Sunday, July 31, 2011

JHU Drove Me to Drink*

A few days ago a very highly prized object arrived in the mail.  It was in a basic white nondescript tube, but when I saw the return address I actually said out loud "holy crap. you are real."  Then proceeded to put it in the highest place possible so that no baby would chew it and no toddler would spill milk or hide it.  It was John's diploma from Johns Hopkins University.

Let me preface this diatribe by saying I am completely and totally proud of my extraordinarily geeky husband for earning his MS in Systems Engineering from Hopkins (while working a very busy day job).  I am even more stoked that he figured out a way for the Navy to pay for it.  He rocks my socks and this post is not meant to downgrade his accomplishment. 

But this dang degree nearly drove me into a wine induced coma of frustration.  I decided that JohnS HopkinS was named such because it should take TWO of John to finish their stinking engineering degree program.  It caused more than one fight.  And right before John left for his deployment my feelings went quickly from anger to sadness about the amount of time it was stealing from our family.

Dramatic? Maybe  Absolutely.  But you would be pretty ticked too if your husband was given two weeks of leave before a 7 month deployment and proceeded to spend each day (including the weekends) of that leave at the library from 8AM to 6PM working on a final project for a Master's degree.  While you were home with two babies under the age of two and going through the "pre deployment blues".  And reading Facebook statuses about Bed and Breakfast weekends and Disney Cruises.  Yea.  Not a happy wife.

I know I was not being totally fair.  I started my Master's at 23 years old before we had kids or even a dog.  My first year was done while he was on his first deployment so I didn't even have to worry about spending enough time with John.  I went to class, had long coffee dates, studied in the library for hours without any guilt. He was at sea and babies weren't even a twinkle in our eye.  John supported me (financially and emotionally) the entire 2 years.  I graduated at 25, got a job, and worked for three years before Kate was born.  So for the record, I know that I had it much easier. 

But still.  (you may insert a foot stomp and bratty scowl here)

During an argument during his final semester I was being sassy and told him that I was "going to have a drink with that stupid diploma" when it arrived in the mail.  That it only made sense to stare at it and toast the "stupid" program that was such a huge sanity stealer for two years. 

So without further ado...



Cheers to you, Johnny.  Despite how much this tested my patience, I am truly proud of you.  It was a tough road, but you did it and I know that your investment of time will reap rewards for you and for our family that pale in comparison to two weeks of leave.  Thank you for always working so hard!

* At Test Pilot School my spouse's group had t-shirts made that said "TPS Drove Me to Drink" with a picture of a martini glass.  I am going to submit that Hopkins create a t-shirt of similar snark.  I know that there is a population of women who would buy them.  About 5 are very close girlfriends of mine.

The Dark Ages of Deployment

The Naval Academy has a period of time during the school year called the "dark ages".  Essentially it is the time between winter break and spring break where it is cold and gray and, well, a little depressing for midshipman.  From the sounds of my husband's recent emails, it seems that they are hitting a similar rut on deployment.

At this point they have been gone long enough (approaching 3 months) to feel disconnected from family and the home life.  Small children have hit milestones without them, birthday parties have been missed, babies have been born, anniversaries have passed.  But at the same time, we still have a long long way to go before they come home.

I get this feeling that John is starting to really feel the void.  That he is in a fleet version of the dark ages.  I have never for even one second pretended that I have it harder than him.  Yes, I am busy and taxed to my parenting limit sometimes, but at the end of the day I can watch my children play, listen to them laugh, revel in their milestones, and enjoy those smooshy baby hugs.  The idea that being a wife is the "toughest job in the Navy" (as those obnoxious bumper stickers like to profess) strikes me as absolutely ridiculous. My heart aches for the things John is missing while deployed.

I'm not sure if there is anything more I can do to make John feel close to home.  He already gets pictures and cards and care packages.  I'm just hoping we can hit halfway (mid August) quickly and that the downhill portion of this deployment brings happy anticipation and gives everyone a second wind.
Friday, July 29, 2011

Fleeting

Lately I have been overcome by some sadness about how fleeting life can feel as a military family.  How people, houses, places, comforts, jobs, and even things like familiar sounds and restaurants just come and go in and out of our lives so quickly and quietly.  I'm not sure what triggered this feeling, but I have been having a little trouble lately getting too attached or too excited about anything for fear that the second I really start to revel in it - it will be gone.

