June 29, 2011

Airport Safety

So, although I could very easily spend an entire post blogging about my opinions on the legalized groping pat-downs or the pornographic security pics  body scanners and how the TSA hasn't actually stopped anything from happening, I'm not going to...instead I want to tell you about my son's experience flying with his Grandma from the middle of the country to his Nana and GG's house in Florida and back again.

Before he left (being the Type A freak that I am), I packed an envelope with his birth certificate, medical insurance card and a letter granting my mother (Grandma) and/or my aunt (Nana) the permission to take him and make any and all necessary emergency medical decisions which may arise during the time he was away. He turned three on his little vacation and I knew he wouldn't be able to verbalize to a TSA agent or doctor that although his Grandma has a different name, she was allowed to take him. Also, I strongly suspect the boy will be "that kid" who ends up at the ER at least once a summer because grace and gentleness aren't really his thing.

Here's where I have a problem. They never needed the documentation. On the medical side, I'm relieved...the kid made it through a week without me-in a not-so-child-proofed house with a pool and only came back with a few scratches on his forehead which no one seems to know how he got...I can live with that. But TSA...the great airport security never checked to see that the random adult with him who claimed to be his Grandmother actually was his Grandmother and had permission to take him. Granted, it was a domestic flight but it was over 1000 miles from home and how in the world did they know the name she gave them for the boy was even his name?! They never even requested his birth certificate.

So how safe are our children with TSA if anyone can take them anywhere in the country without a second thought?

June 24, 2011


My world shifted just enough to throw me into the chasm of my first real deployment breakdown. I've cried before. I've felt sick to my stomach and been angry but nothing compares to the meltdown that I experienced last night. Granted, being 9 months pregnant REALLY doesn't help the situation but yesterday was a turning point in this whole thing. Joshua's been gone for four months...training stateside but still gone. At midnight, that changed. He's not just training anymore. I believe (mostly because I physically cannot bring myself to not believe) that he will be safe. He will come home...it feels like it will be forever but I know he'll come home. But everything is different. Putting aside the danger aspect...an aspect I like to put aside ("denial isn't always a bad thing"...that's the way my psychologist put it because sometimes we have to compartmentalize...we have to protect our minds and our hearts)....everything is still different. I can't compartmentalize away the fact that communication is going to be drastically different. Drastically less. And then there's "Army Joshua." Over the last four months I've come to know "Army Joshua" and speak to him sometimes more than my Joshua. "Army Joshua" is harder. He has to be. On a logical level, I want him to be "Army Joshua" while he's away. I want him to be strong so he can be safe. But on a selfish level, I can't live solely in logic for over a year...especially pregnant/nursing. I want my Joshua. I want him home. I want this to all be over and in a lot of ways, it's just really beginning now.

I'm sure the fact that the boy turned 3 years old yesterday didn't help. I'm a mom. Other than an Army Wife...there's not much else that describes me. Don't get me wrong, I'm a friend, a sister, a daughter...a major fan of all things Disney and photography but at my core...wife and mom. My son has been 1000 miles away from me for almost a week now. It was something I knew Joshua needed and something the boy needed but I didn't realize how much missing the boy's birthday would affect me. It's odd because the birthday in and of itself wasn't a big deal...I think the combination of the fact that my baby boy is now 3 years old, my husband has transitioned into a new stage in the deployment and I'm going to have a daughter in about three weeks was just more than I could handle for one day. I should have made plans with friends. I should have known it would be difficult but I didn't. I wanted to be home so I could talk with both of my boys if/when they could.

In a word, yesterday was bad. I cried so hard and so much that I started to contract. I tried to stop it. I tried to  control myself and drink some water but there came a moment (warning...this is definitely an over share but it happened) when I had to stop because I wasn't sure if I had peed my pants (again) or if my water had broken. It's funny now and it was just what I needed to sober me up and make me get control but at the time it was just another thing to deal with.

That was yesterday. I think today will be better.

June 21, 2011

A New Chapter

Rarely in life can we look back and say this specific day or even week was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one but that's what this week is for our little family.

