Happy Memorial Day!

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Thank you to our military, past and present. We continue to honor the fallen and we help surviving spouses and children remember their loved ones. THANK YOU! YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!

This is dedicated in memory of my husband’s friend, Steven P. Daugherty.

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We are spending our Memorial Day at the Sacramento Rivercats game. It is Military Appreciation Day at the park so the kids got free American flags. Just before the game, two dozen young men and women took the Oath of Enlistment.

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A trip to the ballpark is not complete without nachos! Also, we have fourth row seats next to third base and the sun is shining today.

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My shirt says, “U.S. NAVY SAILORS ROCK”!

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The Goofy Pic Saturation

I went through some old pics that made me giggle. A few of them are several years old. The preschooler was only one when she dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Hope you like them!

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Here are pictures from A’s Father-Daughter Dance 2011.

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Mother’s Day Reloaded

Mother’s Day 2010 was quite memorable but not for the reason you think. Yes, R was in a car accident the month before and we were still living out of suitcases at the Navy Lodge next to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda but it was also the day I took L to her first Nationals baseball game.

Mother’s Day 2010 was the day after the dinner at the Dutch Embassy.

My, that sounds so fancy schmancy, doesn’t it? “Yes, dahling, I’d love to go but I’ve got to get ready for dinner at the Dutch Embassy.”

It was pretty awesome.

It turns out that the wonderful people at the hospital frequently invite the family of Wounded Warriors to various events around the city. That night happened to be dinner at the embassy.

I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to manage it with three young kids. As a Navy wife, a tiny part of me has been embarassed to be such a stereotype as in look at that young Navy wife with all those kids. Silly, I know. It’s a tiny part.

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Three young kids and only me at a semi-formal event with probably important people and expensive glasses and dishes. L was on the verge of being potty trained before the accident and you can bet your little patootie that she digressed when after the accident. How could I deal with a smelly diaper at a government building? Not only that, my in-laws and brother-in-law left a few days earlier and I was getting used to having all three kids with me all the time at the hospital every moment of the day. My weight dropped so low that there was a digit in the tens place I hadn’t seen since high school. I almost fainted a couple of times in the hospital. Because of all of these things, I almost declined.

I am so glad I didn’t.

Turned out that while we were the largest family there (yay, I won), they were not the only kids. There was a toddler safely harnessed in a kid backpack thing. There was another boy who was about a year older than M.

The kids and I greeted and thanked our hosts and other official officials then I did what any other parent would do.

I herded my lot to the patio and let them run around. They were soon joined by the other boy. His mom told me later that her son said, “I want to go outside and play with all the kids.”

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Yep, I am a walking preschool.

It turns out that the boy’s father was also a Wounded Warrior. His father’s vehicle hit an IED and he lost both of his legs. Our kids talked about their dads.

Our kids talked about their dads who were injured in the war.

I had no idea how powerful that would be to M. There were other kids like him out here, forced to grow up before they had to, forced to accept the mortality of the most powerful man they know, watching their moms cry when they think no one is looking.

Mind you, I am a military spouse and I own it but it’s not my superpower. I don’t expect Oprah to lavish me with expensive gifts just because I’m a military spouse but it would very rude of me to refuse.

On the way back to base, the officer in charge had two extra tickets to the Nationals game the next day. Mother’s Day.

My hand shot up first.

In retrospect, I probably should not have left the older two with R in the hospital for two very important reasons: (1) He was under so much medication that he does not recall most of his time in Bethesda and (2) HE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL.

But I HAD to leave the older two with him. My son M did NOT want to leave R’s side. The older two were potty trained and really independent for their ages. Also, this is what they wanted to do with Daddy the entire time.

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So L and I hopped on the Metro and headed to the game.

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Only we didn’t have regular baseball tickets. We had tickets in the Presidential Lexus suite. I looked around nervously at all of the food and whispered to the waitress if I could at least put the tip and alcohol on my Visa debit card as I didn’t have any cash with me.

She smiled and said, “Oh, honey. Everything is taken care of in here.”

Whoa.

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Yes, that’s prime rib. Yes, that’s a dessert bar behind L. Yes, we sat four rows behind home plate. Home plate is a base, right?

Mother’s Days since then have been very low-key. The kids bring home art projects from school, homemade cards created the morning of in the next room. True, there is no prime rib, no presidential suite.