My life, and the lives of those around me, are constantly shifting.  Right now I have close friends planning their PCSs (military lingo for permanent change of station - or, simply put, moving away) to San Diego, Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii... you name it.  I also, thankfully, have several friends that are moving back to Virginia.  People who I love and haven't seen in months or years.  Our spouses are deploying, coming home, changing jobs, getting out the of the military, and signing contracts to stay in longer.  Sometimes every ounce of my body screams with the desire to grow roots somewhere.  To buy the "perfect" house, make it exactly what I want, watch my kids go to the same school with the same friends, enjoy my social circle and not worry about who is going to move next or what farewell dinner I have to go to now.  It can be so exhausting to worry (and yea, you can see the anxiety peeking out a little here) about who I am going to have to say goodbye to next.  And when I am going to have to say goodbye again, pack up my house, and move into the unknown.

But then something shifts.  A friend who I haven't seen in awhile moves back into my everyday life.  Or I go to a dinner party and enjoy the easy friendships that are formed between military spouses.  How because we don't have those roots, we aren't as hardened or "content" to just stick to the friends we have.  We want to meet others and form new friendships because our lifestyles force us to branch out.  It can be extremely uncomfortable sometimes, and the "see you laters" can cast a shadow on the "nice to meet yous", but the silver lining of a transient lifestyle is certainly there.  When you go through hard times and deployments with other women, near strangers become close girlfriends rather quickly.  So I wonder, do I actually enjoy this fleeting life?  As one of my good friends asked recently, "if you aren't living an adventure, what is the point in living?"  Good question. 

Life is short.  The romance of the transient adventure balanced against the comfort and safety of a "forever home" is a lingering question.  I honestly don't know what I want or when I want it.  I guess for now I need to focus on what makes me happy in the present. 
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Road trip snapshot.  Obviously chocolate was involved.
Saturday, July 23, 2011

90 Years of Calm

It is 10:00 PM right now in Connecticut.  Technically, my grandmother turns 90 in 2 hours.  But because she was born in England, I can safely say that she is officially a 90 year old woman.

This blog was created to try and journal my thoughts through John's deployment.  To keep things in perspective and to give me an outlet.  When trying to think of a title I immediately thought of my grandparents.

As most of you know, "Keep Calm and Carry On" was a phrase (and poster) intended as a morale booster in England during the second World War.  My grandmother, who is English, has always had a way of gracefully weathering difficult times.  She has epitomized that phrase in my mind.  She also loves martinis - but the straight up variety - so the cosmopolitans are more of a reflection of me.  She is the only 90 year old woman I know who can finish two martinis at dinner and still walk out of the restaurant on her own two feet.

We all think we have it hard.  That we live in a more complicated time.  That the "good old days" were in another era.  But when I think of the things that my grandparents have lived through, the challenges they faced so bravely (and at such a young age!), I am so humbled.

So in honor of my amazing grandmother, I am going to tell her story.  Most of this was written as a toast by my uncle.  I have added and subtracted some parts for this blog.

The year is 1921.  The place is England.  

The Great War has been over for less than three years.

On July 9, 1921, the truce is declared between what will become the Irish Free State and England.  The colonial secretary who negotiates the truce is Winston Churchill.  A Welshman, David Lloyd George, is Prime Minister.  George the V is King of England.


Many called this time the "magical summer of 1921" because the Empire is at peace for the first time in a generation.  On July 24th of that magical summer 90 years ago, my grandmother was born at Holme Park in Sussex.  


Joan's father, who fought in the Great War, had recently settled in as the head gardener on the magnificent Riverhall Estate.  The family lived in a gardener's cottage on the estate, and Joan grew up scampering about under huge pink and purple rhododendron.  Her first memories are of being under those flowers.


On to 1934.  Joan is 13 and the depression is imposing its weight even on the grand estates of England and the gardeners at Riverhall are let go.  Her father finds a new job work in the public garden in the village of Braintree in Essex.  The entire family moves to Braintree.


