Saturday, October 29, 2011

My first baby is a SENIOR!

Last night was Senior Night for Frances' Marching Band.  I got to go, and was able to (finally!) get pictures of her in her uniform.  

This is the child who HATES to have her picture taken.

Mom pinning on her corsage.    


All 16 seniors in the band. 

The seniors (Frances is on the very left with crutches!) with their Director, Mr. Tim Rossettini. 
I am so very proud of Frances!  With each student, they read off where they wanted to go to school, and what they planned to do afterwards...of the 16 Seniors, she was the only one planning to go to a Christian school, and she specifically said she wanted to go the mission field.  

Loving being a mom....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Accomplished Much? (aka A Year in Review)

One of the themes of deployments seems to be staying busy.  Actually, when one talks to other military spouses to learns ways of coping with deployments, one of the frequent recommendations is to stay busy.  With that in mind, when I knew that Jason was going to be deploying for a year's time, we moved to a new house, I registered for grad school, and threw the kids into as many activities as was humanly possible to get them into.

Okay, not really.  We DID move, and I DID register for grad school...but the throwing kids into activities?  They did that all on their own.

So, since this deployment is winding down, I wanted to list (for myself, mostly) what we DID accomplish while Jason was gone...starting (somewhat) chronologically.


In August, we moved into our new home.

In September, I started Grad school, and the kids all started back to school...in new schools for 5 of them.

In October, Jason and I went out to celebrate our 18th anniversary the night before he left to go to South Carolina for training.  We also had our family pictures done by a dear friend (see the header above).  I went to visit Jason for the last weekend before he left the country.

 I got a call from the insurance company that our insurance would be cancelled if we didn't install railings on the front porch and back steps, so we got that done.




In November, Jason arrived in his deployment locale...

For Thanksgiving, we had a friend from grad school over for Thanksgiving dinner.

We celebrated Heather's 13th birthday by spending the evening of her party in the emergency room, getting her broken wrist x-rayed, and then getting a cast put on it almost a week later.


In December, we traveled to South Carolina for Christmas, visiting with Jason's family and my family, and friends.  Jason celebrated with friends from the Chapel on base.  We also celebrated the birthdays of Frances (17) and Katherine (7).





We also got to celebrate with Jason's mom and a whole lot of friends for her 60th birthday.


In January, I started my Practicum, hired a girl to help out during that time, worked, and went to school....and kept the kids busy in their schools and other activities. We celebrated Justin's 11th birthday.  I also applied for my Passport...

In February, I got my Passport in the mail(!), organized, studied, worked at my Practicum site, celebrated my birthday (ha! like I'd tell you which one!!) and prepared a schedule of weekly/daily events for my mother-in-law...and then got on an airplane....

...oh, and we added another ball of fur to the house.

I started March visiting with my husband in the "vacation locale" where he is currently deployed...then flew back, took over the kids again, fought jet lag, and went back to classes and finished the semester.  We also celebrated Leah's 9th birthday.

In April, we celebrated Jason's birthday via Skype (and watched him open his box!), and Jon's 15th birthday.


May saw school performances, winding down for the school year...
...and a freak storm that took out a substantial branches in both the back and front yards.

In June, we had a farewell for some dear friends from church who were moving away, and I painted, and painted, and painted....the rails took me entirely too long (I'm a perfectionist!)

Isn't he good looking?!?
Jason came home at the end of June for his R&R...
...and during the time he was home, we had visits from his parents, two other friends from out of town, and Jason and the two littlest girls were in a wedding.  Jason and I also were able to get away for a couple of days before he had to head back.

August meant Operation Purple Camp for 4 kids, and Band Camp for the other two...and I headed back to school.  It was Ramadan in the "Vacation Locale"...which meant that Jason didn't do an awful lot for that month.

September meant school again for everyone....a total (for the family) of 1 elementary school, 2 middle schools, 2 high schools, and 2 grad schools.

And LOTS of school supplies!!

October ended up being one long band competition.  Or not.  But it seemed like it.  Oh, and I went and visited Jason for our 19th anniversary.  And did school.  And taxied children. And organized the world...or not.  Things are starting to get blurry at this point, since it's all winding to a close and I am just...soooo...tired....

