The Surprise Approximation

In an email to the kids’ teachers tonight:

M, A, and L may have mentioned to you that their father is flying in from Virginia on Friday night. R is stationed in Virginia Beach and we have not seen him since May.

What they don’t know is that he is actually flying in at noon. Depending on the arrival time of R’s flight, he may drop by your classroom the last few minutes of class to surprise them. Also, he doesn’t know it yet but he’s going to sign up to volunteer in the kids’ classes at least once a week for the next two weeks while he is home.

He will leave on November 4th so please contact me if you notice any of the kids having difficulty with his departure.

Thank you for your understanding and patience,
A
(XXX) XXX-XXXX

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The Failing Worry

It probably goes without saying that there are many things about our military life that I cannot talk about with anyone, let alone on a public blog. Hopefully I’ve made you chuckle once or twice. This blog is just a glimpse of what our life is like. The darker moments are kept hidden on purpose.

I worry about my husband constantly. Yes, he’s an adult. Yes, he can take care of himself.

But can he?

He suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago and only now am I privvy to the amount of pain and anxiety that he is still going through. I know he’s been in pain but he never told me that it is constant, that some days are better than others.

That some days are far worse than others as well.

I worry that he may not be getting the counseling and therapy he needs right now, whether he admits it or not. Whether he wants it or not.

I don’t think he is.

And it isn’t entirely his fault. Nor is it entirely the military’s fault.

I think there are so many factors that come into play when it comes to these issues. First of all, most of us will not admit when there is a problem, let alone a stubborn male like many husbands we know and love.

Second, even if he was aware of it, would he really seek it on his own? Would he feel like he could handle this? Would he feel that this is just something that is temporary and will pass once he retires?

Furthermore, follow up counseling is mandatory for everyone coming back from deployment but is it enough? Should they constantly have follow up counseling? Who knows if or when a soldier will demonstrate signs of PTSD? What then?

Finally, even if there were regularly scheduled and required counseling sessions, wouldn’t many of them see it as a joke and just not show up?

I worry about R. I worry about our life together when he retires. But I don’t worry for my life. I don’t worry for the safety of our children.

I worry that R is broken. I worry that he won’t ever be fixed no matter how much we will it and want it to happen.

The Entitlement Hypothesis

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I took the kids to a baseball game today and they tried to get autographs from the minor league players but A only got one. M didn’t get any. One of the security guards told everyone to try again after the game.

My kids were bummed but I told them not to worry. We’d try again after the game and if we don’t get any more today, that’s alright. We would be back for at least one or two more games before the end of the season.

Like any teacher or parent, I want my children to be prepared for disappointment because IT WILL HAPPEN. Not only do they need to feel it, they need to know how to cope with it.

Last week I subbed for a first grade class a couple of times. There were a couple of boys in the class who, I will later learn that they’re younger than everyone else in the class, did not know how to cope with any negative feelings. If they didn’t get chosen to be first to say an answer or if they lost a spelling game, they threw temper tantrums. Yes, actual tantrums as in crossing their arms and sitting under their desk or even throwing down their sweater and stomping!

Now one of the few drawbacks in being a sub is that I don’t have the chance to get to really know the children I sub for. I don’t know, for instance, what would have been the best way to handle the situation for each particular kid or if there was even anything I could have done to be proactive. I don’t know.

After the game, the kids and I sprinted to the edge of the seating area. I showed them how to hold out their brand new baseball and new pen in the shape of a bat, waving it around to get their attention but not being obnoxious about it. But we were standing next to a mom that was.

The Sacramento Rivercats lost 10-2 and some of the fans were saying that they don’t give out autographs when they lose. I understand that; who would? For us to even be out there to AT LEAST TRY for autographs was still pretty cool. Autographs aren’t required by management. But that mom didn’t get it.

She was full on yelling at the players when they walked by, “Hey! Come and sign some autographs! These kids come out here to support you! Show them some good sportsmanship!”

I wanted to put my hands up to separate my family from her and shout out, “These views do not reflect all moms out here!” but I didn’t. I didn’t say a word. Time and place, I told myself. Time and place.

When she finally left with her boys, a guy standing next to me said, “Geez, what’s her problem?”

I just shook my head.

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After she left, two players came out of the dugout (I don’t blame them for waiting) and signed EVERYONE’S souvenir. I noticed they did it wordlessly but I told the older two (the little one opted not to do the autograph thing) that they had to ASK for an autograph, say PLEASE, and say THANK YOU afterward.

M asked the first player, Wesley Timmons, “Can I have your autograph?” The baseball player laughed and said, “Do you want my name or yours?” M thought about it and then said, “Yours.” The player smiled and said, “Here you go.” M said, “Thank you!”

A asked the second player, Michael Taylor, “Can I have your autograph?” and the conversation went the same way. Actual conversation with the kids. Connecting through love of the game.

Which brings me to my next concern. Entitlement.

I was taught at a very young age by Filipino immigrant parents that if I wanted something, I had to get out and get it. No one was going to do it for me. No one was going to give me special treatment. Don’t expect that. Ever.

It’s a work ethic I expect my husband R and I to instill in our children. Work hard. Don’t expect anything from anyone except for yourself.

That mom went home thinking that her kids DESERVED to get autographs. What is that teaching her kids? Their kids did nothing to EARN autographs except buy a ticket to a baseball game but even that doesn’t ENTITLE you to an autograph.

My kids went home grateful that two baseball players stopped to sign their balls.

Much in the same way I carry the label “MILITARY SPOUSE”. I own it. It’s mine. But I (and thousands of other military spouses) don’t think that the world should fall at my feet because of it.

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The world should fall at my feet because of ME, regardless of my spouse. Mwahahahahahahaha!

Will I ask for a military discount? Of course! Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

Do I EXPECT it? Of course not. How much more cordial would we all be if we just deleted entitlement from our egos? How much easier would it be to deal with disappointment if we treated each other with respect and relied on grace to get us through tough times?

At the very least, we’d probably get more autographs.

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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