There’s always next year.

Happy V Day!

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OMG.

The kids and I have been couch potatoes all weekend and we absolutely loved it! I thought I would go nuts but the weather has been rainy and cold. Perfect napping weather. Perfect weather to make book page rosettes for a wreath I have been working on.

My BFF asked me to participate in a craft fair at her work so I am excited and terrified at the same time. Excited because I truly enjoy making stuff, painting, adding glitter, just getting my hands dirty in general. Terrified of criticism and feedback. I will get over it but like writing, projects I create are personal to me and try as I may to learn from constructive criticism, I still cringe as if I am being attacked personally.

Which explains why I have not been to a writing conference in years but that’s a whole other post altogether.

I let the kids play video games and watch movies for a few hours at a time until I had to finally turn off the tv for them so they could… um, I don’t know… use their imagination? I even skipped my usual Zumba class on Saturday morning! Sacre bleu!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I started writing a handful of short stories all centered around love. I was even planning on posting one a day during the month of February.

And then my laptop broke and I realized the importance of backing up all of your info on your computer. You’d think I would have learned my lesson in college but no, apparently I didn’t.

Fortunately I found an app by my web host that makes it much easier to update my blog via iPad. Blah blah blah… This means I can share pics much easier. That pic above was right before I got married. I know you love the cheetah print…

Speaking of LOVE, what are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Though my hubby is across the country I still nag him about the holiday but not in the way you think.

I told him, of all of sweet sentiments you can find in a jewelry store or at a flower shop, I wanted him to make me a Valentine. I’m so excited. It is in the mail. Maybe I will share it with you. Maybe I won’t.

What I will share with you is this awesome scene I found in the boy’s room yesterday. It has absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day and is somewhat disturbing depending on your sense of humor. The second pic was saved in my pic library by one of the girls. I am not sure how they know how to do everything on this thing but they learn so quickly.

I hope you have a wonderful day! Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo,
Alma

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MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #20

So over on Wife of a Sailor, Wife posts questions for other bloggers to answer on their own military spouse blogs. (Still with me so far?) And since the boy is at a sleepover while the girls and I are getting ice cream, I thought it might be fun to fill this out and catch up on months of blog posts I have missed dearly in the past few months before subbing and Pinterest took over my life.

1. What is your favorite winter memory?

We did not have Christmas together until our second year and by then I had already gotten pregnant and given birth. Yes, insert sailor jokes here. Well, we had been home a week or so when Augusta, Georgia had a freak snow storm. R and I decided to go out on the balcony and make a snowman, my very first ever. As new parents with family timezones away, we didn’t have anyone tell us how silly we were being because surely we could not bring the newborn out in the snow but we didn’t want to leave him alone in the apartment, especially with two kittens. We discussed it more than we needed to and ended up making a mini snowman using our tiny grill as the base.

2. What is your current favorite TV show?

I don’t love Glee as much as I used to. Ever since Lost, I have been. I love watching Zooey Deschanel in the New Girl but my obsession in the past few weeks has been watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Bazinga! Where was this show when I was making puns… um, all my life? I still don’t get the hierarchy of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock. Yet.

3. What was your favorite thing that happened in January?

I finally admitted to myself that I was overcommitting myself. Last year was okay because R was home I wasn’t working, just enjoying our time with him as a couple and together as a family. Then he went back to work. Then I started subbing. And I started taking things on which one at a time are fine but weekly commitments were just too much and I carried a lot of guilt for wanting to stop volunteering. In the end, my heart was not in it so I had to admit to myself and others that I simply couldn’t continue. The anguish and anxiety sucked but it was a huge relief to just admit I was overwhelmed and that it was okay.

4. What is the best sound in the world to you?

The first few seconds when recognizing our wedding song. Best feeling in the world when it comes on the radio.

5. What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a MilSpouse?

This was hard to answer because I am constantly learning something new even after eleven years of marriage and three kids. The most recent lesson I learned (and am constantly relearning) is patience. Having patience is far less stressful than worrying, getting angry, feeling frustrated, and takes practice! Don’t even get me started on my broken netbook!

5Ks and All That Jazz

So in order to make up for the gluttonous frenzy that was December, R and I have been busy but ew, not like that!

