Sunday, March 20, 2011


A few weeks ago, I was talking to the oldest of my two brothers, both of whom have become my best friends and biggest cheerleaders as we have gotten older.  He had to go out of town, about 5 hours away from home, for a few days for business, and his two children were sad. This was within days of my husband deploying to Afghanistan for an unknown amount of time, but it would be anywhere from 7-14 months. He said that he told my niece and nephew that his going out of town for a few days was nothing compared to what my children and I were going through.  “It’s all about perspective,” my brother and I said at the same time.
 Then I started thinking. Who was I to be discouraged? Yes, my husband was in a combat zone for an undetermined amount of time. Yes, it sucked, plain and simple. But, on the other hand, I am so truly blessed. I am married to someone whom I love with all of my heart, and he, despite all the goofy, ridiculous predicaments I get myself into, loves me wholeheartedly, without question or judgment. Sometimes my kiddos get a little crazy, and the thought of raising them by myself for this period of time sometimes scares the Dickens out of me, but they are  absolutely wonderful,  very healthy, incredibly  smart,  stunningly beautiful children.  I love them with every fiber of my being. We have a nice, warm home, plenty of food. I truly have so, so much to be thankful for. Yes, my husband is gone, but think of the wife who has just answered the front door to see a Marine in full dress uniform with a sorrowful look on his face, telling her he is sorry, but her husband will not be returning home. Think of the wife or mother or child who has had a crisply folded flag placed in their hands “on behalf of a grateful nation.” Think of the parent who was just been delivered the news that they have an inoperable tumor, or worse, their child does. Think of the mother who looks in her bare cupboards as her babies cry out in hunger.  No, I don’t have anything to feel sorry about, and my heart and prayers go out to all those who do.  It’s really all about perspective.
Military wives joke about “Murphy’s Law of Deployments.” This law states that anything and everything that can go wrong will go wrong, multiple times, while their husband is deployed.  I am obviously not exempt from this law, as you can see from my past few days.  After yesterday’s endeavor with the playhouse, however,  I thought I was entitled to a "buy" today. I had a wonderful day planned. My daughter’s little friend was getting baptized this morning, and his family had invited us to lunch at their farm afterward.  The baptism was amazing, even more so because the little boy’s father was able to baptize his son. He was so touched that he got to participate in this monumental step of faith in his little boy’s life that he got a little choked up. They are great friends of ours, and I sat there sobbing. Sobbing because I was so happy that he got to do this for his son,  and sobbing as  I hoped and prayed my husband would make it back safely to participate in our children’s baptisms.
We had a fabulous lunch at their farm, and the adults took turns taking the kids on rides on the golf cart.  My 2 year old son LOVES their golf cart. We could not get him off of it.  He was sitting on the back of it, playing with a little truck, when it all went downhill.   There was a large Black Lab running and playing with the kids.  My friend’s mother-in-law was dog-sitting 2 Jack Russells, and one of them ran by.  The Lab growled, I turned my head, and when I turned back my baby boy was falling face first off the seat of the golf cart onto the pavement. I have no idea how he fell, but I dropped everything in my hands and ran to make sure he was ok.  Praise God, he did not hit his head or have any scratches or bumps or bruises on his face and head.  He was still crying, and it was well past nap time, so we headed home.
 I took his little jacket off and began rocking him to sleep. As I caressed his little baby arm, he started to scream. Then I realized it was much larger than his other arm. I quickly flipped the light on to see that his little left elbow was swollen to nearly 3 times the size of his right elbow.   I immediately packed a bag of toys and snacks for him and my daughter and headed to the nearest urgent care facility. When we got there, they told us it would be at least 4 hours, and we might be better off going to the ER.  When we got there, the parking lot was full. But, he had to be seen, so we went in and got registered.  While we were waiting, I noticed a small group of teenagers waiting. They were allowed to go back, one by one, to see someone in the ER. The longer we waited, the more teenagers showed up. 
Soon, my son fell asleep in his stroller.  A few minutes later we were called back.  The nurse practitioner who examined him thought his arm was broken and sent us for a few x-rays. While we were waiting, an x-ray technician was just clocking in and he made a comment on the parking lot being full. The x-ray technician who was taking care of my son said all the cars were visitors of one patient, a trauma patient. That was all I heard over my son’s screaming.  I immediately said a prayer for that patient.  They took the x-rays, and we were all pleased to find out it was only very severely bruised, but there was no fracture anywhere.  I was so thankful. As  I called my mom to tell her he was ok, I felt compelled to ask her to pray for the unknown patient with all of the visitors. I was so concerned about my son, but his injury would have, at worst, ended with a cast.  I may never know the outcome of the person with all of the teenage visitors, but I am sure, somewhere in that hospital, there is a mom in deep pain and grief over her child.
When I got home, I realized I had missed a party my neighbor across the street was hosting. I called to tell her why I had missed her party. I asked her, too, to pray for the trauma patient with so many visitors.  We talked about “Murphy’s Law of Deployments” and I told her about my playhouse incident.  I jokingly asked why all of these things kept happening to me lately, and she said, “see, he's okay, but you were placed in that ER on purpose so you would know to  pray for, and ask for prayer for, the trauma patient you heard about.” She was so right, and that’s when it hit me. It really is all about perspective. So, if you are reading this, please pray for a patient I know nothing about, except that he or she needs prayer. It really could make all the difference in the world.

