11 August 2011

Uh, right....

I can't believe, looking at my last post, that I haven't written in nearly a year. I've wanted to write. But I wasn't sure I had much to say. I wasn't sure anyone would read it. I didn't know for sure if I could even write well anymore. But today, a very wise person said, "If you want to write, write!" and so here I am.

I think that part of the issue is that I was writing aimlessly. I was writing just to write. And that's okay, sometimes. But I feel like right now, I'm at a crossroads. I have spent the last year with my husband away. I've been somewhere in between depressed and just plain tired. I've held it together. I've fed my children and done the work that absolutely had to get done. I've held onto my good friends and I've learned a thing or two. But I don't really feel like I've done any of it very well. I want to do more and be more, but I want to be realistic about it, too.

The truth is, I miss writing. And I want to be organized. And I want the house to be neat enough all the time that if a friend stops by, I don't mind letting her in. I want my kids to have their friends over whenever they want, and I want to have some fun spontaneous outings as a family because we can. I want to get in shape and lose the extra 30 pounds I've picked up along the way. I want to travel more and tell you about it. I want to savor life. I want to get my life together. Not that I have to be perfect....that's not my goal. I just have to be comfortable where I am. That's my goal...to get better, and to be comfortable with where I am.

I was once asked to describe my blog. Am I a "Mommy blogger"? Or a "healthy lifestyle" blogger? What do I blog about? And I don't know how to explain it. So I'll just blog about my life, and my journey. Thanks for joining me.

27 October 2010

Stomach-Aches and Heart-aches

My daughter J. is in her first year of Middle School, a year bound to be filled with new experiences, friends, and fun. And J. is one of those kids who will have her hand in everything: sports, clubs, groups, and associations. She will participate fully in Spirit Days, go to all the dances, and ask to go to school early to hang out with her friends before class. She has already discovered texting (though not to the degree that my high-schooler has) and at times spends way too long talking about nothing on the phone. These pre-teen and teenage years are going to be full of excitement. I'm already looking forward to shopping for Homecoming dresses and watching volleyball games. It will be fun.

But today J. came home early from school complaining of a headache and stomach-ache. She seemed a bit teary and emotional, and I thought she really wasn't feeling well. Then she got home, and asked for Doritos. She wanted to play on the computer. She seemed...well, fine. She spent the afternoon lying on the couch watching TV, but only because I insisted. She missed gymnastics, though I'm pretty sure she could have gone and would have been fine.

Is it possible she had just a touch of something that came and went? Sure, it is. I had something similar earlier this week. She could have just been sick, or had digestive problems, or whatever. But it got me thinking, for sure. It also could have been something else.

I remember those days. I remember not wanting to go to school because of the boy who didn't like me back, or the mean girl who made fun of my clothes, or because of the huge pimple on my chin. I remember feeling nauseous because of the teacher that seemed to hate me or because I think I wore the wrong socks with my outfit. Let's face it: adolescence is hell.

The funny thing is, it's also heaven. Both, all rolled into one.

Laughter, and tears. Fun, and heartbreak. Friendship, and fights. Love, and hate. It's not easy, growing up.

J. will get through it, and I know she's going to be just fine. Stomach-aches, heart-aches, and all.

25 October 2010

What I Am

I used to define myself as a writer. It's what I was most proud of. It's what most made me feel like I had something to offer the world. I was a writer. I didn't actually qualify for the title. I had hundreds of readers on a blog that I posted to almost daily. But I had never been published. I had never been paid for my work. I was just a girl who loved to write and that other people seemed to enjoy reading.

And then some stuff happened in my life. I got a job. My angel boy turned into a teenager. My sister died. Stuff happened. And suddenly, I couldn't write anymore. I'm not saying I just had a bit of writer's block. I'm saying, I could not write. I wanted to. I would sit down with my computer in my lap and put my fingers on the keyboard. I would have my cup of milky sweet Earl Grey next to me as always. I would take a deep breath and start to type. But nothing would happen. I would write a sentence and I would delete it. I would have a thought in my head that I couldn't put words to. I would write a whole post and realize it was crap. I could not write.

