You know, the rock I’ve been seemingly living under for the last three months? Yeah. Well I forget that twitter is not my blog and I have readers who regularly check my blog for new posts, not knowing (because they’re not twitterers) that I blab so much via twitter or Facebook.
A bit of an update is required, right?
Stephen came home nearly four weeks ago and spent exactly two weeks at home,
driving me insane, before starting his new job, a job he loves very much. He gets to weld and build things like ramps and repair industrial vacuums and other things that boys tinker with. It’s great for him, because I think the kids started driving him a bit crazy after a few days of being home with them 24/7.
Really, it’s been an adjustment period for us ALL. Just the other day, I set the alarm on my iPod Touch to wake us up to the “Alarm” sound. Those of you who have iPod Touches or iPhones probably know what sound I’m talking about, right? Well, imagine my shock when, at 5:45, that particular alarm sounds and launches my husband off the bed. In Iraq, that sound is what they play to warn of incoming mortars. YEAH. Wife of the Year!
In some ways I’m surprised how well we’re doing now that Stephen is working again. It’s weird for him, after spending a year sharing a room with another dude and being responsible for himself, his soldiers and his HEMTT wrecker. No kids to play with, diaper, feed, bathe. No wife to tend to, no womanly feet to massage…you get what I’m saying, right? Stephen was, every day, in a situation where he needed to constantly be on alert, looking at the sides of the road for danger, aiming a M240 at suspicious vehicles as a way to intimidate them to back off. And the next week, he’s in charge of wiping thick white Desitin on a baby’s bottom? Basically a whole different world. But he’s doing really, really great. Fingers crossed!
The boys are loving having daddy home. Looooooving. Roman said his first word tonight (he’s a late talker, obviously) and it was…(dun dun dunnn)…DADA. Thanks, kid.
Let’s be honest. We are ALL loving having him home with us again.
I’m pretty lame, y’all. I mean, I ask for your advice. You all deliver amazing recommendations. And then? I fall off the earth for nearly FOUR MONTHS. I think that’s when most people commit blog suicide. But I’m back! Or, rather, my blog is.
I forget that the world doesn’t revolve around me sometimes and that a lot of my loyal readers don’t follow me on twitter (do NOT blame you there, friends!), so I’m going to do a quick recap here, before I throw up a ton of “My husband came home from Iraq for two weeks and it was UH-MAZING!!!!!!!!!” posts, packed with photos and video.
So, to catch you up to speed:
- My husband came home, as just mentioned! For two weeks! It was pretty spectacular. Dublin couldn’t let Daddy out of his sight for the entire two weeks, even going so far as to sob (violently) whenever Stephen walked out the door, even for a moment. Post about those two weeks coming soon. I pinky swear.
- Backing up a LOT, I went to Virginia for two weeks to visit my best friend, Sona. We had an awesome, awesome time, right up until Roman had a horrifying apnea episode, landing us in the ER for eight hours. He’s okay, now, thankfully, but let me just say, seeing your child’s lips turn blue is the scariest thing EVER.
- I started school. I’m getting my certificate as a pharmacy technician and wow, you guys? Medicine is kind of intense. I’m sitting here with my Mosby’s Dictionary and Math Calculations for Pharmacy Technicians workbook and it’s hitting me that I kind of need to do actual math. Which I haven’t done in…seven years. Setting myself up for success, AM I RIGHT?
- Dublin, at 25 months, weighs 35lbs and is 37 inches long. That’s a big baby, you guys. And his pediatrician measured his head three times, finally admitting that his head circumference is 100th percentile. She doesn’t know any other child in her practice with that large of a head, for his age. WHAT?
- Roman was 4th percentile when he was born (six weeks early), but now? He’s nearly 80th for weight, 90th for height. That’s nuts! His head, like his brother’s, is also ridiculously large (99th percentile).
- What does this all mean? It means I am definitely done birthing children, because I did it twice, with no pain meds (on accident! I wanted them!), and large heads are not something I look forward to pushing out again.
- I recently sold a few photos to the National Geographic! A company that produces documentaries for the NG found some photos in my flickr stream they wanted, so they contacted me for use of the photos in print and in their video. I’m excited!
