase, he was working hard.  My garage is being turned into a home gym.  He’s been re-organizing our boxes out there and getting rid of stuff to make room for our gym.  He’s cleared space for a treadmill to go with my elliptical, and we bought mats today for the floor to make space for workout videos, yoga, and free weight training.  He even brought our extra tv out so that I can play videos to workout to or play DVD’s while I’m on the elliptical.  We just need another DVD player (actually a 3D BluRay player is on the list of stuff to buy, and the old DVD player will go out to the garage.  The kids are all excited about having a space to work out, and Xavier even put in 60 minutes on the elliptical today.

Well, I couldn’t be out done by Xavier, I decided that while in workout clothes from physical therapy I should do my daily workout as well.  I should really consider that an accomplishment.  Taking care of myself is important.  The energy and mood benefits from working out make it something I should do often.

After lunch, I recalled that tomorrow is November 6th.  A day that requires some preparation.  So I decided to prepare.

November 6th is a day I have been dreading.  I’m taking all three kids to the dentist.  I hate taking my kids to the dentist and the doctor.  It comes from my need to be perfect.  Because I’m not.  I feel as if I should be able to make sure my kids have perfectly sparkling teeth, and if they don’t have perfectly sparkling teeth I have failed as a mother.  Instead of seeing the dentist as someone who will help me in the goal to have children with perfect sparkling teeth by teaching me tools and tricks, I see the dentist as someone judging me as lacking and deficient as a parent because my kids do not have perfect sparkling teeth.  I’m working on changing how I perceive things, but it’s easier to be in denial than to deal, so I put the appointments out of my mind.  However, today, I had to remember.  With all three kids going in at once, the receptionist recommended that I print the forms and have them filled out ahead of time.  So I needed to get that done.  And I needed to find the insurance cards.  I got that done in record time, but I’ll admit that the doing of it added stress to my day.  Mostly because I still just honestly dread the dentist.

November 6th, also happens to be Tuesday, November 6th.  And if anyone out there doesn’t know, that means it’s election day.  In elections past, I’ve been registered in areas I’m just passing through, so I’ve voted for President, Senate, and House, but left most of my ballot blank.  What did proposition 12 (a hypothetical issue, I don’t even know what else was on the ballots elsewhere) have to do with me when I knew I was moving before it would take affect?  I didn’t feel as if I had much right deciding issues when I had no horse in the race.  However, I’ve been determined to be an Alaskan since before I moved here.  And have loved it here since I arrived.  We may leave, but this time knowing I’ll be back.  I care now.  Being that this is my town, my state, I want my say in all the issues.  But I knew nothing about the issues.  Tomorrow I get to vote on the fate of 19 Alaska judges, 18 of whom I’d never heard of before today.  I needed to study up on the issues.  That took hours.  I feel as if I’ve been cramming for a test.  But I am prepared to go out and vote.  I’m kind of excited, even if this is the fourth time I’ve exercised my right to vote this year.

So I did all that, but my laundry still isn’t folded.  My sheets are over-due for a washing.  The list of stuff I need to “accomplish” seems unending.  I need to learn to be okay with that.  I did what needed to be done today, and laundry can always be done tomorrow.

It’s time for another “old” post.

 

Almost done in this state, this time tomorrow we will be in another state hanging with friends. Or if all of us show our age, we will be in bed after having had a great time with old friends.  We just have to get through tomorrow morning first.

