Friday, August 27, 2010

What the what?

Talk about a reality check, my husband and I spent 5 days in Austin Texas for a National Guard Convention this past week and had a fabulous time. It's a work trip for my husband but for me it's all fun! So imagine my surprise when the morning after we arrive back home, I wake to find the laundry room full of poop!

Our miniature poodle and rescue dog, Hailey has a tad bit of a stomach problem. My diagnosis is that she has irritable bowel syndrome. None the less, about once a month or so she has a blow out for no apparent reason. I've had her to the vet and they've done tests and given her antibiotics, but they have found nothing wrong with her. So after spending most of my morning cleaning the mess up, while trying to get my oldest ready to go to school, Hailey goes poop all over the patio outside.....I sigh and think to myself "welcome home".

Then our oldest son screams, "Ryan has poop on his blanket", I say "what?", and then I see my husband picking Ryan up to give him a hug and I scream, "ahh put him down". Out of Ryan's diaper is a boat load of crap, literally. So Ryan's bed sheets were trashed, and there was poop on the stairs. My husband was about to head out the door to work and he says, "so I'm going to go to work......I have a feeling this is going to be a shitty day" and he laughed. I, on the other hand didn't find the humor in it!

So after all the doggie clean up, now my 2 year old needs a major clean up and I have to leave in 5 minutes to get Aubrey to school. The only saving grace is that my mom is still in town and she was able to finish up the clean up so I could hit the road and we barely made it before the bell rang. Whew! what a day and it's only 7:15am!

Then after I get Aubrey to school my mom and I, Ella and Ryan all head off to the post office, Payless Shoes, TJ MAx, and Target to get a new dog bed, tutu, tights, tap shoes, & ballet shoes for Ella's class tonight. So many errands to do and I debit something at the post office and realize that I can't remember my pin number. I'm dead serious, I absolutely couldn't remember it! I think there is something seriously wrong with me that I can't remember a pin number I've used for years. So after many hours of frustration with myself, my pin number finally came to me.

So the day ended by feeding the dog white rice for dinner which is supposed to help stop her up, taking Ella to her dance class with my mom and the other two, and wondering if this is what motherhood is all about? OMG I'll never make it! And then I reminded myself that this is an opportunity to BLOG!

Friday, August 6, 2010

New wife to the Army Life?

I met a great lady about a month ago at my kids Tae Kwon Do class. She had seen my husband in his Army uniform, so she knew I was military. One day, as she says, she got up the nerve to talk to me. She is painfully shy and had seen me for several weeks before striking up a conversation.

She is a mother of 4 children, all ages 6 and under. She is 41 years old and her husband just joined the Army a year ago. After he went through basic training he went to AIT (army school), and then they got stationed here in Colorado. Two months after they arrived, he was deployed to Iraq for a year.

By the time she introduced herself to me she had been here 4 months and really had no idea what is available to her, or anything at all about the Army. Talk about culture shock! When I married my husband, he had been in the Army for 6 years already. I knew nothing, but at least he did and we didn't have any children yet so it was just me I had to worry about whenever we moved. She not only is in a strange place, but she has 4 kids knows nothing about this strange life we call The Army.

So after briefly talking to her, I asked her for her phone number and email and I told her I was going to get her some more information. I spent about a week emailing back and forth and that gave her a good start. The Army has several helpful programs for new families: You can request a sponsor when you get to a new duty station. It is the sponsors job to come over and meet you, and give you lots of information about the area, and the Army Post you are living on.

There are also Family Readiness Groups (FRG). The FRG is extremely important especially when your husband is deployed because they are your link to what is going on in country (Iraq in this case). They hold monthly meetings and it is a good way to meet others in your spouses unit. Sometimes the FRG gets a bad rap for being a gossip center, but I have always found it comforting to be in touch with them. I was a coordinator when my husband was in Iraq and again when he came home. It's a volunteer job and needless to say not all FRG's are created equal but I'm a big supporter of them.

Then I let her know about, which is the place to go. They are 24/7 organization put in place by the Federal Government since the wars started. It is free to all military families and they can be of great help. They do everything from giving you a packet of information on the area you are moving, to getting you free counseling sessions if you or your kids need it. They also now have online classes for the military spouse which help teach you about the Army, including the world of acronyms!

There is federal funding available for spouses to get certification/training in portable careers. I believe it's up to $4000 in schooling. Many sports/activity programs for kids, including a hourly daycare center. That comes in really handy if you have a doctors appointment or you just need to go rest for two hours. When your husband is deployed you really need some alone time!

