My jones to shop has never been titled an "addiction" in my mind. In fact, for all my cynical nature, this is ONE thing I've given a euphemistic name to...retail therapy. Trust me, I've done traditional therapy a couple times...$100 an hour to hear someone repeat back to me what I've JUST SAID isn't very fruitful. Spending $100 in a day at the mall seems a much better use of my funds.I'm not sure if it were the restrictions on my time, my guilt over some super tight financial months, or just a general inability to allow myself any fun that kept me from the mall this long. I honestly have not stepped foot in the mall since my husband has been gone. How did I survive? I'm not really sure, but I think Target supplied me with enough retail activity to keep me from going through withdrawal. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I'd be over this need to shop, but now I realize, it's not a choice for me...I was in recovery, but today I went off the wagon and it felt damn good.I dropped a wad of cash at Victoria's Secret and followed it up with a smaller bundle at NY and Co. Then, off for organizational supplies at Linens & Things and a fancy coffee before dragging myself through JCPenney to reach the parking lot. What?! Sunglasses on sale at JCP? Well, with my new eyes I need a pair of those so one MORE bag to haul to the car.I don't plan on going hog wild all the time now. I can certainly "hold" my shopping. :o) I can quit anytime I want. Really. I can.
Hotmail has been awful the past couple weeks! Thus, friends have been commenting on my blog and it's hit or miss whether or not Hotmail will let me e-mail them to reply. It's occurred to me given the comments I've been receiving that I haven't kept my readers (all half dozen of you!) properly informed on my law school decision process.Let me update the handful of you who will undoubtedly be refreshing your screen every couple seconds until I reveal the WHOLE story. . . Did I mention I'm also delusional lately?I received my official acceptance letter the Saturday following the notification e-mail that I wrote about already. In that letter, the school said I'd been identified as a Presidential Scholar. In reading the next sentence, my mouth flew open, my eyes bugged out and I believe I uttered some sort of incredulous sentence (ask my Mom as she was sitting right there)...they offered me a 14-thousand dollar scholarship! Now, before you go all out in your cheering of this obviously cool thing, let me tell you, that's not even a 1/2 ride at this law school, but it's close. Granted, I could pay for tuition AND books with this scholarship at some other law schools, but I'm kind of liking the whole set up at this law school.So, I've come to the following conclusion: I'm going to law school.I'm not sure yet when I will start as there is now a summer option for '06 and that seems attractive, especially if I am to continue in my current job. I could do my entire first semester of law school during the summer when I am not under contract in my full-time position. We'll see.But, I've sort of decided this is my shot. All along, I kept saying, "God's will." When I made the decision, when I took the LSAT, when I applied, even while waiting on acceptance. And, although I know God is all about lessons, I don't want him to feel the need to hit me over the head with a hammer. I'm pretty comfortable in thinking the big guy is on board with this...I think back to 4th grade. "Junior" church. You know, the "church" that was led by a married couple in the basement of church while the adult service went on upstairs. Dan and Linda Roebuck posed the question--"What would you like to be when you grow up?" I gave it alot of thought; I'm more than a little obsessive. I think I thought they'd be writing it down and notifying someone about my decision and then I'd have to stick to it. I replied, "A lawyer...or a teacher." They said they thought I would be great at either one. And, at that time, I thought Dan Roebuck was one of the nicest and most handsome men I knew and his wife was one of the nicest and most beautiful women I knew so I was POSITIVE they knew what they were talking about!Who knew back then I might be both?
Ask anyone who knows me and you will quickly find out--I'm an old soul. Always the goody-goody, worrier, Mother Hen to all my friends, even when I should have been drinking, carousing and cursing...okay, sometimes while I actually WAS doing those three things, but still, I was never your typical teenager or twenty-something.I'm thirty-something now and desperately searching for my body parts. I know the ones I'm carrying around right now simply cannot be mine. I moved into a new office this week. I took the very cavalier approach to putting my huge hanging file folder cabinet on the appropriate wall--I shoved it over there myself.This was yesterday.Today, I ache everywhere as if Gunnar Peterson himself came to my home and worked me over on that ball for a solid 8 hours. My arms ache, my thighs ache and even my BUTT aches! Therefore, I am thinking of placing an ad for my long lost body parts. I'm not necessarily a candidate for Extreme Makeover or anything, but if I could get some muscles that aren't past their expiration date and maybe a flatter tummy, I'll take it!I suppose I'm just finding it hard to believe that a person who routinely wanders throughout her day with close to twenty-five extra pounds hanging from her (I'm talking about my daughter, NOT the extra weight I need to lose!) while carrying various and sundry stuffed animals, canvas bags and electronic devices isn't able to move a heavy piece of office furniture without suffering negative consequences.I suppose I should warn my husband not to be expecting any craziness from me because my body simply isn't cut out for that kind of activity anymore? I think I'll wait until he's officially back in the country--otherwise, he might decide not to come home!