I really feel for Chase today.  Moving is tough business and he’s bearing the brunt of it.  My day was easy.  I slept in. Don’t know if you’d call it sleeping in or a mid-morning nap after the early morning I had.  Clara woke up at 3:30 and didn’t fall back asleep until 6.  As we aren’t home and Clara doesn’t have a section of the house all to herself I stayed with her to keep her quiet so that 2 people didn’t get any sleep as opposed to 5.  Then at 8:30 the dog was desperate to go out, and I woke Clara up trying to find the room key.  I crawled back into bed at 9:10 and did the best I could to get some sleep as my vision was blurry from sleepiness. It was a tough job as Clara has learned to open doors in the past 2 weeks and kept running into my room and crawling into bed with me.  At 10, I was finally awake enough to function so I gave up on the idea of real rest.  Hopefully, I can find some tonight.  I got to play in the pool and take a walk on the river walk with my kidos.  It really was an easy day.  Chase had to finish clearing and cleaning the house.  I felt really bad when he called around 4 letting me know that he was still hitting it.  We got so much work done yesterday, but as Chase told me the more square feet you have to clean the longer it takes.  And we wanted to do a super good job.  Our landlords have been good to us, and they are in Anchorage.  To me that’s a big one, I’d like them to be friends, so we’re trying to treat them as such before we get there.  Inspection is tomorrow. The inspector is a good guy and I wouldn’t expect a hassle from him unless we damaged something, and with the cleaning Chase did I can’t imagine it going any way but well.  At 6 I called him, just to check up.  At that point I was feeling so bad, I wanted to be there helping. Although, I remind myself with my kids, keeping them from making the job more difficult is helping.  But I also knew I got to rest and relax today and Chase spend the day working his behind off.  Fortunately, at 6 he and Amber had finished and she had even prayed with him before heading home to be with her family.  Got to love friends who take the time to have a last moment of prayer.  Now he’s totally exhausted from the day he has and there is still stress about tomorrow.  We have to pick up the car. It had work that we wanted to get done before we left, and it was ready days ago when we had time to pick it up, but the guy who did the work didn’t call and let us know that.  So now, when we don’t have time we have to make time.  Plus, we have our house inspection, not a big deal, but there’s always that feeling inside that something could go wrong, can’t imagine what, but it’s still there.  Then there’s the carrier.  Don’t think the issue is installation error, but instead the bars on the van are too flexible and are bouncing with the carrier as air flows underneath.  I’m having Bernoulli flashbacks when I think about that one.  We really need to fix the issue though because the  carrier trying to keep our speed down will only cause tensions to rise and stress to escalate.  He’s researching that now.  Plus, there’s the huge issue of making it to Atlanta on time.  We need to get the car to the shipping place in time or wait until Monday.  Chase had been saying if we couldn’t leave here by noon, we might as well not leave till Monday, but we have plans with friends tomorrow night.  And we can’t cancel, the bum will be coming on over to see us.  As this is a rare occurrence can’t miss it.  And of course, I want to get on the road.  I am so excited.  I don’t think I am as good as helping Chase relax as he is for me though.  He just says the word and my blood pressure starts coming down.  I’ve been trying and his is only seeming to rise.  I wish I could do more, but all I can do is love him and keep the kids in check.

Well, I’m off to watch Sarah Palin’s Alaska reruns and do my best to show love to Chase.

I’m sitting in my living room, enjoying the sun coming in the window.  I know it won’t be long before the sun won’t come up higher than the mountain, and that at this time of day we may have technical daylight, but I still won’t be seeing the sun.  For now, I’m enjoying it while I’ve got it.  I look around my sunlit room and see many things that weren’t here a year ago. The walls of this room were somewhat bare for a while.  Not completely bare, Starry Night, a picture called Shipwrecked, and a painting of the Arc de Triomphe adorned our walls. But that still left a lot of blank space.  We had stuff we could have put there, but we decided not to.

When we were first married we lucked out.  We hit the jack-pot for poor, still in college newlyweds.  My dad had recently remarried and moved into Sally’s house.  So we had a houseful of furniture at our disposal.  My grandparents had recently downsized so we got decorations.  Chase’s sister and brother-in-law also happened to live in the same town we did and were happy to unload stuff from their newlywed years.  We had a fully furnished, stocked,and decorated house.  It didn’t matter that all the posters were of places we’d never been, or that other than the Coke collection the decorations reflected other people more than us.  It was better than cardboard boxes and bare walls.  To this day, I am super thankful for the generosity of all those around us.  We had it good.

At some point though, it started getting to me.  I’d see things I’d like, and reflected Chase and I a little bit more, but our walls were full.  We’d walk into other’s homes and see their personalities in each room of the house.  People would walk into our house and ask when we were in Austria.  Never, we inherited the picture, isn’t it pretty?  I felt we couldn’t take the pictures down, it all had to go up.  We were so blessed to be given these things, I couldn’t turn my back on the wonderful stuff we’d acquired.  Then it hit me, these things were not priceless heirlooms being passed down.  We would hurt no one’s feeling if we thinned things out a bit.  When we moved into our house here, I decided that I would be more selective about what I put up and where I put it.  I love my grandmother’s egg collection, particularly the glass ones (they are pretty and sparkly), but the stone and marble ones did nothing for me.  So the stone and marble ones are no longer part of the collection.  Chase and I love American history, so we devoted one room to all the things we have inherited that depict that theme.  Other family heirlooms were relegated to the guest room.  I still love seeing them and having them, but as they don’t reflect who Chase and I are, they aren’t front and center any longer.  And the posters of places we’ve never been, only one ever graced my walls. That one was only up because it was easier to put up a picture than to pull the big nail out of the wall.

A big house with lots of wall space, and a determination not to put up what didn’t reflect us left us with a lot of empty walls.  It was refreshing.  The blank spaces were possibilities waiting to be filled.  And I could tell the story behind everything that was up.