So, We don't have much time left - less than two weeks now.  And my thing I am most proud of from this year of accomplishments?  I grew.  I did all of this.  I am doing grad school, and doing it well.  We had tough times.  Things (and people) broke, but we didn't fall apart (I had a LOT of help in *that* particular department!!).  The biggest thing has been how much I have grown Spiritually.  God has done tremendous things in my life over this year, which made all of the hardships worth it, in the long-run.

Yes, we accomplished a lot this year...but there is no way we could have come out of this so well without the prayers of friends, and the loving hand of our Lord on our lives the whole way.

Monday, October 24, 2011

You'd never guess...

...that my husband spend his WHOLE year deployed READING.

This is the 50 pounds of books I brought home for him, because that would be cheaper than shipping them!!

Now I just need to find another set of bookshelves for his books....mine are already overflowing all over the place!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Abandoned Tea Party

The scene of the party

Notice who we have at the party

Poor Larry...he looks a bit peeved to have been abandoned.

The Bitty Babies are tired of waiting to be rescued.

This one is trying to make her escape.

I love the fun my kids have...just wish they'd clean up after themselves!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

He spent a week in Kuwait...

...and all I got was this:













...and this...














I happen to think the first one is better looking than the second, but it was sweet of him to get it for me!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts...at 38,000 feet...


I’m sitting on a very dark Boeing 777, somewhere over Turkey.  (Note:  I wrote this sometime on Tuesday...)

I spent the last week visiting my husband in his little neck of the woods….it was lovely.  I THOROUGHLY enjoyed visiting with him, and seeing friends made on my last visit there….and helping him start getting stuff ready to come HOME!!!  As of this moment, he has 2 days until he moves into a hotel, out of the flat he has called home for the last year.  He has to pack all of his stuff up, and mail it off to the house, and will be home during the first week of November.  I can’t wait!!

Meanwhile, the pilot has illuminated the “fasten seatbelts” sign, which means I can’t get up to go to the bathroom….so I type some more. 

I have had a restful week…no kids, no housework (well, maybe just a little), no pets, no classes…I SLEPT.  It was amazing.  I did not catch up on sleep...after all, I spent 21 hours on planes going to see him, and the time difference is 7 hours. No definitely did not catch up on sleep.  But it was restful…I told our Chaplain friend and his wife today that my visits there have both seemed like a spiritual retreat…a chance for me to be fed, and to rejuvenate…and to recognize some more areas that need work. 

I DID actually do some homework….I still have some projects that need to be typed up…but two big ones are mostly done.  I studied for my Ethics exam.  I made a lot of progress.  I need to make a LOT more.  Plus house cleaning, kid hauling/wrangling, and generally preparing to have my husband home.  Sigh. 

I’m ready.  He is, too.  The kids are ready.  The people at church are ready.  Now, we just have to wait out the last two weeks….

Monday, October 10, 2011

It makes "scents" to me.

This is a repost from my Notes on Facebook.  

Every so often I get invitations to spend time with friends - much-needed time, I might add - and cannot do it.
I WISH I could spend time in friends' homes, but I can't.
I wish I could borrow that cute jacket/dress/skirt/shirt you offered me, but I can't.  
Sometimes I can't even bear to spend time in your presence...or your cars.

Why?, you ask.

Because your layers of scents emanating from your car, your home, your very person....you give me migraines.  I will probably try...once, twice, maybe even three times...but you will probably notice that I am in pain...my head, my joints...and that I'm having a hard time putting words together into coherent sentences.

I love good smells as well as the next person, but in their naturally-occurring form.
I LOVE the smell of fresh-baked cake, cookies, cinnamon rolls, etc., but put that same scent in a candle, and I will regret smelling it for the next 2 or 3 days.
I enjoy perfumes, colognes, body sprays, lotions, etc., but do NOT spray them when I'm in the room with you, please.
If you use fabric softeners, please know that they make me ILL...very, very ill.  Dryer sheets, liquid softeners...all of them.
If you use air-fresheners - either the spray kinds, or the PlugIns...I cannot come into your home.  I'm sorry.   

So, now you know how these things affect ME.  Do you know how they affect you?

