Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Terry's sixth sense

I have a story for you.

When Gabe was five years old Terry dreamed Gabe had a heart problem. The next morning at Gabe's five year check up, the doctor heard a heart murmur. It turned out to be nothing serious, but when I called Terry at work to let him know we had to go in for an echocardiogram he fell dead silent. He asked if I was kidding. I said no and asked him why would I joke about that and what was wrong with him. He told me about his dream and I got really scared. He called Gabe's doctor and wanted to know everything, even telling the pediatrician about his dream (and assured them he was not insane).

Prior to this he had another dream "come true." That's now two specific dreams in a year that had hinted at an experience that would occur next morning.

This morning I woke up to an early call from Terry. He said, "Something bad happened." I immediately sat up and asked him what. He told me what happened, which scared the hell out of me but was glad to hear he was fine, and he said, "I had one of my dreams." I wasn't following. He spelled it out, "I had a dream about [situation in war that had just happened] and it came true. It was so vivid, I knew it was one of my 'dreams.' "

In his dream he had run out to give support in a firefight and forgot his gear (all I'm thinking is - body armor, body armor, body armor.) There were other details in the dream, but the point is that I realized that the dream may have saved him. It made him stop and make sure he had everything before going to do what he needed to do.

I got a little crazy and started to cry. It was a terrible reminder that he's still in danger and people lunatics spend their days thinking about how to kill him and the rest of our troops. But my sense of humor was not wounded, "Please don't ever tell me if you dream about me ok?" I asked.

So, three times is a charm. My husband has a sixth sense. Now if only I could get him to read my mind...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

I never knew these men, but their names and pieces of their lives have crossed my path in one way or another since my husband deployed last year. The point is they became people to me, not just names in a paper or on a casualty list. They had lives, all had children and people they loved and loved them back and they gave it all up.

Today I will remember:

Tom Wren, his wife and children
Tyler Swisher, his wife and children
Robert Hernandez, his fiancee and children

..And all the soldiers and families they represent who paid the price...If you're not a military member, or heck even if you are, stop and think today about these people. Forget any issues you have with Iraq, it's not really about just this war, I mean, these men dedicated their lives to their country. They stood up and offered up the risk of death so the rest of us could go to parades and eat bbq and take an extra day off work. They signed up for whatever would come this country's way of freedom and safety. I think we forget that.

Terry will be home soon and I sat at a table for him at church, to recognize the soldiers home and overseas in honor of Memorial Day. I felt terribly sitting there eating good food, making new friends when I know he is hot, dirty and missing his children. It's grossly inadequate to say thank you, but I do, thank you.
Today Gabe had a baseball game where he struck out every time at bat. There is nothing harder than to watch your child feel discouraged. I felt awful for him! But he handled it well, a true sportsman. Then he and his clone (baseball friend born ten days after him and new BFF) played hours of Xbox until clone friend's mom showed up and we took off to see the Godspeed, a replica of one of the ships the original Jamestown colonists came in on. I gotta say you could have never EVER gotten me on one of those ships. They had like a shoe box to put there stuff in and had to share a square foot of space for months not for a land flowing with milk and honey, I mean at least the Israelites had a promise to look forward to when they crossed the desert, nooooooo, the colonists got to starve, freeze and fight Native Americans. Can you imagine leaving everything you know for a god-forsaken land? (At least to them it was, not to offend and Native Americans) Why did they do it? I wonder sometimes what I would suffer that much for. What would it take for me to give up everything and everyone I loved?
Tomorrow I am off to the O' Club for swimming with my new Army wives (and our brood of children; 5 months, 1, 2, 4, 7, and ten! ) with hubbies away and then we may make the trek into DC for the big concert broadcast on PBS. Monday we'll be back in the city for the parade and some museum trips. I'm excited to show my new English Army wife (she's English, he's American) around the Metro system and pick her brain about England.

A general spoke at my church event and I have to say this before I finish the point of bringing up his attendance. He is a higher up, Pentagon official with a large role in directing the war on terrorism - and goes to my church! Who knew? I naively thought that after I was pointed at as being one of only two women at this dinner whose husbands were deployed, that he would say something to me. Anything.