It didn’t take long before we found stuff to fill some of the spaces.  Finding was the easy part.  Narrowing down to what would fit and what we could afford, that was the hard part.  With hopes of extending, we devised a six-year plan to get all the Alaskan art we desired.  First, came a downtown panorama of Anchorage.  Next, a poster of Denali.  We were given a couple of posters that we loved and just needed to be framed.  However, these posters, I have determined, were made to be the most awkward size for framing, so for the longest time they were left, rolled up in a closet.  That was before Chase deployed.  Suddenly, it was R&R and I still hadn’t made any progress in the framing department.  After Chase left again, I lit a fire under myself and took those posters down to Hobby Lobby.  One poster I cut to fit a pre-made frame, and for the other, I sucked it up and paid for the custom frame.  While Chase was home on R&R, we found our next big art purchase.  Still on the six-year plan, we decided that The Cave would be this years major purchase.  The week after Chase left, I did the budget, found the money for the picture, and soon another wall was no longer bare.  Then, the day before I went to the state fair, our six-year plan bit the dust, branch said “don’t know where you are going, but you can’t stay here.”  I made a large withdraw from the ATM the next morning with the determination to find something on our list and get it at the fair.  The Shane Lamb booth provided the perfect opportunity to relive my wallet of that money, and two painting came home with me.  Since then, I have regained some perspective, we do have over a year left here, not everything has to be bought immediately.  However, as the temperatures fall, outdoor activities are ceasing, and Christmas is approaching, the art fair season has begun in Anchorage.  Last weekend we went to the Deninia Center.  There we did some research on the moose antler on my list, and during that time I fell in love with the carved whales the B Merry studio makes as well.  While we didn’t buy from that booth, yet, I did convince Chase we needed to purchase a photograph of Mt. Redoubt.  I was astounded to see a picture of my favorite spot (so far) in Alaska, and decided we “needed” it.  Well, the photographer was having a deal if we bought three, so a photo of the Northern Lights and one of the Matanuska at night also are awaiting frames before adorning my walls.  This weekend I wanted to visit the B Merry studio at the Made In Alaska festival.  I do so love their work.  I just have to decide exactly what it is that I want because I can’t buy it all.  At the festival, I found myself wanting something I had never even considered before.  Carved baleen.  The baleen of one vendor were spectacular. (Possibly because of their large size, I honestly thought it was about four feet long until we were putting it on our wall, it’s more like six feel long.)  It wasn’t on my list of what I wanted until I saw them.  Thnen one came home with me.  So now my walls aren’t quite so bare.  But it’s still refreshing as I love everything I have on them.

Yesterday, I wrote all about going to see Shrek before I even began to get ready to go.  I had no idea what drama would ensue.

I had hours at home with just me and my kids as Chase had to be at work.  The original plan had been to be at church and then the church picnic and then clean house.  However, I wasn’t quite sure I was up for all that activity.  I was feeling better after a bout with sickness the night before, but I wanted to make sure I was feeling my best for the show.  So what to do with my time?  I decided to get ready and look good, this was a big date night with my husband, I’d treat it like that.  So I showered, shaved, washed, exfoliated, plucked, lotioned, conditioned, polished, and curled.  I was even going to go all out and wear a skirt, until I realized that I own no panty hose. So instead I went for Alaska formal wear, jeans.  I even prepped the kids.  Clara’s hair was curled, a dress was put on, and I put some make-up on her.  I made sure the boys had combed hair.  Didn’t mess too much with their clothing choices, we do live in Alaska.  I will say that everyone at the show dressed their best, but this is Alaska best.  The formal wear I saw ran from what looked like prom dresses to clean jeans and t-shirts.  Everyone looked nice, so it works.  My boys were wearing clean clothes, so I just asked that Austin put on long sleeves under his Shrek t-shirt (he gets cold so easily, I just wanted him to be comfortable all night long).  My plan was to have all of us ready by four.  At four, I was putting my stuff into a different purse, hey, I wanted the whole look to be perfect and the brown bag went with my brown boots, brown sweater, brown wrap, etc.  Before I had everything in, Chase called. He was done with what he had to do, did I want to come down for dinner?

I had been hoping for dinner out with Chase all day.  That’s why I wanted to have make-up on and hair curled by four, just in case.  Then he asks did I want to meet him at Qdoba, or did we want to try Olive Garden.  So, I’ve been craving Olive Garden all week, since clipping a coupon in last Sunday’s paper for Olive Garden.  But it was just a bit after four, and we had a show at 7:30, could we make it?  Here’s the thing.  Anchorage just got Alaska’s first Olive Garden earlier this year.  People drove down from Fairbanks and up from Homer when it opened.  The day they opened, before they opened their doors there was already a two hour wait to be seated.  Things have calmed down a bit since then, but trying to eat there, especially for dinner, can be crazy.  It’s still a novelty.  It’s still the only one, another one will be opening soon, but it’s not open yet.  Even though we all probably know local restaurants that can give Olive Garden’s entrées a run for their money, Piccolino’s lasagna can’t be topped, the novelty of it being something that people in the Lower 48 can get, and we haven’t been able to, gives the new chain restaurant much appeal.  When watching tv, especially in the winter when we are hiding in our houses from the cold, dark world outside, we see the same commercials as everyone else.  The national ad for Olive Garden, or for Red Lobster, airs here as it does everywhere else.  It doesn’t matter that the nearest location is 2,000 miles away, it’s a national ad, so it airs.  And we drool and get jealous.  Then Olive Garden comes, and we come in droves as if led by the Pied Piper.  All that to say, I wanted to go to Olive Garden, and I knew we needed to get there fast if we were going to wait the wait to be seated, eat and still make it to Shrek in time.  I hastily assembled my purse and loaded the kids in the van.

