Thursday, July 26, 2012

It Comes Full Circle

Hi blogging world. It's been a while hasn't it. The past few months have certainly been hectic. Well, when I think about it the past year and a half has been crazy. The last time I was here it was Memorial Day. It was one of the many days a year that we openly talk and discuss this crazy life with our boys. We try our best to help them understand what it means, teach them about the sacrifices made to maintain it, and about the uniqueness of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who live it.

Since May our little family has been busy. Caleb has started therapy and treatment for his Autism Spectrum Disorder, Andrew celebrated his 3rd birthday, Caleb celebrated his 5th birthday, and Jon and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. It is amazing to think how far we have traveled from where we started that evening in March those years ago. We have lived, loved, fought, cried, and survived together. By all accounts we should have fallen apart but here we are stronger than ever.

All medical proxies have been returned to their rightful place and I am so very proud to say that while he may never be 100% , Jon is most definitely under his own function again. Through different and innovative types of therapy, he has not only grown but surpassed original expectations his doctors had when he started treatment. He has been able to phase out all medication save for the occasional motrin. I tell you all of this because if brings me to my next point and the purpose of this blog entry.

Some four months ago Jon was returned to full combat ready status! I will never forget the look on his face or the smile he worse the day they handed him that paper. It has been a hard road but he did it! Since returning to combat ready status he has been moved and will soon be deploying.

It is such a bittersweet and proud moment for me because while I am so unbelievably proud of him, I will be sad to see him go. In the six plus years of our marriage we have only been apart a handful of weeks and no more than twelve at a time. I am incredibly spoiled in that respect.

My heart bursts with pride watching him prepare and train to go. He is so excited. The new knowledge he is acquiring and combining with what he already has is making for an interesting atmosphere in our house. Right now the boys and I are enjoying the benefits of Pashto. I am told that the next language will be Kartuli.

I will be sad about all of those nights I am going to sleep alone and those holidays that he will miss later. But for now I will hold his hand and share his excitement with pride and love because this is what he has been working so hard for. This is what he loves.

Things really have come full circle. Here are a few pictures of our peanuts and my mother from her recent visit. Oh how they have grown :)

Until next time,


Monday, May 28, 2012


Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever.

To most people that wouldn't make a bit of sense but to those who have braved the terrors of war truer words have never been spoken. War changes a man. Some changes you can see and others you can't.

When I started this blog it was a way for me to deal with my husbands injury and his PTSD. It was a way for me to chronicle the ups and downs of dealing as a family with these terms that have become so taboo. I came here to laugh, to cry, to rant, and to rave. It was a place where I could pour out those rough nights where I just needed it out. It is hard watching one of the strongest men you know toss and turn and cry out and beg his brothers to forgive him. Some nights I wasn't sure what he was begging forgiveness for. It broke my heart every time.

It has been almost 7 years since his tour began and just over 6 since he returned home. On the outside he was fine. He had all ten fingers and toes. He walked and talked like normal. But we all know that looks can be deceiving. Looking at him that long ago February day I never would have guessed what kind of special hell he was living in.

In the intervening years I have learned more and more about those seven guys who lost their lives in OIF 3. I learned about what they liked and what they didn't. I learned about what made them laugh and what made them angry. I learned about their families and their habits. Lastly, I learned about their deaths. One thing always stuck out to me throughout these stories and today I want to remember that.

Every single one of them are ok with their sacrifices. They know that the sacrifices they made through their blinding fear and uncertainty and fierce determination allowed one of their brothers to come home. I say brothers for a reason. It is a word that transcends all normal ideals us normal people have of family.

They fight together, they live together, and die together. Watching any number of them together and you will see what I am talking about. The teasing and loud boistorous racket that would annoy most on the outside looking in is in all acutality the true sign of their dedication to one another. To those of us who get to see it from the inside it is humbling. That dedication doesn't lessen when one leaves this world either. They honor each other every single day.

Every year on Memorial Day when we put our boys to bed we tell them a story. The boys like to call it "the story about the heroes". When we lay them down that night we tell them about each of them. We tell them what they were like and how they lived. We try our best to tell them about theri sacrifices and that they should always remember what that means. Every single one of the freedoms we enjoy were bought and paid for with someones blood sweat and tears.