Candles:  From a study on candles (http://www.lead.org.au/lanv7n4/L74-9.html)
"Scented candle usage indoors may cause high levels of respirable soot, with risks to occupants for both acute and chronic health effects, including an increased risk of cancer. Similarities between candle and diesel soot, suggest the potential for similar toxicological effects on exposed occupants."
Air Fresheners:  (http://healthinmotion.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/air-fresheners-create-toxic-air-soup/)

Did you know that by using an air freshener in your living room, you are probably breathing in more toxic substances than you would in the middle of a traffic jam in Los Angeles?

and
But in spite of what manufacturers would have us believe, air fresheners do not “purify” the surrounding air, nor do they add natural fragrances. In fact, they coat the nasal passages with an oil film (such as methoxychlor – a pesticide that accumulates in fat cells) or by releasing a nerve deadening agent (www.consumerlawpage.com), to drown out whatever smells may be deemed offensive.

Fabric Softeners (http://www.ourlittleplace.com/notice.html)

People are discovering that fabric softeners are some of the most toxic products made for daily household use. They contain chemicals (like chloroform, benzyl acetate and pentane) that are known to cause cancer and/or damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. These chemicals are even more dangerous when heated in clothes dryers. The toxic fumes then go into neighborhood air and everyone for blocks around is forced to breathe them in.

Fabric softener chemicals are made to stay in clothes fibers and slowly release for a very long time. That slow release of chemicals into the air affects the health of those wearing the clothes and of people around them.

Some symptoms caused by fabric softener fumes are: tiredness that is not cured by resting, difficulty breathing, nervousness for no known reason, difficulty concentrating and remembering, dizziness, headaches, sick stomach, feeling faint, rashes and/or difficulty controlling body movements.

Babies, children, older people, and people who are already sick are especially hurt by these chemicals. Damage can be permanent, causing lifelong illness. Babies often react with rashes, frequent crying and/or diarrhea. Disinfectants can have the same effects. Experts suggest a possible connection between Sudden Infant Death ("crib death") and the use of these products for washing baby clothes and crib sheets and blankets.

Most fabric softeners have fragrance added to them, which makes them even more toxic.

and from The Environmental Health Association of Ontario (http://www.ehaontario.ca/help-with.htm):

It is the most toxic product produced for daily household use. It has been found to be associated with numerous illnesses and chronic conditions.
  1. It is widely advertised, widely used.
  2. The effects of its toxicity are insidious; a user becomes "chronically maladapted" to it. The exposure is so constant that it can be difficult to connect the product with the signs of reactivity it causes. Neurostimulant/irritants and central nervous system toxins used in these products are known to produce an addictive-type response that may cause the user to experience a feeling of pleasure when the product is directly inhaled. Regular users of fabric softeners (and perfumes) also often claim they "can hardly smell it". This too is an effect of chemical ingredients on neural receptors.
  3. The product is designed to impregnate fibres and slowly re-release for an extended period of time. That re-releasing affects the health not only of users, but those around them.  

I don't know about you, but to me there is a LOT *NOT* to like about the scientifically proven risks of air fresheners, the over-use of scented candles, and any use of fabric softeners.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

From the outside, looking in

As long as I can remember, I have always been an outsider.  Not just felt like it.  Actually BEEN that one on the outside, looking in, wishing to be part of whatever is going on. 

I grew up in a church community (if you've read much of my story you'll know) where our whole family were outsiders.  Of the 400+ people in the congregation, my parents and *1* other person had college degrees.  I  grew up knowing that we were destined to not stay there, but to go on to college, and do other things with our lives besides farming and service jobs. 

I grew up on one of the first recognized organic endeavors in the Southeast.  NO ONE else considered not dumping Sevin-dust all over the vegetables growing in the garden.  NO ONE else considered grass-raised beef and chickens to be a good thing.  NO ONE considered hand milking a cow, and drinking non-pasturized, whole milk.  I am grateful (EVER SO) that I grew up with that heritage...but it also made us even more different...and subject to even more cruelty from children...and their parents who should have known better.

We were DIFFERENT.  Very. VERY. PAINFULLY. Different. 

Then I grew up.  Left for college.  I had gone to a church-based school from 1st grade through 12th grade.  My graduating class was 7 - of which 4 were graduating a year early...so they could get married, and got on with "real life".  Sigh.  Of our graduating class, 4 of us have college degrees.  One has his doctorate.  One is working on a Master's degree. 

I digress. 

College came, and I was DIFFERENT.  My brother and I were freshmen together.  People thought we were twins (No.).  People didn't understand the clothes I wore (Dresses and head covering).  I was dealing with the opposite of most of the kids there...this WAS a Bible college, after all, and there were dress standards, and rules for everything, including a curfew.  Many of my classmates were dealing with extreme cases of culture shock.  I was too, but opposite of theirs.  Compared to what I grew up with, this was lenient.  This was FUN!  But I still felt like I was standing on the outside, looking in. 

