Sunday, November 27, 2011

Salutations de Aix-en-Provence

It has been too long since I updated this blog, but I am very happy to report that I am currently in the land of



narrow, winding streets (with lovely Christmas decorations)

smelly cheese

and most importantly... 


The USS Bush pulled into Marseille, France (despite Fox News and other outlets giving me a heart attack by implying they had diverted to Syria) a few days ago, and I got to hug my husband for the first time in nearly seven months.  We are enjoying some quiet time together before the "real" homecoming madness with our kids, the holidays, and our extended families.  I can't thank my family enough for caring for my 2 and 1 year old so that we could have this time together.  It is priceless, and oh my did I ever need this break from my routine.

Au revoir, for now.  We are off to drink too much, eat too much, and enjoy our last night in this beautiful city.
Sunday, November 13, 2011

6 Months (and 3 days) Down

Sorry for the late monthly update.  It has been an insane week.  My daughter is pretty sick (croup, and she just can't seem to shake it) and it was my son's birthday (and birthday party) this past weekend.  Between those two items I was lucky to get a shower during the day, let alone keep up with my blogging.

So it has been over six months, half a year... a long freakin' time.  We are very close to homecoming, but for some reason it still feels like I am in the middle.  Am I becoming jaded after all these years?  Probably!  Until I see my husband on terra firma and he is in my car driving home I won't really believe it.  But then I will be over the moon, ecstatic, and you probably won't hear from me for awhile. Reminds me of some signs that we are making in my spouse's group to put outside Oceana as a welcome home...  They will read:

It's been seven long months

Away from our spouses

We're busy re bonding

Stay away from our houses

Welcome Home Carrier Air Wing 8!

Classy, right?  I am having a friend over on Tuesday to make a bunch more posters and signs.  I'm excited to break out the glitter and markers and wine and just enjoy the fact that my husband is slowing pushing westward.

The past month has been a blur.  Here is the rundown...

The Good:

*  I have a one year old!  And the party was great!
*  I finally was able to buy some new clothes (the 3 month challenge ended 11/4).  Thank goodness!
*  Halloween was fun.  Kate's preschool had an adorable little party.  It is fun now that she is starting to understand how awesome getting candy from strangers is.
*  Lots of time with friends, especially friends whose husbands are away like mine.  It is a sisterhood that keeps us sane!

The Bad:

* Croup.  This sucks.  Really really badly.  I am worried that once Kate is feeling better that Connor will get sick. 
*  I am bummed that I couldn't run the 10K.  I was so excited to see all of the costumes and to run a race with the stroller.  Hopefully next year!
*  I am exhausted.  Like really really really tired.  My usually patient self has become much shorter and more easily frustrated.  I feel like I spend 99% of my time feeding, bathing, cleaning, and essentially maintaining my kids, my pets, and my house.  Because of that, I feel like I have aged 5 years in the past 6 months.

What I'm excited about:

In less than two weeks I will be in Europe!  With my husband!  I won't paint you a picture.. but I am so so so so excited about a few days with him and a few days where I can really just relax and treat myself to some good food, lots of sleep, and time with my best friend.  Then when I get home I will be rushing around to prepare for HOMECOMING!  Glorious, wonderful, romantic, amazing homecoming.  The thing that almost makes all this time apart worthwhile.  I cannot wait to see my daughter's face.  It will be priceless.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How fun to turn 1 on 11.11.11

Happy Birthday to my sweet, funny, energetic, mischievous, flirtatious little love, Connor Patrick.  You are always the life of the party, you want to see what is around the next corner, what is in every box and behind every piece of furniture.  If it is plugged in, you unplug it.  If it is looks edible, you eat it.  If it is a place you shouldn't be, it is the place to be.  You love trying new things, eating (lots of) new food, and being next to your sister every minute.  If you didn't need sleep, you would probably say it was for losers and just keep on going.  I love your zest for life.  You are a total ham and make me smile all day long.