I have been given a date and a time that I should report to a location and pick up my husband to bring him HOME. I am not going to disclose any of those three pieces of information here given all the security that goes in to a de-mobilization, but sufficed to say, it is SOON. And, even though I have so much to do between now and then, I'm ecstatic.I look around me at all these days that have fallen from the calendar since he left...the weeks and weeks of ill daughters, daily e-mail transmissions and handwritten letters, thousands of tasks I have faced alone and all those minutes when I haven't actually been alone...ever.I appreciate so much the people who came through for me time and again. My mom pops into my mind immediately as does my sister-in-law, Heather. Those two became an extra set of arms more times than I can count and were a lifeline when I was hanging by a thin thread. These two have the closest picture of what it was to be me the past year. My mother has said she has a whole new perspective on what my life has been like and Heather has sworn to never become involved with a military man. There were plenty of people who pushed a pause button when my husband left. And now, with his homecoming pending, they have released the pause button so that they can start calling and asking about his return. How convenient for them. Sometimes I feel like saying, "Welcome back to reality where I've been slaving away for nearly a year. I've become used to not hearing your voice so let's keep it that way, shall we?" Bitter? Maybe. Undeserved? It depends whom you ask.The wonderful part of all this is that my husband requested from me the EXACT homecoming I envisioned. After the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, we are coming home...alone. My husband, my girls and ME. Just like my daughter said tonight, "Just our family in a little ball." That is absolutely what we deserve, need and want. Imagine that. After nearly a year of being on the losing end of those three important things--deserving, needing, wanting--we'll all be on the good side of it, together, very soon.
We're a couple weeks from the end of our first deployment. Looking back, there are so many things that have been done, said, and, I'm sure, thought that have given me pause. I find myself wondering why some people assume they know so much about me, my family and my husband because as they open their mouths to wax eloquent, they demonstrate their arrogance, ignorance and truly their stupidity in such spectacular fashion, it's almost better than fireworks on the 4th of July.I've developed quite a gallery of possible responses, depending on the situation. Sometimes I smile and bite my tongue. Other times, I tell them where to go and in case they don't think I'm serious, I tell them exactly where to get off...um, haven't heard from me in a few months??--Congrats! You elicited THIS response! And yet others I save up in a pile until I have enough to blog about and then, I start typing.Quite a few people have asked why my husband would put us in this position in the first place. By enlisting and re-upping in 2002 rather than running for the hills, he knew what would happen. And, why, would a relatively intelligent (remember, arrogant people) person such as myself marry someone I knew could easily be sent away from our family for an extended time?I'm not sure why this is a big question. Maybe it's because we don't have even a single flag flying outside our house? Maybe it's because our wardrobe isn't comprised of much red, white or even blue? Maybe it's because we think people in the militia movement have more of a relationship to the tree huggers who burn down corporate headquarters (um, they will have to rebuild these, thus killing more of your woody relatives, dumbasses) than they do to the actual, card-carrying military...not sure. People who ask this question are either just trying to get on my nerves or they honestly don't know my husband. My husband is dedicated, devoted and hard working. He enjoys the personal challenge afforded to him by his service as well as the perks. But the extra income (which we don't need) and death benefits (because we don't receive any active duty benefits unless he's active duty) aren't enough to make him serve the way he does. It's pride in his work and a desire to see his country represented well in the world that sends him out month after month. When his status is active, he is as focused on his mission as any other professional would be. He doesn't waver, look back or second guess himself...he doesn't have that luxury. And, why bother really? There is an entire country that's a little under half full of bed wetters and hand wringers to do that for him...several of them work in my former profession--the media. Lovely group. Glad to have left them behind and now work on training them to think and actually do their jobs. Of course, I'm ready to join the upper eschelon of liberalism--LAWYERS...but that's another post entirely.Then, there is the contingent of people who have wondered how it is that I've become so "pro-war" over the past few years and how having my husband away from our kids serves any good purpose. Again, this idea of "pro-war" is laughable. No one I know, including myself, would want people to be in harm's way. However, by not putting boots on the ground, the administration would, in effect, be leaving our citizenry in general in harm's way. Now for me, I think I have a better chance than some folks given we have firearms and know how to use them. My husband has combat lifesaving under his belt, can start a fire like McGyver, and can catch and fry dinner like someone on the Outdoor Life Network. I think of those whose lives come to a screeching halt when their cable modem is on the fritz and have no clue how they couldn't see the benefit of keeping the security risks in someone else's backyard.As far as our children go, they will be fine. Their dad keeps in touch with them and they understand that he misses them and doesn't want to be away from them. His choice to be in the military was not ultimately responsible for him being gone, especially given the fact that he's in the National Guard and is not routinely on active duty. And, our family believes in what he is doing and we support him wholeheartedly. My oldest daughter knows that her daddy is helping the children where he is, by listening to them, helping them be safe, providing them with needed supplies, and offering a sense of security that they desire after the recent war their homeland faced. We have every reason to be proud of him and that mitigates our disappointment at not having him here. It isn't as if he made bad decisions that would take him away from his family or he's doing something of which we should be ashamed. He's not a criminal serving time, he's simply a soldier on active duty.