Today, I had my last 3D/4D ultrasound of baby girl. I'll probably have another 2D in a week or two but if you've ever had a 3D/4D you know the difference. Between the boy and baby girl, I've had well over a dozen of these types of ultrasounds and it's a bit surreal to think that I'll probably never have another. Our little princess is measuring about a week ahead of schedule and is showing none of the signs of distress we saw in the first and second trimester. Equally reassuring is the fact that the cardiac medication I'm on doesn't appear to be affecting her growth (a possible side effect) whatsoever and the best news, at least for me, came when the perinatalogist took a few extra images and video of our baby's heart. Not because he was concerned but because he said it was the perfect example of what a strong fetal heart should look like. The four different chambers were clearly visible and apparently text book in shape and activity. He told me he plans to use the images and video to help teach proper sonograph reading. Of course it was a proud Mommy moment but for me it was more than that. My biggest fear with both of my children has been that I would somehow pass on my own cardiac complications or that the medications that I take to stay healthy while pregnant will affect their little hearts. The only downside to the ultrasound was that baby girl is a bit smooshed at this point and getting a decent image was a bit tough. Here's the only mostly clear image we were able to get this time around...

Our last 3D/4D ultrasound wasn't the only major event today. Joshua (still on his mini-leave in Florida) took the boy to the ocean for the first time. It was also the first time they got to really fish together and I'm proud to say that my son is apparently a natural fisherman. On more than one occasion he reeled in TWO fish on one line! I didn't even know you could do that. And from what I understand, the boy did it all...cast the line, waited and then wound it back up to the pier they were fishing off of. I really couldn't care less about fishing but I was impressed. Our little guy is growing up, Joshua's about to leave the country and our baby girl will be here in just a couple weeks...new chapters all around.

(the boy was trying to hold up two fingers to indicate that he caught two fish but apparently Nana wasn't fast enough with the camera)

(learning about catch and release)

(my two favorite people)

(swimming in the ocean for the first time)

I need to give props to my wonderful husband for not only covering our little blondy's pale head but doing so with a Cars hat which matches the Cars swim trunks I sent...I was very impressed with Joshua.

***For the record, if you're not high risk and already scheduled to have a 3D/4D ultrasound but are considering purchasing one...I personally recommend going around the 24-28 week mark because they look less alien-esque, they have some meat on their little bones but mostly they're still small enough that they aren't going to be smooshed against the uterine wall (which is why today's images were a bit blurry). My favorite ultrasound of baby girl was around the 22 week mark (she measured ahead from the beginning)...here it is...

June 19, 2011

The would-be Father's Day surprise

Today's a pretty special day for our family. Not just because we get to celebrate Joshua and how awesome a Dad he is but today is the first day of his final "mini-leave" stateside before he leaves the country.

First the bad news, he's stationed about 1000 miles from us and isn't allowed to come all the way home...and I'm 35 weeks pregnant so no one will allow me to travel.

The good news is that I have an Aunt who lives near where he's stationed. She's been on vacation with us and we're very close (plus she's retired from 20 years in the Navy so she gets it). The other good news is that when I learned the dates from Joshua about a month ago, my Mom (who rocks), my Aunt (also rocks) and I started plotting. We hatched a grand plan to get the boy out to see Joshua for the mini-leave...the best part? Joshua's leave runs exactly from Father's Day to midnight on the boy's 3rd birthday.

Yup. Sappy, moment.

All was a go and Joshua was absolutely clueless...until the Army once again became a 4-letter word in our home on Friday (aka the day before my mother and the boy were to fly out at 6am). LONG story short, the Army screwed up some paperwork and Joshua's mini-leave and even our scheduled R&R later this fall were in jeopardy. He called to tell me about it...after my step-Dad had picked up the boy who was fully packed and very excited about the trip. I was in the middle of Walmart when Joshua said he would most likely get it resolved sometime the next day...which really didn't work for me considering their flight times and the only way I could explain how important it was that things got sorted out earlier was to let the cat out of the bag.