"How is your husband doing?"
The truth: tired, wants to come home, smelly, and proud to do his part.
What I would have said: "Proud to do his part (smile)."
"How are you?"
The truth: tired, wants husband home, smelly and packing the weight on from eating late night snacks to fill the void that my husband created when he left :)
What I would have said: We're hanging in there! (I really don't believe in blatantly lying to the decision makers in the military, but I can't bring myself to say what I really think either.)

But he didn't.

Anyway, he spoke at my church's event and read these words from a letter that Lincoln wrote to a woman who was believed to have lost five sons in the Civil War. You may recognize it from the movie Saving Private Ryan ( I did) but you may not know that the woman actually lost two sons and others deserted or were honorably discharged or captured by the enemy - and she was a Southern sympathizer. I'll let you draw your own comparisons to a certain modern mother. It's interesting to say the least. Google the "letter to Ms. Bixby" to read more about it. Of course I am probably the last person to know this Wikipedic fact and the next thing I'll learn is that Al Gore actually did invent the Internet.

If I may be so bold as to borrow the words of this letter to express my condolences and appreciation to those soldiers and their families, and who better than Lincoln to attribute it to (though that is also debated):

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to
beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from
tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic
they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the
anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the
loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a
sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Support Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act

Will you take five minutes to cut and paste this letter into Word to support the families who lost their soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan? Go to to locate your local rep. Put in your zip code. It will find your rep and you can click on the name to his/her webpage where you can get their address.

We shouldn't wait to experience this kind of loss, to care enough to do something about it...

Here's the letter, tailor it if you want:

Over the past three years, members of Congress have made statements of support for our troops and their families. Now is the time for action!

Since the start of hostilities in 2003, over 2400 of our servicemen and women have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, this represents over 2400 families that have been left grieving and wondering what the future holds for them.

Many of these families are now living below the poverty level on limited income they are receiving from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veteran’s Administration (VA).

The monthly payment from the Department of Defense is called the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), while the monthly payment from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

For every dollar of DIC the families receives, a dollar of SBP opportunity is stolen from their futures and their children’s futures. The families of our servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve better. These families deserve both DIC and SBP for their sacrifices and losses in support of our government and the American way of life.

I strongly encourage you to support these fallen hero’s families and vote in favor of House Bill 808 (H.R. 808), sign on as a sponsor, and demand that the offset of SBP by DIC be eliminated, when House Bill 808 is reconciled with Senate Bill S.185.
Your Name and Address

Sunday, May 21, 2006

For all my (mommy) girls, etc.

Continuing with my parenting theme...

If you want to feel like you're a good parent or at least normal, go to Dr. Spock's Ask Our Experts page. Once you read scenarios like this you'll feel like Mrs. Cleaver:
  • Seven year old secretly wearing baby brothers diapers
  • Nine year old threatening to kill herself
  • Child bites himself after punishment
Not to make fun of these people's problems, but really, it puts things into perspective when I worry that Gabe plays too many video games. (Actually I just blame his father.)

But it does remind me of how hard parenting is, even if you don't have a child with really, I mean it! Sometimes there is no one to help you with the everyday questions like how to get week old milk out of the carpet, or if taking money from your kid to pay for lunch is stealing.

Ok really, I think about the fact that the only vegetables that I can get my kids to eat are carrots and broccoli and some days they don't get any veggies at all. Gabe does play way too many video games and Asher watches so much TV he thinks he's a Teletubby. Gabe is actually so smart he's been put in gifted classes for next year, and Asher, mom says I was talking in full sentences when I was two. Asher is 2 1/2 and his newest words are: "shake a booty." Not exactly a full sentence. He doesn't know any of his ABC's but he does say, "seven, seven, seven we we practice numbers, that's progress right? RIGHT?

If I were to submit questions to Dr. Spock these would be the ones. But I'm curious what you moms have to say...

