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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fallen Hero. . Having a GOD Day

My daddy always tells me, "I hope you have a GOD day sweetheart." At first I wondered, a God day? What can he mean by that. That is usually about the time that I get smacked in the face with one of God's ways of telling me. I am here Rebecca, just look.

The first time he said this to me I walked outside into the most beautiful day. I passed a family playing catch in the park, and I passed a father leaning down to catch his running child in his arms with a huge hug.

This past week I had my GOD day. Really I think it was my biggest God day to date. It wasn't a normal circumstance, no. However, in the span of just a few hours I was shown just how real, honest, simple, humbling, awe inspiring, and heartbreaking the hands of God can be in a persons life.

This past week I traveled to Pennsylvania in support of a fellow Marine Corps S/O. To me, it just didn't seem right that she go through that without knowing she had people behind her that understood that part of her life so I along with three others traveled the distance to stand behind our "sister" while she welcomed home her love. It wasn't a homecoming any military wife, girlfriend, fiance, or family member dreams of, in fact it was our worst nightmares come to life.

On September 2nd, this American Hero fell in combat while in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I don't know a single person surrounding the situation that didn't shed an abundance of tears for this young life that was ended too soon. He died a hero and was brought home in a manner befitting one.

While driving through the gorgeous hills and mountains of Pennsylvania I was gripped by this overwhelming sense of peace and calm. It was beautiful. Driving through this town on our way to the funeral home, I was again struck by just how beautiful this was. This amazing young man was loved and supported by all and therefore he was also mourned and celebrated by all. I didn't pass a street light or store front that wasn't decked out in yellow ribbons, American flags, or messages welcoming this fallen hero home. As we drove through the streets making our way closer to the funeral home, tears started to fall from my eyes. I had never seen something so heart wrenching before. As a Marine Wife yeah I have known more than one fallen hero but never like this.

As we entered the funeral home, we passed through the ranks of the Patriot Guard. They stood there so tall and so proud with their eyes focused straight ahead holding their flags in their hands. No one moved, and no one spoke. They just stood there blanketed in silence out of respect for the man inside who unknowingly touched so many lives.

Passing through the rooms of the home, we passed a multitude of people who had already congregated to pay their respects. Turning into the main room what I saw made my breath lodge in my throat and turned my stomach so violently that I had to walk straight back out before I broke down and cried. A few minutes later I gathered my self and walked back into the room. What I saw next would change my definition of love, grace, strength, support, and poise.

Standing beside the casket gazing lovingly down at her hero was the long time girlfriend of this fallen Marine. There weren't any words to describe the look of joy and pride in her eyes to finally have him home, even though it wasn't in the way she had prayed for when he left mere weeks ago. As I walked forward and wrapped my arms around her, I couldn't find the words to tell her how sorry I was. No matter how long or hard I tried to find them, they just weren't there. In the end all I could come up with was "I'm so sorry. We can't hurt for you even though we would give anything to do so, but we will stand behind you and hurt with you. We will hold you up if you find you don't have the strength to stand on your own."

Afterward, we took our places in the back of the parlor to sit silently until the time came and we were needed. Over the span of the next 8 and a half hours, we watched silently as person after person filed in and out of the room paying their respects to this man who had lain down his life for his country. It was apparent how loved and respected he was.

His brothers stood proud and tall by his side, their eyes shining with pride and love for him. They would adjust their ties and uniforms, straighten their ribbons, check their brother, and then resume their places by his side. It was impossible to miss, their pride, love, and hurt over their brother shown from every move they made. As I sat there taking in the room and looking as the lives he touched, I ended up being the one taught a lesson. A brother's love, much like a mother's, knows no bounds and it is something I will carry in my heart always. Through their grief and pain, they somehow found a way to think of us as we filed out for dinner. It was a pleasure and an honor to meet them both.

I sat in the back, watching as his girlfriend would turn ever so often and gaze down at him and smile. A secret smile that only they would know. It was breath taking. That these two amazing people loved each other was felt keenly by every person in the room. Every time she would look down at him and her back would turn on everyone else, my breath would catch at this beautiful girl who even though her heart was breaking smiled and stood tall beside her love. It was palpable and so so humbling to see. She stood there beside him for over eight hours that day with one hand on his casket never turning fully away from him once. Her hand would travel to his dog tag that hung around her neck ever so often.

No matter the circumstance that brought them to that place, they were truly happy that he was home. It was a collective sigh of relief. Through the intervening hours, I heard story after story after story about this man and the lives he inadvertently touched.

Most people live entire life times wondering if they ever made a difference, but the fact that this man not only touched lives, but left lasting fingerprints was a true mark of a hero.

So many things I saw that day will stay with me forever and I am glad. For me this Marine and his beautiful girlfriend symbolized the type of love and devotion that people spend their lives looking for. They worked so hard for each other and together and to even be in the presence of that for a single second was humbling and heart warming.

On September 10th, a full eight days since his life had been taken, this fallen Marine was laid to rest amidst the people that he loved and that loved him on a beautiful day. How very fitting. To know that his life was taken so soon breaks my heart. But to know how he lived and how big of a difference he made.. .Truly humbling.

For a few hours I stood on the outskirts of and in the presence of a great love and a hero who left lasting finger prints on this world.

If that isn't a GOD day I don't know what is. As a parting I leave you with the words to a song.

"I may not go down in history, I just want someone to remember me. I'll probably never dream a dream and watch it turn to gold. I know I'll never lose my life to save another soul. But if I will love then I will find that I have touched another life and that's something. Something worth leaving behind."

He left behind a legacy that will burn bright for years to come in the love he felt for his girlfriend and his family.

He made a difference, touched lives, saved lives, and left his mark on the world.

I only pray that one day I can say the same.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quiet Cries and No Words

There aren't any words to accurately describe the last days and I don't really want to try. It would be a shame.

For the past three days now, I have been awoken to the sound of quiet sobs. Not mine. His. Last night may have just been the worse in almost a year.

After 6 hours in the emergency room, we came home, showered, and fell into bed. I did my sleep drill thing and was just drifting off when the bed started to shake. I pulled out my ear plugs and looked over at Jon.

He was completely curled in on himself shaking with the force of his silent tears. Not thinking I reached over to smooth out his brow and try to wake up. Wrong thing to do. I should have known but in all the mess, I wasn't paying attention.

I reached over and as soon as my hand reached him his arm shot out, caught my wrist and his elbow flung into my diaphragm. Whoa! I know right. I disengaged myself and crawled out of bed to wait for it to reach the point I can reach him.

I sat in the floor beside our bed for over an hour while he tossed, turned, swatted, and cried in his sleep. All he would say is. . .

"I'm sorry, so sorry. I let you down."

I buried my face in my hands and cried. I hate seeing him so broken. For the next 45 minutes I watched as one of the strongest people I know struggled with the demons that torment him. Finally, just after 5, his crying stopped. He rolled over to reach for me and when I wasn't there he opened his eyes.

I swear, as of late it feels like all I can do is make things worse. Encouragement and support come out backwards, I stutter like a fool, and most everything I try to write looks like it was written by a crack dealer. I hate this.

