He makes it easy to love him so much....

"I wake day or night, suit and boot, for the safety of my people, my family, my love... my life." (It's not much but it's for you baby, I love you) - Joshua Reeves

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Always The Dreamer..

Imagine a fall afternoon, the sun is setting behind the mountains, casting waltzing shadows over a little house with a smoking chimney. The trees look ablaze with their red and orange leaves, and a small stream is alive, seeming to sparkle with thousands of diamonds. The air is crisp and clean, and you can hear nothing but the bubbling of the water and the crackle of leaves swirling on the ground. There is a wrap around porch enclosing the little house, and on it rests two rocking chairs.

Sounds kind of like a Thomas Kinkade painting to me, but it's as vivid and real in my mind as my next breath. It's the picture Josh and I paint every time we talk about our dream home. It's a life we hope to get to someday, a more simple, slower paced life. It's the kind of dream that keeps us moving forward, working hard, and believing.

Sometimes I think we were born in the wrong generation, that we would have fit in better in a past time. Josh believes in the old values, and so do I. I'd much rather talk to a real live person, deal with a human being, than communicate through technology.People these days just don't seem to care too much about each other. A customer is a dollar sign, not someone you want to get to know, someone you value. Josh believes that you should have to work for what you're given, that you should be rewarded by how hard you try, not who you know, or where you come from. He believes in honor, and providing for his family.

I'm not saying that people don't believe in these things these days, it's just not talked about much. People have been driven by greed and power since the dawn of time, but it's a different world today than it was say fifty years ago. People used to know their neighbors, they used to know their Doctor on a more personal level, some doctors even made house calls regularly. We used to hold doors for each other, when did we start asking, "What's in it for me?" before our actions?

I want my kids to grow up in an environment where they're free to explore. Where they can go out in the woods and get lost for hours in their own imagination. Where they can ride their bikes from one end of town to the other without this huge fear that they'll be mugged, or abducted, or run over. I want to go to the store and recognize the people in line, the manager, the cashier, as my neighbors. I want to have an active role in the community and feel like it's Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls.

This is the world I want to be a part of, and I know there has to be towns like this hidden throughout the country. Where people really care about their neighbors, where we can fit right in, sit on our front porch, and watch the kids run wild.

I have always had an over-active imagination. I also dream big and without limitation. If Josh and I could climb into that Thomas Kinkade painting I know we would.

We've been entering in a contest to win a dream home in a town much like I've described. I've never been there so I can't attest to the people, but the house is that picture, the trees are alive, and I can say without a doubt that I've never wanted to win something so much in my life.

We're not delusional, we know the odds of winning this thing are ridiculous, but it's been so

invigorating just throwing ideas around about who we'd be in this house, what we'd do, where we'd go, how we'd live. It's reminded us that dreaming isn't just fun, it's breath of fresh air when the real world can be so stifling. It's a way to imagine the future with that silver lining, and then laugh over our mind creations.

It's been a fun few days of remembering the dreams we had together when we very first met, the things that we have in common that will never change, and the love that we have for each other that's like nothing else in this world. It reminded us that though things don't always turn out the way you think, we have everything we ever wanted in our kids and our marriage. It's made us feel so very lucky, and so very thankful.

And who knows, we just might win. :)

Until next time, you've been Nicked!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What We've Decided...

My husband is getting snipped.

I suppose the politically correct way to say this would be, my husband is getting a vasectomy.

Either way, we're done with our baby making. We have two perfectly happy, healthy, amazing children and we couldn't ask for anything more. Our family is at the perfect size for us, one child per arm, or one per parent. Knowing in the future there will be plenty of times where Josh is gone and I'll be the single parent played a lot into the decision, at least for me.

I will admit though, that for a while there I just couldn't commit to the idea of never having another child with Josh. With how perfect the first two came out, why wouldn't we want a few more? I had to look deep inside and really think about it.

Lincoln was our planned baby, we couldn't have been more excited when we found out we were expecting. It was a pretty smooth pregnancy, other than the never ending morning sickness that lasted all day for the entire duration of his womb dwelling. Lincoln Michael was born on April third 2008, at thirty-six weeks, a month earlier than the doctor would have liked, but was a healthy six pound, handsome little devil. They did have to help him breathe when he first came out, but overall it was an amazing experience.

When Lincoln was about eleven months old I found out I was two months pregnant with our daughter, Sophia. I was on birth control pills, and was shocked, to say the least, when I saw those two little pink lines. My friend Amanda had to calm me down, because my first reaction was, "I just had a baby. I can't do this right now! How could I love a baby as much as I love Lincoln. How are we going to afford another baby?" Josh's reaction was even a little more dramatic. Two kids, eighteen months apart, is a pretty big responsibility. As much as we were in love with our first baby, adding one to the mix at this point seemed crazy.

The further along in my pregnancy, this time with very little morning sickness, and not working full-time till the end, the more excited I got. I still remember the day we went to see if we were having a girl or a boy. Josh insisted it was another boy, that his family only puts out boys and he was so sure. When I was pregnant with Lincoln I just knew from the beginning that he was a boy, you can ask my Mother, I told her over and over that it was a boy, despite the fact that she wanted a girl. The second time though, I just didn't know. So when the doctor asked, "See that there?" I said, "Is it a boy?" and she said, "Not with those lady lips."

