Category Archives: marriage

No, no, you really shouldn’t have… but thanks for doing it anyway.

For the past many years, my husband and I have agreed to not exchange gifts for Christmas. Usually as the holiday approached, one of us (most usually me) would succumb to the commercialized holiday cheer and ask, “No, seriously, what do you want for Christmas?” A discussion, a suggestion or two, a not-so-vague hint and on Christmas morning there would be shiny wrapped presents for both of us under the tree. With a few… maybe one or two… exceptions, the shiny wrapped presents were exactly what had been discussed, suggested, hinted. Don’t get me wrong, the opening of the presents and the thank you’s after were sweet and genuine and appreciated.

I’m not trying to throw my hubby under the bus at all… there is no bus to throw him under really. But those Christmas present exchanges were basically a compromise – a merging of our two very different gift-giving selves. I would love to give gigantic, over-the-top, super-surprise gifts every year! (!!!) I would probably, easily, bankrupt us by my gift-giving tendency. My husband, on the other hand, likes to give practical, logical, budget-conscious gifts. (…) He keeps our budget in line. I love this trait of his, I do. Perhaps, though, it took me a Christmas holiday, birthday, and another Christmas to fully appreciate his gift-giving tendency. (“ooooooh… an… external hard drive… for me.”)

Well, this year. Christmas of 2014… something happened. We barely talked about what we wanted. I suggested an arm band for my phone. Practical, logical, budget-conscious. I was looking forward to it! And I got it. But it was from my son. And this is the shiny wrapped present from my husband this year…..
Continue reading to see the shiny wrapped present AND what I learned…

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What Every New Mom Wants Her Husband to Know

IMG_6531I have a handful of friends who are either expecting or recently welcomed a child into the world.  For some, this is their very first time.  For a few others, they are welcoming baby #2 or 3.  This write is for all of them and their husbands.  (I am three years out of having a new baby so I am now in the “safe to write about this topic” with my husband.)

She is more tired than you are.  I know. I know you are tired too, but you really are not nearly as tired as she is.  She is physically tired from sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks for the last several months. Yes, months. You may be tired from waking up with the crying baby, but she started this motherhood with a sleep deficit from waking up every few hours to pee or roll over or grab a few TUMS.  She is more tired than you are. Let her have that title.

If you really must complain about how tired you are (all new parents have the right to announce their astonishment at the lack of sleep), please please please begin your complaint with, “I have no idea how you are functioning… I’m so tired;” “You must be exhausted because I’m so tired;” or something along those lines.  New Mom will appreciate your respectful nod to her own tiredness. Unless of course, she fell asleep before you finished your sentence.

She really wouldn’t mind hearing your compliments. Everyone likes to hear that their hard work is not only noticed, but appreciated and admired.  New Mom is no different.  In fact, she is probably putting more effort and energy into your new little bundle of joy than she has put into anything. Ever. However, her effort is overlooked by the wee one who most likely responds to her hardwork with screams, spit-up (the ultimate insult to a nursing mother), or a smelly poopy diaper.  So if Baby isn’t going to say, “Gee, Mom, you really are amazing! The way you keep calm, the way you sing that sweet song, the way you know just how to hold me when I have reflux…. you blow my mind away,” then, it’s up to you, Dad.  Compliment the way she handles the baby and the way she handles herself.  Point out the things you never knew she knew how to do so well.  Notice the way she can cradle the baby in one arm and fold clothes/text her friends/bake bread/anything with the other.  Notice that she took a shower today!!! That’s HUGE.

New Mom is working darn hard these days.  She deserves a tip of the hat, a compliment, a compliment in front of others (!), a hug for a job well-done. She deserves encouragement when she thinks she messing up the whole thing, she deserves a reminder that her body created a whole new being and no one else could do a finer job. She deserves a boost when she’s so tired she’s almost crazy and a kiss when she climbs back into bed for the fifth time each night.

She thinks she looks pretty awful. Okay, maybe not every woman thinks she looks “awful” after having the baby, but I think most do.  If your New Mom is a lucky lady who has a body that bounces back quickly, that’s awesome for you and her… but I bet she’d still like to hear that you think she’s a beauty.  For the average woman, post-baby is quite possibly the ugliest few months or years.  Let’s start with the physical, since that’s the easiest.  Crazy stuff is happening with her body.  The belly, the feet, the ankles, the hair falling out,  the sweatiness… oh, the sweatiness in the middle of the night… the boobs that might look nicer but are oh so painful, it’s sort of a head-to-toe disaster.  Now, you may not think she looks like a disaster (I sincerely hope you do not) because you can see all the beauty that she is as a New Mom, but she thinks you do.  Let’s move on to her new fragrance, because that might be the most obvious.  New Mom probably smells… interesting.  A little bit of her old self, add quite a bit of sweatiness from those night sweats, plus a whole lot of breastmilk that leaked sometime during the night or day, and a splash of spit-up most likely down the back of her shoulder or even in her hair…. subtract daily showers and you get…  Mmmmmmmm. Yeah, that doesn’t make a lady feel amazing! If you notice her new “perfume,” just don’t mention it.

Not only is she battling post-baby body, she’s also been battling the fact that she watched her body balloon from pre-baby to full-term baby. That’s pretty incredible.  Imagine holding your hand 6-8 inches in front of your belly… and over the next few months your belly would just grow and grow and grow.  I know I used to poke the front of my full-term belly and think, “HOLY COW… how in the world am I, me, myself, that far out there?!” So it’s not just the fact that Baby is now born and her body is different, it’s that she’s watched her body morph from the one she knew for years to this foreign expanding, shrinking, swelling, leaking, stinking thing she has now.  She will go back to normal. She will. She just might not believe that yet.