I despise being so out of control of my life and there is nothing more I can do. My house is peppered with post it notes and index cards . all detailing the routines and things in my house. I hate being so helpless and useless because all my body can muster right now is an insane rash, high blood pressure, and kidney and liver issues.

Why am I so deficient? This isn't me. . I should be stronger and more solid. . for my husband, and my sons. If someone will just tell me what to do I will do it. I would do most anything for all of them and yet here I sit shaking like a chihuahua scared to death to close my eyes because he might wake up again and need me.

How do I stop failing?

Monday, September 6, 2010

It Brings Back Memories. . .Farther Along

For the past few days my husband has been walking around the house quietly, tossing and turning in his sleep, staring out windows, and keeping to himself. We have gone through a few hard days since we heard about the losses of our friends. I stopped him earlier and asked.

"What's wrong?"

He walked over to the wall that we have our "memorial" on and reached up and lay his hand on the top middle picture and smiled. He turned to look at me and said. .

"This brings back memories. It hurts." and then he walked away.

He is right. Watching our friend suffer the way she is and reading the articles. . It is a flashback. A flash back from 2005-2006 when he was serving in OIF 3..It amazes me how freakishly similar some of these things are too.

On August 21, 2005, after only a month in country, 2/2 G Co. Raiders suffered their first loss. Marine Corps 2nd Lt James J Cathey was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Al Karmah, Iraq.

It sounds so clinical doesn't it. A simple, generic, general, message that the people over at the DoD cooks up to give families to explain that their loved ones simply are not coming back. It some ways it is a blessing and in others it leaves so many questions unanswered that it drives their families crazy. It doesn't tell you how loved he was as a leader, husband, son, friend or how devastating losing him was to those who were parts of his life.

2nd Lt Cathey was a 24 year old man who was looked up to and respected by those he led and always had a teasing comment. He left behind a wife who was then 5 months pregnant and a legacy in the form of a son just before Christmas that year. He was the type of leader you would follow anywhere.

Most of you will remember the picture that made the Times that year as picture of the year, if not let me show you.

They plastered this picture everywhere. I saw it on the news, on the internet, in the papers, and in books. What they told you was "Passengers aboard a commercial airliner watch from the windows as the casket of a fallen soldier was unloaded from the cargo hold of the plane."

That casket contained the remains of a fallen Marine whose pregnant wife was waiting a mere yards away trying valiantly to hold herself together while they brought her husband back to her in the only way they could. While curious onlookers gawked from their seats aboard the plane and inside the terminals, this woman's goodbye was on public display.

By the time their tour was over, the 2/2 Warlords lost 16 men. Seven of those men were from the G Co. Raiders and six of those alone were from a single platoon.

Thinking back on this breaks my heart every single time. I was only 17 when he was KIA and it was my first ever experience with military life. I remember him telling Jon "Damn Painter, why don't you just buy a bus ticket and go see her. .I don't want to have to surgically remove that phone from your ear.". . I was utterly heartbroken. I didn't know how to process any of it and as loss after loss hit this company I couldn't help but cry too. From day 1 my Marine Corps family embraced my fully and guided me every step of the way so when they hurt, I hurt too.

It has been 5 years since 2nd Lt Cathey was KIA and I still to this very day cry over it. I cry for every single man they lost and every family that it hurt.

-PFC Shayne Cabino, 19
-2nd Lt James J Cathey, 24
-Lcpl Nikolas D Schiavoni, 26
-Capt. Tyler Swisher, 35
-Cpl Benny Cockerham, 21
-Sgt Michael Hodshire, 25
-HM3 Christopher Thompson, 25
-LCpl Kenneth Butler, 19
-LCpl Steven Szwydek, 20
-LCpl Andrew Russoli, 21
-SSgt Richard Pummill, 27
-LCpl Jason Frye, 19
-Cpl Nicholas Cherava, 21
-LCpl Patrick Kenny, 20
-Lcpl Tyler Troyer, 21
-Sgt Sean Miles, 28

On the memorial poster I recieved, it says they are immortalized as Warlords. . but even more than that, they are immortalized as brothers in the hearts and souls of the fellow Marines they served with and the lives of the families that they touched. Five and six years later their losses are still felt keenly.

I never got to meet or know them but they were family in a way that only combat can bind them together. Through the midnight conversations Jon has had with them since their deaths, I have learned to love them too. I wish more than anything that they as well as their families could know just how much they touched his life. While heartbreaking to hear, I am glad he has them still. He is so afraid he will forget them, but I know he won't. They are just as much a part of him as his children or I am . . maybe even more so. We keep them here in our home because Jon says that if he can make sure of anything, it will be that our boys will know that those men left the world as heroes, paying the ultimate sacrifice so that even one of their brothers could go home.

Yesterday I woke up to find an article and a picture eerily similar to the one I saw so many years ago. In the picture I saw that LCpl Joshua Twigg, who was KIA in Afghanistan this past week, was being taken off of the plane that brought him home. Spaced out between the plane that carried him home are various personnel standing at attention saluting this fallen hero as he is taken to his final stop before traveling to his family before being laid to rest.

Seeing it made me sick at heart and sick to my soul for Chrissy, his family, and his friends who are being forced to say goodbye to him years too soon. Seeing this beautiful girl broken and hurting and bearing this burden hurts my heart. There is nothing we can do to lift this pain or bear it for her and I know most any of us would in a heart beat. She has been the epitome of grace, poise, strength, and unfailing love during this devastating blow.

As her friends and as "sisters" we can only imagine what her pain must feel like but we are doing our best to rally around her and hold her hand. Earlier this week the support forum we are a part of started taking up donations for her to make sure she is taken care of and has what she needs. .. .I have never been more proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people in my life. They are all so beautiful and compassionate.. .together they managed to raise over $1,000 in an effort to show our friend comfort and let her know we care. How amazing an awe inspiring is that?!

It really is true what they say. The Marine Corps takes care of their own and by their own we mean every wife, fiance, and girlfriend. I have never been more safe, protected, supported, or loved in my life. I haven't had to bear a single burden alone or face a single uncertainty.

This week marked another first for me. As I sat in the recliner earlier this week I cried as I watched the video's and read the article's detailing this Marine's sacrifice and watching the love of his life hold her head high and try her level best to smile through her heart break.

Caleb crawled into my lap and our conversation went as follows. . .

"You ok mommy?"

"Yeah honey bun mommy is just fine."

"Mommy sad. Mommy cry. Why?"

So I showed him the video and tried my best to find the words to explain to him that this young man gave his life for his country. I searched for the words as tears ran down my face. The best I could come up with was this.

"Mommy is sad because this man had to go away because he was protecting us."

Caleb spent several seconds looking from me to the computer screen, back to me, and to the picture of Chrissy and Josh. He pulled my head to his chest and started petting my face.

"Shhh mommy." he said. "It's ok. He aww-right. He an angel." then my three year old son got down and walked away.

I was floored. My son managed to find the words that eluded me since learning of his death. In that single sentence he found a salve for the hurt that I felt for my friend and the family of this fallen hero.