And so we added Sophia Evelynn to the Reeves family a few days after her due date on October fifth, 2009. She came in to the world at a heavy eight pounds one ounce, and a lot faster than her brother did. I would take her delivery over Lincoln's any day.

I was lucky enough to have Josh and my Mom by my side for both births. I got to see the emotion on my husband's face when he first saw his children. A man I love for his strength and his heart, was moved to tears twice, once for each child. I will cherish those memories forever.

That being said, I want to be able to spend massive amounts of one on one time with the kids. I want them to get to go to Disney Land with Josh and Me and not have one of us off with the younger kids. I want to give them most of the things that they want in this world, and the more kids we add to the mix the more difficult it would be to do those things.

Josh is ready to not stress about another surprise addition, so he's pushed this a little harder than I think he normally would, and I don't blame him for that. The three of us are his family and he's content with us the way we are. While I'm sure I could love another child just as much as I love the first two, I'm content too.

I think one of the biggest things that helped me come to my final decision was the look on Josh's face when he realizes that he's missed something. He's going to continue to be gone for a lot of the next five years, and while he's been lucky to witness a lot of the major milestones of our kids lives, he has missed a lot of the little stuff. It breaks his heart to leave them, and I don't think he'd forgive himself if he missed a birth, or a pregnancy. I think if I'm being honest, it would hurt me too, if he missed something so special.

He also volunteered for this surgery ladies and gents! He insists! Which is amazing to me, I suffered some major pain delivering two kids naturally, with no pain medication what-so-ever (I'm allergic), and so he thinks it's only fair he gets this procedure done. Did I mention I love my husband to pieces... because I really do.

I thought about just getting one of those implants, five years of birth control, and then you can decide if you're done or not. Andrea went that route, which I think is a great option for her since she's only got Meredith, and might change her mind at some point. For me and Josh though, we've decided that we're just done. We don't want to take any chances, we just want to be assured that we're done. We love our children more than life itself, and that's enough for us. We're both so giving and loving, that if for some reason we ever want more children, we'll rescue/adopt a child that needs a good home.

I just wanted to share, this decision was a very personal, hard, and emotional one to make. The journey just made me thankful for everything that I already have though, and now we can make this decision with confidence.

The hubs is getting snipped.

Until next time, you've been Nicked!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Like a little rustle in the leaves...

Up In The Mountains,
There is Magic in the trees,
When the wind blows through and through.
It is here I'll climb higher and higher,
Where it's cold, and crisp, and true,
It is here I'll close my eyes,
And be blissfully renewed.

Poem by Nicole Reeves, Photo by Jamey Marie Tonsgard
I'm not sure how it happened, but it hit me like a ton of bricks today. I was doing chores, playing with the babies, minding my own business... and it was like the lights went out. My whole world lost it's silver lining, and the clouds came rumbling in. The walls are bare, and so is the floor for the most part, even the paint is sterile white. My furniture is here, my things, and my little family, but it's just not home. There aren't any trees here, everything looks gloomy and dead. I don't care if the sun is out most of the year, it looks like death outside.
My family isn't here, they're all back in good old Washington State. I think that's the real issue. I'm more homesick today than I've been since we moved here. I miss the little things, like the smell of my Grandpa's shed, a mixture of sawdust and building supplies, it's something that can't be copied. Like the way my Grandma hugs you with her whole soul, it wraps a warmth around your heart and squeezes it tight. Like the smell of the rain on the pavement after a warm day, or the rustling of the wind in the trees. The sounds and smells of my childhood.
I grew up with a rain forrest literally in my back yard. A glacier just down the road, where I could ride my bike to it, hike the trails and get lost in the beauty of the world. There were more rainy days than sunny ones, but the trade off is real beauty. Greens, browns, reds, yellows, all the colors you can dream of were vibrantly displayed. Alaska is one of those places that I think everyone should experience in their lifetime.
Then we moved to Washington, or back to Washington if you count life before the age of six. It's a little diluted compared to Alaska, but you get more defined seasons. You can always drive up north and see the same type of terrain as I was used to in Alaska, so it still feels like home there.
It's only now that I'm starting to learn, Home is more of a feeling than a location.
I need to get out and make friends, but I have anxiety about it. I'm not sure where its stemming from but it's definitely there. I spend entirely too much time in this house that needs decorating. I stare at the walls and think that it looks like no one lives here. There's furniture here but no warmth, no touch of us, anyone could live here, like a hotel room, it's lacking signs of life. I need to paint, put of pictures of the people I love, throw some pretty rugs down over this cold floor.
I think this house is a direct reflection of my life here in Texas. I haven't really put any effort into fixing it yet. I think it's me worrying too much about Josh leaving. I'm trying to postpone my own life and suck in all the family time that I can hold. I know it's not healthy, and I know I need my own life too, but I'm hurting, I'm scared, and I'm homesick.
So, all that just kind of hit me today, this weight that laid me out flat on the floor and laughed at me. I know that all I have to do is get up and make changes, but I might lay here for a minute and soak in this defeated feeling. That way when it's fixed, when my life starts feeling like my own again, I'll be able to truly appreciate it.
As far as decorating my house goes, I'm putting trees in here. It's the most symbolic "thing" that I miss, and so it's got to be the answer. If I had to be something other than human, I'd want to be a tree.
Okay, I'm really out of it tonight!! My favorite show (One Tree Hill) is recording and I'm about to make a hot cup of tea and just relax in front of the TV. I need to take a break from taking my life so seriously and just let it flow!!!
Until next time, consider yourself Nicked!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Disney, You Just Get Me!