Remind her that she’s beautiful – she was before Baby and she is after Baby – and, at the same time, know that that probably won’t be enough…. but keep reminding her anyway.

She really wants a break. She really would like some time off.  You would too, I know.  But this topic is not about you, so there.  New Mom is giving and giving and giving some more of herself to the wee one and she could just use some time where she does not have to give to anyone.  She also really really does not want to ask for it. She would really really really like you to suggest it.  Is that silly? Yes. Does it feel like she is playing games? Yes. Is she? No. Remember, she’s tired, she thinks she looks a mess, she knows she smells like old cheese… could you just make this suggestion instead of making her ask?

In the early days of Baby, and if she is nursing, she can probably only take an hour or two before she’s back on the job.  You could let her sleep in; you could take Baby (and siblings) to the grocery store or Home Depot; you could drop her off at the nail salon or a friends house while you drive around with Baby so she knows the little one will get a good nap.  The best breaks are when New Mom can not hear or see or smell Baby.  Give her a break… a real break.  I can almost guaranteee she will come back to you and the babe much more relaxed and enjoyable to be around.  (Also, this is setting you up well to show her how capable you are as a Dad.  This could lead to her having complete faith in your abilities to take care of your little prodigy… which means she won’t micromanage the house/children  in months and years to come.) This one is a win-win for everyone!

She may have lost her mind a little.  New Mom’s brain is amazing.  Pregnant Mom’s brain is something short of amazing… at least mine was.  I just couldn’t put thoughts together well. No, I just couldn’t put thoughts together at all.  But take a look at all that New Mom is keeping track of in those first few months.  There’s the eating schedule including how many ounces were ingested (including how much from each side if she’s a nursing mom), there’s the diaper count – dirty versus clean… don’t want to run out!, there’s the sleeping schedule and lengths, there’s the exactly how old is Baby right now count (this is probably only for a first-time New Mom), there’s the constant tally of which “thank you” notes have been written versus need to be written, there’s the adult meal schedule that may or may not be delivered by friends and family, there’s the knowledge of the first few chapters of What To Expect the First Year (and where Baby is or isn’t measuring up), I bet she even knows how many clean onesies are in the drawer and she has an idea when she will need to do laundry.  That’s just the beginning.  That’s just Baby stuff, not to mention normal adult stuff. And she’s sleep deprived.

So if you’re New Mom has a crazed look on her face, it’s just that she’s counting and tallying and measuring things in her head.  Or she fell asleep with her eyes open.  It’s best to just refer back to the first few suggestions above and give her a compliment or give her a break.

On a serious note, also keep an eye out for postpartum depression.  This is real.  I, for one, experienced depression after my third baby.  You and your New Mom need to take this seriously.  It’s a touchy subject to put on the table, but it’s definitely worth it.  There is a variety of treatments available and the treatments seriously work. If you suspect she may be experiencing moods that run deeper than “baby blues” I strongly suggest talking to her about your concerns and encouraging her to talk to her OB/Gyn as soon as possible.

She’s pretty awesome.  You probably know this already. Yes. You do. The coolest thing is that New Mom probably has some new-found self-awareness of her awesomeness.  She’s a Mom.  She might be a Mom again or maybe Mom for the first time. It doesn’t really matter.  She, by the grace of God, brought a human being, into the world.  No matter how tired or ugly or overwhelmed or crazy she feels, she knows she did something awesome.  Celebrate her! Celebrate her awesomeness!  Celebrate the awesomeness of your New Family!   (You are pretty awesome too, by the way.)


Heavens to Besties!!

Some of the most important people in my life are my best girl friends.  I am a lucky girl to have found my best girls and today’s blog is for them… 

15 Reasons Why I Love My Best Girl Friends:

  1. You have noticed and asked me why I haven’t blogged in a long time.  Thanks for supporting me by reading my blog and encouraging me to get back at it.
  2. You have made me snort-laugh, which only makes me snort-laugh more.  Extra props to those of you who snort-laugh with me.
  3. You have sent random post-cards to say hello and let me know you are thinking of me.  Thank you for brightening my days most unexpectedly.
  4. You understand that talking on the phone is practically impossible for me with three kids in the house and you happily text along with me.  Thanks for enduring my paragraph texts and/or emoji obsession.
  5. You have eaten frozen pizza at my house on more than one occasion. Thank you for not complaining that I am not a gourmet chef.
  6. You look past my messy house. Thank you for making it so I don’t even have to apologize for it any more.
  7. You make Girls Night Out so fun that I have to repeatedly ask my babysitter if I can stay out later.  I do not thank you for the babysitting bills I have paid though.
  8. You understand my enthusiasm for making t-shirts slogans for just about anything.  Thank you for not rolling your eyes at me every time. 
  9. You let me be dramatic which sometimes includes me hitting you on your arm or leg or shoving you across the room.  Thank you for being my punching bag when I get too excited.
  10. You have witnessed some of my most embarrassing attributes (non-plucked chin hair, sweaty arm pits, inability to pee when others are within ear shot, etc.) and have loved me anyway.  Thank you for letting me borrow tweezers, promising me no one notices my arm pits or leaving the public restroom, etc.
  11. You love to dance. I’m pretty sure if you are one of my best girls you must love to boogie… at least a little. Or a lot.
  12. You have pushed me to be a better me. Thank you for the advice, kick in the pants, and support you have given me, even when I’m whining and complaining.
  13. You have loved my kids almost as much as I do.  Thank you for being surrogate Aunts to my kids and giving me a hand in raising the most important people in my life.
  14. You have encouraged and celebrated and supported Paul and I through the ups and downs of our marriage.  Thank you for being there for us when we had babies, deployments, and every day in between.
  15. You have made me feel loved and accepted and confident in the person I am. Thank you for being my best girl friends!
    I hope that one day me and my best girl friends can recreate this photo!