Life went on, as it always does. I continued to work. I learned (kinda) how to live with a teenager. It's been almost two years of living without my sister. I made new friends and lost others. I laughed and I cried. I said I was sorry when I made mistakes and I asked for apologies from people who had wronged me. I participated in a nine-month leadership course that helped me to define myself for what I really am. I lived my life, and I was still me, even without writing. Life went on.

Now, my life is changing again. My husband D. is away on a year-long deployment and I'm a pseudo-single mom again. Life is busier, and full of stress, but I'm more determined than ever to take care of myself and to be realistic about who I am. I no longer define myself as a writer, but I do know that I love to write. I love to impact others with the words I can put together. It brings me joy and satisfaction. It makes me feel more like me when I'm writing.

I won't pretend that I don't care what you think. I write for me, but I also write for you. I want you to be impacted. I want you to comment and agree, or disagree, with me. I want to write words that make you think. I want you to tell your friends. But regardless, I will still write. Not because I'm a writer, but because I'm me. And because I know that writing is a small part of what makes me, me.

30 July 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy

It amazes me sometimes how life works. I've been worrying and blogging about this decision: do we or don't we take the kids to the going-away ceremony? Do we or don't we attend all the hullabaloo that surrounds a deployment? Do we or don't we treat this deployment as a much bigger deal than all of D.'s other trips that he takes with the Army?

And then yesterday D. emails me, angry and complaining about the latest thing that the Army conveniently "forgot" to tell him. He's leaving for the deployment early. He has to be there 2 or 3 days earlier than the other guys do. Which means he won't even be there for the going-away ceremony. Our decision? The one I've been sweating and fretting over? Made.

This happens so often that I'm not sure why I still bother to worry. Not exactly this, of course. Our decisions aren't always made for us. But stuff changes. I'll worry about something for days or weeks, and then the situation shifts, and my worries are no longer valid. So why? Why do I do this to myself?

I've come to realize that I'm a perfectionist, actually. But not in the way of most perfectionists. My beds aren't always (actually, ever) made with hospital corners and all the throw pillows just so. My bathroom only ever stays spotless for about 5 minutes in a row and that's if I clean it after all the kids are in bed. When I wrap a present, it doesn't look like it was professionally wrapped. I'm not that kind of perfectionist. I'm the kind of perfectionist who only freaks out about the big things of life. That whole "don't sweat the small stuff" thing? Got it covered. I am not sweating the small stuff. It's the big stuff that can give me a panic attack.

What if we can't pay for our kids' college educations? What about this new car we're thinking of buying? Are we spending too much? Am I too protective of my kids? Do I do too much for them? When do I let go a little of my teenager's decisions? It keeps me up at night, all this big stuff. It's the stuff that I HAVE to do right. It's the big stuff that I need to get perfect. It's the big stuff that I can't let go.

And yet. I'm a good mom. I'm a good wife. I'm doing the best I can do with the situation I have. I'm going to do the wrong thing sometimes. I'm going to make the wrong decisions. I should probably have three funds for each kid: the college fund, the wedding fund, and the counseling fund, because I will mess up my kids in some way. We all do. But I'm doing the best I can.

I'm going to have a lot of "big stuff" to worry about in the next year while D. is deployed. How to balance work and family. How to be three places at once when E. has a basketball game and J. has gymnastics and A. is supposed to be at Tai Kwon Do. Who to call when the furnace is making that funny noise or there's a really big spider on the bathroom wall. Oh, and then there's the whole "husband off at war" thing. Yep, plenty to worry about.

But the email about D.'s early departure has got me thinking I need to put a stop to the worry. The worry's not helping me, by any means. If anything, it's stressing me out and making me grumpier to all those around me. I'm not sure how great I'll be at this, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to stop sweating the big stuff, too. I'm going to put more effort and more energy into balancing work and family. I'm going to worry less and clean more. I'm going to stop staying up at night worrying and instead attempt a good night's sleep. I'll never have perfectly made beds and throw pillows arranged just so. That's not me. But if I don't let the worry suck all my energy away, who knows what I'll be able to do. Maybe someday my bathroom will stay clean for six minutes in a row!

Hey, a girl can dream.