You're an idiot, bless your heart

A few years ago, a really good friend of ours told me that all of these wacky things happen to me because I am a good story teller and God must want me to always have a story to tell. I don’t know if I am a good story teller or not, but I do love to tell of these wild things that always seem to be happening to me. Who knows, maybe he was right, because, seriously, I am not normal!
So, it started out like any other Saturday.  The night before, I had purchased a very gently used outdoor playhouse from a young family on the other side of town. I got the kids loaded into the truck, and we picked up the playhouse and got it home without incident. I was very grateful for that because the whole way home I had visions of it becoming airborne and flying out into the 4 lane road down which I was traveling, causing multi-car pile-ups and bookoos of dollars in damage. When I pulled into our neighborhood, I remembered we were having a community yard sale.  I took my first left and saw that one of my neighbors had a much larger playhouse—for free. While I was slightly bummed that I had just dropped $85 on the playhouse in the back of the truck, the one I paid for was definitely worth it’s price…as was the free one. But, a bargain is a bargain, and it would be cool for each of the kids to have a playhouse to call their own. So, I raced home to unload the playhouse before someone else could claim the free pile of junk I had my eyes on. I unloaded the playhouse and drug it into the backyard then set out to claim my free playhouse.  When I got back, it was still there." Wonderful," I thought.  “Sucker!” God must have said.
So, I am trying my best to dismantle this beast of a playhouse when a girl around 12 years old emerges from the house and offers to help.  I climbed inside and saw the roof was screwed on. She found a screwdriver, and, within a few minutes, we were back in business.  “I’m pretty handy,” I thought smugly to myself. I got all of the pieces loaded into the truck, but the tailgate wouldn’t close. “We are only a few blocks from home,” I thought. “What could possibly happen?” At this point I am pretty sure God called all the angels together and they all settled in with their buckets of Heavenly popcorn to look down at His silly girl and watch as the tragic comedy unfolded before them.
  I made it to within half a block of our house when I heard a “whoosh.”  Yup, two walls of the playhouse that were fused together with years of grit that I had been unable to pry apart flew out of the bed of the truck.  Now, a normal person would have seen what happened, reversed back to the playhouse walls, and loaded them back into the truck. I, however, make no claims to be normal. So, idiot that I am, I put the truck in park and run back to retrieve the walls.  In an effort to “clean it up a bit” the folks giving away the playhouse had hosed it down, and apparently all of the water had seeped in the drainage holes, adding a good 15 pounds of weight to the already monstrous wall.  So, here I am, holding up traffic, running as fast as one can when carrying 2 playhouse walls that are roughly 3 foot by 4 foot each.  The  platinum blonde in the shiny SUV behind me  looked on my chaos, drumming her perfectly manicured nails on her steering wheel,  and I am sure she was thinking, “you’re an idiot, bless your heart.” So, she screeches around me as I am hoisting this stupid free playhouse into the back of the truck.
I try again, this time driving roughly 3 miles per hour.  I am seriously within 100 feet of the turn off to my street and it flies out again.  This time I have a line of cars behind me, all of whom I am sure are convinced I should be committed.  I'm not so sure they are wrong! At this point, I am so frustrated I want nothing more than to leave the darn thing in the middle of the road and crawl in a hole somewhere. I haven’t even had breakfast yet, and I already need a nap. But, thoughts of my beautiful little girl playing happily in her very own playhouse fill my mind, and I, once again, load the “free” playhouse into the truck. It may have not cost any money, but I definitely paid for it with my dignity.  I hop in the truck and my daughter says, “Mommy, should we pray now?” I told her that would probably be a very, very good idea. Her prayer goes something like this, “Dear Jesus, please, oh please, let us get home without the playhouse flying out AGAIN! And keep Daddy safe.  Amen.”  God must listen to little girls because, miraculously, we made it home.
 So then I am left to unload this beast and haul it to the backyard where I realize just how filthy it is.  I scrub it down as thoroughly as possible and haul it to the far corner of the yard. I heave the incredibly heavy octagon shaped roof onto the little cottage and start screwing everything back together. It looks great, but I am not sure I like where I have positioned it. So, not wanting to take the blasted thing apart again, I haul it, completely intact and weighing twice as much as me it seems, to the complete other side of the yard, where I deem it totally stupid in that location and haul it back to it's original spot.  I position the “free” playhouse of doom next to the small playhouse I had purchased earlier and look on as my son and daughter laugh and play and delight in being neighbors. Then, as I am standing there, covered in what I hope more than anything is only mud, lots of sweat, and countless bruises I don’t even remember getting, I both laugh and cry at the havoc I create for myself in my effort to be the best wife, mommy, and now daddy, too, that I can possibly be. And then it hits me: maybe, just maybe, God is just giving me material for that book I want so badly to write…

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The best laid plans...