    I hope that one day me and my besties can recreate this photo!

     


There’s a Newborn in the World! (and 5 Lessons from Me)

In the very wee hours this morning, the world welcomed a brand new Being.  With bleary eyes and a wet brow she took a deep breath and let out a sound that may have been a cry or maybe just a gasp or even a contented sigh.  I can imagine this new world she had just entered seemed at once overwhelming and strange, yet completely where she was supposed to be.  No doubt she was unsure of what exactly would happen next but suddenly the only thing that mattered was the face gazing back at her, eyes locked and filled with love.  Brand new in this strange world, ready to take on the journey ahead of her… wait a minute… do you think I’m talking about the baby???? No, no, no, I’m talking about the Momma. Yes. One of my dear friends became a mother today.  One sweet and deliciously handsome baby boy and one kind and amazing Momma were born this morning.

All day I’ve been thinking about those beginning hours and days of Motherhood.  The poor kid has been squeezed out of his safe, warm, floating cocoon and into this harsh world with bright lights and loud noises.  The poor Momma just put her body through the ringer and smack dab into recovering from labor/delivery while nourishing another human while not sleeping while hormones are plunging and skyrocketing while baby is crying while husband is asking questions while lactation consultants are getting their faces very near her breasts while nurses continuously poke and prod her while all the while she is asking herself “what in the world am I doing?”  It’s all very crazy.  Except when she looks down into that sweet fella’s handsome and chubby-cheeked face and the world sort of stops for a moment and she remembers, “oh yeah, I’m a Momma.”

I’ve thought about all the things I wish I had known when I was a newly born Momma.  Of all the pieces of advice I would give myself to try to make the road a little easier.  (I wonder if I would even listen to myself or have to learn those lessons the hard way?) So tonight I’m going to write myself my Top 5 Thoughts I (7 year old Momma) Would Share with Me (Newborn Momma)…

1. You are the best Momma for your Baby. Own that title.
Motherhood opens the door for solicited and unsolicited advice beyond your wildest dreams.  You also get to be judged by other mothers…. And even worse…. Non-mothers.  This is a fact of Motherhood.  You can either get really irritated and angry and rant on Facebook about it, or you can accept that people will judge you and tell you how to do things “better” and laugh it off or blow it off and then joke about it on Facebook.  (Facebook also seems to be a fact of Motherhood too.)

I’m unsure if people have good intentions when they offer young mothers advice, especially in the grocery store. Perhaps it’s a joke they play by trying get inside our already-scattered-Momma-brain and make us more distracted and therefore running late and baby crying while we walk up and down the aisles trying to remember what we needed to buy in the first place.  If that’s the case, it’s really not a funny joke.  Anyway, regardless of why people feel the need to share their thoughts and opinions on how you should be raising your child, you needn’t pay attention.  You are your baby’s Momma. You know your baby better than anyone else. You know his personality, how he likes to sleep, how he prefers to be held, etc. You know what’s going on in your family or your family’s history that is influencing your mothering decisions.  Be confident in those things. Be confidant in You.  If you are happy with the way your Motherhood is shaping up, then don’t worry about what other people think or say.  Trust yourself.  Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty.

But one day, you might just think, “I’m not sure I’m doing this the best way…. How could I do this differently?” And that takes me to #2…

 2. Surround yourself with girlfriends (fellow moms and non-moms, too) who you respect and trust.
Many aspects of Motherhood are tough and confusing and downright soul-crushing.  You will need your girlfriends to help you.  It’s okay, dare I say “great”, to ask your friends for help or advice or a kick in the pants.  Back in the day the ladies used to raise their little bambinos together.  Aunts, grandmas, sisters, neighbors would share some of the burden. I don’t really know why, but today’s mothers seem a lot more independent and refuse to ask for help when they need it.  Sharing the burdens is a great way to bond with your girlfriends, to allow each other to see that other Mommas have struggles too, to learn new ways to solve problems, to get a fresh perspective on what Motherhood means.  Even more importantly, sharing the burdens almost always leads to sharing the joys too.  Let your friends help you out.  Let your friends offer you advice and pointers.  Don’t let your pride get in the way or the fear of looking weak and unfit make you miss the opportunity to lean on one of your girlfriends.  One day it will be your turn to offer advice or a helping hand and those friends will soon be like family.