  • Discipline - I can't think of any other disciplines besides time outs, regular beatings (I kid), and taking away TV, Xbox, Computer and I don't know that any work...and how do you discipline a two year old anyway???
  • Food - I need some healthy snack ideas. How in the world do I get my kids to eat vegetables!!!
  • Bonding - I take Gabe on a date every month, but I'm worried that when Terry gets home, I'll be so uncool 'cause dad's going to play games and wrestle with him. How do moms and sons stay close?
  • Friends - should kids Gabe's age have co-ed sleepovers? Should they have girlfriends? (I said hell no to that one)
P.S. Random story not related to this entry:
The other day in the McDonald's drive through (Hey! We get chicken nuggets!) I heard the guy in front of me at the cashier's window say, "...wife in the car behind me." I pull up to two women hiding smiles.
"Did that guy just say I am his wife?" I ask while looking to see if he's cute. He's not.
"I don't want to say..." the older cashier says, still smiling.
"Well, maybe you could tell him he's got two kids," I say nodding my head at my boys in the back seat with a wry smile.
"And one in his car too!" the cashier jokes with me as I drive off, laughing.

P.P.S. Oprah's Legends Ball:
Does anyone plan on watching this ego fest? Frankly I'm a little disgusted by the idea of broadcasting to the world how fabulously rich and successful people she and her friends are. If we want to hear about success make, "My American Journey" your next book club selection. And I like Oprah. She's generous, kind and accepting of everyone from two legged dogs to gay NFL players to plastic surgery addicted mothers. But please, please don't deceive yourself, Oprah, into thinking average American's want to watch a "Legends Ball." We already have the Oscars and we can barely choke down our popcorn during that one...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Papa Bear

I saw the coolest thing tonight.

I was leaving the video store where I wander like a sad little puppy on the weekends, pretending to look for a video, but really hoping some young, vibrant woman my age will say, "Hi, wanna be friends?"

As I was leaving with two movies in hand I saw a group of three thuggish looking teenagers, perhaps 16 or 17 years old, clad in black and white (which I assume was some sort of wanna-be gang affiliation, they actually looked way too wealthy to be "real" O.G.s).

They're laughing, listening to their iPods, (Eminem I assume), and suddenly one gets close to this car parked by the sidewalk they're walking on. I can't hear anything because I'm too far away, rubbernecking while I strap Ash to his car seat. The teen is getting all aggressive with whoever is in the car. I squint my eyes and see a young man sitting in the passenger's seat.

Suddenly, this grown man comes out of nowhere, grabs the little thug by the neck and fakes like he's going to bash this kid's head in to this pole. He won't let go of this kid and finally shoves him back. The kid is actually taller than this guy, but this man is obviously the kid in the car's father and he is NOT having it. The other two friends are shocked. One is standing kind of close like he wants to do something but not sure if he should. The third one is standing way back just watching. After several tense minutes of the father staring down these kids, stepping closer and closer to get them to back away, they finally do, spewing obscenities and flipping the bird. The man walks back into the store, but he's watching the whole time.

I say it was cool, because there was something so primal about a man defending his child. It didn't matter if this kid could have handled it himself, he was threatened and the father threw down! I wanted to call out, "Go DAD!" - and then call the police on those kids.

It also taught me that fighting is ugly and rarely worth it. Kill 'em with kindness is my new motto. Ironically I saw this guy in my neighborhood when I got home, who got a little to aggressive with me and whom Terry had to call from Iraq and threaten to stay away from me :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

This is all about a fictional world called Grey's Anatomy

Spoiler Warning

I just watched the finale.

I've been crying for ten minutes.

I never cry about TV. Ever.

For those of you that don't watch, you are missing out on the best fictional show on television. Any show that can make fictional people so real and use life themes, streeeetched a bit, but still poignant...all I could think of is finding that one love that makes your head spin and losing that person. Random rambling thoughts will now follow:

I'm pissed at who they killed off, I don't even want to write it. He is the patient-who-shall-not-be-named. Katherine Heigel (spelling?) is the most amazing actress, I hope her career expands to the big screen, she's amazing. Who would of thought that "My father the Hero" star would get here? Amazing.