In my ongoing effort to successfully adjust to our new normal for the next 7-14 months, thank you Marine Corps, I tend to plan. Not overboard, just logical. I have a 3 hr window, 2 days a week, in which to accomplish anything and everything requiring the use of both hands simultaneously and not conducive to the carrying of a toddler. I generally volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class during these times, but today  I simply had too many things to do.  I had two very large, heavy packages to send to Afghanistan, I had to get tights for my daughter's dance recital, and I HAD to go to the commissary before I was reduced to packing some ludicrous combination of peanut butter and fruity pebbles for my children’s lunches. 
 So, I planned my day accordingly. I took my son to preschool at the earliest conceivable drop off time allowed. I planned to go to the post office next to the dance store and then on to the commissary at the air station at that end of town. By 8:30 my day was off to a great start . By 8:40 I was frustrated. The dance store didn’t open until 10. Not a big problem, but I would have to come back with frozen groceries in my car. Small inconvenience. So I went to the post office. Doesn’t open until 10 either. Ok, fine, not gonna let that get me down, am i? So I headed to the air station commissary, and at the gate I asked the young  Lcpl if there was a post office at this base. He replied there was, a brand new one in fact, just 2 blocks down the road.  Things were looking up. Ha! It didn’t open til 10. It was approx. 9 am at this point. No problem. Get the groceries, come back to the base post office, then hit the dance store. I was so excited to see there were few cars in the parking lot. No, wait, a sense of dread overtook me as I realized there were NO cars in the parking lot. Making sure I hadn’t forgotten a major holiday (did St. Patrick's Day count as a major holiday now?) I got out of my car and walked to the door. They were closed for a “previously scheduled power outage from 10-1.” Well crap.
So I get in my car. Find another post office that actually opens before 10 and at least get the packages mailed. Then I go to Wal-Mart to do some grocery shopping. I buy much fewer items and spend much more money, but 2 of my 3 daily tasks have nearly been accomplished.  Again, I thrive on efficiency, so in my effort to aid both the check-out person and myself, I separate my items into categories that seem logical in my mind: frozens foods together, canned goods together, toilet tissue and paper products together, then eggs, bread, apples, grapes and  bananas together in what I like to think of as my “squishy” category.  I thought my painstaking effort would be rewarded…I was wrong. Imagine my surprise when I found my bananas with my canned goods and my grapes with large heavy boxes of frozen spinach lasagna.  Sheesh.  Oh well.
So I get home and start unloading everything so I can run out the door to pick up my little guy from preschool.  I had bought several boxes of baking soda to store in the fridge to keep any funky odors at bay.  I cleaned some old items out of the fridge and freezer, leftovers from when my parents were visiting...frozen okra anyone? Without really looking, I grabbed a Wal-Mart sack and started chunking things in. I grabbed the old baking soda box and threw it into the sack. The open box of baking soda. Then I heard the thump. Apparently there was a hole in the sack. Why was I even surprised at this point? Thankfully the mess was minimal, but frustrating none the less.  So I go to take it all out to the trash can outside of the garage, and find myself trapped. I am totally unable to maneuver the child lock on the door knob. You know the little plastic things you put on door knobs to discourage curious 2 year olds from investigating the garage.  Squeeze and turn. It’s that simple. Except that it wasn’t. For some reason, it just kept slipping and spinning around the knob no matter how tightly I squeezed.  I nearly broke the thing trying to get it off the knob.
 That’s when I realized, if this were a movie, this is the part where the heroine (hey, I didn’t kill, maim, or say a harsh word in all of this, that’s pretty heroic if you ask me) would do something silly like sit on the steps and sob or, better yet, somehow be in her car and beat the snot out of her steering wheel. Then, her knight in shining armor would come tell her it was all okay and they would laugh and clean up the baking soda and eat squished bananas together.  Mine didn’t end that way, though. My knight in shining armor is a million miles away in desert cammies,  and his armor is of the camouflage variety and weighs more than the average 10 year old.  His white horse is a hummer or helicopter, depending on the mission, and there will be no holding each other and laughing  together over the craziness of my day. So, I write.  To tell it all, and hopefully get to share it with him one day when he returns. So I can catch him up on all he’s missed and how very much he’s been missed…