My husband trains very hard, but some things I'd like to think I had a hand in helping him learn. Now that he's reached a certain rank, he has younger soldiers beneath him. It used to irk me that these young men were so coddled by the officers, even at the expense of my ability to hear from my husband on a regular basis. My husband makes sure this group of young men, known around this house as "My Guys", contacts their families, eats and even gets to bed before he does. He worked for at least a month solid, without giving himself the allotted days off, to be sure My Guys were ready to be in sector alone. They told him they were ready long before he sent them without him; he had to be satisfied himself.
I used to think that perhaps it was because my husband is a bit of a control freak, but then I realized what it's all about. My husband isn't just a married soldier anymore...he's a soldier who happens to be a father. He cares about My Guys like they are his own. The reason? Because he has looked in the eyes of My Guys' mothers, shook their hands and assured them that he will take good care of their sons and return them in their original condition after the deployment. He takes it seriously.
Granted, this also means that my husband has more than likely had older brother/frat boy type conversations with My Guys, but he's also the same man who sent photos of one of My Guys' new babies to me as soon as he received it with all the pride of a proud relative.
My husband doesn't take days off and when he's in the zone of impending active duty, whether it be his weekend or this deployment, he's sometimes aloof. I have to remember that he has alot of responsibility. I have to be the adult partner he's counting on me to be and take over parenting our girls because he has My Guys to worry about and that's alot of responsibility in itself.
Sometimes my husband might not be actively parenting our girls, but he's always a great father...just ask My Guys.
Wow! Valentine's Day is over already? Where is the month going?!
I received a very lovely homemade Valentine's Day card from my oldest daughter--doilies and everything...so precious. I will cherish that forever.
My youngest daughter has lovingly sneezed, blown snot, and coughed on me for the better part of two weeks. I'm sure she won't mind if I try to get rid of her germs asap. I'm sure the idea to share her germs sparked after the generosity of her classmates inspired her, but M2 has a lot to learn about gift giving!
My doctor also gave me a Valentine's Day gift--a prescription for Zithromax. It's playing hell with my stomach today, but it's going to put that sinus infection that M2 gave me out of its misery...hopefully in time for me to clean my house & move my office this week.
My husband sent me a nice card that arrived last week & called me while I was in the waiting room. We couldn't talk long...I was on the edge of my seat wondering what the doctor had dreamed up for me.
I'm sure there were questions and champagne corks popped all over the place yesterday. How romantic! For me, yesterday marked what will hopefully be the last holiday I have to spend alone for awhile. It also was a very illuminating experience for me on several levels. I'm sure you have had experiences like that, right? You think you know something, you lay it out there and then you find out you were absolutely right? Sometimes it's an empowering feeling...other times it's just a sickening one.
Maybe I should stop blaming the Zithromax for my upset stomach and just go to bed now?
M2's love of reading is now official. She is even starting to say the last words of sentences in books with rhyming text before I can. It's amazing.She has a book that concentrates on colors. Each time you turn the page there is a new color and photos of items that are of that hue.On the "green" page there are photos of peas, pears, and a frog.M2 likes the frog. She likes to shout the word FROG at the top of her lungs. She likes to say it over and over, even when she doesn't have her book in her hand.Unfortunately, M2's physical development does not include the ability to blend the "fr" sound or to make a hard "g" sound at the end of her words. Her hard g's sound like "K".So, let me lay it out for you...M2's "frog" sounds more like "Fawk". Say that a few times...loudly and fast. Okay...you see what I'm saying now, right?
