October 29, 2011

Life's a Beach

I took the kids to the beach today to take some pics...mostly for Christmas...yeah, I know it's early but we won't be in Florida much longer and I had an idea for pics. I put the boy in a Santa outfit (minus the hat and shoes-it was the beach after all) and the girl had a cute red dress but the best part was that I put her in a Christmas present box surrounded by a bunch of other smaller boxes. It was windy and the boy was less than thrilled to be taking pics again so we don't have too many good ones to pick from but it was fun. After the attempt at Christmas pics we just had some fun...

October 28, 2011


Word of the day: Perspective. 

To be honest, it's more like word of the month...if not word of the deployment. Perspective changes everything from how you judge a situation to how others judge you. Lately, that's become painfully more apparent. Someone I grew up loving and have recently reconnected with misjudged me and I misjudged her because we both thought we knew the other but we didn't-funny how that seems to happen in this era of social networking. We knew what others had said and what we remember from twenty years ago but we don't really know each other so we both put our own biases in the way of actually getting to know each other again. Thankfully, she came to me and we both realized our individual perspectives were skewed so now we're starting from scratch and getting to know each other all over again. 

I'd love to say that this situation is a prime example of how I live my life but it's not. Often, I fall back to the easy route...the route where I choose to be judgmental and self-pitying (is that a word??? well, it is now). But, I'm really going to make an effort to change my perspective.

Take for example...since it's the biggest thing in my life right now...this deployment and all the Murphy's Law inevitabilities special circumstances that have come along with it...

*Halfway through a high risk pregnancy when Joshua (the hubby) left: 
I could focus on the fact that I had as many as FOUR doctor appointments per week, all of which were at least 45 mins away
I could change my perspective and be thankful that I was still pregnant...that I didn't have another miscarriage.

*Delivered our daughter without my husband by my side:
I could fall apart every time I look at the hospital pics
I could be thankful that he was able to skype in with a mostly clear connection.

*Months and months...and more months without Joshua
I could pout...eat massive amounts of junk food...spend money inappropriately...or any other number of destructive things to take my mind off missing him
I could be thankful that we have an approximate come-home date....nothing specific so don't ask...but we know that there is a limit to how long he'll be gone-that hasn't always been the case for service members in wartime.

The biggest lesson on perspective (with regards to deployment especially) came, ironically, on Joshua's R&R at Disney World. Joshua was taking the kids (yes, both) to the bathroom while I sat and enjoyed more of the food and wine festival in Epcot. An older gentleman sat down next to me and we started talking...funny how that happens at Disney World but that's for another post. He was a retired Vietnam Vet Army Officer. He told me about when he came home from the war. His wife and their two children-a two year old daughter and 1 year old son he was meeting for the first time, met him at the airport. During the entire deployment, he was only able to call home twice. Both calls were short and full of static. And at the airport, his wife and kids walked beside him and watched as people spit on him and called him a murderer.

I hate this stupid deployment but it could be so much worse.

October 27, 2011

Happy Fall

Yesterday, we carved a pumpkin for the princess and today my GG and I took the pumpkin and the two kids to the park for pics...
confession: it was 79 degrees out but it just felt wrong to have fall pics with the boy in shorts so I made him put on a sweater. Apparently, I've trained him well because he never complained and I think the pics turned out pretty well...

October 24, 2011

Lessons Learned

Deployment teaches lessons. 

Some lessons suck...like how to do anything mechanical-lesson learned: it's good to be married to a mechanically gifted man and without him, getting stuff fixed with two kids is a pain and it really cuts into the retail therapy budget. 

Some lessons are gross...like when you have two sick kids and each is exploding in some form-lesson learned: it's good to have another person home to help with the cleaning...and by "help with the cleaning" I mean, of course, clean it all while I attempt not to vomit from the smell.

Some lessons are heart breaking...like realizing it's been months since this friend or that friend called, texted or emailed because somehow deployment changes friendships. People don't always know what to say or how to reach out. Double dates are out and a girl's-night-out sometimes take Herculean effort. In the end, their lives haven't been turned upside down so time just goes on and eventually the friendship turns into an awkward acquaintance.