So, in the middle of Walmart, I was crying and telling Joshua the surprise...meanwhile, he went from being in a pissy mood because his leave was jacked up to "leaking." In fact, his exact words to me were "how am I supposed to be a bad ass out here if you make me leak." It was the moment that was supposed to happen in a parking lot today but instead happened over the phone on Friday. I was glad to know that at least he never suspected anything...surprising considering that pretty much EVERYONE he knew, knew about it.

After all that was said and done, he got his leave sorted and now my two favorite people get to spend a few precious days together. This year's Father's Day will be one we all remember.

June 15, 2011

A Woman's Place

Apparently...I'm more liberal than I thought...surprising  news when you consider the fact that I've always called myself an ultra-conservative. Don't misunderstand, I have friends all throughout the political spectrum and I respect their opinions, I just often find myself socially and fiscally to the right of most people.

Last night I read a blog not written by but posted on facebook by a homeschool mom I know (for the record I'm very pro-homeschool) about the parenting of teenage boys...ok, granted, my son is about ten years away but it was one of those articles that you have to read twice to really believe. For the record, I don't know the author and have never read her blog before this post.

Basically in the blog post the author advocates that mothers of teenage boys refrain ALTOGETHER from enforcing discipline or correction...that should be solely their father's place. The example given is a messy bedroom but the author goes on to say "I don’t just mean the messy room but ALL of your young man’s discipline and accountability."

Now I've heard the argument made before that teens are at an age where discipline is less necessary and that in general parents should guide their teens but allow more natural consequences to take root...for example, if you don't set your alarm and wake yourself, you'll be late for school or work or wherever you needed to go which I can see as an valid step to adulthood but that's not what this author is saying. She essentially goes on to imply that the reason mothers should back off is that it's not a woman's place to correct a man. And most surprising to me, she argues that it will negatively impact his relationship with his future wife...daughters...all the future women in his life. She believes women should "Instead of cleaning, nagging, lecturing, hassling, belittling, derailing, fussing, fuming, arguing, undermining, complaining, comparing, and tearing down - You are now free to spend the rest of your precious few moments of your son’s life in your home BUILDING. Building a foundation for him that teaches him how to respect, protect, and provide for all the future women in his life." My question is why does it have to be either "nagging, lecturing, hassling, belittling, derailing, fussing, fuming, arguing, undermining, complaining, comparing, and tearing down" or essentially relinquishing all parental authority to the man of the house?

I can't wrap my mind around the idea that if I discipline my son (especially while his father is away) that I am somehow presenting a non-submissive, nagging controlling image...I want my son to grow up and marry an independent, strong, capable woman...granted, there is a certain strength which comes through submission and in our home my husband is the leader but we CO-parent and our children are expected to respect me and my authority as equal to my husband's.

As a military family, not only is this parenting philosophy impractical, it's impossible. When I mentioned that this mentality could contradict my authority while my husband is away, a woman (again, whom I don't know) replied that skype would be there to help...seriously? I'm supposed to look at my teenage son and say "son, what you're doing is very disappointing and sometime in the next two weeks when your father finally gets the chance to video call home, he'll talk to you about it." Yeah, I don't think so.

What do you think? Should teenage boys ONLY be accountable to their father?

June 11, 2011

I miss me.

I'm officially at that point in the pregnancy where I'm seriously considering wearing sweats and/or yoga pants all the time...as in out in public on a regular basis. It's not something I normally would do but being 5 weeks from delivery, I'm done.

I'm so tired of being a giant hormonal-blob-of-emotional-goo. It's time that this child come out and take all the excess estrogen with her. I feel sorry for my poor husband...though maybe this is the one time deployment during pregnancy is a good thing for him. Every time he calls I end up crying about something or making him tell me something he's already told me four times before because I've forgotten. It's absurd to be this forgetful and this emotional and it's not me. I'm not a crier. Ok...I kind of am a crier but not publicly and not like this. I've never been so insecure or illogically temperamental. It's really stupid. I'll cry about nothing and the whole time I'm crying I know it's totally illogical and unnecessary to be crying over whatever in the moment caused me to cry....I'm not just talking Hallmark commercials. I found myself crying yesterday on the way home because we went to walmart and the 17 yr old check out boy flirted with me. On the one hand...it was a little gross because let's face it, in my present state, I am not anything anyone should hit on but on the other hand it was really nice because I don't get that sort of attention anymore. Joshua's deployed and I'm a big, fat pregnant chick.