R is in San Antonio getting fitted for a leg brace for his left foot which helps him with movement. It is remarkable to see how much his foot has improved especially since his foot drop was so bad the first six months that when he was not wearing his leg brace, it appeared that he was en pointe.

In November his leg strength was at seventy percent and today, at his assessment today, he is at eighty-eight percent– two percent from being average for a male his age. He makes such a big deal about NOT wanting to be average, to be above average than his peers, that this was wonderful news.

We noticed that he makes tremendous gains after he participates in activities outside of his physical therapy like the 5K he ran last weekend. Makes sense though. One would probably perform better when it is an intrinsic goal rather than one that is expected. He may even be cleared in time to squeeze in another short deployment.

And I know what you’re thinking, “Oh my gawd! Would you even LET him deploy again? Hasn’t he been through enough? Haven’t YOU been through enough?”

To which I would reply, “Meh.” He’s gonna do what he wants to do. He’s gonna do what he needs to do. Far be it from me to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do. That would be like him telling me to stop going to Nordstrom!

I finished my second 5K ever on Saturday. I walked the entire thing with a friend who has vowed to join me in three more races this year. Our time was the base point of which we will beat at our next race in March.

In regards to food consumption, I have not bought diet soda in a week. I… um… have indulged in chocolate this week and maybe ate too much a few times but eh, most of my meals are smaller. Also, there are less carb-y snacks in the house and when the kids want the carb-y stuff, the must eat fruit first. I just wish I walked the walk like I talked the talk.

Pearl Harbor

The anniversary of Pearl Harbor is tomorrow. Tonight I turned the channel to the film version that starred Ben Affleck and Kate Beckingsale. R took me to see that movie in the theaters in Georgia when we were newlyweds.

That night the theater was full of soldiers from Fort Gordon, young men whose backpacks carried sounds of clanging glass bottles. I would have ventured to say that many knew their American history, perhaps even a grandfather or family friend stationed over in Hawaii at the time, and despite the impending imbibing, the crowd was respectful. Somber. Attentive.

Tonight my tv was tuned into the film no more than thirty seconds. The scene where the nurses had to quickly assess wounded soldiers was on screen. That scene brought me back to last year and every terrible scene in my life since then.

I was brought back to a state of shock at National Naval Medical Center, waiting on pins and needles for that goddamned plane to land and then that goddamned bus to get to the hospital.

They warned me too. They chose their word carefully. “Intense”, they said.

I was brought back to ICU where I passed a dozen injured sailors. Even though I averted my eyes, willed myself to stare at the linoleum until the officer told me we had arrived, I could still hear them.

Moans of pain. Haunting sobbing. Cries of help for a nurse. Long and short beeps from numerous machines. All echoing up and down the halls.

Despite silence from staff on that floor, the noise was deafening.

Thank God R remembers very little. Of what he does remember has been transformed into bits and pieces of nightmares and hallucinations.

They have entered my nightmares as well. I admit I am afraid of falling asleep tonight which is just as well, whenever my mind unconsciously peers through memories I intentionally suppress I know I can say bye to a good night’s rest.

I cannot even begin to understand what the men, women, and children of Pearl Harbor saw and heard that day. For those who perished, for the survivors and their loved ones, I say a prayer and bid them a good night’s rest.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 11/29

I recently went to pick up a few Christmas presents from a Christian store and um… I was a little bothered that there were several statues of Santa Claus carrying Baby Jesus. I mean, I know I am not the bestest Catholic ever and until this year my children (yes, I am going to admit this, eek!) thought Advent calendars were just for eating chocolate but that concept of the red Coca-Cola Santa carrying the baby is a bit too much for me.

But I will say that it isn’t a Texas Christmas without a plastic, lighted Nativity scene on your lawn. When we were stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, there were at least two on every block! Really! And as much as I thought those too were tacky, I told my husband that he absolutely HAD TO GET ONE when he goes to San Antonio next month to get his new leg brace. What can I say? Those displays have grown on me, they remind me of Texas (yeah, that and 3 liter bottles of soda, I kid you not) and now I kinda want one. Can anyone in Texas save one for us?

A couple of months ago R went to San Antonio to get fitted for a new leg brace and he gets it after the New Year. He’ll be there for a month getting adjustments made and going through P/T.

I asked him what he thought of his new brace and do you know what he said?