Two years later, on March 7, 1936, Hitler's armies reoccupy the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versaille and it seems clear, at least to Churchill, that the storm clouds of war are gathering over Europe again.  


Joan is now 15 and her childhood is coming to an end; and though it is not yet fully appreciated, the sun is setting on the British Empire.  The unsettling upheaval in the order of nation's events continues when, on December 10, 1936, Edward VIII becomes the first British Monarch in history to abdicate his throne.  He does it in order to marry the American divorcee, Mrs. Wallace Simpson.


Three years later, on September 1, 1939, Germany invades Poland and two days after that, on September 3, 1939, in accordance with their treaty obligations, England and France declare war on Germany.  Joan is 18 years old.


Less than a year later, in June of 1940, France surrenders to Germany and for the next year and a half Great Britain stands almost alone against the Nazis.  The struggle for air supremacy over England, and the Battle of Britain is fought.  The Germans attempt to bomb the English into submission and civilian casualties in London alone rise to 300-600 per day killed, and 1000-3000 a day wounded.  Despite Charles Lindbergh's prediction of the sure and rapid defeat of the Royal Air Force, the Battle of Britain is won by the British pilots in what Churchill calls England's "finest hour".  Hitler turns his attention to Russia.


The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, bringing the United States into the war, and creating the Grand Alliance.


Early in 1942, at the age of 20, Joan enlists in the Women's Royal English Navy, or as we refer to it, the Wrens.  In leaving her former life behind, she decides to change her name from Joan to Jill.  She becomes a radio operator based at the Anglesey Naval Base in Western England.  She keeps radio contact with convoys bringing vital supplies to England from the United States.  The work is difficult because of the complex codes used to avoid being tracked by the U-Boats that were hunting them.  


In 1944, an Army Air Corps aviator (my grandfather) arrives in England.


Stan and Jill meet on an evening in September of 1944.  He proposes the first night they meet. She tells him to "ask again tomorrow".  He does and again she tells him to ask "tomorrow".  On the third night he doesn't arrive.  My grandmother, not surprised, decides to forget about the handsome American.  It turns out that he was sent away on a mission and had to leave in the middle of the night.  Several months later he returns and they fall in love.


They were married less than a year later on June 22, 1945.  Jill was 23 years old, Stanley 20.  


Within weeks of their marriage, Stan's squadron begins its journey to the Pacific.  Stan is shipped first to the United States, where is he is granted brief leave.  He is on that leave when the Second World War comes unexpectedly to an end, in August 1945, when the dropping of two atomic bombs forces the surrender of the Japanese.


Late in 1945, Stan returns to England to fetch his bride.  They travel on a Pam American World Airways DC-6.  Jill arrives at LaGuardia Airport in January of 1946, with one suitcase, and enters her new country for the first time.  She is 24 years old.


Apartments are extremely scarce, so Stan and Jill stay with Stan's parents until they get a small 5th floor walk up in the Bronx.  Jill goes to work for Harper's Bazaar magazine and Stan attends NYU and drives a cab to pay the bills.


Stan graduates from NYU in 1949 and goes into the Air Force.  They move to Randolph AFB in San Antonio, TX.  Jill takes a 3 day train trip across the United States to Texas and it is only then that she realizes how really big the country is.  The scrublands of Texas look different than the green hills of England.


From Texas they move to Enid, OK where my mother is born.  Then to Ellington AFB in Houston.  Then to Mather AFB in Sacramento.  Then to Davis Monthon AFB in Tuscon where my uncle is born.


My grandfather starts having problems with his security clearance in the Air Force and his career has seemed to stall.  He finds out that because his mother is a "communist sympathizer", he will probably be denied promotion.  The fact that he is a Jew probably doesn't help either. Stan leaves the Air Force and joins American Airlines in 1953.  He is the first Jewish pilot hired by a major American airline.


Eventually, they settle together in Westport, Connecticut and live a life full of family, travel, and "extremely good fortune".  