28 July 2010


While it's true that this is not our first deployment, and we've learned a lot about how it all works, it's also true that we have no idea what we're doing. E. is almost 15 and he remembers the most about the last deployment. He was 9 then, and after it was all over he told me that he never wants to go to another "going away" ceremony. But that was a few years ago, and I'm not sure how he'll feel about it now. And if he felt that way then, should we consider keeping J. and A. at home? I'll go of course, but will it be too much sadness and too much "goodbye" for them to handle?

We're so used to D. being gone these days. Back before his first deployment, D. would go away for a weekend here and a weekend there. But now, he's gone for eight weeks in a four-month period. He's gone for a week here and three weeks a couple of weeks later and, oh, don't forget about the month he'll be gone starting a month after that. We're used to him going away. Of course, yes, this is a bigger deal. He will be gone for a year. And while he'll be in a safer place than he was for his first deployment, he's still going off in support of a war. It's still dangerous, not to mention the fact that life is unpredictable and you don't have to be going off to war to be here one day and gone the next.

Yet, while it's a bigger deal this time, I wonder if we shouldn't treat it kind of like we would treat any of D.'s trips away. Maybe the kids will appreciate a calm and straight-forward approach to this deployment instead of all the sad-song, crying and hugging goodbye, bus-driving-away drama that accompanied his last deployment. Maybe less is more.

Or maybe it's not. Maybe the kids will benefit from seeing the other families who are coping in different ways with the deployment. Maybe they will meet some other Army brats that will help them get through it. Maybe seeing the way it all works and seeing the guys in camo and the American flags and the news crews will instill in them a deeper pride in their dad and in the job that he has chosen to do. Maybe more is more, after all.

I just don't know. All I know is that we have some decisions to make.

25 July 2010

Reality Bites

We officially have fewer than 60 days before deployment, and it is suddenly becoming very real. D. has been away most of this month, training, and it is very much an eye-opening trial run for his upcoming year away. It's reminding me of all the struggles that I deal with while he's gone. It reminds me of the frustrating days when I don't hear from him, and the phone calls that get dropped mid-sentence, and most of all, the utter "alone-ness" that I feel when I have to do it all on my own.

It is typical that several things go wrong soon after he leaves. This month it has been the 5 stitches in J.'s foot, the car that desperately needs new brakes, and the deep freezer that was left open so that everything thawed and needs to be tossed. None of it has been terrible, and all fairly manageable, but they are still things that I had to deal with on my own. My worry is that someday it will be a house fire, or a major illness, or a huge repair.

The truth is that this deployment will be, in many ways, much easier than his last. It will be safer, and shorter, and we've been through it before so we know what to expect. I have more support, a job that will at times distract me, and my kids are older and more self-sufficient. (Not to mention the built-in babysitter!) We're used to this military life. I'm much more familiar with how it all works. So in those ways, this will be easier for us.

But in other ways, this one will be rougher. I'm working now, and finding balance at home and work will be harder. I have a teenaged son that is a great kid, but is still a typical teenager and often makes me want to pull my hair out. Our family is generally busier, with three kids in sports and church and school activities. But most of all, and the one that scares me the most, is that this time, I know.

This time, I know that D. and I will have weeks and months that despite both our efforts, we won't really connect. I know that I will get very used to doing things in my own time and in my own way and without really consulting anyone else. I know that he will forget a little bit what it's like to come home every day to a chaotic house where kids are fighting and dinner is cooking and things need to be done before we go to bed and start all over the next day. I know that after a year apart, he will come home and we will feel like long-lost friends that missed each other, but not really like a couple right away. We will have to get used to each other again. We will have to adjust to sleeping in the same bed. I will have to adjust the way I cook. I will have to remember to consult him again before I make plans or decisions. He will have to adjust to working all day and then coming home to a family that needs his attention. We will have to remember how it works.

There's really no way to prepare. We're spending as much time together as possible. We're talking about decisions that will need to be made. We're trying to get the kids to open up about how they're feeling. We're doing what we can. But really, there's no way to prepare.

I love being an Army wife. I love that my kids' daddy is a hero. I love knowing that we're doing our part for our country. But right now, our reality is a little more "real" than we would like.