Speaking of family… Let’s head to #3…

3.    So now that you just went from husband and wife to an actual “family,” be prepared to ache for your extended family.
I am blessed to have the world’s most amazing family.  I’ve pretty much always known that.  However, from that first day of Motherhood, I had never truly ached to be near my family more.  My sister and I would talk about living in the same city one day when we had families and that was fun to daydream about, but not a serious “how can we make this happen” plan.  My parents would come out and visit my husband and me wherever the Navy had stationed us.  We would do silly touristy things that were fun, but not entirely monumental. (No offense Mom and Dad.)  After I became a Momma I ached and ached for my family to come and meet my daughter.  I wanted them to see her and all of her fabulousness, and I also wanted them to see me in all my Momma glory (remember…. Sleeplessness, hormonal, sore, etc.)!  I ached for my daughter to meet her aunt who would love her almost nearly as much as I loved her.  I wanted my In-Laws to see the newest little person with our shared last name.  I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by those that loved her most and to be held in the arms that would be hugging her for years and years to come.  No matter the drama that comes with family… we all gots at least a little drama…. Becoming a new Momma makes you ache for those that love you best.

(Also, your extended family are the people who you can fully and totally trust with your brand new baby so you can sleep without one ear open.  My Mother-In-Law gets credit for my first four-hour-straight nap of full deep sleep.  She will forever have a special place in my heart for that nap.)

Family means love, and adding a new member to your family makes you crave that love from the people that love you best.  And who is the one who really truly loves you best… #4 focuses on that…

4.    The one other person on Earth who gets credit for giving you the title of Momma… Your husband…. You’re both winners. So stop competing!
This one might be a little silly, but my husband and I had to actually say this rule out loud and agree upon it when we were prepping for baby #2’s arrival.

Stop competing over who is more tired.

Right around week three or so, when the adrenaline wore off and we were still getting sleep in approximately 2-3 hour chunks we had this conversation:

Dad: “I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Really? Are you?”
Dad: “Yes. Really.  My body aches I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Hmmm. Yeah, I’m pretty sore from my c-section and pretty tired too. Did you know I was up every two hours last night?”
Dad: “I know. I was up too.”
Momma: “But then you went back to sleep while I was feeding her.”
Dad: “But I woke up. I heard her crying.”
Momma: “Yeah, But You. Went. Back. To. Sleep. I heard you SNORING.”
Dad: “I know but then you threw that sock at me so I woke up again.”
Momma: “I threw the sock at you because you were snoring and almost woke the baby up.”
Dad: “Well then I was up and went to work all day.”
Momma: “Well then I was up and went to work all day too.”
Dad: “But I didn’t get to nap.”
Momma: “Well I only napped a little because by the time I fell asleep Baby woke up ten minutes later.”
Dad: “Ah, I’m so tired a ten minute nap sounds good. I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Well, I’m more tired than you are.”
Dad: “Are you? Are you? I’m probably more tired than you think I am.”
Momma: “Maybe but I’m pretty sure I’m more tired than you are.”

WHAT?!  That was just silly.  Clearly we were sleep deprived and delirious to think that was a helpful conversation.  The second and third time we had a newborn in the house we would say something like this:

Dad: “I’m so tired.”
Momma: “I know. Me too.”
Dad: “Baby was up a bunch last night, huh?”
Momma: “Yep. I’m so tired.”
Dad: “I know. Me too.”

Keep in mind that while you, Momma, are working hard. So is Dad.  Is it the same? No. Does that matter? No.  Just accept that the first few months everyone is tired and everyone is over-worked.  But the good news is……  #5….

5.    It’s just a phase.  Everything with kids is just a phase…
Read the fine print: this also means that if things are going well, it’s just a phase too. Soon things will start to not go well again.  But, that’s just a phase too!

I did not love the newborn phase.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with Baby all day.  I thought I was a bad mom or that I lacked some maternal instinct.  Turns out it was hormonal and I soon snapped out of it and life as a Momma turned out to be great.  I got into my groove and we sort of got a schedule down.  But that turned out to be a phase because she had a growth spurt. I was super tired and drained and crabby again, but that turned out to be a phase and she started being more interactive and Motherhood was actually fun.  The fun phase led right into the teething phase and that is a very not-fun phase.  The phases came and went and came and went.  All in all, you just have to hold on for dear life and enjoy the rollercoaster ride.  I’m seven years into this Momma life and I’m still riding through different phases.  Now with three kids I really have to enjoy the times when all three of them are in a good phase at the same time.  It does happen.  That is a most-awesome phase.  It’s actually a “Makes all the tough phases worth it 100 times over!” Phase.

*BONUS LESSON*
Allow your nurses to help as much as possible while you are in the hospital.
Our nurses took Baby #3, Samuel, out of our room for a few hours so I could sleep. I’m not sure I let Baby #1 out of my line of sight for the first few days.  By Baby #3, I had learned my lesson!  The nurses wrote this note on our door for all the hospital staff and un-announced visitors.
I’m fairly certain I could write pages and pages of more lessons I learned as a New Momma.  Not that I think I know everything now.  Certainly I’m still learning new lessons and re-learning old lessons.  This list was fun to write and think back on all the ways I have grown and changed over the years… almost like a newborn to a seven year old.  My dear friend, you know who you are, I wish you all the best in this wonderful life as a Momma!  You are going to do a wonderful job being the very best Momma that your little chicken could ever have, I look forward to watching you learn and grow along the way.  Love you!


Marriage: “Like a Dream”

engaged couple holding on hands - view from backsideA few days ago, a friend of mine told me about a YouTube video she came across on Facebook. The video tells the story of a 96-year-old Illinois man who entered a song writing contest he saw in his local paper.  The man, Fred Stobaugh, wrote the sweetest song about his wife who had passed away in April.  The couple had been married for 73 years. If you haven’t heard the song yet or heard the story about it, you should. Check it out here.