But mostly, the lessons are life changing. I know, it sounds dramatic but it is. I've spent the last eight months...yeah, EIGHT months...learning things about myself and my marriage...some good, some not so good. I've been humbled and broken with my own weakness. I'm proud of my husband and our marriage. Strange as it may sound, we're as strong if not stronger as we've ever been. Don't get me wrong, we've had some disagreements...some might say epic fights but the distance has done two things. First, it limits communication which means the fights can last longer (like the entire month of May) but it also means that we're forced to take some time before reacting. And second...most importantly, it has been a daily reminder of how much I love him. I'm a fairly guarded person and the idea of sappy vulnerability scares the crap out of me but it turns out it doesn't scare me as much as the idea of living without him.

October 20, 2011

Military Families Win A Trip To Disney World

Normally I don't just blog about various contests but this is a good one. Airtran and Walt Disney World Resort are thanking military families by hosting an essay/video contest to win a free 7 day 6 night trip to Walt Disney World.

Eligibility: Families of active and retired U.S. military personnel who are stationed anywhere in the world.

How to enter: Write an essay (no more than 300 words) or create a video (90 seconds) stating why you're proud to be a military family. Be serious, humorous or as creative as you like.

For more information and to enter your essay (or video) go to the official contest website.

Good luck!

October 18, 2011

3 months

Our baby girl is 3 months old today...

October 16, 2011

Back from R&R...sort of.

R & R has come and gone. Joshua has returned to his FOB and the kids and I are back at my aunt's house. We're not home yet and although I'm heart broken that we'll miss a good friend's wedding, getting back in time for it just wasn't possible. I feel like I need to get back up on my feet before we do this whole deployment at home alone with two kids thing again. In some ways it was harder to say goodbye to Joshua because I knew what was ahead but I also feel like it was easier because this time, I'm not pregnant (unless R&R left us with a special souvenir-please God, no special souvenirs).

So here's our vacation as condensed as possible...

Our first picture as a family of 4. Please excuse the quality. It was a phone pic the night we picked Joshua up from the airport. We all just piled in the bed and cuddled until the kids fell asleep.

The next day, we checked into our Disney resort. The All-Star Movies. We picked it because the boy is in love with all things Toy Story so we opted for the preferred rooms in the Toy Story building. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much because the All-Stars are the older value resorts and not to sound like a snob but we really think of the mansions at Port Orleans Riverside as our home away from home. But, much to my surprise, it was great. The boy loved it. We were super close to the main building. The pool was fun and the cast members (Disney's name for employees) were wonderful-especially Bob at the arcade. We loved Bob. I wish I had more pics of the resort but as always upon check-in, 
I said "Babe, let's go take some pics of the kids at the resort"
Joshua, as always replied, "No, we'll do it later. I promise. You'll get pics of the resort this year"
And then, as always, it didn't happen. 

So, moving on. Our first park visit was Seaworld. It was a first for all of us and thanks to their military discount, it was free. To be honest, I would have been disappointed if we had paid the $200something to get in because although we had a good time, we discovered it's not a very small child-friendly place. You are not permitted to bring strollers into any of the aquarium buildings. At. All. Fabulous. So, we won't be returning until the kids are out of strollers totally but then I'm sure we'll go back.

One of our favorite things was the Shamu show, One Ocean, but fair warning when Seaworld says it's a soak zone, it's a soak zone. The baby was not a fan of the soak zone. Ooops. Parenting fail.

I had the pleasure of feeding the dolphins. Joshua and boy both got to touch them earlier but stayed with the baby while I fed Flipper(s).

Seaworld has a few kiddie coaster type rides. This one was the boy's favorite. It's the kind that goes straight up and then just drops. Not. My. Idea. Of. Fun. But the boy loved it.

After we went to Seaworld but before we hit the main four Disney theme parks, we went to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. 

Me and the hubs at the water park. He's so cute.