I don't like being pregnant. In fact I pretty much hate it...and before I get slapped with a ton of emails/comments about how pregnancy is miraculous and I'm just totally ungrateful....bite me. I've had three miscarriages...I KNOW what a blessing having a healthy child is and how much it hurts to desperately desire nothing more than to be pregnant.

In the end, I just miss being me. I miss being able to bend over without having a contraction...I miss trimming the hedges in front of our house (the lawn guy just doesn't have my type A/perfectionist attitude about how level and full the hedges should be)...vain moment: I miss my size 2 skinny jeans...another vain moment: I miss not having stretch marks...I miss not having to worry about whether or not I'm going to pee my pants...I miss having energy and a fully working memory...I miss sushi and alcohol.

Most of all, I miss my husband and the flexibility we had to be spontaneous and free...even after the boy came along. We've never been the kind of parents who needed to be home by 7 every night or couldn't go somewhere because we had a kid. If there's something we really wanted to do, we did it...we just worked the boy into the plans. He's flexible...we've never given him the option not to be but right now, I'm the one who's a stick in the mud and I can't stand it.

I just have to keep telling myself that A-she's more than worth it and B-only 5 more weeks.

June 7, 2011

Dear Army, Don't Screw This Up!

I just got a call from Joshua...he had to submit two alternate R&R dates. As it stands now, we have an awesome vacation planned for the current dates which includes Sea World, Universal Studios and Disney World. None of us have been to Sea World. I'm the only one who's been to Universal Studios but it's been about 20 years and I'm super excited about the Wizarding World. As for Disney...it's just what we do...not necessarily every year but lately that's how it's worked out.

When we first thought about what to do for R&R it was a bit overwhelming. There were so many options...go abroad...stay home and cuddle for two weeks...go to Disney...bring Joshua home for baby girl's birth but in the end we went with the annual trip to Disney because...

going abroad would mean going somewhere totally new with two small children and having to deal with passports/visas and the inevitable last minute change in plans thanks to the Army

staying home was never an option...we knew this would be when Joshua would meet our daughter and staying home would be too difficult for all of us...especially the boy. I can't imagine the heartbreak of having Daddy actually at home for two weeks and then having to say goodbye again...when Joshua comes home, it's going to be for good

if Joshua came home for our daughter's birth, it would mean that we wouldn't see him again afterwards for at least 8 months...we would spend a great deal of "our" time together in the hospital...the boy would have to deal with having Daddy home, a new sister and then Daddy gone again all in a very short time frame so as much as I'm going to miss my husband and he's going to hate missing our daughter's birth, in the end, it's not what's best for us or our kids

which left us with Disney. We know Disney...we know how to make it work even if the Army throws a wrench in the plans. Plus, with Disney, we can be sure that the boy will have a good time because it won't all be about Joshua meeting baby girl...it'll be more like, "hey look it's Mickey Mouse...go say hi to Mickey little buddy...by the way Joshua, here's your daughter" ...ok, maybe not that cavalier but you get the idea.

For the record, of course I purchase travel insurance and we're a fairly flexible family...so why the title to this post?

Because anyone who's done the Disney World thing as often and as long as we have knows that all the best dining experiences...restaurants and shows start booking up 6 months out. To be exact, 180 days before your reservation date at 7am est. We have a ton of great restaurants and shows booked for the current R&R dates. We have family coming at the same time so from time to time Joshua and I will have the option to be kid free...at least for a couple hours (I'll be nursing). It would just be really great (and shocking) if the Army didn't make us scramble at the last moment for new restaurant and show reservations.

(a couple of my favorite pics from our 2010 trip)