Did you go and watch the video? I hope you did.  If not, go ahead and do it now.

So you came back to see what I had to say about this, eh? Bet you had to get some tissues first, eh? It’s just the sweetest story.

The depth of Mr. Stobaugh’s love for his wife is truly inspiring. Imagine looking back on your life and marriage saying, “It was almost dream-like, but it was real.” I hope 70 years from now I will say my marriage was like a dream. I hope my husband will say the same thing.  I’m pretty sure there is only one person on this earth who can really influence the quality of my husband’s marriage.  That’s me.

So what can I do today and tomorrow to ensure our marriage not only lasts but thrives for another 60 years? The answer to that question is something that deserves active and purposeful pursuit.  Every day will be an opportunity to make more good memories and fall in love all over again.

I am sure there are a bazillion things I could do differently to be a better wife . But I’m just going to start with doing things on purpose: I am going to purposefully be thankful for my amazing husband who isn’t hesitant to show me he loves me. I am going to purposefully be the leader of his own personal fan club.  It will be a fan club of 4… me and the kids… but we are going to make sure our guy knows he’s loved.  I am going to purposefully participate in the fun of being a family.  We may have to tackle our Chores List, but I’m going to make sure there are fun things on that list too.  I am going to purposefully find joy in the life we have create and embrace the obstacles that may come our way.

Our 70th wedding anniversary will be in 2071.  When we look back over 70 years of marriage, I pray that my husband will see me as a wife who appreciated him for him, who loved him more than anything else in the world, who created fun memories for the family, and found joy in the life we created together.  I hope we remember when and how we fell in love the first time and that we continued to fall in love time and time again.

I would like to thank Mr. Stobaugh for sharing his story and his love for his wife, for motivating me to take a closer look at the husband I love and the wife that I am to him, for showing us that it is actually possible to have a marriage that is beyond our wildest dreams.


Ode to My Navy Friends

Last night was one of those nights.  A night for a “farewell”… to wish a friend good luck at the next duty station; to laugh at memories made over the last few years, months, weeks, and days; to promise future “girls weekends,” skype dates, and Facebook updates.  Last night was a little extra difficult for me because it wasn’t just a fellow Navy spouse who we were “see you later-ing” it was the farewell dinner for one of my dearest friends – a true Navy sister.

All day today I’ve been thinking of the friendships I have made through the years as a Navy spouse.  They are truly incredible.  I know, for certain, that I am not alone in thinking that friendships made in the military community are some of the most unconditional, loyal, and beautiful friendships.  Tonight, I write for my military friends. You know who you are, near and far…

To the girlfriends of USNA Mids who I met while dating my future husband… thank you for being part of those beginning months of my Navy life.  What a journey it has been since those days of weekend liberty, Ring dance, and graduation.

To the wives I met through Paul’s flight school days… remember how we whined that we never knew what our husband’s schedule would be the next day?! How we waited (impatiently) for the schedule to come out and the instructor wives would roll their eyes and say, “at least they come home every night and aren’t on deployment… just you wait.” Yeah. Those instructor wives knew what they were talking about.

For all you, who lived in Kingsville, TX, with me and become experts in all things ranching, Bunco, and Wal-Mart. Those were the days! Nothing brings a group of ladies together quicker than having nothing better to do than window-shopping at Wal-Mart.  No, but seriously, talk about long-lasting friendships.. that was TEN years ago.

Last but not least… the last days of flight school… when your favorite person in the whole wide world is flying a big ol’ airplane with a big ol’ radar dish on top and has to land (safely!) on a teeny tiny boat in the middle of the ocean.  Nothing like waiting for that phone call to hear he made it.

To the friends I made when I was GIP (a.k.a. “Grumpy In Pax”)…  Well, to you all… first and foremost I apologize. I was kind of grumpy for three years.  Second and secondmost… thank you for being my friend anyway.  Thank you for driving up to Waldorf or Annapolis or DC with me so we could get out of dodge for a few hours. Thank you for showing me new playgrounds to entertain my kids. Thank you for encouraging me when life was hard as a mom of two (and then three) little kids. Thank you for loving me when I was not my most loveable. The Navy is lucky to have ladies like you.

To the friends I found in the fleet… Well, shoot. Moving across country, dealing with the housing office, ever-changing work up schedules, debating which port call to go to, drama in the Spouse Clubs.   It’s all a bit stressful, but it sure did give us lots to laugh and cry about together.  Relationships that may not have ever gone past the point of acquaintance grew into amazing friendships based on commaradrie over not mowing our backyards until Housing mowed our front yards. Or during a long flight to a port call.  Or finding out we hail from the same home state.

Not to mention the friendships that grew and solidified into something more like a sisterhood through deployments.  When half my heart is on a boat on the other side of the world, life can be pretty lonely. When I only get to see my Hub’s face and hear his voice every 6 weeks or so, life can look pretty bleak.  Deployments suck. But with friends like you, I made it through. We became friends over weird only-done-during-deployment traditions…
* We stuffed “cruise boxes.”
* We made calendar squares.
* We planned Halfway dinner.
* We wrote in code regarding portcalls and homecoming dates. (OPSEC, people!)
* We interupted conversations if we thought our husband was calling.
* We made banners and signs professing our love (and creative wittiness, sometimes) when Homecoming day neared.