Swimming with the sharks at Typhoon Lagoon.

Joshua and the kids at the Wave Pool. The girl was good with it...but the boy in his elder wisdom was a bit terrified. The wave that pool produces are pretty impressive. I was told the waves are 6 feet...since I'm 5'2" and a terrible swimmer, I didn't go out much past my hips and even then, I had to fight to stay on my feet with each wave.

Normally we laugh at people who leave water parks because it's raining but about an hour before the park closed, what can only be described as a monsoon hit. So this is us, running to the truck. Btw, we bought a Kodak water proof camera before the trip and it was great! We used it at Seaworld, Typhoon Lagoon, the resort pool and all the water rides at Disney. I highly recommend it. It takes great shots under water and even really great video with audio. For the price, you really can't beat it.

Our next big event was the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We went with a big group (my family)  and all dressed as characters from Peter Pan.

From left to right...Tinker Bell (our baby girl), Capt Hook (Joshua), a pirate (me), Peter Pan (our son), Nana (my Aunt who is aka Nana), Wendy (my cousin's daughter), Smee (my grandmother GG), Tiger Lily (my cousin), the crocodile complete with a clock (my cousin's son), and an Indian (my cousin's husband).

 I'm proud to say that I made both the Peter Pan and Capt Hook costumes (GG helped me with the Capt Hook but Pan was all me...it was also my first time with putting a zipper in).

Our favorite things of the night were the Halloween parade (which opened with the headless horseman above), the Villains Show (a musical show with almost all the Disney villains held on a stage in front of the castle) and HalloWishes (the special Halloween fireworks). It was great and we had a wonderful time but it's not something which I think we'll "have" to do every year.

We had the smallest, cutest Tinker Bell in all of Magic Kingdom. Everyone told us so.


One of my favorite things about this trip (aside from the obvious-got to see the hubs and he got to meet our baby girl) was that my GG came this year. It was her first visit in over 20 yrs. My aunt and cousin were a bit cruel and convinced my 81 yr old GG who is not a fan of roller coasters to ride Expedition Everest without telling her anything about it. For those of you who don't know what Expedition Everest is...it's one of Disney's fastest roller coasters and without giving the best part away, it does something very few roller coasters in the world do.

 GG and our baby girl.

Instead of an autograph book, this year, we brought a football and had all the characters sign it. The boy loved it and all the characters had a great time. Goofy even played catch with the boy for a few minutes.

We spent a day at Hollywood Studios and the boy (aka Buzz) and the girl (aka Jesse) got to meet the real Buzz and Woody.

We happened to be visiting Walt Disney World on the official 40th anniversary. Magic Kingdom was packed but it was fun to see all the die hard Disney fans.

WDW's 40th Anniversary.

My favorite boys


One of the things we were most looking forward to was the appointment we had booked for the boy at The Pirate's League (it's a pirate make-over where little boys and girls get to pick a new pirate name, get one of five different face paint options, take an official pirate oath, and get booty in the treasure room-a sword, sheath, medallion and sash)...but since the boy had never had his face painted before, we thought it would be a  good idea to do a test run first at Animal Kingdom's Dino-land. It turned out we were right because the boy was extremely unsure of the whole face-painting thing. We found out AFTER he became Dino-boy that he thought it was permanent like a tattoo. Once he realized it was temporary, he did everything he could to keep his face paint on and it set us up perfectly for The Pirate's League where the boy picked the scariest face paint Disney offered...

We brought the costume from home but Disney sold basically the same thing for $65.

This is Jeremiah Sharkstench.

 Our last day at the parks was also OU/Texas. We had lunch at Le Cellier and then walked around World Showcase enjoying the Food and Wine Festival...something we did 3 other days too. We knew the score of the game without even looking at a phone because every time we passed a Texan, they bowed their head in shame.

It was a trip of a lifetime and I'm so glad we got to go (thank you Army for not screwing up the dates). It was horrible to leave Joshua at the airport but we're over halfway through this thing and now we can focus on the fact that the next time we see each other again, it will be because Joshua's home.