I have come across so many songs as of late that seem to just fit for this that just keep rolling around in my mind.

Farther Along - Brad Paisley

Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long
While there are others living about us
Never molested though in the wrong

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine
We'll understand it all by and by

Seems kind of fitting doesn't it? It was also one of my Uncle Rick's favorite songs. Sitting here listening to it I can only think that I hope I never stop being affected by this, it would be a grave injustice to all of the men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom.

If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw

If you're reading this
My Mommas sittin there
Looks like I only got a one way ticket over here
Sure wish I
Could give you one more kiss
And war was just a game we played when we were kids

I'm laying down my gun
I'm hanging up boots
I'm up here with God and we're both watching over you

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed
That it would go
And if you're reading this
I'm already home

Heartbroken. This was the first song that came to mind after hearing about it. It is also one of the very few things in this world that makes my husband cry. The first time he heard it I watched with baited breath as his eyes clouded up. He hung his hand and reached his out as if resting it on something. I asked him once what that was. "I was back in Iraq. I was standing there in front of Lt Cathey's kevlar saying goodbye the only way I could. I could feel it underneath my hand.". . He downloaded it later that day and it is always with him.

Arlington - Trace Adkins


I remember daddy brought me here when I was eight,
We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
And when we finally found that cross,
He said, 'Son this is what it cost, to keep us free'.
Now here I am a thousand stones away from him,
He recognized me on the first day I came in,
And it gave me a chill, when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company,
And I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones,
I made it to Arlington.

And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home, to us.

No words. I have been in love with this song since the first time I heard it years ago. Having lived only miles away from this sacred place for three years now I have gotten to experience it first hand. Nothing can prepare you for the magnitude of awe and humbling grace, and quiet honor that rolls over you in waves when you step inside the confines of that hallowed ground. You are standing among heroes, hundreds of years worth of heroes who gave their lives fighting to make this country what it is today.. If that doesn't bring you to your knees thanking God for creating such selfless people then you are made of stone.

Just A Dream - Carrie Underwood

Baby, why'd you leave me, why'd you have to go
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I cant even breathe
It's like I'm, looking from a distance, standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now,
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

The preacher man said let us bow our heads and pray
lord please lift his soul and heal this hurt
then the congregation all stood up and sang the saddest song that she ever heard
then they handed her a folded up flag and
she held on to all she had left of him oh and what could’ve been
and then guns rang one last shot and it felt like a bullet in her heart

Bagpipes Cryin'- Rushlow Harris

Every day I'm giving all I can because I'm damn proud to be American
Yeah, I made some friends, and I've lost some too
When I think about what they gave for me and you

I hear bagpipes cryin' Amazing Grace,
tears rolling down a mother's face.
Old Glory draped like Heaven's mercy over the fallen sons.
I see all the heroes who are willing to fight
in the name of freedom layin' down their lives.
And prayin' God's grace would keep us safe from harm,
until they bring us boys back home

Someone asked me a while ago how I could believe in a God who let such awful things happen to good people. All I could do was smile. They ask me how I can. .I ask them how can I not?

I live a life that would cause most people heart failure but I also live a life that shows me the value of sacrifice. How can I live among men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect the freedom of people they have never even met and not believe in God?!

If anything I have even more proof that God exists because people like my husband and Chrissy's boyfriend go at a drop of a hat to protect this country and those of others. I see the hands of God in every aspect of my life and if you took the time to breathe in your surroundings you would too.

So I challenge you to do this. Look around you and think about how many men and women have died for your right to have the things you do.

That right to vote? People have died for you to get it.. . .That flag you see? People die for it every single day so that you have the symbol of freedom to be and do as you please. . . That family on T.V?. . Their son died protecting you and your freedom. . . That star in the window a few houses down? A loved one has died in the line of duty. .That is one more goodbye that will never be spoken and one more kiss that will never be given and one more I love you that will never be said. . .

The men and women of our armed forces willingly leave their homes, families, lives, and comforts to afford you the right to be who you are and live how you live. Some families have said goodbye years to soon so that you may go home every day and kiss yours.

Remember always the families and friends who stand behind their service members with unfailing strength and support because they sacrifice too. In one of my favorite songs ever, sung by John Conlee, he sings this.

"They also serve. Those who stand and wait praying by the phone to learn their loved ones fate. But they're still in the war and let there be no mistake, they also serve. ..those who stand and wait."

In closing I leave you with these quotes from Saving Private Ryan. . .In the closing scenes of the movie as Captain Miller is dying, he looks at Private Ryan and says this.

"James, earn this. . earn it."

The movie then ends with an older James Ryan standing in Normandy in front of Captain Miller's grave surrounded by his family. He looks down at the gravestone and says.

"My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."

Then he clicks his heels and salutes the man whose final sacrifice made the rest of his life possible. .

I leave you with these words alone. .


Until next time my loves


Thursday, September 2, 2010

It Only Hurts When I Breathe. . .

Some days you wake up and just know that you should have stayed hidden under the covers away from the world. I expected today to be rough, but never like this. Last night really should have been an indicator but silly me didn't really think anything of the knot of dread in my guts.

I woke up this morning to find that not just one but TWO of my fellow Marine S/O's lost their Marines in Afghanistan. Being affiliated with the military, you are taught that things happen at a moments notice. Your husbands and boyfriends and fiances can go to work and be shipped away all without the word goodbye. You grow used to the knowledge that it can happen but you never think it will.

As wives and fiances and girlfriends we learn to lean on each other and work as a team. What hurts one of us, hurts all of us. We worry together, we cry together, we hurt together and we heal together. We hold hands as they leave and take turns taking pictures when they come home. . most of all we are there to stand side by side in support of our fellow "sisters" when they don't.

Someone once told me that the military was like its own little society and that it was amazing because no matter where you went, your family was right next door.

Today as I stood in Wal Mart in the middle of the card isle attempting to pick out a condolence card I cried. All I could think is how I was standing here picking out this card to send to a woman that words can't heal. These men were young and had wives and fiances and children and lives to look forward too and now what. .

Their families are broken and in pain. I know with all I have that these amazing young men gave their lives fighting for something they believed in and that their lives DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE but why them? Why take them away when they had so much living left to do? Are you kidding me?!

After being slapped in face with this first thing this morning, I watched as our fellow wives and girlfriends and fiances rallied around these beautiful and broken families as they have begin to wade through the pain to begin mourning their fallen heroes.

Heroes is what they are. They fell fighting for a country they loved and for people they believed deserved the right to choose how they lived their lives. So many lives were touched and saved and treasured because of these two fallen Marines. They left behind mothers and fathers, a wife, a fiance, and a slew of broken hearted friends and family.

So, we band together to honor our fallen, celebrate their lives, and put the pieces back together to keep on living.

Never ever forget this. Every single choice you make and path you walk was given to you because a selfless service member laid down their lives to protect it.

Some people live their entire lives wondering if they ever made a difference, Marines don't have that problem.

Rest in peace LCpl Cody Roberts and LCpl Joshua Twigg. You may no longer walk this earth but the knowledge of your selfless sacrifice will never be forgotten.