As I was helping my new friend navigate this new world, she was starting to feel better about the entire thing. She had no idea who her FRG person was and no one had contacted her,(that's not supposed to happen). So after about 2 weeks of not getting anywhere with that, I made a call to my husband and asked for his help. He found out who her husbands Battalion Commander was and emailed him to let him know about the situation. She received several calls by the next day. The Army takes these programs very seriously, and if someone falls through the cracks it will be rectified immediately. The commanders are all evaluated on their FRG programs, so it's a big deal.

I guess what I learned from this experience is that I have become so used to the Army lifestyle that I know where to go to get an answer that I don't have, but I've been reminded that it's a scary world for a new military spouse. It truly is a different world. Once you're in it, you don't realize that no one outside the military knows what you are talking about. I used to tell my husband to "speak English" when we were first married and that's exactly how my friend feels.

I have also realized that I love the Army and all it has to offer. There are really tough times and lots of sacrifice for sure, but overall I love it. It's not for everyone, but I feel great about helping someone get to know the great things the Army has to offer, and really does have a lot to offer families. So let's all try and help out our new families, because we all had to go through that transition at some point, and it's much easier with help! I had great people along the way help me and I want to pay it forward!

What a day

Today started out how many of my mornings have been starting lately. I wake up to let the dog out, and she has had diarrhea all over the mud room. I feel bad that the dog is not well, but I'm thinking she has irritable bowel syndrome because we've had the dog for 8 months or so and she does this a few times a month. My husband tries to be helpful and pour me a cup of coffee but by the time I can drink it it's cold. He does get the kids cereal so I can tend to the poop patrol.

Today I had had it, so after an hour of cleaning up poop and neglecting my children, I bathe the dog and I'm off to the vet. On the way to the vet we pass a garage sale and I spot a bookshelf. I do a u-turn and head back. I have been looking for a small bookshelf for months and there is one for $10 and in decent shape.....score!! Then back in the car to and to the vet.

We drop her off and head to Target to get a few things. Well, two pretzels, and 3 apple juices later the kids are still acting terrible. I bribe them to behave and tell them they can go look at the toy section if they behave. So after I shop we go to the toy section, which is never good. They keep telling me what they want to buy (as if they have any money) and I keep repeating "you are not getting anything today, just looking". Apparently their hearing has gone bad because that didn't stop the constant begging. Ugh, we leave and go home.

Then we get here get settled and the vet called and said the dog could be picked up. Well a long morning, and $98 later, the dog has nothing wrong with her. They want me to give her antibiotics for a week just in case, but she seems fine. So I make the executive decision to change the dogs food to Purina's Lamb & Rice. It was good enough for our German Shepherd for 12 years, and it will be good enough for our miniature poodle. We've been feeding her this expensive overpriced stuff because she was eating that when we got her, but enough is enough! I think she has IBS and I'm taking matters into my own hands.

After this post I'm off to do more laundry, and attempt to clean up the play room, get the kids to Tae Kwon Do, and make dinner........ have I mentioned that I really want a maid!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When a Soldier Cries

I was on my way to visit one of my oldest and dearest friends who now lives in New Jersey. My husband took 5 days leave from work, and I was off to have a vacation from my crazy life and jump into my friends very exciting life for a week. So you can imagine my spirits were soaring as I'm waiting near my gate at the airport.

I saw several soldiers in uniform sitting with their wives. This means they are most likely headed back to a deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan somewhere. If they were on vacation with their wives, they wouldn't be in uniform. So in a moment I was taken back to my husbands 18 month deployment to Iraq in 2003-2005.

Being an Army wife, you feel connected to all of the other wives and family members of soldiers. It's hard to explain the connection, but you can actually look at them saying goodbye to their soldier, and you feel their pain. The soldiers board the plane first. And as I'm standing there watching the women hug their soldiers goodbye, I can hardly stand it. Here I am off to get a vacation from my family, and they have to say goodbye to theirs. It's a mixture of guilt, sadness, and sympathy.

After the soldiers give their boarding passes to the attendant, they turn around for one last look and wave. It's hard to see a soldier cry. They are tough, so to see them so fragile, so human makes everyone in the airport cry.

I am starting to tear up and I have to look away. I see the women crying as they turn to leave the airport. One woman had a toddler with her, and I wanted to run up and hug her. I almost did, but I thought I might really freak her out, or start to have my own PTSD moment and send her over the edge. I stood their silently looking at her and wanting to hug her and make it better for her.

One of the many sad things about having your soldier in a war zone, is that no one can make you feel better about that. Friends can try and offer support, and try to understand what you're going through, but when all is quiet at the dinner hour, and you are home alone, or with your children, you are just a lonely worried Army wife and mother.

I had a fantastic time on my vacation to New York, but I spent much of the time in the city reflecting on why we are in these wars in the first place. Being in New York City where it all started on United States soil, and seeing the affects it is still having on the families of the Military puts everything in my life in perspective. Hats off to our soldiers, and the families who love them!