My grandmother's zest for life is the same today as it was 5 and 50 years ago.  She plugs along, rolling over any obstacle in her path.  In the English fashion, she barely allows any of us to catch of glimpse of what lies behind her stiff upper lip.


Happy Birthday, grandma!  You are such an inspiration - both what you have done, but mostly the amazing attitude and wit you have exuded through the journey.  I hope I can grow up to be as graceful, loving, funny, and wise as you.  I am so proud to be named after you.
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Adventure

Yesterday we packed up the car and ventured on a road trip that spanned 7 states and over 400 miles.  It started with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

The amazing and sometimes scary 23 mile bridge-tunnel 

And ended, much to my frustration, with New York City rush hour traffic...

Only a slight exaggeration

But we made it!  After about 247 rounds of "The Wheels on the Bus" and 342 rounds of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" (which Kate wouldn't have unless both my mom and I sang it together - with hand motions), a few meltdowns (mostly me - the kids did awesome), and LOTS of caffiene we are in Connecticut.  I was greeted by my wonderful aunt and uncle and 4 glasses of wine.  This morning, despite a slight hangover, I am feeling good and happy that we made the drive.

This trip was made for one person - my grandmother.   A woman who has been like a second  mother to me my entire life.  She is turning 90.  And to celebrate, we are gathering her family and good friends for a series of celebrations.  Right now we are conspiring to think up 90 reasons that we love and admire her.  And while it might be hard to think up 9 reasons that some people are great, I could probably think of 900 reasons for my grandmother.  This project will be easy.

While we are here I will find the time to post the story of my grandparents and why they inspired some parts of this blog.  How in 1943, in a small English town, my American grandfather met my British grandmother and proposed that very night.  The story of their whirlwind romance during WWII is amazing and inspiring.  It helps to keep my feelings toward John's deployment in perspective.


 
Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sleep

The lack of posting is coming from one place - lack of sleep. I am bone tired.  I'm not sure why it has hit me this week.  Maybe it was because last week Kate was sick and we had lots of new teeth arrive for Connor.  Last week I slept very very little - drank more coffee than I care to admit to - but made it through relatively unscathed.  Or so I thought.  This week things are quieter; Kate is feeling better and Connor is the proud owner of 4 new teeth on top (6 total now). My body is finally like, "hey dude! pay attention to me!".  So instead of blogging (or really doing anything in the evenings) I have been going to bed early.  At 9PM I force myself to turn the lights out for the sake of my sanity.

I was telling my mom yesterday that I literally haven't slept straight through the night since sometime in late 2008.  I don't remember what it feels like to get in bed, pull up my covers, and then wake up to my alarm clock (or the sunrise).  Please don't think I am complaining about motherhood.  As someone who took the very long road to parenthood I am more than grateful for my children.  I am thrilled that the reason I haven't had a good solid sleep in so long is because of my two gorgeous babies.  But I am just exhausted. 

I hit a wall last weekend and decided that Connor was going to meet Dr. Ferber this week.  Making the decision to "Ferberize" is like making an investment.  You will lose a few nights sleep more than likely (to fussing, crying, and having to go do the timed checks) but according to his book, you will reap the rewards of much more sleep in the long run.  Of course the book recommends that both partners participate so that neither parent is completely a zombie during the process.  Right.  Strike that into "my husband is deployed, I'll do it alone, I'll suck it up" category.

This morning I am happy to report, that after 3 nights of Ferber, Connor slept from 7PM to 5:30AM without waking at all.  With no pacifier, no feedings, and no crying.  Thank you 8 pound 6 ounce sweet baby jesus.  And since my body was beyond ready for a solid night's rest - I slept through the night too.  Watch out world!
Monday, July 11, 2011

Moto Moustache?

My husband is perfectly adorable (if I do say so myself).  This is our third deployment and he has always sent me pictures throughout where I go "aww" or "so good to see you"...  until now.  Yes, I am being a drama queen, and yes, this post will be veiled in sarcasm, but I had to discuss the "deployment moustache" with women who might understand.