The radio station I listen to in the morning has a "Wake-Up Song" at 6:30 a.m. They choose an upbeat or otherwise invigorating tune and play it at this ungodly hour hoping to energize those of us just rolling out of bed at that time each day. This morning, it was a Huey Lewis and the News' song that proclaims, "All I Want is a Couple Days Off!" I began to consider adopting this mantra as my new theme song.You might not have ever contemplated what your theme song is, but you have one. You may have a few, depending on the situation in which you find yourself. Music is something that marks moments in people's lives and can transport you back in time better than even a familiar smell can. After all, is it the smell of apple pie taking you back to grandma's kitchen or the sound of the first few bars of the song you associate with the time a good friend passed away that fills you with more emotion? For most people, it is the music that carries the most feeling.We have songs for good times and sad times, to excite us, motivate us, relax us...music is a powerful medium.My ex-husband and I are eternally grateful to the musical stylings of Paul Simon. Our daughter loved the entire Negotiations and Love Songs album, but had a particular soft spot for "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard." I'm surprised the CD isn't worn in that particular area as many times as we played that tune. She could be in the midst of a screaming, red-faced tantrum and when one note of that song hit her eardrum, she was instantly quiet. IMMEDIATELY and instantly quiet...when we discovered this phenomenon, it was like manna from heaven.Bill and I often blame our failed marriage on the fact that we didn't have "a song." In anecdotal evidence we have collected since our divorce, many of our divorced counterparts also didn't have "a song." We ended up selecting Van Morrison's "Moondance" for our song as it talks about love in October and we married during that month. Apparently, it wasn't enough and therefore, we were just doomed. Seriously. If you're contemplating marriage and you don't have a song...you need to get one before proceeding.Once our marriage did end, I had an entire CD full of songs that I played when I needed a boost. Just songs that let me sing, cry, laugh, dance, and be ME again...I played it while I showered, cleaned the house, drove in the car, you name it. And, when friends around me experienced similar struggles, I suggested they make a compilation CD for themselves.There have been songs during this deployment that can bring me to tears just thinking about them. Toby Keith's "American Soldier", She Daisy's "Come Home Soon" and John Michael Montgomery's "Letters from Home" cause a big snot fest any time they play. In fact, I usually will change stations because I can't see to drive with all the tears! There are other, less obviously tear-jerking songs as well, but toss in some patriotism, a line about the troops, or anything about missing home and I'm there with the Kleenex.I saw an interview where a member of the rage-rap group, Insane Clown Posse, expounded on his knowledge of music by saying that his type of music was personal to his fans because not everyone knows about it. Once music hits the radio it is no longer "your song", it's "everybody's song." This, of course, preceded his group being signed by a major record label and appearing as those creatively marketed images fashioned by MTV. However, I think the ICP dude is missing the point (as well as a few baths and the fact that face paint went out with Gene Simmons). Music conjures memories that solely belong to the individual. Even if you have a song that marks graduation in the minds of you and your friends, or your wedding, or the birth of your child...the memories that wash over you as you listen are uniquely yours. No two people hold exactly the same memories of any event. Don't believe me? Talk to my sister and me about our upbringing and you'll swear we were raised in separate households!So...let's think...what's YOUR theme song? What song more than any other captures you or an important time in your life? You know they are out there--you can post them in comments if you'd like. For me, Huey Lewis was as poignant as it comes this morning because I, too, only want 'a couple days off.' I'd settle for ONE day off. Somewhere overseas, my husband is having his day off...watching movies with his roommate and trying to decide if he wants to walk all that way to eat dinner or if he'll just order a pizza. I, on the other hand, am gearing up to go teach one of two classes in my day then jet over to pick up the girls as we have our THIRD doctor's appointment of the week as M2 is still sick. Oh, and did I mention I'm supposed to have been moved in to my new office by, oh WEDNESDAY, and it's FRIDAY now?! Yeah, I'm right on top of things!But, I keep telling myself, I only have two hands and twenty-four hours, so sue me...hey...there is a song in there somewhere!!