- This deployment is nearing its end. We have less than three months left in this, and I know we can do it, but damn, it is HARD. Saying goodbye to my husband again on Wednesday was difficult, and I’m still struggling. This isn’t my husband’s first deployment, but compared to his last one, this is definitely much more difficult on him. His last deployment (18 months in Iraq, 2005-2006), he was essentially single. Iraq was a scarier place then, and that deployment really affected him, changed him. But going back, as a husband and father, has definitely taken its toll on him. My husband is far from an emotional man, but I could see the feeling in his eyes, sense his agitation at having to return to Iraq. It made it harder, at the airport, knowing I was sending him to a place he hates.
- I don’t drink coffee, never have. But every morning lately has me craving for something delicious and caffeinated. I’m too impatient to wait for tea to steep and hot cocoa costs me too many WW points. What to do?!
Anyway, that’s what’s up with me, in a nutshell. I’m hoping to upload our homecoming video to youtube to post here shortly, and to blog all about those two glorious weeks. For now, I have four weeks of school to catch up on. See what I mean about my success with school?!
I send care packages to Stephen about once a week. A lot of people have asked me what I typically include, so in the spirit of Valentines Day, I thought I’d do a post about the one I sent him a couple weeks ago (he should receive it tomorrow).
There’s Oreos (his favorite store-bought cookie), conversation hearts, some pocket knives, some black dress socks (they’re the comfiest socks) and some random dollar store toys.
A Maxim calendar, tactical gloves (far left), Arnie Palmer drink mixes (I send about 6 in every package), regular black crew socks, a Valentines card, photos of our boys, Ferrero Rocher, and a leather cuff.
There are a lot of restrictions on what can be sent to our soldiers overseas, in respect of the region’s religious beliefs. Pork or pork by-products, nude photos (Maxim is the most “pornographic” item that can be sent), political paraphernalia and any religious propaganda (no large quantity of Bibles, pamphlets, etc). I’ve sent dozens of cookies and now know the very best way to mail them, but when the packages take more than two weeks to arrive (yes, Priority Mail takes that long, or longer), cookies just aren’t as practical as good, old fashioned Oreos.
I ordered the cuff in January on etsy and love it so much, I’m thinking about ordering one for myself (with Stephen’s name in place of ours).
“Whitney, Dublin & Roman
together forever, never apart. maybe in distance, but never at heart.”
And the card was hard to capture, but it vibrates and plays a tune when opened.
I know, I know. But honestly, the most important thing I can do for Stephen is keep his morale up, and sending semi-perverted Valentines Day cards is just one of the many ways to make him laugh.
(Completely unrelated, but how hysterical is Roman in that last photo?!)
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I gave birth prematurely and said goodbye to my husband for his deployment.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I’m pretty sure I wanted to lose weight and since I went and got knocked up, I didn’t keep that resolution. This year, I’m determined to FINALLY lose the weight and regain my confidence. DETERMINED.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A lot of lovely internet friends did, but the closest person was probably my cousin, Crystal. She had a very scary delivery and nearly died after her uterus came out with the baby, but she’s doing great now.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Stephen’s great-grandfather, but I’d never met him so no.
5. What countries did you visit?
None. I’m a loser!
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you didn’t have in 2010?
A fitter body and more financial stability.
7. What dates from 2010 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
September 21st – When Steve “officially” deployed, November 7th – When Roman was born, and November 9th – When I said goodbye to Stephen, again.
8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
It’s a toss up between giving birth and dealing with Steve’s departure, especially since they both happened within 48 hours of one another. That was a really, really, hard week.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Finding and securing mature tenants.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had an e.coli infection in August that put me in the ER overnight, but other than that, nothing worse than a cold.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our laptops. I bought them when I cashed out an old retirement account from a previous job and wanted Stephen to have one with him overseas. They’ve really been amazing for us.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Roman’s. His triumph in the NICU was incredible.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most your money go?
Rent, groceries and travel (from Idaho to Vermont). I also spent a ton on formula ($500 during one month) and postage costs ($170 for December alone).