You left this world far too soon and far away from home. . your mark will stay on the world and every life you touched. . .So we stand up together to support the ones left behind. .we move forward as best we can but we always no. . no matter what, we are never alone.

So I offer this as my ending thought.. . The ones we love are never too far away.. .

Semper Fidelis my loves. . now go hug your children and thank a veteran.. . .you never know just how short life is until one is taken away.

His uniform is different,
The best you've ever seen.
The Germans call him Devil Dog,
His real name is Marine.
He was born on Parris Island,
The place where God forgot.
The sand is 18 inches deep,
The sun is blazing hot.
And everyday he'll wake up,
Before the rising sun.
He'll run a hundred miles or more,
Before the day is done.
He's deadly with a rifle,
A bayonet made of steel.
He's took the Devils calling card,
He's mastered how to kill.
And when he gets to heaven,
St. Peter he will tell.
One more Marine reporting Sir,
I've served my time in hell.
So listen all you young girls,
To what I have to say.
Go out and find a young marine,
To love you everyday.
He'll hug you and he'll kiss you,
And treat you like a queen.
There is no better fighting man,

Thank you LCpl Twigg and LCpl Roberts for giving their lives to protect mine giving me the amazing opportunity to kiss my kids every night before bed and make my own choices.

Chrissy you are every inch a lady. You have borne every second with grace.

To their families. My heart hurts for every single one of you and we are praying hard for grace and understanding and peace during this horrible time

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes? -- A Talk with my Dad

A couple of weeks ago I made mixed CD's for both of my sisters and my dad. I think we all needed it. For me it was the reminder to them that I thought of them and loved them even if distance prevented me from hugging them like I wanted.

On dad's mixed CD. . which I titled Daddy Mix. .I added a song that always had a place in our house. Sung by the very powerful and very great George Jones. From the time we could walk and talk, he surrounded us with music. Another very great love he gave my sisters and I. I remember mixed tapes that were carted off by my sisters and I too. This song was contained on one such tape.

So during our conversation afterward, my daddy said to me. . "I love my CD, it reminds me of the ones I used to make for your girls. You thought of everything. I love Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes. It made me think of Rick."

I am not going to lie. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed to hear. I got off the phone with my dad, crawled into my husbands lap, and cried like a baby. Just another way Uncle Rick has been keeping his promise to me. .and to all of us really. He always said he would never be to far away and every time I needed him he was. So, let me give to you the words I had inadvertently given to myself.

Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes
George Jones

You know this old world is full of singers
But just a few are chosen
To tear your heart out when they sing
Imagine life without them
All your, radio heros
Like the outlaw that walks through Jesse's dream

No, there will never be another
Red-headed stranger
A Man in Black and Folsom Prison Blues
The Okie from Muskogee
Or Hello Darling
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

Who's gonna fill their shoes
Who's gonna stand that tall
Who's gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball
Who's gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

God bless the boys from Memphis
Blue Suede Shoes and Elvis
Much too soon he left this world in tears
They tore up the Fifties
Old Jerry Lee and Charlie
And old Go Cat Go still echoes through the years

You know the heart of country music
Still beats in Luke the Drifer
You can tell when hew sings I Saw the Light
Old Marty, Hank and Lefty
Why I can feel them right here with me
On this Silver Eagle rolling through the night

It just makes me realize that I miss him. The pain has gotten easier to live with, the breathing part so much better. . The missing him never gets better. I miss the comfort of knowing he was always only an hour or so away. I miss the birthday calls that I still wake up every year for, the odd boxes of Twinkies I would get as Christmas presents, the unholy punches I would get in the arm, and the constant state of laughter. Most of all I just miss him.

I know without a doubt though, my Uncle is never to far away just like he always said he would me. Thank you my angel! Thank you daddy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Walk a Mile in their Shoes. . .A Day in MY Life

This week, an acquaintance of mine said to me.

"Well, you are at home all day, how hard can that be? Don't you get childcare too?"

Most of you are probably thinking. . how rude! I know I did too. I had to fight to suppress the urge to extend my arm and smack someone upside the head. I just looked at them and smiled.

"Let me tell you a little bit about my day ma'am. Maybe you will understand."

So, my lovely readers and followers. Let me take you through a day in MY life. First off, let me take a step back and take a deep breath. You are going to need it.

My day starts bright and early. Some days I sleep until 0400 (4:00am) and on the rare lucky day, I get to sleep until 0500 or 0530 (5:00am or 5:30am) depending on when Jon has to be at work. Well, what is the purpose of that you ask? Let me tell you. Because of the delay in treatment for the TBI, his brain healed lacking all of the knowledge and abilities that the injury directly affected.

Some sounds he hears, some he doesn't, others he can't even react to. The alarm has become one of those things. We have tried phone and different alarms, none of them seem to work. Therefore, I wake up with the alarm, coax him out of bed and spend the following time back and forth between the kids and him making sure he gets out of the house in time. Well, you are probably wondering why do you have to follow him around. . Because of his combination of medications and our ongoing appointments to get that straightened out, he has periods where he drops back off to sleep no matter how awake he is when he gets up.

So from there I go back upstairs, re-settle the boys, then climb back into bed after he leaves. Some days I doze back off for another half an hour and others I am to far awake to do even close my eyes. But I almost always crawl back into bed to enjoy the silence that falls across my home.

The boys are up and raring to go by 0930 (9:30am). So I get them up and changed and settled with some juice watching their cartoons while I make their breakfast. After breakfast we get dressed for the day. Some days, the days with appointments, they go to daycare. Through a very generous program, a grant was given to my family so that my children could go to daycare. Allowing them to learn and grow and interact with kids their age instead of sitting in appointment after appointment trying to figure out how to help daddy. What a relief. So yes, I do have childcare, given to me by the kindness of strangers who took pity on a frazzled mother of two trying hard to keep her family grounded.

So depending on what day it is and what is happening, I either take the boys to daycare or get them settled with activities while mommy tries to get some things done and put together for daddy. Well, at this point you are probably asking what could I possibly have to do for my husband and get in order for him. . .Well, let me tell you.

Currently my life is a long line of lists, file folders, medical reports, injury information, injury treatments, doctor requests, referrals, sticky notes, and note cards plastered to every surface of my house.

After getting my lists of TO-DO stuff ready for the day I get dressed. If the boys are with me, it is while they eat lunch. If not, then it is while Jon is getting changed to head to whatever appointment we may have. Sounds like fun huh. By this time I have already been awake and moving 7 or so hours. You would think I would be tired, well guess what. . I AM! However, I can't stop moving. There is to much left to be done.

After said appointments, we pick up the boys, come home, change them, get them down for naps, and then stop to eat. My first meal of the day.

After nap time comes dinner. How do I do it. . Careful planning my people, very careful planning. I sit down every two weeks and meticulously plan every meal, snack, beverage, and expenditure. I know where every penny in my home goes and to what it is used for. It is a necessity for us, not because we hurt for money, but because every single penny is used. Gas, food, mailing expenses, copiers, car repairs, and the few and far between prescriptions that DoD pharmacies do not carry.

