Saturday, November 22, 2008

the day has come

so, i know i've been slacking in my posting this past week, but for good reason... i've been uber busy getting things in order for the big move back to ft. polk! between lining up the directv people and making sure housing knows we will be there monday, with bells on, and collecting the last of the things i want to take back with us and of course saying those awful, 'see you later,' not good-bye, my fingers and my thoughts have been exhausted.

but, as i glance around my parents' house, which seems so empty now, i can't help but feel an overwhelming amount of emotion, both happy and sad, excited but disappointed, bittersweet and blessed. when aaron left nearly a year ago, we decided it would be best for us, cayman and i and aaron's peace of mind, if we moved home with one of our parents. as much as i love aaron's parents, my parents in florida have a more similar lifestyle to ours.

so, last december my mum drove over and my little brother flew in (from alabama where he lives with my dad and stepmom) and they packed up our entire household, putting the majority into our 10x10 storage unit, but bringing back 2 jam-packed carloads. fast forward to now. as aaron and his soldiers have heard word that 15 months will be cut short, we figure we'd take our chances and move back now rather then later.

so, we packed up everything and it's all in a 10x6 trailer. my florida parents, our uncle ron and aunt bev, and cayman and i are heading out in the morning to make the drive back up florida and across the coast of the gulf of mexico and then northwest to ft. polk. it'll take us two days, but it'll be worth the trek! but, it's bittersweet too.

it's been amazing sharing this year and all it's held with my parents. from the joy they've had in their faces from watching cayman grow and discover this year to having someone to talk as an adult to our friends we've made in our playgroups and they tips we've shared with each other. but, if leaving them all here and heading back to ft. polk and its walmart and middle-nowhereness means that aaron's coming home, we'll do it. and there's nothing i would've changed about our decision to move here last year. it was definitely the right choice, for us. not anyone else, but for us.

God has blessed us this year and continues to do so. from the being close to our family, especially in those trying moments, to the friends we've made, to the amazing church home we found here, it's been a blessing. and the fact that we, especially aaron, have been so blessed with peace of mind this year is something you just can't pass up. so, prayers as we make the trek back across the coast and for a speedy next few weeks so that aaron and his soldiers can make a safe return home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

people do do this really

so i'm sure y'all have received an email about a complete stranger going up to a soldier or a military spouse after eve-dropping on their conversation or noticing that they are military. and i'm sure, okay maybe i'm the only one, that you've thought that only happens in emails and to other people not in the normal world where i live and breathe and function day in and day out.

well... i'm here to prove you wrong. it does happen to everyday military wives just like you and me! today, we loaded up the wagon (cayman's new umbrella stroller is awesome but lacks the basket space that his travel system had) with aaron's last two care packages (whooo hooo!) and headed to the post office. after 60 some odd care packages, we're regulars now. as we made our way to the counter, i did my best to entertain cayman, swinging him, jumping with him, being his personal jungle gym (are you getting the picture that he's never still). we make it to the counter and have our usual chit-chat with the clerk.

apparently i was sharing my excitement about this being our last two packages too loud because the lady at the counter next to us must have heard about us and our packages. didn't bother me. it's kinda nice for people in a mostly civilian town to be reminded that even here in smalltown, usa, there are families touched by deployment. well, she tracked us down in the parking lot (kinda hard to miss the little lady with her monkey and red wagon) and asked me how much it costs to spend a package.

as i gather in my brain my speech about flat rate boxes and custom forms and stickers on the outside to make them personal, she whips out her wallet and hands me a bill! at this point the tears are welling up. she doesn't know me. i don't know her. but, she cared enough to care about us.

i told her that i couldn't take her money: a. i had just mailed off our last packages b. it just wouldn't be right. i insisted she take the money and use it for something good in our honor like 'toys for tots.' there was no arguing with this lady. as she glanced at cayman climbing all over the backseat, she insisted that i would know better what tots would like for christmas this year. okay lady, you win! i ended up taking the money and adding it to our stash for our toy shopping trip which cayman loved! look for pictures tomorrow!