Stealing some inspiration from a family favorite tonight, a song from Cinderella.
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true!

I have so many dreams for my kids, but I want them to have their own. Tonight I'm thinking about the dreams I have for myself. A lot of them are things we all wish for, like watching my children grow up with my husband by my side, owning a house with a yard and maybe even a pool, feeling accomplished and independant.

There are dreams that you can MAKE happen though, and the one that has been with me since I was old enough to dream is to write a book! A story that I'm proud enough of to submit it for publishing. It doesn't ever have to become a published book, but I want that self satisfaction of knowing I set out to finish a story, and sent it off into the world for judgement.

When I write a story, I put so much emotion into it, so many real feelings into my characters, that I start to feel vulnerable sharing it. That's what I've always loved about reading though, feeling like you're a part of the character, placing yourself in their shoes and living vicariously through them. I live a love story, a real breathing, working, love story. I want to write one, one that moves people somewhere close to the degree that I feel. I know that there are a lot of good love stories out there, The Notebook, The Rescue, A Knight in Shining Armor, Romeo & Juliet, Pride & Prejudice... (to name a few of my personal favorites.) I don't expect to be the next Nicholas Sparks, but I don't want to write some boring cliched novel either. I want fireworks, and that is going to take sweat, tears, and true emotion.

I'm setting goals this year to achieve these dreams, but goals are only half of the battle.

The other half is execution. I tend to have a bit of a problem with this part, I let doubt creep in, or I just get busy with the daily things in life and put the dream on the back burner. These are really just excuses, and I need to start recognizing them as such if I ever want to get anywhere. I want to live a life I'm proud of, and I want my children to achieve the dreams that they set out to accomplish, so it's time to get serious. I'm going to work on finding myself while Josh is away, something that will fight off the loneliness, sadness, and fear, and hopefully something that will turn into accomplishing that dream I've held on to for so long.

Speaking of dreams, my two year old hasn't had a nap today, so it's time for me to get him some dinner and send him to bed. Until next time, consider yourself Nicked.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dance Dance Dance..

I vow that someday I will get my husband to dance with me. Today though, I was content doing it with my little man! If you don't already own a Wii, you should really find a friend that does and try it out. It's entertaining, and can be quite a workout! My newest love is Just Dance 2.

I put on the new workout clothes that Josh got me for my Christmas, laced up my trusty old tennis shoes, and shook my butt like I was on fire! It has a mode called, "Just Sweat," and you can bet that's what I was doing. This might actually be something I can stick with, it's not boring to me like running down the road, it had me laughing and singing along in no time.

I have to do something, I'm back in that "hate my body" mode. Ever since I had Sophia I've struggled with losing the baby weight. I didn't have this hard of a time losing it with Lincoln, but then I suppose that's what comes with having two children in an 18 month period. Oh, Sophia, I love you more than life, but wowee you did a number on your Mama's body!

I'm not saying I'm huge or anything, I have about thirty pounds that I reluctantly stuff into my clothes, refusing to buy new ones until I'm at the weight I want to be. I want to feel sexy in my own skin, confidant in my clothes. I was doing really good while Josh was gone, and then he came home and that happy married life kicked back in... along with ice cream in bed, dinners out, and soda.

It's time to get serious, buckle down and kick my own butt into gear. I want to get up in the morning and feel energized and ready to go. I'm sick of dragging around feeling lazy and ... FAT. I know most of it is a state of mind, but that little gremlin has taken refuge in my brain and won't leave until the scale shows it true results. Get out of my head NEGATIVITY! I'm working on a solid plan, and the first step is accountability. Time to start logging weight, being honest with myself about what I'm eating and how hard I'm working, and maybe even logging nutrition facts for what I'm eating so I can see where the problem is at.

Mostly I want one less thing to stress over while my husband is gone. We all know what kind of monsters Doubt, Fear, and Low Self-Esteem are, and the damage they can do to our Strength and Emotional Well-Being. So I have to make sure I call some Ghost-Busters, and check under the bed, make sure I'm not letting those little creepers win!

I want to be proud of me. I want to like my body. I CAN achieve these goals.

So, wish me luck, cheer me on, and most importantly, call me out if you see fit! The more focus I have on this the better. This year I'm not only working on the emotional me (with this blog), I'm taking a stand on my physical health!!

So, I had my last Coke today, that's my first big commitment. Next step, daily Wii workouts, and checking out the on-post work out option! Zumba anyone?