We made it to Olive Garden before 5, and had a 35-40 minute wait.  Here they usually overestimate the amount of time needed to seat you, so we were good.  Chase arrived with a friend from college who had also joined the Army and is stationed at Wainwright, but was down here for a bit.  As we were talking and waiting, I started thinking about going to the show.  I knew Chase had his ticket, so if time got to be an issue, he could drop us off by the door, and the kids and I could go in with our tickets, which were still sitting on the table from when I got Chase’s ticket out to give him that morning.  In my haste to get to dinner on time, I forgot to grab the tickets.  I looked at Chase and told him “Your wife may have forgot the tickets.”  I said good-bye and ran to the van.  With no kids in the car, and a husband that I really wanted to have dinner with, I drove like an Alaskan on the highway on the drive home to retrieve the tickets.  I was at the table before the appetizer.  Here, I must, with joy, point out that the evening was not ruined.  In the past, I would have beat myself up over my mistake, and turned it into a big deal.  Last night, instead of stressing, I did what needed to be done.  In the past, I would have been worked up, I would have needed someone else to take charge and at the least tell me what to do.  And then I would have resented that they needed to take charge and been irritable.  I’m so thankful that God is helping me to not be that woman any longer.

Dinner was great.  We had fun.  The waiter had been made aware that we were in a hurry, so he kept things coming.  I relaxed and stopped looking at the time.  I wasn’t the only one who was having so much fun and enjoying the moment that time went out the window.  We left the restaurant at five till seven.  We had thirty-five minutes to drop our friend back at the barracks, drive downtown, park and get seated before the show started.  I’m still amazed that waves of stress didn’t begin to roll over me, change my attitude and bring strife to the night.  It’s so not like me to remain calm.  But things were going so well.  The night was so good, and still had such good potential.  I didn’t want to ruin it by starting arguments.  I didn’t want to ruin it by driving my husband crazy with questions like “Do you think we will make it?”, “What are we gonna do if we are late?”  I decided we should just do what we had to do.  Drop by the barracks, drive downtown, and go to the show.  If there on time, great.  If not, so we miss a couple of minutes of the show, we’d still get to see most of it.  Chase dropped off the kids and me by the theater.  We made it in just as the announcement that five minutes till the start of the show came over the loudspeaker.  I decided to take the kids and sit down.  They take a while to get settled and I knew Chase could find us.

As the lights dimmed, the seat next to me was empty.  When Shrek appeared on stage, the seat next to me was empty.  But before Shrek even met Donkey, the seat was filled.  I relaxed completely and enjoyed the show.  It was a good show, and we had killer seats.  During intermission I even ran into the wife of the owner of Chepos.  It’s horrible I don’t know her name, but we see her weekly at the restaurant and she spoils my kids rotten.  We chatted in line waiting for the facilities.  When I sat down I began to read the program, and laughed as I read the director’s note saying he wanted this play to bring the community together.  To be something to talk with your neighbors about during the week after seeing each other at the show.  I thought how this lady and I have another link in a chain toward a relationship after seeing each other at the show.

So we laughed, at one point so hard I nearly cried, we cheered and we watched Shrek marry Fiona.  Then it was very late, and time to head home.  As I got Clara ready to leave, I noticed that she was missing earmuffs and gloves.  Again, this would have been cause for high levels of stress for old Lori, but this Lori knows something.  It’s not a big deal.  I knew where they had to be, Olive Garden. And I knew, even if not there, it was just earmuffs and gloves.  My daughter is not short on cold weather gear.  As Chase’s car was still at Olive Garden, he suggested we not delay and just retrieve them while we dropped him at the car.  A sign on the door said, no re-entry after 10, but I knew they wouldn’t be yet really closing, people were still eating there after all, so I snuck in.  They hostesses were so nice and had Clara’s stuff waiting for her.

Going to bed at the end of the night, I was amazed at how well the whole night went.  There were so many triggers for stress.  But everyone involved chose to remain relaxed, everyone chose to have a good time no matter what.  And it was a magical night.  A night full of only good memories.  A night that brought us closer as a family.

I have been excited about today for a long time.  Right now I am working to stop seeing the upsets and see today as still a very fun and exciting day.

The Dream:  Knowing that Chase would most likely be home today I bought matinée tickets to see Shrek the Musical.  I knew the whole family would love seeing it.  The matinée time was perfect, we could go to first service at church, eat a quick lunch, see the show, have a dinner someplace nice downtown and be home and in bed at a decent hour for Chase to work on Monday and the kids and I to do school Monday morning.