it's people like this lady and the one wearing her red shirt last friday and my civi friends i've made this year that have reminded me that they don't have to 'know' me or aaron or cayman, they do what they do because they care. it's like paying it forward. so, to all those who have paid the price, thank you!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

fridays = wear red

so i got an email a few years back. sort of a grassroots type of movement. it encourages all those who support our troops to wear red on fridays. so, when i have a conscious moment while getting dressed on friday mornings, i try to grab my red, okay crimson or maroon, shirts. no biggie, i'm an army wife and i support my husband and all of our military. and grant it, i wear my alabama shirt (with great pride) or my virginia tech (in honor of aaron's alum mater) during football season and a red polo during the off season.

i don't wear them waiting for someone to say 'thank you' or anything about it. i wear my shades of red because i'm thankful for the brave men and women who make the sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedoms, even if it means enjoying them without your soldier because he just happens to be one of those brave men. at anyrate, i have a point to this.

cayman and i went to the playground friday and then headed to auburndale. i needed to get the oil changed and have the land yatch checked before our big drive back to ft. polk next weekend. while in the waiting area i had a nice conversation with the ladies about aaron and our life as a military family (it seems like forever but we've only been 'us' since 2006). after the car checked out all good, we headed to wally world (i know, i'm not a fan of wal mart, but at least the auburndale one is clean and spacious) to print our thanksgiving and christmas card pictures and pick up a few things. as i'm dealing with my toddler who is dealing with his teeth coming in, yes, there are more making an appearance, we headed through the aisle. i was already a little emotional because i was picking up the last of the things i needed to finish the cookies for aaron and his soldiers and the pictures turned out so great for the cards.

well, as we're rounding an aisle i nearly hit her. she was me, just 60 years from now. she was petite. minding her own business. but she was cheery as we nearly ran her down. what caugth me and made her me, her red shirt. but it wasn't just any red polo, it has a yellow ribbon stitched on it and below it, 'thank you!' and as i made my apologizes for nearly running her over, i managed to get out, 'thank you for wearing your shirt.' as she turned down her aisle she turned back and said, 'thank you,' with the sweetest smile, knowing i was her some 60 years ago.

and then as i had managed to avoid for nearly much of the last 12 months, the tears started. right there, in the middle of the bake good aisle, the tears trickled down my face. no one else around me had a clue why. and why should they. so far removed from a military community, the only sign of military some retired snowbirds. and there, in the middle of the auburndale walmart, i was human, i was an army wife, i was the mother of a child who only been tucked into bed by his father 58 times, i was a woman with tears slowly making their way down my flushed cheeks. and, i was okay with it. because i'm okay with who i am. and i'm okay with God walking beside me as i gathered myself, prayed for our soldiers and those who support them and continued down the baked good aisle.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

good times with my baby boy

so i thought it would be fun to finger paint and bake together with my little man. wrong!

my sister requested an original cayman masterpiece for her birthday. so, i figured today, as i'm baking up a storm for aaron's last care package, i would strap cayman in his highchair, give him some paint and let him go to town. it would seem that most kids would love the excuse to make a mess. not my little man! a few hand prints, a little smearing, and that was it! but, he did make a lovely master piece for auntie necia's birthday!

and then i thought, hmm... let's try baking together. that wasn't a good idea either. what kid doesn't like making a mess! apparently not mine! don't get me wrong. he loves playing in the dirty, loves eating sand and dirty by the handful, but making a mess when he's actually allowed to, nope! but, we tried. and maybe we'll try again some other day.

it's things like finger painting and baking together that i love doing with cayman... and i love sending his master pieces to aaron. however, i hate that aaron hasn't baked a single cookie with cayman (or even snuck into the kitchen to steal one of the cooling rack) or made a mess with him. it's things like this that i hate that aaron is missing out on. grant it, the past 12 months cayman has been doing a lot of growing and developing to get to the point that he can finger paint and bake, and so aaron really hasn't missed much. but still. and so i wear many hats and play many roles as all aaron can do is take an active role from 7,982 miles away. and for that i'm grateful. i would rather him be an active, involved parent from over there then not even take interest. and soon, he'll be in the kitchen making a mess or on the back porch with paint all over his face too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

thank you

so this time of year is always hard... sappy music, lovey-dovey couples everywhere, special activities that dads are suppose to do with their little ones and then there's veterans' day.