I am sick and tired of Derek and Meredith. What they've now done is unforgiveable. If the writers were trying to make us love Addison, they have succeeded. She has now become the victim in this love triangle. I admire her balls to come back to the husband she cheated on and face the music and take all the humiliation in getting him back. If Derek didn't want to be with his wife then his chance was waaaaaaay back when she put those divorce papers in his hand. Meredith is going to break the Vet's heart and his heart has been broken and smashed to smitherings already. How can they do this to him!!!! They are like sick, twisted Voodoo doll controllers when it comes to the Vet and Denny.

George and Callie's love thing scene was completely akward. She could probably take him in a fight and that's just not sexy. Sorry. Although she is really pretty. I love her face and hair and all but the full body shots with them. Yeah. Might wanna rethink those, producers/directors. But as far as their relationship, I'm not feelin' the whole "You rock my world George" and George saying, "You have to love Meredith even though I hate her, if you want to be in the family." Screw Meredith, I'm still pissed at her for what she did to George. Crying during sex and asking him if he's done is just about the most humiliating thing you can do to a person. Ask my husband.


Let's see who else do I need to offer my unsolicited opinion on?

Oh, I la la love "The Nazi." She does angry/strong/funny woman very well. And Burke is right up there with Denzel on the eye candy scale. People really underestimate Karev, I see him getting back together with Izzie now that, well, I can't talk about it I'll start crying again.
And now I'm adding the Grey's Anatomy writer's blog to my sidebar. *bowing before the writers*

Me, manic Monday morning and mentally mending

What I've accomplished by Monday 11am:
  • Get child off to school on time
  • Check mailbox
  • Read overdue bills from dentist and get angry that they don't know how to bill an insurance company, call and leave message
  • Read letter from Bassett Furniture after five phone calls and one letter to get my $800 chair repaired. (Note the typo. They were so quick to fire off this letter after they decided they didn't want to foot the bill to move the chair since it can't be repaired in my home, they didn't even bother to spell check the document):

Our technician was out to your home on Arpril [sic] 13, 2006. His inspection of
your chair found it to be heavily used with spills, etc. The seams of the chair
are pulled out of place causing the fabric to separate. Based on the above
information, we will not be making any repairs to your item.

This is the chair whose seams they won't repair -

Filthy huh?

  • Call JAG
  • Speed to JAG office
  • File paperwork for Attorney General's office.

What I've NOT done:

  • shower
  • use bathroom
  • eat
  • exercise
  • breathe

I think I need to get my priorities straight! And I sure do hope that this is not foreshadowing my week. I have an MRI on Thursday so I hope this is not a week for bad things to happen. I need it to be a goooooood weeeeeeek, with ggggoooooooooood neeewwwws! (Don't worry I'm not seizing or anything, it's probably just stress but the neurologist wants to rule out my fear - MS. it was kind of funny actually, she goes, "Ok, what are you worried about?" I said, "MS." And she was like, "ok, let's do the tests so you can stop worrying about that." I made the mistake of Google-ing my symptoms and multiple sclerosis was what popped up. It was just amazing to me that she not only listened to me, but did exactly what I wanted to do. I was crying when I left her office and she gave me a hug. How many doctors double as counselors? )

In other news, I spent Mother's Day curled up like a baby on the couch, downing Sudafed and blowing my nose. It must have been the flu because there wasn't a spot on my body that didn't ache. My children ran amok, and the house was destroyed, but I managed to get us all fed even better than normally because I was like, "Ok, I'm sick but I can't let my kids starve" so each meal hour on the dot I would peel myself off the couch and make something edible. By the evening I was feeling much better and my mom and sister called to say Happy Mother's Day, which made me cry because I miss them and my mom was crying cause she wished she could be here to help me and we had to turn off the waterworks or we would both be depressed :)