My night winds down around 2130 (9:30pm) at which time we bathe the boys and put them to bed. When the boys are down, Jon and I bring all of our organizational materials to the bed and pow wow. My planner, the dry erase calendar, his PDA, our sticky notes, and our pens. For the next half hour we map out our next days and week.

By then we are nearing 2300 (11:00pm) so I pile myself into the shower, take my medicine then plop onto the bed with a book, word searches, or logic puzzles and wait for Jon to be finished. After his shower he takes his meds and crawl into bed.

Within minutes, quite literally, he is asleep. I spend the next hour or two or three making sure the three of them are well and truly asleep without incident. What are their incidents you are thinking right?

For Caleb, incidents come in the form of nightmares and night terrors. Night terrors are extreme states of sleep and combative motions. Caleb has been known to scream until he turns blue in the face, cry relentlessly, claw at anyone other than myself who tries to touch him, and often walks or falls and hurts himself. This prevents us from putting he and his brother in the same room for now. It also keeps us from putting extra blankets or dressers or pictures in his room as well. We have had to put a gate into his door frame so he isn't able to wander around during these episodes or bring harm to himself.

Andrew is 14 months old and is cutting around 8 or 9 teeth at present so this comes in the form of 2am crying fits where he is inconsolable. I usually pick him up and rock and sing with him for a few minutes before giving him some tylenol and putting him back to bed.

Jons night ailments used to be the worst. His came in the form of pacing or talking or sometimes both at once. He also have periods of combative sleep as well. In addition to those, he would be easily spooked by alarms or loud noises or storms. I have several times talked him out from under the bed or out of the closet. . once it was from between the tub and toilet where he had hunkered down when a car backfired.

Sounds like fun huh?! So there you have it. .by the time all of this is said and done it is around two in the morning and I am up a mere two hours later to start the next day.

So, that is a day in MY life. In closing I leave you images of my dinner from last night.

My children sat on the other day of the table and ate while my husband slept peacefully in his chair after finishing his meal. I was awake until 1:30 this morning and was up for the day around 9.

So, there you have it. A day in MY life. Is it hard? Oh yes. Am I tired? Unbelieveably so. Would I change a thing? Never in a million years. It may not be perfect, but it is all mine and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Embracing Faith - Letting Go, and Letting God

I can readily admit this: The past few weeks have boarded on the line of pure chaos. While getting caught up in all that I forgot the one person and one area of my life.

With all of the goings on, getting no sleep, stressing about bills and family, taking care of 4 people, and dealing with unknown diagnoses has stretch my will and and strength to its' breaking point. I feel like if I am pulled any thinner I will break.

The past few weeks I have struggled with my faith, understanding, strength. I have doubted myself, my capabilities, my strength, and my will. I have lost sight of them completely.

These past couple of days especially have tested me. I am tired, worn out, stressed out, run down, and taking care of two sick kids and Jon. Last night I ended up sobbing like a child, shutting down, and ended up having an all out meltdown.

I went to put my laundry away and came across a little plaque given to me by dad. On it were the words "IF ALL ELSE FAILS, CALL DAD." That is precisely what I did. Gave me things to think about and I want to share them. They are Matthew 11:28 and Psalms 46.

Psalm 46

- God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
- Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
- Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
- There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
- God is in the amidst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
- The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
- The aLord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
- Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
- He maketh awars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
- 10 Be astill, and bknow that I am God: I will be cexalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
- The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Matthew 11:28

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest . Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

After reading those I realized something. Whenever my faith is failing me or I am losing hope, HE is there. Through every doubt I have and every trial when I think he isn't listening, those are the times he says. .look around you and be thankful. You may not see me all of the time, but I am there.

So I leave you with this saying, and this amazing song that I love.

"Let go and let God"


"I Pray" by Lonestar

I can't quote the Bible
I skipped Sunday school
And I can't count the times I fell and broken the golden rule
So I don't know if He listens
Sometimes I wonder if He cares
Maybe I'm just wishin'
'Cause I can't even prove he's there

But I pray
He'll watch over my childern
I pray
Just to be a better man
To find the strength to rise above
To be there for the ones I love
To forgive and be forgiven some sweet day
I pray

Now I confess I don't bow my head as often as I should
Mostly just when times are bad, rarely when they're good
And I don't hold with too much preachin'
But I was raised up to believe
That a man can't ever stand as tall
As when he gets down on his knees

So I pray
He'll watch over my childern
I pray
Just to be a better man
To find the strength to rise above
To be there for the ones I love
To forgive and be forgiven some sweet day
I pray

So I pray
For a world that's gone half crazy
I pray
For every woman child and man
To find the strength to rise above
To teach each other how to love
To forgive and be forgiven some sweet day

I pray
I pray

Until next time my loveys


Friday, July 23, 2010

Living In Fast Forward

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I can sum up my past few days with one.

Jon saw the neurologist and an orthopedics specialist last week. The neurologist ended up giving him a headache preventative called propranolol. The rest of that appointment I am shaky on because they had me leave the room and he can't remember what she told him after I left which was what I was hoping to prevent while being in there.

Next was his ortho appointment for his back, knees, and feet. They took x-rays of all three and his bones look great. They are sound and show no signs of any injury. So, that doctor is pretty sure he has an arthritis problem in those particular joints and just a mass of inflammation in the muscles and tendons. For the inflammation they gave him Mobic and for the pain they gave him Tramadol.

He starts physical therapy at WRAMC this upcoming Monday. He has to be there by 0830. Next week he also has a sleep study being done up at AAFB.

The Zoloft and Prazosin seem to be really working although I think one of his new medications are counteracting the Prazosin. He has been extremely combative in his sleep this past week. Two days ago

We have also started using a color system in the house to identify and voice emotions. For example, if I get upset, angry, irritated, etc. . .all I would have to say is "I am going to red, please go some where for a few minutes and let me get a hold on it" or say if I notice him getting agitated or a little too forceful with the boys I can say "Orange, go take a break and calm down". .

Jon responds to the color system really well. We had a safe word there for a bit but he would usually just stare at me like I was stupid when I would use it to get him to back off or to take time to myself.

Thanks to the NMC nurse, his caseworker, and the CDC, I have actually been getting some help too! Someone donated a grant to us so now the boys are in daycare three days a week plus all appointments we may have. Caleb is thriving in that environment. They lady they stay with runs the daycare out of her home and has two kids their age. They both love it.

Let's see. I took Andrew to the doctor day before yesterday for a little infection in both ears and a HUGE blood blister on his gums. I had never seen something like that before so I just wanted to make sure. They say it should burst on its own and that molar should poke through on its own. He is 28 pounds and 31 inches tall.

I feel like I am floundering here, like I am failing miserably at keeping my family grounded. Between making sure the three of them have everything they need and keeping all of us on track and schedule, I rarely have time to remember that I am here.

I keep hoping that things will level out and calm down but it seems for now that I am stuck in this state of living in fast forward. I rarely have time to breathe let alone eat or sleep. I am stuck between complete exhaustion and frenzied activity.