25 January 2010

I've Never Been Good On a Unicycle

I'm starting to realize that, to my dismay, I'm not so good at the whole balance thing. I'm okay at walking a straight line without falling off. I'm pretty good at staying on a two-wheeled bike. But that's pretty much where it ends.

This has become especially apparent in the last year and a half, since I went back to work part-time after being a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years. I'm either all in at work and I'm right on top of everything, but my house is a disaster and all my kids are out of clean underwear, or my house is spotless and my family is fed but I'm overwhelmed and way behind at work. There was one time that I thought I was balanced but then realized that in truth, I was doing equally badly at both work and home. I wasn't doing anything well, and that's not exactly the kind of balance I'm looking for.

In the past couple of months, I've found that I'm also not great at finding balance with friendships, and this is a hard one for me. For one thing, I get really attached to people. When I become friends with someone, I am in it all the way. I give all of me to that friendship. And it took me a long time to understand that not everyone is like that. It's much easier for other people to be "casual" friends than it is for me. Also, I have been betrayed quite a few times in the past when it comes to people I've considered my "best" friends. A few times, that has been a very blatant betrayal, but most of the time it has consisted of just allowing the friendship to become distant, or consistently cancelling plans last-minute, or just not devoting time or energy. Either way, I have ended up really hurt, and this is something I'm still dealing with.

Two things have come from this realization, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. The first thing is that I find myself being over-sensitive to things. It's almost as though I expect for friends to hurt me, so I caution myself and then watch for it. The second is that I sometimes distance myself. I over-compensate for my tendency to get attached. I stop myself from getting too close. I put up a wall.

I don't want to do either of these things. Both of them are unfair to me and to my friends. Even writing this, I know, for all the world to see, puts me in a bad light. I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself. But it's true, and I'm putting it out there. I don't want to be this way anymore. I don't want to be over-sensitive. I don't want to put up walls. I want to just be who I am and let my friends be who they are. If I can't figure out how to do that, I'll alienate the amazing friends I do have, and I'll end up lonely and bitter.

So I'm trying. I'm working on it. Sometimes, I'm going to fail. But I have confidence that eventually, I'll find the balance I'm looking for. My friends are so incredibly important to me, and I won't risk them. I'm going to learn how to balance my baggage with my hope and faith. Yep, I've got baggage. But "I'm looking for baggage that goes with mine."

20 January 2010

Tall, etc.

My son E. is a Freshman in high school. He's always been incredibly smart, able to understand concepts and facts that boggle even my mind. It has always been easy for him to ace his tests and do well on quizzes and breeze through his homework, though he's often been incredibly lazy and avoided schoolwork at all costs. As a result, we stay on top of him every second.

Yesterday, when I asked him if he had homework he said that yes, he had history homework. I told him to go do it, and he groaned but went to his room. Less than five minutes later, he was back out, telling me that he was finished. I asked to see it.

He had to answer a few questions, and for most of them he did fairly well. And then I came to the question "What are the characteristics of Gothic architecture?" My brilliant, lazy son's answer? "Tall, etc."

Seriously? Tall, etc.? That's his answer?

I made him re-do it of course. I even pointed out some of the (very obvious) answers in his textbook. We talked about the thin walls, flying buttresses, tall spires and ornate construction that is typical of Gothic architecture. I offered to show him pictures from my trip to Europe, where I saw a cathedral that is a very good example of Gothic architecture. But no. He wrote a few things down and called it good, but I continue to be stunned by his level of laziness.



18 January 2010

Looking Forward

We're painting my daughter J.'s bedroom this week. She has had the same yellow walls and hand-painted teapot border since she was two, and now she's nearly eleven. It's time to say goodbye to the teapots and hello to a big-girl room.

Now don't get me wrong. I LOVED the teapots. I was so happy with that room when we finished it. And it's been a great room for her. But the time for teapots is over, and we're now making the transition to a room that will be great for her as a pre-teen and into her teenage years.