Until next time, you've been Nicked!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

Last night was the long awaited FRG meeting, the one with dates and information about the upcoming Deployment. It was also my very first time leaving my kids at any kind of daycare. Let's just say I missed the entire meeting because the CYSS people called me out of it. Sophia was crying too much, HELLO, she's a year old... and Lincoln was not cooperating with circle time, again he's only two. Needless to say I was less than impressed with their knowledge of childcare, and then hurt beyond words when the lady gave me her "advice."

"Ma'am, don't you know they have parenting classes on Fort Hood? Are you new or something? You need to bring your kids to the daycare for about fifteen minutes a day until they know how to behave in a childcare setting."

This is all I'm going to share with you, because I'll get too upset if I go on any more. This woman was standing there telling me that I'm a bad mother, that I need parenting classes, and that my children are misbehaving little monsters. I was too upset to even blog about it last night, I cried in front of Josh's superiors and felt so embarrassed. I know I should have been raging mad, but most mothers would probably agree with me when someone attacks your parenting skills, or says you're doing wrong by your kids, it stings.

I'm debating whether or not to call and make a formal complaint about this woman. I sat in that daycare with the kids for almost an hour waiting for the meeting to get over. I witnessed some things I don't feel are appropriate childcare techniques, and while I don't claim to have any kind of "professional training" I AM A MOTHER, and I know how I want my children to be treated.

Let me ask you this, if you were watching a group of children from new born age to kindergarten age, would you take all the toys away and force them to sit quietly in a circle to hear a story? Does that make sense to anyone? I'm done talking about this though, I had a horrific first experience with Daycare, but I won't give up just yet.


I dropped my husband off in front of III Corps building today so he could catch a bus to College Station. He's part of some demonstration there, more than likely to recruit more troops, but either way, he looked absolutely amazing in his class A's. He hates them, as do most soldiers I hear, they're green so they've been nicknamed "the pickle suit" somewhere along the line. There is so much pride in me though when I see my handsome husband all decked out in a tie, and his shiny black shoes, and all those medals hanging off his chest. (Okay, he's only a PFC so there aren't that many, but I'm proud all the same.)

One of the most important messages they wanted to get across at the meeting last night was that we need to start preparing to be single Moms again. *sigh*
Time to take the kids grocery shopping alone, carry them inside the house one at a time, juggling groceries and whatever toys have migrated to the car
Time to make financial arrangements, get POA's up to date, make sure all important paperwork is copied and filed for emergency use.
Time to get serious about making friends here, finding play groups, getting daycare set up so Mama doesn't have to be on duty 24-7-365.

Time to hug tight, love hard, and prepare our hearts for the crazy year we're going to be facing.

Josh asked me last night what I want to do for the two weeks of block leave he gets before he deploys. I told him to think hard about what HE wants to do and then get back to me. He mentioned visiting Alaska, our home-state (well at least our childhood state), and I'm considering it. Though I'd love to just have him home with me and the kids and just soak up as much love as we can, that would be a pretty fun adventure with the kids.

Speaking of my kiddos, both of them are.. GASP.. napping!!! So I'm going to take advantage of this quiet time and get some things done! Until next time, consider yourself Nicked!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Whole Year Of Firsts

We're coming up on a year of Josh being in the Army. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago that I pulled up in front of the recruiter office to drop him off. It was sunny and warm, the middle of March, and life was going on as normal all around us. The parking lot was busy, and other families were saying their goodbyes in the entry way of the building.

We looked at each other in the car with a mixture of excitement, fear, and love. Josh got out and I met him halfway holding him as tightly as I could. I couldn't say much more than, "I love you," around the lump in my throat. He wouldn't be home with us again until late in the fall, and at that moment it just felt like an eternity. I was proud of him already, of the sacrifices he was making for his family, and I wanted to tell him but couldn't form the words. I watched him go first to Sophia's door, our sweet baby girl only five months old, kiss her softly and tell her that Daddy loves her. He was already fighting back the tears, as I am now just remembering the moment, when he got to Lincoln's door. He looked at me and tried to smile before reaching in to kiss his son. He told him in a quiet voice that Daddy had to go away for a while, but that he loved him so much, and he'd be thinking of him everyday. Then he kissed me one last time, and walked through the door with the other men.

I remember crying the whole drive home, taking a few extra roads to just clear it out of my system. Then carrying the babies up to our apartment one at a time, knowing I had a long road ahead of me also, as a single mother for the next few months. I felt really alone and scared, everything was so new, and I had no idea what to expect, or when I'd hear from my best friend again. Before that day, Josh and I had only spent about two weeks of the last eight years apart. He's my world, he understands me like no one else can, and he really is my best friend, and I was terrified to face life without him, even temporarily.

But I pushed on, some days were harder than others, but before long the kids and I had a routine going. Letters and phone calls were like GOLD, but maybe what helped the most was having that Facebook page to go to, where so many Echo Company 2/47 wives were also waiting for any information on their Husband. It was on this facebook page, that I met some really good friends and an extraordinary woman.

I make friends pretty easily, but it's not every day that you connect with someone on a higher level. Here I was, in the completly new experience, scared, tired, and alone... and then out of nowhere there was Andrea.