The bright spot in this mess of crazy has always been and will always be my boys. It is so hard to have a bad day when every time they smile at me my heart melts. Let me share one such moment,a moment that reminds me that no matter how crazy things get or how tired or sick or disheartened I may become. . I always have two smiling faces and two sets of arms that make it all better. I know that no matter what happens in my life or has happened in the past. . I must have done something right to be blessed with these two amazing little people.

Through every harrowing, nerve wracking, patience trying step of this crazy journey, I have always had the amazing support of some of the best women on this planet. They have been my strong hold, my cheerleaders, my listening ear, my open arms, they have always been my family. I would be totally wacko if not for these amazing people.

As a parting thought, I leave you with this. A long time ago my dad brought me a poem home to hang on my wall and I have leaned on it a lot these past days. It is called Don't Quit. So when you get down and you don't know if you have the strength to keep going one second longer, I give to you the same words I was given. .

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and its turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Always remember this. When you get down and things get hard and rough in your life, there is always someone out there who has it so much worse.

Until next time my lovies.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Weeks of Chaos. ..The Misadventures of Boys

Hello my lovelies. .miss me?

Well, the chaos that has taken over my days as of late has been going on for a little more than two weeks. So, let's start on June 17th and let me catch you up.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been waiting on TBI results to come in from Richmond. His doctors are fairly certain he has at least a mild traumatic brain injury, it would explain a lot of things.

While waiting on this, we are getting a lot of other things pegged and straightened out. Jon saw a ophthalmologist last week and has been giving glasses, they are sure that his eyes are playing a major role is his headaches. I have to agree. Been there, done that. Coming up he has a consult with an orthopedist to get his back and knees taken care of.

After those two appointments, he will see a neurologist and have a sleep study done. Those appointments are coming up this month. We will be traveling to Bethesda, Andrews Air Force Base, Walter Reed, and Dewitt for those.

He continues to see someone for his PTSD and is doing better this week than last. His medications are doing there job and we make more progress everyday it seems. We are at a impasse for now and continue to move one step forward and two steps back. He continues to fight this every day and refuses to let it consume him anymore. I have rarely ever been more proud.

Last week our little family started the FOCUS class and I am so excited! It has been great so far. What it does is help our family build the skills we need to get through this. This is a class that we all take. It is focusing on our problem solving skills, communication, and overall well-being of our family. We've already been to two classes. They are helping me teach Caleb to use colors to tell us how he is feeling and I am so excited about that. Caleb has always been great at letting mommy know what he wants or needs and if he doesn't feel good but he struggles expressing that to others.

Another exciting thing that has come our way is child care. The EECE and EFMP programs are providing daycare for the boys three times a week plus appointment dates. They have done spectacular with it so far. They love it and barely notice we are gone. I think I am the one who has had the most trouble with them being gone.

The boys continue to thrive and grow. Every day with them is an adventure and I thank God for them every single night. I absolutely adore my children and fall a little more in love with them every day. Now, let us get get into the other stuff. The picture stuff I have been able to document.

On June 22nd, we traveled to Bethesda with Caleb to see a pediatric cardiology specialist. The heart murmur he was born with was still easily detected so they wanted to have him evaluated. Talk about scary! He underwent a physical exam, an EKG, and a cardiac ultrasound. The doctor tells me that while it is still so easily detected, it seems to be benign. They see no need to restrict him from any activities but want him to re-evaluated in a few years because of the nature of the murmur. Fewer sights stops a mothers heart cold but I do believe seeing him hooked up to that machine was one of them.

The boys decided it would be fun to dismantle my kitchen while I went to the bathroom. I came out and found them like this. Cute right

Mr Andrew tried spaghetti for the first time the other night. This was the end result

Yes, you are seeing that right. While getting ready for our FOCUS class yesterday, the boys decided to go play in the dirty laundry. Them came out wearing my bra. Caleb had it tied to him and Andrew both.

As a parting thought for the day I leave you with this.

Everything has a purpose and a reason. We may not understand it at the time but in time it will come. I don't know about you guys but it seems like whenever my faith is running low or I am struggling a little bit harder than usual, that those are the times God smiles at me and lets me know. . I am here. . you just don't always see me.

Until next time


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Excuse Me!?!?!

Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head, and ignore reality until it rights itself again? OR scratch your head and wonder, what the heck did I do? I am sure you have. . I do too.

Yesterday was one such day, a by-product of the night before. After a midnight meltdown Monday night brought on by changed orders, I received a 2am martial arts lesson. That really should have been my first clue. Being victim to a sneak attack in the dead of night has a way of getting a person on the move.

Tuesday started in a mess of night terrors, complete exhaustion, and a relentless migraine. Jon went ahead and took the car to work in effort to give the boys and I a couple more hours of sleep, hoping it would improve our dispositions all around. HA!

The boys had been out of bed all of 10 minutes before they openly declared war on mommy. Caleb decided it would be fun to use Andrew as a trampoline, to which Andrew just shrieked shrilly and tried his level best to fight back. The end result was complete destruction of all cleaning and order I managed to give to the house.. . .A day in the life right?

Fast forward to breakfast. Most of it ended on the floor. Ehh whatever, they are little boys, messes pretty much come with the territory. The fun part of the day began shortly after I got them cleaned up from breakfast. After getting Caleb dressed and turning him loose and starting on Andrew, Caleb decided to hide all of mommy's clothes. You wouldn't think a three year old would hide stuff that well. You are so wrong. Not only did he hide the first set of clothes that I set out for myself to wear, but the second and third as well. Yep. By the time I got all of us ready to go and Jon got home, we were running behind.

We get Jon to the doctor where he has to sit for over an hour past his appointment time before they see him. Call me crazy but give someone an appointment if you aren't going to see them until an hour later? It wasn't in lieu of being packed or busy, there were one or two people there at most. His appointment was at 1330 but he wasn't seen until 1445.

Nothing was being accomplished by the boys and I just sitting there twiddling our thumbs while we waited so, we went to cross some errands off of the list. The post office was first. Upon the guy arguing with me for a good 10 minutes about spending 50 dollars to insure a box, I got it done and went back out to the car. The car was parked right outside of the door in clear view of the window I was at getting my package and cards in the mail.

In the time it took me to pay for my things, Caleb had unbuckled himself, thrown Andrew's shoes out of the window, his shoes out the window, tossed all of my CDs around the car, and was hanging out of the window shouting at the top of his lungs "MOMMY I DO IT MOMMY I DO IT!". .skill I tell you, this kid amazes me.

After this we head to the commissary where the icing on the cake of my day is made. I get both boys out of the car, Andrew is on my hip and Caleb is holding onto my hand as we walk. I drop his hand and let him walk on his own, he never goes far and stays within reaching distance of me at all times.

Scant seconds later this man comes barreling down the "isle" in the parking lot and plows into my three year old child and knocks him flat on his rear. I look at this man who is looking at me and my children with this look of utter horror and disgust on his face.

He dusts off his cammie blouse, straightens his chevrons (he was a warrant officer) and looks at me. For as long as I live I will never forget what happened next.

This man looks at my child who is trying to put his shoes back on, and then turns to me and says "Aren't you going to make him apologize to me?"