i'm sure we all know a solider, a military spouse, someone who has served years ago, even someone who has given the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their live for our freedoms. and as many of us get the day off and enjoy a day of resting, running around, sleeping in late or watching a parade of cute, little old vfw vets march down main street and wave our flags, it's also a day to reflect upon those who can't enjoy the day with us: those stationed across the world, those who have gone before us, those who know watch over us.

it's been nearly 4 years since my grandpa died. he was my hero. and especially my little brother's hero. he served, briefly, but he served. it's been years since my dad and i have been close, though, he is coming around finally (cayman could have something to do with that). he served. he deployed when i was in elementary school, which makes me one of those rare finds in the military: a spouse of a deployed soldier, but also the daughter of a soldier who has deployed. then there's marcus, jake, mark, and the countless other thousands who have served and will never walk amongst us again. they made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down their lives us, their friends, their loved ones, their fellow americans. and then there's aaron and the countless other thousands of soldiers currently serving us, protecting us, being soldiers.

so, i'm sure we all know someone, in some way that has served. and as you say your prayers, remember them especially on veterans' day. and as you enjoy your day off, enjoy it for them too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the walls are coming down

so i know i'm not jericho, but i feel like this deployment is marching around me and my tough walls are starting to crumble down. i know, not the best example, but it's been stuck in my head since yesterday.

so, i love fall! the leaves change colors. alabama football (roll tide! #1!). the weather cooling off (and secretly i like wearing closed=toe shoes). and the holidays: labor day starts it off followed by halloween, veterans' day, thanksgiving, christmas and capping it off with new years. but these last three years have not made this time of year easy on me.

three years ago, when aaron and first started dating, he left me on labor day for afghanistan and didn't return until after thanksgiving. last year aaron left thanksgiving weekend. and this year, well, he's missed everything so far and may not make it back in time for any of it. strike that. we celebrate all of the holidays together, through care packages, but also when aaron gets home, no matter what time of year it is (halloween in december, christmas in february).

but this year is different. i guess i'm understanding of him missing one year. and i admit, cayman was too little last year to fully, or even partially, understand and enjoy the season. but this year, as we are already playing the christmas music and neatly packed away our jack-o-lanterns, it's tougher than before.

we walked through macy's yesterday to check out the sale (we got tons of gift cards to macy's when we got married and have yet to use them so we're going to be the proud new owners of matching towels!). sure, they had the holiday decorations out (by the way, i did not, i repeat, i did not take the mannequin's silver sequence skirt, yet) and that doesn't bother me. but when they're piping through the speakers:Because I miss you, Most at Christmas time
And I can't get you, Get you off my mind, Every other season comes along, And I'm all right, But then I miss you, most at Christmas time
, i lost it. and then this morning at church. i always lose it at church, today more then ever.

it's like i've been tough, not army strong but mommy strong, this whole year but as the one year mark approaches (and then marches on), i'm wearing thin. i guess it's because i can only handle so much. and who could do more? i know, God wouldn't give me anything i could handle (but i question that sometimes). and i know we have a mail stop date (a lot more than others have). but how do i tell my heart and my emotions and my son it's okay (sorry, tears making their way to their ducts to make an appearance) that aaron misses all of this, again.

i know they are just days on a calendar and that's what i tell myself to get through them. but how i can walk into a department store and not lose it (by the way, we've already written our 'dear santa' letters at macy's). how can i stand in church and praise God and not lose it (and not because i'm on fire for Him, but because i miss my prayer warrior holding my hand and encouraging me). how can i make it through another round of turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and not feel cheated. how can i wrap presents and head to the post office to mail them and not feel like our son is being cheated. i know. i knew the day i started dating aaron that this is our life and that one day it would come to this... but still

God grant me the stregnth to keep my walls from falling until my support and repair man is home.

christmas in november 2007

thanksgiving in december 2006

Thursday, November 6, 2008

mountains and valleys

so i was reading another military wife's blog and it got me thinking, how easily do we let our faith, our trust in God take second place to life, to the good times, to the moments we get caught up in when things are going so well...