Today I challenge everyone who reads this to remember. Remember the sacrfices of the servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

I know this girl will. I may not be able to erase the pain from those who loved them and lost them. I will never be able to make the fact that they are gone ok, but there is one thing I can always do. I can ensure that their legacy and sacrifices are never forgotten. As long as I live their stories will be told.

Hug your families today. Hug them as tight as you can and offer up a prayer of thanks to those who gave their lives for you.


Monday, August 15, 2011


He is in every single one. I hate every second of it. I wish I could just shake it off and pretend that ugliness never touched my life. It throws me off balance all day.

The sad part is that it is only a fraction of the torment I see Jon go through. How excruciating to be stuck in the hell of your own mind and not be able to find a way out. For him it never goes away. It makes me positively ill, at least I can escape when I wake up.

Jon lives his over and over. So I listen quietly and patiently and I cry with him while he sleeps.

Some things though I wish I could un-know.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

December 3, 2010

On December 3, 2010 we got the official word that the term Traumatic Brain Injury would forever be associated with the Painter family. We got the report back from the specialist that his injury was in fact a reality and no longer a hypothetical situation. Welcome to our life. Axis 3 injury in the frontal lobes. What it amounts to is the concussion from a blast hit him with enough force to bounce his brain off of the back of his skull. Think of it this way. You throw a ball at a wall, it bounces and stops in your hands. Essentially that is what happened.

Strangely it was a relief. It was official and entered into his record book and it was done. I didn't need a doctor to tell me what I as well as the rest of his team already knew. His symptoms were classic. Having the proof in our hands in empowering. He started cognitive and physical therapies last month.

I am proud. Of my husband, of my family who has rallied around to help, and of my amazing sons who are so in-tuned with their daddy that even they know when daddy needs a little help. My family is strong and solid and we will take this and deal with it as we do everything else. . .together.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Best

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be. So he put his arms around you and .whispered "My child come to me". With tearful eyes I watched you, and saw you fade away. Although I loved you dearly, I wouldn't make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.
God broke my heart to prove to me he only takes the best.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Do You Say. . .It Makes Everything Else Seem So Small

These past weeks have been such an education for me. I think I always underestimate myself and as my amazing support system tells me, I have to stop doing that junk. I am my worst critic. My patience, faith, strength, problem solving skills, and my parenting have come under stress.

Week before last, the Navy & Marine Corps Nurse they assigned to help me specifically with "my stuff" came for her first visit. I bet you are wondering what all I do that I need my own person to help me. Better yet you are probably wondering why Jon's case nurse can't help me too. Where Jon's needs are vast and specific, it is simply too much to put on one poor person who already runs herself ragged to help my husband.

I have health care for four people to coordinate, a house to run, two kids to raise who have very different personalities, a move to get ready for, dishes to wash, laundry to wash dry and fold, and then when all of that is done I have me to take care of.

I get so tired of hearing people preach and preach and lecture and talk at and down to me because I don't put myself first. For me it is this simple. My family needs me and I will take care of them first, it is who I am so deal with it. Can someone please tell me when it became a bad thing for a mother and wife to put her family first? Why is it such an awful thing that I put my family's needs before my own?

I am so tired of being lectured about knowing my limits and needing to ask for help instead of taking it all on myself if all I am going to get is criticism about how bad I suck at doing it. Why am I going to ask for help if you want to make me feel bad about it? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

This lady comes to my house and brings Jon's nurse along with her and proceeds to start her whole long mess. Here is the major points I got from that meeting.