Feeling better I cleaned my entire house. I even did all the laundry! I had an urge to get it done before Monday, which, haha, turned out to be a good thing. I also had an obsessive compulsive urge to do all the laundry so I could finally solve the mystery of the ten unmatched socks on my kids' dresser. I know. I need help. :)

I forgot Survivor was on last night, but thank goodness I Tivo'd it a long time ago so don't tell me who won, I need to watch it. I was FREAKING OUT watching Grey's Anatomy. Anyone watch that show? Izzy? Denny? the heart transplant? the shooting? Oh dear lord can I grow up and write for that show!??!! No one better call me tonight unless it's the rapture 'cause I'll be chained to Grey's to watch the second half of the finale.

So I'm really happy that the illness was short lived and I'm just hoping I didn't pass it to the boys. Crossing fingers for a good week!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

She said "Some days I feel like sh**,
Some days I wanna quit, and just be normal for a bit,"
I don't understand why you have to always be gone,
I get along but the trips always feel so long,
And, I find myself tryna stay by the phone,
'Cause your voice always helps me when I feel so alone,
But I feel like an idiot, workin' my day around the call,
But when I pick up I don't have much to say,
So, I want you to know it's a little f****d up,
That I'm stuck here waitin', at times debatin',
Tellin' you that I've had it with you and your career,
Me and the rest of the family here singing "Where'd you go?"

I got this new song thanks to Julie Anna. (You can hear it on her blog) Perfect timing too, 'cause it says exactly what I feel right now.

I'm angry because I'm tired. I have been surprised at the energy it takes to get through the day. The toughest part lately has been bed times. I spend at least an hour putting Asher back in bed. (I hear thumping and jumping as I write this) He shares a room with Gabe and now that he sleeps on a real bed it's easy for him to creep down the stairs and sit there until he is discovered. Tonight he was discovered when I sneezed and a little voice from the stairwell said, "bess you mommy!" It'd be cute if it wasn't that night time is MY time if you know what I mean.

Yet, every night I take the time to recognize that we are one day closer to this ending.

Friday is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. As a Reservist the biggest sacrifices were time he spent away on drills, inhaling the musty BDU smell hovering in the center of the living room where his gear was dropped, and sex. But every woman has to give in once in a while, right ;) Now that we're active and deployed...this day means something new entirely. Mil spouses are appreciated not only for the sacrifices made, but the power we hold as motivators or distractors. I've been both during this deployment.

If JJ Abrams or M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong had my kind of thinking time they'd be cranking out ten plot twisting, hair-raising screenplays a year. Naturally that kind of time drags the waters of the mind for emotional baggage. And then you have to sift through the wreckage to determine what issues are legitimate and what can be drowned by a gallon of ice cream. I haven't eaten much ice cream lately.

So, here I am feeling like a bad person for not being able to sustain happy joy joy conversations anymore and letting my frustrations fly over the sat phones. I'm sorry for that.

A reporter interviewed us about what military families are like today. Did I already mention this? Well, after the interview I was compelled to email the reporter later. I said, the truth is that most of the wives I know have struggled with depression and we don't like to talk about it.
Several take antidepressants. I've opted for counseling and excercise, but I have the list of licensed prescription writers on hand in case I can't shake it. Now, I think that is a very personal decision, but I feel such a stigma when I even consider it. (I feel like I'm outing us as I write this actually.) We want to be the strong Army wife that becomes Superwoman when the man (or woman) goes off to war because we know that whatever we're going through, they are feeling ten times the stress and half the resources to get through it. So we feel guilty reaching for that help and admitting that we can't get it together.

So, to not end on a bad note, thank you to all the military spouses on the right side of my blog for making me laugh or cry, helping me to know that I'm not alone, and how proud I am to be part of our special sorority. Some I know have made the ultimate sacrifice and nothing anyone can do can make it better, but I appreciate you also, you know who you are. You've displayed to me a new meaning of grace and strength that I am constantly humbled by.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Send Terry a message

This post will stay at the top for a while, check below for new stuff, if you're interested...