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to New Orleans to see Stephen on his four day pass. Go figure my water would break 5 hours before my flight was supposed to depart.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I know everyone hates Nickelback for some inexplicable reason, but their song “Far Away” really reminds me of 2010 and will remind me of 2011, too.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) both, same as last year b) same as last year c) richer
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Probably focus more on a number of things. Photography, my husband, freelance, etc.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stress. The first three and last five months of 2010 were loaded with stress and part of me still worries that all that stress caused Roman’s premature birth.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We opened presents the night before with my in-laws (Steve’s dad, stepmom, and brother) and went next door to my FIL’s parents’ house for supper.
21. Did you fall in love with 2010?
Yes. I fall more in love every year with my family.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
DEXTER! Or the Office!
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I wouldn’t say hate, but I have a STRONG DISLIKE for this person.
24. What was the best book you read?
Water for Elephants, although it was also the only book I read.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I started listening to more Dropkick Murphys, but it wasn’t a discovery, necessarily.
26. What did you want and get?
After a few weeks in the NICU, my baby home with me.
27. What did you want and not get?
More quality time with Dublin. With the move and Roman’s premature birth…I just don’t feel like I had enough one-on-one time with him.
28. What was your favorite film of 2010?
I didn’t really go to the movies, except to see the Twilight Saga: Eclipse…so I don’t think that counts.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 24 and I spent it in my best friend Sona’s apartment, while she was on base in Quantico, working. I didn’t get internet or cell signal there, so it was a really quiet day. That night, she took me to a Hibatchi restaurant with two of her funny friends, so that was awesome.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I could say “having Stephen stay with us” but that would be too easy an answer. Not having to worry about money would have made my year SO MUCH EASIER.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2010?
I spent most of 2010 pregnant, but I didn’t wear maternity clothing. Empire waist tops ruled my world.
32. What kept you sane?
Hearing my husband’s voice. And my sons, even though they made me INsane as well.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gun legislation. I don’t bring politics onto my blog, however, so that’s all I will say about that.
34. Who did you miss?
Obviously, my husband. But I also missed all my friends in Idaho and my fellow Army wives.
35. Who was the best new person you met?
Jamie! I met her on Craigslist, as creepy as that sounds. And my friend, Sam, wife of Steve’s best friend in the Army.
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it’s one day further from the last time you saw each other, it’s one day closer to the next time you will.
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
- “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
I know I’ve been absent since my pregnancy announcement and Q&A posts. Truth? While I’ve been busy, I’ve also been preoccupied.
Steve is gone for his AT (Annual Training). You know those National Guard commercials you hear: “one weekend a month, two weeks a year.” This is his “two weeks” that somehow transformed into three weeks as soon as he arrived to his training locale. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’re up to speed on the fact that he has NO cell signal, so I’ve had a cumulative 3 minutes on the phone with him in the last week (from borrowing friends’ phones). It’s been difficult for me, as my tweets show, because we had plans for that third week. Plans HERE, not 7 hours away. And I’ve had to scrap them. I thought we had two weeks together left, but now it’s down to one week (including his training days in town).
During the day, I’m fine. I play with Dublin on the floor or lay in bed (bed rest! woooo!) and feel fine about not hearing from Steve. But then every night, as Dublin prepares for bed and I’m faced with the loneliness that is night and my bed without my husband, I lose it. It’s hitting me that we have a week left together until October/November 2011 and I don’t know how I’m going to handle it.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated all the texts, phone calls, emails, twitter mentions, comments on this here blog. It’s meant so much that you all believe in me.
I know the worst is still to come, when I give my husband his last hug and kiss until next fall. But it’s reassuring that I have this space to vent and have people that actually come here, listen and care about my family. Thank you all for bearing with me.
Whenever Stephen leaves for several days due to Guards, I realize just how much having him around impacts my day-to-day. And it’s not just his physical presence. I miss his updates (via Facebook, text, or phone calls); I miss the constant communication we unconsciously maintain throughout the normal work week. And I don’t care if I sound pathetic, I miss those little things. And just his presence. It feels so empty without him around.
As soon as I wake up in the morning to his alarm, I naturally turn to him, an almost Pavlovian response, as I know he’ll hit the snooze a few times, just to spend a little cuddle time in the early morning light. It’s easily one of my favorite parts of the day.