1 - I am too organized and I need to practice living in the day.
2 - I should sleep more than I do to the exclusion of my family
3 - I should put myself first always
4 - Caleb is slow because I don't let him ride a tricycle
5 - Caleb should be more talkative
6 - Caleb needs to see a speech therapist (this I agree with)
7 - Caleb is developmentally behind because he can't trace his own hand (any parent of a toddler and a baby at the same time will know why I don't give my child sharp objects.
8 - I apparently and stark raving mad and therefore completely unable to see a counselor. .I need a real professional to deal with my multitude of crazy
9 - I am a crappy parent because I choose to deal with my anxiety and depression without the aid of medication. ..I am not saying that I look down on people who do take them. .It is just my personal preference to NOT be dependent on any medication what so ever. Depression runs in my family but luckily I had an amazing OB team who worked diligently and put a lot of time and effort into helping me learn about my triggers and alternate treatments.
10 - Because I refuse to take medications, I am a crappy parent because dealing with it myself sends the wrong message.
11 - My hyper-vigilance is un-necessary and shows signs of my "deeper issues"(Never mind that Jon used to pace and walk at all hours of the night which causes this in the first place. . that and I have two small children both with medical issues of their own)
12 - I should practice living in the day because schedules and maintaining routines apparently make me a crappy parent

Now correct me if I am wrong but wasn't the idea of you coming to me to HELP? By the time these two ladies left I felt two inches tall and was reduced to tears. Was it really necessary to attack everything about me? I know my life and idiosyncrasies are far from perfect but right now those habits you deem "unhealthy" are what keeps my family afloat and functioning.

You tell me my child is slow. .I tell you that he functions and thinks better than most 6 year olds. No I don't let him use markers and pencils. .he tends to run with them and try to attack his brother. Umm not going to happen. I will take their safety over being able to trace his hand any day. Yes he does have a speech issue but his affliction is one that is maternally dominant in my family. It is easily fixed with time and patience.

No I haven't potty trained Caleb yet, but that doesn't make him slow. It means that I feel like giving my children more structure, stability, fun, and making them feel safe and loved means more to me than getting out of changing a few more diapers. I am not going to force something I don't feel like my son is ready for. Could he potty train. .most certainly because he tells me when he needs a diaper change and tell me what he has done. Am I going to force it? You have another thing coming sister if you think I will. We are moving soon and he will regress anyways. So why not store my time and energy to when we move so it can be a consistent thing? Makes sense doesn't it? Now would someone please call these people and tell them that?

Caleb is a freakishly smart, always curious, loud, rambunctious, and very open hearted and I encourage it in every possible way. So is Andrew. My boys are spoiled absolutely rotten, hugged and kissed obsessively, cuddled, and told how much I love them on a daily basis. If that makes me an awful mother then yes. . yes I am. I won't change that for anyone, least of all for a close minded harpy who thinks being a good parent means over medicating oneself.

If putting my husband and children first makes me crazy. . then yes I am. If refusing to rely on medications to make myself feel better when I can do it without them makes me a horrible parent.. . then apparently I am going to hell in a hand basket.

God works in mysterious ways. I have never been more sure of that than I am right now. I feel like through all of this mess he is showing me just how strong I can be and am. I do need to work on that one.

Two songs have really wormed their ways out of the woodwork in the past two weeks. Listen to them. Peace, comfort, and wisdom can be found in the words of a well written song.

Clint Black - Spend My Time

How can we know how far,
The long way can be?
Looking from where we are,
It never seemed that long to me.
I've many miles behind me,
Maybe not so much ahead.
It seems I made good time,
With the directions I misread.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Farther than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.

Funny thing, that time:
We're always running out.
I'm always losing mine,
There's not enough of it about.
An' though it's always here,
It will always come and go.
The days become the years,
That'll be gone before you know.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Better than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
I won't go quietly into that dark night.
There'll be no more burnin' daylight.
I'll be living in,
Every moment that I'm in.

Oh,I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'll only use what's mine,
I've been savin' for a while.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.

No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.
No matter how much time we buy,
We can never spend it all.

Seems so fitting doesn't it. Living in a world where everything is constantly changing and the only certainty you have is that change is imminent you really learn this. Time is precious because you never know what will happen tomorrow. I know without a fact that I am spending my time like it's going out of style and cataloging every memory.. .Can you say the same? When was the last time you really sat down and looked at the blessing that surround you or immersed yourself in something as simple as a thunderstorm? Do it. .everyone should.