Here is a picture of my husband from a few short weeks ago:

John on the carrier deck going through the Suez Canal

And here (hide your children) is a picture from last night on Skype:

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Seriously, guys?  Are moustaches really motivational?  Does growing a small animal above your lip make you more of a man?  I made a mention of John's molest-ache moustache on Facebook and got many very heated and passionate responses from other military spouses. None positive.  Some were sympathetic and some were emphatic - but none that said "oh wow, it is so sexy when my husband decides to grow a scraggly moustache".

Maybe that is the point?  That at home, if John decided to start growing that thing  he would find me standing over him with a razor in the middle of the night.  So for the time being, I am out of his reach and no amount of ridicule from me (or other guys) will break him down.  He is his own man.  Hear him roar.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Months Down

Another month down, another month closer to homecoming.  A lot happened this month and we are starting to get into a good routine.

The Good:

* We all survived (this will hopefully be the first "good" bullet every month).  This includes humans, animals, and plants!
* My mom arrived for the summer.  It is a huge help to have an extra set of hands.  I also have more freedom to run evening errands and even go out with my friends without having to reserve and pay a sitter.  Also, I really think it is wonderful that my kids are getting so much time with their grammy.
* I have had several visits from close friends - my friend Kriste flew down from  NJ and my friend Melissa is here this weekend helping (my mom is at Bethany Beach with some girlfriends so she is pinch hitting).  Having John away stinks, but it motivates my girlfriends to visit more often because they see hear the desperation in my voice.  I need help.  And someone to drink wine with.  Come help me and I pay in wine.
* I have been running much more consistently.  Not quite up to the standard of the program, but enough that I am starting to feel more confident that the Rock 'n Roll will happen.
* We joined the Y and Kate has started swimming lessons.
* We had a fun party for Kate's 2nd birthday.  

The Bad:

* Kate got pretty sick.  I won't elaborate, if you read this blog then you are super bored of this topic already.
* Connor has had major sleep regression.  Kriste and Mel and my mom all know... I don't get much sleep these days.  It is pretty painful.
* I have not done as well with my diet this month.  I haven't gained weight, but the last 10 pound I need to lose are not coming off on their own.

Goals for next month:

* Keep running, keep dieting.  Lose 5 of the last 10 pounds.
* Survive a 10 hour road trip to Connecticut for my grandmother's 90th birthday.  This shall be interesting.
* I still need to read something other than "People".  My book club is reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and I am really excited to get into that.
* To start potty training Kate.  Wish me Godspeed on that one.
* Get this blog a little more spiffy.  I want to explain why it is "Keep Calm and Have a Cosmo" - why the WWII theme and the plane in the header are meaningful.  It has a lot to do with my grandmother (the one turning 90) and my grandfather.  Hopefully that story will come shortly.

I hope you all had a great month and are enjoying all things summer.  The pool, beach, cookouts, watermelon, frosty drinks, lemonade, afternoon thunderstorms, family outings, and vacations.  If your husband is deployed - keep your chin up - we can do this.  If your family is in tact, hug them a little tighter and give thanks.  Summer always feels like family to me (just as much as the holiday season) so it can be a hard pill to swallow knowing that Johnny is away, and will be away for a long time to come.

2 months down, 5(??) to go.
Friday, July 8, 2011

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

Are you standing at your kitchen sink doing your third round of dishes today?  Wishing you were in Maui but instead are cleaning high chair trays and changing diapers?  Yesterday I discovered that you can make a decent tropical drink with....

mixed with a little





Combine with ice and milk in a blender and VOILA:


Or maybe we should call it Pina-Pear Colada.  But either way, I'm only slightly embarrassed to say that it was actually pretty good!  And I didn't have to lug either child into a grocery store or be that girl with a baby (or two) in a bar.

I need a vacation.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cupcake Rejection

The past few days have been really crazy.  I have been avoiding even writing a blog post because I don't know where to begin.

One of my best friends from my Villanova days flew into Norfolk on Friday and spent the holiday weekend with us.  It was awesome to see her and we had a great time.  On Saturday she and I went to the beach and laid under an umbrella with our Kindles and conversation.  It was the first time in several years that I have fallen asleep on the beach (hello sunburn!) and it was perfection.  Saturday night was spent at Chick's Oyster Bar in Virginia Beach drinking Crushes and eating seafood.