We clung to each other all the way up to graduation. We met each other in the parking lot of the PX at Fort Benning, GA on June 1st, 2010, and hugged like we'd known each other our whole lives. We went through this experience, of waiting for our husbands, of being both parents, and then we got to share that magic moment when we got our Husbands back.

We just get each other, we're a lot a like, even though we come from opposite sides of the country. I eat food she's never heard of, and she says things in ways that make me laugh, but it makes our friendship even more interesting. I have the Army to thank for finding me a friend through all of this, for helping both of us to get through the tough times, and have someone to share the happy times.

We got through AIT together, which in so many ways was harder than Basic Training. Now our husbands could call home more often, we could skype, and even got to see them on a few four day weekends, but it was harder every time to say goodbye. Friends and Family back home meant well, tried to help us through, but there's something to say about being in the same place emotionally as someone else, being each others strength when we really needed someone.

To call Andrea my best friend isn't close enough to the truth, she's my family now, and as long and scary and different as this year has been. As hard as it was to adjust to this new lifestyle, I'm thankful every day that we found each other.

I'm kind of rambling, I meant to talk about what a journey this year has been, but my heart got away with me. I feel utterly blessed to have a husband that's my best friend, and a woman that's like my very own sister. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. As hard as the last year has been, and as scary as the upcoming one is going to be, I have someone very special to me, that I know is always going to be there. I know you're reading this Andrea, and I thank you for the friendship you've given me so freely, I love you. I am here for you always.

I'm overly emotional today or something, so I'll end here, until next time, you've been Nicked.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Journey...

I hear corney lines all the time, but there's one that is starting to ring true for me. "Life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey."

We can't wait for things to fall into place, or hope that someday things will change. We have to make changes, do what we feel when we feel it. If for some reason we never make it to some future destination, won't it be nice to know we made the best of every moment that we had?

Parenting is a journey, and right now we're struggling over some of the little bumps. I refuse to get discouraged, but I could use some helpful advice! Sophia is my fifteen month old, she's walking, and making noises, she knows a few words, she claps and waves, but for some reason she refuses to get off of her Formula. I don't know what to do, and I know that it's going to get to a point where it's more calories than she needs. She eats with us, has a love affair with chicken, and will drink juice with meals, but when it's time for a nap or bedtime she wants a sippy cup with formula or she'll scream and cry and refuse to sleep.

I know a lot of parenting is live and learn, trial and error, but I feel a little like a lost boat. I need that flashing lighthouse light, so please, if you have the answer, comments are wonderful!

I've tried giving her regular milk, or just water. Half formula, half milk. Just a tiny bit of milk in with the formula hoping to work up to more, but she knows right away that something isn't right and won't drink it.

Let me know if you have any idea's or suggestions!

I hurt my back this weekend carrying one of the kids around so I'm going to cut this short, but I'll make up for it this week! Until then, consider yourself Nicked! And thanks in advance for any advice!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ahh, Laughter, My Old Friend!

It's like I've been outside of myself for a while, hovering like a ghost above my own body, without being conciously aware of it. If a storm had come I might have been blown away in the wind and lost forever. I've been living in that morning fog before you're fully awake, and now I've finally been able to shake it off and see clearly. I'm laughing, not right this second, but my husband and I are playing again, joking and teasing. Some of the stress from this major life change, the move, and of this upcoming deployment is lifting. No sense in worrying about things that we have no control over, but try telling yourself that, you have to honestly start to feel it.

I haven't just let loose in a long time, just cleared my mind and gave in to the moment. Josh is really good at getting the giggles out of me though. He's a lot like a little boy, as I'm coming to realize most men are, and I think that works well for us. Every once in a while I need him to snap me out of "Responsible" mode, so I can be ME. I have no problem letting loose with the kids, playing toy story characters or making silly animal noises, but there is level of letting loose that's harder to reach on an adult level.

My Mom came to visit me this last week, and we had a really good time just hanging out around the house. It was really nice to see Lincoln play with his Memaw again, he loves her in a very extra special way. I miss her when we're not together, but it was nice that when she was here I didn't feel sad about it. I wasn't caught up on the fact that I only had a week with her. I think my mindset is changing, I'm a real Army Wife now.

I feel like I'm growing up in a big way, I don't need my parents to be physically near by, because I've always known emotionally we're together. I can stand on my own two feet, I have my own family to lead now, and I'm ready for the job. My first rule, LAUGHTER is a must. :)

I whole-heartidly recommend you let your husband hang you upside down by your feet, you have a pillow fight, or whatever it is that makes you laugh. Get some old games out, board games, video games, word games, it doesn't really matter and get into it!! Laugh until you cry, make your own inside jokes, wink at each other. It feels so good to just play.

Kids play all the time, when do we stop playing? Why?! I vow to never stop playing, never stop laughing, no matter how much stress, or tragedy is going on around us, it's only the end of the world when we stop doing what makes us happy. It's not hard to have fun, you just have to put yourself out there.

"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insain." - Robert Frost

Have a laugh with me, and until next time, you've been Nicked!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Call Me Crazy...

I've been getting comments, on a subject that I feel strongly about, so I'd like to clear some things up for the naysayers.