Carrie Underwood - So Small

What you got if you ain't got love?
The kind that you just wanna give away
It's okay to open up
Go ahead and let the light shine through

I know it's hard on a rainy day
You wanna shut the world out
And just be left alone
But don't run out on your faith

'Cause sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small

It's so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big at the time
It's like a river that's so wide
It swallows you whole

While you're sitting around thinking 'bout what you can't change
And worrying about all the wrong things
Time's flying by, moving so fast
You better make it count 'cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

Oh, and when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small!

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And then you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Oh, it sure makes everything else
Seem so small

In the end when you figure out that loves is really all that really matters everything else does seem so small. Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand and what you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands. . .Does anything else matter? Nope!

In parting I leave you this thought.

If you are really happy with yourself and your decisions then hang everyone else. Only you can really know when enough is enough and you are where you were always meant to be. Live life to YOUR expectations and no one elses and never settle for anything less than what you want or deserve.

Always remember this. . Que sera, sera. ..Whatever will be, will be and nothing can change that. You are right where you were always meant to be. God knows what he is doing. Trust that.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rough Nights. . One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

That old saying. .one step forward, two steps back seems a perfect place to start. With everything going on in our lives as of late, I expected it to hit eventually. Jon is doing great. He is continuing to improve more and more everyday. But lately it seems where he advances in some places he falls back in others. Now let me explain.

The other day we went out for our family night. We took the kids to IHop to eat. Well for the first time ever he sat with his back to the door! He didn't turn around or look over his shoulder once. I started crying my eyes out into my hash browns. He asked me what was wrong. I told him and his face broke out in the most pure and beautiful smile I have ever seen from another person. He did it without even noticing. Great right! That is a huge step for him and I couldn't be prouder.

The two steps back seems to be that his memory methods aren't working as great right now. For me that means extra note cards and lists and color coding. You ask well why do that, he is a grown man. You are right, he is a grown man.

He is a grown man who suffered a brain injury which healed without proper treatment. All things contained in the part of his brain that was injured poofed! Which means his short and long term memories took a beating, his processing took a beating, his ability to retain things took a hit too. All of these things can and will be treated but it takes time. A lot of time and hard work and effort on all of our parts to make sure he gets that back.

So for those of you who are wondering, well what does that mean? It means this. There are colored and white note cards on ever door in this house. They tell you what that room is for, each child's night time routine, each child's medication dosages, reminders to turn off lights and set alarms and reminders of medications and work times and things needed for said outing. It's a lot of work. Time and tears and frustration have gone into every aspect of our lives. It is so heartbreaking to see such a strong, willful, smart, amazing man struggle with day to day simplicities.

When it comes to work he can run off every piece of information you need at the drop of a hat. But when it comes to simple things like which child takes what medication he is lost. It hurts to see him that way because I know how strong and capable he is. He is the most amazing man with a heart of gold that it gets mixed up in things he can't remember

Last night was a rough one, our first in almost 7 months. I knew it was coming but I prayed it wouldn't. The tears and talking were just preludes to what was coming. I woke up at two o clock this morning pinned to the bed with the ball of his foot repeatedly making contact with my right shin and foot. He just kept saying " Let go you bastard, you aren't getting me this time".. .shocking I know. It was tame compared to some of the others he has had in the past years. I disentangled myself and crawled into the floor to wait it out. This one was relatively short as he opened his eyes a mere five minutes later and instantly found me in the floor. I was sitting against the wall rubbing my right foot attempting to uncurl the knot of pain that had taken up residence. He coaxed me back into bed, curled up around me, and went sound asleep. It was a relief.

The rest of the night passed without incident as he slept so soundly that he snored. One of the best things in the world for me is to see his brow relaxed, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and his body relaxed in sleep.

Another day, another night, another step forward, two steps back. It is impossible not to see the many blessing in my life when I fight so hard for them.

I am bone tired, impossibly sore, feeling like crap, and I am curling up in my bed with my hubby man as we listen to our boys snore down the hall. Is my life perfect? Oh no. Is it hard? Most certainly. The best part is I love every single second of it.