When we head to our respective work places, it’s not unusual for us to exchange 20 texts in a matter of five hours. Usually just innane “interesting sex facts” I send him or pictures he sends me from whatever he’s accomplishing. Nothing earth-shattering. But that feeling we have, that connection, is so very comfortable, so natural for us.
As soon as I hear him pull up to the curb, I’m usually ready at the door to give him a hug and a kiss. I know it sounds corny, but I feel best when I’m in his arms, with his stubbled cheek against mine. And as I make dinner, he usually barges his way into the kitchen and wraps his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder and slowly rocks back and forth with me. It’s very romantic, just us two in the kitchen, with the radio playing softly in the background.
Seeing him interact with our son reminds me that not every father is as devoted, is as awed by the miracle they helped create. When Stephen calls me from another room just to show me the sweet position Dublin is sleeping in, I know how fortunate I am. He genuinely enjoys, thrives, being around our son and really, I don’t know that I could ask for anything more than that.
When we cuddle up on the couch at night, usually watching episodes of whatever show we’re into at that moment, it’s not unusual for him to look at me, out of the blue, and tell me how much he loves me. And – CORN ALERT – he and I exchange debate on “who loves whom more.” I know. We are creamed corn.
And as we cuddle together in bed, he brushes the hair off my face with those hard, calloused hands of his and kisses me like it’s the first time, every time. He’s the only man who has made my heart race this way, and after all this time, after all our challenges. He tells me my body is perfect, and that if I need change, I should do it for me. And he tells me I can do it; I can do anything.
A good friend of ours asked if we were still in the “honeymoon” phase of our relationship, which confused us. We’ve ALWAYS been this way. Very affectionate, very “in-touch” with one another, be it through physical means or via technology.
Even when he’s pissing me off VERY EFFECTIVELY, I know, deep down, past the temporary anger, I’ve got it pretty good. I don’t know if it’s “supposed” to be this way, if every other couple is as in love as we are. I don’t know if other wives get a little thrill whenever they hear their husband’s voice, if their hearts race when their husbands run kisses on their hands. But I sure hope I’m not the only one who has it this good.
I picked a damn good man to share my life with.
The last thing in the world I like doing is airing my dirty laundry in a public manner. But my heart has been heavy for the past two months and I really need some sort of talk-therapy.
There is a distinct strain on my marriage. Nothing too dramatic, but a strain that shouldn’t have impacted our very young marriage, not this soon or so hard. It’s no secret that we’ve had financial problems and if anything can breed stress in a relationship, it is MONEY.
Thankfully, Steve and I have handled the stress, the strain, relatively okay, apart from all the “you drive me crazy!” comments (made by me, FYI). But the combination of my increasing health issues, our unpaid bills and Steve’s impending deployment has been a bit difficult to deal with, to put it mildly.
Let me admit something to you right now. Steve and I? We don’t have friends here. At all. Sure, he has his Army buddies, but he doesn’t seem them outside of the armory. We have family in town, family that has ignored my emails and voicemails and did I mention, we’re broke? All of this explains why I’ve left this apartment twice since November and each time was to grocery shop. That’s embarrassing to admit, how much of a hermit I’ve become, by default more than anything.
This is STIFLING. And I’m harboring so much bitterness in my heart towards the family that lives just up the road who pretend we don’t exist, when the family Steve and I both have in Vermont miss us terribly. I draft emails to my mom (among those I miss so much) nearly daily, all venting, “I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong, how someone can be this selfish.” (Followed by a billion “FUCK”s and “DEPRESSING”s.)
Living in Idaho has been immensely lonely. My crazy pills can only do so much. They can’t heal the pain of rejection from the immediate family nearby, or replace all the family and friends I miss to the depths of my soul. I don’t handle things of this nature well.
The Army does this thing, when deployments are imminent, for couples called Strong Bonds. It’s an all-expense paid weekend retreat at a nice hotel, with a bunch of relationship-strengthening activities. Obviously, kids aren’t part of the picture. The one for Steve’s unit is next month.
My first thought was, “wow, how perfect would that be?” But then I remembered, we have no one, NO ONE, who could take Dublin for two nights.