And we became even better friends doing things that aren’t so weird and more every-day…
* We shared meals often.
* We drank wine often.
* We shopped often
* We literally worked our behinds off at the gym (more than often).
* We danced!

To all of my Navy friends…  We have gone through so much – so many strange life events that are unique to the military life.  Our friendships have been tested with abnormal stresses, incredible heart breaks, and long distances for long periods of time.  Those tests have made me hate the Navy at times, ached to be “normal” and yet I wouldn’t change a single thing because I have been blessed with such amazing friendships.  Thank you for being your awesome selves so I can have such awesome friends!

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I Shall Not Air My Dirty Laundry

I shall not air my dirty laundry…. because I have none!!!

Whaaaaaaaat?! The truly unimaginable, incrdibley astonishing and most magnificent victory has been achieved. I have finished all of the laundry in our house. The only dirty laundry to air would be the clothes on our bodies, but then we would be naked and that would be inappropriate! So I shall claim victory in the Battle of Laundry. This day shall go down in the record book of Housekeeping History (if there was such a book); I shall look back on today with pride in my dedication and endurance; today shall be known as “Tide Pride” day (Tide with Febreeze is my detergent of choice).

I once would have thought that finishing all the laundry was a simple and silly task, but alas my enterance into motherhood x 3 has raised the chore to a whole new level…
The Enemy:
Three young children – ages 6, 5, and 3 years. No appreciation for the work it takes to have clean clothes to wear on a daily basis.
Husband – works out every morning, then goes to work with airplanes and comes home smelling like a combination of man smell and jet fuel (but looking very handsome and sweet as can be).

The Tactics:
Youngest:
 Continues to underestimate the effectiveness of napkins and wipes his mouth on his shirt and his hands on his shorts. It’s a sneaky tactic and happens so fast… before I can fling a napkin in his direction he has already struck.
Middlest: Plays hard and attracts dirt. All over. Shirt/Shorts/Socks/Undies. This tactic is pretty much based on consistancy. Every day, all over. No matter where we go, he comes back dirty.
Oldest: A tricky one, this one.  She’s very tidy. Hmmmmm… but she sweats like her momma and gets super stinky! From the looks of it she’s not an enemy to worry about… until you get close and then you realize… those pajamas must be washed immediately. Also, this one just started to clean her room. Which I just realized means shove all her clothes (dirty and clean) under her bed. Gasp! The deception! The trickery! The stealth!
Husband: The gym bag. I didn’t see that dirty laundry coming. It wasn’t in the house. It was in the bag in the trunk of his car until….. it was in the laundry room innocently placed in front of the washing machine. Noooooooooo. I was blindsided.

The Front: I decided this morning when I woke up that today would be the day. It was time to battle this enemy, go toe to toe, no holds bar, look the laundry in the eye and tell it who was boss. It was go time. I started early… first load in before my coffee. It was a sacrifice I had to make. But I won that first battle and knew I couldn’t let up. As soon as I wrenched those twisted, mangled clothes from the washing machine and into the dryer I didn’t hesitate. I threw in the dryer sheet, hit the power button, and without stopping to think twice, I put in the next load. I opted for two back-to-back loads of kids clothes. Those are brutal. So many pieces. So many tiny socks to match.  I got through those loads though, I did.  Three casualties… all being un-matched socks… I would have to deal with those later. I didn’t have time to stop and look, instead I turned to the towels and got those going. Shock and awe, my friends! Shock and awe. I was re-energized with the simplicity of folding large pieces of rectangular terry cloth over and over and over again. I made a nice neat stack… they were all the same size. It was amazing. (No. No it was not…. but it was the highlight of this day of laundry.) One last load of kiddo clothes, followed by two loads of adult clothes. I found my tempo… clothes to the dryer/dryer sheet/start/load washer/detergent/start. There was no stopping me. I was a machine. I managed to keep up my pace and carry my momentum throughout the day. I even made it to the gym for a spinning class (the spin cycle for my last load was happening at the same time… irony, no?!). And then…. it came to the true turning point of this war… I put the clothes away! It was a final blow. Those clothes could have stayed in their baskets only to get pulled out and worn without ever making it to the drawers. But no. I wanted to see this fight to the end. To the bitter end. And as I closed that last drawer of undies I raised my hands in victory… clamped them together over my head and shook them like an old-fashioned champion. (If only I had had a soundtrack playing I would have closed that last drawer in slow motion for my epic finish.)

And there you have it. No dirty laundry to air in this house. None. Until tomorrow.

(P.S. A whole blog post on laundry?! Yes. That is how big of a deal this is to me!)


Daddies Do It Different… and that’s not a bad thing

Last year, before my husband returned from an 8-month deployment, I stumbled up on the children’s book “Daddies Do It Different” by Alan Lawrence Sitomer and thought it would be a handy book to read to the kids.  Essentially the premise is that Mommy does things one way and Daddy does it different.  The book talks about breakfast time, grocery shopping, bath time, etc. and shows the difference on how each parent goes about each task.  In the end, of course, the little girl knows when she’s tucked into bed that both parents love her to pieces.

Now, months after my husband returned from deployment, the book continues to be a good reminder, not only to the kids but to me as well!  Being a stay-at-home mom and the adult that spends most of the day with our kids and our home often leads me to a mindset of “my way is the way”…. “the best way”… oh, who are we kidding, “the only way!” I have analyzed, organized, clothed, and scheduled our family and home to the optimal level of efficiency and happiness. No way could my husband have better ideas!