Connor, you have taught me how "evil possessive" mother in laws are made.  It is so true about little boys and their moms.  You love me in a way I couldn't imagine and I just feel so incredibly blessed to have you.  Nobody will ever be good enough for you (ha ha). 

Having your dad leave for deployment when you turned six months has been hard.  I know that when he gets home that the two of you will be like two peas in a pod.  Kate and I will be in trouble because I know that you two will have some fun making our lives crazy.  Your daddy loves you and misses you every second, it has been the hardest thing in the world for him to be away from you this long and to miss so many of your milestones.  I know that once you see him again that you will remember him.  I know that you two will be best buds.

Happy happy happy birthday, sweet boy.  I love you more than I could ever tell you in a lifetime.  I can't wait to see you grow up and am so excited for the next year.

Eating on the move - totally your style

I love your mischievous little eyes

I love your bright smile...

Happy Birthday, handsome little guy!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

There Just Isn't Enough Wine in the World Right Now...

I am an anxious person by nature.  I should probably be medicated - but of course, as a mental health practitioner myself, I tend to avoid medication and therapy like the plague.  I am a bad patient.  There have been days during this deployment where I have even picked up the phone to call my doctor to chat about some solutions (other than wine) and I have always stopped.  Or been interrupted by a child screaming from across the room.  And now as we are in the final stretch of this deployment my new excuse is that things will get easier once John is home.  Excuses excuses...

Right now I have a lot to look forward to.  My son's birthday party is this weekend.  I am headed to Europe in a few weeks to see my hubby.  Then less than a week after I return from our rendezvous, it will be homecoming and this deployment will be o.v.e.r.  But instead of celebrating, I am fretting.  And worrying.  And there just isn't enough wine in the rack right now to get the "what ifs" from eating me alive.

This is our third deployment and the weeks prior to homecoming have always been challenging to me.  I feel like such a weirdo because, at least on the surface, everyone else seems to be celebrating (and cleaning, trying new dinner menu items, and buying new underwear).  I just get sad.  And time seems to go by at a snail's pace.  It isn't because I'm not excited for my husband to be home because I am.  He is my best friend and has been since we were 15 years old.  I think it is that I tend to reflect toward the end of a long separation and get a little bit sad about how much time has gone by, how different things are, and how much we have to catch up on once he does get home.

I have been worrying constantly lately.  Worrying about when I go to Europe - will my mom and other family members be able to handle my kids?  Will they be angry at me for putting them in a position where they need to watch them?  Will something happen and I feel guilty?  If something happens, will they be able to get in touch with me?  What if what if what if.  And I could keep going downhill about basic things like my husband's safety landing on an aircraft carrier these last few weeks... but I won't go there.  Because that is just too depressing and beyond the scope of tonight's glass of Shiraz.

I just need a second seventh wind to get through this last month.  And the ability to walk into the airport in a few weeks and be confident that everything will be fine in my absence.  Everything will be fine. 
Friday, November 4, 2011

Babies Don't Keep

One week from today my baby will turn one.  I feel like the last year has gone by in a whirlwind.  He was born right on the brink of holiday season, we moved when he was two and a half months old, and then my husband left on deployment the day he turned six months.  Since then I have been torn between wanting time to speed up and slow down simultaneously.  My husband has missed so much of his babyhood and I just can't imagine how he feels.  I sent him a video the other day and while he loves every single thing I send him, the guilt he is feeling right now is palpable over the phone.  It breaks my heart.

I just can't believe my baby will be a toddler.  It sounds so cliche, but the older I get the faster time flies.  And I just wish that I could have my cuddly newborn back for one more day - night wake ups and all.

My sweet boy, 1 day old

For the next week I am going to soak up every moment.  I know that there isn't some magic thing that happens on his first birthday, but there is something about the transition that makes me incredibly sad.  I love that he is growing up and so happy and active, but I will miss the snuggles and the smells of babyhood.

  Cleaning and scrubbing will wait ’till tomorrow, but children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs! Dust go to sleep! I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.