Thankfully, my mother-in-law, who lives in Vermont, offered to fly here to watch Dublin. It’s pretty sad that my mother-in-law can tell, just over phone conversation, that we need this weekend to ourselves, right? It’s also pretty sad that a family member has to drop several hundred dollars and fly across the country just so Steve and I can go on a date.
I don’t know how to tie this up neatly. This post was more or less a mad jumble of everything I’m feeling, not cohesive or coherent. I’m sorry to continue my Debbie Downer posts, but I can’t keep writing anything here without getting this all off my heart, my mind.
Comments are closed mostly because I feel lame, writing this. My email is always open. And thanks for sticking around, mucking through my melancholy.
I hope you all are having an exceptionally great weekend. We started off ours on Thursday, with my screaming, crying baby boy. He cried exactly three hours straight and honestly, it was one of the hardest times for me as a mother. It’s horrible to feel that helpless. I scheduled an emergency appointment and lo, it’s *just* a stomach virus. I say just because he doesn’t have to be on any specific medications and surely, I was imagining much worse. Basically – kid is GASSY. Two days of Spring and Pedialyte seemed to help him out.
Friday, Stephen finally went to get a tattoo done. I’d mentioned earlier that he was going to get Dublin’s name done in large script. And he will, eventually. But he’s been wanting to get a certain tattoo done since we became serious. No! It’s not MY name, but it does have to do with me. Actually, he got it done for his upcoming deployment.
The ring on my middle finger is Stephen’s wedding ring. It’s white gold with 7 black diamonds (7 is my lucky number).
‘Due to the work he’ll be doing, wearing any jewelry on his hands while in Iraq is hazardous. He even has a friend who lost a finger due to catching his wedding ring on a piece of equipment. But he wanted to carry a piece of me somehow. So he had his wedding ring tattooed onto his ring finger.
This is hours after it was finished and Steve was actually pretty nauseous from the whole thing. It’s the smallest of all his tattoos, but it hurt the most, especially on the sides of his finger. I know, tattooing one’s finger is rather unconventional, but I think it’s sweet that he wanted to do this. Plus, they couldn’t stay completely true to the design, as the detail would eventually blur and look silly. But he’s happy. That’s all that counts.
On Saturday, we went to this indoor go-kart raceway just down the road from us. Steve’s been wanting to go for the past five months and because he’s been working so hard, I figured why not? I sat on the sidelines because Dublin sort of needed a parent to hold him. Selfish kid!
(If you’re a new reader, I hope you recognize sarcasm.)
And here’s a worthless, blurry photo of Steve drifting around a corner. If you know Stephen, you know that cars/racing are his life. This THRILLED HIM. It was like a little kid on Christmas.
Stephen and Dublin.
Stephen starts shift work on Sunday, so he’ll be gone from 5 PM – 9 AM for the next four days. It’s sure to be pretty lonely around here.
How was your weekend?
Steve and I were talking the other night about our marriage and how awesome it is to be with someone who knows you inside and out. In doing so, we talked about former best friends.
Me: My very first best friend was Amber. But after I moved from Virginia, we really didn’t speak again. And I’ve facebooked her, but lo, she is not a facebooker.
Steve: WOAH. Backup. You lived in Virginia????
Me: Um, yeah? Remember, dad in the navy….moved around quite a bit.
Steve: You definitely never mentioned VIRGINIA.
Me: You’re probably confused with all the places I did mention. [Which would be understandable, as I've lived in TEN STATES.]
Steve: I would have remembered Virginia.
Okay, so I feel kind of bad that he didn’t know that. But it got worse, during our discussion this evening as we were watching TITANIC. (I know, he will actually watch that with me!)
Steve: I fell asleep when I saw this in the theatres.
Me: I went with my sister, her boyfriend and Danny (my brother).
Steve: Which sister? Both your sisters were born AFTER Titanic was made.
Me: What do you mean, both? I have FOUR SISTERS.
Me: Erm. Yeah? Heather is the one I grew up with.
Me: Heidi, Heather, Courtney and Sarah Elizabeth. Those are my sisters.
Steve: THERE’S A HEIDI, TOO??
I guess forgetting to mention that I once lived in Virginia is not such a big deal, but not mentioning that I have FOUR sisters? Kind of sad, on my behalf. And we have a KID together.
I also have four brothers, but I don’t think I’ve told him that, either.