I am in the process of joining my FRG's (Family Readiness Group) CARE team. Before I go into the comments I've been given, here is a brief description of what a CARE team is/does:

The purpose of the CARE Team is to offer short-term care and support to Families of deceased and seriously wounded Soldiers/Civilians until the Family's own support structure is in place.

CARE Team volunteers provide assistance that complements the assistance provided by the Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO), Chaplain, and Rear Detachment Commander. The focus of CARE Team volunteers' efforts is on providing practical assistance and emotional support to the Family on a short term basis so that the Family can continue to function while dealing with a traumatic event. The actual support provided depends on the Family needs and command guidance but can include:

*Call Support *Home Care Assistance *Childcare Support *Meal Support *Transportation *Assistance to visiting Family *Other Family Support

Now that we got that out of the way, I want to tell you how alarmed I was at some of the responses I got from breaking the news to my friends and family.

I posted this simple status on my facebook, "I'm now volunteering with my FRG's Care Team! Wish me Luck!" and it was as if I'd said, "I'm going to do drugs! Wish me Luck!" I'm not even sure some of the people who responded have any idea what a Care Team does.

Call me crazy, but I want to have an active role in this Army life. Most of my friends are not actively involved in their husband/significant other's career, and so in some ways I don't expect them to understand. However, It's not like my Husband works nine-to-five in a cubicle. I can't just decide I want to take a job in another state, I can't ask him to quit his job, or transfer somewhere else because there is an opportunity for me, we can't just "quit" when it gets too hard. My Husband works for the US Army, we go where they tell us, when they tell us, and I'm sorry, but I refuse to just go along for the ride. Any chance that I have to be involved, you better believe I'll be first in line, notepad and pencil in hand.

I will admit, working with a family who just lost their Soldier or are going to have to adjust to living with a seriously injured one doesn't sound like a sparkling or glamorous job, but it is a necessity for which I feel I am genetically programed to carry out. I am calm under pressure, I don't buckle at the first sign of tragedy, in fact, I put on a brave face and let out the most compassionate me when I'm needed most. I've always been a friend you can come to for advice, a shoulder to cry on, the strong one. It makes me feel good to help people, if it's something I can do, why wouldn't I give someone I care about the effort?

We are a country at war, a war that my Husband and his fellow Soldiers are fighting now. Death is a reality of that. Casualties are a part of this life. Some people are more than happy to live in a cloud of fantasy, but the truth is, not all the Soldiers are coming home the way we want them to, and I can not ignore this fact. I have to live with the grim reality that my Husband may get hurt or killed over there. I like knowing that if the worst thing in this world happens to my Family, I wont be alone.

The Care Team doesn't knock on doors and tell people the bad news, they don't give counseling or advice to the grieving families. They just make everyday life easier. Someone to pick the kids up from school when you can't get out of bed. Someone to make sure you and the kids are eating, and getting clean laundry and dishes. Someone to pick your Family up from the airport and bring them to you so that you can cling to each other. Someone to make sure your bills get a stamp on them and make it to the mailbox. I want to be that person for my fellow Army wives, because I'm more than capable, and because I would hope, that if anything were to ever happen to my family, someone would want to be there for us.

So, to the people that have been saying things to me like:

"Why would you want to have such a morbid task?"
"That's just going to make you more paranoid while Josh is gone."
"Yuck, can't someone else do that job?"
"You're crazy girl, that's just not a job anyone should VOLUNTEER FOR"


I understand if you feel concerned for me, if you think this might be a huge undertaking, but watching someones kids, or making a meal for a Family so that they can concentrate on more important tasks, really doesn't seem outside of my abilities. I just wanted to inform my friends and family, so that you can have a better understanding of what I will be expected to do.

I'm sorry if this post seems angry, it's not meant to at all. I did warn you all that this blog is a place to speak my mind freely! :) On that note, until next time, consider yourself Nicked!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Little Teachers...

At some point in life we get this idea in our heads that we have to feel a certain way. We suddenly think we have control over our feelings because we simply choose to hide or ignore them. We don't want to appear weak, or foolish, or childish. I ask you though, what's wrong with looking at things like a child every once in a while?

I have a little boy, his name is Lincoln and he is about to turn three years old. He's loud, and he's messy, and he rarely can make up his mind. He'd rather be barefoot and get attacked by ants than let anyone slow him down long enough to get shoes and socks on him. If he likes you, you're immediately a part of the family, he's decided every man he loves is his uncle/papa. In a room full of children, he stops to say hello to every adult before he goes to play. He's more aware of his surroundings than most of us, I think it's because he lives in the moment. He doesn't care if his cell phone is ringing, if there are bills to pay, or if anyone is judging him while he's dancing, as long as he's surrounded by the people he loves.

I'm not saying that you should neglect your bills, nor am I saying you should be irresponsible, but would it hurt any of us to be a little more carefree? Are we really going to die if we're seen in our pajamas? Can we just be nice to one another without judgement, without wondering what we're going to get out of it? If someone thinks our happiness makes us look stupid, does it really matter? Why do we let people stop us from being who we are to the full extent? Lincoln doesn't, and it makes me really sad that one morning he's going to wake up and it will all have changed. Someone will say something to hurt him, and it will do the damage. All I can do is raise him to love himself, to be true to himself, and to know that he is loved unconditionally by those who really matter.