The first road block:  Impact Eagle River.  So I love Impact Eagle River, I think it’s awesome that our church is up for closing the church doors and going out taking care of the community.  However, the announcement for which Sunday Impact Eagle River would be wasn’t until after I had my tickets.  I decided no problem.  I’d wait for Chase to get home, then we would choose a project we could do as a family and possibly leave a bit early to prepare for the show.  No big deal.

The second road block:  Someone in their infinite wisdom decided that the weekend would be the perfect time to reverse DTS.  I know scheduling this can be a big, hairy mess, there are regulations and several moving parts, and blah blah blah.  I’ve sat with a commander trying to figure out how to do what needs to be done and respect the need for soldiers to spend time with their families.  It’s messy.  I wasn’t there this time, so I don’t really know what went down.  However, as I see things, I’m not overly sure how family fit into the picture.  The days the men were completely given off were weekdays.  Days that children would have to go to school, and most working wives would have to work.  The first couple days off, were days off for everyone, but the guys had to go on base to sign in, that’s not really a day off.  So then when they were able to have a complete day to themselves, it was really a day to themselves.  Who knows, maybe some men like it better that way.  Then we get to the weekend, when families could really spend time together.  That’s when the soldiers have to go back to work.  And people in high places wonder why the Army is so hard on families.  Let me tell you, as a family member, I feel like family is priority last right now.  Yeah, my family dynamic is different from most families.  We have been able to be flexible.  Homeschooling, we were able to take the week off and just have Daddy time.  Homeschooling, I work from home and make my own hours, so I was able to enjoy my husband.  My biggest complaint is that my husband could no longer participate in Impact Eagle River and we had to get new Shrek tickets.  This road block more pisses me off for everyone else.  Everyone out there living the lifestyle that feels like it’s being pushed on us, especially here.  Put your kids in school because they need the socialization.  Too young for school, put them in a CDC, anything but keep them at home.  Go get a job because you need your own identity. Of course, if you don’t need the money from a job, you need to volunteer and still have a full schedule.    Someone seems to have forgotten that in a world where you move every couple of years and only family is constant, family needs to be a value that is appreciated. Yet, we will wonder why the Army divorce rate is high and why military children tend to have issues.

Road block number 3:  So I’d been wondering to head off to church in the early morning hours (okay, nine but still earlier than Chase would have to be leaving for work), or spend time with my husband in the morning.  A late night upset tummy answered that question for me.  I will be spending my day taking it easy hoping and praying that whatever came is gone for good so that I can enjoy the evening performance of Shrek.

From the dream we now have reality.  A day spent working hard to not be sick.  Possibly no time for going out to dinner, and eating leftovers.  And the last show of Shrek.  I’m not as worried about the lateness of the hour, but I am remembering how the last showing of a show went in college.  I’m hoping that a professional company would have more…well…professionalism.  But lingering doubt has me remembering one of the directors saying it’s how show business is done.

Okay, real reality.  It’s a beautiful day.  The sun is shining and the ground is covered in snow.  I have all day to make my self look like I’m going to the theater.  If today is like yesterday, we should at least have time to meet Chase somewhere for fast food before going to the show.  And I get to go see an awesome show.  Sounds like a dream of a day after all.

Before long Married to the Army Alaska will be airing. Teaser clips are up on YouTube. I have to say that while I struggled with not even making the cut to the official phone interview, I am now so glad I didn’t make the cut. I love blogging, where I have control over what is seen, and how it’s seen. I try to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. But it’s all real and authentic. You don’t have only the five bad moments and have the fifty good ones cut. Now, I don’t know what the show will be like, but I’m pretty sure the show will leave several of the wifes saying that what is seen is not an accurate portrayal of her. Or maybe not. Since the show has not aired yet, and I don’t have cable to see it when it does air, I can’t really say if it’s what my life is like or not. However, since my husband came home we’ve been watching Army Wives, we are a couple of episodes into the second season and I can tell you what from that show is real and what is not so much.

I’ll start with the characters. First, is Claudia Joy Holden. I love her, and I love her husband. But every time I watch I thank my husband that his job is not one where politics come into play. It would be rare (or me doing something totally outrageous) for my actions to be scrutinized to the point where a promotion, or a job could hang in the balance. The public will not look at my husband as a leader, so I will not be looked at as the wife of a leader. My husband says that an officer always has the choice whether or not to put the pressure of the public on his wife, but he also puts his ultimate trust in God, not in the system. The truth is, the episode where she had to kick her friend out because of possible press issues really isn’t that far off. There are many officers, and even NCO’s in the military who know that what the family does reflects on them, so they put a lot of pressure on the family to be perfect. The kids must know Latin by the time they are twelve. The sons must excel at football. The daughters must watch who they date. The wife must be involved in the FRG, the spouse’s club, and all sorts of things on post. And she must always act with grace and poise. I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the attitude that he joined the Army not me, so anything I do is up to me. I decided this year to take time off from PWOC and the FRG and the wives coffee, and my husband didn’t worry that would take me away from all the good spousal networking I could do for him. He’s okay that even when I did all that stuff I never logged into VMIS, because I don’t care about the awards and recognition from the garrison commander. He doesn’t care either. What I do is for me, and only me. Not saying a little spousal networking is wrong, it can be done in the way of Claudia Joy, with grace. Just glad that I don’t have to worry about it.