Chick's Oyster Bar, Virginia Beach, VA

Sunday was Kate's birthday and we tried to celebrate by giving her every opportunity to eat sugar.  Kate hasn't been feeling very well so our attempts were met with temper tantrums at every turn. My friend had brought us red velvet cupcakes from Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ (the "Cake Boss" of TLC fame) and Kate wouldn't even eat that!  I posted last Friday about her doctor's appointment and lack of a diagnosis...  well, when my kiddo wouldn't even eat a cupcake, I knew that things weren't good.  We tried to fill Sunday with her favorite things - a trip to the splash pad at the Botanical Garden, dinner at a restaurant where she loves the pasta, and dessert at a frozen yogurt bar.  NOTHING made her happy.  It was an exhausting day and I was quickly becoming more and more unnerved.  My friend was doing mental math and making a note in her calendar to refill her birth control prescription.

My friend flew home on Monday morning and we spent the 4th of July in the back yard playing with some of Kate's new birthday gifts.  She wasn't too unhappy and was generally quiet and composed.  We had a few tough moments but I kept thinking that maybe it is just teething and maybe there is something to this "terrible twos" thing and maybe I should stop worrying.  Monday night I went out to another friend's house to watch fireworks (which turned out to be just a crazy lighting storm - fireworks canceled) and drink a little wine.

This morning things changed.  I woke up to the sound of Kate sobbing in her crib.  She never cries in the morning.  When I went to get her she was completely beside herself.  She wouldn't let go of me and I took her back into my bed.  About 30 minutes later Connor woke up and I had to go get him out of his crib.  Kate was not having it.  She threw the mother of all tantrums when I picked Connor up.  If you know Kate you know this is 100% out of character.  Enough was enough so I called the doctor again.  About an hour later we were on our way to the hospital. Again.

To make a long story short, Kate has strep.  I will just say that I am completely devastated that my daughter suffered all weekend after going to the doctor on Friday.  I am very disappointed that my doctor felt invasive tests like catheterizing my daughter was appropriate last week but that a simple strep swab was not.  That when I went in today that I was met with a lot of raised eyebrows.  They thought I was a nutty overprotective mom (even though Kate has never been on antibiotics before and has only been to the doctor two times outside of her well baby appointments).  I had to beg for a strep test and when it came back positive FINALLY was met with some vindication.  As terrible as it sounds, I was thrilled to have a diagnosis and a prescription to treat the problem.  I am not crazy, my "mom instinct" is correct, and I guess I need to advocate a little harder for my children in the future.

Here's to the antibiotics doing their job and getting my sweet, happy, and fun loving little girl back.  The one that would have devoured that red velvet cupcake in 5 minutes.
Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, smart, funny, talkative, loving, meticulous, curious, loveable, wonderful, Katie-bug. 



Two years ago you surprised us a month before your due date.  You never looked back.  Your daddy and I are so excited to see what your third year brings. 

Please Excuse the Construction...

I'm working on making this blog a little more attractive...  Please excuse any glitches!
Friday, July 1, 2011

Vulnerabilities

Today was one of those days where I felt like the one legged woman in an ass kicking contest.  I have always loved that visual because it rings so true to situations where it is hard to cope.  Where you know trying to do all the things you need to do is fruitless and then when you do try, because you have to, you end up on your tush.  I felt knocked down for a good portion of today. 

We had our first doctor-visit worthy ailment of the deployment this morning.  My daughter has been acting like an escaped psych ward inmate for a few days.  Bi-polar to the point where I was considering cracking my old DSM-IV-TR from graduate school and diagnosing her.  But seriously, ugh.  Well, this morning I woke up to "mommy... I'm hot, no cold, no hot, no cold".  I took one look at her and could tell she was burning up.  When the thermometer started creeping over 102 I knew a doctor's visit (which means Portsmouth Naval Hospital parking garage!) was in order.  And of course it was the Friday before a 4 day weekend.  Of freakin' course.  Both of my babies were born on holiday weekends, why would they get sick any other time?