I've been really watching my babies this weekend, with my Mom in town they've been really animated. They don't have to be at Chuck'e'Cheese, they don't even need a toy, just sitting on the couch giggling with Mom, Dad, and Memaw makes them deliriously happy. I feel like I should take more time to just BE with my family. Josh and I should shut off our phones, turn off the computer, forget the TV, and just play. I want to get out the video camera and record it so that when Josh and I are old we can watch the videos and relive the memories. Hear all those sweet giggles that for now come so easily. These moments with our kids are going to pass by too quickly, and I don't want to just say I made the most of our time, I want to truly believe it.

With that said, my mom is only here for a week, and I don't know when I'll be seeing her again, so I'm not going to post again until Saturday night. This is what's important, this is living life.

Until next Saturday, consider yourself Nicked.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's not all bad!

I've spent the last two days talking about the crazy, the sad, and the scary, so today I want to clarify that it's not all bad! I'm still in the learning phase, I may never graduate from it. This is a whole life change, and hey we're "Brand New."

This Army life is all new to us, it's not something you can prepare someone for, it's more one of those live and learn situations. You do a lot of playing by ear and adjusting accordingly. However, there are a few pleasant changes that this new experience has made in my life.

First of all, you stop worrying so much about the little things. You don't feel like it's the end of the world when your husband leaves his towel on the floor in the bathroom, or wet on the bed, because a towel on the floor means he's home! You put off the dishes/laundry/dusting for the chance to wrestle with the kids in the bed as a complete family and you smile while you're doing the chores later because you took the time to make a memory you'll keep forever. The simple things that should always be important come back to the forefront of your mind. Dinner with the family becomes a daily ritual, because somewhere in the near future you wont have the opportunity, so you soak up every second that you have and become closer than before.

Josh and I must say, "I love you!" a couple thousand times a week these days. We know it, feel it, it doesn't have to be said, but we crunch them in like it's going out of style because it just feels good to say it, to hear it. We've created our own little language of winks and smirks and facial expressions. We touch each other so much more, a hand on the back when we pass each other in the hall, a quick squeeze before leaving a room, a kiss after a simple request... we just can't get enough of each other's company. This is the way it should be, we should remember daily why we fell in love with each other in the first place, we shouldn't let small things cause big fights, we've gotten really good at apologizing for things before they become a big issue.

Being away from each other for most of the last year was exhausting, but it was also this learning experience that moved us from thinking we were stable.. to knowing we were solid. Sure things still come up that we have to talk about and work through as a team, but we know each other on a deeper level now. Basic training doesn't allow for many phone calls, our communication was almost entirely through pen and paper. You tend to think more about what you're saying when you only have that form of communication. You look deeper, say things you might normally brush off or save for later, besides there's something really romantic about getting a letter in the mail. It's just a piece of paper, but it's filled with love and emotion, and you can hold it in your hands and for an instant feel like that person is there with you.

I developed a real relationship with the mailbox during basic, I'd hear the mailman pull up downstairs and scramble around the house for shoes, sometimes giving up and sprinting down the cold steps barefoot. I'd always stop at the box, key halfway up to the lock, breath deep and pray that there was something in there from him. If there was it was like a rush, giddy as a school girl, sometimes I'd even shout "YES!" It would keep me pretty excited for the rest of the day, it was like a lifeline. If there wasn't, well this is a positive post so we'll leave that for another day.

Homecoming, even if it's just from a few months of training, is like a mini-honeymoon. You know that old saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" I have to agree. Though I'd prefer to not need absences, it's part of my life now, best to see the happier side. There's nothing like the feeling you get when his arms wrap around you after being away so long. Your imagination can only get you so far.

Then there's the PRIDE. I could never put into words the feeling you get about your husband when he puts on that uniform and stands in formation. I know my fellow military wives are nodding their heads, it's the most beautiful feeling. Anything remotely patriotic has new meaning, some silly things even bring tears to my eyes now.

Mostly though, I just feel like we're more in love now, we've been through this whole experience together. We're growing together more and more everyday. So, if sometimes I sound like this Army life is awful, just know, that it's also brought me good things, blessed me in ways that I'm not sure I could have found any other way. I'm starting to ramble again, so until next time, you've been Nicked!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get Real..

Although it's really nice to live life with rose colored glasses on, it's also imperative that we take them off every once in a while and let our eyes adjust to the light. This is going to be a serious post.

Living in the military housing gives me a chance to be completely immersed in the culture that is the US ARMY, a real feeling of how big it really is, how many people, families, make this possible. It comes with some realities though that I'm not sure I was ready for.

A month or so ago, Josh (My Husband), was on his way home to spend his lunch with us, when he was passed by two blacked out vehicles. These cars were not being driven by someone interested in hiding their awesome stereo either. Instead, dressed in full class A's these soldiers were on their way to knock on someones door and change lives forever. I know it shook him up and the feeling clung to him for a few days, but in some ways it's important for us to feel these things.