Denise Sherwood. The good girl. She does everything just by the book. Chase laughed the first episode when she answered the phone “Major Sherwood’s residence.” Yeah, I remember when I read that part of the handbook. I think I may have even asked my husband if he wanted me to answer that way. He seems to find the whole thing a little pretentious. I’ve been told, that if I do start trying to follow that rule, I get lectured that most people just say “hello.” In the first season she is hiding that her son is beating her while her husband is gone. Now, no one would actually say that she should hide that, but Army wife culture would say that she did everything right. You hide your problems from those around you. Stuff like an abusive son really could hurt the husband’s career. Someone might wonder if he got the idea that hitting was okay from the dad. Others might questions the father’s ability to lead if he couldn’t control his son. So family problems stay in the family. Secrets are big in the military. Us wives are also told that while our husband is gone we should tell him what he needs to hear so that he can concentrate on his job, not worry about us here. Kids doing bad in school? Don’t tell him, if he’s worried about the kids, he can’t focus on his job. You just got fired? Gloss it over. Car got repo-ed? Tell him when he comes home. Don’t even tell him you miss him, he needs to think everything is working as smoothly as clockwork in his absence. I honestly hope this is being told to wives less and less because it’s wrong. First, he needs to know you need him. He will have a hard time coming home if he thinks he wasn’t even missed. Second, he’ll find out you are lying at some point. Either he can hear it in your voice, and he wonders what’s up. Or he will come home and find his life turned upside down, like Major Sherwood did. For a guy who is deployed, trust is huge. He has to trust the guys he works with because his life hangs in the balance. A breach of trust is just about the worst thing for him. And it takes more than a few episodes to bring the trust back. For many families the lies and the cover-ups are the kiss of death. It’s sad because it’s what we are told to do. I think it would be better to tell wives to woman up and take care of business, and then share what you are going through with your husband. Miss you husband, but go on with life, so that you can truthfully tell him I miss you, but life is going on. Pay the bills so that the water doesn’t get turned off or the car repo-ed. I heard a story of one wife who just put all the bills in a shoebox while her husband was gone. You can’t do that. It’s hard. It’s really hard to do your jobs and take over your husband’s jobs as well, but it must be done. Sometimes, crap just happens. The dishwasher breaks, a tree fell on the car, whatever. Have a plan, then tell your man about the issue and the plan. He may come up with a better plan, but he won’t have to worry about it if he doesn’t because you have a plan. It doesn’t have to be the best plan, it may be washing dishes by hand, but at least he knows you’ve got things covered. And he doesn’t come home to a bunch of surprises that will throw him for a loop.

Roxie. The naive new wife. I’ve had moments I want to call up a commander and complain about treatment my husband has been receiving. I’ve been known to want to explain to the commander just how his dumb ideas are affecting my husband’s life. Never done it though, and my husband is eternally thankful. Not that as FRG leader I never argued with a commander, but that was on behalf of all families and soldiers, not just mine. I’ll also admit to having my days of staying in my pj’s all day long, not wanting to leave the house in case my husband calls, and all that stuff. However, it’s up to the wife to put her big girl pants on and get over it. She can’t run to the XO to get reassurance before she moves on. But I love that she never got the rule book on how to behave. She and her husband make up their own rule book as they go along. I think we’d all be a lot more authentic and grow a lot closer as military wives if we followed their lead.

Pamela. My husband isn’t SF, and I am every thankful for that because he can talk with me about what he does. We grow closer and bond over that. I think it was good for the both of us to talk over the June 1 attack together. What he felt, what I felt. I can’t imagine knowing that my husband must be seeing and doing some of the most emotional challenging things in the Army and not being able to help. I did find it funny that she was one of the wives in favor of the wife going to congress for an investigation into her husband’s death. I totally agree, but as an SF wife, her husband’s death would be classified and she would not get any answers.

The Burtons. I was yelling at the tv when Joan asked her husband what he would have done in the situation with the little girl. Even before he answered. “The right answer is ‘I don’t know!” He blew that one. So I’m telling you now, if you haven’t even been to basic training much less haven’t been deployed, the answer is “I don’t know.” You dont’ know how you would react in any situation. You might know what you’d like to think you’d do, but honestly, you don’t know if you’d pee your pants and cry for momma if you had to deal with any of the stuff our deployed soldiers had to deal with. Correct answer is “I don’t know.” Period. He could have also been logical and told her that if she’s tried to save the girl she would have given away her and her troops position and then they would have all come home in a box. Remind her that it’s one thing to want to be a hero, but her mission is to make sure that our guys come home alive with all parts attached if at all possible. Just saying.