He said, “It is so awesome. I feel like I am cheating when I have it on.”

OMG. (I probably said that too.) I said, “Uh… no. That’s how badly you were injured! You feel like any extra help is cheating!”

Anyway, not only do we have the paper chain counting the days of Advent but we have a 3-D one made with lamb characters (!), another with Bible verses behind each day, and the all too familiar chocolate Advent calendars (one for each kid). Unfortunately the other ones do not start until December 1st but I look forward to sharing this reinvented tradition with the kids.

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Offer to set the table for dinner


They usually do this anyway but it was nice that I didn’t have to tell them although the oldest said, “It [the paper chain] only says to OFFER, not ACTUALLY DO IT.” That’s nice.

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

Celebrating the days of Advent: 11/27

I am quite embarassed to admit this but I allowed the birth of each child determine how often we attended mass. When my husband and I got married and discussed having children, we (he) agreed that our children would be raised Catholic and even attends mass with us when he is home.

My own church-going habits fluctuated throughout different points of my life for different reasons. I attended church again after we got married, while he deployed, and after the birth of our son.

I know some military spouses prefer finding a parish off base but I enjoyed attending mass at the chapel on base everywhere we have been stationed. Every city we were stationed may as well have been in a foreign country. Every region, let alone every city, has their own culture and customs that I felt too overwhelmed to try and adapt to.

I was on my own with a newborn. I had a lot of things going through my mind. Catholic mass felt like being home when I had no idea what the definition of home was. There is the expression of “Home is where the heart is” but if a big piece of your heart is deployed, where is home?

For many Sundays, home was a chapel with people who I believe where searching for the same thing. There were families, some with both parents, most with one. There were soldiers there by themselves, probably like me, thousands of miles from their nearest family members.

My favorite memory of Fort Gordon is bringing M to mass when he was a few months old. I sang and swayed slightly to the music (I can’t help it! Mass or club, party or car– I feel music inside of me bursting to come out!) and heard what sounded like a little lion cub. I looked down and this chubby little boy with fair skin and black hair and ears as big as Daddy’s grinned. I giggled and we sang together for dozens of Sundays afterward.

When we moved to Goodfellow AFB, M was a toddler and could not sit still. He was no longer singing along but babbling and asking questions during mass. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long.

At JEB Little Creek, the chapel had a… cry room. PHEW! I had not seen a cry room (a separate and usually soundproof room inside the chapel and allows you to be seen and not heard) since I was a child. A never sat still and crawled in and out of the pews while L was content sitting in my lap. Luckily everyone who sits in the cry room knows what is in store for them. Not that I let my children run wild in the cry room, but there were no Looks from others if and when my children got too loud.

This was about the time that M started asking about God and church and to be brutally honest, I did not know how to answer a lot of his questions so we set out to find answers together. We would attend mass early on Sunday and head over to Barnes & Noble to read a books about religion. I bought these books occasionally and now we have quite the collection, including a graphic novel of the Bible illustrated by one of the artists from Marvel comics!

When we finally moved out to California, we found a parish two miles from our home that a lot of children from the kids’ school attend. We, including R and my friends and family, have been welcomed into the community as if we had attended all of our lives…

So welcomed that we volunteer for various ministries… and often!

Though today is the first day of Advent, we will not begin our special project until tomorrow. One of the ministries shared an Advent calendar that the children get to cut up strips of paper commemorating each day of Advent and glue these strips together to form a paper chain. Each day has a special activity that we can do as a family.

Please join us as we celebrate the days of Advent. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

11/27/11
Light the first Candle on your Advent Wreath

This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.

11/26 = 50K

In less than eight hours we will be driving my husband back to the airport. Bittersweet doesn’t taste so great if you can’t remember what sweet tastes like.

But no matter. R will be back in three weeks and we will spend another two weeks for Christmas.

Fortunately we did A LOT this week…
1. I worked on my word count for NaNoWriMo
2. We went out to dinner and a movie
3. The kids baked and cooked with Daddy everyday including this lemon meringue pie:

and this chocolate pudding pie:

4. We spent time with family for Thanksgiving. This is a cake that my cousin baked:

5. And last but not least, I ran my first 5K ever!

Yes, there are WAY more than 5 things that happened this week but I gotta go. My word count is at 44,816! I gotta get to 50K by November 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm. Think I’ll make it? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!