I'm married now...almost 19 years!  Some days I still feel like an outsider...an impostor. 

I'm an adult. 

We own 2 cars.

We own a house.

We have 6 children. 

My husband is in the Navy, and I have an ID card to prove it. 

I'm a student yet again...graduate level now. This time, I don't fit because I'm not a 20-something, fresh out of college, looking for a mate, a job, and finding my way through life.  Now, I'm a 40-something, surrounded by LOTS of little lives who are dependent on me, who look to me for guidance. 

Some days, a LOT of days, I still feel like I am an outsider.  I almost wonder how long it will take before people discover that I *don't* really know what I am doing, and they take away my "mom-card", or my adult-card. 

I have never felt totally accepted by anyone. 
I have rarely felt loved. 

I don't know what it will take for me to feel accepted, to feel like an insider, to feel loved.  I KNOW my husband loves me.  I KNOW my kids love me.  Aside from that, what happens?  I think *I* am afraid to love, afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to act like I know anything for fear of being proven (in front of the whole world!) wrong. 

In my head, I know the Scriptures.  I know God talks about how incredibly much He loves us to have sacrificed His Son for us(John 3:16,17).  I even saw The Passion of the Christ, and wept along as Jesus was whipped and beaten and killed for me.  I cannot imagine watching my son go through such torture for anyone, much less for people who despised Him. 

Despite all of that, I feel unloved.  I feel like I don't belong.  I feel like the permanent outsider, always destined to be made fun of, to be on the outside fringe of acceptability, to be misunderstood.  I still live with the taunts from childhood playing like endless tapes inside my head.  I live with the names I was called, and the pain of not being unconditionally accepted by those who should have loved me without limit.  My pain mirrors what must have been their pain of living with much of the same. 

Because of the pain, I struggle.  I struggle with being the mom God wants me to be, that my children need me to be.  I struggle feeling like I have no friends.  I KNOW that I do...people to care for me, and pray for me, and check on me, and come for coffee, and give me great big tremendous hugs at church on Sunday morning.  I *STILL* do not feel loved.  I wonder if I've done enough.  If I've proven myself good enough to be their friend.  If they'll drop me...take away my "friend-card." 

There's more...always more. 
I don't like struggling. 
I don't like the depression that comes because I know I'll never be good enough. 
I'm tired. 
I'm lonely.
I'm ready to be past this. 

Then I try to talk to people.  I try to get the pain off my chest.  And when I start talking, I see people's eyes glaze over...or they run the other way, screaming.  They can't deal with the pain that I bleed all over them.  At least, that's what I imagine.  I've been told too many times not to.  To STOP telling others about my pain.  The message I get is that people only want to hear positive things, so if I can't say only positive things, I need to keep it all to myself. 

Until I explode.  The problem with exploding is that the people I love have to deal with the shrapnel. 

So then I try talking to someone paid to listen to me...counselors, therapists.  And I start feeling better.  I am convinced that I don't need them any more, I can face life on my own again.  I have healthy strategies in place to deal with the old pain.  Or maybe it's not a good fit, and I need to find someone who IS a better fit, but I have no time, no energy, no motivation...and I sit and wallow in my pain.  Either way, the results are the same:  I am in pain, and alone again...proving, yet again, my feelings of being unloved and unlovable. 

....sigh....

I'm rambling.  There is too much in my head, and too much to do, and I really don't have my thoughts all put together yet.  Someday I'll try to come back and finish the thought.
Tonight, I must sleep. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So, I've learned some things.

  1. I will not be doing another drawing/giveaway on my blog. 
  2. Drawings and give-aways take a lot of work. 
  3. I don't have a lot of time to do the work necessary.
  4. Even if I DO the work involved, people that sign up don't necessarily respond.  
  5. I STILL have a book to give to *someone*....God knows *I* don't need two copies.  
  6. I want to get this taken care of pronto...
  7. ...because I WILL NOT be doing another giveaway on this blog.  
SO, I REALLY REALLY REALLY need someone, with a GOOD, active email address, who actually WILL  respond to tell me they want this book, because I think it's an amazing book, and I want to give it to someone who wants and needs it. 

If you're wondering about the book, check out my blog post book review of Faith Deployed...Again, by Jocelyn Green,