Thankfully, my mom is here.  Oh how glorious it is to have a partner right now.  I was thanking my lucky stars as I drove through the tunnel into Portsmouth with only one baby in tow.  I found a decent parking space and wheeled my way into the hospital.  I was fairly confident* that it was an ear infection.  We have had two weeks of swimming lessons and I used to get swimmers ear all the time in the summer.  And that is very painful! 

We waited and waited in the "acute care" (sick) waiting room.  I am generally thankful when Ped's offices separate the well-baby visit patients from the sick patients.  But I am always icked out when my kids touch the books and toys in the acute care waiting room.  Of course, how do you tell your almost 2 year old that is already running a fever and acting like Linda Blair that she can't touch the toys?  For 40 minutes.  You can't.

We are finally seen and the doctor takes .05 seconds to tell me that nope, it isn't her ears.  Sorry.  Dang.  Well, I figured they would send me home and we would look for a rash or some other ailment to pop up and explain what caused this.  Then the chief resident walks in...  And my day started going downhill.  She explained that the other common cause of fever in babies Kate's age is Urinary Tract Infections.  And that a UTI can be dangerous for her kidneys and blah blah blah.  The next thing I knew they were asking if she was potty trained yet (no) or if she would pee on demand (um, I can't get her to eat a cracker today).  So they broke the news that they needed to catheterize her (!!!!!!!!!!) to get a urine sample to rule out UTI so that my baby didn't go home for the long weekend and get a kidney infection. 

This is where my hackles went up.  My child almost hit the ceiling when they tried to check her EARS.  They want to cath her?  Seriously?  It was one of those parenting moments where I seriously considered going against medical advice.  But then I got nervous and worried about the weekend.  And the guilt (haven't we been here before?).  So to make a long story short, my poor sicky Kate was catheterized.  I cried. 

It isn't a UTI.  So I drove 40 minutes, took 20 minutes to park, spent an hour in the waiting room, had my child see 3 doctors, and get cathed...  for, well, pretty much nada.  Yea, I know that it is better to be "safe than sorry", but it wasn't a great start to my holiday weekend.  And as I was doing this I was thinking about my current existence.  And this story, long winded and probably boring, is all a lead up to some thoughts I have been having about the way being a mom of two small kiddos with a deployed husband feels.

I feel extremely vulnerable and exposed.  I feel like I have too many balls in the air and that the slightest shift in the wind or added responsibility will cause all of the balls to fall.  That I survived this morning with some semblance of dignity only because my mom was here.  How on earth would I have been able to restrain and comfort my daughter while she was having her procedure if my 7 month old son was in the room too?  Could I have? 

I worry about the air conditioning, my car, the weather (no hurricanes or floods please), illness, broken washer and dryers, the fridge going out, all the way down to silly things like the cable going out or the dog getting out of the fence.  Anxiety has always been an issue with me, ask any of my close friends.  I am a worrier.  But I feel like in this instance, I have a lot to worry about.  I read some chat boards and the women talk about "what ifs".  What if they were knocked unconscious and their husband didn't find them for 5 hours and they were alone with the baby?  My mind races to "holy crap... my husband wouldn't find me for 5 months!"  I know that is ri-dic-u-lous.  But I feel vulnerable.

Don't worry folks, as I sit here writing this both babies are cozy in their cribs and fever free.  I have a glass of wine in hand and a wonderful mom downstairs cleaning my kitchen.  I am so lucky.  But today just reminded me how amazing mothers who have no partner are.  That goes for military spouses, single moms, women whose husbands travel a lot.  All of us.  Kids are darn hard work and we stress and mull over all the scenarios until we are completely exhausted with worry.  I am hoping that as the months tick by I will learn how to cope, how to truly take things one day at a time.  When my own kids would ask me in counseling sessions (hopefully this post won't cause the NBCC to revoke my counseling license) how to deal with stress I would always advise them never to look at tasks as a huge clump but to break them into smaller tasks and tackle them one at a time.  I know telling a teen to be short-sighted is like reminding a pregnant person to eat.  But still.  It helps not to get ahead of yourself.

So, how do you cope when you have too many balls in the air?  I feel like a newb to this whole parenting without a net lifestyle and would love some tough love.

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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