so many times we find ourselves clinching to our faith, our trust in God, His word when we find ourselves in a valley, in a dark moment, tested and in a mess. but how easily we forget about Him when we find ourselves up on the mountain, warm sunshine shining down on us, tears of joy flowing from our eyes.

of course this can be applied to anyone's life, but i find myself falling victim to this especially when it comes to deployments. the orders come and find myself start tightening my hold to God's word. as the deployment date comes and goes and the month go by, it seems that i'm hanging on God's every word, clinching so tightly to all my faith and trust in God, praying He'll protect my soldier. as the mail stop date approaches and we start making homecoming banners, it seems that our grip is loosened and as our soldier returns, we return to being on the mountain, praising God at first, but quickly becoming wrapped up in the celebration, the happy tears, the sunshine on our face.

i pray this time, as we continue through this deployment and as our mail stop date approaches and we start making our homecoming banners and the day comes to throw my arms around aaron's neck finally again, that i don't loosen my grip on God, but that i continue to cling to Him with all my might. for He has gotten me this far, and i know He'll carry me all the way home.

i love you daddy! muah! kisses for you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

mail stop date

mail stop date... it's the date any spouse of a deployed soldier longs for. i started yearning for this date to be issued a year ago (and aaron hadn't even deployed yet)! and, now we have one! sorry, i can't share with you the date (opsec rules!), but know that aaron will definitely be home before my birthday!

it's funny the milestones you establish when your spouse, your best friend, you whole purpose for raising in the morning (5:35 to be exact) well, besides your bright-eyed ball of sunshine called cayman, deploys and leaves you on the other side of the world while he goes and defends our freedoms, protects us, does his duties. but these milestones are what get you through those long, drawn out months that separate you.

i find that weeks go by faster. so, each week we have goals: mail one care package to aaron, go to explorations at least once (hey, got to get my membership's-worth), work-out at least three times (i'm loving me some zumba and i started my couch to 5k this week), and go on at least one other playdate. on top of that, each month i have found finding other milestones, storage rent check mailing date, various functions, and such have made the months go by, sometimes faster then others. and of course, being so busy, i have missed a few things, but overall, the important things, taking care of cayman and loving aaron from a distance still seem to be on my mind at all times.

so, as the holidays are in full swing, i find that the weeks are flying by. this week we have this and that. next week a few of these and one of those. and then it's time for this and oh that. that's how our months have been going. but this month is even more exciting... this week we have to send out our 'gobble, gobble' playdate invites and sort through all of stuff in prep of moving. next week we'll hit up the stores one last time (all we have at ft. polk are the px and walmart), and then it's time to pack those boxes and the trailer and hit the road. then it's time for unpacking our storage unit back at ft. polk and turning our hose into a home again. and then november is gone and december will be here. so, as time marches on, and God gives me more to keep me busy, i can't help but thank God for trusting me to be so busy and all the opportunities He has blessed us with.

Monday, November 3, 2008


so i took up the cellphone again this morning and started calling every hour to housing. surely i would eventually get to talk to someone, not just their voicemails. it didn't take too long until someone called me back, but of course it was in the midst of cayman's story time at the museum so i missed the call!

but once i got the housing relocation manager back on the phone, it ended with mixed results. we've moved up our return date, just to be safe. she has me actually written in on her calendar to call back each week to confirm our return date and to check on available housing. which brings us to the sorta disappointing news. i hate to complain and i'm grateful to have housing available on base when we return, but... when you're coming from a 2-bedroom house with a yard and room and oh the stuff we have to fill all that room... it's tough to move back in to a small, apartment-style housing possibly without a yard and definitely limited storage and room. which, we knew this. we had accepted the fact that we would be in a townhouse on the north side of the base. however, when i called today, it seems like we may be moving into an even smaller single level (which is actually better for cayman) apartment. and if we're on the second floor, no yard. and it's on the south side, which is 'trashy' according to those who have lived on base.

but, i know i must keep an open mind, be flexible and have faith in God that he'll take care of us and provide. tomorrow i start sorting through all of the stuff we have here and getting things ready for our yard sale.
between all we've accumulated here this year and our 10x10 storage unit back in louisiana, it'll take some creativity to make it all fit and still feel like home. but, i'm up for the challenge and as long as aaron and cayman are somewhere in the house with me, we'll be just fine!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

you knew this day would come

so i watched 'army wives' tonight, mostly so i could just disagree with everything they were doing and saying, but also to see what they actually got right.