At the risk of showing that my husband is human and not an invincible warrior I'm asking that you all send him a positive message in the comments area. He's getting close to the end, but war has taken it's toll so tell him IT'S ALMOST OVER AND YOU'RE GONNA MAKE IT!!!

Terry, look beyond this, you'll come home and it will all be a bad dream. We love you and can't wait to see you.

Monique, Gabe, Ash.

My day

Mondays are always my chance to start fresh. If my Monday is good, usually the week is manageable.

Last Monday I planned to begin my training for a race I signed up for. I only had two miles to run. The night before I laid out my sports bra, shorts, tshirt. I woke up on time and had Asher strapped in the baby jogger. Just as we stepped off our porch I heard running water. I turned my head to see my neighbor's window open and water pouring into the basement. I figured a pipe had burst since they had just moved out the place was completely empty. I ran Gabe to the bus stop and ran back to try and stop the water. The front door was locked so I ran around the back and found the basement unlocked. I charged in and what I saw took my breath away. The carpet was soaked, water streaked the walls, and I could hear it coming in from upstairs. I took the stairs two at a time and when I reached the kitchen I saw the faucet spun around to face the carpet and water pouring out. I turned it off and realized someone had done this on purpose. I ran back to my house surveying the damage all the way and called my old neighbor to let her know what I found.
"You might want to call your realtor and let them know"
"Call the police," she said, and gave me the non emergency number.
The police came, the contractor who was fixing up the house came, the realtor came, the neighbor came, my NEW neighbor came out of her house. It was crazy. Turns out there was water turned on all over the house, running all night long. I saw one kid sneak in the backyard the night before, a little brat who runs around the neighborhood throwing his used wrappers and Slurpee cups on the ground.

Turns out he and three other little hoodlums vandalized the house the night before. I spent all day talking to the police, doing my own detective work ;) and basically stood in awe at the damage that was done. My entire week was a mess because of that one day!

Today, after a short two hour delay I finally got on my treadmill and pounded out two miles. Then, I actually ate lunch (a rare event in my schedule) and met Gabe at the bus on time AND got Asher down to nap in time. Then, I completed one lesson and one assignment from my Dreamweaver class, something I was dreadfully behind in. And to round out the day, I actually made a delish fennel, thyme and red onion salmon dish, which Gabe found disgusting and Asher wolfed down. Kids in bed by 7:30. Doesn't get any better than that for me these days. Here's hoping it's a sign of a good week.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Deployment anniversary

Exactly one year ago Terry reported for his deployment. And I started this blog. I wish I could think of something beautiful to write, but 365 days of single parenting, worrying and counting days has kind of taken it out of me :)

I will say that it's strange to find that I made my life "normal" through it all.Today is a good example. It didn't even dawn on me that today was the one year mark until we were on the way home from the baseball game.

Today was Little League day at the Major Leagues. Gabe had a blast! We got to walk the perimeter of the field and have our LL division announced before the game and then he ran the bases (with about 10,000 other rugrats) after the game. We had only two other team mates show up but it was so much fun anyway. I got to speak with another human being who was not under the age of ten, which is always good, and thanks to my neighbor I didn't have to chase Asher all over the stadium, which was even better! I was bummed to miss SIX of Terry's calls though. With all the noise in the stadium I didn't even hear the cell jingle. :( I hope he reads this and knows that I'm not dead or anything!

On the big league grass

What's baseball without cotton candy?

running the bases

Random thought: Did you know that baseball games draw an incredibly diverse crowd? I saw a woman in very chic jeans, a cute, white top perfectly draped in a black pashmina, all perched on a pair of trendy wedges. And then I saw a man with a beer belly in cut off jeans and a wife beater. Now if that isn't a PR ad for affirmative action (and Extreme Makeover) I don't know what is.

Super Asher

And tonight feels particularly strange because my "wife" is going to see her husband on leave in Germany and she is not here for our Sunday night DH, Grey's line up :(

Got a busy week coming it may be a while before I write again. But it's awesome to know that we're almost done with this incredible journey.