Now I know most of you reading this are reacting in a similar manner as I did. I looked at this man who is easily three or four times my size, and has a good 15 or 20 years on me, raise my eyebrows, and reply "Excuse me?"

He again repeats "Aren't you going to make him apologize?" I have come across my fair share of jerks at this base but none as pretentious and obnoxious as this man, who was standing in front of me demanding that I make my three year old child apologize to this man for being the one knocked over onto the wet ground.

My verbal filter is pretty much non-existent when I am tired, and my temper was already flared at the happenings of the day already. There is nothing that sets fire to my temper than pretentious jerks that think they are God's gift to the world because they happen to be officers. I have met some great men here, ones who insisted on helping a frazzled mother of two, on the flip side I have also come across those people you just want to reach out and smack.

For those of you who know me, and those of you who don't, I am sure you can only imagine what happened next. I helped Caleb to his feet and he hid behind my leg. I looked at this man who was demanding retribution for HIM tripping MY child and let go of the hold I had on my tongue. The conversation progressed as follows.

"Well sir, no I am not going to make him apologize."


"I said I am not going to make him apologize. Maybe next time you should take your head our of your rear and your nose out of your phone and pay attention to where you are going, maybe then YOU wouldn't be plowing over children not even a quarter of your size. If I make my child to anything it will be to kick you in the shin as we walk past."

This man then proceeds to roll his eyes like a teenage girl, mutters ugh, and then some vulgar comment about women and children in general and stomps off with the poor bag boy trailing after him.

The day just got better huh. We come home, Jon goes to work, and the boys and I settle in for the night. Jon and I finally get wound down to sleep around 4 in the morning after he gets home.

This morning we all hit the ground running. We went to Woodbridge to get copies of their last check up, then back to base to the CDC to enroll them at the center.

Part of the new family "game plan" with all of this PTSD and TBI business is that I need help too. Not because I am sick or anything but the case manager says that I have to accept I can only do so much at once. In addition to taking care of and raising two children a great deal on my own, I also run a household, comply with the demands his job makes on us, go to school, and take care of everything else, I also have to take care of and keep track of doctors appointments not only for myself and the boys but Jon as well.

So, in addition to taking care of Jon and making sure he has all he needs to get better, they have also given the boys and I tools to help us cope and learn how to help Jon as well. Happy dancing for us!

As a part of this, they have set the boys and I up for classes and groups and day care three times a week for a few hours as well as child care for doctors appointments and all groups as well. EEEEeeeeePPPPPsss!

We got them all signed up for daycare at the CDC today. All taken care of courtesy of the WWP and EEC which caters to and helps families of military personnel with PTSD and TBI's.

It is a huge relief to know this. Not only do I get a few hours a week to myself now, but I also get time to finish my schoolwork, concentrate on each child at their specific appointments, but I also get time to focus on one thing at a time! Happy Dancing over here!

Just goes to show that there is always an upside to every down and an answer to every prayer made even if it isn't the one you wanted.

In closing I leave you with my thought for the day.

Things happen for a reason and there is a reason and answer to everything even though we may not see it or notice at the time. Nothing is ever in vain. There is always a lesson to learn, something you may not have seen or accepted before. The trick to understanding and embracing it is to fully open your heart and mind to it. After all, some of Gods' greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Until next time!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Just Another Day In Paradise. . Toddler/Baby UFC Match

Today started out as any other day in the house of P. .well almost. I was woken up around 10 this morning by a shrill shriek followed by a loud "MA MA MA MA MA MA MA".

At this I dart out of bed and make my way into into Andrew's room to find him sitting there in his crib grinning at me. Nice way to start the morning. I walk the 10 feet in between their rooms to get Caleb as he is now fully awake.

I bend over to pick him up and as he wraps his chubby little arms around my neck and says "Morning my mommy Beav. I lub you so much. Chew?". . .This sets the tune for most of our day. I take him into the bathroom to get his chew, which is his allergy medication, and he proceeds to pop it in his mouth and look at me with that full out grin that screams Jon and says "Mmmm Mommy that's good stuff!"

We go get Andrew and settle in for breakfast. They finish and get down to play and the fun really begins. After dumping both toy boxes, they play. About 15 minutes later while I am cleaning up the kitchen and switching some laundry I hear Caleb yelling.

I go into the livingroom /play room and can finally hear what he is saying. "LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT BRUDDER! LET ME OUT!"

For those of you who know my children, you know that when this occurs some one is usually trapped. I look around to the back door and here is what I see. .

Andrew has overturned the larger of the two toy boxes over on top of his brother and is banging on it cackling madly. Caleb, is underneath screaming for all he is worth. I went and got Andrew and freed Caleb who in turn gets Andrew back not even a full 10 minutes later. I hear a grand crashing from the area of the dining room and I turn to see this. . .

Caleb has overturned the kitchen table chairs on top of his brother who is yelling at the top of his lungs "BUH BUH BUH BUH" which is what he calls Caleb. NO crying or screaming instead my one year old child is shouting at his brother in what I like to think of as his "when I get out of here you are so gonna regret it" shout.

He finally frees himself and upon seeing this Caleb darts into the kitchen trying not so stealthily to hide behind the garbage can. I hear another crash while I an en route and walk straight into the war zone.

Andrew has since become enamored with yanking the mini blinds off of the wall. Caleb sneaks up on him and starts hip butting him with no success.

I finally take my little UFC fighters into the livingroom to finish up Shrek and have their lunches. Nap time was only minutes away. My phone rings and I answer it to talk to the lady who is helping me arrange child care for the boys. . .FOR FREE!. . .all the while they are eating and tossing fruit loops at each other. .their lunches forgotten. I had one boy on the couch while I changed and cleaned up the other and vice versa. I find my angelic little children grinning like monkeys at me.

From Andrew I get this face

From Caleb I get this one

Now please tell me who can get mad at those little faces?!

Finally I get to take them upstairs to nap! WOO HOO! My favorite time of day. I get to clean up the chaos that is the first 8 hours and get ready to do it all over. My life is imperfectly perfect.

Tomorrow is full of appointments, grocery shopping, paying bills, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. .I would change it for all of the money in the world.

In parting, I ask that you all pray for a very special little girl who is just 9 days old and already facing a harsh illness. She is fighting every step of the way, and how could she not?! She is the product of one of this countries finest warriors and a very strong and awesome mommy. Keep Baby K and the rest of Team A in your prayers. Send all positive energy their way.

As a final thought, I leave you with the words to one of my favorite songs. As imperfect, and crazy as my days usually are, it is just another day in paradise. . my paradise.

he kids screaming, phone ringing
Dog barking at the mailman bringing
That stack of bills - overdue
Good morning baby, how are you?
Got a half hour, quick shower
Take a drink of milk but the milk's gone sour
My funny face makes you laugh
Twist the top on and I put it back
There goes the washing machine
Baby, don't kick it.
I promise I'll fix it
Long about a million other things

Well, it's ok. It's so nice
It's just another day in paradise
Well, there's no place that
I'd rather be
Well, it's two hearts
And one dream
I wouldn't trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise

Friday, you're late
Guess we'll never make our dinner date
At the restaurant you start to cry
Baby, we'll just improvise
Well, plan B looks like
Dominoes' pizza in the candle light
Then we'll tippy toe to our room
Make a little love that's overdue
But somebody had a bad dream
Mama and daddy
Can me and my teddy
Come in to sleep in between?