They play "Taps" here on post every night that a Fort Hood soldier has been taken from us. It brings tears to my eyes and stops me in my tracks every time. Josh always looks to see if I heard it or not, I know he hopes I'll miss it sometimes, because I feel so deeply. It's the saddest song you'll ever hear, and there aren't even lyrics, just that sad bugle sound resonating throughout the night sky. At first I thought, why do they have to play that? It's so sad, so final. Now though, I realize that it's a final tribute, a few moments of your day to stop and remember these men and women that are out there making the ultimate sacrifice so that our children can grow up in a free country. When I hear it I say a prayer for the Mother, the Wife, the Child, that lost a piece of themselves that can never be replaced. While I pray constantly that those cars never pull into my driveway, that my children get to grow up with their Daddy around, I understand that no one is guaranteed a long life, what we are given is a chance to make every day that we have count.

I'm not trying to be morbid or depressing, I just need to remind myself sometimes that the future is not set in stone, we hit bumps, we have to climb mountains, and sometimes we feel like we're dangling over a cliff with a two hundred pound gorilla hanging on our pant leg. We have to make the most of the time we have, tell the ones we love everything we need to when we feel it. What's the point in waiting? Some people say that when your soldier is deployed you shouldn't talk about how the washing machine is breaking, the car needs a new engine, the dog keeps peeing on the carpet, but why? They're still in every way your Husband, your best friend, and your partner in all things domestic. They signed up for "better or worse" and they don't want to miss out on what's going on back home. Maybe they can't climb under the sink and fix the broken faucet but they can still laugh with you about how you're two year old smashed a dozen eggs in the kitchen and then tried to blame his sister.

I've struggled with accepting the idea that Josh is going to miss so much of his kids babyhood. Sophia is going to make huge changes before Josh gets back from the RockBox, but the bond between them is unmistakable. She knows that is her Daddy, that he loves her, and that he gives the best snuggle hugs and silly kisses. Lincoln is more aware of the fact that Daddy was gone most of the last year. He asks me sometimes if Daddy is coming home tonight, and when the answer is no, though his little spirit is crestfallen, he looks at me with those sweet eyes and says, "Okay Mama." He's going to be such a strong spirited kid, and I love that about him. He loves deeply and lives loudly already, and he makes Josh and I so proud.

Our life feels a little messy and unorganized right now, kind of like the silverware drawer now that the kid's can reach it. Everything we need is in there, it's just a little tough to navigate. We're going to have to spend some time sorting through the mess, organizing the things that we can, and learning to live with the things that we can't. There are some sharp edges in there, but I know where the band aids are, so I think we're covered.

Life as a parent is messy anyway, filled with diaper changes and Cheeto fingers, chocolate in the seat cushions and never ending dirty laundry. I'm thankful that I've had some time as a Mom before adding the Army challenges. I think it's been some good training for the unpredictable.

My thoughts are getting disorganized, so I'm going to call it a day, but until next time, consider yourself Nicked!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looking for an Outlet...

I've been searching for the right creative outlet, with my husband's upcoming (dun*dun*dun*) DEPLOYMENT... I really need some structured unwind time. Knitting, scrap booking, bow-making... these things all sound fun, but they just don't fit me. Have you ever been trying to vacuum your living room and the damn cord slips out of the wall outlet so you plug it back in and as soon as you get into a good rhythm it pops out again? That's the feeling I was getting from trying all these Craft ideas. Nothing was holding me tight enough. I need a good fit, something that has always interested me... and so here I am.

Writing is that perfect fit for me, the "ahhhh" moment. Like when you try on a new pair of jeans in a size smaller than you thought you were and that button fits through the hole and you're completely inside of them, not a single amount of that extra baby/winter/married weight sticking out of the top.. that's what writing does for me. So I hope that you'll follow me on this journey into new and uncharted territory, share some laughs and hopefully not too many tears along the way, but if anything I have a place now where I can just go and be ME.

I need that right now more than I've ever needed it before. I can put on a brave face and pretend that I'm not scared out of my stilettos, but I really am. I know my husband is well trained, I know he's surrounded by some really great men... but I also know that war is unpredictable and dangerous and that bad things happen to good soldiers.

A year without my husband is not going to be a walk in the park, we just got done with an eight month separation while he did his training, and that was hard enough. Now we're going to go through it with the uncertainty of war thrown in the mix. Having your husband gone when you have small children at home to take care of is a harrowing feat, add into it a new house, a new town, and your family thousands of miles away and its down right terrifying. I know I'm not the first one to go through this, and I am not under any illusion that I'm alone in what I'm feeling, but I thought maybe if I shared my experience with the world as it's happening, that somewhere out there some other wife might feel a little bit less alone. I've read a few military wife blogs and I find it comforting to read that other people are as in love with their husbands as I am.

I know that there are a lot of horrible statistics/stereotypes about military families and divorce rates, but that doesn't scare us one bit. We are in a committed, living, breathing, marriage. We work at it everyday, we take on each challenge as a team, and we WILL beat whatever comes our way. So don't worry about that, you can however say a prayer that my sanity doesn't take a major vacation while my husband is gone and my children are running wild!!

That's all for now, consider yourself Nicked. :)