Mrs. Baker. The sad thing is that she does exist. The wife that is so entrenched in the culture that she will say or do anything to get the next promotion. A promotion for him is a promotion for her. Yes, there are totally women who would step on anyone to get her way. There are also officers and NCO’s that feel the same way. I could tell stories. But I won’t.

The soldier who blew up the hump bar. Most soldiers don’t beat their wives. Most soldiers have more control than that. However, with the culture of cover up and secrets in the Army, you never know, usually until it’s too late.

What else about the show? I’ve yet to be in a FRG that involved. But I think the show shows what a FRG is supposed to be, but just isn’t. Never been to a Jody bar, but know that’s what some wives do. What Pam said about making friends fast is true, you don’t have time to ease into relationships. Then when you do, you hold fast, you have your gang, like the spouses in the show. I’d say it’s unusual for there to be such diversity in spouse’s rank, but my best friends is an NCO’s wife, and well the whole bonding by birth in a bar does give a plausible explanation for them all choosing each other. Life isn’t that much drama, but who wants to watch a show where the most excitement is changing yet another poopy diaper?

I’m sure there is so much more I could say, but I think that’s enough for now.

Another post from the past.  Thinking about leaving our last house makes me think about how much I will hate to leave here.  But here has been so wonderful, I know that our next post will be great. 

 

Can I just start by saying that I have the best husband ever?  He is so supportive of me.  He’s so supportive of me writing this.  Yesterday, after all our stuff was packed and we were done with moving stuff for the day he tells me that I can use the laptop for writing my notes, I don’t have to worry about using my I-Pod.  Not that there was any reason that I couldn’t use it, I just wasn’t thinking about it.  It was also out of the blue, he was just making sure that I would be able to do my thing and with as much ease as possible.  Tonight, he got off the computer so that I could write.  I think that is so cool.  He’s also wonderful because he’s totally down with me hanging at the hotel with the kids while he and Amber clean.  Not that this isn’t the best idea, at the house I would be spending the whole time keeping Clara from making more messes, but it’s still cool that he’s so cool with it.

 

All but a few things Chase will pack in the van tomorrow are out of the house.  I all but sobbed as we walked out of the house tonight.  It was probably the last time I will see that house.  We had some good times there.  Looking at the back door I could see my tree.  What made that tree special?  It’s the first real tree I set up without an “expert” (meaning my dad or Chase) there.  I had Xavier because as I learned setting up a tree is a two man job.  It was also the biggest tree we’ve ever had.  I had to stand on the step ladder to do the lights and the angel.  Looking up at the catwalk I could almost see little legs hanging over it.  I can remember the mornings I thought I was up before the kids and I was doing stuff on the computer, but though I couldn’t hear a thing I just had this feeling I wasn’t alone.  I’d turn around and there would be Austin.  We had a short time there, but it was a good time.  We had so much fun.  It was also my last goodbye for this town.  My time in here really is over.  This was a great summer.  But as much as I will miss it, I am ready to move on.  This has been a vacation, but I’m ready to get back into things.  I’m ready for Chase to have a unit and for me to be a part of the FRG.  It’s time to be involved in a church for the long haul.  It’s time to make friends that I know I can return the favors they do for me, I won’t be leaving before they can cash in their IOUs.  I have to admit, I am leaving in debt to many neighbors and friends for bailing me out when I needed it.

 

I’m so tired I honestly don’t know what else to say.  I know there is much more to say, but my brain has checked out.  I also need to help my daughter find rest.  It will be found, she will learn to deal with sleeping in a hotel room quickly because this will be a long trip if she doesn’t.

So, first I must brag, I love when I’m getting my netbook out and my husband asks if I’m writing and then says “cool.”  It’s so good to know that he supports me in this.  I would not do this without that support, and I honestly have fun writing.

Today was a great day.  Yesterday, not so much, which made today even better.  Yesterday, I woke up feeling cruddy, and after a visit to the doctor’s office in the morning, I basically slept the rest of the day away.  Ending with going to bed feeling worse than when the day began.  Today, I woke up feeling still a little off, but a big day was planned and there was no time for being sick.  So I just went with the day.  Still not feeling 100%, but oh, so much better than yesterday.

The first activity of the day was a Hispanic Heritage event on the Air Force side of the base.  Julie was going and I decided that we would attend that instead of doing our usual Friday workout.  My original plan was to head to her house and the caravan over.  I still get super-duper lost on post (remember the air show) so I knew I would need help finding my way to Hangar 1.  So when Julie called at 5 till 1 saying her husband had to be there an hour early, I did the math.  The event started at 2, so they were leaving right then.  My plan to follow someone was toast.  Plan B, in our old van, I knew exactly where the JBER map was, the hangar had to be on the map.  Don’t know if it was or wasn’t, the map was one of the things I still have moved into our new van, along with a trash receptacle and a box of Kleenex.  So I headed out.  I knew where the air field was, and used common sense to deduce the hanger would be near the air field.  I’m still in shock that worked.  I found the hangers right away.  Then I had to determine which hanger was which.  I’m eternally grateful to the man who invented cell phones, they come in very handy.  I called Julie who stood outside the correct building, and I got there.