Until next time my loves,


Sunday, June 13, 2010

And So it Begins. .

Hello all and welcome to this crazy ride that I call my life!

I finally gave in and started a blog so my friends, family, extended relatives can check in on us any time you get the hankering to find out what is going on with Team P. Here you will find our life uncensored as told by me.

I have many names and answer to all. I am a Marine Corps wife of four years, a sister to two strong and willful people whom have guided and listened to a flustered girl for over two decades, a daughter to two parents who struggled day in and day out to find their way for us and for themselves, but most of all I am called mommy. Nothing compares to the beautiful eyes of my sons who gaze up at me each and every day and say I love you mommy.

More than my sisters, parents, husband, and extended family, there is our Marine Corps family. A constant stronghold of love and support and understanding. These amazing people have been there for me and all of us when I have needed to cry and scream and rant with a helping hand, an open ear, and a brand new box of Kleenex. They are my best friends, they are my sisters. These past four years I have never had to face anything this crazy journey has thrown at me alone.

Here you will see and hear what crazy shenanigans my boys are up to, along with updates and how we are coping with PTSD and a possible TBI. We will never be more than a click away and all you will have to do is type in our blog address and check it out.

Our lives as of late have only been a stones throw away from complete and total chaos. Between doctors appointments, birthdays, and a whole slew of other crazy things in our lives, we have been on the go from sun up to sun down.

So, let us start at the top of Team P and work our way down to the smallest P and catch up!

Jon. Where do we start? I have rarely ever been as proud of another person than I am of my husband. The past few weeks for him have been hard work compounded by even harder work and all for his family and his country. Watching him struggle the last few years has been heart breaking and humbling. He feels things so deeply and differently than most people I have come across. In the past three or four months we have begun the slow process of diagnosis and treatment for PTSD.

For those of you reading who don't understand what exactly PTSD is, I will try my best to explain it to you. PTSD is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder which by definition is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress response.

Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal - such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hyper vigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Our journey with PTSD began shortly after his return home. It started out simply as odd occurrences of him sitting up in the bed in the middle of the night stating that there was someone coming down the street. Then as the days passed we started noticing more and more manifestations that we didn't understand. He started having issues with things startling him into relapses of times when he was overseas.

Things came to a culmination a couple of months ago and after some arguments and tears he agreed to see someone and get some answers. Here we are a few months down the road and things are getting better slowly but surely. The medications the doctors have given him are working absolute wonders. We have been almost two months without a nightmare or a wandering dream where he talks and paces the house at all hours of the night.

Along with the medicine, he also sees a therapist ("the wizard" as Jon calls him) once, and even twice a week sometimes. They have been incredibly helpful and at times brutally honest with him. He smiles a lot more these days and is continuing to grow as himself and as a daddy and husband. God has been smiling down on our little family.

As of now, his team of doctors, are having us explore the possibility of a TBI as well. A TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury,is by definition happens when an external force traumatically injures the brain. TBI can be classified based on severity, mechanism (closed or penetrating head injury), or other features (e.g. occurring in a specific location or over a widespread area). Head injury usually refers to TBI, but is a broader category because it can involve damage to structures other than the brain, such as the scalp and skull.

Through liaisons with both the Wounded Warrior Regiment and the Navy Marine Corps Relief, we are slowly piecing the diagnoses and treatment plans together one by one. We say one day at a time, one step at a time, and take it as it comes.

We are still exploring outlets and possibilities for our whole family when it comes to coping and helping him cope with what he has been through. We can unsee or undo anything he has been through, but we can try our best to help him cope.


ME! I know I know. .awful picture. . What can I say about myself? I hit the floor running each morning and I fall into bed at a sprint at night. Between doctors appointments, trying to get through a certification, chasing two small kids, trying to keep up with the demands and needs of my family, and keeping up with this crazy life we have chosen, I rarely have two seconds to rub together.

My new mantra these past few months has been this:

I am only one person. I can only do so much. I don't understand everything and there are days when it takes all I can manage to get us through the day. I am tired and I am angry and I only have two arms. I am tired of over extending myself to help people when no effort is put into it in... return. I don't have any time to spare at present so don't waste mine.

As my sister likes to tell all the time.. ."Sister you have to let go and let God.". . Truer words have never been spoken. You have to turn it over to God and pray to understand his plan for your lives.

Watching Jon suffer alone all these years has ripped out my heart. As a wife, or a sister, or a parent, or a friend you just want to take away the hurt and make it better. The kids and I are lucky to have an amazing group of friends and medical staff to help us through this crazy ride.

Last week, after our useless trip to the VA Center in Richmond, we met with a Navy and Marine Corps Relief nurse to plot our path and gather our resources. The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. We have done that, or I should say Jon has done that.

Through this amazing nurse that they sent to us, the kids and I have found multiple resources to teach us to help each other and Jon. With these resources and the help of our amazing friends, we are dealing and we ARE thriving.


Caleb. My little Bubba! It seems like just yesterday when I was fighting to bring him into this world. Little did I know that three years later he would be teaching me things about the world and myself that I never knew existed. He is bright and funny, caring, and has one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen.

He came into the world on the first day of June three years ago. He was 8lbs 5ozs and 21 inches long. He was small and beautiful and one of the biggest miracles to ever grace my life.

12 days ago my little man turned three. I cannot believe how much he has grown. At his 3 year wellness check, he weighed 40 pounds and was 3 foot 2 inches tall. We are finally getting down to the root of his problems with his allergies. All in all, most of his allergies are outdoors so taking him outside a lot of times is nearly impossible because of the ridiculously high pollen counts.

In a few days we are making the trek to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD to see a pediatric cardiology specialist and have his heart murmur re-evaluated. It is still so easily detected that they want to rule out anything threatening. It is still so hard to believe that he is 3!


Andrew. It hardly seems like a whole year has gone by already! It is almost like I blinked and he was walking and talking and having impromptu UFC matches with his brother. Every single day with both of these amazing little people in my life has been a complete and total blessing.

Four days ago I took Andrew to his 1 year well baby check up. My little monkey weighs 27 pounds and is 32 inches long. He learns and grows more and more every single day. He can identify each person in our little family as well as hi and bye.

He walks and toddles and opens and closes any and all drawers in our kitchen and pulls everything out. He is bright and fun and oh so happy all of the time.


In parting I leave you with this thought. . .

They say that blood is thicker than water and that is a very true statement. But just because blood is thicker, doesn't mean that it alone is all it takes to make a family.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and from one side of the world or country to another. What truly makes you a family is the willingness of each member to go far and wide to help and support each other.

With the simplest of phone calls or quiet words, they come immediately with no questions asked every time a tear falls and hold you up when you want to fall. They aren't perfect or the same, but they are my family and we are so very lucky to have them.

As they say, until next time my loves