Oh. Wait. But Daddies do it different. Different does not actually mean “wrong,” “less effective” or “inferior” to Mommies and wives.

My thoughts for tonight are for all the wives and moms out there, who are proud and confident in their abilities to “keep house,” develop their marriage, or parent their children.  Surely, deservedly, be proud; be confident; know that you are rocking your responsibilities…. but also let your husband do the same. Let him do things different. The difference might be in how he folds the towels, his idea of a romantic date night, how he puts the toilet paper on the holder (although, the paper should fold over the top, right?! Right.), how he dresses the kids, what he feeds them for lunch.  Let Daddy do it different. Let your house/kids/pets experience and reflect some of him too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally not saying that we should just throw our hands up and let the fellas run the show all the time… or not address things that totally annoy us.  Maybe towels won’t fit in the closet neatly the way he folds them, or maybe your daughter has a school pictures and you really would prefer her to not wear her orange winter hat, My Little Pony t-shirt, and polka-dot leggings.  In those cases, speak up. Give clear instructions on the what and why it’s important to you.  In all cases, speak up if you have opinions… of course.  Just maybe try not to squash his attempts; don’t harshly criticize… making him feel like a fool.

I’m fairly certain that there are many dads and husbands out there who have pretty much given up on doing anything with the home, marriage, and family, because every time they tried, they were told, “You did it different and that’s not okay. Next time, do it my way.” I, for one, would much rather have my husband actively participate in our family (even if he does things differently than I would) than a husband who won’t plan a date night and won’t confidently watch the kids while I take a girls’ weekend away for fear of me telling him, “That’s not good enough.”

During the past week we continued our family vacation from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.  We had a blast. The kids loved every minute of our hikes and boulder-ing and exploring. And guess who took the lead?! Daddy did! Dad was the one to say “Sure! Let’s go ahead and climb those giant boulders!” while I stood back wondering, “Is this safe? Are we supposed  to be letting them off the path? Are these rocks just too big for them?” He took on these challenges and obstacles with the kids… he did it differently than I would have… and the kids knocked my socks off.  They faced their fears; they bravely tried new things; and they conquered it all. Because Daddy did it different.

Daddy doing it different... look closely to the big rock with the shadow underneath... just to the right you can see my husband and three kids climbing. That would NOT have been my choice, but we had a blast climbing to the base of the waterfall!

Daddy doing it different… look closely to the big rock with the shadow underneath… just to the right you can see my husband and three kids climbing.

 


Military Life: A Deployment Trick “Blue Line Time”

This post is in special honor of all you out there who are single-handedly parenting your children and trying to keep sane. In particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to Emily C. who commented on my last post and mentioned her husband is on a year-long deployment. Yikes. 

Imagine this: It’s meal-making time. You have hot stuff on the stove top. Your oven just beeped telling you it is 350 degrees. You have a sharp knife in your hand. You have already put in a full day of work (either at home or out of the house). You look at the clock and quickly calculate that you have at least 3 more hours in your “work day” (5 minutes of meal prep, 25 minutes of meal cook time, 30 minutes for kids to eat, 1 hour of bath & bed-time routine, 30 minutes of kitchen clean-up, 15 minutes of house clean-up, 15 minutes of of re-tucking kids into bed), and you are already pretty tired.

Now let’s make it interesting….  we’ll add five Lego pieces laying in front of the refrigerator, a Bitty Baby sitting in the very exact middle of the kitchen floor being “fed” by your daughter, and your toddler son sprawled on his belly repeatedly saying “mom mom mom momomomomomomomomomom!!!”

Yeah……. you’re going to lose it.

But you don’t have to!  I got a little trick for you that saved MANY meal-making times during my husband’s 8-month deployment.  And the best part… all you need is some painter’s tape!!! Say what?!

It’s BLUE LINE TIME:

Setting boundaries in the kitchen

Setting boundaries in the kitchen

1. Take a look at your kitchen layout and find a good place where you can make a boundary line. Generally, the entry way(s) will work best.

2. Place a long piece of tape across the floor at the boundary. We have an island, so I have a Blue Line on each side of the island… make as many lines as necessary.

3. Wrangle your kids and tell them to put their toes on the line (outside of the kitchen) while you stand on the opposite side of the line (in the kitchen) and tell them:
“This is the Blue Line. When I say “BLUE LINE TIME” you need to get on your side of the line and I will be on my side of the line. You will need to take all of your toys with you. Please do not leave them on the floor in the kitchen where I can trip on them. It’s not safe for you (or your toys) to be on my side of the line until I tell you BLUE LINE TIME is over. Let’s practice.”

FYI… My kids (ages 5, 4, and 2 at the time) really liked to race across the line and see who could get out the fastest. My kids also stood at the very very edge of the line and would lean over into the space above the line just to see what I would do. Me silently staring back at them like I was confused and had no idea what they were doing usually got them to smile and walk away.

Of course, always make sure you can still keep an eye on your kiddos and that they are safe… use your best judgement. 

4.  You now have personal space while you are cooking and will be able to move freely around your kitchen.

5. If you find yourself calling “BLUE LINE TIME” during non-meal-prep times and sitting on the floor behind your kitchen island just to get a moment of personal space… do not be ashamed. I did that a time or two… or twenty.

We still use Blue Line Time even though deployment is over… it really works. 