When I told my friend C. that we were re-doing J.'s room today, she made sad noises and asked me if I was so sad about leaving those little girl years behind. And truthfully, it was the first time that it occurred to me to be sad. This is a significant time for J.--as significant as when we bought her first bra or as when I started to talk to her about how her body would change in the coming years. This is a beginning of her being older. So why do I approach it head-on, as though the beginning is not also an end to the little blonde with curls and big blue eyes and rosy cheeks? Am I that cold-hearted?

J. was an angelic-looking toddler and a devilish little girl, sweet and tender-hearted and busy and mischievous. She has been so fun to watch as she grows. And there are times, when I look at pictures or video of those years, that I miss that little girl. But also, I look so forward to seeing her as a teenager. She'll be a handful, I know that. But I also know that she'll be the kind of girl that comes in from a date and climbs into bed with me to tell me all about it. She'll leave the house on school mornings dressed in crazy clothes because it's Spirit Week. She'll spend hours in the bathroom doing her hair and trying out deep pore-cleansing masks. She'll lock herself in her room and spend hours on the phone. And it will be, in addition to a complete pain-in-the-butt, heaps of fun.

I'm not rushing it. I'm enjoying every day of her being 10, and will enjoy every minute of her being 11. And 13. And 16. But I also enjoyed each day of her being 2, and 6, and 8. So I'm not sad about saying goodbye to that little-girl room, or those little-girl years. I'm holding onto today, and looking forward to tomorrow.

It may be a bumpy ride, but one of which I'll love every minute.

12 January 2010


I have never used an illegal drug in my life. I don't smoke. I have a beer or a glass of wine here and there, but it's become pretty rare lately. Every once in a great while, I have one mixed drink: my favorite, a vanilla Stoli and Frangelico on the rocks (with a splash of Godiva if I'm feeling really crazy!) on the rocks. And I'll drink a good Sangria whenever I can find one, but that's not often either so it hardly counts. I don't gamble. I rarely swear. My life is, when it comes to vices, pretty vanilla. My one problem has been pop. Or soda, for my friends on the east coast.

For a long time I drank mostly Coca-Cola. Not Pepsi. Not generic cola. It had to be Coke. While D. was in Iraq in 2005, I drank 2 20 oz. bottles of Coke every single day. I was addicted. And then the caffeine started doing things to my stomach and I ended up in the ER late one evening with what I thought could be appendicitis. Turned out my stomach was just rebelling against all that caffeine. (I won't even tell you what my teeth were doing with all that sugar!)

I'd been talking about giving up pop for quite a while. I knew it was bad for me, and the calories! Sheesh! But every time I tried, I would make it a day or so and I would need a hit. It was pathetic. After the ER visit, though, I decided to wean myself from Coke. I replaced it with Sprite, something caffeine-free and a drink I didn't love, thinking it would be easy that way. It worked. Sort of.

I stopped drinking Coke and in fact I tried it once a few weeks ago and couldn't stand it. It tasted like pure syrup to me. I haven't had it in over a year and I can't see myself going back. But I've been drinking just as much Sprite, or occasionally some Mountain Dew, as I had been Coke. So all I did was replace one addiction for another.

Now I know that the Sprite addiction doesn't make much sense. There's not even caffeine in it. It was purely a psychological addiction. If D. was away and I was finally settling down for the night with some me-time, I couldn't wait to pour myself an icy glass of Sprite. If I was stressed at work, I needed some Sprite to help. There was something about the sugar rush and the carbonation that just made me feel better. But again, I knew how bad it was for me. And I don't really want to be ADDICTED to anything.

Just before Christmas last year I got a bad case of strep throat. And I couldn't drink pop at all. The bubbles really hurt my throat. It was 3 days before my throat felt well enough to try it, but I thought...ok, I'm 3 days in without any. This is a start. So I stopped drinking pop. No pop. At all.

As of today, it's been three weeks. And I'm actually doing okay. It hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I've been drinking a lot more water, which is good for me as well. I'm setting a good example for my kids on how to live a healthier lifestyle. And it feels good that pop doesn't have the hold on me that it used to. I'm glad I did it, and I know that this something I can keep doing.

But truthfully, I'm a little resentful. It was my one vice, and I'll miss it. Maybe I should think of a new one....any suggestions? :)