first, what they got right: can i say pamela couldn't have been more on the money then she was about your career when you marry in to the military. it's an awful reality, but the truth of the matter is this. when you marry into the military you aren't giving up your career, but you must understand that you are giving up the chance to build a career in an area for much longer than three years at a time. sure moving every three years or so makes it hard to establish a career of your own, but you knew that would happen when you married your hero.

which brings us to the moving part. i'm sorry if i seem a little less tearful about moving, but when you've moved all your life, every three years like clock work, you get use to it. it's a fact of army life. as a kid, i knew that every three years the movers would come and they would pack us up and it would be time to make new friends. and well, when we didn't move after being at redstone in alabama, where my dad retired, it was rather odd. and well, as we, aaron and i (and now cayman) approach our three year mark at our base, the moving itch is creeping in. sure, i'll miss my friends, my church, that great little mom-n-pop lunch counter. but let's face it, with today's technology, they're all a phone call, an email, or even a myspace page away. and always the perfect excuse for a road trip.

so, the day the movers bring those boxes to your new house, that's the day you start the countdown to the next move. it's a fact of army life. so, you make what you can of the three or so years you have at your duty station and remember that God put you on this pathway for a reason, so don't go cursing his name when the pcs orders come.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

let's play house

so i don't know your situation, how you met your husband, where in your journey of this thing called life you or your husband were when you met, or where you are now. i do know though where we were and where we are... and it definitely has never been playing house.

i attended a baby shower today (i'll post pictures of the gift i made for this shower and another. this really has been the weekend of showers). the father, 19 year old marine, seems to be very responsible and taking responsibility for his actions. he joined the marines, requested a job that wouldn't put him on the front lines, and has been working very hard to save money and get things ready for his baby girl due to arrive next month. the mother, a 17 year old soon-to-be high school graduate (graduating early in december) and army brat, seems to think this is all a game. grant it, the father is like my little brother, so i've seen him grow and ride the roller coaster of the teenage years and am very proud to see how he is handling this situation. the mother, whom i don't know well, i'm just basing my observations of the few times we've interacted. the problem here in lays in the fact that the father busted his butt to make it home from his duty station in mississippi (driving 10 hrs after getting off of work) to spend the weekend with his wife. mind you he's been in boot camp and then home for a few days before leaving for his duty station. this is the first time he's been home since leaving in august. so, it bothers me that the wife spent most of the weekend with her friends rather than with her husband. hello! he's 10 hrs away, you're carrying his child, and you're busy spending time with your friends who are here every single day! just seems like marriage and parenting aren't high on her list right now.

then we have our friends. our age. love them to death. however, it hit me the other day that the wife seems to forget that this isn't a game. being married to an air force pilot, he can get the call at anytime and have to deploy. something she knew when they got married. heck, she knew the day she started dating him in high school that he was going to college and then career air force. and she knew deployments would be part of their future. now that he's on altar, the reality is finally sinking in.

and then there's us. on our first date, which was 12 hours long for this very reason, we laid out all the cards and were completely honest with each other. aaron made it very clear that the military and maybe someday the fbi, are very much part of his life and factors he has no control over. and i made it very clear that i would support him in these endeavours. we discussed everything from deployments to kids to careers, all in that first date. and as our relationship became more serious, we discussed them all even more and laid out our plans. no surprises (well, okay. we planned on cayman, just not the timing).

i understood and understand the reality of our life. the fact that aaron has very limited control over his career and things like moving and deploying and how many holidays he misses, has never been a secret nor something i ignored. maybe being an army brat helps. but maybe because we have a plan, which is ultimately guided by God and actually laid out by Him, we're not playing house, we're living life. yes, it is upsetting when the call comes and aaron has to pack his bags, but it's not a shocker, it's reality. and i can't just take off my apron (which i bought a super cute one the other day. you can detach the top portion if you want just a half apron!)and say 'game over' or 'let's have a do-over.' all i can do is be honest and faithful to my husband and trust in God and not play pretend.

so, are you playing house or living life?