It's official. The replacement units have arrived at my husband's duty station. It won't be long and they will be trained and my husband and his buddies will be boarding a plane to head back to their MOB station. Then, after four or five days of intensive debriefings, equipment maintenance, and other BS, they will be allowed to come home. A friend of mine posted a thread on a discussion board I'm on ( I can call her a friend because we have actually met IRL ) where she wrote, tongue in cheek of course, about all the things she would miss once her husband returns. He happens to be deployed to the same area as mine so our timetable is basically the same.I posted my own list of the things I would miss, sarcastic tone intact, but it made me start thinking...is there anything I will miss when he returns home?I realized that it is entirely possible that even though I have felt completely and totally put upon most of the time for the past 10 months, it isn't out of the realm that I could actually perceive this as having been "in charge" once it's over. If things get done, I do them. If they don't, I don't have anyone to answer to except myself. Yes, I'm a pretty harsh critic, but I've started cutting myself some slack.My girls trust me completely. I am it for them right now. They love and miss their dad, but when it comes to eating, being safe, getting to school and back, bath time, tucking in and plain old FUN, Mom is who you go to right now. I'm in charge...I am the boss of them and the boss of me. That's supposedly cool, right?I also really love to scrapbook. Although I haven't had time to do it this entire deployment, I have been MUCH better about taking photos and video to document this portion of our family's life since a major member of our family is far away. I have TONS of photos ready to be ordered, cropped and put in to layouts for each of the girls' albums. Maybe if I ever have free time, I can get started on that.I haven't had to seriously cook in a long time. M1 likes to eat what I eat so I usually just make a little more. We've discussed M2's limited taste at length so feeding her is a no-brainer. When Hubs goes back to work (because while he is on leave, I expect him to be cooking) I will be back in the grind of cooking every night.I also can see that I've grown as a person during this deployment. It will be difficult to watch these men come home to a grateful nation and watch the wives stand around knowing that NO ONE there understands except the other wives and therefore, no one can truly appreciate their sacrifices. But, now more than ever, I appreciate me. I am impressed by me. And, I'm not sweating the small stuff like I used to. I chose some battles, fought them and walked away. I've severed ties that were toxic and draining because I simply didn't have the time to engage in them anymore--how long would I have been mired in those swamps if this deployment had not jump started my determination?Truthfully, I'm not an optimistic person. It's hard for me to find the silver lining in these clouds because it just isn't the life I envisioned for myself or my daughters.But, I will say that regardless of the breakdowns in resolve I've had over the past 10 months, I am really proud of the way I have handled myself during this time. I didn't have a choice in the matter, but I feel that overall, I handled this household and all the responsibilities with dignity and even a modicum of grace. And, I'm nearing the point where I don't give a rat's behind what anyone else says about it, because NO ONE except my daughters and I were here. THEY know what it was like. WE are the true survivors of this deployment. I did it without a paycheck, days off, regular sleep, and certainly without a laundry service, time to work out and four prepared meals in a day. And, unfortunately, I faced these challenges without the benefit of live ammunition! Boy, would THAT have come in handy! My husband did his duty to his country. In his absence, I did my duty and filled in for him by doing his as well.There won't be parades in my honor. No twenty-one gun salutes. No proclamations from the governor. In the midst of all this, I resented those facts. Now that I'm nearing the end, though, I realize it doesn't matter. I didn't have to miss nearly a year of my children's lives. And, I knew the moment I looked into my newborn's eyes that THIS was the reason I was placed on this planet. I understood for the first time why I was actually here. This deployment didn't derail my purpose, it solidified it.
I thought I should at least put into some permanent form that I was accepted into law school today. You would think that news like that would be reason to pop a cork or two, go out to dinner, or even do a little happy dance. I didn't do anything like that. My husband doesn't even know yet because he obviously didn't check his e-mail today.It's a little disheartening, really. The whole journey to this point has been long and winding. From the conception of the idea to actually submitting the application, I've done a great deal of thinking and work. I actually took one of the hardest admissions test, the LSAT, and did well enough to put myself in my school's top quartile with little to no prep. Can you imagine how phenomenally I could have done if my life were any different and I'd had the chance to actually prepare? Amazing. And, thank God for my reasonably uneventful undergraduate lifestyle because that's the GPA they are interested in most. Nothing like a number from ten years ago determining your fate.The other side of this is that I'm not even sure I'll be able to go now thanks to a bunch of political BS going on in my department now. I'll save you the gory details as I could write an encyclopedia set worth of information and still not cover it all. But, sufficed to say, the situation that seemed a slam dunk in the fall now appears to be not so certain.Aside from the two lines showing up on a plastic stick twice in my life, this has to be one of the most exciting accomplishments I've had. But, it doesn't feel that way...not yet.