– Ruth Hamilton

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Wicked Rainout

Unfortunately, the 10K I was going to run with my kids last Friday didn't happen.  The race was a rain or shine event, but running with a stroller doesn't allow for much rain or wind.  I wish John was home so I could have gone and ran the 10K alone and gotten to people watch and eat chili and drink beer.  But alas, we ended up dry and warm and hanging out at the mall play area instead.  There is always next year, right?

Halloween was a mixed day.  The morning started with our first ever trip to the ER.  Connor went mouth-first into the coffee table and tore his vestibule (skin between top of teeth and lip).  Blood was everywhere and I was insanely freaked out that he had chipped or loosened his front teeth.  Luckily, it looked a lot more scary than he was.  It was a short ER trip - checked in at about 10:15 and discharged by 11 with directions to just keep an eye on it and make sure he stayed hydrated (I guess some babies don't like to eat when they injure their mouths).  In Connor's case, it will take a lot more than a cut mouth to stop him from eating!

Trick or treating was fun!  We live in a great neighborhood and everyone gets really excited for the holiday.  Kate enjoyed lugging around her pumpkin bucket and blowing kisses at the strangers giving her candy.  I was proud of her for walking the whole way and understanding I couldn't carry her.  Connor was still a little grumpy from his rough morning so I carried him in the Ergo all night long.  She is becoming such a good helper and big sister. 

The only other news from the past few days is that I finally entered the 21st century and bought an iPhone.  Ohmygod where have you been all my life?  And what the heck took me so long?  I love it and cannot get enough of the fun apps - especially "words with friends" (I thankfully have a lot of geeky friends to play with) and the Sanda Boynton board book "Moo Ba La La La".  Genius. 
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Before I got back to my regularly scheduled family blogging (read: not as interesting as the debate going on about retirement) I wanted to just answer a few questions that I have gotten a lot since I posted on Friday.

Many people have asked me what I think the solution is.  You know, since I have an opinion I must be crunching numbers in my free time to balance the budget.  As I stated in my blog post, I am not a politician or a finance person at all.  The point of my post was to illustrate a major piece of the financial life of military families that was missing from the considerations made by the DBB when formulating the new retirement system.  So what I want is for the people making decisions to see "the forest through the trees" as one commenter wrote.  I want them to acknowledge that the average family in this country is dual income and really think about how that impacts military families and their budgets.  If I saw some thoughtful analysts crunching those numbers (which, by the way, all of my research came from journals available at the Joint Forces Staff College library in Norfolk) I would be much happier.

Some accused me of making the private sector look like rainbows and puppy dogs.  That wasn't my intention at all.  My point just goes back to family choices.  Of course people in the private sector struggle to make decisions about money and retirement.  Nothing is perfect.  If a mom or dad has always wanted to stay home and can't because of the economy - that is no fun.  The economy is hard on everyone right now.  The major difference between "us and them" is that they get to make those choices.  I got dozens of emails from women talking about their Master's degrees collecting dust, their "swiss cheese resumes" that are hurting them, and the companies they work for that do everything in their power not to hire military spouses.  This is an issue!  And it is a unique issue.  I wasn't talking about deployments (of course people in the private sector travel) or hardships like that.  I am talking about the PCS schedule of the average military family and how that impacts a woman's ability to hold down a job and contribute toward a 401K style retirement plan.

Lastly, some of you have been really wonderful and talk about how you will just "adjust your budget" and move forward.  While I think it is incredibly awesome to have good financial organization and saving, I would caution you against just mindlessly allowing whatever happens happens because you are organized.  The bottom line is that they are taking money out of your pocket.  That if they pension goes away, you are losing literally millions of dollars.  And you would have to figure out how to make up those dollars.  Not something that I think can be whisked under the carpet in the name of coupons and a good Quicken spreadsheet.

My plan is to reformulate my post into an official letter.  I will take some of your comments to heart when doing it, take out the slang of my original post, shorten it (so people actually read it), and send it off to everyone I can think of.  I welcome all feedback and suggestions.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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