Motherhood: WELCOME TO THE ‘HOOD

So you’re a lady and a grown-up. You go to work when you have to but you take a vacation day when you want to. You eat whatever you want for dinner and only think twice about it for a moment while wondering if your husband would also enjoy a bowl of popcorn for dinner… regardless, that is what you eat anyway. You have an adult beverage when you feel like it, because you are an adult and you are responsible.  You wake up on Saturday late-morning or afternoon, because you can… because you can stay up late doing whatever it is you “should” have done in the morning while you were snoozing. You really don’t have that many chores to do around the house because you are hardly home (and awake) long enough to make it messy, and when you do make it messy it’s not that messy. You work-out when you happen to muster enough motivation to get to the gym and when you get there, 45 minutes on the elliptical while watching tv is enough to keep your body in working order and looking fit. Your friends call you up and an hour later you are at the movie theater or out to dinner or shopping or all three in succession. You have conversations that are long and uninterupted and you finish your sentences. You do all these things and you don’t think twice about them.

And then….

And then you find yourself in the midst of motherhood. At some point, you will stop what you are doing and wonder where you are and what you are doing…. well, my friends, you have entered the ‘hood. Motherhood.

And then…

You go to work every moment of every day… even when you are sleeping you will have one ear partially open just in case a baby whimpers or a toddler coughs or a teenager sneaks out.  You will take vacations, but truly it is just working the same job in a new location with different scenery for a week or two (not to mention the overtime you put in  packing and unpacking for said vacation). You will eat cold dinners for the first few months because no matter when you fed the baby last, she will want to nurse when you sit down in front of your plate of hot food… then, your dinner will be a healthy meal followed by bites of mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets or pb&j sandwiches and a handful of goldfish because you don’t really want to throw away their leftovers… eventually they will be healthy meals with a nutritious balance of veggies, whole grains, and protein but really all you’ll want is a bowl of popcorn (but what kind of example would that be for your 7 year old?!).  You will have to think twice before your adult beverage and maybe forgo because your newborn gets gassy and that glass of pinot is just not worth waking up every hour on the hour to burp the fussy wee one… or you will have to ‘pump and dump’ and that is just a sad waste.  You NEVER sleep past 7:00am anymore… that is sleeping in.  Your list of chores has grown beyond your wildest dream and it is nearly impossible to get the entire house clean at the same time. You will forever follow the tiny little tornados around your house either cleaning up after them, or telling them it’s time to clean up.  Your chores, themselves, will grow… the bathroom during the potty-training-of-boys phase will be a feat of incredible cleaning strength and determination; not to mention sweeping the floor after the toddler ate rice (dropped rice), or mopping up milk when the pre-schooler made breakfast ‘all by myself, mom!’  You will work-out only when the child-care is open at your gym and 45 minutes on the elliptical no longer cuts it.  Your friends call you up and you try to coordinate a night to go out together, but between Tae Kwon Do, ballet practice, swim meets, their family vacation, your husband’s work schedule, the best you can do is pencil-in a date in approximately 6 weeks (and most likely when that date rolls around one of your kids will be sick). You start… you start a sentence… wait. What was I saying? I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought. You do all these things… and you probably do think twice.

This ‘hood is a tough one. You give up a lot; you sacrifice a lot.  You might groan and furrow your brow, look desperately at your friends without kids, yearn for those years you could do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. You might even give your husband the stink-eye from across the messy kitchen. But we can’t stop there. There’s another part of this ‘hood…

and while its not always easy to see every day, it’s important to take the time to remember this part of the ‘hood too…

You get to be ‘mommy’ every day. every. day. Your little ones wake up and run to your bedroom and fall asleep after you tucked them in. You take vacations and get to make new memories with them and watch them explore new parts of the world.  You get to sit down to dinner with them and share a meal together (no matter hot or cold, or what exactly you’re eating… sharing a meal together is a special thing) and talk about your day with them.* You may have to wake up several times a night thanks to that one glass of pinot, but you get to cuddle that sweet baby boy in the middle of the night while the rest of the world sleeps and misses out. You may be exhausted but is there a better place than cuddled up with your tiny newborn?! You don’t get to sleep in, but you can watch saturday morning cartoons while eating a big bowl of cereal and your kids will think you’re pretty cool. You have chores. Lots of chores. But one day your kids will be old enough to do them for you.  (Right?! Please tell me yes… my kids aren’t there yet, but I’m holding out hope.) You work-out harder than you ever thought you could… you get stronger… your kids see it’s important to be healthy and to take care of yourself… and if you have a daughter, that is particularly important and awesome. You are busy, but you are busy watching your children grow and learn and try new things… and when you finally find time to hang out with your friends, those Moms’ Nights Out are sooo much more appreciated and enjoyed and relished and needed. You will at some point, be able to have full conversations again, but if you have children under the age of 3, you might just have to trust me on this one.  But just think of all the things you will have to say after 3 years of not being able to communicate fully! You’ll want to talk all the time, tell your stories…. start a blog!!!

So if you’ve wandered accidently into the ‘hood or deliberately mapped your way here, know that you aren’t alone if you sometimes think it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But please do not get stuck in the funky and disappointing parts…. there are happy and sweet and safe and wonderful parts of Motherhood too.

*My caveat to the dinner thing… during my husband’s deployment, dinner time was my worst… we had all spent the entire day together, we didn’t really need to talk about what we did all day.  If you are there, I don’t blame you if you want to eat a bowl of popcorn for dinner and turn on the tv. Survive!


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