Okay, so I went for the food, and cause Julie went.  I figured there would be a speaker.  I also figured the speaker would follow in the tradition of most speakers I’ve ever had to listen to and be long-winded and boring.  The dude that spoke was awesome. He talked about growing up in Mexico, then coming to the United States and hearing about how we are “45% Irish, 30% German, with a little of the Netherlands thrown in” (so not an exact quote, but you get the jist, right?).  That got him thinking about Hispanic culture, and how even as Mexican, there was a lot thrown in there.  You have the Aztecs, and the Spanish, but then with the Spanish you get a lot of Muslim influence because Spain was controlled by Muslims for a long time.  He taught us that Spanish words that start with “al” are from the Muslim influence.  Then he talked about coming here.  How after like a week or two or so (I’m so bad with details, I should have taken notes) he had a job.  A job that was supposed to be temporary and has lasted him the past 11 years.  Then he talked about wanting to give his kids, and our kids, his grandchildren and our grandchildren the same opportunity.  And then all of a sudden he was done.  I so wanted more.  I could have listened to him talk culture and community for a while longer.  But after that was the Mexican food, so I stopped complaining and stuffed my mouth.

Chase was supposed to meet us there, but he still hadn’t come.  I was bummed that he was missing out on the food.  Then I remembered all those times he’s brought back a plate for me.  I did something then, I rarely do.  I got a plate of food to take to him.  And then he came, so it wasn’t needed.  But I’m still a little proud of myself for thinking of my husband, and trying to do something nice for him.

After that we went to CR as a family.  I’m so glad my husband went with me.  Even if he doesn’t keep going, that he would try out something so off the wall as CR, just because it means something to me.  I have the best husband.

When CR was over people were saying the Northern Lights were out.  We all ran outside to look.   My children, being my children, went saw, and immediately ran in to the snacks.  Chase and I were so excited we decided to drive up Mt. Baldy (along with half the local population).  They were so amazing tonight.  I have seen them once before, and that time they faded and changed.  Tonight they danced with movement and changing intensity.  It was amazing.  I was so glad to have my husband home.  With him home there was no question, do we drive up Mt. Baldy in the dark, with bunches of cars and other people all around, we just did it. Plus, even with all the other people around, it was awfully romantic holding hands in the dark.

All my crazy fears about redeployment were that, crazy.  Everything since I picked Chase up Saturday morning has been wonderful.  We’ve been so relaxed, and happy, and in love.  I could go on and on, but I’m sure you don’t really want to hear me gush over how much I love my husband and how happy I am that he’s home.  I do tell him though.

I think a lot of it is that I’m different.  Chase is different too, but I am very aware of how I’m changing, for the better.  Like yesterday, when Chase was out doing outside work.  I wanted to be out there with him.  I wanted to work alongside him.  And I wanted to have all that stuff done in the past so that he didn’t have to do it.  First, I can’t change the past, so worrying about it wouldn’t matter one bit.  Second, I made myself relax, telling myself that while Chase was gone I was doing the best I could taking care of myself and my kids.  The stuff I didn’t do…well, it was okay that I didn’t do it.  Chase wasn’t complaining that it wasn’t done, he was just doing what he does. Taking care of things. Third,  I would have been outside more, but my back hasn’t yet completely healed, and yesterday was a really, really bad back day.  So I stayed inside and rested my aching back a lot.  And that was okay.  I was doing what needed to be done.  In the past I would have let all that guilt consume me, and I would have transferred my feelings to Chase.  In my head, me being upset with me would lead to Chase must be upset with me.  But this time I stopped myself.  I told myself that if Chase was upset with something, he’s a big boy, he can tell me.  So until he tells me, I will not assume he has bad feelings.  This enabled me to treat him like he’s a wonderful provider and love on him for what he did, instead of trying to manage a fight Chase never signed up for.  In fact, I’m working to let go of all preconceived notions, or things that others have told me, and only listen to Chase when it comes to our relationship and our marriage.  If he hasn’t stated his feelings about something, I’m not gonna assume I know how he feels.  I will let him speak for himself.

I’ve also stopped second-guessing myself over everything.  This kinda ties to letting Chase speak for himself.  I don’t have to try to figure out in my mind what he wants.  I already know what he’s already said, and if something is new territory, we will find out together.  So now I speak and act for me, and let him make his own decisions instead of me trying to figure it all out myself before speaking or acting.  It’s funny, I think God must have made us for each other.  My natural instincts tend to be what he wants.  In the past I have denied us both that because I’ve talked myself out it.

I’m happier and more relaxed that I’ve ever been, and I think Chase is too.